Monday, 25 May 2015


I took a quick day trip down to Winchester today. Just wondered around taking photos. First a visit to the cathedral:

Then a bit of wondering around the town.

This is the Bishop's house.

These photos are up on the hill where the great hall and barracks are: 

The courtyard on the other side of the cathedral:

Ironically, my favourite picture of the day was the station on the way home.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Lake District: Great and Little Langdale

Nigel was driving over to Ambleside today to join us for a walk. Caroline suggested something around Langdale, so once he got here, we drove out there. We were planning on having a look at what the weather was doing before deciding on a route. When we got out to Stickle Ghyll, the cloud was still dark and rather low, so we decided on one of our favourite walks - Blea Tarn, Little Langdale and back around Great Langdale.

We started out from the National Trust car part at the bottom of Stickle Ghyll, and followed the road through the campsite. The campsite was interesting, they had all the modern camping alternatives: teepees, yurts and wooden huts. I was a little surprised that there were so many people camping - it had been pretty wet (the rivers were flooding a little) and it still wasn’t very warm.

Coming out the other side of the campsite, the route takes you up Side Pike towards the plateau that hosts the pretty Blea Tarn. Nigel had started pointing out interesting birds, like  meadow pipets, buzzards and some unknown diving bird in the tarn itself.

The path goes through a pretty wood alongside Blea Tarn before coming out into a series of waterfalls going down to Little Langdale. It’s probably the most wild-feeling part of the walk, and you can’t see too much civilisation from there. I love the waterfalls there, but I haven’t been able to find a nice way to photograph them yet.

I left Nigel and Caroline to climb Castle Howe and take some photos back up towards Blea Tarn. There was a pretty dramatic view of the Langdale Pikes peeking up behind the saddle.

We crossed the river Brathay and sat to have lunch looking back towards the little Bridge End cottage and Blake Rigg.

The path then follows the slate quarries before crossing back over the river Brathay and heading up towards High Birk Howe and around Howe Banks. I managed to get a nice shot of Dale End farm.

We then went through the woods for a few miles (spotting willow warblers and song thrushes) before coming out again above Oak Howe.

The final part of the route is along a lovely dry stone walled path that is part of the Cumbria Way and after about a mile, brought us back to the car park.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Mull Holiday: Treshnish Point

The weather was looking pretty decent for today, so we had a look through the Cicerone guide for a good walk. The two favourite options were Calgary bay and Treshnish point. The book said that Treshnish was one of the best walks on Mull, so we went with that.

Circular walk around Treshnish Point

We parked in an old quarry along the road between Dervaig and the Ulva ferry. It’s a circular walk down to the sea, along the coast and around back again. The first leg took us through Treshnish farm which is big on wildlife-friendly farming and ecology. They run holiday cottages, one of which was a close runner up when we were looking for places to stay. We found it at the end of the farm track with stunning views out over the sea. If the flat we were staying in wasn’t so comfy, we’d have regretted not renting the Treshnish cottage.

The second part of the walk was along the cliffs. The sun had fully come out by then and we had amazing views over Coll, the Treshnish Isles, Staffa, Iona and Ulva. I really think the view of those islands is the highlight of Mull, especially if you can also see Ben More. We bumbled along the cliffs, taking in the view, looking through the binoculars and had a bit of food. We’d also spotted some wheatears that a sign at the farm had pictures of.

View of Ulva and Ben More

The path eventually turned away from the sea at a ruined chapel and up back into the hills. It went past some abandoned settlements which had apparently been taken over by cuckoos. Finally, we traipsed through a bog full of pied flycatchers and back along the road, back to the car.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Mull holiday: Bay of Ardmore

Caroline was still fast asleep when I got up and was still sleeping after I had a shower and breakfast. I decided to go down to the café under the flat, have a coffee and continue reading the Monty Halls' book. I spent a few hours there and had nearly finished reading it by the time Caroline came down to join me for some lunch. 

After I had my crab roll and we had bought some food for the evening, we went back to the flat and I finished reading the book. I was a bit restless now and Monty had inspired me to be adventurous. Even though it was still raining, I went out for a bit of a walk. As it was so wet I got geared up in the most waterproof stuff I had.

I was planning to head east from Glengorm castle along some forestry tracks. To get to those I had to go back along the road to the castle and walk through the sheep fields. I love this kind of landscape, with gentle rolling hills and just enough human touches to make that nice balance with nature. It’s rugged in a gentle way, with rocks poking out of the grass here and there, sheep, fences, tracks and the odd house. I think this is a big part of why I love the lake district so much.

After a mile or two, I reached the forest and started up a track that didn’t look like it was used that often. It was quite wide, but covered in grass. There were little yellow flowers everywhere, I took some quick photos on my phone to look them up later (gorse). I love walking through woods, it’s always so calm and atmospheric. I love the greenness of the light.

The forest track didn’t last very long at all before I came out onto a forestry track. I must admit I was a little disappointed. The forests are obviously very carefully managed, but the landscape looks devastated, like if a tornado had ripped through the trees. I also realised that it would probably be like this for most of my walk. Ah well, moving on.

The track was very easy going and I got some lovely glimpses of the sea and the Ardnamurchan peninsula before coming over the top of Ardmore Bay. It’s a very pretty little bay, but with a desolate glen of cut-down trees behind it. Interestingly, there were a number of old dry stone walls and ruined cottages, which means that people must have farmed here in the past. After a bit of googling, I found that it was a settlement called Penalbanach and was inhabited up until the 1930s. It’s interesting that I find the deforestation a bit unsettling, even though the felled trees can only have been planted since these people left.

Ardmore Bay


At Penalbanach there was a track leading down to the sea and in a few minutes I was at the rocky shore. There was a small bird hide tucked in by the shore. It was empty so I had a sit-down out of the rain. I watched a pair of oystercatchers on the rocks opposite the hide. They weren’t doing much, but did make quite a bit of noise. I was secretly hoping to spot an otter - perhaps I had a decent chance, I hadn’t seen any other people and I was closeted up in the hide. No luck though, just a few swallows and gulls came by. It was lovely though, sitting contemplating the scenery, cosy out of the rain, looking over the rocks of Ardmore Bay with Ardnamurchan sitting majestically in the backdrop

Once I dried up a bit, I carried on down the shore (always keeping a hopefully eye out for an otter of course) before turning back up the hill to the ruined hamlet of Ardmore where the forestry road sprang up again. I followed it around to where I had taken the path down to the shore and from there retraced my steps home. I got back nicely tired and with a new appreciation of waterproof gear.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Mull holiday: Puffin day!

The plan for today was to take a boat trip around Staffa and Lunga, mainly to see the puffins on Lunga. We drove around to the Ulva ferry dock to get the boat in the morning. We got there just in time to leave.

About 10 minutes into the trip, the captain spotted a sea eagle.

The rest of the trip to Staffa was pretty bumpy. Quite a few people looking green on the boat. But when we got off the boat, we had a poke around Fingal's Cave.

Then had a look around the rest of the island.

Then it was back on the boat to head to Lunga, which was another bumpy trip. Off the boat again, we climbed up a bank and immediately came across a whole troupe of Puffins!

Further along the cliffs, there was a large rock full of Guillemots making an incredible noise (as well as the puffins, razorbills and shags).

Lots of Shags were sitting a bit further along.

Then back on the boat for a much smoother ride home past some Atlantic seals.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Mull holiday: sunsets

I got a couple of nice sunset shots in the evening:

Mull holiday: Glengorm and Tobermory

It was a pretty miserable day in Mull today, so we went to explore the town of Tobermory. It has loads of little gift shops, cafes and restaurants. I guess it's quite often grey around here, so the locals have painted their houses bright colors:

We also had a bit of lunch here and visited the sea life museum (really cool, they had local stuff which they kept in tanks for a few weeks, then put them back).

It had mostly stopped raining, so we went out to explore the Glengorm estate, which our flat was on.

Here's a great view over to the mainland.

We found a nice little rocky area...

... and failed to spot any otters (with Caroline's new binoculars - bought for our trip to Staffa tomorrow).

The rain was getting bad by this point, so we headed back to the Glengorm café for hot chocolate and cake.