Friday, 27 May 2011

Colours of the Rainbow - Red Day

I know this might seem inconcievable to some people but I do occasionally lack motivation to get out with my camera whilst I'm in the Lakes. All the beauty that surrounds me and I'm sometimes left sitting here and thinking to myself  "been there, done that".

I mean, how many times can you photograph the Keswick Landings, The Langdale Pikes, Buttermere and even the wild yet beautiful Wasdale Head in what can only be described as average conditions without losing a little bit of enthusiasm. Don't get me wrong though, I still love to go to these places but unless the conditions are good or different then my camera usually stays locked snuggly away in it's bag.

Anyway, what I'm getting round to is that sometimes I need something a bit different to shoot, some sort of challenge whether it be simple, random or more thought provoking. The ever inventive Sal has come up with a "Colours of the Rainbow" challenge.

There is not timescale but every colour has to be shot in one day and the photos all random. Red was the first so I went down to Keswick to do it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe next week I will attack the next colour. The photos of my first effort are below. I particularly like the candle in a bowl shot.

Enjoy my selection :)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Grey Heron

The Grey Heron

The grey heron for hours on end is standing
In the quiet pool with water to his knees
With head cocked to strike he scans the moonlit waters
For small trout who might swim out from shade of trees.

Till eventually his great patience is rewarded
A troutling unconcerned swims his way
A quick dart of his head there's little struggle
And in one gulp he swallows down his prey.

The quick snatched meal does little for his hunger
There's many more fish there for him to eat
In shallows of river pool he stands silent
The cold waters lapping around his feet.

The grey herons in flight seem slow and awkard
But as fisher birds with patience they have skill
They wait for hours in the slow shallow waters
And they won't miss their opportunity to kill.

In moonlit stream at border of quiet meadow
In shallows of pool partly shaded by trees
The patient heron waits for his next victim
With water lapping around his spindly knees.

Francis Duggan 

The above verse seems to describe the heron and it's ways perfectly, it's just a shame I couldn't catch it in the moonlight as the poem depicts. 

These two photos were taken at the Strid in Wharfedale; the heron being spotted by the ever eagle-eyed Sal. I pretty sure I would have have missed it!

Sal has a great affinity with herons which can be best illustrated by quoting one of her recent Flickr comments -

       "Herons have a very special meaning to me. Sometimes they seem to appear when I feel sad and they always lift my spirits. I'm not superstitious so know it's just a coincidence, but they make me feel happy so who cares? In Greek mythology they were the messengers of the Gods to show you were being watched over and in Egyptian mythology they were linked to the sun god, Ra. Maybe someone up there is looking out for me?"


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Castles and beaches. - Northumberland Coast. 11 May 2011

 We were paying for the beautiful blue skies of April in the Lakes. These had been replaced by murky grey skies and showers aplenty. My yearly outing to the Northumberland Coast was quickly planned as the weather forecast over that way was good. So off I set with flask and butties.

An early eight o'clock start saw me at Amble at about half ten. I stopped for a walk around the Marina but as I had been here a couple of times already I gave the harbour and lighthouse a miss and headed for Walkworth and it's mighty Castle instead. It was once home to the powerful Percy family who now reside in Alnwick Castle. Warkworth was and remains one of the largest and most impressive fortresses in North East England and was once home to 'Harry Hotspur', hero of many Border ballads and the bane of Scots raiders!

The beautiful  River Coquet runs through the town which looks to have some rather tasty hostelries coupled with some rather expensive tacky gift shops on it's Main Street. The Church of St Laurence was also worth a visit and was lovely both inside and out. That backs on to a beautiful Riverside walk.

My next port of call was the cliff top walk at Howick. This place was full of what I call s**t flies but other people call horse files. The buggers were bouncing of me as I walked along the cliffs. At first I presumed it was because of all the sea bird droppings but they were at Craster and Bamburgh as well. They made the old heelan midges look positively soft! The rock scenery around these parts is stunning and it is great photography country.  Check my mate Steve's Flickr site Amblekingrat photos

Next call was Beadnell which is/was a small fishing village and apparently has the only harbour on the Northumbrian coastline which faces west! There are also some lime kilns constructed in the eighteenth century which is probably when the harbour was built. South of the harbour stretches a one and a half mile beach.

After Beadnell it was up to Budle Bay where the sands just seem to go on forever. Holy Island (Lindisfarne) can be seen in the distance across the bay which was deserted except for two walkers and a couple of windsurfers. I got the feeling I could walk across to it given the time and no incoming tides! What a great place to be when the tide is out but I wouldn't fancy it in the middle of summer.

This was the farthest I went and returned via Bamburgh to Seahouses where I had another break. Seahouses seems to be another one of those places that forgot, nothing really to write home about but the beach stretching right up to Bamburgh is fabulous as the photos above prove. My intention was to head straight down the A1 and back across the A66. This is where travel news came in handy as apparently the A1 was bad. I decided to call in at Craster to give it time to clear and had a beautiful evening's walk towards Dunstanburgh Castle and a sit on the rocks in the late evening light. I resisted calling in the Jolly Sailor for a swift one as it was a bit too far from home and I had a long journey ahead of me. I love the Northumberland coastline, it has so many beautiful beaches and dunes, castles aplenty and the rock scenery is very dramatic, really a day cannot do it justice.

I finally got back to Cumbria at about half past eight a good 12 hours after I left! That is what I call a good day out :)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Kippford, Dumfries and Galloway, 3 May 2011

The warm spring weather just goes on and on. It was another beautiful day. Dave and Chris had gone home so I went on a drive into Dumfries and Galloway. It's not too far when I'm up at the caravan as it's straight up the M6 and then along the A75 to Dumfries.

Following the Coastal Route for 6 miles you find yourself at the lovely scenic village of New Abbey with it's ruin of Sweetheart Abbey. The abbey takes its unusual name from its founder, Devorgilla de Balliol, Lady of Galloway, who carried the embalmed heart of her husband, John Balliol (eponymous founder of the Oxford college) around with her for the last 22 years of her life. Her stone effigy, clutchng a heart casket, can be seen in the south transept.

The Coastal Route is then followed along the Solway Firth to Carsethorn.
then Rockcliffe and finally Kippford 

Carsethorn is an old fishing village and emigrant port which time seems to have overlooked. It is from here that Scots and Irish people took their one-way journey from their homelands to America and Canada in the 1790's. When the tide is out on the Solway, it is a haven for sea birds. Rockford is set on a lovely little rocky bay and it is here where you first see evidence of the cockle shells but they are no where near on a par with Kippford.

Kippford is the jewel with it's cockle shell beaches which stretch far out into the Solway Firth. On a sunny day like I had they are absolutely stunning. Also around May all the rhododendrons are in flower as is the sea thrift and they all add  to the beauty of the place.

On the walk along the estuary there is a house where a local artist has created a sort of grotto or makeshift sculpture park full of bizarre carvings and statues that are embellished with, in some though not all cases, glass eyes and teeth. At one or two places faces are carved into the rock face and if you look into one of the carved eye sockets – you'll find yourself looking into a sort of mini cavern  and into the face of a creature staring back out. Crazy, wonderful stuff. I’d find it hard to define but I’d suggest that it’s a sort of mix of Celtic and Voodoo.

 Last year when I came there was a sea otter in the estuary but unfortunately the tide was fully in this year but I did spot a couple of herons.

 A small tub of Galloway vanilla ice cream was enjoyed on my returm to the car

Middleton Wood's Bluebells.

Middleton Wood is situated just outside Ilkley on the far bank of the River Wharfe in Lower Wharfedale. At the beginning of May the woods resemble a blue carpet. Add to this the Wild Garlic and you can imagine how beautiful it smells.

Enjoy the photos.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Langstrathdale - the long valley - 2May 2011

An afternoon stroll in beautiful spring-like weather at the beginning of May was just what the doctor ordered. We managed to find a parking place in the village of Stonethwaite and had hoped to call in the Langstrath Inn sometime in the afternoon for a refreshing beer.

Bearing in mind that this was a Bank Holiday Monday, we had hoped for a seat in the Inn's beer garden either before or after our walk. Unfortunately we were greeted by a "not open Mondays" sign. What is the matter with the owner of that place. First of all he doesn't serve campers, then he'll only serve people who are eating there on a weekend and now he chooses to shut up shop on a busy bank holiday. He doesn't deserve to be in business. Contingency arrangements were quickly made to ease the panic and we jointly (ie Dave) decided to visit the Banks Tavern in Keswick after the walk. So with that in mind, we set merrily off on our way.

Everything that is beautiful about the Lake District was encapsulated in this walk. Green pastures which were full of spring lambs, traditional English woodland, babbling becks, cascades, rock pools and the grandeur of the Lakeland Fells. This part of the valley also has a resident cuckoo which appears mid-may. Mighty Bowfell appears to head the six mile long valley but the walker eventually realises that Esk Pike is in fact at it's head and passes also go over to Grasmere, Langdale and Wasdale. Taking the wrong path up at Esk Hause can result in a lengthy and expensive taxi ride back to the intended valley.

We only walked a mile and a half up the valley, following the western bank of Langstrath Beck and then crossed the beck via the wooden bridge. A couple of miles on the opposite side of the valley would see us back at our car.

Various humorous moments occurred, notably one where a certain female in the group couldn't "get her leg over" to negotiate a tricky little rocky descent from a stile. No embarrassing photos shall appear on this blog Chris so you are quite safe ;)

 Considering it was a Bank Holiday, the valley was reasonably quiet with just a couple of families out relaxing and a young man playing his guitar over looking the rock pools. We sat at the waters meet where the path from Grasmere joins the main path and just soaked up the surroundings.

 However Dave eventually got the "call" from the Bank's so we reluctantly traipsed back to the village and then up Borrowdale to Keswick. No cuckoo was heard today but I did hear one further down the Dale nearer Keswick a week or so later. A couple of refreshing pints was enjoyed by all concerned back at the Tavern.

I think we all have our 'own' little places where we feel at total peace with the world, this is certainly one of mine come rain or shine.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Grassington and Linton Bridge

Sunday 01 May 2011

I love the natural perfection of the Lake District. The grandeur of the Scottish Highlands and the Beauty of Skye take my breath away but the Yorkshire Dales is my home and I wouldn't swop that for anything.

I had an afternoon out yesterday with the intention of just going to Skipton and having a walk in the woods behind the Castle, unfortunately not a single parking place was to be had in any of the car parks and people were just queuing up to get in. So I set off up beautiful Wharfedale.

I eventually managed to get parked up in Linton Falls car park and spent a very relaxing couple of hours strolling into and around Grassington. The dry April weather was reflected by the lack of water in the falls but nature  has its way of compensating as all the limestone bed was spectacularly uncovered.

People are always happier when the sun is out aren't they. Whether walking their dogs, doing their gardening or  just out like me; they all had an 'hello' for me. Grassington and especially Linton are also special places for me, I have fond recent memories of them both.

Surprise, surprise, the Devonshire Hotel was not on my itinerary today, mainly because the outside seating is not on the sunny side of the street. In fact I was a good boy all day ;)

On my walk back I stopped and sat by the banks of the River Wharfe in the warm spring sunshine just watching the world go by; the lady teaching with her very young son how to throw rocks in the water, the young and not so young lovers kissing on the grass, the children playing in the river, the people just sat taking in the sun like me, the duck with her ducklings along with my thoughts and memories all added up to the perfect end to a very enjoyable afternoon.

Sorry, the 99 ice cream back in the car park ended the day perfectly :)


It must have been over twenty years since I was last in Cartmel and as you'd expect from this sleepy corner of Cumbria, the place hadn&#...