Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Skye and the North West Highlands - Sept 2010

These are photos I took on my last trip to the Isle of Skye in September 2010. I decided to blog them just for a personal reference more than anything else. I can't wait to get back up there in a few weeks time :)

Black Cuillins from Elgol




Loch Assynt
Grey Mare's Tail, Kinlochleven

Rainbow, Portree
Loch Scavaig and the Black Cuillins

Stormy skies, Applecross
Loch Scavaig, Elgol

The Blaven
Rainbow over Loch Chroisd. Skye

Rainbow, Skye

Harbour Portree
Loch Linnhe

Dark skies over the Cuillins

Waterfall Loch Arkaig
Sunrise Portree

Towards Skye from Applecross

Monday, 29 August 2011

Gas bottles, jellyfish, midges and high passes.

14th Jul 2011

I was on my way down to pick up Sal  in Coniston when I recieved an SOS text from her. Her father, who had been told their gas bottle was on the verge of running out, had chosen to ignore this advice and consequently the Thomas family were in the catastrophic position of not having any gas and more importantly, not being able to make their early morning brews. No-one was talking to poor old pops and I should imagine both Sal and Moo would have already had a few choice words with him was well. So when I arrived, Sal was stood at the gate of the caravan site with empty gas bottle in hand and we shot to the nearest garage to replenish their supply.

With the possible demise of Sal's dad averted, we set off out of Coniston, heading for Muncaster Castle. Now it was my turn to foul up. For some strange reason I had it in my mind that Muncaster was just at the foot of Coniston Water, however a dinner break in Broughton in Furness later, we seemed to be no nearer to our destination. Broughton is a lovely little town, with everything you could need. A proper bakery, a grocer/deli, a butchers, oh and a couple of pubs and cafes.

Eventually we did pick up a sign for Muncaster but I reckon it was a good twenty miles further round the coast than I though. A snap decision was made too give it a miss so we carried on past Muncaster and into Ravensglass which is a pretty little fishing village on the estuaries of three rivers, the Esk, Mite, and Irt.We spent a very relaxing hour in the sunshine, taking photos of giant jellyfish and old fishing boats before having a look at the Ravensglass-Eskdale Railway and going in search of the elusive Roman Bath House.


I decided it was time to crank up the excitement factor of our day out and took Sal on a never to be forgotten drive to Wasdale Head and then over the Hardknot and Wrynose passes.We only had a short drive up the coast, then on to Santon Bridge and in to Wasdale. No one can be anything other than impressed by the grandeaur of the scenery around these parts with The Screes, the Scafells, Great Gable and Yewbarrow all surrounding Wast Water.

I parked up at my usual spot and out came the cameras. It was the first time Sal had been in these parts and I know it impressed her. We then sat by the Lake soaking up the sun for a while before heading up to Wasdale Head.

Surprising enough there is a pub at the head of the valley and even more surprisinly we decided to take full advantage of it. And so we sat next to the river by the famous packhorse bridge with pint pots in hand and watched the sun go down behind Yewbarrow, it was a lovely afternoon. The stream was overrun with midges but miraculously they steered clear of us thank God

We had a last wander around the valley head which resulted in another bout of Sal giddiness. This time it was over a Victorian Post Box!! We then off we set down the valley towards Eskdale The sun was quite low and the light superb so we had to stop again to take some more photos looking down the Lake before heading off towards Hardknott Pass.

The pass itself is a series of hairpin bends, some as steep as 1 in 3 and rises to a height of 1,289 ft. On its way up out of Eskdale it passes the old Roman Fort. from where the view of the Scafells is unbelievable. I always find the road back down into Wrynose bottom is more nerve racking then the Eskdale side though, maybe it is because you are looking down the steep z bends and you cant actually see the tarmac of the road! Anyway I was complemented on my driving skills and we carried on over Wrynose Pass, which is a doddle after Hardknott. Then it was down Little Langdale in the late evening sun and back to Coniston.

Guess where we said our goodbyes? Yes, in the beer garden of the Sun Inn where we reflected on three great and often hilarious days we had spent together. I took a few last photos from the far side of Coniston Water as the sun set behind The Old Man just as a reminder for myself of the ace times we had before heading back up to my caravan.

I hope you enjoy the accounts of our days out together, we certainly had a great time.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Tat shops, Poppy Red and a close shave.

7th July 2011

The second met up with Sal was a nice leisurly affair. We decided before hand to cut down on the driving and just go local so we headed out of Coniston and up and over Hawkshead Hill.

We had intended to have a bit of lunch in Poppy Red but it was busy and we weren't all that hungry so our visit was basically a wander around the tat and souvenir shops of the town. Apart from the bookshop, Poppy Red and the little deli, most of the shops of Hawkswead are much the same. They all have loads of Beatrix Potter tat, Wordsworth tat, obscenely overpriced pottery tat and the usual tea-towels, key-ring and thimble tat.

I must admit though I did enjoy the stroll around Poppy Red mainly because Sal seemed to be in her element! It's a good shop to come back to for Christmas present ideas.

Somehow or other I managed to lose her in the Book Shop so I presume she had gone to explore the upstairs part. Once I have had a look at the "outdoor section" in a bookshop then that's me finished I'm afraid so I ended up pacing up and down waiting for her to reappear.

We then had a pint each in the Kings Arms Hotel, a place that Janet Iand I had stayed in many moons ago. The only recollections I have of it are both negative ones. Firstly we had a room right over the bar and there must have been a late party on so consequently the noise levels were pretty high. Secondly and even worse, we came back to our Hotel room on the second day only to find eomeone else's clothes in there. When we went down to reception the girl feebly said " oh we wondered why there were still clothes in the drawers". I dont think I have ever been back to the place until now.

We wandered back through the village, calling into even more tat shops and then had a drive out to The Drunken Duck at Barnsgate where, I should add, I only had a coke. I know this might be hard to believe but I can assure everyone it is true.We sat outside in the sunshine over looking the fells above Ambleside, just passing the time of day together.

When we finally left for Coniston it would be about five oclock which was way too early so we drove to Tarn Hows. No national Trust man, no dogs, no kids and only about half a dozen people about. It was heaven!

We plonked ourselves down on the grassy slope overlooking the tarn and chilled in the warm sunshine. The tarn is partly artificial, being three tarns joined together in the 19th Century. When the Tarns and its setting came up for sale in 1929, they were bought by Beatrix Potter who sold the half containing Tarn Hows to the National Trust, and bequeathed the rest of the estate to the Trust in her will.Thank you Beatrix :D

We had an eventful drive back down to Coniston as well. A small deer ran straight out infront of the car which caused for me to brake and for Sal to squeal loudly with excitement. We fortunately missed it and scampered off into the woods.

To steady my nerves, we popped into the Sun Inn for a final drink together and sat in the beer garden which ended our day perfectly.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Ferries, paddling and ghosts

04 ‎July ‎2011

Double excitement for Sal, this was the start of her holiday in the Lakes and also the first time we had travelled there together. There was great giddiness in Bingley that morning as I picked up her and her accompanying luggage. The thought occurred to me that maybe a transit van would have been more appropriate as I stuffed bag after bag in the boot of the car.

Off we tootled along the A65 and as usual, the major discussion point was which pub we were going to stop at for out first liquid break. As we were going across Windermere, the easiest option seemed to be the Sawrey Hotel at Far Sawrey. We somehow got on to the subject of old TV programs and especially It's a Knockout. A certain person only had it on her IPod and proceeded to play it which as a result had us both singing along merrily. Lets just say the theme tune to It's A Knockout will always be associated with our journey over!

The giddiness level of a certain person increased dramatically as we boarded the ferry across Windermere. She was straight out and snapping away with the camera. We pulled in on the far side of Windermere and both of us took a few photos of the Marina and then sped off the few miles to the Sawrey Hotel with it's stable block as a bar, a place seeped with history and legend.

Oh I forgot, first of all before we ventured anywhere, our Sal had to dip her feet and have a paddle in Lake Windermere.

Back to the Sawrey Hotel, legend has it that a ghost, a monk from Furness Abbey in Medieval times, whose mission was the rescue of a fallen woman haunts The Sawrey Hotel. He apparently fell in love with one who rejected him and he went mad, dying, crying his anguish on the heights of Claife, which his ghost has haunted ever since. On one occasion, the ferryman mistook his cry for a call, and he went out for his fare. When he returned, his hair had turned white and he never spoke again.

We had a nice drink in the sunshine and explored the Claife Crier Bar before heading off towards Coniston. We took a slight detour to
Hodge Close Quarry which is just one of many slate workings in the Tilberthwaite Valley, between Langdale and Coniston. It was worked on a large scale from the 19th century to small scale in the early 1960s.
It is a massive excavation of light green coloured slate, sheer-sided and unfenced, with an original worked depth from ground level of about 300 feet. More photo opportunities was then followed by a laze in the sun.

Our last port of call was the Sun Inn in Coniston. Sal had been telling me about this place for ages and she really wanted me to pay a visit with her. I was a bit reluctant but she twisted my arm up my back so I couldn't refuse.

There can be no better way to finish a day than sitting in a beer garden in the sunshine overlooking the Lakeland Fells and having a good old laugh and a natter.

As we drove down the track to the campsite Sal was telling me about the herons which are usually there and as if on cue, they appeared over our heads. Sal let out a scream of delight, this moment was the perfect ending to a perfect day for her.

We made arrangements to meet up later in the week and I took Sal down into Coniston to meet up with her parents and to begin her holiday. We'd both had a great day.


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&#...