Thursday, 25 August 2016

Aston Stone's Wood.


Bacon butties and cappuccino in the local Green Bean Cafe were followed by a walk though Anston Stones Wood in South Yorkshire with Sal and her mum. What's not to like eh? We also had the company of two four legged friends who were well behaved for the most part although Holly did have a couple of "Jack Russell" moments when she came across other dogs. She can be a right embarrassment at times.

Well, what's to say about the woods. Well they are possible the best I have walked through and they are a SSSI. The walk takes to a high path which pops in and out of the woodland giving it plenty of variety and it is in this section where the famous Anston Stones are located. These are of magnesium limestone and were used in the construction of the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament following the fire in the 1830s. The blocks of stone were taken by horse-drawn sled to the Chesterfield Canal, then taken down to West Stockwith where they were transferred to sailing barges for the journey to London. 

The path then drops down in to a steep sided valley with an attractive stream running through it. The valley is not only interesting for its natural history but also for its archaeology. Ice Age cave deposits and Roman artifacts have been found throughout the valley. Dead Man's cave was excavated in the 1960's and archaeologists found flint stone tools used by hunters 12,000 years ago. Bones from Ice Age animals such reindeer and hyena were also found

It was a rather miserable day but I think this helped with the photos, giving them a more mystical feel. Sometime bright sunlight makes it harder to get the exposure right making the shots end up with too much contrast and rather harsh on the eye. We ended our afternoon with a drink the The Beehive pub in Harthill where it was agreed that we would have to make a return visit in autumn when the colours should be spectacular.


Information Board

Wood entrance

Anston Brook

Seed pods

Upper path

Upper path

Anston Stones

Anston Stones

Upper path

Tree stump

Snake and insect Hotel

Anston Brook


Anston Brook

Anston Brook

Information Board.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Caerlaverock Castle and Kippford.


I had considered going up to The Trossachs for the day but had set off a tad late so made a late decision to have a drive in to Dumfries and Galloway instead. The last time I went up that way the tide had been in which made a walk to see the cockleshells at Kippford a bit of a waste of time but I could see it was out as I drove past Carlisle.

My first stop was at Caerlaverock Castle and Wetland nature Reserve which for a fiver is a right bargain. Caerlaverock Castle is a moated triangular castle first built in the 13th century and was a stronghold of the Maxwell family from the 13th century until the 17th century when the castle was abandoned. It was besieged by the English during the Wars of Scottish Independence, and underwent several partial demolitions and reconstructions over the 14th and 15th centuries. In the 17th century, the Maxwells were created Earls of Nithsdale and built a new lodging within the walls. In 1640 the castle was besieged for the last time and was subsequently abandoned. Although demolished and rebuilt several times, the castle retains the distinctive triangular plan first laid out in the 13th century. Caerlaverock Castle was built to control trade in early times.

To the south of the Castle there is a woodland and wetland walk which I took advantage of as it was a warm sunny day. The only drawback was that the walks aren't circular so I had to backtrack a few times but it was still very enjoyable. I came across a common frog which kindly let me get close enough to take it's photo but apart from that, sightings of wildlife on the walk was non-existent. I suppose you really need binoculars to see all the wetland sea birds especially with the Solway tide being so far out. There was a nest of swallow chicks in the doorway arch to the castle and dozens of birds flying in and out of the ruins which more than made up for the deficiency elsewhere.

I could have spent longer than I did there and maybe have a coffee but, remembering what had happened the last time, I decided to crack on whilst the tide was out. I nipped in to Morrisons in Dumfries to buy some lunch and then followed the coastal route past Southerness and Sandyhills to Kippford. It's a beautiful spot, situated on the estuary of Urr Water and Rough Firth. I believe the place has a bit of history and in the distant past boats left here for Canada during the Highland Clearances and it was also used by smugglers. I think it was also the major port of the area at one time but these days it seems to be just used for leisure craft.

The short walk through the village to the cockleshell beaches and rocks is a sheer delight. There are herons galore feeding on the sand banks of the estuary and lapwings and oyster catchers calling when the season is right. I was lucky enough to pick a sunny day so I was in no rush to leave. Where the path runs out, there are ample large rocks to sit on and just take in the view over the Rough Firth and Solway Firth beyond. When the tide is out you can also walk across to Rough Island which is a bird sanctuary but this is off limits at certain times of the year when the birds are nesting. May to July I think it is.

On the walk back, I treated myself to an ice cream at The Ark (which is a lovely little gift shop and cafe) before setting off back down to Cumbria.



Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Nature Reserve

Caerlaverock Nature Reserve

Caerlaverock Nature Reserve

Castle Woods

Castle Woods

Caerlaverock Nature Reserve


Castle Woods

Caerlaverock Nature Reserve


Caerlaverock Nature Reserve


Caerlaverock Nature Reserve

Cockleshells, Kippford

Kippford

Kippford

Kippford

Kippford

Kippford

Rowan tree, Kippford



Sunday, 14 August 2016

Wild flower time at Lowther

There's not much narrative to write about this visit as I think I have given a detailed description of the history of the place in a previous blog on the 10th of May this year. Just a word though to congratulate the members of the Lowther Trust for what they have achieved over recent years. From near dereliction and abandonment, the place has been transformed in to one of Cumbria's finest tourist attractions. The summer meadows are always worthy of a visit and this years display was interspersed with a WW1 exhibition. The tearoom serves one of the best cappuccinos you could ever wish for and the food is also top notch.

I think I may have left my visit a bit too late as I was hoping there would be more poppies in the meadows but the display was brilliant none the less. I hope you enjoy the photos I took and hopefully I will be blogging on Lowther again in the autumn with all its golden colours and tones.

Wild flower meadow

Wild flower meadow

Jack Croft's pond

Lowther Castle

Limestone steps

Woodland walk

Rowan Berries

Wooded avenue

Lowther Castle

WW1 memorial meadow.

WW1 memorial meadow.

WW1 memorial meadow.

WW1 memorial meadow.

Falled tree

Restoration project

Lowther Castle garden

Restoration project

Lowther Castle garden

Whinlatter Forest

It must be five years since I last went on this walk and unfortunately it has changed for the worst. The first section hasn't altered on...