Countryside Wanderings

It's amazing how things develop. After all, this blog started out as a news section for the rest of the website. With encouragement from readers, it has become a place for relating my countryside wanderings and musings about the world of outdoor activity. Walking, cycling and photography all are part of what I do out of doors and, hopefully, they will continue to inspire me to keep adding entries on here. Of course, there needs to be something of interest to you, dear reader, too and I hope that's the case. Thanks for coming.

An Ideas Log

Yarnshaw Hill as seen from the side of Shutlingsloe, Wildboarclough, Cheshire, England

There was a time when I wrote blog entries that shared possible walking or cycling trip ideas. What changed was that I felt I was repeating myself so this page is where you’ll find them instead. The list is a living one that will additions and deletions as time goes along. Sometimes, I may even keep some in here because more than one trip is deserved. With a single place to consult, I should find inspiration more easily and I hope that it might be the same for you as well.

Scotland

Armadale, Isle of Skye

Skye is one of my favourite places and I haven’t been there for a few years now. Lying across the sea from Malliag and connected to there by a seasonal ferry service, Armadale would make a very different base from Portree or Broadford. The Cuillin wouldn’t be out of sight either so the relative leafiness wouldn’t be all encompassing.

Beinn Lora, Benderloch, Argyll & Bute

This little hill escaped my notice until a recent Country Walking route brought it to my attention. It looks am appealing prospect for a simple Sunday afternoon stroll that is not far from Oban. That it is easily accessible using public transport is another pointer in its favour.

Bridge of Orchy, Argyll & Bute

Two ideas come to mind for here. The first is retracing my steps north along the West Highland Way in good weather, at least getting as far as Glen Coe and maybe going all the way to Kinlochleven. The second would take me to Loch Etive along an old right of way with route options including Taynuilt and Glen Coe once I get that far.

Conic Hill, Balmaha, Stirling

The stretch of the West Highland Way between Balmaha and Inveraran is a goody in my opinion but I omitted Conic Hill on the way south to Drymen due both to the time of year (lambing season) and muscular fatigue in my legs. It sounds like an oversight that needs addressing sometime.

Creag Bheag, Kingussie, Badenoch & Strathspey

This is another little hill and it was found in Country Walking too. However, the route idea reminds me of a first visit to the place on a cloudy Friday in July of 2006. Then, it was a case of unplanned blundering in comparison to the itinerary laid out before me in print.

Feshiebridge, Badenoch & Strathspey

It’s another route from Country Walking and could be fitted in with an out and back stroll through the Rothiemurchus Estate from Aviemore to make a day walk of it. Glen Feshie is celebrated by many who enjoy walking in the Scottish Highlands so it might be high time to see a little of what excites them.

Glen Affric, Highlands & Islands

Due it’s sense of isolation, I never considered the idea of a visit to Glen Affric all that seriously until an article in Outdoor Photography magazine hinted that there is a relatively low level walk around there that could see a use as an introduction to the place. With the glorious scenery, this one deserves further consideration.

Glen Coe, Highlands & Islands

Even with a crossing of Beinn a’ Chrùlaiste, not far from Kingshouse Hotel, and a section of the West Highland Way taking me from the aforementioned hotel to Kinlochleven, there remains so much more of Glen Coe for me to savour. Using the Devil’s Staircase, there is the possibility of a walk to the top of Am Bodach that passes over Stob Mhic Mhartuin, Sron a’ Choire Odhair-bhig and Sron Garbh with all of these lining the north of the glen with an exit possible before the Aonach Eagach gets going. Otherwise, a circuit around Buachaille Etive Beag that takes in both Lairig Gartain and Lairig Eilde is tempting as is attaining the top of the Pap of Glencoe (Sgorr na Ciche in Scots Gaelic). Spending a spot of time in the glen’s lower reaches is yet another possibility so long as I engineer a worthwhile scheme for doing so and there is a new path created by the National Trust for Scotland that too could have its uses.

Glen Trool, Dumfries & Galloway

It was during a catch up on outdoors reading that the possibility of exploring this part of Dumfries & Galloway came to light. The Merrick is not so far away and the Southern Upland passes nearby in this part of Galloway Forest Park. Now that I have uncovered transport options, spending a few days in the area could bring its benefits.

Kinlochleven, Lochaber

It may be away from the beaten track but there’s plenty here. Retracing steps along the West Highland Way allows tow walking options but there are rights of way that take in Loch Eilde Mor and the Mamores would be ideal too. There’s also the prospect of walking there from Corrour train station after a trip north on the Caledonian Sleeper.

Mallaig, Morar & the Small Isles

In December of 2009, I popped up to Fort William for a long weekend away and paid Morar a visit. Sunshine was a little in short supply though there was effort. The available views of Rhum weren’t as dazzling as they could have been and this also happened on me during a ferry crossing from South Uist to Oban in August of 2008. Another visit to the area would be good and setting foot on one of Rhum, Eig or Muck would make it even better. Another possibility is an incursion into the wilder area that is Knoydart so there’s plenty from which to choose.

Meall Bhanbhaidh, Banavie, Fort William

The other name for this low sized hill is Banavie Hill and it takes up a lot of ground as I discovered when walking from Garelochy to Fort William by way of the Caledonian Canal. It’s the position that’s the main attraction here with views across to Ben Nevis and the hills about it. There are times when staying lower offers the best sights and it looks as if this is one of them. It’s time to re-read the issue of Country Walking that brought the possibility to my attention.

Munros, Highlands & Islands

There are some of Scotland’s hills with heights of or above 3000 feet or 914.4 metres that I have been spying as possibilities for a first Munro. Among these are Bynack More in the Cairngorms, Carn na Caim near Dalwhinnie and Carn Liath near Blair Atholl. For many, there also is Ben Nevis and I have been to Lochaber many times without visiting its summit though I wonder if that should change.

Even with these thoughts. there is no intention to develop a Munro bagging habit. Life’s events can see to that but there always is need to find an excuse to return to Scotland’s alluring parts. The same thing happens with Corbetts so I am left wondering if the approach can be extended to Munros too.

Ochill Hills, Stirling

A weekend spent around Stirling in February 2016 allowed me a further glimpse of these so I am playing with the idea of a return since they are near at hand to the city. A handy bus route serves Tillicoultry and Dollar too, extending the range of hills to explore. It can be amazing what visiting landmarks like Stirling Castle, Cambuskenneth Abbey and the Wallace Monument can reveal for snow-plastered hills loomed in the distance on a crisp chilly sunny winter’s day.

Peebles, Scottish Borders

The hills near Peebles are an alluring and accessible bunch, especially with the town not being so far from Edinburgh. The John Buchan Way extends from here to Broughton too so that is an added attraction. The prospect has lain in mind for a weekend getaway for too long now.

Rob Roy Way, Southern Highlands

Watching The Adventure Show‘s instalments on the Scottish National Trail on the BBC iPlayer during the Christmas and New Year period reminded me that I have yet to continue this trail north of Callander. 2007 became a year when there was a good deal of long distance trail walking and that hasn’t got followed up to the same extent since then. It might be something to ponder yet.

Schiehallion, Pitlochry, Perthshire

The name arises from the Scots Gaelic for “fairy hill of the Caledonians” and its fame was reinforced by its being uses in the determination of the mass of the Earth thanks to its regular shape. It also was a test case for the use of contour lines, which guide us around maps to this day. Until bus service improvements came about, a walk needed travel by private car or taxi and ownership by the John Muir Trust affords us a good path to the top too. Maybe it should be visited sooner rather than later.

Southern Uplands

Other ideas here may not cover as much of Scotland as the Southern Uplands so this is a catch-all for a few different possibilities. A walk described me in The Great Outdoors reminded me of the area and the hills near Durisdeermill have the advantage of passing buses. Then, there are possibilities around Moffat that I have not savoured for more than ten years and I still fancy sampling the Southern Upland Way around Sanquhar and Wanlockhead.

Ireland

Connemara

This is a part of Ireland where I have never been and the Twelve Bens look glorious in photos. Clifden is accessible using public transport so that could be a good base from which to see what’s here.

Donegal

It may be away in the north-west corner of Ireland but there’s plenty here for hill and coastal wanderers. The Glenveagh National Park is in the heart of fine hill country and Slieve League is one of the highest coastal cliffs in Europe.

Mayo

It may not have the profile of nearby Connemara but there are plenty of sights for connoisseurs of fine countryside in Mayo too. For one thing, it shares Killary Harbour with Galway and Mweelrea, the county top, is near there too. The island of Achill is connected to the mainland by a bridge and has a lot to offer. After those, there’s Ballycroy National Park too.

Mourne Mountains

Of all the parts of Ireland, it is Northern Ireland that I have least visited. Though they shouldn’t at this stage, memories of the violence that littered television bulletins in the 1980’s still pervade my consciousness. That there are stirring spots like the Mournes is good enough reason for me to set those thoughts aside; a recently spotted Country Walking route around Slieve Meelbeg and Slieve Meelmore merits another look. As it happens, I even have looked up how I’d get to nearby Newcastle so as to make a first visit. All that’s needed is for plans to become reality.

Wicklow

Just one visit so far and more would be in order. The hills around Powerscourt Gardens and Glendalough would afford views over those two attractive spots and there are prospects near Poulaphouca too.

Wales

Ardudwy Way

When I first saw this name, I thought immediately of Dyffryn Ardudwy but Ardudwy itself covers a wider area than that. This twenty four mile trail extends all the way from Barmouth to Llandecwyn and passes within a few miles of places like Tal-y-Bont, Dyffryn Ardudwy and Harlech along its route. The trail’s website splits the route into three sections and any of these looks like another option for exploring an area that I have frequented a few times already. Navigation abilities could be tested at times but not being in a hurry could help with this and an overnight stay in the area looks long overdue after all the day visits that I have undertaken.

Brecon Beacons, Powys

A weekend visit to Abergavenny in June 2014 had me reach the tops of Sgyryd Fawr and Sugar Loaf on consecutive days during a spell of hot summer weather. Nearby Blorenge and Ysyryd Fach could be excuses for a follow up sometime but it is the hills near Brecon itself that have been more neglected with only a single visit to them during November 2006. They looked nice then so I am looking for a variation on that trot for another occasion. Even more overlooked is the wilder Black Mountain hills to the west and a tour around that way by bus has identified both starting points and transport options. Other route ideas include one that extends from Llangattock that I spotted in an issue of TGO magazine and Pontneddfechan’s waterfalls.

Llantysilio Mountain, Llangollen, Denbighshire

2014 saw two trips that took in most of the tops comprising this bunch of hills, one in January and another in November. The original inspiration came from a blog post and I am thankful for the idea that it popped into my mind. Overnight stays in Llangollen certainly helped me with explorations of these hills so far and there may be other variations on my wanderings yet and a repeat of the second trot in better weather would be a good thing too.

Pembrokeshire

What I savoured of Pembrokeshire’s coast has been alluring with though more than the two visits really are needed to make the most of what is there. Route ideas that come to mind include Newport to Fishguard and Tenby to Manorbier though these only are two of many.

Pumlumon Fawr

This hill in heart of a less visited part of mid Wales is a little tricky to reach by public transport but there may be ample rewards for the effort, especially given the Severn and Welsh Wye rise hereabouts and it is part of the Cambrian Mountains. Basing myself in Aberystwyth could make the idea work better and there always is the possibility of overnighting in the vicinity using a bivvy bag if that makes arrangements any easier. There was a plan to make the surrounding area a National Park but that was binned by the Heath government in the early 1970’s. From a bus tour that took me around there, I can see its attractions and even pottered about nearby Llangurig in winter sunshine while I awaited a bus connection. That muddy walk confirmed how quiet this part of Wales is so it offers a lot to the discerning hill country lover.

Snowdonia, Gwynedd

There has been many a weekend where this part of Wales offered the best prospect of sunshine and I found myself with a dearth of excuses that would get me to make use of the circumstance. While perusing Cicerone guidebooks, I have spied the rocky Cwm Llafar horseshoe (Carnedd Llewelyn and Carnedd Dafydd) that can be reached from Bethesda and the Nantlle ridge is another possibility that has attracted my attention along with Moel Hebog, Moel yr Ogof and Moel Lefn near Beddgelert. One thing that struck me while surveying maps is how scarce public rights of way are when it comes to exploring hills in north-west Wales so it will be a case of picking out informal paths that go where I need them or even dealing with a little scrambling too. Now that I think over things, maybe even a long weekend does the place an injustice though a lower hilltop with good views would help immensely.

Because my attentions have been focussed on Scotland as well as overseas destinations, the prospect of spending a week around some part of Wales has not become a reality and such a thing would bring its rewards. In the meantime, the folk behind Trail magazine created a Snowdonia guide laden with bite sized ideas that could come in handy for such a venture. With more time available a longer stroll among the hills near Cadair Idris becomes a possibility and there is Dyfi Forest between Dolgellau and Machynlleth. Then, there is Rhinog Fach and Rhinog Fawr since other members of the Rhinogau have been visited before now. Other rocky possibilities include Cnicht while the Arans over higher but more rounded terrain and the Arenigs and Moelwynion are other relatively nearby possibilities. Snowdon or Yr Wyddfa could feature again with the likes of the Rhyd Ddu or Watkins paths paths conveying me after a gap of more than ten years and Y Lliwedd looks interesting too. There is much here with more than a weekend available and weather allowing such escapades.

Tintern Abbey and the River Wye

The lower reaches of the Welsh River Wye have tickled my fancy for a while now and the abbey was featured in a Wordsworth poem that I met during secondary school English lessons. The fact that nearby Chepstow is accessible by train is a plus point as is the presence of part of Offa’s Dyke Path.

England

Causey Pike & Grasmoor, Braithwaite, Cumbria

This is a walk that I spotted in an issue of The Great Outdoors that took my fancy.

Dufton, Cumbria

It would great to actually walk as far as High Cup Nick after transport issues forestalled that prospect a few years back. That taste of whin sill geology always can be expanded.

Hathersage, Derbyshire

Looking through a Vertebrate Press guidebook, I spotted a route possibility that would take me from Hathersage onto Grindleford via Stanage Edge. This is another part of the Peak District where I haven’t been in a while and walking trips to destinations that are reasonably close at hand look more favourable to me at the moment so something may come of this brainwave yet.

Ingleton, North Yorkshire

A circular walk taking in Twisleton Scars and Ingleborough would pleasant and I have gone that way on a dull October day a few years back. Getting a sunny day that allows for some photos to be made along way the would be brilliant.

Loughrigg Fell, Ambleside

This may not have the height of other fells in the Lake District but I am after a good photo overlooking Grasmere to follow up one taken with the wrong film more than a decade ago. Incoming cloud stymied a previous attempt at the same in August 2014. Some achievements need more than one attempt…

Monsal Head, Little Longstone, Derbyshire

In the earlier years of my hill wandering, I ended up around Monsal Head a few times but haven’t been that way for a while. In April of 2013, I made use a route that would take me from Bakewell to Ashford-in-the-Water and then onto Monsal Head before retracing my steps by another route. The lighting was flatter than may been ideal so I fancy another visit and that may follow a variation of the course my walk took back then.

Roseberry Topping, Great Ayton, North Yorkshire

It took a day trip to Whitby for me to glimpse this distinctive hill in the flesh, albeit from a passing train. The walk from to North Yorkshire’s “Matterhorn” the nearest train station is not so far either and there are bus connections if train services are too irregular to make such an outing work as a day trip. In any case, there is more of the Cleveland Hills and the North York Moors that I can be exploring and Whitby deserves a return visit too.

Rothbury, Northumberland

Several trips have come to mind with the aim of exploring hills like Simonside only for nothing to come of them. With reasonable public transport connections, it is not before time that I went exploring around what is reputed to be a quiet part of England with only one event of note around there in recent years.

Shropshire Hills

The hill country about Chuch Stretton may be compact but it is varied and will keep you occupied. The hills may not be so high in stature but they are steep sided enough to let you know that that effort is needed. The Lawley is an outlier to the north of Caer Caradoc and I played with walking this hill for a planned walk that has yet to happen. There may be time for it yet and it’s not the only proposal for further exploration of this quieter corner of the West Midlands. There is Wenlock Edge, the Port Way and the Stiperstones all vying for attention so there are good reasons to return to follow up previous incursions that have been described here already.

Teesdale, County Durham

Revisiting Low Force and High Force some years after a first and only excursion on a dull day in May of 2006. There’s also Coldberry Gutter to be explored and there is an entry on the Northern Pies blog sharing an outing that went up there too. If there are other excuses to make good an ambition that has escaped me since September 2012, then they’ll appear here along with the others as well.

Upper Wharfedale, North Yorkshire

It does feel as if I have neglected the Yorkshire Dales in recent years and Upper Wharfedale is one of those parts deserving a return. A wonderfully unexpected sunny evening facilitated a cycle up there in May 2000 and walking excursions have happened since then. They took place a while ago now so this is an oversight that needs redress.