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.

Category: Photography

Photographic recollections new and old

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

During March, I made a start on two new photo albums to the gallery on here. One is made of photos from a trip timed between Christmas 2016 and New Year 2017 while another collects ones from a trip made in August 2008.  As well as being separated by nearly a decade, they also represent two very different stages of my life.

Though on the cusp of what we now call the Great Recession, the earlier outing took place in simpler times compared to today. My personal circumstances were more straightforward back then too and they facilitated many a trip to Scotland. Included among those was a week long escapade that took in Skye and the Western Isles so it was not before time that photos of the latter made their appearance in their own album.

Though some of the exposure conditions were more challenging, photos of Mallorca took less time to make their appearance in the photo gallery. Meeting strong sunshine somewhere in wintertime made for an unfamiliar experience so the resulting photos are the result of a learning experience in a part of the world that I reckon many find challenging to capture photographically. Blue heat haze was part of the challenge as was the combination of scrubby vegetation and bare limestone rock. Even so, my hope is that a good start has been made.

It was only at the start of the month that I finally got to publishing these new albums on here. Even with an ongoing sabbatical, the need for rest slowed down the processing of image editing and the adding of descriptive text. Even now, I find myself yearning for another sabbatical though financial discipline needs restoring first.

A springtime sabbatical

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Though the output on here may try to belie it, the month of March was one of exhaustion and a longed for sabbatical from work came not a moment too soon at the start of April. Mostly, it was time to rest at home though there were some escapes. My yearning for rest and recuperation had to be countered for these but it is good for anyone’s state of mind to get out and about too.

The second weekend saw me head to the Isle of Man for the first time since July 2011. Though it was a reluctant manoeuvre in the end, it repaid my efforts with sunshine on a circuit from Laxey that took in Snaefell and on an amble around Castletown. Before I started my return, I took in Douglas Head and Summerhill Glen along with some other sights around the island’s capital.

Strife with insuring a car in Ireland partly ruined any peace of mind around Easter such that I shortened a stay in Edinburgh. In truth, I spent more time around Peebles with a rain-soaked walk around Glen Sax on Easter Sunday preceding a trot along the John Buchan Way between Peebles and Broughton in much better weather on Easter Monday. Thankfully, that Irish obstacle was overcome to allow a few more days of quiet rest before it hit me just how fast time was going.

While it felt as if my time away from work was too short, there still was time for walk from Litton to Buxton that took in several of Derbyshire’s dales. The list included Tansley Dale, Cressbrook Dale, Monsal Dale, Miller’s Dale, Wye Dale and Deep Dale. Wintry weather intruded at times and Chee Dale offered plenty of adventure. Still, it was a good day out with my partly making up the route as I went along.

There was a trip to Ireland too and this allowed more time for myself in between visiting family and neighbours as well as attending to business that I have over there. Evening walks took me on circuits around by Springfield and Kilmeedy village. Though the walking was along roads for the most part, it was a case of revisiting haunts that I have not frequented for a few years now.

On returning to work, I have decided to do things differently and that is allowing me more rest time. My mind is turning to future excursion ideas as a sort of tonic though such flights of fancy are tempered my aunt’s health for now. Still, there is no harm in dreaming a little as I assess how things are going for me after all that has happened during the past five years.

A few new photo albums

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

After last year’s overseas excursions, I finally got to internationalising the photo gallery. Photos from two visits to the Isle of Man are in their own album and ones from a business trip to Sweden are in another. My trip to Iceland last July yielded a bumper crop of photos as did that to Switzerland in September.

Stories of my Manx excursions already appear on here because I was following the coastal path around the west and southwest of the island. More urban sights are there to complement the in the gallery. There is not so much of the outdoors on view in the Swedish album since it was a business trip allowing evening walks around Södertälje and Stockholm. Also, I could have done with a better camera too but went without many hopes and with a life change in front of me. The tale of those wanderings is to be found in the travel section of the website so it has not been lost to online posterity.

In contrast, the Icelandic and Swiss escapades came after an even bigger life event. There are plenty of views of Icelandic countryside to go with those of Reykjavik even though the level of outdoor wanderings was not as extensive as those that have taken me around Britain. The Swiss outdoor incursions were more so thanks to the efficient public transport system that got me from Geneva to Zermatt and to Grindelwald, albeit at a cost. The sights that I got to see easily compensated for this though and I hope what is on view shows them at their best. Their stories has yet to be told in full on here and I already have the beginnings of those entries in place.

What I also hope is that more overseas explorations follow these. Norway, Germany and Austria are in mind and, out of curiosity, my mind has taken to explore the prospects of American, Canadian and Kiwi escapades. With what I have ahead of me already this year, I need to temper any soaring ambitions. Once outstanding personal matters are settled, only then can I really begin to dream about heading outside of Britain and Ireland again. In the meantime, the home countries still have a lot to offer me and parts of Ireland as yet unvisited by me may see my footfall. Reining in dreams can be good.

Spaisteoireacht and stravaiging

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

While playing with the Google Translate menu that I recently added to the navigation bar of this website, I discovered that words like explorations, jottings and wanderings are not always translated into other languages. One of these occasions was with the Irish language (the term “Irish Gaelic” is not one that I abide) that I learned during my schooling in Ireland. However, I also rediscovered a word that sounds wonderful to me: spaisteoireacht (try pronouncing it as spash-tore-ukt, speeding that up after practising it a few times). An entry in the online dictionary from Foras na Gaeilge translates the word as walking, strolling, sauntering or promenading. To my mind, that makes it sound like the Scottish word stravaiging, albeit without any insinuation of aimlessness about the business.

Bollinhurst Reservoir from Lyme Park, Disley, Cheshire, England

The Cage, Lyme Park, Disley, Cheshire, England

Unlike much of last year, much of my walking this year has fallen with the confines of spaisteoireacht rather than anything more strenuous. It also has remained largely local too. For instance, my return from Ireland after my father’s funeral was disrupted by snow and I took the opportunity to get out for a walk round by Prestbury with a lot of melt water around in the places. That was enough to overwhelmed my knockaround pair of Regatta boots and drench my feet though the whiteness was a delight to the spirit. A pair of Wellington boots has been acquired from Go Outdoors since then in preparedness for a return of any such conditions later in the year or beyond that again. Later that weekend, I paid Lyme Park an afternoon visit and the white covering still was very much in evidence everywhere I looked or trod and the photos show what I mean.

Shining Tor from Cat and Fiddle Inn. Macclesfield, Cheshire, England

Grinlow Tower, Buxton, Derbyshire, England

Axe Edge from Grinlow Tower, Buxton, Derbyshire, England

Several trips to Buxton came to pass too and the first of these had me crossing the hills from Macclesfield on one of the few buses that travelled that way on the day. There was plenty of snow up there so that may explain why my bus for the return journey was conspicuous by its absence. A train journey was in order since the temperature very was dropping at that stage. More recently, I repeated the journey with buses carrying me both ways though the outbound one broke down and had to stop at the Cat and Fiddle Inn and await a replacement. The beeping noise being made as the ailing bus limped the final part of the way to the inn certainly had me thinking that it would not been a bad afternoon to be disrupted up there with unexpected sunshine lighting all the surrounded us. Others may have pondered the prospect of patronising the pub but it was photos that I was after. When I finally got to Buxton, I made for Grinlow Tower and without ignoring the delights of the Pavilion Gardens. It was blustery up high and the gusts that came made photography a shaky business so I could have done with a tripod. Even so, pleasing images were made and I came away happy.

Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat from Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

There was a trip to Edinburgh too and that had me revisiting old haunts from my university days up there. Places like Blackford Hill, Morningside, Bruntsfield, the Meadows and the city centre along with Dean Village, Stockbridge, the Botanic Gardens and Inverleith Park gave shape to what essentially was a stravaig. Skies were blue and the sun was out too so it was a glorious day for some strolling and there is more exploring to be done around Blackford Hill and another trip along the Water of Leith towards the Edinburgh would not go amiss either.

My mind has been travelling overseas too but I am reminded that I should be making time for some hill country wandering too. The closest that I have got is what I have mentioned above and there was following a stretch of the Macclesfield Canal too. Ideas have not been collated but catching up on trip reports from the past year of too may sort that.

A possible project milestone

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

This past summer has been one that has seen me revisit the Lake District after a gap of more than four years. In fact, there was more than one weekend visit too and first of these could not have enjoyed better weather. The source of my attentions was a Buttermere, a valley that I have overlooked for far too long since my first visit there over a decade ago. Though I played with the idea of going over Seat, High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike in a single push, I saw sense and stuck with Haystacks instead. The next object of my explorations was Patterdale from where I trotted over St. Sunday Crag and continued to Grasmere via Grisedale Tarn. For at least two weekends on the trot, this part of Cumbria defied predicted weather doom with the second offering up a sultry opening that got me engaging in more rocky fell walking. The last outing was tamer following a delayed departure and took in Orrest Head and Loughrigg Fell before the evening grew greyer and damper.

Fleetwith Pike, Buttermere, Cumbria, England

All of this allowed me to capture a number of photos and that partially was the cause of me getting out and about in the first place with the YHA helping by having spaces in their hostels in the right places at the right times that I could uncover on their website. It was the quest for a better photo of Fleetwith Pike with Buttermere in front of it that drew me there in the first place and there was no disappointment, especially with a late summer evening spent in fading light with the only perturbation of a quiet valley being the tumbling waters of a gill. It was memorable bliss.

My St. Sunday Crag outing granted its share of photographic opportunities too with Ullswater and the fells about Helvellyn attracting my notice. However, my third excursions saw an envisaged photo of Grasmere denied by advancing cloud so that is one that could need repeating and any excuse will do a hill wanderer when it comes to revisiting a pleasing location.

There are other possibilities of course with recent films made by Terry Abraham with Mark Richards and Chris Townsend drawing new things to my notice. An actual ascent of Helvellyn from Wythburn could become a reality yet as could a similar escapade to the top of Great Gable. The latter stunned me when I glimpsed it from Haystacks and it looks manageable from Seathwaite too. In a lot of ways, I am beginning to wonder if it is that little bit easier to get to the Lakeland fells than it is to their counterparts in northwest Wales. A recent promise of good weather around Anglesey and Snowdonia brought home to me how low my stock of trip ideas for those places is. Replenishment is ongoing.

One thing that might help with that is a perusal of my online Snowdonia photo album because it has been doing the same for its Lakeland counterpart that partly inspired me to return to Cumbria again year. In fact, a good number of photos from the past summer have found their way into the Lake District album during an overhaul that it received. That did take a share of time to do between selecting and processing photos as well as writing some descriptive text to go with them. Not unexpectedly, the time spent doing that took away from writing stuff on here so here is a list of the photos that I now have in this album (entry links to an actual photo too):

Looking towards Langdale Pikes from Orrest Head, Windermere

Red Screes & Wansfell Pike as seen from Orrest Head, Windermere

Caudale Moor & Thornthwaite Crag as seen from Orrest Head, Windermere

Yoke, Troutbeck

Hagg Gill, Troutbeck

Kirkstone Pass, Ambleside

Pasture Bottom, Hartsop

Hartsop Dodd, Hartsop

Place Fell, Patterdale

Looking towards Helvellyn from Place Fell, Patterdale

Looking towards Blencathra from Place Fell, Patterdale

Martindale, Patterdale

Ullswater from Thornow End, Patterdale

Catstycam, Glenridding

Helvellyn & Striding Edge, Glenridding

Dollywaggon Pike, Glenridding

St. Sunday Crag, Patterdale

Fairfield, Rydal

Dollywaggon Pike & Grisedale Tarn, Grasmere

Grisedale Hause, Rydal

Looking along Tongue Gill towards Grisedale Hause, Grasmere

Grasmere, Grasmere

Loughrigg Fell, Ambleside

High Pike, Low Pike & Red Screes as seen from Loughrigg Fell, Ambleside

High Pike, Ambleside

Low Pike and High Pike, Ambleside

St. Mary’s Church, Ambleside

Langstrath, Stonethwaite

Great Gable as seen from Haystacks, Buttermere

Haystacks, Buttermere

Looking north from Scarth Gap, Buttermere

Fleetwith Pike & Warnscale, Buttermere

Fleetwith Pike, Buttermere

High Snockrigg, Buttermere

Whiteless Pike & Grasmoor, Buttermere

High Stile & High Crag, Buttermere

High Stile & Red Pike, Buttermere

Red Pike, Buttermere

Scales, Mellbreak & Crummock Water, Buttermere

Ashness Bridge, Grange

Blencathra, Threlkeld

Skiddaw, Keswick

Hawell Monument, Keswick

Clough Head from Jenkin Hill, Keswick

Skiddaw as seen from Little Man, Keswick

Great Calva, Keswick

Some of the above dates from I used to use film cameras and I fancy bettering the efforts on another visit but digital photos dominate the album now that I finally caught up with various efforts from as long ago as 2007. Then, film photography was my mainstay and I only pulled out the Canon EOS 10D DSLR I had in order to have some photos for trip reports. The arrival of a Pentax K10D changed all of that and I hardly use any film at all now. It wasn’t the 2014 photos that took the time but the backlog from previous years too along with enlargements of older photos originally captured on film. Hopefully, I will keep the album more alive from now on so as to avoid a backlog like this in the future because another hope of mine would be to keep visiting this wonderful corner of England. If anything, those excursions might be opportunities to correct any misimpressions that I may have as much as seeing new sights and improving on older photographic efforts.

Hawell Monument, Keswick, Cumbria, England


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