Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Places to go, places to see

14th May 2006

While doing my recent website update (it’s structural rather than being anything more instilling for non-techies), I got to thinking about possible destinations for walking trips. What triggered it was that I was seeing photos taken in places that I have already been and thinking: I should go back there. Examples include:

Scottish Borders: I paid visits to Peebles in 2003 but haven’t been since. Galashiels was considered as a destination for the Easter weekend but it didn’t work out that way; I went to the Isle of Arran instead.

Loch Lomond: On my forays to the Western Highlands, I keep passing this loch and the surrounding area. I only stopped in Balloch in 1999 but there is much more to savour: Ben Lomond, West Highland Way and much more.

Callander and the Trossachs: Another place that I have passed on numerous occasions. I did go walking in Callander’s vicinity in 2002 but a return is overdue.

Loch Tay: While at university in Edinburgh, I went here every year but haven’t been back in ages. It could be combined with Pitlochry and Aberfeldy for a future visit. I have never walked in the area because cycling was my preferred mode of exploration at the time when I frequented it.

Brecon Beacons: So far, I have walked in the Abergavenny locality but there is far more to see here. It will take more than a day trip to see more of this national park due to transport constraints.

And then there are other ideas again:

Northumberland: I keep reading about its fantastic moorland and I did walk along its coastline last January. That was only a warm-up for more, though. Due to transport costs (a Saver Return train ticket costs £65-72), a bit of planning is required for a longer stay that does justice to the county. I did have an idea for Easter that would seen a visit to the Northumbria National Park combined with a trip to the Scottish Borders. It never materialised though and has remained on the shelf.

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path: I have read about this is in the magazine The Great Outdoors and rate it as an idea for a long weekend.

Ireland: I have seen less of my own country than I have of the U.K. and I keep telling myself that I should set that to rights. I am happy to remain living and working in the U.K. so a trip of a few days in length would be what is needed. While I know Cork and Kerry well (and seeing them in my own time would be a bonus), there are other places where I have never been: Wicklow, Connemara, Mayo and Donegal to name some that come to mind. A car would make the whole idea run a lot smoother…

Western Isles: While I have dreamt up this week long ramble from Lewis to Barra, I am unsure as to whether it will happen. After all, I did consider Harris after my 2001 break in Scotland. This is the way that it would work: first get to Stornoway (overnight train/coach to Inverness, coach to Ullapool, ferry to Stornoway), travel to Harris by bus, then to North Uist by bus and ferry, onto South Uist via Benbecula (and causeways), taking a ferry to Barra, leave Barra by ferry to Oban. Of course, my plan would to punctuate all of this with walking. Care is required, though, as Sunday is kept very strictly as the Lord’s Day in Lewis and Harris (there has been a row about Calmac running a ferry service of a Sunday) and I don’t fancy being marooned anywhere. I do respect their point of view, though. However, the southern islands are more Catholic and have a more pragmatic approach to this.

Having all of the above in my mind does keep my feet very much on the ground: I haven’t seen anything like all of Britain and Ireland yet.

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