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!

Weekends away

5th May 2011

This evening finds Macclesfield a damper place than it has been for a good while. In fact, it could be said that 2011 has been largely dry until now. Of course, that can change and an unsettled summer could be all that many remember yet. In fact, some are asking if we are getting a taste of summer weather too early. However, it's best to try to enjoy good weather whenever it comes so long as life allows you to do just that.

In the U.K., we also gained two four day weekends back to back. That very unusual situation came our way thanks to Easter, a royal wedding and the Mayday bank holiday. With a short working week between them, many made a longer break from working life out of those public holidays. While I wasn't one of those, the long weekends did allow me get out into hill country in parts away from where I live and work.

After last year's Easter Sunday trot from Baslow to Bamford that left me wondering why I didn't book somewhere to stay on what was a pleasant evening. That wasn't something that I repeated this year with an overnight stay sorted for Llangollen. Previous trips to the hills around there have been day trips so this was a departure from that and its proximity to Cheshire meant that a later than planned departure on Sunday did nothing to jeopardise my plans. As it happened, I arrived sufficiently early that I could enjoy an evening stroll that retraced steps that took me by Castell Dinas Bran and Valle Crucis Abbey as well as along the Llangollen Canal towpath. That allowed me to leave a busy Llangollen for a little while before retiring to bed on my return. The next day saw me head in the hills to south of the Dee valley while exploring part of the North Berwyn Way and other trails. That walk took me onto the tops of  Mynydd Vivod and Y Foel before returning to Llangollen to start my journey home again. The weather had been kind to me and the countryside alluring so I left for home pleased if tired.

Last weekend saw me head to Scotland after a busy few days at work. My destination was Cowal and my base Dunoon. While I am not sure what Glaswegians do when they go "doon the watter", there are plenty of hills around the town for exploration. Saturday saw me hike from Ardentinny to Carrick Castle and, following a bus ride, from Lettermay near Lochgoilhead to Clachan Strachur by way of the Cowal Way. The day was stunning though a stiff wind took the edge off the temperatures, a useful thing for walking though sunbathing is ruled out for those of that persuasion. The those hills in Wales the previous weekend, they were quiet around Cowal too and there was no sign of the wildfires that blighted other parts. A later start on Sunday had me settling on a walk from Hunter's Quay to Glenkin and back again. There were designs on using the Coffin Trail to reach Bealach na Srèine in order gain views over Loch Striven and beyond but I saw sense because of the time that I had. Still, it has left me with a brainwave of walking from Toward to Dunoon by way of Inverchaolain Glen and Glenkin and there's a forestry track alternative to this too. My first weekend in Cowal was kind to me and I have left with ideas for future trips to this overlooked part of Scotland too.

As is usual for me, I have every plan to write fuller accounts of those two trips on here. The destinations may have been lesser known but there was plenty of pleasure in my exploring them. Legs may have been left fatigued and there was soothing replenishment for the soul and spirit too. Hopefully, that thought will continue to draw me into hill country for the rest of the year, particularly with this blog having reached its fifth birthday over the past weekend.

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