Intro’

Hello and a very big welcome to my blog “tothehills”.

(Started September 2008) 

My site, as I add my diary posts, will build a retrospective look back at country walks I’ve done, in what I hope is an informative and entertaining way for you to share.    

Country Walking, Rambling, Hiking, Hill Walking, Mountain Walking (or whatever you want to call this great pastime) is my most enduring passion and as such I have tried to convey this in my writings.

Please dip-in and find out about the walks I’ve done and places I’ve been.

I hope my diaries give you walks ideas for yourself.

 [I’d welcome comments/feedback if you feel inclined or if there are any questions on my walks please ask …. I’ve also a large back-catalogue of walks done across England and a bit further afield in my head (and on film) since about 1980 when I did my first walk (Kinder Scout from Edale to Hayfield) so if you think I might be able to impart some knowlegde please ask … one day I might actually be able to get them down in print!]

Site Navigation :-
There are a number of ways to move around my site.

  • The simplest is to just continue to scroll down from this home page; this will show my diary posts in the order in which they were published, most recent at the top. This maybe isn’t very intuitive if you’re looking for something more specific, but fine if you want to see what I’ve just written.
  • Use the search box (next to the tabs at the top of the page) … type what-ever you want to find – you might get lucky.
  • Use the categories in the side-bar area on the right, or click on the links below, which will take you to the groups of diary posts associated with regions where I’ve walked.

Coventry, Warwickshire and Close By     Lake District     Peak District

Yorkshire     Cotswolds     England-Other Places     Wales

With The Midland Hill Walkers     With The Coventry CHA Rambling Club

Walks on Long Distance Footpaths     Charity Walks

The interesting stuff (I hope) :-
I intend to separate my walks diaries into several regions in order to make Navigation as easy and as intuitive possible (see above). It may take some time to post something in each category, but I hope to populate each “folder” in time.

My diaries are written in an informal style describing the walks I’ve done, combining general route descriptions with comments about anything related to the walk, whether it be the weather, particular views, emotions, etc.

The boring stuff (perhaps) :-

 I will also add some pages that describe who I am, general interests, and various scribblings related to my walking activities and my views and opinions.

These are not essential to read before dipping straight into the walks but I hope they convey a bit more about me and how country walking has been a huge part of my non-working life.

Because walking in the countryside has its hazards and risks please read my disclaimer.

I hope you enjoy reading my walking diaries and scribblings.
Gary.

20150906_Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk

20150906_Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk

1st sunday of the month coming up, so walk day with the Coventry CHA A+’ers/walking friends.

Was due to be led by one gent’ who due to recurrence of a knee injury has had to pull out … leaving a void to be filled. Well earlier this week I found myself sending an email saying I’d lead in his stead, saying I’d find a circular somewhere in the White Peak Area, given I’ve done a fair few walks up there over the years.

My first idea was to use the car-park in Over Haddon as the starting point, or  maybe Moor lane Car-park a little nearer Youlgreave (or Youlgrave depending on what you’re reading) but both of these have charges that I felt were just too exhorbitent to cover for a day’s walking (especially as there could be 3 or 4 cars to pay for!).

I therefore switched my potential starting point to Youlgreave itself, which I think has a free car-park and maybe even has toilets. Being in the middle of The Peak District, surrounded by a net-work of footpaths and having both Bradford Dale and Lathkill Dale in very near proximity this is where I settled on.

My citeria was : Approx 10-12 miles, to include a dale or two, some high open land to get some views and a degree of hillyness without being overly strenuous and to try and find something else of interest along the way, such as a village, old mine workings, woods, etc.

I then poured over my OS Explorer Map (1:25,000 scale, no.OL24) to find a route tht I felt fitted, mapping the potential  routes on the “Walkjogrun” website to find lengths … and I came up with 5x variants and the links follow below :


Potential Walk-1 …. 13.5 Miles

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 1

Potential Walk-2 …. 12.4 Miles

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 2

Potential Walk-3 …. 11.1 Miles

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 3


Potential Walk-4 …. 11.8 Miles

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 4

Potential Walk-5 …. 9.6 Miles

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 5


And there you have it …. Favourite at the moment is walk-3, but with the option of making it route-4 right at the end by adding an extra little bit at the bottom end of Lathkill Dale/Allport village/Bradford Dale.  now all we need to do is arrive in Youlgeave (Youlgrave) at about 10-am and hope that the current weather forecast is right.

  • Dry, settled weather into the new week, and feeling pleasant in sunnier spells, but often large amounts of cloud with winds falling light. Chance of fog Monday and Tuesday morning.

T.T.F.N.

Gary

20150725_A Walk so good we did it again …… An afternoon Stroll near Crick

 20150725_A Walk so good we did it again

…… An afternoon Stroll near Crick

20150725_Reprise of a short walk near Crick, Northants

a short walk near Crick

When : 25 July 2015
Where : Crick, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Start and End Point : SP596,726
Distance : Approx 2.7 miles (4.3 km)
Significant heights : A gentle rise of approx 65 ft (20 m) … Mostly dead level.

Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No.222, Rugby & Daventry

If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on flickr.

20150725-04_Seed Head Starburst

Seed Head Starburst

This is to be a short post, even shorter than my last post which describes this exact same walk only repeated a little over a year later. Again it was a Saturday, again the sun was shining and it promised to be reasonably warm, without being hot, so it occurred to me that a drink and maybe a meal on the sun terrace would be a pleasant way to spend a Saturday lunch-time, with the possibility of a min-walk afterwards …. And so it panned out.

Without much detail :

20150725-01_Lunch at The Moorings - Crick

Lunch at The Moorings – Crick

Drive Rugby to Crick. Then the Crick Bypass (A428) ignoring the turn for Crick Village itself, and then away from Crick towards West Haddon and Northampton, again still on the A428. After a short distance, over the canal on a bit of a humped-back-bridge and very soon afterwards turned right into a roughish drive to reach the car park of The Moorings bar/restaurant.

Found an outside table, bought drinks, and found some menus. Wife and son decided they were a little cool in the canal-side breeze (despite the sun being mostly out). Settled down in the leather sofa and chairs. Decided on our food order. Relaxed, chatted, slowed down, ate the excellent and interesting food and was told that yes we could leave the car in their car-park whilst we went off for our walk.

And then we set off on our stroll :-

20150725-03_Parallel Lines

Parallel Lines

Through a gate by the side of the buildings to exit onto the A428 road.

A turn to the left along the road and over the canal bridge.

Across the road to drop down to the canal towpath.

 

 

20150725-05_Dominating the Landscape

Dominating the Landscape

Headed north on towpath, with canal on our right.

Past a marina (on the opposite side).

Bend to the left, to reach an arched red-brick bridge (No.13)

Climb away from canal to cross the bridge

Follow the path/bridle track ahead (north) in a straight line (with a small hill over on our left).

 

 

20150725-06_On the Fringes

On the Fringes

Crest the rise then descend still heading straight north.

Enjoy the views from the slightly raised elevation.

Reach the canal again, cross over a bridge and drop down to the towpath.

 

 

20150725-07_Light Play

Light Play

Turn right to follow towpath (water on our left) in a big loop.

Follow the canal turning through 180 degrees in a big anti-clockwise loop.

Reach Bridge No.13 – Cross under and continue on tow path.

 

20150725-08_Stranded and Abandoned

Stranded and Abandoned

Continue on tow path, now bending around to the right.

Pass the marina entrance again (on the opposite bank).

Rise back to the A428 and return to The Moorings.

20150725-09_Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo Baggins

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, to finish, we had another quick drink before heading off, back around the Crick bypass, under the M1, through the vast DIRFT warehousing/distribution site and back into Rugby and home.

So, once again, when the weather comes good in England, we have a simply fantastic place to live and “play” in.

20140517-36_The Moorings Bistro-Cafe-Bar-Restaurant

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20140517_An afternoon Stroll near Crick

20140517-36_The Moorings Bistro-Cafe-Bar-Restaurant

The Moorings – Crick

20140517_An afternoon Stroll near Crick
When : 17 May 2014
Where : Crick, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Start and End Point : SP596,726
Distance : Approx 2.7 miles (4.3 km)
Significant heights : A gentle rise of approx 65 ft (20 m) … Mostly dead level.

Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No.222, Rugby & Daventry

20140517_A wander near Crick, Northants

If you click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

20140517-02_The Moorings_Crick

The Moorings – Crick

This is to be a short post, as it was a very short walk (a quite impromptu one at that). I’d gone in to work for most of the Saturday morning, which isn’t the greatest way to spend a week-end, especially with clear blue skies and the promise of the warmest day of the year so far, when I got a phone call from my wife saying she’d found a bar/restaurant near the village of Crick that she thought sounded could be a good place to visit, especially as it was beside a canal with the possibility of a mini-walk. Of course, I readily agreed … With the promise of food, beer and a walk, how could I possibly pass on that offer. In fact, the idea sounded doubly great, as our son was away camping at the seaside for the week-end and daughter was working until 5pm and it would have been a shame to waste the opportunity of some quality “us-time” in favour of the normal run of the mill housework, gardening jobs, shopping, etc.

20140517-29_Reflections_The Moorings Bistro-Cafe-Bar-Restaurant

The Moorings – Crick

So off we set for the short drive out of Rugby on The B4429 Ashlawn Road, A428 through Hillmorton and then through a massive DIRFT warehousing / industrial / distribution development, followed by passing under the M1 at junction-18, around the Crick Bypass (still on the A428) ignoring the turn for Crick Village itself, and then away from Crick towards West Haddon/Northampton, again still on the A428. After a short distance we crossed over the canal on a bit of a humped-back-bridge and very soon afterwards turned right into a side drive signed “The Moorings” and then followed the roughish track around to reach the car park of The Moorings bar/restaurant.

20140517-39_Green+Red against Blue

The Moorings – Crick

You can sometimes get a good feeling of a place from the moment your eyes see it, and this was one of the moments. The conglomeration of red-brick buildings, canal side setting, and sun terrace with a scattering of tables and parasols/umbrellas was very attractive and we soon settled at a table (luckily just vacated).

We ordered food (mixed olives, breads with balsamic and oil dips, chicken burger and a Portuguese style fish stew) and including a beer for me. We chatted, ate food, had another beer and chatted some more along with a touch of people-watching …. and started to burn in the sun. It was a VERY relaxed couple of hours, which I really needed after the stresses of work the week before.

 

20140517-06_Pretty in Pink_Hawthorn Flowers

Pretty in Pink_Hawthorn Flowers

The speed of service fitted in with this scenario and actually forced us to slow down – It certainly wasn’t what you could call fast-food, but the quality was excellent and the staff very pleasant to deal with.

Anyway, after a good while, we decided to drag ourselves upright and head off for a wander and so prevent what might have turned into an imperative to have another beer and so set off, finding a gate by the side of the buildings to exit out onto the A428 main road.

20140517-28_Reflections_Crick Marina Narrow Boats

Reflections_Crick Marina Narrow Boats

A turn to the left along the road and over the canal bridge allowed us to drop down to the canal towpath, where upon we headed north with the water on our right, soon passing a marina off on the opposite side. What a super little place and what a lovely thing to do; the sun was shining, there were flowers in the hedgerows, narrow boats were moored, a few passed us heading in both directions, and the nicest thing? People, complete strangers, actually said hello, passed the time of day, nodded or waved … it was an almost timeless scenario.

20140517-03_b+w_Narrow Boats_Grand Union

timeless scenario.

20140517-07_Arch_Bridge 13

Bridge 13

20140517-09_Cattle

Cattle looking for the lushest morsels

After less than ½ a mile along the canal, it bends around to the left following the contours of the land and very soon reaches a typically arched red-brick bridge (No.13) passing over the canal. There were a bunch of bullocks on the opposite side of the cut, all lined up trying to reach some waterside plants growing lushly on the canal banks. A single line of barbed wire prevented them from making any meaningful meal of the vegetation. All except one (and later two) of the beasts, who found that they could slip inch by inch under the barbed wire. In fact both ended up completely under the wire and the smaller brown one started sinking in the soft bank and had to struggle backwards reversing onto firmer land. My lovely wife was quite concerned for their welfare, convinced they’d either fall in the canal itself or just remain stuck on the wrong side of the barbed wire. But, they seemed happy, so we moved on. This entailed leaving the towpath, to rise up to and over the brick bridge and then over the canal. The path/bridle track ahead rose ahead in a straight line (with a small hill over on our left), this was easy going and didn’t take long to crest and then start descending still heading straight north. The slightly raised elevation afforded some pleasant views over the surrounding countryside. Nothing spectacular, but pretty and understated and probably under-appreciated as much of the Midlands countryside is.

20140517-12_Feathery Reeds_ Yellow Buttercups

Feathery Reeds_ Yellow Buttercups

The path brought us back to the canal, again crossing via a brick bridge and a side path dropped us easily down to the towpath once again. You’ll probably have realised by now that as the bridle track was dead straight, the canal must have bent around through 180-degrees, which is exactly what it had done in a big loop contouring around the hill. Our route now, was to follow around this loop, so we passed under the bridge and headed off on the tow-path (water on our left).

20140517-14_Protective Parents on Guard Watch

Protective Parents on Guard Watch

There was a large hedge with trees on our right, pretty much blocking any view in that direction, but on the opposite side of the cut, fields festooned with yellow buttercups stretched away from us – Beautiful. A couple of geese stood sentinel on the opposite bank at one point, quite odd really, as you’d normally expect them to be grazing. But their bolt upright stance became understandable, they had goslings nearby and we spotted a heron flying in the mid-distance and perching in some of the trees. The adult geese had obviously seen the threat long before us and parental protection was behind their strong demeanour.

20140517-16_English Reflections_Narrow Boat

English Reflections_Narrow Boat

20140517-17_Almost Full Circle_Canal Bridge 15

Almost Full Circle_Canal Bridge 15

20140517-11_Happy Cheerful Buttercups_crop

Happy Cheerful Buttercups

The day was proving to be absolutely lovely, with blue skies, more flowers, vibrant greens of spring, and perfect reflections in the canal and all the time in the world to appreciate what a wonderful place we live in.

After a while another long narrow boat, with pristine classical paintwork, came towards us. It was just shouting out for a photo or two. The chap at the tiller as he passed by asked if I could post a copy to his face book account …. Well how could I possibly refuse and so duly did later that evening having found his pages …. It turned out this was their maiden voyage which would explain the perfect finish of the boat.

20140517-23_Maiden Voyage_Narrow Boat

Maiden Voyage_Narrow Boat

20140517-25_Maiden Voyage_Narrow Boat

Maiden Voyage_Narrow Boat

Well, the canal loop, ermm, looped around, bringing us back to the bridge crossed earlier on and passed straight under (the cows had extricated themselves from the wrong side of the barbed wire), and we were soon back to the marina area and then back to The Moorings Café/Bar/Restaurant.

20140517-38_Green+Red against Blue

At The Moorings – Crick

20140517-33_Red Parasols_The Moorings Bistro-Cafe-Bar-Restaurant

At The Moorings – Crick

20140517-30_Paired Up_Parasol Reflections

At The Moorings – Crick

20140517-41_Beer Glass Reflections

At The Moorings – Crick

What to do now ? … go home, go somewhere else, stay put for another drink? … it was just soooo pleasant here that the last of these was chosen, with a phone call to daughter at work to come and join us after she’d finished, which she dutifully did to cap off a lovely day.

When the weather comes good in England, we have a simply fantastic place to live and “play” in.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20140517-42_Narrow Boat Reflections

Narrow Boat Reflections – From The Moorings – Crick

20150704_Warwickshire_Cawston to Thurlaston Countryside Walk

20150704_Warwickshire_Cawston to Thurlaston Countryside Walk

20150704-01(b+w)_Sinuous Curves__Wheat Field near Cawston Rugby

Sinuous Curves__Wheat Field near Cawston Rugby

When : 4th July 2015

Summary : I’m not going to say much here today, instead just a few brief words to say the walk on a warm summer day, was from Cawston [near Bilton/Rugby] to Thurlaston [near Dunchurch] and couldn’t be more than a couple of miles.

The Route :-

• Cawston, (to the south west of Rugby),
• A4642, Coventry Road to Brickyard Spinney
• Across a wheat field (right of way footpath path hadn’t been put in by farmer yet again!!!)
• Past a small pool at Potford’s Dam/Cawston Spinney.
• Wide field verges by the side of a couple of fields, heading south.
• Look up into the sky as two jets approached us, banked around in a wide arc and disappeared into the sun.
• Up to Northampton Lane (hedge/tree lined path).
• Turn left along Northampton Lane, just briefly.
• Right down side of another wheat field (with lots of lovely poppies).
• Reach the B4429 road, another Coventry Road.
• Left alongside the road, passing Medda Place nursery, reach a very striking building with bright yellow corrugated roof
• Cross the B4429 opposite the yellow house to follow side road (Main Street).
• Main street rises a little to cross over the M45 and then into the pretty village of Thurlaston, including a set of stocks on a little green in amongst attractive cottages,
• Met my lovely wife (who was already in the village for other reasons) and got a lift  home.

20150704-01_Sinuous Curves_Wheat Field near Cawston Rugby

Sinuous Curves__Wheat Field near Cawston Rugby

And now, to follow, a set of photo’s from the walk, which are maybe a bit more interesting than my words.

If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on flickr.

20150704-04_Big Blue Sky-Fluffy White Swirly Clouds near Rugby

Big Blue Sky-Fluffy White Swirly Clouds

20150704-03_Big Blue Sky-Fluffy White Swirly Clouds near Rugby

Some More Big Blue Sky-Fluffy White Swirly Clouds

20150704-05_Fly Past (out of the blue)

Fly Past (out of the blue) – Can anyone tell me what they are ?

20150704-07_Fly Past_Into the Blue

Fly Past_Into the Blue – Can anyone tell me what they are ?

20150704-08_Fly Past_Into The Sun

Fly Past_Into The Sun

20150704-09_Wheat Field with Poppies

Wheat Field with Poppies

20150704-10_Wheat Field with Poppies

Wheat Field with Poppies

20150704-12_Wheat Field with Poppies

Wheat Field with Poppies

20150704-15_Yellow roofed cottage_Thurlaston

Yellow roofed cottage_Thurlaston

20150704-16_ Thurlaston Stocks

Thurlaston Stocks

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

Oh and finally, there are other paths that you can take from Thurlaston, to Dunchurch and Toft and most notably dropping down to the perimeter track around Draycote Reservoir. So it is perfectly possible to make a circular walk around this quiet part of Warwickshire. If you’d like to, please ask about the options available and I’ll try to get back to you ASAP, or you could search through my past “Cawston” or “Dunchurch” walks diaries.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20150526_Howth Harbour and Peninsular Coastal Cliff Walk

20150526_Howth Harbour and Peninsular Coastal Cliff Walk

20150526-085_Seal_Howth Harbour

Howth Harbour Seal

When : 26th May 2015

Who : Me and my family

Where : The village and peninsula of Howth, North of Dublin Bay, Ireland.

Start and End Point : DART Railway Station, Howth

Significant heights : Guesstimate Approx. 430 ft. (130 m)

Distance : Approx. 4.7 miles (7.5 km) if you exclude the wander around the harbour.20150524_Howth Peninsular Coastal Cliff Walk (without the harbour bit)Or …. Distance : Approx. 7.1 miles (11.5 km) if you include my explore of Howth Harbour.20150524_Explore of Howth Harbour and Peninsular Coastal Cliff Walk

Map Used : Information Leaflet : Experience Howth A Brief Guide and Map, picked up at a little info’ centre kiosk near the harbour.

20150526-008_Howth Harbour_Wheeling ing Seagulls

Wheeling Seagulls

Summary : A day trip out from Dublin with a gentle explore and discovery of Howth Harbour and the cliff path around the coastal peninsula. Really quite an easy walk but well worth it with many super views, wild flowers a plenty, and nesting sea birds on the cliffs. There’s an opportunity for a pint a little over half-way round and a host of pubs and restaurants in the village …. oh and don’t forget the charming seals !

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on flickr. There are also some more pic’s of the day in Howth, if you just want photo’s I’ve created a set of photos of Howth in Ireland.

We had booked a 4-day/3-night trip to Dublin as a family, mostly to take in the delights of Dublin itself, but with the idea of heading out to Howth village  at some point in the break for a drink and probably a meal depending on the weather and how the day would pan out.

20150526-001_Dublin Dart_Tara Street Station

Tara Street DART railway station

Well, the Tuesday looked like it would be good weather-wise, so it was agreed that would be the best day for a trip to the sea-side. However, the day was a little slow to get going and we actually had grey, overcast, damp conditions as we walked down O’Connell Street, Over O’Connell Bridge, along Burgh Quay alongside the Liffey to reach Tara Street DART station. We obtained tickets for the short journey out of Dublin, heading north and then around to the east with the train terminating at Howth Station. As a rule, you kind of get a different take on a city when viewed from a train, with the rump end of the town on view. Dublin was no exception, and the graffiti and the like makes for an interesting contrast to the glitz of new glass and steel buildings or the splendour of older buildings with their grand stone facades etc.

20150526-006_Howth Harbour_Fishing Boat Maintenance

Fishing Boat Maintenance

It was ever so slightly drizzling when we alighted the train, but this soon ceased and some pale blue sky was showing through the thinning cloud by the time we’d walked up the west pier, passing a series of fresh fish outlets, restaurants and fish processing units. These, along with a couple of fishing boats moored side by side on the quay-side were indicative of a proper working harbour. In fact, a couple of fishermen were doing some maintenance work on a very industrial looking contraption hanging over the stern of one of these boats.

20150526-007_Howth Harbour_Scavenging Seagulls B+W

Scavenging Seagulls

Heading back to land brought us past a skip, I would think containing a good proportion of discarded fish bits from the nearby processing plant. Why do I think this ?, because there were a multitude of gulls scavenging on and in the skip and wheeling around us in a swirling ever changing mass of beaks and feathers. It’s surprising just how agile in the air these rather large birds are, and powerful, noisy and graceful in equal measure too.

20150526-047_Yachts_Howth Marina_Harbour

Yachts – Howth Marina

20150526-048_Reflections_Yachts_Howth Marina_Harbour

Masts & Relections

Upon reaching the front/promenade we turned left on a path heading through an attractive lawned area separating the harbour from the road and car-parking. The more industrial harbour area gave way to a more gentile marina with a multitude of posh looking yachts moored in neat lines. It always surprises me just how much money is tied up (literally) in these marinas. There must have been thousands upon thousands of Euro’s (if not millions of Euro’s) just sat bobbing up and down doing absolutely nothing at all and probably for most of the year too. It kind of puts the recent financial crisis into perspective really. Even in the depths of a “first-world” recession, there are people who can afford to buy, maintain and pay mooring costs of these vessels. It’s not a wonder that half of northern Africa wants to come to live in Europe. Sorry, I got a tad political there; it’s not a criticism, just an observation about our lifestyles. Perhaps we’re not as poorly off as we’d like to think we are, or at least we’re not as hard-up as some people in power would like us to believe.

Anyway, back to Howth ….

20150526-032_Aer Lingus Airbus A320 Ei-DES over Howth

Aer Lingus Airbus A320

The Howth Peninsula sits protruding out to the north of Dublin Bay, the lump of land nearly forming an island, all but for a narrow strip of land adjoining it to mainland Ireland. There is a small attractive island just north of Howth village/harbour, with an interesting mix of shoreline, grassy slopes and craggy rocks and cliff faces. It carries the strange name of Ireland’s Eye (or Inis Mac Neasáin in the Gaelic). Beyond this Lambay Island can be seen in the distance. The flight path of many planes heading into Dublin Airport bisects above and between these two islands and a steady stream of aircraft could be seen all day long. In particular there were a good proportion of Aer Lingus planes, including Airbus A320’s, just like the one we’d flown in on from Birmingham a couple of days earlier on this very flight path.

As the weather improved still further, we decided that a walk along the cliffs might be in order (we’d half mentioned this back at our hotel the night before) and a leaflet with some sketchy maps was picked up from an information centre kiosk along the prom. It seemed a short route could be had, ascending to “The Summit” (but not the highest point on the peninsula) along the coast before dropping back into the village via a choice of routes. So we set off, I’d like to say at a fair old pace, but no, we had all day with no hurry, so it was really a bit of an amble along the front, joining Balscadden Road which soon rose quite quickly away from the marina area heading at first southwards and then swinging left around to the east passing a series of houses as we went.

The last time we were here, some 15 or 16 years earlier at a guess, we pushed our daughter (a toddler at the time) up the steep road in a push-chair. Now she’s old enough to buy a round of Guinness’ and didn’t need pushing much at-all. Our 13 y.o. son on the other hand hadn’t even been thought of all those years ago, but the only problem with him walking us now, is holding him back. He’s turned into a super little walker under my “tuition”.

20150526-013_Ireland's Eye (island) from Howth

Ireland’s Eye Island

The day had warmed considerably now as the sun had by now made a very welcome appearance, enhancing the views back over to Irelands Eye. The water was a lovely turquoisey-blue; if you used your imagination you could almost think it looked Mediterranean. After a while we reached Kilrock Car-Park at the end of the road with a very small shop cum café on the left hand side with a great view over the waters. We bought a bottle of water each, thinking it was starting to warm up, and we’d decided to push on further up the cliff path heading off at the far end of the car park area.

20150526-016_Howth Peninsula - Coastal Path Steps

Howth Peninsula Coast Path

20150526-019_Howth Peninsula - on the coastal path

On The Howth Peninsula Coast Path

20150526-025_Howth Peninsula Cliffs_Nesting sea birds + gulls

Howth Peninsula Cliffs_Nesting sea birds + gulls

The path was well trodden and good underfoot, climbing at a steady incline and we soon reached a series of steps climbing a little steeper up the headland (I think this point is called The Nose of Howth), the steps were an easy climb and we soon resumed the dusty path again, now swinging around to the right to be heading more or less southwards. The cliffs to our left, where they tumbled steeply down into the sea, gave home to nesting sea birds, a place for cormorants to sun themselves and a habitat for patches of thrift (sea pinks), grasses waving in the breeze, clumps of thorny bright yellow flowered gorse and a host of other pretty flowered low growing plants most of which I have no idea of their names but including some very attractive miniature roses …… I apologize for my ignorance of the native flora.

20150526-024_Howth Peninsula_Cormorants sunning on rocks

Howth Peninsula_Cormorants sunning on rocks

20150526-022_Howth Peninsula Cormorants in flight

Cormorants in flight

20150526-026_Howth Peninsula coast cliff path - Thrift_Sea Pinks

Thrift_Sea Pinks

20150526-020_Howth Peninsula coast cliff path - Thrift_Sea Pinks

Thrift_Sea Pinks

20150526-021_Howth Peninsula coast cliff path - Grass and Sea

Howth Peninsula coast cliff path

20150526-023_Misuse _ Warning sign advertising hoarding

Misuse _ Warning sign advertising hoarding

The path now continued southwards, still climbing steadily, with one or two benches to sit and admire the view and a number of bright yellow warning signs, warning of the dangers of falling over the cliffs. Really unnecessary really as the cliff edge dropping off quickly is kind of obvious. This is also thought by a certain proportion of the populace as well, as some of the signs were used for fly posting a host of mini advertising stickers; one sign in particular was more like an advertising hoarding, with the base message being completely obscured by what I think were mostly foreign stickers.

20150526-028_Howth Peninsula_Baily Lighthouse_Dublin Bay + Wicklow Mountains

Baily Lighthouse_Dublin Bay + Wicklow Mountains

We had now long lost the view over the marina but this was replaced by a different vista, including a headland pointing out towards Dublin Bay, the tip of the rocky arm populated by a lighthouse. Over on the far side of the bay we could see the coast of Dun Laoghaire/Dalkey and beyond that, The Wicklow Mountains as a soft bluey silhouette against the sky. The coast path carries on down onto the lighthouse peninsula, but that wasn’t for us, as we needed to branch off to the right ascending a roughish path (quite steeply in comparison to the path just walked up) to reach The Summit Car-Park. The climb wasn’t long by any means and we soon reached the car-park and then joined Bailey Green Road, descending away from the coast into an area of housing. After a short time along the road we reached a more major road junction over-looked by The Summit Inn.

20150526-034_Summit Inn _ Howth Penninsula

Summit Inn _ Howth Penninsula

Now, being guests in a foreign land, it would have been just plain rude to just walk on by, don’t you agree? Well we thought so, so headed in to the bar, obtained a round of drinks (including a couple of Guinness’, for me and daughter) and headed back outside to sit on the front terrace to watch the world go by at a quite relaxed pace.

20150526-035_Old Tram Way Path from Summit Inn to Howth

Old Tram Way Path from Summit Inn to Howth

Once our thirsts had been quenched, we headed off again … heading across the green in front of us to pick up a made up track after passing through a gap in a low stone wall. This track is the bed of an old tramway, which heads down the hill all the way back to Howth Railway Station. It in-effect bisects an area of housing, but with wide verges and banks of vegetation, grasses, shrubs, trees and various common hedgerow flowers plus some plants that have obviously “escaped” from the local gardens and are now naturalising themselves in the semi-wide environment. I was particularly taken by a large clump of nightshade in flower. There’s something about the bright purple and yellow blooms that shouts “poisonous”.

20150526-038_Nightshade Flowers

Nightshade Flowers

20150526-039_View over Church Howth to Ireland's Eye

View over Church_Howth to Ireland’s Eye

The way was very easy, and we’d soon crossed straight over Kitestown Road, Grey’s Lane and Dungriffin Road, descending at a steady gradient. It was a few minutes after crossing the last of these roads that I realised we could have turned right and left into Dungriffin Villas (road) to pick up a path dropping into Howth Village via the bottom of a steep sided valley. However, we didn’t feel like back-tracking, but as the path bent around to the left in a sweeping curve there was a break in the right hand bank with a narrow pathway heading down and across some rough scrubland, going in the general direction that suggested it might pick up with the valley path seen below us. I was right, it did, and having carefully passed through a little stand of gorse, it afforded a fantastic view northwards down Howth Village Main Street, over the ornate tower of a church (Church of the Assumption I think) and over the marina to Ireland’s Eye island and beyond out to sea.

 

20150526-042_View over Howth to Ireland's Eye

View over Howth to Ireland’s Eye

20150526-044_Ruins_Howth_Naturalised Snapdragons

Ruins_Howth_Naturalised Snapdragons

The impromptu detour was worth it just for this one view, and yes the narrow path did drop down to the village, but the girls felt their footwear maybe wasn’t up to the steepish descent on the dusty path, so we made our way back up to the tramway within a couple of minutes, turning right along the route as before. We soon reached and turned right down Balkin road and then right again at Balglass Road, which in turn became Main Street as it took a left bend.

We had now dropped quite considerably in height and were now well and truly in a built up area passing homes, shops, a library, pubs, the ruins of an old Abbey and the church we’d been looking down on just a few minutes earlier.

We continued on downwards, just following our noses really, to re-join the marina/promenade area near the landward end of The East Pier. Not wanting to leave Howth just yet, there were four obvious choices on what to do next :-

  • Find a pub for more drinkies (not really necessary).
  • Find a restaurant for a meal (just a tad too early).
  • Just sit and do nothing, (taking in the sights and sounds of Howth in the sunshine).
  • Or find an ice cream shop and then sit and do not-a-lot in the sun.

This Last option won quite easily … and the ice cream was excellent bought from a shop on the front.

Really, this walk’s write-up could end right now with a note to say, walk along the front to the station and catch the DART train back to Dublin, but we didn’t do that, nope, the following paragraph(s) will finish off the description of our day, so you might like to continue reading.

20150526-045_Howth Village Cottages_Olympic House

Howth Village Cottages_Olympic House

Once our ice creams had been eaten, we headed back along the prom to the start of the east pier once again, where we wondered why one building has the Olympic Rings displayed on the sky blue walls. I guess I’ll have to investigate further at some point in the future. We also passed by the posh boats in the marina once again. I fancied a walk out to the lighthouses at the end of the pier, but the others didn’t fancy that, so the girls sat on a bench chatting and doing crosswords in the sun whilst my son went clambering around on the rocks on the far side of the pier (overlooking the picturesque Balscadden Bay) and I went off on my own on top of the strong sea wall, just me and my camera.

20150526-051_Balscadden Bay_Headland and Houses_Howth_Ireland

Balscadden Bay_Headland and Houses

20150526_East Pier, Howth, IrelandAs with many piers, the length can be quite deceptive, and I reckoned it was maybe half a mile to reach the far end with its two lighthouses, the furthest one out being pristinely white-washed with a bright red railing at the top standing out against the now deep blue sky and fluffy white clouds. I’m not sure if I really captured an excitingly captivating image of the two structures, but hey I tried.

20150526-060_Howth Harbour_Chains

Howth Harbour_Chains

Heading back I decided to try something a bit different from a photographic sense, just trying to be arty with colour, detail and composition in some dock side buildings : so, Red Doors/Symmetry, Blue Door with yellow squares, Blue Vents, Yellow Chains, etc. became my subject matter, pretty much ignoring the obvious of boats in the safe haven of the harbour.

20150526-059_Howth Harbour Workshops_Blue Vents

Howth Harbour Workshops_Blue Vents

20150526-063_Howth Harbour_Stainless Steel Spike Sculpture Thing

Howth Harbour_Star of the Sea (Stainless Steel Spike Sculpture Thing)

A tad further back towards land, a side arm of the pier took me down to a different looking sculpture named “Realt Na Mara” (Star of the Sea). A completely stainless steel slender mast topped-off with a set of equally shiny stainless steel spikes in a three dimensional star. I don’t often like modern sculptures, but this one I did, albeit it seems a little out of keeping with the aesthetic of the rest of Howth. The reflections in the polished metal almost made it disappear from view, even from a few feet away. Now here was a photographic challenge if ever I saw one, and I think I made a fair fist of capturing its essence (well at least I hope I did) and then I played around with some fun shots of reflections including a distorted “selfie”, or should that be self-portrait.

20150526-071_Howth Harbour_Mending fishing nets

Mending fishing nets

Well time had moved on and we decided a meal would now be in order, so another stroll back along the front brought us back to The West Pier and the series of fish restaurants. Somehow we settled on Crabby Jo’s (part of Wright’s of Howth). A good meal was had, including BBQ wings, Mussels, Crab Claws and Whitebait for starters, and Hake, a couple of Fish Pies and a Half-Lobster with Crab Meat for mains (we didn’t need a dessert). After eating we headed back over to the harbour side and were fortunate enough to see a group of seals bobbing and diving and generally swimming around I’m sure having fun in the lovely evening light.

20150526-084_Seal_Howth Harbour

Seal_Howth Harbour

20150526-091_Shadows_Three Guinness + Soft drink

Three Guinness + Soft drink

Well, that put the seal (please excuse the pun) on a simply super day at the seaside, except we got to the DART station just after a train had left. So, what to do to whilst waiting for the next train ? … The answer was obvious really, so we headed into the pub situated in a building directly under the station and sat in the sun on the outside terrace drinking – Yep you’ve guessed it, another Guinness.

Well, that’s it I’m afraid. We caught the train back to central Dublin and made our way to our hotel. I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20150523_Echium Pininana (Tree Echium)

20150523_Echium Pininana (Tree Echium)
When : Spring 2015
Where : My Front Garden, Rugby, Warwickshire.

When you click on a photo’ it should open larger on my photostream on flickr.

20150523-05_Echium Pininana Plants - Flower SpikesI have two main interests, which, if you’ve peeked at any of my previous posts you’ll know more or less what I’m about to write …. But if you’re new to my blog, I’ll reiterate again just especially for you.

My first interest is : Country Walking, Hill Walking, Hiking, Rambling, Fell Walking or what-ever other term you’d like to call it.

My second interest is : Photography …. Unlike above, it’s kind of hard to find another descriptive term, except to say, I like taking pictures with a camera.

 

Now, over the last few years I’ve published a series of blog posts describing my country walks 20150523-11_Echium Pininana Plants - Bumble Bee Magnetand enhanced/illustrated them with my photo’s. Most of the time I would describe myself as a walker who takes photo’s. However, I think that’s starting to change, as my knees are becoming worse for wear as I get older, so much so that at times that I feel more like a photographer who can walk a bit. Whichever way I look at it, both interests interlock and complement each other just fine for my blog.

20150523-11_Echium Pininana - Bumble Bee - Heavy CropHowever, as a third interest, I also enjoy a touch of gardening. But I don’t blog much about this, as it hasn’t got that much in common with my walking stuff.

HOWEVER, this post is an attempt to bridge that gap, albeit with a very tenuous link, but hey, I want to show off a bit.

 

20150523-03_Me with Echium Pininana Plants in FlowerLet’s start by going back to a family holiday [2008/2009 ish it must have been], to the Torbay area of south Devon with a combination of walking/sightseeing/normal touristy stuff. On one walk (tenuous link) around some hilly gardens on the outskirts of Torquay, we came across a tall exotic looking flower spike many feet taller than me (I’m just over 6-feet 4” tall) and my lovely wife said “Can you grow me one of those please ? I’d like one very much”, or words to that effect.

I’d never seen one of these plants before, but, luckily there was a big clue as to what the plant was, as there was a label stuck in the ground near where it’s single thick stem anchored it onto the hillside. So I learnt that it was an ECHIUM PININANA and I took a photo just to remind me later (did you notice the tenuous link to my photography 20150523-07_Echium Pininana Plants - Flower Spikesinterest there). Little did I know that this chance finding would lead to this blog post some seven or eight years later.

We found a couple of garden centres in the area but no one seemed to know anything about these Echiums, they certainly didn’t stock any plants and didn’t have any seeds either. So, upon reaching home, some research on the internet and a trawl through different potential suppliers, led us to a nursery/garden centre in Cumbria who sold seeds and we ended up with a packet being sent through the post. Of the seedlings I managed to germinate, I got one to flower (a neighbour helped over-winter it in a pot in his greenhouse for me), the others succumbed to the winter cold and died. However, the one flower spike seeded which has eventually resulted in what I can now call a successful growing, with 20150523-04_Echium Pininana Plants - Flower Spikesnine plants now in flower, the smallest just under 6-feet tall, the tallest well over 13-feet tall I reckon. They are certainly the hardest plant I’ve ever tried to grow.

Why are they hard to grow ? Because Echium Pininana plants are Non-Hardy plants native to The Canary Islands … They can grow on the south coast of England without protection (like we saw whilst on holiday).

But I’ve grown these in Rugby in the English Midlands nowhere near a maritime climate and where we can get some quite hard and persistent frosts.

I’ve managed to cajole my current crop to flower by :-

• The luck of two relatively mild winters,
• Planting near a south facing wall,
• Protected by other shrubs against the wind, and
• The use of copious swathes of horticultural fleece.

Apparently, sometimes these plants are biennials but I’ve had to nurture them through two winters as triennials ….. they are now in their third year and flowering !

• Self seeded 2012 (from the previous flower spike).
• Seedlings came up 2013.
• Over-wintered 2013/2014.
• Carried on growing 2014 (reached about 5-feet tall).
• Over-wintered 2014/2015.
• Started really growing on Spring 2015.
• AND they have really taken off, late spring 2015 and in flower.

 20150523-10_Echium Pininana Plants - Flower Clusters

20150523-09_Echium Pininana Plants - Flower Clusters

20150523-06_Echium Pininana Plants - Flower SpikesOne spike in particular is heading skywards, I think it’s easily 13 feet tall and maybe even more …. They are now coming into flower and the spikes are becoming a head turner in the street ….

Interestingly, the flowers spikes have come out in different shades of colour. One is almost white, there are pinks on view, and one is has a purpley-blue tint.

From a distance the spikes themselves are quite impressive, but up close, the flower clusters are pretty as well and worth a closer look.

 

And a final word … Once they’ve seeded they will, sadly, die.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20150412_Daffodil Festival Monks Kirby

20150412_Daffodil Festival Monks Kirby

When : 12th April 2015
Where : Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.
Distance : A little wander – Not even worth measuring the distance.
Significant Heights : None to speak of.
Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No.222 Rugby and Daventry (but not needed).
Start + End Point : approx. SP 477,835

If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr.

This is not really a walking post this one, but still kind of out-doorsy all the same, and it is associated with raising money for charity so I’ve deemed it more than worthwhile writing about it on my blog.

20150412-A_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Daffs

Daffs _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

20150412_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival

A rough indication of the “walk” around the festival’s grounds

Every year, the village of Monk’s Kirby (a member of the Revel Villages), holds its annual daffodil festival, a sort of village fete, at Newnham Paddox, at the kind permission of The Earl and Countess of Denbigh who live there. It’s all organized by and in aid of The Friends of the C-of-E Revel Churches.

There was a small entrance fee of £3.00 for adults and £1.00 for children.

…..

……..

…………

20150412-C_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Wooded Glade

Wooded Glade _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

The six churches of The Revel Group are, in no particular order :-

• St Leonard’s, Willey,
• St. John The Baptist, Brinklow,
• St. Denys’s, Pailton,
• All Saints, Harborough Magna
• Holy Trinity, Churchover
• And of course in Monks Kirby, St Edith’s.

Once in the grounds of Newnham Paddox, there were various stalls to peruse, live music, performances and displays to enjoy and, of course, food and drink to be had.

Performances this year (I’m writing in 2015) included :
Ocho Rios Steel Band, Jill Bartlett School of Dancing and Dunchurch Silver Band.

Foody stuff had all the usual suspects ;
Ice Cream, Cakes, Hot Dogs, Hot Drinks, etc.

Other exhibitors etc. included ;
Coombe Abbey Woodturners, Beekeepers, CPL, Jewellery, Kids Games, Alpacas, RSPB, Preserves, Donkey Rides, and various others, notably a super Model Woodyard.

20150412-K_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Cherry Blossom

Blassom _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

Despite all these attractions, the star of the event, was the grounds themselves. The initial “fete” area, leads into a shallow valley, surrounded by farmland (mostly crops), and within the valley are a couple of ornamental lakes. Well, lakes may conjure up an image of huge, wide expanses of water, but these aren’t in that league. No, they’re more like sizeable ponds, but large enough to be in scale with the surrounding landscape, mature trees and shrubs making a slightly wild appearance whilst also being obviously planned out. In fact, the drive up to the entrance, out of Monks Kirby village, is along a sweeping drive through landscaped grassy parkland, [by Capability Brown between 1745 and 1753] with individual specimen trees apparently randomly scattered across the pastures.

20150412-E_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Spring Bud

Spring Buds _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

20150412-D_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Primroses

Primroses _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

Getting back to the grounds; there are large drifts of daff’s, blossom trees, mature deciduous trees coming into bud after their winter slumber and interspersed with evergreen conifers. Other spring flowers graced the area, including some beautiful clumps of primroses. I don’t think the grounds are overly gardened though, they certainly aren’t very manicured. However, there is a certain unkemptness which maybe adds to the charm rather than detracts. The lakes themselves are lined with sizeable areas of reeds and rushes and the whole area doesn’t take long to walk around, unless of course, like me you stop to look closer at the details and attempt to take photo’s, trying to do the place justice.

20150412-B_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Poolside Daffs

Lakeside Daffs _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

20150412-G_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Decaying Wood

Decaying Wood _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

20150412-F_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Decaying Wood

Decaying Wood _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

I say attempt, because I wasn’t really happy with my photographic attempts today; I just couldn’t find a decent exposure setting, but hey, maybe there are days when things just don’t work out OK.

20150412-I_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Cheetah Sculpture (b+w)

Cheetah Sculpture _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

In the past, the lakes area was laid out as an outdoor sculpture park, with some very large pieces of art (including a couple of huge plate-iron elephants), but I was disappointed to find that over the last few years (when I haven’t visited) many of these art-works have gone and not been replaced, leaving only a few pieces of note. Of these, I think my fave would be the Cheetah and cub.

20150412-H_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Cheetah Sculpture

Cheetah Sculpture _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

I’ve had a look on the inter-web and cannot find any recent web-pages/sites that suggest the Art-Park is currently open, but I stand to be corrected. Good luck if you fancy finding out more yourself.

20150412-J_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Sun Bleached

Sun Bleached Branch/Stick _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

Anyway, I don’t think there’s much more to add, apart from I’m sorry that I’m posting well after this year’s event; but it is an annual happening, so make a note and next spring, sometime around Easter, go find out about 2016’s event and hope for some sunshine to make the day really extra special.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and my photo’s such as they are …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.