The Lake District – World Heritage Site Status

20090913-03_Ullswater Reflections

The Lake District – World Heritage Site Status

I’ve often been asked where my fave place is in the UK to walk/visit … and there are many places I love, such as The Yorkshire Dales, Peak District (White Peak and Dark Peak), Cotswold Hills and Villages, South West Coast Paths and Moors, Malverns, Welsh Border Country, Snowdonia, Black Mountains/Brecon Beacons, Pembroke, etc., etc., etc., …. but ultimately it’s The Lake District that’s really got my heart. As I turn off the M6 heading to Kendal (South Lakes) or Keswick (North Lakes) there’s a little bit of me comes alive, as if that part of me is left dormant when-ever I’m not there.

Well now UNESCO have recognised The Lake District as a World Heritage Site, confirming what I’ve always known from my first visit as a teenager all those years ago. Here’s a passage from their web-pages :-

The English Lake District

“Located in northwest England, the English Lake District is a mountainous area, whose valleys have been modelled by glaciers in the Ice Age and subsequently shaped by an agro-pastoral land-use system characterized by fields enclosed by walls. The combined work of nature and human activity has produced a harmonious landscape in which the mountains are mirrored in the lakes. Grand houses, gardens and parks have been purposely created to enhance the beauty of this landscape. This landscape was greatly appreciated from the 18th century onwards by the Picturesque and later Romantic movements, which celebrated it in paintings, drawings and words. It also inspired an awareness of the importance of beautiful landscapes and triggered early efforts to preserve them.”

The words hardly do justice to the beauty of the place, especially when you get away from the “honeypot” touristy places, into the high places, the quiet places and remote places. It’s always beautiful there, but as the wettest place in England you have to take the “rough with the smooth” – however, when the sun shines and with blue skies, the place is just magnificent.

If you’ve never visited The lake District and especially never walked there, I’d say go, do it, high level or low level, it’s great place to walk, view, take photo’s, and well just get away from it all.

TTFN for now,
Gary

201703289-31_North Yorkshire Coast and Moors


Well, I got the opportunity to go away for a few days, so, if you’ve read my previous post, you’d have thought the lake district would have been where I’d have set off for …. but no, I headed north but to the east coast not the west.

Why ?

That’s simple! … THE GREAT BRITISH WEATHER … The forecast for The Lakes was very poor, wall to wall rain – and yes I’ve walked in the rain, and I can do it, but I don’t necessarily like it, and not being able to see the mountains kind of defeats the object of going. On the other hand the forecast for The North East on the opposite side of The Pennines was mostly dry, a risk of showers, but possible periods of brighter spells (even sun). This was about the best I could hope for anywhere in the country, so I set to work trying to find accommodation (on a budget).

As a life member of the YHA (Youth Hostel association), I figured one of the North Yorkshire hostels would work out ok, and, as I’d really enjoyed staying at Boggle Hole Hostel (just a mile south of Robin Hoods Bay village) some seven and a half years earlier (with my family) that’s where I ended up booking on the Tuesday morning; then madly dashing around pulling my kit together and food for the next few days, travelling up the M1 on the Tuesday afternoon to arrive late afternoon/early evening, with some rough ideas of where I might walk over the next 3 days.

Well, what I ended up doing was two decent sized walks, plus a bit of a photographic wander on the last day before driving home ready for work on the Saturday. So …

Walk-1, Wednesday, = 16.3 miles.
A bit of coastal path, a lot of wide open moorland walking, and a final section of farmland.  the longest days walk I’d done for many a long year. Start and finish at Boggle Hole, up to Ravenscar (Cleveland Way coast path), west across Jugger Howe and Fylingdales Moors, north past Newton House Plantation (Forest) and then eastwards through farmland back to Boggle Hole.

20170329_A North York Moors + Coast Circular Walk

Walk-2, Thursday, = 10 miles.
A super 10 miler with brill’ views over-looking The North York Moors Railway, including a visit to Levisham Station and seeing several steam engines/trains en-route and then a pint and a half of excellent Black Sheep ale in the pub in Levisham Village before the walk back to Saltergate via The Hole of Horcum.

20170330_Levisham Moor + Hole of Horcum Circular Walk
 

Walk-3, Friday, = 3 miles (approx.)
A wander from Boggle Hole to Robin Hoods Bay village on the beach and wave cut platforms, just enjoying a drop of sunshine, taking photo’s and generally taking it easy. Took most of the day to walk about 3-miles, wandering back and forth on the beach and wave cut platforms trying to take arty pics of rocks and cliffs and mini waterfalls, periwinkles and limpets etc etc. (route mapped is indicative only of my zig-zaggy almost directionless travel, including in R-H-Bay village narrow back streets/blind alleys etc.

20170331_Boggle Hole to Robin Hoods Bay Photographic Wander

Well there you have the bones of my short break. I will at some point document each walk in detail with photo’s, but in the meantime, if you want to see my earlier walks/posts from all those years earlier, please use the following links :-

Well I’ve gotta press on (work to go to I’m afraid), so TTFN for now,

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

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.

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.

20141231_A Frosty Winter Photo Walk in Braunston – Post 2of 2

20141231_A Frosty Winter Photo Walk in Braunston – Post 2of 2
When : 31st December 2014

Who : Just me

Where : Braunston, Northamptonshire, between Rugby and Daventry

Start Point and End Point : Lay-by on the A45 London Road SP533,663

20141231_Another Braunston Winter Canal Side Photographic Walk

Route Map – Traced out on WalkJogRun Website

Distance : Approx 4 miles (6.5 km)

Significant heights : None to speak of – Very gentle

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

I’ve split this walk into two blog-posts just to make the writing (and reading perhaps) a little more manageable. This post is post-2 of 2. So if you want to read post-1 first, please use this link :- GO TO BLOG POST 1 OF 2.

If you click on a photo’ [when I’ve added them] it should launch my set of imges on my photostream on Flickr

20141231-41_Braunston Marina - Arched Bridge

Bridge over entrance into Braunston Marina

The tow path had led to another attractively arching iron bridge spanning a side-arm of the canal heading into the large marina at Braunston. Normally, I would walk straight on here, over the bridge, to continue on the tow path. But, today, I chose to head up into the marina itself to gain a different perspective on the area, including the boat-works, just a short walk along the water’s edge.

20141231-25_Braunston Marina - Static Crane

Standing Crane Winding Wheel + Gear

Just outside the works buildings (near a car-park) I came across a standing crane, the upright steels and boom painted a shiny jet black and the winding gear a vivid bright red. This really stood out against the lovely blue sky. I took far too many pic’s here, (most of which I later dumped into my computer’s recycling bin upon close inspection).

20141231-45_Braunston Marina - Workshop Walkways + Ice

Braunston Marina Workshop Walkways

20141231-26_Braunston Marina - Narrow Boat Workshop

Braunston Marina – Boat Works

Moving on over a few narrow walkway bridges, I met a chap who was working in the boat-yard and I stopped for a chat, during which I asked if I had permission to go further into the marina area. He was very pleasant and accommodating, saying yes there was no objection to me continuing on, but he asked politely that I refrain from falling in the water, as it was a tad cold [typically English understatement] and he really didn’t want to fish me out. I really wasn’t planning on going for an impromptu swim, so I readily agreed to his request. During our conversation he mentioned just how many people take photo’s of the crane just left behind, which kind of took away some of my earlier feelings of discovery. Still I didn’t really believe I was the first one to have ever taken a shot or two of the structure. After some final felicitations, we both set off in separate directions.

20141231-32_Braunston Marina - Crane - Cogs

Braunston Marina – Crane Cogs + Gears

Heading further into the marina area, it didn’t really matter which way I looked, there always seemed to be an image to be captured, but none more so than another black and red crane, this one on wheels and track and sporting a handsome array of deeply toothed cogs and associated wheels, ratchets, pulleys and such like. Again, many pic’s were taken here, but more “keepers” for storage on my lap-top and eventual upload to my “photostream” on Flickr.

20141231-37_Braunston Marina - Crane - Boom and Hook

Braunston Marina – Crane Hook

More wonderings and meanderings, resulted in even more photo’s – The whole place just screamed (in a quiet understated English sort of way) please take my photo again and again …. And again!

20141231-28_Braunston Marina

Braunston Marina – Narrow Boats

 

20141231-42_Braunston Marina - Arched Bridge + Winding Gear

Braunston Marina – Winding Gear

 

20141231-44_Braunston Marina - Narrow Boats

Braunston Marina – Moored Narrow Boats

 

I was starting to feel a little chill now, so I headed into a shop (maybe a chandlers or similar) and asked if they sold teas or coffee – They didn’t. This was a shame because the boat-café on the canal by the marina entrance was not open today either, so when I had negotiated the slippery icy pathways back to the canal/iron bridge/marina entrance, I just continued on over the arching bridge and then back on the tow path once again, again with the canal on my left.

20141231-47_Braunston - Brick Bridge - Narrow Boat Joey - Grand Union Canal

Joey – Narrow Boat in Braunston

There still weren’t many boats moving around but I was in the right place at the right time as the boat “Joey” came towards me to pass under one of the brick bridges that straddle the canal. To repeat myself from a past blog-post (with no apologies) I like these old brick bridges, they’ve been around for so long they’ve sort of weathered their way into the landscape, taking on a natural patina of lichens and with mosses hanging on in the many hollows and cracks. The surface of the brickwork has certainly seen better times, and there are now some pretty major looking cracks appearing in places, but I like the unkempt look and today the reflections were just stunning in the icy water.

20141231-49_Braunston Marina - Narrow Boats

Braunston Marina – Moored Narrow Boats

20141231-51_Sheep + All Saints' Church - Braunston - Cathedral of the Canals

Sheep – All Saints’ Church – Braunston

I could’ve headed straight under the bridge arch, but there was a way up onto the bridge, where a foot-path crosses the canal here. After just a few yards along the path, it facilitated a view back over the marina. The elevated position gave an opportunity for some interesting pic’s looking back down the marina, using my long lens to try to foreshorten the perspective in an attempt to make the boats look all bunched up, hopefully in an arty kind of way. Rather than move far along the path, I headed back down to the towpath and continued in the same direction as earlier. The tow path separates the canal (on the left) and the marina (on the right), and a little further on is a narrow footbridge that must be negotiated. There is no alternative to be able to carry on, because it passes over another access point from the waterway into the moorings. This foot-bridge is accessed and exited via some rather steep steps; not too much of a problem for walkers, but decidedly awkward for people pushing push chairs and equally if not more awkward for cyclists.

20141231-53_Braunston - Moored Narrow Boat

Narrow Boat – Braunston

This little walk was beginning to take quite a long time, but I suppose it always was going to be that way, with a very slow pace, especially as it was such a stunningly beautiful day and it had been planned out as a photographic walk. I normally describe myself as a walker who takes photo’s, but today I was far more a photographer who was going on a bit of a walk. Anyway, trying to push my writings on a tad, the tow path led on to the bottom lock and its collection of nearby buildings. Along the way I passed 20141231-52_Tree Trunk Detail _ Barkmore moored boats, views across sheep fields to the church, shiny light playing on the ice, interesting textured bark on trees, smoke coming out of boat roofs and hanging about in the cold air, old pump house buildings, another boat-works, and more… All these things were interesting to see and at least worthy of a little note. Also worth noting, is a small shop adjacent to the bottom lock (I’ve bought ice cream here in the past, in warmer times) and I hoped they would sell hot drinks – I was disappointed again, they didn’t! Perhaps on my next frosty walk I’ll remember to make up a flask of hot drink

Although continuing a few hundred yards past the bottom lock, I now consciously chose not to continue up the canal, foregoing the chance of a visit to The Admiral Nelson pub next to another lock and further on the entrance to Braunston Tunnel. This Georgian engineering feat is now well over 200 years old and over a mile long. The tow path ends at the tunnel entrance, which is set into the hillside like a black mouth waiting to swallow up any boat heading eastwards or regurgitate anyone who’d travelled from the Welton end.

20141231-56_Braunston - Bottom Lock - Grand Union Canal

Bottom Lock Reflections

20141231-60_Braunston - Jetty Fields - Seat with a view

Jetty Fields Seating – Braunston

Today I felt I didn’t need to head that far up the canal. Instead I returned to and headed over the brick bridge at the bottom lock, to climb a gently rising track away from the canal side. After a hundred yards or so, upon reaching a minor road (it goes down to The Admiral Nelson pub) I turned left on a footpath and then soon after, right, heading gently up a small public area of grassland (Jetty Fields) with some individual large trees and seating. The tree branches hereabouts took my eye, being old and gnarly and full of nooks and crannies. I liked the contrast of this against the blue winter sky.

20141231-59_Braunston - No smoke without fire

Smoke

I also liked the billowing shapes in a cloud of smoke from a fire created by a couple of workmen (thinning a hedge I think) just down-a-ways towards the canal. A warm outdoors job on a cold frosty morning. A short way up the slope the trees become closer together forming a small coppice where I stopped a while to watch several pairs of blue tits flitting about in the branches above me: a charming sight.

20141231-62_Braunston - Jetty Fields

Jetty Fields Path – Braunston

Continuing on, the path narrows between some properties, to emerge on the principle road through the village (named Welton Road and High Street). The aspect is quite open here with a number of grassy greens and verges with The Wheatsheaf pub directly opposite. I again resisted the temptations within, instead turning left along the road side to pass an eclectic mix of red brick, mellow stone and half-timbered houses/cottages both old and new. I knew there was a small café (Poppies) along the road, but was again disappointed, as it too was shut, so preventing the purchase of a cup of tea or coffee. Almost opposite is a small convenience store (a Londis I think) – again no hot drinks, but it did give the opportunity of picking up a couple of sandwiches and a cold drink.

20141231-66_Braunston - High Street - Cottages and Windmill

Braunston Cottages + Windmill

Soon after I passed by yet another pub (The Old Plough) before reaching the western end of the village, dominated by thee buildings:- The first an old windmill, now a home minus its sails. The second a typically English church with tall spire pointing skywards (or should that be heavenwards). And thirdly, Braunston Manor on the opposite side of the road from the church.

20141231-67_All Saints' Church - Braunston - Cathedral of the Canals

All Saints’ Church – Braunston – Cathedral of the Canals

 

20141231-70_Graveyard Cross_All Saints' Church - Braunston

All Saints’ Church – Braunston

 

20141231-71_War Memorial_All Saints' Church - Braunston

War Memorial – All Saints’ Church

I spent a few moments outside the church, often known as The Cathedral of The Canals, and yes you’ve guessed it, taking some more photo’s but with a little more time in contemplation at the war memorial in the corner of the graveyard; perfectly positioned to be seen from all angles in full view as it should be, in memory of our fallen forebears; local heroes of a time rapidly becoming history rather than current affairs.

From the church grounds, I re-joined the main road to pick up a footpath (directly opposite the junction with Church Road), to the side of Braunston Manor, the first or in my case today, the last building in the village. The path drops diagonally half-right to rejoin High Street, just where it meets the A45 main road. I now had a tiny bit more tarmac path to use, alongside the A45, over a canal bridge and then very soon afterwards turned left on a pathway (still quite slippery with frost) dropping down to the tow path.

20141231-73_Twin Arched Bridges - Braunston - Grand Union + Oxford Canal Junction

Twin Arched Bridges – Braunston Canal Junction

The walk was almost over, having now come full circle back to the canal. Once on the tow path I immediately turned left, under the bridge I’d just crossed over and I was now on ground previously walked on earlier in the day, only now the water was on my right. I then re-passed The Boat House pub (on the opposite bank), reached and crossed the double-span iron bridge at the canal Tee-junction and swung right past moored boats again to meet the other utilitarian bridge carrying the A45 over the cut.

20141231-74_Braunston - Oxford Canal - Bridge - Stagecoach Bus

Utilitarian Bridge – A45 over Canal – Braunston

Most of the ice had now melted, leaving only a few places where the canal was still frozen, on the whole it was now mostly free water – I suppose the ducks must have been much happier and far less bemused now. I was still taking photo’s, but not as frequently now and after rising up the side path (just before the bridge) to the A45, the last couple of images taken were back to the church again before arriving back at the lay-by and my little car which had sat patiently in the cold for my return. It was still parked all alone by the road-side, I wonder if it had had any fellow vehicles parked here during the day to keep it company whilst I was away.

Well, that’s about it for this walks diary ….  When I’d made the short drive home, a nice warming cup of coffee was high on the agenda, and I was really ready for it as I sat down in the friendly warmth of my home and family. What a simply super few hours.

I’ve attached (or will be attaching) a selection of photo’s from the day, but there are more to be seen on my flickr account if you want to see just images of Braunston (and nearby) please use this link, or go to my photostream for all photo’s I’ve posted.

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.

20141231_A Frosty Winter Photo Walk in Braunston (Post1of2)

20141231_A Frosty Winter Photo Walk in Braunston – Post 1of 2

When : 31st December 2014
Who : Just me
Where : Braunston, Northamptonshire, between Rugby and Daventry
Start Point and End Point : Lay-by on the A45 London Road SP533,663
20141231_Another Braunston Winter Canal Side Photographic WalkDistance : Approx 4 miles (6.5 km)
Significant Heights : None to speak of – Very gentle
Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No. 222 Rugby & Daventry

Summary : An opportunity for a few hours to take some wintertime photo’s down on the canals in Braunston (Grand Union and Oxford Canals) …. but it’d be a perfectly nice walk to do without a camera, There are a couple of pubs by the canal side and a couple in the village as well if that’s your want from a walk (or crawl).

I’m splitting the walk into two blog-posts just to make the writing (and reading perhaps) a little more manageable. This post is post-1 of 2. (Use this link for post-2).

If you click on a photo’ it should launch on my photostream on Flickr where you’ll find a few more images to those shown here.

It was a very cold and frosty morning, ice on the roads and a typically wintry blue sky with light high clouds and the promise that it was going to stay fine for the day. So, it was an easy decision to spend a few hours out and about on a mini-walk with my camera. The more difficult bit was deciding just where to head off to.

• Did I want to drive ?
• If not, it meant walking on very familiar ground, yes or no ?
• Did I want a pub ?
• What type of scenery did I fancy : Farmland, Woods, Town/village, canals, country parks, or even a city ?

In the end, I decided to drive, chose canals as a good base subject, assuming the waters might be frozen-over in places, the potential for good reflections and maybe some mists swirling around above the water; Once that was decided, that led to the next decision – Where to go ?

• Hillmorton Locks ?
• Newbold-on-Avon (and the long tunnel) ?
• Crick ?
• Cathiron ?
• Braunston ?
• And one or two other places here-abouts ?

Well, in the end, Braunston won despite me having been there many times over the years … Why ? … Because it’s not very far away, has a pretty canal 20141231-22_Braunston Marinajunction, various styles of bridges, a large marina, boat works, historic buildings, several locks, one end of a very long canal tunnel and several pubs. Of course there’s also the village itself, including a long main street with an eclectic mix of buildings, including an old windmill next to a typically English church on a hill. If I needed anything else, another good reason, is that my photography tutor (David Harding / Percival Guildhouse) likes the area, and I thought it’d be interesting to compare our images at some point in the future.

Anyway, I packed up my camera, couple of lens (complete with polarizing filters), grabbed walking boots and headed off, the drive firstly taking me through the famous village of Dunchurch and then on the A45 heading towards Daventry; Braunston village being just off the main road a few miles before the Northamptonshire town.
On the way, not quite a mile past the small village of Willoughby is a reasonably sized lay-by (on the left hand side) just before reaching Braunston – This is immediately before the road passes over the canal and is often used by people parking their cars in a line here, I assume mostly by fishermen; I decided this lay-by would suit my purposes just fine, and actually today it was completely free of other cars.

If this hadn’t been available, there’s road side parking in the village itself (take a sharp left turn just past The Boat House pub/restaurant) or there is a large car-park at The Boat House itself, which I know people use whilst going off for a walk, but I don’t like doing this unless I intend to use the pub as a patron, it just doesn’t seem right otherwise.

20141231-01_All Saints' Church - Braunston - Cathedral of the Canals

All Saints’ Church, Braunston

20141231-02_Braunston - Ridge and Furrow Strip Farming

Ridge and Furrow Strip Farming – Braunston

Enough of the pre-amble, I’ve been rambling on somewhat, so on to my walk itself. After donning my boots, I set off on the rough grassy verge by the side of the road, although you may find this surprising, away from Braunston and the canal. This wasn’t by accident or bad map reading, no, on the drive down the A45, there was a superb view of Braunston’s church spire silhouetted against the pale blue sky and in front, the land was striped with shadows formed by some ancient ridge and furrow field structures. In order to try and capture this image, I had to head back up the road to find a place where I could see over/through the large hedgerow alongside the road. Despite walking several hundred yards and being well over 6-foot tall, I still needed my long zoom to get anything like an acceptable shot.

Turning around through 180-degrees and once back past the car I reached where the road crosses a canal; near here the church was more hidden from view but the ridge and furrow field was far more evident and the views up the canal were very pleasant with a couple of boats moored in the icy waters.

20141231-03_Braunston_Frosted Barn

Frosted Barn – Braunston

20141231-05_Braunston - Moored Narrow Boats Oxford Canal

Moored Narrow Boats, Oxford Canal, Braunston

From here I crossed the main road, to where a path drops down to the tow path, where initially I turned left, under the quite ugly steel and concrete road bridge and continued up the tow path for several hundred yards. I had to adjust my camera settings to suit the different quality of light by the cut, as I was in quite deep shadow now. Anyway after taking a few shots here, I about-turned, walked back under the utilitarian road bridge and continued on the tow path (water on my left/hedgerow on my right).

It had been a very cold night (and it was still a very cold morning), so much so that the canal was completely frozen over, the narrow boats moored along the banks being iced in and the local ducks appearing very bemused. One pair were walking, (well slipping) about in the center of the canal, I suppose looking for some clear water to swim in.

20141231-07_Braunston - Mallard Ducks - Skating on Ice

Bemused Ducks Skating on Ice

20141231-08_Twin Arched Bridges_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Approaching the Twin Ironwork Bridges, Junction of Grand Union and Oxford Canals, Braunston

20141231-10_Braunston - Life Bouy - Seen Better Days

Seen Better Days – Please do not fall in here !!!

A little further on, as the canal takes a sweeping left bend, there are a couple of attractive arched black and white iron-work bridges; the perfect twins forming a double span over a Tee-junction of canals. I could have just crossed straight over the pair, but instead chose to take the right hand canal branch, going under the arch of the first bridge, before heading off in a south westerly direction on the well surfaced tow path. I particularly liked the way the low sun picked up and highlighted attractive patterns in the ice and whilst I was composing a couple of photo’s here, a couple walking over the bridges stopped to pass the time of day with me and then moved off towards where I’d come from a few moments earlier.

20141231-11_Braunston - Look-out cat - Window frame

Look Out Cat, Braunston

After a very short stretch along the towpath, I used a brick built bridge to cross to the other bank and then back (north-eastwards) towards the iron bridges and the canal tee-junction once again, passing a brick-built cottage en-route. An emergency buoyancy aid caught my eye hung on a wall here, but I don’t know how much I’d trust it, as it looked well past its best. A cat was sat in a widow frame here also, obviously enjoying the warmth of indoors watching the world go by, rather than braving the chill outside.

20141231-12_Ice Breaker_Arched Bridge_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Hector – Breaking the Ice – Hard to turn the corner.

As I reached where the canal splits left and right, a strange loud cracking scraping noise suddenly struck up. It was very odd and I just couldn’t place what it could be. It didn’t even seem to be coming from a particular direction, the sound seeming to fill the cold air all around.

 

 

20141231-13_Ice Breaker_Arched Bridge_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Hector – Didn’t manage the bend Hit the bank with a glacing bump !

It soon became apparent though, as the couple who’d I spoken with earlier had unmoored their small narrow boat and as they moved off they were breaking the sheet ice on the water’s surface. In fact, as the boat tried to negotiate the bend the ice resisted the crafts desired path forcing it over into the bank with quite a bump.

 

 

20141231-14_Ice Breaker_Braunston - Grand Union Canal

Hector – Moving on. Alls well now 🙂

The blow turned the bows as the boat glanced off the bankside and allowed the chap on the teller to move off in the right direction.

I guess his journey to where-ever he was heading wasn’t going to be an easy one, especially when passing other boats on the cut.

 

 

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Ironwork railings – One of the Twin Arched Bridges

I then turned my attention to trying to create some arty shots of the double span of bridges. At the very least, I tried to find some different angles/view points compared to previous visits as I’ve taken pic’s here on numerous occasions in the past. I’m sure they must be one of the most photographed features around Braunston – I defy anyone with a camera to just walk by without taking at least one photo’ despite how many times they may have been here before … These bridges really are very photogenic.

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Twin Arched Bridges – Very Photogenic. Junction of Grand Union and Oxford Canals

 

20141231-19_Relections in Ice - Braunston

Icy Reflections

Moving on, I took the tow path away from the bridges (water on my left again). On the opposite bank here is a small area of light industrial units closely followed by The Boat House pub mentioned earlier. The pub is a tad modern and twee to be truly photogenic, but I did like the distorted reflection of a far more pristine looking buoyancy ring in the ice-covered water.

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All Saints’ Church – Braunston

Soon after, I passed under the A45 road again as it crosses overhead via another utilitarian and not very attractive modern bridge.

The dominant view here is across the canal to the opposite bank with fields and hedges rising up to the church spire and some impressive looking houses which kind of draw the eye away from the canal and moored boats.

However, I did like the smoke emanating from a few of the boats’ stubby little chimneys, obviously some kind of coal/wood burner inside keeping the residents warm and cosy.

 

20141231-20_Braunston - Moored Narrow Boats Grand Union Canal

Approaching the old Toll House

The tow path then led me past the old toll house, where the major point of interest soon changes back to the canal on the near bank, as another arching iron bridge is reached, spanning a side-arm of the canal heading into a large marina with a plethora of craft moored in a multitude of lines. As I’ve written before, the craft here always make a very colourful sight, all bar none painted in bright primary colours – Canal folk just don’t seem to do pastels in their boat liveries. As always, I don’t think there was a shabby looking boat in sight!

Normally, I would walk straight on here, over the bridge to continue on the tow path. But, today, I chose to head up into the marina itself to try and gain a different perspective on the area including the boat-works just a short walk along the water’s edge.

I think here would be a good point to switch to the second blog-post as this seems a kind of natural break in the time-line of the day. To continue reading please use this link : GO TO BLOG POST-2 OF 2.

T.T.F.N.
Gary