Gwaith Powdwr Nature Reserve, Penrhyndeudraeth, North Wales

Just a few miles up the road from our house is a Nature Reserve with a very interesting history. Gwaith Powdwr translates, literally, as Powder Works as, in 1865 the site first opened as an explosives factory – primarily to serve the local mining industry.

However, in 1995 the factory was closed and, after decommissioning the plant, in 1998 the land was donated to the North Wales Wildlife Trust and turned into a Nature Reserve. Wandering around the area today, there is only a little evidence of its past and it has become a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as well as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Within the 24 hectares (or one tenth of a square mile or a quarter of a square kilometre), there’s a (very) small reservoir and I’d heard that there were dragonflies to be found, so off I went… Sadly the dragonflies flew around and around defending their territories and simply refused to land, but I did capture one damselfly (not sure if it’s a Common or Azure Bluet or, indeed, something else) and a Common Spreadwing (which is a first for me and this site! ๐Ÿ˜Š)

No doubt I will return later in the summer to try my luck again.

Gatekeeper butterfly (Pyronia tithonus)

I’ve decided to take a slightly different tack with this site, since I’m not doing as many walks these days (except around a golf course!) So, interspersed with any walks or holiday snaps, you will now find more ‘one-off’ pictures appearing, like this little chappie who flew past me yesterday…

I instantly knew it was something ‘different’ and, to my surprise, I’ve never posted a picture of one of these before, as they don’t live anywhere near our old home in the Valais. Though they are quite common and widespread across southern Europe.

My little Collins gem ‘Butterflies’ book tells me they are “very fond of bramble blossom” and we certainly have a lot of that around our new home in North Wales.

North West Coast of Coll Walk, Inner Hebrides, Scotland๏ฟผ

You only need to take one look at the map (at the end of the gallery below) to see that this was going to be an outstanding walk, taking in, as it does, almost all the beaches along the north coast of Coll. The only drawback was that the return to where I parked the car was along the road.

The four people in pic 13 were the only other walkers that I saw all day. It’s a very quiet and beautiful island and well worth a visit should you get the chance. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š

West Coast of Coll Walk, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

After 3 days on the Isle of Tiree we decamped (literally) to the adjacent island of Coll. Accommodation was in short supply, so we slept for 2 nights ‘under canvas’, at the lovely Garden House campsite, before spending 4 nights at the fabulous Coll Hotel*.

The campsite is surrounded by an RSPB reserve, where you will almost certainly hear, if never see, the elusive and endangered corncrake. We were treated to an all night chorus by at least two of them (& a cuckoo) on our first night there. If you’ve never heard the call of a corncrake, please listen to this recording on Wiki and you’ll get a feel for our experience. The campsite does provide free ear plugs!

Positioned as it was at the western end of the island, it was a no-brainer for me to do an 8 mile / 13km circuit along the coastal path to the far tip of the island, before returning across country to Crossapol Bay. One of my targets was to ‘bag’ what must be one of the lowest trig points in the whole of Scotland, if not the UK, at Calgary Point, which stands at the magnificent height of 59ft or 18 metres. (See pic 13).

*Note that I shamelessly give the Coll Hotel a plug (indeed 2 now) as it’s owned and run by some family member’s of my cousin, Ron. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ ๐Ÿ˜Š

Seafari Trip from Tiree, Inner Hebrides

A whale watching trip has been on Jude’s bucket list (and mine if I was honest and had a bucket list) for as long as I can remember. So, with whales, basking sharks and all sorts of dolphins and porpoises routinely spotted off the west coast of Scotland, it was no surprise then that we booked a seafari trip while we were on Tiree.

Our trip would take us all the way across to Tobermory on Mull, where we had lunch, before returning to Scarinish Harbour. Our day was not complete though, as we packed a picnic and headed off to one of the other beaches to watch the sun go down.

As you can maybe appreciate, capturing good photos of sea life from a boat is not easy and a lot can be trial and error, but the prize for the best shot of the day goes to Jude for picture no. 14. It sort of sums up our wonderful day.

Isle of Tiree, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Knowing that we would have a long, 8 hour drive to Jodie and Alex’s wedding, Jude and I decided to extend our stay in Scotland with a trip to two of the islands in the Inner Hebrides – Tiree and Coll.

Known as the Sunshine Isle, for having the most sunshine in all of the UK (I’m told), Tiree is noted for its stunning beaches (see also the detailed map below). In the few days that we were there we tried our best to get around them all and below are some of my best pics. I hope you enjoy.

Jodie and Alex’s Wedding

Almost exactly 5 years ago now, I posted pictures of Hannah and Mike’s wedding. Well, after a 2 year delay, due to you-know-what, it was the turn of her sister, Hannah, to marry Alex.

The wedding was held at the Loch Melfort Hotel, which is around 20 miles south of Oban, on the west coast of Scotland. The happy couple were blessed with glorious sunshine all day and the actual ceremony took place in what can only be described as a magnificent setting, right by the side of the loch. Inevitably many kilts were in evidence and a piper played… I hope this video and the gallery below gives you a feel for the atmosphere on their very special day.

(Suggestion: For the optimum “Scottish” experience, after viewing the video, allow the music to loop around while you view the gallery of photos). ๐Ÿ˜Š

Common Blue butterfly

It seems a lifetime since I posted some pictures of butterflies. But there was great excitement (at least on on my part) in the garden this afternoon when a blue butterfly fluttered by and came to rest. I dashed in and grabbed my camera and, thankfully, managed to get a couple of reasonable shots from above and below to help to identify it. I was hoping for something exotic, but it appears to be ‘just’ a Common Blue male (Polymmatus icarus). Gone are the days I’m afraid when these posts will be filled with several species. ๐Ÿ˜Œ

And, yes, our grass does need cutting!