Camino de Santiago, Triacastela to Sarria (via Molino de Marzan Albergue)

I couldn’t spend a week staying on “the Camino” without walking some of it.  So, last week, I set off to walk from Arthur’s gallery, which is just beyond Triacastela (if you turn right there, rather than left to Samos) and about 130km from the finish in Santiago de Compostela.  My goal was to get to Sarria, where I would be picked up late in the afternoon, but I reached there at 11:30am.  So I carried on…

One of the big attractions of the Camino is that there are signposts at least every 500m (I’m told) and usually at any junction, so you don’t need to carry a map or be very good at navigation.  Also, I realised afterwards, there are no gates to open, or stiles to climb over, (on my section anyway), which makes for a slightly smoother journey.  Many people don’t even book their accommodation ahead, so that they are free to stop, or carry on, as the fancy takes them.  Though this does mean that there is a tendency for quite a few people to set off at the crack of dawn (which must be delightful for other guests or walkers staying in the same albergue or hostel – not to mention people trying to sleep below a gallery on the Camino).

Clearly there are other advantages too, like it’s a good walk with some nice scenery and you will get to meet, or pass, looooaaaads of people.  But that, for me, even though I consider myself a very sociable person, puts me off doing the whole thing.  (I also get quite competitive, as nobody walks passed me!)   There’s quite a lot of road, or next to road, sections too, though they are often fairly quiet back roads.

For info also, I noticed quite a lot of cyclists taking on the route and I saw some specific signs in the road, so there must be a cyclist’s variation.  This must get you from A to B somewhat quicker but, then, you may miss a lot (of the point) of the journey.   In addition there are a few alternative routes to Santiago de Compostela, like one along the north coast of Spain and another up through Portugal, which you might like to consider to be a little ‘different’.

Anyway, I managed another 8km (5 miles) beyond Sarria before I turned back, covering the same ground, which made my walk about 30km (18 miles) in total.  Though I have to say, just in case you have a mind to do it in reverse, it’s not as easy to navigate as you might think – given that the signs are geared towards pilgrims on the normal route.  (And I think you will be fed up of saying “Ola” or “Buen Camino” to thousands of people).

Birds of a feather…

No sooner had we arrived at our friend Arthur’s place on the Camino de Santiago, near Triacastella, (N. Spain), he announced that he had a blackbird’s nest in the bush clambering over his terrace and that there were two wrens building a nest in the palm tree only 2 to 3 yards away from his kitchen window.   Not only that but we spotted a family of young blackcaps ‘playing’ in the elderflower bushes to the left of the terrace.  So this is their story…

Let me first ‘set the scene’ with a (very poor) panoramic picture below of Arthur’s terrace – the palm tree is on the extreme far right, the (dark) green ‘blackbird’ bush is also to the right and the elderflowers to the left. (The glass of wine was mine! 😊)

0 Terrace

The Blackbirds were clearly well advanced as they all fledged and disappeared within a few days of us arriving.  But I did manage to capture the one picture below of at least 3 beaks (at the centre of the image).

1 Blackbird beaks

The Wrens were having a hard time of it.  Their first nest had been destroyed (I forget how now), but they were busy building their second towards the bottom of the dead brown leaves hanging down from the palm tree.  Unfortunately a storm blew up and hail (yes, hail – in June!) knocked it to the ground.  Undeterred, they carried on building another nest further up the tree.  One can only admire the determination and industry of these tiny little birds!

Last, but not least, the Blackcaps entertained us all week with their presence.  Rather than fly away when we approached the corner of the terrace, they simply hopped behind a leaf or onto the next branch.  This allowed me to get a few good pictures, including a very interesting series (see pics numbered 9 to 14) where the male parent returned with a berry and offered it to 2 of the 3 chicks, but then gulped it down itself.  It was as if the parent was saying, “Take a good look, this is what you should be out there looking for, now get going…!”)  Alternatively, or as well, the ‘teenage’ young, were looking suitably grumpy and saying “Not berries for dinner again!”).

 

Walk from La Luette to Nax

After several days, if not weeks, of misty, wet, dank weather, the sun finally came out in the Val d’Hérens yesterday.  As you will see from some of the pictures below, the peaks are still covered in snow, so I chose to do a slightly different ‘medium level’ walk from La Luette to Nax via St Martin.

As soon as I set off I knew I was in for a good day with the camera.  There were a lot more wild flowers in bloom and many more species of butterfly on the wing, including, I’m pretty sure, a Camberwell Beauty, which unfortunately escaped my lens.

My apologies for not naming all of the pictures below, but as you will see there are quite a few.  But this only goes to show what a wide variety there is in nature. 😊

 

Walk from Les Haudères to the Ferpècle valley

Yesterday, my car had to go to the garage in Les Haudères for it’s regular service, so I had some time to kill before picking it up later in the day.  Rather than walk back home, I decided to check out the Ferpècle valley, to see how the snow was getting on.  And, although there was quite a bit, knee deep even, from the small reservoir to the valley itself, a lot had disappeared.  But it will be a while yet, before I can venture too far above 2,000m (6,500 ft).

There are clear signs though that more flowers and creatures are emerging from their winter hibernation.  I couldn’t identify picture 22 though, so if anyone has any ideas, please let me know.

 

Northumberland Coast

In an attempt to catch up and get up to date, I’ve decided to group all my other holiday photos together.  (I say my, but I’ve included 2 of Jude’s as well – suitably credited to her).  As you will see we had some nice weather (unlike the rest of the UK at the time I understand) and we had yet another fabulous boat ride to the Farne Islands, where thousands of seabirds were nesting.

My apologies for all the bird pictures, but I know there are some keen birders out there following my posts.  If any of them/you can identify the little brown birds in pics 2 and 28 then I’d be very grateful.  I have my suspicions about the first but no idea about the second.

Walk from Alnmouth to Boulmer, Northumberland

Judith and I spent the last week of our UK holiday in Northumberland.  On our way down from Scotland, we dropped off Jo & Aaron at Edinburgh airport to continue their European holiday (in Berlin and Nice and then who knows where…)

We were quite fortunate with the weather and our first day out was to take a shortish walk along the coast from our base in Alnmouth to the next village north, called Boulmer (pronounced Boomer for some reason.  How people ever learn English I’ll never know.  It’s hard enough coping with the various accents without pronouncing things differently to how they look.  Or maybe people just couldn’t spell properly in the old days!)

Anyway, it was a beautiful walk, with plenty of things to photograph along the way. 😊

 

Plockton, NW Scotland

For our last full day in the NW of Scotland, we drove around Loch Carron to Plockton and treated Jo, Aaron and Jude’s friend, Kate, to a boat ride on one of Calum’s famous* Seal Trips (where you are guaranteed to see seals, or your money back!)  I have covered this village before, but I see that it was almost 3 years ago now, so I think it’s worth another post.  Especially as, this time, Aaron and I went for a short walk to the viewpoint at An Fhrith Aird, where there is an exceptional view of where Loch Carron meets the Inner Sound between the Isle of Skye and the Scottish mainland. (See map at the end of the picture gallery).

*As featured on the BBC TV series “Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland’s Lochs”.

Around Lochcarron, NW Scotland

While Jude caught up with old friends at Kate and Geoff’s Waterside Café, Jo, Aaron and I drove just a few miles up the road to the Lochcarron Weavers to find some MaCrae memorabilia.  We’d also been tipped off that just across the way there was a very interesting 10 minute walk up to the abandoned village of Stromemeanach, which was left to fall into ruin in the 19th century in favour of Lochcarron itself.

On the way back, we stopped off to view the ruined Strome Castle, where Jo actually broke into a run (possibly for the first time in 10 to 15 years) after taking some photos of the Highland cow and calf (in pic 11).  I only took one picture of her running, but it turned out pretty well, so I had to post it.

Later that day I strolled down to Slumbay Island (though it’s inappropriately named as it’s still connected to the mainland even at high tide), where I captured a couple of shore birds and, as usual when I find myself on a beach, I found a few stones to stack. 😊

 

Derwent Riverside Walk – Take 2

I’m normally quite strict in posting things in chronological order and so, at this point, I should be blogging about my daughter’s wedding.  However, as things turned out, I didn’t get the chance to take many photographs (and the ones that I did take were quite ordinary).  So I (and you) will have to wait until the newly weds return from honeymoon (in Houston, New Orleans and Miami) for me to post some of the best official photos.

So, in the meantime, I’ll get you up to date on the rest of our time in the UK…

You may recall that Judith and I had rented a cottage in Hathersage and on our last day there, before heading up to Scotland with my other daughter, Joanne, and her partner, Aaron, (see post tomorrow), we went for a quiet stroll along the River Derwent.  (Regular followers may recall this post nearly 2 weeks ago).