Jervaulx Abbey and Kilgram Bridge from Middleham, North Yorkshire

Jude and I have just been on a week long break in a town called Middleham in North Yorkshire, which is mostly known for training race horses. Although we did wander up the road in the morning mist to watch a few thoroughbreds heading off towards the gallops, that wasn’t the main reason for our stay. It was simply to get away and have a change of scenery.

The weather wasn’t kind but on the one day that we were due to have our online Welsh lesson, the forecast was good! So off I wandered along a 10.5 mile route to Kilgram Bridge which, after 450 years, is reputed to be Yorkshire’s oldest road bridge (see pic 18) as well as the Cistercian Abbey at Jervaulx, which was established in 1156. Not only that, but it took in Wensleydale’s oldest church, St Oswald’s at Thornton Steward (see pics 22-25) and Danby Hall, an Elizabethan manor house (pic 27). Also, by rather strange coincidence, it went by St Simon’s and St Jude‘s church at Ulshaw (pics 28 & 29).

But even more interesting to me was the door handle of the pub at Cover Bridge. See pic 32. The handle itself was fixed solidly to the door and there were no knobs to turn or ‘snecks’ (as we call them in Yorkshire, i.e. catches) to lift up. So how does one enter the establishment? Suggestions in the Comments please… I’ll reveal how it’s done in due course… (I love a good puzzle!)

Gwydyr Forest Walk from Betws-y-Coed, Conwy, N. Wales

My good friend, Liam, decided to take a short break in the Snowdonia National Park and, last week, we met up to do a short walk (of approx. 4 miles) around the Gwydyr Forest, starting from Betws-y-Coed. As you will see from the route map and photo gallery, it was a circular walk, taking in the very tip of Llyn (lake) y Parc, lots of forest paths and several waterfalls.

I hope you enjoy your virtual visit to this small, but very beautiful, part of North Wales.

Technical note: I’d noticed that my photos were appearing quite small on the screen. I think this is because I was shrinking them to around 350kb, to save space and allow them to be loaded quickly. So this time, I’ve shrunk them to around 1Mb in the hope that the gallery ‘experience’ is much better. Please let me know if you have difficulty loading or seeing them and I’ll revert to the smaller format.

Walk from Ynys to Llanbedr, Gwynedd, N. Wales

Yesterday my wife, Jude, had a crochet lesson from 1:30 to 4pm at the Village Hall in Llanbedr. So I worked out a route which would take me there, via a ‘scenic route’, from our home in Ynys. As you will see from the pics below, the day started brightly but the clouds eventually won over.

Once inland, I had a few options for getting to my destination and I thought I was doing the right thing by taking the ‘direct’ route via Ffridd Farm, along part of the Ardudwy Way… Wrong!! The map had the path heading directly south through 2 of the farm buildings… (see pic 22). All went well there and I found a gate on the other side but then I was stopped in my tracks as I peered over a sheer drop of about 30 feet! (See pic 23). I looked to the right then left and there was no obvious path, so I took the lesser of the two ‘drops’ on the right hand side.

After climbing and then scrambling down, I was faced with a maze of waist high bracken with only the odd signpost to guide me through the damp and squishy valley floor. My GPS and OS map had me several yards off the official route, but eventually I found a stile to take me onto a more obvious path.

I do wonder sometimes who makes up these official paths or “Ways” and it made me realise why I’m not so keen to go out walking in North Wales. Oh, what I’d give to be back on those delightful paths of Switzerland!!

Walk from Barmouth to Llanbedr along part of the Cambrian Way, N. Wales

While most people in the UK were watching the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, I decided to go out for a walk. It’s not that I wasn’t interested or sad at her passing (she was a wonderful woman), it’s just that I felt I had better things to do than sit in front of a TV screen for 6 or more hours. And as it turned out, I saw the final procession up the Long Walk (perhaps the most poignant bit) in the pub at Llanbedr.

As you will see the weather wasn’t great for photography, but it was what it was…

I should add that I paused at 11am at Bwlch y Rhiwgyr, (see pic 14), to show my respect, with a 2 minute silence. And it was a very peaceful moment, apart from the hum of a light aircraft overhead.

A Tale of the ‘Scarce’ Orange Butterfly…

On Friday, my sister-in-law, Charlotte, came over to stay. So yesterday, together with my wife, Jude, we all went out for a short walk along the Wales Coast Path. After about 30 minutes of walking, I’d got slightly ahead and was called back, as both said they had seen a “very small, bright orange butterfly, with black edges”. It flew off before I could get even a sight of it and, more crucially, before anyone could get a picture. Upon returning to the house, I got out my book and both said it looked just like the Scarce Copper. This is interesting as they are not known to frequent these shores, preferring mainland Europe.

To ‘set the scene’ further, this is what a Scarce Copper looks like and you would think it would be unmistakeable, other than for a Large Copper, which looks very similar, but is slightly larger and is also not usually found in Britain.

Given the prospect of maybe ‘discovering’ one of the first Scarce Coppers ever seen in the UK (perhaps in recent times), I set out today to visit the same location in the hope of getting a picture… The weather was breezy and many clouds were about, so I wasn’t hopeful.

But no, I did spot something flutter up. It was small, a little too brown (from my point of view) to be a Scarce Copper, but there was a flash of colour… Even though I thought I saw exactly where it landed, it had disappeared completely. After another 30 minutes or so of waiting and searching, I gave up. 😌

However, on the way to the location, I had paused to take some very poor photos of a Speckled Wood and a dragonfly. So on my return I was looking out for them to get some better pictures – which I did. And, as well as a rather strange looking spider (any suggestions anyone?) and a still loaded blackberry bush, I got some decent images… (But read on…)

Once I got home I was sorting out the pictures and, you should be aware that, I’m in the habit of taking a photo from far away before getting as close as possible to the subject. I took this picture:

Now I thought this must be a precursor to the dragonfly above, but no, and don’t ask me where this came from but, upon zooming in, look what I found:

It’s hard to tell, but I think this is a Small Copper. Now, of course, this may not be what my wife and Charlotte saw yesterday. So the jury is still out. Perhaps another visit is required tomorrow…? 🤔

One year on already…

It’s now just over a year since Jude and I moved back to the UK and we’re no nearer finding a house of our own. But then when you rent a remote cottage overlooking the Glaslyn Dwyryd estuary (see pic 8) you will perhaps understand why… (The bar has been set extremely high).

Anyway, I’ve mentioned (I think) in a previous post how many buddleia bushes there are dotted around the area and I was bemoaning the fact that the butterflies always seemed to fly by and dismiss those in our garden as ‘same old, same old’. However, I didn’t know that they flowered again in the autumn and for the past few days our biggest bush has been awash with Red Admirals (vanessa atalanta) – sometimes 7 or 8 at a time. I’ve seen other butterflies too, but only managed to capture a Painted Lady (vanessa cardui).

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! 😊)

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

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. 👍👍😊

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.