I’ve mentioned a few times before that the main reason I don’t post as often these days is due to joining the above golf club when I came back to the UK and therefore playing a lot more golf than I did in Switzerland. Well, the weather has been glorious for the past week, so I thought it was about time I took my camera down to the club to show you why I’m so distracted…
Yesterday there was a regular “Monthly Stableford” competition and, although I didn’t play very well, I did manage to capture a few photos (if not birdies), including one of an orchid while searching for my lost ball! (Every cloud has a silver lining! 😊)
With thanks to my playing partners, Roy, John and Barry for putting up with me wandering off to take these pictures!
Please note that if you page through the gallery, each image has a caption, which explains each hole.
Jude and I had a fabulous time staying on St Agnes, but I have to say that St Martin’s was probably my favourite, certainly of all the other islands. Like St Agnes, it had a very relaxed and unhurried atmosphere but it had the best beaches of all those we visited.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual journey around the Scillies. 😊
Unlike the other islands, we were able to get to St Mary’s every day. Jude and I went to explore Hugh Town and search for the grave of former Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, who regularly holidayed on the islands and is buried in the Old Town church yard. (See pic 2)
On another occasion I went there alone to walk around the coastal path, which measures around 10 miles or 16km. There’s an impressive set of star-shaped Garrison Walls along the west coast. (See pics 14 – 17). And, perhaps surprisingly, given the island’s small size and remoteness, there are several chambered cairns or ancient burial grounds dotted around the coast, which date back to the Bronze Age, between 2500 and 800 BC. (See pics 23 & 24). As if that wasn’t enough for any history buff, there’s also the remains of an ancient, Iron Age, village at Halangy Down. (See pics 28 & 29). Definitely a walk back in time if ever there was one! 😊
I said I wouldn’t post any pictures of Bryher but, in the interest of fairness and balance (since I don’t want you to think it never rains in the Scillies), I’ve added a ‘bonus’ gallery at the end. Not that you will see much. I’m sure it’s a beautiful island, we just caught it on the wrong day, because…
As I think I mentioned, St Mary’s is the main hub of the islands, so when you stay on one of the other, outlying islands, you are known as being “off island”. When you want to travel from one “off island” to another, you are at the mercy of the boat schedule, in our case, the St Agnes Boat company. During our stay, they only went to Tresco once and Bryher once, so we had to go on those days. In both cases, it rained and rained – less so on Tresco thankfully… (It was a beautiful day when we went to St Martin’s, so don’t worry…)
The pictures (in the first gallery) below are therefore mainly of the Tresco Abbey gardens, which incorporates the Valhalla museum. Amongst other things, it contains 30 figureheads, collected from the various masted sailing boats which have been shipwrecked off the coast since the 1830’s.
As mentioned in my post yesterday, we stayed on the island of St Agnes, which is not much more than a mile (1.5km) long and around 0.75 miles (1.2km) wide, though that’s 1.25 miles (2km) if you include Gugh, which is attached via a sand bar at low tide. (See map). However, to walk all around the coastline of both it’s around 5 miles (or 8.5 km). There is a resident population of less than 100 people – mainly involved in tourism, agriculture and the production of the most delicious ice cream (fortunately for us, at Troytown Farm! 😋)
The gallery below is a rather random selection of photos taken over the 12 days that we were there.
At the beginning of May, Jude and I went on holiday to the Scillies (or the Isles of Scilly to give them their full title). You can fly there by small plane or helicopter, but our preferred method was by boat from Penzance. The crossing is notorious for being a bit rough, to the extent that the ferry is often cancelled, but we were very fortunate, going both out and back, as the sea was perfectly calm.
The Scillies are made up of numerous small islands, (see detailed map pic 18) but only 5 of them are inhabited (6 if you include Gugh, when the sand bar linking it to St Agnes is cut off by the tide). We stayed in a pre-erected tent on a campsite at the beautifully named Troytown Farm, on St Agnes, but we managed to visit all of the other 4 main islands.
In this series I’ll be posting some pictures of St Agnes & Gugh, Tresco, the main island ‘hub’ of St Mary’s and, finally, St Martin’s. We did also go to Bryher, but the weather was so bad, I only have a few vague pictures of some coastline in the mist! (I’m told it is very nice there though!)
However, I thought I’d whet your appetites with a few pictures of our journey, which was made all the more comfortable by the luggage transfer system: After dropping off our 4 bags at the quayside in Penzance, suitably marked with yellow “St Agnes” stickers, they were loaded onto the Scillonian III. Upon arrival in St Mary’s they were transferred to the inter-island St Agnes boat before we all boarded and, as soon as we disembarked, it was taken by tractor and trailer to the side of our tent by the campsite owners. (See luggage transfer, pic 11). With no tent to pitch, nor mattresses to inflate and all cooking facilities provided, it was the perfect start to our 11 nights under canvas. 👍👍 😊
The forecast for day 4 was for light rain from mid-day. This was not great news when we were planning to go over Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales at 1085m or 3,560ft. It had to be done though, as Pete and I had been to the top of the other 4 highest peaks in the UK and Ireland on previous walks – the first being Ben Nevis (@1,345m or 4,413ft) in 1997 when Pete, Tim, Liam, Colin & I did the West Highland Way. That was in the clouds too!
For the record, Dave joined Pete and I on a trip to the English Lake District the following year and we did Scafell Pike (@978m or 3,209ft). A trip to southern Ireland followed in 2000 and another friend, Paul, joined Liam, Dave, Pete and I on a 4 day walk, which included Carrauntoohil (@1,038m or 3,407ft). And it would be 14 years later that Tim, Liam, Pete and I completed most of the 19 mile Mourne Wall Walk in Northern Ireland, which included an ascent of Slieve Donard (@850m or 2,790ft). So Snowdon was long overdue…
Although low cloud covered the top 250m or so of the summit, we didn’t actually get rained on once all day. Indeed we had no rain on all 4 days – which must be some sort of record for North Wales!
My thanks go to all the boys for making the effort to come over to ‘my’ little corner of the country and for all the usual banter and fantastic memories (& beers) that we have shared. 😊
After a hearty breakfast at the Glan Aber Hotel, we set off on what would be the most climbing of any of the days, at nearly 4,000ft (or 1,200m). Our route was initially along yet another section of the Snowdonia Slate Trail, alongside of the Afon Llugwy (river) and past the Swallow Falls. From there we wandered through the woods and across the moor to Capel Curig. That’s where we parted from the Slate Trail and the ‘serious’ climbing started, up to Y Foel Goch (@ 2,640ft or 805m) and, from there, slightly down to the Miner’s track.
Eager to ‘bag’ Glyder Fach (@3,262ft or 994m), Dave, Pete and I carried on to the top, leaving Tim and Liam to meander down to the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel. The summit was a mass of random boulders, which took some navigating to get onto the actual top but, with Dave’s ‘perfectly safe’ assistance, we managed it. (See pics 29P and 30). We scrambled back down and returned to the Miner’s track to reach the hotel in good time for dinner. 😋
The Pen-y-Gwryd hotel has quite a history, it’s famous for being the training headquarters of the first successful Everest expedition in 1953. Several well known climbers and celebrities have signed their names on one of the ceilings, including Sir Edmund Hilary, George Mallory, Alan Hinkes, Don Willans and Sir Roger Bannister. The Beatles once visited the hotel, but they were not deemed famous enough (at the time no doubt) to be invited to sign the ceiling! For more information on this rather amazing place, please click or touch here.
With thanks to Pete for the use of some of his photos (suitably watermarked) and the ‘loan’ of his camera to take the summit selfie, (pic 30).
After a steep climb up from Blaenau Ffestiniog, our route would take us across moorland, past several small lakes and yet another disused quarry. It had the rather delightful name of Cwt-y-bugail (pronounced Coot-uh-beegisle, if I’m not mistaken), which Google translates as The Shepherd’s Hut.
We then dropped down into and along the Penmachno valley, before turning north through the Fairy Glen to Betws-y-coed. It was rather appropriate then that Liam would spot a ‘face’ in the wall, which he immediately announced was a Wall Goblin, keeping a watchful eye on us! (See pic 18).
I was also very pleased to discover another member of the dead-nettle family, called Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon), which I don’t recall ever seeing, or at least noticing, before. It has the most wonderful, orchid like, ‘hooded’ and hairy flowers with variegated leaves. (See pic 23). 👍😊
Regular readers will know that I often go on walks with my old (and getting older) running mates. Last year it was a section of the South West Coast Path in Cornwall. This year, it was my turn to ‘host’ something in North Wales and I planned a 4 day circular walk from Beddgelert to Blaenau Ffestiniog, from there to Betws-y-Coed, thence to the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel and, finally, back to Beddgelert. Each day was between 11 and 12 miles (18 & 20km) long.
Unfortunately, Colin couldn’t make it, but Tim, Pete, Dave and Liam were all up for the challenge, which included taking on the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon, on our last day. Day 1 was no walk in the park either with an ascent of Cnicht – The Matterhorn of Wales!
The forecast for our trip wasn’t good, with light rain expected sometime on 3 of the 4 days, but we were actually very lucky and didn’t get wet once! We even had some sunshine!
I hope you enjoy this stroll around the hills and valleys of Snowdonia (which we finished yesterday btw).