Alnmouth to Warkworth Walk, Northumberland, England

For my last walk while we were on holiday, I left Jude pottering around Alnwick and drove down to Alnmouth railway station, (where, most unusually, there’s free parking πŸ‘) to do an out and back walk along a section of the England Coast Path. As you will see the weather wasn’t great, though it didn’t rain and there was a small incentive to get to Warkworth (other than the golf course – pic 16 in case you hadn’t guessed). πŸ˜‹

I was equally puzzled and amused by the signpost in picture 11, indicating north and south, and I wondered how anyone walking the path would not know which way they were going when they got to that point. πŸ€”

Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland

While we were in Northumberland, Jude and I went for a day trip to Edinburgh on the train. Our main aim was to see the Royal Yacht, Britannia, but our appointment wasn’t until the afternoon. So with drizzle in the air, we opted for a wander around the Scottish National Gallery (at least one part of which is free to enter btw).

I’m always amazed by the skill of any artist, but some of the paintings (shown below) just blew me away – particularly the level of detail on some of the larger works. You’ve got to love the look on the dog’s face in the last image.

Note: For the best ‘gallery’ experience, please click on the first (or any) image and page through… (The title of each piece and artist is noted underneath each image, though I’m afraid WP doesn’t like to include capitals and apostrophe’s, etc).

Holy Island of Lindisfarne Walk, Northumberland, England

Jude and I spent last week on holiday in Northumberland. We went for a number of walks along the fabulous beaches along the coast and this was the first, around (most of) the island of Lindisfarne or Holy Island – so called because, in 635AD, St Aidan travelled there from Iona to set up a monastery.

The island is cut off from the mainland twice a day due to the tides, so you have to time your arrival and departure carefully. Luckily we were able cross around 10am and drive back again before 5:30pm. Just enough time to make the most of the glorious sunshine! 😊

The Dee Way, Part 1, Day 5 (of 5), Llangollen, N.Β Wales to Chirk, England

Overnight the temperature rose by around 10 degrees and my last day promised to be warm and dry. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ˜Š Though this did mean, of course, that the snow would be melting fast and some sections could be wet and boggy or slippery. However, for 4 days I’d been walking in my waterproof jacket and trousers (see first pic of day 1), so it was a relief and almost liberating, to be able to wear just my normal walking trousers, a tee shirt and a jumper.

I had planned 2 routes for this day, each with its own merits; one was flat, along the canal, while the other went up and down Dinas Bran (where there’s the ruins of a medieval castle) and then along a section of Offa’s Dyke path, called the Panorama walk (which I’d done some years previously with my old mate, Tim). Since it was going to be fine, I chose the latter and extended it a little by doing the second half of the other route.

It was quite slippery on the ascent of Dinas Bran and, as any regular walker will testify, descents can often be more difficult. And so it proved, as I reached the last section… Two young ladies were picking their way, very carefully, up what was probably the normal path, but I decided to avoid them and go off to the right where there seemed to be less, smooth wet grass and more snow. I expected to get a better grip, but very soon I realised that I had very little traction at all. In an instant, I started taking very quick, little steps, which turned into a mini shuffle and then run down the hill. While trying to stop, I slid on two feet for a short distance and feared I was going to topple head first down the hill. So the only solution was to fall backwards to come to a more controlled stop!

As you’ll see in pic 7, I slid quite a way, but the worst part was that I was absolutely soaked through to the skin. My jumper and trousers and almost everything underneath were drenched. Apart from the presence of the 2 ladies, (who obviously had a good laugh at my expense), all my dry gear was packed away, deep in my rucksack and there was no way that I could get it all out and get changed with all the snow and slush about. So, a little further on, I found a dry(ish) patch and quickly replaced my wet gear with my waterproof jacket and trousers! All was not lost though as, about a mile further on, when the coast was clear along the dry road, I dug out another pair of trousers and jumper etc. and finished the walk in a dry set of normal clothes.

Let’s hope Part 2, later this year, from Chirk to Hoylake, will have better weather! 🀞🀞

The Dee Way, Part 1, Day 4 (of 5), Corwen to Llangollen, N. Wales

Day 4 started brightly enough, but with snow or sleet forecast for later and almost 15.5 miles to cover, I cheated a little and took the easier road option for the first section. I soon arrived in Carrog where the information board told me that Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike, was married in the local church in 1968. Presumably Sir Paul was there, but it didn’t say. (See pics 10 – 12).

After that it was up into the hills and the deep snow, which was well over a foot deep in places. (See pics 17 and 20). Back down on the road I came upon a signpost indicating it was only half a mile to the Sun Inn. The pub wasn’t marked on the map and, as it was (last) Saturday, I hoped it would be open. Sure enough it was and I enjoyed a spot of lunch before setting off in the sleet…

The last section followed the canal towpath from the Horseshoe Falls (much prettier in sunshine) all the way into Llangollen.

The Dee Way, Part 1, Day 3 (of 5), Llandderfel to Corwen, N. Wales

The forecast for day 3 was good from 10am, so I delayed my start until around 9:30am. It proved to be a good move as the sun soon made an appearance, if only briefly here and there. It also meant that I arrived at the Llew Glas or Blue Lion Inn in Llandrillo at exactly the right time for some “Splendid” refreshment. 😊

However, after yet more overnight snow, I decided to avoid the high level option suggested in the book and I followed the lower level, riverside alternative from Llandrillo to Corwen. This at least gave me the opportunity, at a ford, to wet my feet in the river Dee itself, which somehow seemed appropriate.

Along this and previous legs, I became very popular with quite a few flocks of sheep. Normally they soon run away, but they obviously thought I was going to feed them something. It happened so many times, I decided to take a video. I’ve posted it below, after the usual gallery, for you to enjoy!

Sheep and lambs hoping for food…

The Dee Way, Part 1, Day 2 (of 5), Llanuwchllyn to Llandderfel, N. Wales

If you saw my ‘mobile’ post last week, you will have noticed that there was more overnight snow. And it was still snowing when I left the very nice Bwch yn Uchaf B&B. I therefore decided to skip the brief detour from the road up the hill (seen in pic 2) as it simply came back to the road about a kilometre further on. Not surprisingly, I didn’t see any cars come along the road at all.

However, in the hope of clearer weather to come, I did decide to go uphill to take in the panoramic viewpoints marked on the map. I was lucky in that the snow did come and go to give me one or two, albeit very dull, grey pictures of Bala Lake, or Llyn Tegid as it’s called in Welsh.

I rather jokingly said to a few people that it would be downhill to go from the source to the mouth of the river, but how wrong I was! There were several good climbs along the route, and the highest on this day (at 1050ft or 320m) can be seen in picture no. 13.

You may also notice certain recurring themes in these posts. One is the number of different way signs encountered. The Dee Way seems to take in sections of several different paths, including, on this leg, the Cross Britain Way and the Tegid Way. Churches are another feature, not because I’m a religious person, far from it, but they do provide a bit of occasional shelter (if open) and, for me, they hold a certain fascination. It could be their age or construction or the objects seen inside. On this particular occasion, I was touched by the relevance of the “Church Door” text, which was by the entrance to Llandderfel church. Have a read of pic 26 and see what you think.

Pubs or, more precisely, real ales are also a passion of mine, but more of that to come… 🍺😊

The Dee Way, Part 1, Day 1 (of 5), Source to Llanuwchllyn, N. Wales

First, a little background… Some months ago now, Jude and I were browsing the second hand books in the local, Harlech gallery and I came across a Kittiwake publication called The Dee Way. It describes a walk from either Prestatyn or Hoylake, which straddle the Dee estuary, to the source of the river Dee, or Afon Dyfrdwy, to give it its proper Welsh name. The route can be split into ten ‘doable’ sections, averaging around 12 to 14 miles per day (depending upon which start point you choose).

I like to do things differently, so I decided to do the walk from the source to Hoylake, which any golfers out there will know, is the home of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, where The Open will be held this year. I think of it as my little pilgrimage. 😊 However, ten days in a row is a bit too much for me to tackle at once, so I’ve divided it into two, with the first ‘half’ going from the source to Chirk and I’ll do the second part later in the year.

I booked the accommodation about 3 or 4 weeks ago, so when the forecast was for snow and sleet, I did think twice, but decided to go ahead anyway. As you will see in the coming days, there were challenges… Not least of these was on Day 1 where, almost as soon as Jude had dropped me off, I came across some very slippery looking stepping stones (see pic 2). Not wishing to start my journey with wet feet (or worse), I took a short detour over a bridge. From there I followed a good forest track and I looked and looked for the turn off to the source, but no path was to be seen. (See pics 7 and 8). The book warns that the trek to the source shouldn’t be tackled in bad visibility, so I turned around (at the blue arrow on the detailed map in pic 36) and so began my journey east. Along the way, with no signs and again no obvious path, I had to rely upon my mobile OS map GPS to get across the lumpy, tussocky field in pic 15.

The snow soon dissipated though as I approached Llanuwchllyn (meaning the church above the lake), which is indeed where you will find St Deiniol’s church (see pics 26 to 28) and is the terminus of the Bala Lake (narrow gauge) Railway. (See pics 32 and 33).

Sneak preview of Day 2: The weather gets worse…!!

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!)