Jo’s Monday walk : São Lourenço Trail


Nothing special this week.  Just a short walk in the Algarve and a reminder that I will not be here to post a walk next week.  I probably won’t have time to respond to many of you before I go, either, so I’ll have to crave your indulgence.  You know I’ll catch you up when I’m back, don’t you?

In all honesty, I was a little disappointed in this section of the São Lourenço Trail but there were compensations.  It borders affluent Quinta do Lago, and appears to be used largely by joggers and cyclists, between rounds of golf.  I approached the trail from the beach, crossing over the salt flats via the Ponte de Ancao, an extremely long foot bridge, easily visible when you fly over the Algarve.

The last time I was in this neighbourhood I had turned left after the bridge, and been astounded at the beauty of the saltwater lake stretching before me. So I had high hopes on my return.  A right turn after the bridge had me skirting the edge of a golf course, the salt marsh squidging at my toes. The tide was out, but it was obvious that when it came in, some of the trail would be underwater and a little paddling might be required.  A good reason not to loiter, but it was not very obvious to me which was the trail.

IMG_1220This new-looking red dust cycle track proved to be a false start.  It led far into the distance, towards the airport, and seemed very popular with birdwatchers.  Solid benches along the way attracted couples with binoculars, focused on the watery world.  An about face proved necessary.



It was immediately apparent that I should have stuck close to the golf course, on a much more beaten track.  I retraced my steps and headed into a stand of pines.  Beyond them, a small lake was overlooked by a two-storey bird hide.



I spent a little while in the bird hide, enjoying the antics of the waterfowl, but I forgot to look for the two species of native terrapin. Azure-winged magpie are a common enough sight in Portuguese woods.  The trail ends at some rather unprepossessing Roman ruins, former salting tanks used for the preservation of fish.  A signboard describes the process.

Time to retrace my steps the brief distance back to the bridge, the tide not having advanced too far.  It was a warm day for late November and I had neglected to bring water.  The price of my folly was high.  I did say that this was wealthy Quinta do Lago, didn’t I? The cost of my glass of white at Gigi’s bar made me wince, but there was nowhere else in sight.  I stayed as long as possible to gain maximum value from the view.


This is walk no. 42 from Walking Trails in the Algarve, a book I’ve used previously.  Remember Carrapateira?  Full details of how to get there, complete with maps, are shown in the guide.

And that’s it from me.  I’m publishing this a little early to give me a head start, but I hope you’ll still put the kettle on and settle in for a good read.

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As always, huge thanks to my contributors, and to those of you who just enjoy keeping me company.  Details of how to join in can be found on my Jo’s Monday walk page, with a click on the logo above.  Remember though, I’ll be missing next week.


Lots of snow about the blogs this week!  Start us off, Anabel!

Mugdock in the snow

But we can hop aboard the Royal Yacht and keep warm with Smidge :

The Royal Yacht and Gormley’s 6 times

Or head for San Diego with Amy :

Monday Walking: Ringling Museum

Jackie’s still got plenty of sunshine too :

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Meet Susan, everybody!  She’s new to my walks so please make her welcome :

Discovering Street Art in Astoria, Queens 

This week Debbie brings us a fascinating tower and observatory in Copenhagen :

A Short and Winding Walk

No matter how often you see Banff National Park, it always looks spectacular!

Snow Decor

Some pretty wonderful rime ice leaves from Jude!  Brrrhh  :)

Monthly Photo Challenge : Frosty January

More of the white stuff, anybody?  You could snowboard with Drake!

Snow time

Or stroll peacefully with Jaspa in the evening sun :

Villa Doria Pamphili Park

Not so much a garden as a torture chamber but this one’s very colourful.  Thanks, Lee Ann!

Haw Par Villa- Chinese Mythological Garden

Shall we end with a nice English resort?  Gilly still manages to make it look inviting, even on a gloomy day :

Winter by the sea

Many thanks, everybody!  I love your walks.  I hope to be back with an Algarve walk on Monday, 15th February.  Take good care till then.

Six word Saturday


Heading south, to look for Spring


Winging it, once more.

Dawn’s rays on the horizon

Above molten skies



This was going to be my Thursday post (minus the six words header) but I got distracted.  It’s still appropriate, because I’m off to the Algarve on Monday.  I will be posting a short walk first, partly to remind you that I’ve gone, but mostly because I hate to keep my contributors to Jo’s Monday walk waiting till I get back.

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to pop in on Cate at Show My Face with your six words.  I won’t be here next weekend.  I wonder… does this qualify as a Vibrant start to the day?


Winter Gardens, Sunderland


I really didn’t think I was going to have quite so much fun when I suggested to Jude that I might visit the Winter Gardens in Sunderland. It’s a number of years since I was there, and I had completely forgotten about the extensive gardens of Mowbray Park, adjoining Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.  The luxury of a bright, sunny morning was all the invitation I needed.

It’s a bit of a rags to riches story.  In 1831 Sunderland recorded its first cholera epidemic, and a health inspector recommended that a leafy area would benefit the town.  A grant of £750 was provided by the government to buy a plot of land from local landowners, the Mowbray family, and turn it into a park.  On 12th May, 1857, shops closed early and thousands flocked to attend the opening ceremony.  In 1866 a lake and terraces were added and, in 1879, the Winter Gardens and museum.


For me, one of the park’s most attractive features is the cast iron work.  When the Second World War came along many of the iron structures, including bridge and bandstand, were taken away to be melted down for weapons, and open space was converted to vegetable patches.  Fortunately a huge restoration programme took place in the 1990s.  Many features, including the William Hall Drinking Fountain shown above, were renewed.

It being January, plants had taken a bit of a back seat, but I was delighted to come upon an early rhododendron bursting into bloom, and a cheery carpet of aconites, pierced by spikes of snowdrops.  The gazebo, I found tucked in a contemplative corner.




Sunderland has strong links with the author Lewis Carroll.  A walrus sculpture by the lake commemorates the link.


I bet you’re itching to get inside those Winter Gardens now, aren’t you?  There’s a surprise or two in store.




The plant house towers high over your head, and a spiral staircase carries you up to the canopy.  Rising through it, a colossal water sculpture, designed by William Pye.  It’s hard to resist touching the column of moving water.


The Winter Gardens cater well for children, seeking to engage as well as educate.  I dodged around several parties of small children, engrossed in identification of plants and doing much better than me.

Of course, you can only find bougainvillea in a hot house.  Just the place for me!  The museum was quite fascinating too, and I promise to take you back there one day.  For now, you’d better hurry if you have a Winter Garden to share with Jude.

Jo’s Monday walk : Saltburn in Winter


Some towns work really hard at making the best of what they have.  Saltburn-by-the-Sea, on the North Yorkshire coast, is certainly one of those. The second you step out of the railway station, you are welcomed by a frieze of mosaics, colourfully depicting many of the town’s landmarks.  The towering cliffs of Huntcliff Nab form a constant and beautiful backdrop at the end of the street.


A saunter through majestic Victorian architecture will bring you down to the Valley Gardens.  A miniature steam train, ‘Prince Charles’, chuffs the length of the valley in the summer months.  Then there’s the beach, promenade and cliff lift, all offering their entertainments.  The pier stretches out to embrace the salt spray of the North Sea.  Parasols a-twirling, return to gaze upon Huntcliff Nab.




I love the whimsical nod to days gone by in these mosaics.  It’s an easy enough stroll.  Come with me and I’ll show you how it all looks this winter.

Followers of this blog will be no strangers to Saltburn.  We’ve walked here together before.  I hadn’t really intended to take you there today, but my husband was measuring the garden of a lovely old Grade II listed house, in the town.  With a couple of hours to kill, I wasn’t going to waste an opportunity, now was I?

Let’s start with a look at some of the quirky shop fronts.  Browsing here is seldom dull.  See anything you like?


That’s quite enough of indulgence.  Keep that pie and mash shop in mind for later.  The owner looks very welcoming.  First we need a little bracing air.  It’s not too cold today, evidenced by the numbers on the beach.   The cliff lift stands lonely in silhouette, steps taking us down to the shoreline.



 No yarn bombing on the pier, as yet, but I’m sure that it will arrive in the summer.  Remember Alice, from last year?

The beach stretches off into the distance.  Children stamp and twirl gleefully on the sand.  Dog walkers are out in abundance.  A couple of opportunists sweep the beach in search of treasure.  Their find, multi-coloured pebbles, unwinking, except where caught in a flowing stream.  A life scored deep within their grooves and whorls.  Strands of seaweed, unfurling briny curls.



It’s time to turn and head back beside the crumbling cliffs.  Filigree patterns beneath the pier, and above, a bench to read on or simply watch the ebb and flow of tide.


There’s a lovely corner cafe, beside Cat Nab, just before you reach the brig.   You can watch the stream gushing into Valley Gardens from the outdoor terrace.  It’s a little muddy through there today.  So much rain in recent times!  It’s a steep pull back up to the cliff top, where you’ll be welcomed by the Victorian wicker family.  Some kind soul has knit them poppy buttonholes.


That’s it for another week!  Pie and mash, or did you indulge at the corner cafe?  Time to put the kettle on now, and join my walking friends.

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Huge thanks, as always, to my contributors, and to those of you who simply like to keep me company.  If you’d like to join in at any time, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.


Anabel goes in search of sunshine this week :

Bermuda : Somerset to the Dockyard

Geoff’s in Dulwich, looking at the definition of village :

Village Life

Amy’s found the most beautiful restaurant!

Monday Walk : Ybor City

Funny how some names always conjure up a song.  Any Steely Dan fans out there?

Day 1- Guadalajara

Good to welcome somebody new to the walks, so please head for Scotland and say ‘hi’ to Smidge :

Winter in the Botanics

Jude’s left her plants, temporarily, for a bit of a tongue twister this week :

Scrobbesbyrig/Shrewsbury : a look at stone buildings

Among many other talents, Nicole is an accomplished hiker.  Just take a look!

Best Hikes in Tucson : Bear Canyon’s hike to Seven Falls

Drake is in romantic mood.  Who wouldn’t be, in Venice?

L’atmosphere noire

A head for heights and a sense of humour are what you’ll need on Esther’s walk :

Walk on a Tightrope

Or, if you’re still feeling romantic?

Walk of Love

What might you expect to see in Panama?  Jaspa’s your man!

The Real San Blas Islands

I learnt a little more Welsh today, with Student in Snowdonia.  ‘Yr Aran’ – The Peak :

The Peak

I like the idea of tapestries on my walls.  Maybe I should try life in a castle :

Bunratty Castle- Home of an Irish King

A great selection, aren’t they?  I had intended to close my walks for 2 weeks, but my lovely husband pointed out that we don’t leave for the Algarve until next Monday afternoon.  Plenty of time for another, he said!  It’s not the walking that’s hard.  It’s keeping up with the responses.  We’ll see! Have a wonderful week, meantime.



Six word Saturday


All set for a bright future!

Happy 26th birthday to my son, James!  Yesterday we went to Leeds to kick off the celebrations in style.  His new apartment had been looking very bland and white and needed an injection of colour.  A bit of artwork on the walls, rug, cushion, potted plant… and do you recognise BB8 sitting there on the windowsill?  Happy in his new home.  As we hope James will be.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing.  Life seldom is, is it?  Leeds is a city busy reinventing itself.  An interesting juxtaposition of old and shiny new. James is a big fan of Asian cuisine, and we ate at Bar Soba in The Light- a new complex for dining and entertainment.  It’s good to be optimistic about the future.  Optimistic and full of hope, as the weekly challenge suggests.

Have a lovely weekend and I hope to see you on Monday for another walk.


Winter Garden ‘Snowku’


Is there any such word?

Cold and shivery, if so!

Tiny ice crystals


Snow was fleeting in my part of the world, so I had to be quick with the camera.  While Jude was loitering inside the glasshouse I was out in the fingerless gloves.  Who’s the fool, I ask myself.  Certainly not Jude!

When I was folder-ing these away, I came across some evidence that our hellebores really don’t seem to mind snow.  Nor the rhododendrons, come to that.  But then, don’t they come from the Himalayas?


That’s quite enough snowku for this month!  I just sneaked a look at next month’s Garden Photography Challenge.  ‘Monochrome’… over to you!

Jo’s Monday walk : Bowlees and Low Force


Last week I left you on a glorious late December day, in the heart of Teesdale, on the North Pennines.  If you remember, I recommended you to the Bowlees Visitor Centre.  It looked very attractive from the outside but, as it is closed till half term, I can’t testify to the food.  The website does mention homemade cakes and scones and local produce, so you can’t go far wrong.

Who would have expected such a day, in the midst of all that rain?  No wonder High Force was looking thunderous and beautiful.  We can move on now, to it’s little, but no less lovely sister, Low Force.

A lane leads down from the Visitor Centre and access to the falls is across a field. (a bit swampy, on this occasion)  Through a stone gate, there’s a drop down to Wynch Bridge, suspended across the River Tees.  The rush of water below is dramatic.  Better yet, off to your right, you catch a glimpse of the tumbling falls.  Cross over the bridge and you can follow the footpath all the way back to High Force.

And we’re back to that idyllic scenery.  Look closely at the next photo and see if you can spot what’s happening there, at the falls.



Get ready for an action shot!


Whoo-hoo!  Much braver than me!  There were two youngsters in the canoes, and an older gentleman taking photographs.  It seems they had to keep running the falls till he got a photo he was satisfied with.  What a task master!



Climbing out again didn’t look all that easy!  And nobody stayed dry- not even the photographer!  But at least they all survived to tell the tale.

Well!  That was exciting, wasn’t it?  And I have to say, completely unexpected.  Let’s have a more tranquil look around now, before we carry on back to High Force.  Note the fungi beneath the trees, and a ‘fossil’ on the wall.

And what could be more calming than sheep?  Can you read the message in stone?  I couldn’t really argue.  Could you?


A wonderful place to be a walker!  I think so, too.  Let’s wander slowly, back along the river, to our start point at High Force.


I didn’t get great shots of High Force so I’ll obviously have to go back again.  I think the best vantage point would be from the path above the falls- on the Pennine Way, as you’ll see from the map.

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Time to put the kettle on now, I think, and settle in for a read.  Many thanks to you all for the shares and the appreciation.  If you would like to join in with a walk of your own, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.  You’ll be very welcome.


I have a scoop for you this week!  A world first!  And you get to see lovely Sue Slaught on video, too…

Walking with the Penguins in Calgary- a Royal Ramble

The Glasgow Gallivanter!  Doesn’t that sound gay?  It’s Anabel!  New Year, new name, same quality :

Loch Ard walks

Would you believe, Jackie’s STILL in Mexico?

Monday Walk : Mazatlan Mexico

And Amy wasn’t too far away from there, in Sarasota, Florida :

Monday Walk: Marina Jack Trail

A year-round park to use up some calories?  Sounds useful!  Thanks, Corey :

Ward Pound Ridge Reservation : Westchester’s Largest Park

And what could be more lovely than a lavender farm?

Lavender Pathways

Drake isn’t a bit selfish with the snow.  He has lots to spare!

White walking

There could be a few wet feet about this week!

Buddha Caves of Vang Vieng

And while we’re being exotic, Cathy still has some tales to tell from Myanmar :

A day at Mount Popa & the Popa Taung Kalat Monastery

That’s it for now!  Hope you enjoyed it.  I think this might be a good time to mention, for any of you thinking of sharing a walk, that I have one more walk to share next week, and then I will be missing for two weeks.  The Algarve is calling- you know how it is!  While I’m gone you can check out those lovely ladies at Monday Escapes.