walking

Jo’s Monday walk : Whitburn through the Looking Glass

Are you wondering at my title this week?  The village of Whitburn in north east England has a Lewis Carroll connection.  It’s generally accepted that he wrote “The Walrus and the Carpenter” while staying at his cousin’s home in Whitburn.

Charles Dodgson, whose pen name was Carroll, of “Alice in Wonderland” fame, regularly visited his cousin Margaret Wilcox, the wife of a Customs officer in Sunderland.  For entertainment on an evening they would make up verses.  ‘Twas brillig and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe’ started life here, and was published as ‘Jabberwocky’ in 1872.   I had no such rhymes in my head on the seafront at Seaburn.  The sun was shining warmly and I planned to head up the coast.

Looking good, don’t you think, and I’m not surprised that Carroll enjoyed strolling on this stretch of cliff top that leads north to Souter Lighthouse. I’m easily distracted sometimes and a wooden sculpture by the edge of the road beckoned me to take a closer look.

Welcome to Whitburn, the sign said.  Well, why not?  A path led invitingly past a swathe of vibrant wildflowers and I found myself in Cornthwaite Park.  There I found the legend writ large, ‘Whitburn through the Looking Glass’.

I love the reputation of this peaceful, rural location as a haven for shipwreckers. Following the attack of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the defeated Spanish fleet fled up the north east coast of England.  Two galleons ran aground in rough seas on Whitburn Rocks and the locals were not slow to utilise wreckage.  Two oak beams in the village smithy were said to have come from the wreck, and a bell used to call the Spanish crews to prayer was mounted in the parish church.

Leaving the park, imposing gates and a double letter box drew my eye to the most stylish and sumptuous of buildings.

Whitburn Hall originally belonged to the Carr family, but was bought in 1719 by the Williamsons, who remained in residence for 200 years.  During that time, Sir Hedworth Williamson trained racehorses on Whitburn Sands, producing a couple of famous Derby winners.  Horses are still a common sight, exercising on the beach.

Lewis Carroll would have been a regular visitor to the Hall.  Lady Hedworth Williamson was second cousin to Alice Liddell, to whom the ‘Alice’ books are dedicated.  Remember my Llandudno post?

Church Lane leads to Whitburn Church, and beyond that an expansive village green.  Set back from the road, a row of cottages with an idyllic location.  An elderly gentleman passed the time of day and acknowledged his good fortune at living there.

The cottages look up to strikingly decorative Whitburn House.  Thomas Barnes, the owner of a brickworks, tried to fence off the common ground in front of it, but in 1873 the courts decided that ‘the Bank’ and the village green should remain free for the use of all villagers.

Did you notice the Tradesman’s entrance?  ‘Know your place!’, as it was in those days.  A window cleaner was tackling the vast frontage and I didn’t envy him.  From Whitburn House I turned right off Front Street into Sandy Chare.  I vaguely remembered a village pond from a previous visit.

Serene as it looks, it has a bit of a tumultuous history.  Formerly known as the Horse Pool, the pond was used to wash coaches and the white building behind once housed stables.  In 1824 the first village school was built, beside the pond.  When a larger school was built in Sandy Chare, in 1852, the building became the Infant School.  In seriously wet weather the pool was prone to overflowing, and one villager recalls having to sit on his desk amidst rising water.  The headmaster gives a graphic account of the situation after the great storm of 1900. (you can read it if you magnify the panel above)

The sea was calling me back, and a return to the rough headland of the Bents.  My husband had food in mind, though we paused to admire the antics of a family of cormorants out on the rocks. ‘Latimers’ of Whitburn does a mean plate of food, with a sea view to boot.

On Front St. I had noticed a sign for Bede’s Heritage Trail and, looking it up when I got home, discovered that Whitburn is part of a 12 mile walk dedicated to the saint.  On June 29th each year there is an annual pilgrimage.  More food for thought, and certainly an outing for another day.  Here is the map.  I had unwittingly completed parts of section 4 and 5.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Many thanks to all of you for wandering with me, and for this wonderful selection of walks.  I hope you’ll find time to put the kettle on and sit back for a good read.  Join me if you can.  The details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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Not quite a Beatles classic, Drake gives us Scandinavia with a smile this week :

Southern Norwegian mood

While Debbie does an easy snippet of the Fife Coastal path :

Inverkeithing to North Queensferry

And Lady Lee, a fierce-looking castle in Malta :

Traces of the Past- Citadel/Cittadella

Jackie is on hand with coffee and cake :

Smell the coffee

Which Tish could do with, after a hard day’s gardening.  A privilege for me to have her here :

Butterflies in the Buddleia, Bees in the Teasels and all’s well at the allotment

Join Vanessa and family in a gentle introduction to walking in Japan.  If you have the stamina you can climb Mount Fuji too :

Fujiyoshida/ Hiking the Tokai Nature Trail through rural Japan

Meantime, Meg goes bouldering, with due care and diligence :

Granite country

Got your parasols ready for twirling?  Rosemay has a lovely summery walk for us :

Promenade by the lake

And by contrast, Lynn flirts with an avalanche.  I kid you not!

A little snow on the mountain

Woolly explores the sad loss of Newfoundlanders on the Western Front :

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Last September it was surely warmer and sunnier than now.  Or was it just having Jude’s lovely company?

Garden Portrait : Edinburgh Botanic Garden

Meanwhile Denzil’s pulled out all the stops to impress with his canal boats :

GR121 Stage 3 : Nivelles to Braines-le-Comte

Something for everybody, I’m sure you’ll agree.  It’s a miserable wet Monday here in the north east.  Maybe I’ll stop at home and do a little research. Have a great week everybody!

 

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Mallyan Spout revisited

The village of Goathland, in North Yorkshire, has any number of attractions, just one of which is the waterfall, Mallyan Spout.  At the bottom of a ravine, with a 70 foot drop, in full spate it is a beautiful sight.

The start point of my walk is beside the hotel of the same name, highly rated on Trip Advisor, for those of you who pay attention to such things.  I pass through the gate adjoining the coffee shop with scarcely a glance, eager to set eyes on the waterfall.  Almost immediately the path starts to drop downwards, and down some more, and then down again.  I’m not even thinking about the inevitable climb back up when my eyes alight on a perfect cluster of palest pink, wild orchids.

I listen hard for the telltale chuckle of water as I descend still further.  Finally I can hear it and, a few moments later, there it is.

Now I can’t pretend to anybody that this is an easy walk but, in not too damp conditions, it is perfectly possible to negotiate the stepped path down to the waterfall.  Turning left at the bottom, you need only follow the beck for a matter of yards to be within sight and sound.  It’s up to you how close you want to go.  To get a good look, a bit of scrambling over rocks will be needed, but there were families with quite young children making the trip.  Watch out for the ‘coin’ trees, shown above, set deep into the rocks.

How can you not love being in this leafy dell?  When you have gazed your fill, you have a choice to make.  You can retrace your steps to the bottom of the path that led downwards, and then continue to the right, alongside the beck.  This will take you on a 3 mile circular walk, via Beck Hole, as detailed in the link at the start.  Or you can be a bit more adventurous.

The walk I was following crosses the waterfall and continues along a ‘sometimes difficult’ footpath, and over two footbridges, according to my guidebook.  Sound challenging?  It only had a medium level of difficulty.  I thought that passing the waterfall might prove tricky, but the rocks weren’t too slippy and with the help of a steadying hand I managed it.  Balance is not my strong point.

There was a sense that the valley bottom had shifted, leaving behind the pedestal on which the first footbridge rested.  The second had a gentle curve, the pedestal still loosely attached.  Tree roots and boulders didn’t make for an easy walk, but it was the dampness underfoot that was my undoing.  Just beyond the footbridges a sign pointed upwards to Goathland, half a mile away, up a stepped incline.  It didn’t seem too bad an idea to me, but my companion was scathing.  Half a mile?  That’s not a walk!

A further sign, pointing out that erosion had affected the footpath ahead, did nothing to reassure.  A deep breath and on we went, slithering a bit in muddy patches and clambering around rocks and endless tree roots.  I was grateful for any handhold I could get and clung fiercely to ferns, roots, boulders, anything that would give me purchase.  Inevitably it happened. Stepping forward onto ‘firm’ ground, suddenly my foot had slid from beneath me and I dangled over the edge, in a less than comfortable version of the sideways splits.

I hauled myself up, with a little help, and stood there shaking for a minute or two.  The way back was just as fraught as the way ahead might be.  We looked at each other, recognising the folly of our situation.  As I limped forward, I was astounded to hear the sound of voices behind us.  Another foolhardy couple had disregarded the warning.  How reassuring, their presence. We exchanged a few words together, and then we carried on, leaving them resting beside the water.

The way ahead was no easier, sometimes promising to climb back out of the valley, only to drop you back down to the water’s edge.  I decided that the other couple must have turned back as there was no further sight nor sound of them.  My legs were growing weary when finally we stepped out of the undergrowth, and onto a narrow road.  An old stone bridge spanned the stream and we slumped against it.  A few minutes later, who should emerge from the woods but our couple, grinning triumphantly.

I have few photos of that latter part of the walk.  I was too busy hanging on, and hoping.  We stood chatting companionably to our fellow walkers for quite some time, relief in our laughter. They were from Dorset, on a first visit to Yorkshire, and traveling in a campervan.  We discussed good places to visit, and consulted each of our maps before agreeing to take slightly different routes back to Goathland.  Theirs appeared longer and we joked that whoever was back first should buy the beers.

Our route climbed gently through a forest of ferns, until at last we crested the hill.  Just the faintest hint of sunshine lit the rolling expanse ahead. Still we had to toil upwards, and upwards some more, but it no longer mattered.  We were free of the canyon.

Up above the woods it looked a long way down to the valley floor.  At the top of the stepped incline we had chosen not to climb, there was a map.  If you look closely you will see that there are two paths marked.  The one we followed, beside the beck, and an alternative ‘permissive’ path, a little higher up.  With hindsight….

Almost back to the village, something a little unusual caught our eye, through a gap in the stone wall.  Can you see what they are?

Alpaca!  I was prepared for moorland sheep, but this was a bit of a surprise.  The sheep were busy munching, and kept themselves to themselves.

Arriving at the long village green, we spotted, far ahead of us, our couple who had taken the ‘longer’ route.  No hurry to catch them up.  St. Mary’s Church was open, inviting a quick look inside.  Simple, but beautiful.  The stained glass, beacons of light.

I was wrong, of course.  There was a hurry!  We arrived at the pub at 2.40pm, only to find that they stopped serving food at 2.30pm.  The menu, tantalising, but out of bounds.  If you’re thinking that this walk was a disaster, start to finish, well, I might be tempted to agree with you. But that wouldn’t be true.  It was taxing, no doubt, but it gave me a perspective that I wouldn’t otherwise have enjoyed.

You know, from the title of this post, that I’ve been here a time or two before.  For a look at Goathland itself, and details of the Rail Trail, take a look back at Steam’s up in North Yorkshire. I think I’ve earned a week off now, don’t you?

I’m away to the Algarve on Thursday, so that gives me plenty of time to catch up with everybody before I go.  I won’t be posting a walk next Monday, because I don’t have Wifi in Tavira.  I suspect it will be too warm to think about walking far.  I’ll be back the following week, though, and more than happy to have your company.  Details, as always, on my Jo’s Monday walk page. Many thanks to all of you who follow along so loyally, and to my lovely contributors, who make this all possible.  And now, enough of me- let’s put the kettle on!

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We start with sunny September memories from Jude.  A swathe of beauty, fit for a queen :

Garden Portrait : Glamis Castle Walled Garden

And a walk to improve your photographic skills, with lovely Debbie :

A walk around quirky Bordeaux

Swirling mists in the Pyrenees, accompany Drake :

Like an upstair jungle

What mischief is Jackie up to, back in Toronto?

Hot Plate

Lady Lee makes Malta look irresistible again!

Our Malta experience 2

More beautiful memories from Becky!  She knows all too well that I love this place :

An evening stroll in Mertola

Agness hails originally from Poland, but she likes to keep on the move!

Mapping Melbourne- a Walking Tour around the City Sights

Cheryl conquers her fear of heights for some magnificent views.  Braver than me!

Hiking Inwangsan in Summer

And Woolly?  He’s lingering with the war graves :

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I couldn’t choose a better traveling companion than Gilly.  Let her show you her home turf :

Views of Dartmouth

And for a jaunty Irish stroll, wouldn’t you just like to be beside Ann Christine?

Early Morning Kilkenny 

Let’s finish with another garden.  A classic beauty from Cady Luck Leedy :

Jo’s Monday walk : A Visit to Sissinghurst

That’s it for a little while.  Enjoy Summer, if you’re here in the UK.  I’ll be eating strawberries and trying to keep up with Wimbledon.  Take good care, all of you!  I’ll try to bring back some cake.

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Rufford Abbey and Country Park

Rufford Abbey in Nottinghamshire looks very inviting on a warm Summer’s day.  Nestled on the edge of Sherwood Forest, in Robin Hood territory, the abbey dates back to 12th July, 1147. Founded by Gilbert de Gant, it was populated with Cistercian monks from Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, a place that I know well.  They were known as ‘white monks’ because their habits were made from undyed wool, and they lived an austere life of prayer and hard work.

When my daughter suggested that I would love these abbey ruins, now part of a large country estate, I was more than happy to accompany her. She always makes excellent company.  Why don’t you come with us?

Did any of you ever hear of a heliochronometer?  That’s what Lisa was studying in the rose garden.  According to a complicated explanation in Wikipedia, it is a precision sundial first devised by Philip Hahn around 1763.  We struggled to set it, rather unsuccesfully.

Only the west wing of the abbey remains.  The rest was demolished in the 1670s, following the Abolition of the Monasteries.  The pink-tinged stone has a delicacy I love.  A country house replaced the abbey, alleged to be haunted, most appropriately by a skull-bearing monk.

The formal gardens have a lovely hint of playfulness, entrancing to children large and small. Had it not been so hot we could have navigated the fortune maze for much longer.  Spinning the wheel to choose our destiny.  The metal gates and sculptures were intricate and beautiful.

Shade was a valuable commodity, with Lisa fluttering her fan and wishing she’d brought the delightfully dilapidated parasol I’d managed to poke another hole in the previous day. Accidentally, of course.

The Oil Patch Warrior, a sculpture by Jay O’Meilia, a Navy artist in World War II, commemorates American oil workers who drilled over 3 million barrels of oil in the heart of Nottinghamshire, between 1943 and 1945.  He is one of many varied and interesting pieces throughout the grounds.

Hidden in the depths of leafy shade we find an immense ice house.  Sadly, the ice is long departed.  Hoping to catch a breeze over by the lake, or maybe even an icecream, we saunter down through the trees.

There’s a small cafe, but it’s melting hot inside, so we opt for that icecream- tangy lemon for Lisa, pistachio and almond for me.  Lovely!  The path winds on around the lake and we follow it back to the start.

Time to twirl that imaginary parasol homewards.  All good things come to an end, and it was beautiful while it lasted.  I hope you enjoyed it too.  Rufford Abbey is now managed by English Heritage, and full details of how to get there are on their website.

That’s my couple of days in Nottingham accounted for.  Thank you for your company, and for the many and varied walks I’ve received this week.  Join me any time.  You’ll be most welcome. Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Time to put the kettle on now and settle in for a good read.

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I was delighted to be introduced last week to Theresa, by Becky.  Another birder, of course!

Little Orme Level 1

For a glimpse of breathtaking beauty, you often can’t beat Drake :

Nowhere highland

One I missed from last week!  Please have a catch up with Denzil :

The Valley of the Hermeton

A beer by the Spree and/or a bit of wall?  Nice choice from Debbie :

Walking the Wall

A look at a place Jackie knows well- street art and stairs! :

Bonjour Montreal!

A bit of sadness with Woolly :

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But Geoff stays determinedly cheerful :

Cake not Hate – a walk and some thoughts

Meg gently meanders, looking in crevices, twice!

Two wordless walks

While Jude is mildly disenchanted with walking in Truro.  Can anyone help?

Truro – the UK’s most southerly city

Lady Lee offers a superb look at another of those places I’ve always wanted to visit :

Our Malta experience

A good friend has been to the falls at Plitvice and Krka.  They look magnificent!  Here’s proof positive from Paula :

Transience of Water

Do you know Ting?  She’d love to escort you around these beautiful gardens :

Exploring RHS Gardens, Wisley in Surrey

Becky just knew I’d love this post!  Distinctive boats, canals, sunshine… can’t go wrong!

Exploring the many canals of Aveiro

While Carol takes me somewhere very familiar indeed.  I do like a Shambles!

A Walk Around York

You might need a bit of stamina for this long walk, with Eunice :

Ambling round Anglezarke

I am enamoured with Savannah.  Take a look at Cady Luck’s post and you will be too!

Jo’s Monday Walk : Savannah, Georgia

Sssh, but the sun still seems to be shining a little bit up here, and I’m off out for a walk.  Catch you all soon.  Have a great week!

Jo’s Monday walk : Lovely Llandudno

The Great Orme, from Llandudno pier

The last expedition that my Dad made was to Llandudno.  He loved his little mini-breaks with National Coaches, where the driver did all the work, bringing bite-sized chunks of our island within his reach.   He did his share of gallivanting, but as the years wore on he was more focused on a bit of company and a pint.  ‘Did you go up the Great Orme?’ I asked him, on his return.  Turns out he spent most of his time in the British Legion Club.

On our way back from Anglesey earlier this year, the coast road through North Wales took us past Llandudno.  I knew I’d have to take a look, for sentimental reasons.  Did I manage a trip up the Orme? Come with me and see.

Being truthful, I had little idea what to expect of Llandudno, and I was very pleasantly surprised.  In March it was without the throng of seaside crowds, and the chill in the air didn’t matter too much when faced with a long promenade and an empty beach.  And look- a pier!

A flat calm sea, and not a boat trip in sight!  It’ll have to be the pier then.  That’s Little Orme, far out across the bay.

There’s something about a pier, don’t you think?  That sensation of water all around and below. It’s like being out at sea but with a foothold on dry land.  Built in 1878, this one is a Grade II listed building, and is 700 metres long.

There’s lots to learn about Llandudno if you have the time, but I was simply passing through.

Marine Drive stretches for 4 miles around the foot of the Great Orme, and there’s a former lighthouse, now a hotel, part way round.  I was itching to set off, my husband not so keen.  You can drive around the toll road, but what I did want to do was reach the summit of the Orme.  I had read that the flora and fauna are unique up there, and just imagine the view!

Up above my husband had spotted the cable car.  The chances of it running were slim, but naturally we had to go and check.  Up the hill we went.

Of course, it wasn’t running, but the views as we climbed higher were magnificent.  I was also to discover the Alice in Wonderland connection.

Alice Pleasance Hargreaves (born Liddell) inspired the children’s classic by Lewis Carroll (the pen name of Charles Dodgson) when she asked him to tell her a story, on a boating trip in Oxford.  She and her family regularly spent holidays in Llandudno at ‘Penmorfa’, later to become the Gogarth Abbey Hotel.  Had I called at the Tourist Information office, I could no doubt have picked up a leaflet for the Alice in Wonderland Town Trail.   “Oh, my ears and whiskers!”  55 bronze White Rabbit footprints!

Nevertheless I was happy with the sweeping views of both bays as I climbed the hill from the Happy Valley Gardens.

Still optimistic for the tram ride up the Great Orme, I had an anxious eye on the weather as the clouds rolled in.  It had been raining lightly when we left Anglesey and I was sure it was on it’s way.  In the nick of time I spotted the tram station, with tram no. 5  waiting at the platform.

But it wasn’t to be.  The ticket office was firmly closed and, as I watched in dismay, the tram pulled away, with only the maintenance crew on board.

It seemed such a waste!  I really wouldn’t have taken up much space.  Nothing to do but seek consolation in food and drink.

Llandudno has been dubbed ‘Queen of the Welsh resorts’ and there’s an aura to the place that I loved.  Byegone elegance in the architecture, I could conjure the twirl of parasols and the cool sweep of a crinoline just by half closing my eyes.  Perhaps Dad and me were never meant to climb the Great Orme.  I’ll have to leave that to the imagination, too.

The Llandudno website offers a wide variety of things to see and do.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

I’ve scheduled this walk because I was spending the weekend with my daughter, in Nottingham. Apologies if you’ve sent me a walk and it’s not included below.  You’ll find it here next week. Many thanks to all my lovely contributors.  It’s always a pleasure to share your walks.  Details of how to join in are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Pop that kettle on now?

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A walk with Debbie is always a treat, even if there’s no icecream on offer :

A Magnum walk

A great-looking bridge and other interesting architecture, from Eunice :

Roaming round Rivington

Indra brings us more tales from the Indo-Chinese border :

Sikkim Odyssey 2- Nathu La… the pass that wasn’t there

That lucky Drake is down on the Mediterranean coast this week :

Azur and gold

French temptations

Jackie’s back home in Toronto but reliving a few memories :

Fishy!

I do love a Tall Ship!  Lady Lee takes us to Portsmouth :

HMS Victory

While Woolly makes a sad trip in France :

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And Hanna a poetic one, in beautiful Denmark :

A Poem is a walk

Just use your eyes, and you can enter Meg’s world :

Wordless walk : Swamp Trail

I’m traveling home this afternoon so I’ll probably be slow with my responses, but I’ll get there. Thank you for your patience and continued support. Have a great week!

Jo’s Monday walk : Blast Beach, orchids and P’s in a Pod

Just south of Nose’s Point at Seaham, on the north east coast, lies a stark, uninviting stretch of beach.  I’ve walked along the cliff top, looking down on it, many times.  On a warm and hazy May day, I was somewhat surprised to find myself descending steps that led directly to Blast Beach.

It was a day of surprises.  Up on the cliff top I had already met Devon sculptress, Louise Plant , watering her P’s in a Pod.  The art installation was being newly installed and my first thought was that she was reviving the grass surrounding the P’s.  Not so!  The pieces were being watered to enhance their patina.  You can read the story of the P’s and their journey on the link.

They represent a new approach to exhibiting art in County Durham.  The cast iron structures will be displayed at 4 different sites in the region, the idea being that a different backdrop will enable us to respond differently to them.  The reclaimed coastline at Seaham is the start point for their adventure.  After chatting to Louise for a while, it was on with my own mission- to seek out a few orchids. Around this time of year wild orchids sparkle in the long grass of the cliff tops like incandescent fireworks.

It’s always hard to find the first of the orchids, but many follow in its wake.  Continuing along the cliff, I noticed a pathway I hadn’t previously taken much notice of.  It could only lead downwards to the beach.  Why not take a look?

It’s not an inviting stretch of beach but the stacks do add interest, and close to the shoreline the rocks begin to develop an iron colouration.

Blast Beach was once the scene of coal production on a massive scale and the waste from that process defiled this beach and much of the surrounding area.  Bleak though it may still look, huge efforts have been made to clean up this stretch of coast and restore it to nature.

End to end, this is a long beach.  I circle both stacks and head back slowly towards Nose’s Point.

Ahead lies a steep climb up to the cliff top.  Let’s take a deep breath and go for it.

Made it!  I bet you’re in need of a cuppa now.  Actually it’s a good place to bring a flask and a picnic, but if you’ve come unprepared you can head into Seaham.  There are a couple of good cafes.  Back at the cliff top a young man was busy taking photographs of the P’s.  I moved aside to be out of shot but he waved me back in.  He was taking promotional shots and wanted a willing admirer or two.  Myself and husband duly obliged, but so far I’ve been unable to track down his work.  Maybe just as well…

I wrote most of this post while watching the concert in aid of the victims of the terrorist attack on Manchester.  It gave me hope for our future.  The love was palpable and I was proud of our young people.  Just 24 hours before I had been watching as horror unfolded at London Bridge.  I feel blessed, because my son had been at London Bridge station at 9pm that evening, but was out of range and blissfully unaware when the nightmare hit.

 

Many thanks to you all for your continued support.  I love sharing walks with you. Details of how to join me can always be found on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Definitely time for a cuppa now!

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Becky goes her own sweet way in the Algarve this week :

Serra de Monchique

A double dose of delight from Drake, in the beautiful village of Èze :

High level of atmosphere 1/2

High level of atmosphere 2/2

Fun and beer with Lady Lee :

Cycled to Waldwirtschaft

All singing, all dancing, with Jackie!

Bloomin Vegas

And something a little more exotic from Indra :

Sikkim Odyssey 1… Rumtek Monastery

Say hello to Gina!  She takes us walking in one of my favourite parts of the Lake District :

Ullswater Way

And if you’ve been waiting for Susan, then Part 2 is definitely worth the wait :

East Harlem Jane’s Walk 2017 (Part II) : Community Murals

A bird watching walk next, from Mari- Becky, are you paying attention?

Bird watching in Malaga

An amazing dawdle or two with Meg.  I just can’t choose :

Following my nose 

Last day in Melbourne

Three friends and so much more!  The delights of Venice, with Paula :

Tra Amici

Then a very English stroll with Carol.  Such cute bunnies!

Meeting the Locals

Yesterday I came across a lady called Anne-Marie and a series of walks you may not have heard of.  Please say hello :

Portuguese Camino in May

And we’ll finish with a rather interesting sculpture trail, from Cady Luck Leedy :

Jo’s Monday walk : Mainz, Germany

That’s it for another week.  I hope this one brings you some happiness.  Take care, and God bless!

Jo’s Monday walk : Belsay Hall and quarry

If there’s anything in life that gives me a kick, it’s a rhododendron!  Find me a quarry full of rhododendrons and perhaps you can imagine the effect. So I was very happy to make a return visit to Belsay Hall in Northumberland, a week or two ago.

Managed by English Heritage, the Belsay estate dates back to 1270, when it was first bought by the Middleton family.  Heritage on the grand scale, it comprises a medieval castle and a Greek Revival mansion from the 19th century, linked by some truly wonderful gardens.

As you can see, it’s not only rhododendrons vying for first place in this beauty contest. Bypassing the more than stately hall, I cannot wait to feast my eyes.  Frilled tulips and those with plainer frocks, delicate iris, and a shy magnolia are just some of the blooms that greet me. The grounds are the very essence of grandeur.  There’s even a croquet lawn, for that most refined of pastimes.

Tree heather lures me on and I find myself shoulder to shoulder with these beauties. Don’t they just sing with colour?

Even looking at them in photographs, I am mesmerised.  But this is only a beginning. Next, the quarry, with its magical patterns of light and shade.

The colours are rich and mellow, and the quarry towers above you.  It’s like a fairy glen, scaled up for a friendly giant.

Are you speechless yet?  I don’t know where I’ve ever seen a better display.  The castle is close by, approached through a bluebell wood.

In this serene and pastoral setting it’s hard to credit that a family would need a castle for protection.  When it was constructed, in the 14th century, conflict and border disputes were commonplace between England and Scotland.  The castle has one of the best preserved examples of a pele tower- built by rich families in this area in the Middle Ages for self defence.

From past experience, castles make a good subject for Paulas’s After and Before in Black and White Sunday.  What do you think?

The Middleton family lived in the castle, with modifications, until the completion of their mansion, at Christmas, 1817.  Inspired by a honeymoon in Greece, Belsay Hall was built with rock carved from their own quarry.  Let’s stroll back round there now, past the lake and the grazing sheep.  I try to get a close up of a cluster of cygnets, but they’re too far away to be more than a splash.

There was an exhibition of quilts taking place inside the hall, but I’ll save that for another day. Let’s adjourn to the tea rooms.

Directions on getting to Belsay are on their website.  I hope you enjoyed our visit. Many thanks for your support and the wonderful contributions I have received again this week.  Details of how to join in are always on my Jo’s Monday walk page. Let’s settle in for a good read:

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Almost missed Eunice last week, so she’s starting us off today :

A reservoir ramble

Can there be anywhere lovelier for a dawdle?  Thanks, Drake!

Wet wet streets

Budapest has a lot to recommend it too, as Anabel can show you :

Budapest: Margaret Island and Obuda

Jackie gets up to some strange things, doesn’t she?

Dirty laundry

Geoff, Dog and a lighthouse- I’m happy!

A wander about#sundaywalks

Ann Christine takes us back to terrible times in Irish history, but with a happy ending :

A Peaceful Walk in Belfast

A whole heap of lovely photos from Lady Lee :

Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past

If ever you’re needing a beautiful view, or three, tap Debbie on the shoulder.  She’ll have them :

Moorish to more Moorish

Becky uses that eagle eye of hers to good effect in the Algarve :

The Military Stairs of Alcoutim

That lass Jude knows how to make me smile.  A splash or two of azalea in a National Trust garden:

Garden Portrait: Coleton Fishacre

SO excited to be sharing this from Madhu!  A small part of her beautiful Indian heritage :

Kashmir – Afoot in Shehr-e-Khas

How would I describe Gabe?  Warm and whimsical, I suppose.  Go and see for yourself :

Hiking in Venice

So lucky and privileged this week!  Another wonderful share from Paula.  Don’t forget to listen too!

Light Catcher

What do you know of Peru?  Not much?  An interesting read here from Jill :

Ollantaytambo at dusk

And, much closer to home, Carol finds me some stone circles :

Walking in Circles

That’s it for another week.  All gems!  Hope you enjoy your long weekend (if you’re having one). Take good care!

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Around Salir

You knew I’d end up back in the Algarve hills eventually, didn’t you?  I love to travel the scenic route up the N2 to Barranco do Velho.  When you look back down, the vivid blue of the sea has faded to a smokey distant haze.  This is cork territory and the ancient holm oaks enfold you as you turn off towards Salir, on the N124, in the foothills of the serra.

It’s a small village, notable for its loftily perched water tower, but one that is often bypassed in favour of prettier Alte or the mighty Rocha da Pena.

I didn’t have to worry too much about my route as I was following a walk leader.  What I did have to worry about was keeping up with the ‘Striders’. Not so easy to focus on the beauty all around whilst keeping half an eye on the walkers.  Blink, and they’d gone!  From the sports stadium at the back of the village we were quickly out onto a country lane, with views across to the Rocha, standing proud in the distance.

Oops!  Don’t miss that sign!  The trail leads steeply uphill (the Striders do seem to love hills!) to the left of the house.  Calla lilies caught my eye, and another of those precious water tanks, so vital for the hot summers.

There’s not a lot to tell about Salir.  It’s a sleepy place, with a benign 16th century church and a few castle ruins from the 12th century, keeping watch over the surrounding fields.  The softly curving Serra de Caldeirao forms a lovely backdrop.

It’s a lovely time of year.  The colours sing out, begging you to capture them.  So what, if I get left behind!

It would be well worthwhile, because look what I found, growing in the long, damp grass.  Wild orchids!  They are so exciting!

A quick scurry to catch up, but there are a couple of signposts.  This walk crosses the Via Algarviana, which spans the Algarve from Alcoutim in the east right across to Sagres in the west.  All around, the cistus are cheering me on, their crushed paper faces turned to the sun.

On this walk we’d been asked to bring a picnic, a bit of a disappointment to those of us who relish the usual restaurant stop at the end.  A couple of stone benches by a fonte made a good resting place, then we were striding off again.

I often remark to people that the Algarve is full of surprises.  Passing the cemetery at Palmeiros and an oddly colourful wall, we crossed over a bridge and made a right turn down a narrow country lane.  Expect the unexpected!

A battered drum kit in the garden told the unlikely tale.  The rest of the walk seemed almost anticlimactic after that, as we meandered back towards Salir.  The pace of the walk slowed after lunch, allowing more opportunity to chat.  Another water wheel or two and we were back where we started.

That’s the first of my recent Algarve walks completed.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Let’s put the kettle on now and see where everyone else has been.

Thanks so much everybody, for your company and kind comments each week.  I love walking with you.  If you’d like to share a walk, the details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  If not, just sit back and enjoy!

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I do like to introduce someone new on my walks, especially when the scenery is this good.  Meet Chandi  :

The Pathway of the Gods- Italy’s Most Stunning Hike

Versailles seems a long time ago to me, but Drake has brought it all back!

More glimpses of Paris

Lady Lee has been cavorting in water parks with the family :

Our Subic experience

Opulence personified from Jackie this week!

Hearst Castle

Richard has a crack at climbing the highest cliff in Cornwall :

Cracking Crackington Haven

While my Sunshine friend is making the most of the blossom in our capital :

London- A Walk in thePark 

And please, don’t anyone accuse Woolly of being full of hot air!

Jo’s-Monday-Walk2017-Wk15-Hot-Air

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!  Or, in Paula’s case, take a wonderful shot…

Unbroken

Can you imagine being smothered in cherry blossom?  Cathy can!  She’s in Tokyo at sakura time :

Cherry blossoms in the rain at Shinjuku Gyoen

Denzil has begun a new undertaking which proves, yet again, that Belgium has quite a lot to offer :

GR121, Stage 1: Wavre to La Roche

Does this look familiar to you?  Yes- me too!

Walking in Florence

I even accept wordless walks!  Especially when shared with my lovely friend, Meg :

Wordless walks : Jemisons Beach and headland

Finally, some great hills for rolling your paste eggs down, with Kathryn :

My weekly ramble

Wonderful, aren’t they?  It’s been a bit cool and damp in my part of the UK this weekend, but then, it was a Bank Holiday.  I hope you’ve had a good Easter celebration, and maybe a bit of walking?