Friday, 30 August 2019

Proper holidays - well, nearly

I'm back home after a whole SIX DAYS away. I know it's not long really, but for me it felt like an age. So many people have said to me 'you need a break', but it's hard to get back into the habit of taking holidays of any length when for so long it's been necessary to stay close to home.
It's only now I can take holidays again that I've considered how long ago my last proper holiday was. There've been short breaks - a couple of nights at Curious Arts Festival, another two in Edinburgh with my daughter - but 2015 is the most recent that I've been away for longer (three nights in Edinburgh, and four nights near St Davids in Pembrokeshire). As my parents' health deteriorated it just wasn't possible to leave home.

Free Fringe on the Royal Mile
Now I'm free to go away where and when I choose - and it's strange. Amongst other concerns, I find there are so many places I want to re-visit, and so many new ones to discover, that I don't know where to begin. We spent two nights at Timber festival in July, tested the whole 'going away' idea at the beginning of this month with two nights in Norfolk and now we've taken a whole five nights away from home!

Portobello beach

Loch Crinan - somewhere in the distance Iain Banks
 situated the fictional town of Gallanach

This time we headed North, first spending two nights just outside Edinburgh, hoping to see some of the Fringe festival and a bit of the coast. Then, while so many visitors to Scotland are heading off to the North Coast 500 route, we went west to Argyll, the setting for Iain Banks' novel, The Crow Road. (I took so many photos I had to split this section into two posts - Loch Fyne and Crinan; part one ; part two )I think folk are definitely missing out by dashing straight up north, but it keeps this lesser known area free of the tourist bustle.

Loch Sween
Both are places we know well, and have visited several times. Unfortunately it meant we knew of so many things to do, and places to visit, that attempting them all was impossible in the short time we had. Edinburgh was fun though, but Argyll was better, especially with our daughter along and persuading me to go swimming one evening in a sea loch. There'll be more photos to follow - but none of the swimming :)

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Continuing my Get-Fit streak visiting the Hydrangeas at Darley Park

I'm a bit late with this post - firstly because I went to Darley Park Hydrangeas last week, the day before going on  holiday, and secondly because some of the hydrangeas had passed their best.

 Going out anywhere the day before a holiday might seem a little weird but it was all part of my 'get fit' plan.The previous week I'd done a couple of longer walks (well,longer for me) at Cromford and Locko, shorter ones at Breadsall and Carsington, and spent the weekend out at Biddulph and Chatsworth, gone nowhere on Monday, then wanted a short walk before a long day sat in the car, and I'm always happy to go out and look at flowers, so off to Darley Park I went.

There's a wide variety of a types and colours - it is a national collection, after all - so there were still many in full flower, though not the familiar round-headed sort you're most likely to see in a private garden.

I always get the feeling that this walled garden is a bit of a well kept secret, but I don't mind because wandering round there is best done in peace and quiet.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Spontaneous Weekend Plans

 Last weekend I'd had plans to go to a beer festival, at which quite a few local bands would be playing. It was a three day affair - Friday to Sunday - but other commitments meant we couldn't go for the first day. Friday was wet though. In the evening folks were tweeting photos of ankle-depth water, and the lead singer of  one of the bands was seen jumping off stage and splashing about in the flood. We thought we'd give Saturday a miss, and let the water subside.

So ... we went to Biddulph Grange Gardens for the afternoon, through the tunnels, following the paths to rocky viewpoints, eating cake.

The sun shone all day, and we assumed Sunday would be dry.

The first band we wanted to see on Sunday was billed for two o'clock, so after an early lunch we headed to the festival. One look at the muddy car park made us decide to leave and go down the road to visit Chatsworth. I'm too old to have to push the car out of mud!

 The house itself was a little busy but the grounds are so extensive that it's easy to get away from crowds - and, importantly last weekend, all the paths are graveled and free from mud.

 So, not at all the weekend we'd planned but a good one.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Short Sunset Walk at Breadsall

 I'm managing to keep up my enthusiasm for walking, but there are two difficulties - after a couple of longer walks my legs are less willing, so I'm looking for shorter ambles, and I'm running out of local places to go.

Time to get the maps out.  Looking on the local Ordnance Survey map, I discovered a footpath leading from Breadsall village, obviously once a through-road but now leading past a couple of houses and farms. It's a straight-line, there and back walk, but well tarmacked for most of its length, and, heading slightly uphill, gives pretty views back towards Breadsall village and over the surrounding countryside.

 It looks idyllic ... but ...  hidden by the lie of the land the A38 Derby ringroad rushes past no far away, and the noise from it travels!  It's a good spot though to catch the sunset, and not at all far from home, so I may be back.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Walking again - at Locko Park

 I'm determined to keep up this evening walk idea but wanting to find places nearer to home, so here we are, another sunny evening, out at Locko.

I could actually walk TO this place, but much of the route would be through houses or along roads, and not much fun. Parking just outside the gates I get a traffic-free walk along a private road, passing the lake and grazing geese, through parkland and fields.

This time we continued through to the far side of the park, to where the road (now more of a track) meets an 'A' road, maybe 3 or 4 kilometers in all.

Considering how near it is to urban development, Locko is a lovely tranquil place which feels like it's in the middle of the countryside.

As I (hopefully) get fitter I want to experiment with circular walks in the area, but for now this is enough for an evening.

Monday, 19 August 2019

A New Short Circular Walk at Cromford

 After my recent few days away in Norfolk I came home feeling exhausted, so I've decided it's time to get fitter. With this in mind, I've been taking advantage of good weather and light evenings. and getting out and about walking.

We frequently head to Cromford when looking for somewhere to walk - the path beside the canal is flat (always good, especially as Derbyshire tends to be 'hilly'), hard enough to not get muddy after rain, and there are always ducks and swans bobbing about.

This time we started with our normal walk from the start of the canal in Cromford to the old workshops at High Peak Junction.

Usually we'd turn round here, and follow the same route back to the car - this time I decided to be a bit more adventurous and energetic by heading up the High Peak Trail.

A railway once followed this route, bringing goods down to the canal, and the last section - Sheep Pasture Incline - was notoriously steep. It's a bit of a slog to walk up!

It's straight and the gradient doesn't vary, and it seems to keep going for ever. It passes under the busy A6 road, and onward and upward. After a while the view opens up, looking back across the valley, and there's something to take your mind off the monotonous plodding.

I was sure I'd remembered correctly that a track heading for Cromford crossed the trail, but we continued to climb, entering another cutting, without sight of it. There are another footpaths which lead back to Cromford, but higher up the High Peak Trail, and dropping back down quite steeply.

 I needn't have worried. After the cutting, maybe half/three quarters of a mile from the start of the climb, we spotted joggers on a different track to our left, and soon found the way, circling round and down, to join it. There was even a signpost to make sure we didn't get lost.

Following the new track, Intake Lane, we went back under the High Peak Trail, and downhill towards Cromford and the car.

I thought this might make a good walk in the opposite direction, but as we reached the first houses the gradient steepened (worse than Sheep Pasture Incline, I'm sure) so if I walk this route again it will be in exactly the same way.

 It wasn't much longer in distance than returning along the canal towpath but definitely more exercise and therefore slower. Cromford to High Peak Junction is marked as a mile, the return was maybe half a mile longer - not far, but a pleasant walk to get me back towards longer distances.