Category Archives: Elsewhere in the British Isles

Superhero in red

This time last year Tim and I were about to start a weeks holiday in The Lake District.  The forecast was for snow and very cold weather but we were prepared.  We had our Microspikes!

Here I am on day one of our holiday, on the western slope of Skiddaw (Lake District mountain), sporting my new Kahtoola Microspikes.

The great online reviews that we had read were all true and we felt like everything was possible in our non slip, extra traction foot wear.

The weather turned out to be truly amazing all week, snowing at night and sunny during the day, and I wore those spikes every day.

I added lots of photos to a post about this trip which can be seen here :-

Something I didn’t mention in that post is that on our way down from Skiddaw summit we passed several walkers struggling downhill and uphill.  One lady, on her way up, stopped us and asked how we made it look so easy.  We explained it was our new spikes.  Then she said she actually had a pair with her but didn’t know how or whether to put them on, having borrowed them from her daughter.  Tim immediately insisted on helping her out.  Here he is doing just that….

After this she plodded upwards for a few steps then stopped, turned and gave us a thumbs up, big smile and thank you.

My hero, in red, in his red microspikes. Doesn’t need a cape or superhuman strength – he just always strives to help whoever, whenever and wherever he can.

Keep safe in the snow and ice and buy a pair of Microspikes

Photo Challenge RED



Weekly Prompts : From the car

Thanks to the title of this challenge I am transported (ha,ha) back to our last car journey to South Devon on 1st September this year. From our home in Norfolk to our self catering accommodation the trip took an exhausting 9 hours!

From the M25 we would normally have taken the M4 then M5. However motorway signage advised us to avoid the M4. So we took the M3 instead….which in turn leads to the A303.  Ah, the country route.  Certainly not to be repeated if we can help it.

For some reason this view slowed everyone down and we crawled along for what seemed like forever.

Stonehenge on the horizon

Stonehenge from the passenger seat of our car

Stonehenge.  Prehistoric monument.  Wiltshire.  Reason for being built – Unknown.  Draws a good number of visitors from all over the world.  Quite impressive.  Close enough to the road to allow a reasonable photo from the car!


Photo Challenge From the Car

Clovelly to Minehead (Part 1) – South West Coast Path

The beginning of the end (almost!) – South West Coast Path

For those who are kindly following this blog I am sorry for not writing anything for months.  I hope the following makes up for this as I check my notes and go back to….

Two sunny weeks in May 2018

With 100 miles of walking scheduled by my trusty logistics co-ordinator and partner Tim it was going to be a tough challenge.  From charming Clovelly in North Devon (where we finished last September) to mysterious Minehead in Somerset.

Once again it was all new territory for both of us.

So, here is an account of the first of our 9 days of walking.  Otherwise know as ‘the flat estuary bits’.  Now you may think that these bits were easy but they were surprisingly hard on the feet as we followed The Tarka Trail for the first section.

Graffiti from old railway structure along the way

Day 1 – 11 miles, Westward Ho! to Instow

Bank Holiday Sunday – we parked the car at Instow and took a bus to Westward Ho!  Famed for being the only place in the country with an explanation mark it’s a village named after the 1855 book by Charles Kingsley.

Once off the bus we set off in mist, eager to get away from the touristy cafes selling chips, pasties and all things greasy along the sea front. Very soon we were away from that and could only hear a distant clanging of a church bell.

Pebbles and rounded stones sit at the top of the beach.

A golf course on our right (out of shot) had sheep laying on the fairway and golfers looking for lost balls amongst the gorse.  It was a curious hazy vision of strangeness.  It continued with ponies on the estuary a little further on.

The village of Appledore peaked out of the mist and the sun started to appear too. We decided this would be our coffee/lunch stop.  Just the slightest mention of food and drink and our pace quickens.

We reached the town and slowed down to take lots and lots of photos of these colourful houses.  As an old fishing village these were probably Fishermans cottages – now several looked to be holiday rentals.  Tim wondered where the people parked their cars – check out the double yellow lines….

Along the quayside at Appledore there were several inviting benches and small cafes.  We made our bench selection, bought coffee, ate our sandwiches and enjoyed the view across to Instow.  Wow, we were on holiday!

Our lunch stop

From here we could see Instow, our destination, looking quite close.  To get to it we had to follow the river estuary inland to Bideford, cross a bridge and walk back along the otherside.

Instow – looking quite close

We loved Appledore – it was hard to leave, but leave we did.  Initially we followed a road then a footpath and soon had our first views of old boats left abandoned in the mud.  Abandoned?  Well may be not all of them….

We saw many boats like this along the way

In amongst a wood we heard some moody jazz music and wondered, as it got louder and louder, where it was coming from.  We stopped in our tracks when we found out. This was somebody’s home and it looked like the perfect retreat.

The ‘jazz’ boat

We stared like small children.  Reluctantly we moved on once the occupier, who had been tending to his plants, spotted us and it was too rude to continue looking.

From here we walked through more trees reaching the outskirts of Bideford.  The town has two bridges – a new one (edge of town) and an old one (in the town).  We headed for the old one but took photos of the new one which had new houses built right below it.

After this we approached a park where a rugby tournament for youngsters was taking place.  My 9 year old nephew was also away from home for a few days taking part in a ‘mini’ rugby tournament in Somerset – coincidence or maybe it’s that time of the year?

Just before crossing the old bridge there was a small sculpture of Tarka the Otter.  A book about the life of an otter by Henry Williamson.  I’m sorry to say that I’ve not read it but there’s still time!

On the other side of the river we joined the Tarka Trail.  A cycle/walking trail of just over 32 miles named after the infamous otter.  We found it to be full of families out cycling all enjoying the sunshine and a bit of healthy exercise.

On the Tarka Trail

After marching along for a couple of miles or so we had Instow insight. In the photo below you can just see Appledore (our lunch stop) on the left.

Instow – almost there now

More and more cyclists as we got closer.

Once we reached  Instow we felt like we’d missed the start of a party.  It was heaving with cyclists.

Cyclists and pub at Instow

We sat on the quay and enjoyed the late afternoon sun before heading back to our rented cottage.

Day 2 – 16 miles – Braunton to Instow

May Bank Holiday, it’s a Monday and we were back in Instow.  This time we were waiting for a bus going in the opposite direction so that we could start our walk from Braunton.

Where was our bus?  Tim checked his watch (again).  We both checked the timetable (again).  Where the heck is that bus?  Then, out of the mist the bus finally appeared.  Phew.

Actually I was surprised it was running at all on a Bank Holiday.

Our journey took us to Braunton via the town of Barnstable.  Unexpectedly at Barnstable we were all told to get off and onto another bus.  Apparently there was a problem with the ‘late’ bus – ah that’s why it was late……

Braunton is apparently the largest village in England but it looked like a town to me.  Very quickly, after getting directions at the Tourist Office, we were on the Tarka Trail (coast path) with the early morning mist disappearing.

At first we were in amongst the trees then the view of the river estuary opened up.

Tim on the Tarka Trail

Today we saw many more boats in the mud.  The one in the photo above looked particularly tipsy.

We picked up the pace and marched to Barnstable.

Barnstable, like Bideford, has a slick modern bridge (on the edge of town) and an older bridge (in the town).  At the new bridge we paused to consult our map.  We had a long chat about whether we should follow the signs over this new bridge or take a route which was suggested on the map.  We followed the sign over the new road bridge sharing the pavement with cyclists whizzing past us.  Pleased to be on the other side we turned away from the busy road and onto the path alongside the estuary.

More cyclists on this side, some coming straight out of Barnstable, and even a family on roller skates.

A moment without cyclists

Lunchtime.  We stopped at a very handy bench with a view back across the estuary and the bridge we’d crossed.

Setting off again we came across a concrete structure that looked like it could have been a shelter for railway workers.  Some artistic graffit artists had been at work on each side….let’s call this place ‘no where’.

Running to catch up with Tim after taking photos is quite normal these days! Tim knows how many miles we have to do.  Still I am forever taking photos of him walking away!

The next stop was Fremington Quay.  The cafe here was doing a roaring trade – obviously a popular stopping place for all the cyclists, roller skaters and us.  Wow was it busy.

A busy place on a sunny Bank Holiday in early May

After taking a short rest here we were back onto our sore feet.  Our feet don’t usually suffer when we are walking – must be all that flat, hard surface.

Nearing Instow the coastal path turns away from the Tarka Trail so that it runs closer to the estuary.  It was nice to get onto a grassy path again.  Here there were old structures that looked like derelict piers and more boats left high and dry.  As the mist started to reappear there was a certain charm about them.

More graffiti

We passed a family having a barbecue round an open fire, then a cricket pitch, a car park, cafe ‘The Glorious Oyster’ then into Instow itself still busy in the misty sunshine.

At the car we were pleased to take our boots off and change into our crocs.


WordPress Challenge : Out of this world


The summit of Skiddaw at 3,054 feet : felt like being on the moon

A week in the Lake District – February 2018

This week we have been set a challenge by WordPress to share a familiar scene — a place you frequent, a face you know well, an activity you engage in regularly and make it look out of this world.

Anyone who knows me and Tim well will know that we have spent a good deal of our time (holidays) in the Lake District.  Boring people with our little adventures or maybe inspiring people to visit this beautiful place.

We have walked up, across and down all of the fells and it has shaped us. Learning about the land, the rock, reading maps and walking uphill!  Walking in the mountains in our fifties is actually easier than it was in our thirties which is incredible but true.

So, for this challenge I share more than the one photo I have added at the top which really felt ‘out of this world’.

For us it is a place we know well but on this latest trip it looked a little more snowy and magical than on previous visits.   We climbed high every day.


Ullock Pike – a ridge walk on the way up to Skiddaw


On Skiddaw summit – it’s a popular place


Grisedale Pike summit : time for lunch.  Looking to the western fells.


Skiddaw range, with the Pennines in the far distance


Near Haystacks summit


The town of Keswick way below and Helvellyn range to the right

The river at Grange after snowfall

Thinking about a trip to the Lake District?  I am happy to help with any questions, it’s like our second home.


Now over the last few days at home we have been visited by some truly Siberian conditions, as has most of the country, so snowy scenes are currently very familar.  But back in early February, on holiday, we were loving it!

Out of This World

WordPress Challenge : Variations (beach huts)


The beach huts at Southwold, Suffolk.  The most expensive huts on any beach!  Honestly they sell for unbelievable price tags.

Almost all have names and we have our favourites.   Many happy times have been spent here, strolling along.

In the summer the doors are open for everyone to check out the contents!  Some with little kitchen areas, some with changing areas and all with an assortment of seats and tables and families & friends enjoying a day at the beach.

The photograph below, taken out of season in mid-March, is called ‘Doris goddess of the wind’.  Always with bunting hanging in the porch, we admire it every time we visit.

There are a couple of ‘special’ huts selling teas, coffees and snacks and this one below is used during the summer season by the RNLI Lifeguards.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!  Looking forward to some warmer weather….



Padstow to Clovelly (Part 2) – Walking the South West Coastal Path

September is always special – the last days of summer.  It’s special for us as Tim celebrates his birthday mid-way through the month and we time our holidays around it – always keeping our fingers crossed for good weather for the actual day.

So here we were on this particular day pulling on our walking boots and packing our sandwich lunch into our backpacks once again for another trek. 

This post describes a section of the South West Coastal Path from our trip down to the West Country a few months ago.  If you’d like to read Part One click the link just below these words …

Tuesday 19th September 2017 : Polzeath to Port Isaac (Cornwall), 9 miles

We got on the early morning bus at Port Isaac with four others and (almost as if we were all on the same trip) all got off next to the car park at Polzeath. The car park being right on the beach at Polzeath.

Polzeath is a popular surfing resort with several small surfing schools, a few shops and cafes.  There were lots of people walking about in wet suits either coming from or going to the surf.  I suppose parking on the sand makes it all nice and close for surfers and other beach visitors but we didn’t fancy the idea of parking our car on the actual sand….not all day anyway.

There is a big broad open expanse of beach here.

Polzeath Beach at high tide.

Following the coastal path we soon left the town behind and headed to Pentire Point.   Along the way a colourful crowd of older (senior) walkers were coming towards us and we met them at a kissing gate.  Kissing gates usually only allow one person at a time through it and, as long as they are made properly, don’t allow animals to cross from one field to another.

So, because it was ‘one at a time’ we exchanged greetings, smiles, hellos and good mornings.  They had American accents and tagged with labels which included the curious words ‘Road Scholar’.  A quick Google search and I found this to be a walking holiday organisation.  It must be a requirement to wear the label which saves anyone getting lost I suppose!

Passing a big crowd of American walkers

A look back (into the sun) to Polzeath shows the whole bay.  It’s a wide bay.

Ahead of us now and out of sight from Polzeath was a impressive area with a less impressive name ‘The Rumps’.

Sideways on the bit of land that sticks out actually looks like the back of a slumbering dragon or dinosaur.  Can you see what I mean?

The Rumps

We got closer and rounded the headland. Paths could take you out onto the back of the ‘dinosaur’, as several people were doing, but we had to save that for another day/another holiday.

It was good to see so many people on the path and out and about today on foot but some had chosen to do their sight seeing by boat.  With such calm waters it was the perfect day for it.  It reminded me of boat trips we’ve had around the Spanish islands of Ibiza and Majorca.

Cruising around the coast in perfect conditions

We stopped for a quick snack and admired the view ourselves.

Further along we found that we had lost the crowds.  Looking at the map we could see that most people were doing a small circular walk from/to Polzeath – that explains it….

Next stop lunch, Lundy Beach.

Lundy Beach just in view

Before we stopped for lunch we passed Lundy Hole – a collapsed sea cave. Quite a sight but what was that buzzing sound?  Hedge trimming?  As we looked into Lundy Hole itself we could see a drone. We love drones so we gave it a friendly wave as its blinking red eye turned to ‘look’ at us.  The pilot obviously didn’t like what he/she saw as it flew away, super quick!  How rude!

Lundy Hole minus the drone

Around the corner we found more walkers all lounging about enjoying their picnic lunches in the sun. The tide was in and it was a bit of a scramble to get down to the sand so we found an elevated spot just next to the path and did some lounging about ourselves.

Our lunchtime view

We could have lingered here for the rest of the afternoon watching the strollers out for a picnic and those out for a swim (mad fools), but we had a few more miles to go.  So, we circled the bay, and the next smaller bay, and up onto a fairly level path heading towards Port Quin.

Along the way we passed a folly at Doyden Point which I thought was a castle. You could forgive me as it’s actually called Doyden Castle. I love a castle so it was a bit disappointing to see that firstly it wasn’t and secondly the national trust use it as a holiday home….good grief.  I didn’t bother photographing it.

We didn’t know what to expect at Port Quin.  We were hoping for a small bay with a scattering of houses and a cup of tea.  We got all three.

Approaching Port Quin


The ‘tea lady’ was quietly sat reading a book in the sun so we took a photo of her cafe (the Citroen van) before ordering our drinks.  Fionas cafe was parked at the back of the national trust car park – we almost missed it.

The cafe at Port Quin

We felt a bit awkward disturbing her from her reading but we really wanted our afternoon tea.  While making our drinks she told us the van was up for sale then promptly gave us the wrong change (five pounds too little change) Something was clearly on her mind.

We sat down with our drinks.  Then, rather oddly, the lady went around the van with a can of something and proceeded to spray underneath it. Tim, sat in full view this, sat with mouth open and a puzzled look. I took a sneaky ‘half selfie’ so that I could see what was going on.  Weird.

What on earth is going on? Very odd behaviour….

Anyway, drinks drunk we continued on our way, passing a few national trust properties all done up for holiday rentals.  Not a bad spot so spend a week or two – and you can make your own tea whenever you like!

Our next section of walk came as a bit of a surprise.  A narrow path up and away from Port Quin reached a turning point which we couldn’t see at first.  After hugging the cliff top we turned slightly inland where the way ahead twisted and turned and, with the ups and downs, it was impossible to pick up the pace. We passed a few couples coming the other way – all hot and shiny faced.

Then we had quite a steep climb up a stone stairway with a metal rail on one side.  The metal rail was the only thing between the path and a long  fall from the cliff face into the sea!  The photo I took really doesn’t do it justice.

Tim and the metal rail

From the top it we could almost see Port Isaac.  A level section then we said hello to this impressive beast.  Looked like he was wearing a mask and posed nicely for a photograph.

Cattle – always curious. We admired this one more than most.

So, we thought our ups  and downs had finished for the day but oh no.  Look at those steps.

Just a few more steps….

Then at last – Port Isaac.

The TV programme Doc Martin (Doc Martin played  by Martin Clunes) has just finished filming series eight, all on location in and around Port Isaac.  It’s all about the life of a grumpy, abrasive and rude General Practitoner who somehow manages to be well respected by the villagers.  Tim and I have watched at least the first four series so we were quite keen to see the place in the flesh so to speak.

We had no idea how popular this programme was until we made our way down from the position I took the above photo to ‘Doc Martins Surgery/House’.  Crowds of people with cameras from all over the world come along to check it out.

We couldn’t resist doing the same – an Australian lady kindly took our photo.   Apparently this was her second visit !!

Outside Doc Martins house like propert tourists!

And so we finished our walk for the day.  Strolling amongst the crowds.  Unable to get into the pub we stopped for an ice cream before taking the steep slope up out of the village and back to the car.

A cracking walk.