Archive for the ‘Devon’ Category

North Devon – A Bit of Walking, a Bit of Surfing   14 comments

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We left TJF behind to chill at the camper while me, TBF and TJS went for a walk along the coast. We wanted to take a trip to Lundy but the only available sailing was this, our last day and it was only a short stop on the island. By way of compensation we saw the island ferry sailing by as we walked down to the coast path

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Lee Bay (not the same one as we visited the day before) is the first spot we came to

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Next was the rollercoaster of steep ups and downs that characterises coastal walking

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It was a slightly overcast day but warm and still with dramatic coastal views to distant horizons

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Jagged cliffs and rocky bays were the order of the day

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Turning south at the Bull Point lighthouse

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Perhaps a trip to Lundy should have been the order of the day. It was bathed in sunshine most of the day

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We were heading for Morte Point in the distance but as lunchtime was approaching and we’d left TJF to her own devices we called a halt at a bench overlooking Rockham Bay and beach before heading back

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A view across to a now almost deserted North Morte Farm campsite

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The sun came out as we walked across the heathland back to Mortehoe and the campsite.

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It’s a lovely place to stroll especially as the summer crowds had now largely gone

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After lunch at the camper we headed back to Woolacombe Beach for some more surfing

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The sun came out and it was exceptionally warm but the waves were nothing like as good as they had been a couple of days earlier

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I still had plenty of fun in the kayak. A few photos taken from the boat

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And our little weekend was over. Rather than waste a day packing up and driving home we had a rushed pack down and tea and headed home late to miss the traffic

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Another superb sunset to finish off a splendid long weekend away

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North Devon – By River and Coast   10 comments

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We’d been planning a trip to Exmoor as we’d never really been there but the day dawned, dank, grey and miserable and by the time we’d eaten breakfast there was heavy drizzle falling. Time for a change of plan

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We headed to Watersmeet, a series of small waterfalls in a deep wooded valley where the  East Lyn and Hoaroak Water rivers meet – hence the name

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I figured down in the depths of the valley and the woods we might get some shelter from the rain and that proved correct

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It was pretty dank and dark down there but we enjoyed a nice stroll along one bank and back along the other.

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There were some lovely cascades and pools that would have been good for a swim on a more encouraging day

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The light was pretty poor though so the photographs didn’t come out too well

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We headed into Lynmouth for a spot of lunch (crab salad for me and TJF, cream teas for TBF and TJS). It actually stopped raining and we took a wander about

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The longest water powered cliff railway in the UK (possibly the only one!)

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And an interesting tower on the harbour wall that made a nice photo subject

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We wanted to explore the coast a bit and headed for the Valley of Rocks. I used to love it here when I was a kid. The rocky pinnacles overlooking the coast always seemed so dramatic and exciting (in the days before I discovered mountain walking). We parked up in an utterly miserable spell of heavy drizzle but I spied a bright line on the horizon and we waited for the rain to stop which it duly did

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We took an excellent walk around the various features. This is looking back to Rugged Jack

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And this is the coastal view from the top of Castle Rock

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It looked bright and sunny over south Wales which we hoped was heading our way but it never really arrived (although we’d seen the last of the rain)

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Looking back to Castle Rock

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There is a walkway that traverses along the seaward side of the rocky ridge and you can climb to the top and scramble along if so inclined

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As we’d left TJF in the car we thought we’d better head back and make sure she still had a phone signal to avert any boredom!

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The resident goats

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And the view of the Valley and the Rocks

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We still had a more time to fill so we drove on a mile our so for another walk to a “secret” beach from my Wild guides.

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This is Lee Bay where we started from and it proved to be a longer and more strenuous walk than we’d thought

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We were heading for this magnificent beach near Crock Point. You had to scramble through an overgrown tunnel through the hedge and descend a slope that had ropes fixed such was the steepness (the book had warned us of this)

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It really was steep and near the bottom, even with ropes it felt very loose and exposed so even I decided it was too risky. The photo below shows the ropes but doesn’t really do justice to how steep it was

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The views were excellent though and I enjoyed a little bit of adventure to finish the day

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When we returned to the campsite there was a Fish and Chip van on site and very good it was too

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The sun finally came out and gave us a wonderful sunset

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I took a very fine walk around the site and the local fields to enjoy the show

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Always good to end a day by the coast with a grand sunset

 

North Devon – Ilfracombe   10 comments

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Happy Birthday to TBF and what better way to celebrate than a trip to Ilfracombe – doesn’t everyone do that?

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I must have been here a few times in my youth but I don’t recall it that much but it’s rather splendid. It has some nice views along the coast, an interesting harbour, beaches and nice walks

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It also now has a Damien Hirst sculpture overlooking the harbour. Its called “Verity”

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Description from his website:

“Verity is an allegory for truth and justice. Her stance is taken from Edgar Degas’s ‘Little Dancer of Fourteen Years’ (c. 1881). An anatomical cross- section of her head and torso reveal her skull and the developing foetus inside her womb.

Verity stands on a base of scattered legal books and holds the traditional symbols of Justice – a sword and scales. Representing truth, her scales are hidden and off-balance behind her back, whilst her sword is held confidently in her upstretched arm.

She was fabricated in bronze in over 40 individual sand castings at Pangolin Editions foundry, in Gloucestershire. Her phosphor-bronze surface is 20 millimetres thick and her internal support structure is a single piece of stainless steel. The sculpture is weather and lightning-proof and underwent extensive wind-tunnel-testing to ensure her capability of withstanding the force of high winds and sea spray. After two years of planning and production, Verity arrived in Ilfracombe in three parts in October 2012. After a week’s assembly on site, the sculpture was hoisted into final position using a 250 tonne crane.”

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As with most Damien Hirst work, its very odd but an arresting and interesting sight

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We scoffed a pasty and crab sandwich lunch sitting on the harbour wall, watched a mock lifeboat rescue in the harbour and walked up to the Chapel of St Nicholas that overlooks the harbour

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There is a fine coastal walkway on the seaward side of Capstone Hill

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Finishing off our visit with a climb up Capstone Hill itself for more fine views

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It was actually pretty hot and sunny by the time we left so we swiftly headed to the beach for more kayaking and body boarding. It turned out to be some of the best surf for many years and we both (TBF and me) had a cracking afternoon. When we were back at the campsite the Waverley Steam Ship ploughed past for us

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To finish off the birthday treats we went back to Ilfracombe for a seafood supper at the excellent Espresso Seafood bar. TJF had her first taste of Lobster which she was very pleased about and the rest of us shared a number of seafood small plates. It was all delicious.

A couple of pictures of the two ladies in my life, the two Funsters

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Hopefully TBF will agree that was a pretty good birthday

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Sun, sea and seafood (Ilfracombe doesn’t begin with an “S” unfortunately)

North Devon – Westward Ho! and Hartland Point   15 comments

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Short little post from a day out on our North Devon weekend.

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A grey day prompted a day out so we headed for Westward Ho! (only place name in the UK with an exclamation mark) and where I spent many happy family holidays as a kid

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Safe to say its changed a lot since then. We visited around 10 years ago and it seemed very run down and sad. Since then they seem have improved things a great deal. Many of the very old chalets seems to have been renovated and the general area looks much happier and welcoming (it looked like an army barracks before). The only blight is that the planning department have allowed developers to build two huge apartment blocks right on the seafront. They obscure the view for many and as you’d expect all the money was spent on the interiors and the front. The rear which is what most people see is just an ugly wall of concrete. Really beggars belief that someone looked at the plans and thought that was fine. Makes you suspicious as the motivations of the people that approve such things!

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Anyway we took a stroll along the seafront and around the seawater pool in the rocks which was still pleasant

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We had a very nice lunch in a Thai restaurant and then took a wander on to the beach. We were hoping to do some body boarding and surfing but the waves looked a bit feeble

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Afterwards we wanted a walk on the coast so headed to the dramatic headland at Hartland.

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Right on cue just as we stepped from the car it started to drizzle. We went out anyway and enjoyed the briefest of wanders onto the top of the headland with views out over the rocks to the island of Lundy

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The cliffs and views were spectacular but it was damp grey and dreary so we headed back to the campsite

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The weather seemed to brighten on the way back so we detoured to the beach at Putsborough at the south end of Woolacombe beach

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On a whim me and TBF went body boarding and surf kayaking for an hour and even though the waves were a bit small it was actually pretty good fun and finished off the day nicely

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As an added treat the sun came out and gave us some nice late evening light while we got changed

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We were pretty late back to the campsite but we’d eaten at lunchtime so a late sandwich saw us through. All in all a good day out

North Devon – Rockham Beach   12 comments

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After a short couple of weeks back at work I needed another holiday. As it was TBFs birthday we took a long weekend in North Devon in the camper.

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We stayed at the very fine Damage Barton camping site near Morthoe and Woolacombe. Great views across the north coast and Bristol Channel to south Wales and superb facilities will make this a regular spot for future trips. We hadn’t visited this area since the kids were small so I was looking forward to a revisit

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The first morning was gloriously sunny and after a morning doing the shopping and replacing the pop up tent that TJS uses we went out for a walk after lunch

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It clouded over while we were out which was a shame but the weather was still warm and dry. We wandered through the campsite at North Morte Farm where we used to stay. Its a superb spot as the camping area has great views and feels a bit like wild camping as the fields are tucked into the heathland. The downside is that there are not many flat spots and they don’t take bookings so its pot luck whether you find a suitable spot, more important when you have a trailer tent. As it turned out the site was mostly empty and we would have had a pick of places to set up but there you go. The site has direct access down to Rockham Beach

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We spent many happy hours down here when the kids were small as it has a perfect combination of safe swimming, sand and rock pools to explore. At the end of the Bank Holiday week we were surprised to find it pretty much deserted

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We had a nice pither about, poked about in the rock pools and sat on the rocks to chill out

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Access is by a very steep set of 100 steps that have only recently been repaired after storm damage

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Much as I’df have liked to explore further TJF had had enough of walking (she’s not a great fan) so we headed back to the site for a BBQ

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Even though it was cloudy it was still warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the views while eating

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The cloud cover gave us a pretty good sunset, one of the real benefits of camping on the west coast

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A nice start to what turned out to be a pretty decent long weekend away

 

Wet, Wet, Wet   12 comments

I think I’ve mentioned before on the blog about a day I spent in the Arans in my University days (1983 I think). It was the worst day I’ve ever spent in the hills. hours of heavy, pitiless rain and winds on a high exposed ridge. We got soaked to the skin and were likely hypothermic by the end. It has lived with me longer than many other days from that era. Since then I’ve had some pretty wet days in the hills but nothing have ever come to close to that one. Until last Saturday.

TJS had an open day and interview at Exeter University and we had plans for an overnight and then a days walking on Dartmoor to make a weekend of it. A bad forecast for Sunday put pay to that but Saturday looked ok. Rain in the morning but brightening up at lunchtime, so I thought I go for a solo walk while he was doing his stuff.

I planned a route from Belstone near Okehampton as it was close to the A30 so I could maximise my walking time. It was pretty grim when I set off but I thought it was worth a go as it was due to clear. Once up on the fells it was horrid. Driving heavy rain and strong winds. I pressed on as it was due to clear.

Along the edges of Belstone and Oke Tors and the rain got heavier. I pressed on as it was due to clear.

You can see the pattern emerging here. It was frankly atrocious and any sensible person would have turned around and gone back. I found a sheltered spot and had a bite to eat. I thought about turning back and then stubborn bloody-mindedness set in. I decided that seeing as I was already wet I may as well try to finish the route as a kind of endurance test. I pressed on as it might clear.

In the sheltered spots it wasn’t too bad and it had a wild and stormy atmosphere. On Steeperton Tor the wind was amazing. I was lucky there was an army shelter I could hide behind for a few minutes. I pressed on even though it seemed unlikely to clear. As I traversed around the Hound Tors it actually stopped raining cleared a bit and there was even some blue sky. I even managed a couple of photos.

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Then its started raining again. This time with a real vengeance. It did that to me on that Arans day. A flash of blue sky preceded heavy rain. I pressed on, it was definitely not going to clear. I walked past the Stone Circle on Little Hound Tor and managed another photo.

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The climb up to and over Cosdon Beacon was one of the longest I can remember. I managed to extract some perverse enjoyment out of the first half of the day but this stretch really tested my resolve, not that I had much choice. There was water everywhere although my feet were the only part of me that was dry (thank heavens I put gaiters on). I got off the hill as quickly as I could and headed down into the valley of the River Taw. Once off the mountains and in the deep dark woods, yes, you guessed it, the rain stopped, the skies cleared and the sun came out! Sometimes I think the weather has a malevolent, malicious streak

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At least the walk by the river was quite pleasant if muddy and I could emerge from my waterproofs

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When I reached the car every part of me (other than my feet) was sopping wet, right down to my pants. Luckily we’d planned to go out for some food on the way home so I had a change of clothes. It would have been a very uncomfortable drive home if not. A good leg stretcher at 10 miles, I still have wet stuff drying out around the house

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I’m now in the rare position of being fully up to date with blog. I’m off to France for some skiing next week so blog silence for a week or so while enjoy the snow in the Alps

A Review of 2017   18 comments

I’ve read quite a few blog post in the past few days reviewing other peoples 2017 exploits. I enjoyed them so much I thought I’d do the same. Good excuse to look back through my photos and remember what we got up to. At my age I need help remembering stuff!.

Acutely conscious of the modern trend for these awful “round robin” letters you get at Xmas (we get one of these smugograms every year) I tried to select photos that bring back a particular memory for me so its more a personal, family introspection on outdoorsy stuff, than a blow by blow account of the year. As its based on my photo collection if I didn’t photograph it, it ain’t here!

January

We started the year off in Tenerife and New Years Day was spent on this rather splendid beach (the earlier part of the day was in the mountains but I cocked up the photos from that part of the day!)

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Returning to the British winter, a walk along the Cats Back in the Black Mountains with TBF, memorable for a cloud inversion after a very wet morning. A reminder that despite our travels we are lucky to have some stunning scenery on our doorstep

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A solo day out in the Brecon Beacons, the first snowy walk near to home and pretty much the only one with significant snow during the early part of the year (made up for it at the end)

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A glorious day out in the Black Mountains with TJS and a cooked breakfast on a cold Table Mountain. I like this photo though as it has Mynydd Troed in centre shot, my very first mountain climbed when I was about 10

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And my usual skiing trip (only a weekend this year) to finish off the month. Snow was a bit rubbish but we had a laugh nonetheless

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February

Another solo day on Fan Fawr in the Brecon Beacons. I remember this day for a very mild Friday afternoon (16C) and snow in the mountains 18 hours later

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A short walk with TBF on Hatterall Hill

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March

The first weekend of the month is always spent in Scotland with friends of long standing. A new location at Bridge of Orchy and a two out of three days were magnificent winter days. The walk along this ridge high above Rannoch Moor on the first day was superb

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Me and TJS also managed a cheeky backpack into the Black Mountains. Straight from work on the Friday for a one nighter in my new tent. Need to do more of these this year

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2017 is the year I rediscovered cycling – mainly to help my knee and also to be less of a lazy layabout during the week. The Hardman – a VERY keen and VERY fit cyclist caught wind and insisted we meet up in the Peak for a trip along a couple of the old railway trails. A cracking sunny day and I survived cycling with the Hardman!

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And we finally managed a meet up in the Berwyns with Uncle Fester after a few aborted attempts

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April

More cycling and solo trip through the Brecon Beacons on the “Gap” route. Cycling to over 600m was a first for me and I started to feel that I almost, might, actually enjoy cycling.

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Easter and a major backpacking trip with TJS to the Cairngorms. The weather was wild and windy but we had a couple of superb wild camps and TJS bagged his first Scottish 4000 footer

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I even coaxed TJF out for a bike ride along the Brecon and Usk canal

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May Day weekend was mostly in April. Mixed weather but we had a fine gaggle of friends on a hike around Greendale, taking in Buckbarrow and Seatallan

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May

No finer way to celebrate a birthday than a lunchtime hike. This one was on one of my local hills, Bryn Arw with TBF

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Followed by a weekend away in Cornwall. It almost felt tropical on the white sands just north of Padstow on one of our walks

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Whitsun weekend was spent with our good friends in Silverdale. The Sunday was a real winner with a long but easy stroll and a fantastic pub lunch. Weather was mixed the rest of the time but great company, many laughs and a chance to relax

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June

A different walk from the usual mountains. One of the small hills that overlook Gloucester and across to the Cotswolds. Not something I’d do every day but a nice change

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One of the highlights of the year was the long-planned backpacking trip with the kids into the Howgills. Despite poor weather we gave it a go and it was a huge success. The kids really enjoyed the adventure and I’m hoping they have caught the wild camping bug

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July

After the backpack trip I was out of action for a few weeks recuperating and resting after a minor knee op. Didn’t affect my water based fun though, a nice albeit far too long trip down the river Wye

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By the end of July I was back in the hills again (the knee op has been a great success I’m pleased to say). A fine evening stroll with TBF and TJS on Ysgyryd Fawr (we even took a cheeky cold beer to drink on the top)

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Another “local walk for local people” – this time Garway Hill where we reached the top, saw this nasty storm approaching and raced it back to the car. We won.

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Late July brings the annual camping trip to Towyn Farm on the Llyn Peninsula. We packed in lots of walks and beach fun in a very mixed few days of weather. My abiding memory though was this game of Kubb which was huge fun with both adults and kids alike taking it far too seriously and larking about in equal measure. A happy afternoon

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August

The big family trip of the year, a rail trip around some of Europe’s finest cities. An real change from our usual outdoor camping trips and it was real success. We all took took to the city life rather well you might say. One of my best ever holidays. A few photos that made me smile

One of the many fountains in Paris (we called this one the fountain of throttled fish)

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A monster thunderstorm in Turin

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My favourite seafront walk in Venice

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The Colloseum in Rome – of course

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Schloss Belvedere in Vienna (courtesy of an unplanned extra couple of hours from a very late train)

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The thermal baths in Budapest – “like taking a bath in a wedding cake”

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A stroll along the Spree river in Berlin on a sunny Sunday afternoon

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And the railway bridge over the Rhine in Cologne

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September

Back to earth with a bump. A few days after the heat and sun of Europe we were walking in the Black Mountains in driving rain and cold winds!

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But there was still enough warm weather left for a round of the hills near the Talybont Reservoir in the Brecon Beacons

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October

A walk with friends in the Roaches on the dreariest day of the year (when everywhere else was sunny – I’m not bitter)

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More evidence of my new found cycling passion (probably too strong a word). A ride around the tracks of the New Forest while TJS took a look around Southampton University

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And why settle for one trip to see major cities when you can do it twice. As a special treat for TJS 18th Birthday we spent a week in Barcelona. Probably my favourite city but despite all its famous sights, this little known hill and its view overlooking the city was my favourite spot

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November

After sunshine comes the reality of winter. A couple of cold but beautiful days. One in the Black Mountains on the Sugar Loaf and Crug Mawr

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And one of my favourite walks in the Black Mountain

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A delayed birthday treat weekend for TBF saw us in Padstow for a couple of nice meals and walks along the Cornish coast and Dartmoor

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December

And last into the proper depths of winter. The first snows saw me and TJS head into the highest peaks of the Black Mountains

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The day after saw the biggest dump of snow I’ve seen in my own backyard for many a year. Walks around my village in deep snow under crisp blue skies were wonderful

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The start of the Xmas holidays is marked with an annual get together of my University friends and their families. Always great fun but this year we could climb the hills in snow (rather than wet rain) and play at snowballs

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Finally coming full circle with a return to the Canary Islands to spend Xmas in Lanzarote and Xmas Day sunning ourselves on the beach

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Well I enjoyed looking through my photos, choosing a few and reliving a great year. Hope you enjoyed it too. All the best for 2018 🙂

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