Friday, 16 June 2017

Sunshine and showers

Loch Shiel
There's no point getting annoyed at the weather - if it's going to rain, it's going to rain, so there's no point being miserable about it.  This week is seriously testing the strength of my resolve but I am determined not to get grumpy - this is my 50th birthday tour and I'm going to make the most of it.

One of the things I love most about exploring Scotland is the sheer variety of things to see and do, whatever the weather.  First up was the Falkirk Wheel - we'd planned to visit on a previous tour but never quite managed it - it is a superb feat of artistic engineering (if there is such a thing!) and, for once, the weather was utterly perfect.

I honestly think I must have been an engineer or something in a previous life as I have an absolute fascination with big bridges, tunnels and other oversized structures, all of which explains why, despite not being a Harry Potter fan (I enjoyed the films but that's about it) I insisted our nest stop was the Glenfinnan Viaduct (my birthday tour, I get to pick where we go!).

The location of the viaduct is stunning and it is a truly awesome structure - seriously, look at it - and all built without the aid of any computers!  The site is also an important historic location and the monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie was great for filling in a few blanks in my history knowledge.

"Hogwarts Express" on Glenfinnan Viaduct
There was something quite magical about watching the steam train on the viaduct - never mind Harry Potter (though we could have used his Meteolojinx Recanto spell to get rid of the rain!), being immersed in a landscape with no modern structures made the spectacle all the more special.  We sat in the pouring rain to watch three trains pass over before we called it a day - on the bright side, the pouring rain keeps the midges at bay.

Our next stop was the Camping and Caravanning Club site at Oban which I specifically chose for 2 reasons.

  1. Because the entire site is within a walled garden and I LOVE that sort of thing and
  2. Because one of the reviews of the site said "Don't come here, there's nothing to do" and I love that sort of thing too.

Glen Dubh Reservoir


The site is wonderfully secluded, peaceful and quiet.  There are plenty of walks up into the nearby woods and, even on a soggy day, the views from Glen Dubh reservoir were superb.  There a 5 different walks starting directly from the campsite and loads of others a short cycle or drive away, plus the wardens were utterly lovely and make you feel right at home from the moment you arrive.

Next stop on our adventure is the Kintyre peninsula where I shall celebrate my birthday in style with swimming (I had a wet-suit for my birthday!), cycling, hiking, drawing, reading and maybe the odd visit to a distillery or two.  Cheers!  😀🍷

Saturday, 3 June 2017

The 5 finest benches in Cumbria

When it comes to enjoying a good sit down with a cracking view, Cumbria really sets the benchmark (you see what I did there?).  These days life seems to be lived at high speed, so what better antidote than to park your bum for while, sit back and enjoy the view?  Here are five of my favourites...

The Blencathra Bench

There's only one thing better than climbing Blencathra and that's sitting down and looking at Blencathra and there's no finer bench to do it from than this on.  There's no big climb required either - it's simply a gentle stroll along the old disused railway.  It would be hard to find more perfect sarnie spot in the whole of the land.

The bench on The Band

OK, this one requires a bit of a hike but, come on, look at those views - it's absolutely worth it!  Next time you're in the Langdale Valley, instead of joining everyone else on the walk up to Stickle Tarn follow the route up onto The Band instead and, just as you draw level with the Langdale Pikes up pops this little beauty.  Perfect in Summer but super special when there's snow on the fell tops.

The Inspirational Bench

I've blogged before about Orrest Head being one of the most important, and spectacular, views in the whole of the county so it's no surprise that there's no shortage of benches at the summit.  Although it requires a bit of a walk there's a very easy route up from Bowness.  It's a popular spot so you're unlikely to have the place to yourself but don't panic, there are plenty of benches up there (this is my favourite though!)

The hidden away bench

Scout Scar is just to the west of Kendal (and I mean 'just') - there are a couple of lovely big car parks and a stunning, largely flat, walk out along the top of the scar with sweeping views racing away in every direction.  There's even a giant mushroom you can sit it with a guide to the surrounding fells.  I'm often saying that fab town of Kendal is overlooked when it comes to Cumbrian destinations, and what better place to overlook it from than right here.

The Busiest Bench

There is just about zero chance of you getting this bench to yourself, at least not for very long. Before you've got the lid off your Thermos there'll be someone else loitering nearby ready to leap into your place should you leave - but it is a truly fine bench.  For those that haven't spotted where it is, it's the bench at Friar's Crag overlooking Derwent Water - a glorious place to be, even on a day when the weather isn't quite perfect.