Scotland 2022: The River Shiel and Tioram Castle

An account of a riverside walk centred on a 13th century ruined castle.

Those who read my first post in this series will not be surprised that following the events of Saturday we were all too knackered to do anything active on Sunday. Thus this post deals with Monday’s activity, a (mainly) riverside walk with Tioram Castle as its centre piece.

The River Shiel

For the first part of our walk we followed the road, but fortunately we were then able to divert on to a well made track following the river bank. The river Shiel is stunningly scenic, and as you will be seeing it has some quite interesting currents and whirlpools. Tioram Castle, a 13th century ruin that one cannot actually enter is located where the Shiel flows into Loch Shiel, a sea loch (for reference, what the Scots call a sea loch the Norwegians call a fjord). Here are some photos from the outward journey…

CASTLE TIORAM

The castle is approached across a causeway, and then along a path that is tricky in places. Here are some pictures to end this post…

Pensthorpe 2: Up to Lunch

The second of my three part series about the West Norfolk Autism Group#s visit to Pensthorpe Natural Park.

Welcome to the second of my three posts about the West Norfolk Autism Group’s inaugural activity, a visit to Pensthorpe Natural Park (click here to see the first post).

MONET INSPIRED BRIDGE TO MAIN ENTRANCE

I followed the paths onward from the Monet inspired bridge, taking a few detours along the way, until I arrived back near the entrance. I had brought food and water with me, and I consumed them at this point, and finished my book while waiting for the next stage of the day, the ride on the Pensthorpe Explorer.

PHOTOGRAPHS

The same question/challenge that I introduced yesterday’s photo section with applies today…

Pensthorpe 1: Start to Monet Inspired Bridge

Part one of a three part account of the West Norfolk Autism Group’s inaugural activity, a visit to Penshtorpe Natural Park. The photograph section comes with a question/challenge.

This is the first of three posts that I shall be putting up about the West Norfolk Autism Group’s inaugural activity, a visit to Pensthorpe Natural Park.

ABOUT WNAG

The West Norfolk Autism Group was established in an effort to secure more local funding for activities for autistic people and also because a degree of disillusionment with the conduct of the National Autistic Society’s head office. More details about the new group can be found on its website to which I have already linked, and also in this article published by Your Local Paper.

GETTING TO PENSTHORPE

Pensthorpe is located just off the the road from Fakenham to Norwich (the X29, the bus between Fakenham and Norwich could easily include it in their route if they wanted to, and the route of the 36 between Fakenham and Wells could be adjusted to include without massive upheaval) but I did not have to worry about working out how to get there because a coach had been hired, with a pick up point at Gaywood Tesco, within comfortable walking distance of my home in North Lynn. Those using the bus were supposed to be there for 9:30AM yesterday for a 9:45AM departure. Thus at 9AM yesterday morning I set off, with a bag containing food, water and a book and made my way to the appointed place. The ride took about 45 minutes (a law abiding driver cannot do it any quicker even in light traffic, which we benefitted from). A few minutes after arrival we were good to start our exploration. Before lunch we were going to be walking around those parts of the site that can be seen on foot, and then after that some of us were booked on the Pensthorpe Explorer to experience the rest. The rest of this post covers the first part of the exploration I did on foot.

STARTING TO EXPLORE

Once one gets past the entrance, the shop and the courtyard cafe one is confronted by an expanse of water and a range of splendid water birds which set the stage for the wonders to come. I started by heading in the direction of the cranes and flamingoes, and then headed on beyond them, eventually reaching a sign pointing to the Monet inspired bridge (Claude Monet, the great French impressionist painter, had an ornamental bridge in his garden at Giverny, which his painting made famous). The bridge is quite impressive, and it does indeed resemble the structure that inspired it.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I end this with the photographs from the section of the visit up to and including the bridge, and a question/challenge. Should I go back to creating calendars as I used to do? Please comment with answers to this question, if possible fleshed out with details of photos you would like to see featured in said calendar. To view a photo at full size click on it.

Channel Islands 14: Iron Age Burial Chamber

Continuing my account of my holiday in the channel islands with a look at Le Dehus Dolmen.

My account of my holiday in the Channel Islands has reached the final full day we spent on Guernsey.

LE DEHUS DOLMEN

Not relishing a shopping trip on the Friday morning I stayed at the hotel and caught up with my photo editing. Lunch was a picnic which we consumed in my parent’s room at that establishment. From there we set off for our last excursion of the holiday, taking a bus to the nearest point to our target that we could get to and then seeking out Le Dehus Dolmen, an ancient but very well preserved burial mound/chamber. It is not terribly well signposted and we had a couple of false starts, but we did locate it, and it was worth all the trouble (plus we saw some interesting stuff while locating it). We walked back to a point where there would be more buses, and arrived their literally at the same time as a bus heading for St Peter Port, so the return journey was pretty straightforward.

Channel Islands 9: The Birds of Alderney

Continuing my account of my recent holiday in the channel islands with a special post dedicated to the birds of Alderney.

I continue my account of my recent visit to the channel islands with a special post dedicated to the birds of Alderney (the island is justly famed for its bird life).

TWO MISSES

It was too early in the year for boat trips to be running to the island of Burhou, just off the coast of Alderney to the north, and home to puffins (it has no human residents at all), and Wednesday took so much out of me that on the Thursday I was unable to face to fairly steep and fairly rough path that would have started the walk towards a point from which I could view the gannet colony. Here a few maps…

THE BIRDS I DID SEE

Although I missed two great ornithological sites for different reasons, I still saw a fine range of birds during my few days on Alderney…

I end this little post with a view of Fort Clonque:

Channel Islands 3: A Day on Guernsey

An account of a full day on Guernsey as part of my series on my recent holiday.

Welcome to the latest post in this series about my recent holiday (I am now back in Lynn, so these posts will be coming less sporadically). This post covers the one full day we spent on Guernsey en route to Alderney.

A FRENCH RESTAURANT

On the Saturday evening, having established ourselves at St Georges Guest House, roughly a kilometre from the centre of St Peter Port, we went out to find a restaurant to eat at. We settled on a French establishment, and the food and drink were both excellent.

Castle Cornet

The following morning we walked out to Castle Cornet, purchasing food at an M&S Food Hall on the way. We ate near a lighthouse, which I subsequently walked out to – it was very windy around the lighthouse but worth it for the views.

THE GUERNSEY MUSEUM

There was a wildlife photography exhibition at the Guernsey Museum as well as some stuff on the history of the island.

Channel Islands 2: Setting the Scene for the Rest of the Series

Resuming my coverage of my holiday to Guermsey and Alderney, setting the scene for what is to come in this series of posts.

I wasn’t entirely sure when I put the first post of this series about my holiday up as to when I would be able to post. There was no internet connection in Alderney, although I was able to edit plenty of photos ready for use. Yesterday we travelled back from Alderney to Guernsey, and then visited two places which both proved of huge interest, and left me with over 300 photos to edit to catch back up with that side of things. Between last night and this morning (I was underway before 7AM) I completed that job, meaning that at least until the end of today I am up to date in terms of photos. I am going to use the rest of this post to outline the rest of the series for you.

PLANNED POSTS

I will devote one post to the day we spent on Guernsey before we were able to travel across to Alderney.

The journey to Alderney will account for the next post.

The Harbour at Braye, Alderney – the boat bottom right of shot is the one we travelled on from Guernsey to Alderney.

I will produce several posts about Alderney:

A cricket themed post in honour of John Arlott who spent his last years on Alderney – this will take the form of a two-fold journey, through a large amount of space and centuries in time as I cover cricketing links relating to my journey (two of them highly contrived, I admit), creating a spectacular XI in the process.

Students of the game will instantly realise how the road sign in this picture enabled me to sneakily fill one of the opener’s slots -the other was already filled fair and square.

A post about our first visit to St Anne, the sole town on the island.

Probably two posts about the walk we did on our second full day on the island.

A special post featuring maps of Alderney and the Channel Islands, several great examples of which I saw:

A special post dedicated to the birds of Alderney, of which I saw some fine specimens.

A post about the return journey to Guernsey.

Every post relating to Alderney will feature a view of Fort Clonque, where we stayed.

A view of the fort taken from the far end of the causeway that links it to the rest of the island.

Events since arriving back on Guernsey warrant at least three posts already:

A post about the Little Chapel.

Two posts minimum about the Occupation Museum (Guernsey was occupied by the Germans from 1940-5).

I have no doubt that today’s events will be worth at least one further post, and then there is the return journey.

Three Little Snippets

Exactly what the title suggests!

Just a brief post to remind people of my existence. I shall follow my title precisely…

ONE: HEARING AID

Ten days ago I was fitted with a hearing aid. I have had to change the batteries once (this is in keeping with the advice I was given that these batteries, which are specially made for use with hearing aids, and can be obtained free of charge either at the hospital or at the West Norfolk Deaf Association have a lifespan of approximately one week.

TWO: A MASSIVE AUCTION

A longstanding client of James and Sons is selling his collection. He was a bulk collector of stamps, postal history and first day covers. Yesterday I began the process of imaging these items, which will be going under the hammer in April. Even selling the stuff by the box/ crate, with no small lots, it will be a two day sale. Here are some samples from yesterday…

UNUSUAL BIRD SIGHTING

This is today’s sign off – I was out walking earlier (it is sunny today in King’s Lynn, though still cold enough to warrant a coat), and I saw a Little Egret in Bawsey Drain, not very far from my house…

Scotland 2021: Wick

An account of my day in Wick near the end of my recent Scottish holiday.

We have reached the last full day of my Scottish holiday (May 28 – June 5th), the Friday which I spent in Wick (a mix up over booking times meant that I had an extra day in Scotland after we were supposed to leave the house in which we had been staying, having missed the first day, so I was booked into a hotel in Wick, from whence I was departing early on the Saturday morning).

ARRIVING IN WICK

I was dropped at the Norseman Hotel in Wick, where I would be staying overnight. Unfortunately it was far too early to check in, but fortunately I was able to deposit my larger bag at the hotel which meant that I had at least some freedom of movement.

ETYMOLOGICAL NOTE

Wick derives from Old Norse and means ‘bay’ in English. It is most often seen as a place name ending, with -wich, as in Norwich, an alternative version. The -vik of Narvik in northern Norway derives from the same root. The fact that Wick has no prefix indicates that when it was first settled it was the only bay in the area that was considered significant.

EXPLORING WICK

My explorations started by following the Wick River inland. This was a nice walk, with lots of bird life in evidence along the way. When I got to back to Wick I explored the town itself. I also took the opportunity to locate the railway station and make sure I knew how to get there the following morning. After a visit to a cafe I was finally able to check in to the hotel. In the event I did not head back out until the following morning, being very tired. The hotel room was perfectly pleasant, although the wifi connection that the hotel so wants its guests to know about proved to be rather unreliable.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I got lots of good pictures while in Wick…

Scotland 2021: Dunnet Head and St Mary’s Crosskirk

An account of the first part of Tuesday as I work through my Scottish holiday, from which I returned on Saturday just gone.

Welcome to the latest post in my account of my holiday in Scotland, from which I got home very late on Saturday (a combination of that, a long day of travel and poor internet connections at the hotel I stayed in on Friday are the reason I have not put a post up for a few days). Today I cover the first activities of the day after my birthday (See here for the main event of that day), when after a brunch we set off to visit Dunnet Head and the remains of St Mary Crosskirk, a 12th century chapel the burial ground of which is still very well preserved before going on a distillery tour in the afternoon.

DUNNET HEAD

Dunnet Head is the northernmost point of mainland Britain and is noted for its bird life, though I did not get to see much of the latter. There is an ordinance survey summit marker at the highest point of the head, a viewing area from which one can enjoy splendid sea views and a lighthouse designed by Robert Stephenson of the great engineering family which played a huge role in railway history (the novelist Robert Louis Stephenson was also of this family, being Robert of lighthouse fame’s grandson).

St Mary’s Crosskirk

The walk to access this ruin is in parts steep, including a staircase that looks more unpleasant to walk than it actually is. It also takes one past a wind farm, while there are some splendid views along the way. The chapel itself is missing its entire roof and part of its walls.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some pictures from both attractions…