Scotland 2022: Exploring Eigg

Continuing my account of my Scottish holiday with a look at the beautiful and interesting island of Eigg.

I continue my account of my Scottish holiday with a look at our explorations of the island of Eigg, the third of four posts devoted to Friday (see here and here).

THE EXPLORATION

There are a cafe and a shop right where the boat drops one on the island of Eigg. Having noted the existence of these establishments we began our explorations. The first point of interest was some information about the island itself:

We then came to a memorial…

Then it was walk uphill, until we came to a footpath that we took. Conscious of time constraints we did not go massively far along the path, though what we saw was very scenic…

There were some more information boards before we got back to the cafe, which we were now ready to patronise. First this, about the geology of the inner Hebrides:

Then this about electricity and green issues:

The cafe proved to be excellent. I ate a bacon bap and drank a reasonably local beer that proved to be of splendid quality.

POST LUNCH

We did a little more exploring after lunch, before heading back to the boat, which we boarded in good time for the journey back to Arisaig. Eigg was very interesting as well as very scenic, and I enjoyed my visit there.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are my remaining pictures from Eigg…

Scotland 2022: Acharacle

Welcome to the next post in my series about my Scottish holiday. This post focusses on Acharacle where we were staying, and the surrounding area. It covers Wednesday evening and Thursday of the week in question.

Birthday Meal

The evening of Wednesday June 1st featured a belated birthday meal at an excellent restaurant. I opted for smoked venison for a starter and steak for the main course, washed down by a rather good local beer.

THURSDAY: TWO LOCAL WALKS

Thursday had been forecast to be the least good day of the week weatherwise, and it was (although for western Scotland it was far from being bad). During the two periods when the weather was good enough to go out we did first a walk to the village shop, visiting the church on the way back, and then in the late afternoon/ early evening a walk over the Shiel bridge and then part way along one side of the loch that the river turns into in that direction (the Shiel is a very short river). There is a small settlement called Moss, and indeed mosses and lichens grow very luxuriantly in this part of the world.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are my photographs taken in and around Acharacle…

Scotland 2022: The Tour of Ardnamurchan Distillery

An account of a tour of the Ardnamurchan Distillery.

Welcome to the latest in my series of posts about my recent Scottish holiday. This post covers the tour of Ardnamurchan Distillery on the day of my birthday, now eight days ago.

A VERY NEW DISTILLERY

The Ardnamurchan distillery was built over the course of 2011 and 2012 and produced its first whisky in 2014. The tour was very comprehensive, taking in the warehouse and every stage of the distilling process. It ended with a sample of the product, which is very distinctive – virtually no smokiness or peatiness to it and sweeter than most whiskies. I rate it very highly myself. I will leave photographs to tell the rest of the story – click on an image to view it full size…

Scotland 2022 Part 1: A More Adventurous Than Expected Journey

I am on holiday in Scotland for a week, staying in a place called Acharacle, a small town on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, the westernmost part of mainland Britain. The cottage (actually a glorified caravan which I would be prepared to bet was moved to its current site on the back of a lorry) has a decent wifi connection, so I will to be able to at least some posting while I am here. This post deals with my travels and travails getting here yesterday.

A ROUTE OF MANY CHANGES

The plan was that I would travel from King’s Lynn to Fort William, where my parents would collect me. This is not the most straightforward of journeys and the ticket I booked involved four changes – King’s Lynn to Ely, Ely to Peterborough, Peterborough to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to Glasgow, Glasgow to Fort William, and almost exactly 12 hours travel for the public transport leg of the journey. This would have been fine, but as you will see there was a rather major hitch.

A SMOOTH START

I got to King’s Lynn station in very good time for my train (indeed had I really hustled my way through the station I could have been on the earlier train, but decided there was little point). The train reached Ely very promptly, and I had the good fortune to get a quick onward connection to Peterborough (I accepted this piece of good fortune because although it meant more waiting at Peterborough for a train I had to be on, Peterborough like the majority of railway stations is less exposed than Ely). I found my seat on the train to Edinburgh without undue fuss, and enjoyed some excellent views between Newcastle and Edinburgh. Waverley proved not too difficult to negotiate and I was at the platform for my train to Glasgow in very good time.

The run to Glasgow was also smooth, and the train arrived at Glasgow Queen Street (low level) bang on schedule at 6:00, which in theory meant I had 23 minutes to get upstairs to the main station and find the platform for my train to Fort William. Unfortunately this was the cue for…

NIGHTMARE ON QUEEN STREET

I scanned the information screens for details of my train (on which I had a pre-booked seat – this leg of the journey was supposed to last three and three quarter hours) and found nothing. I sought assistance as departure time drew closer with no evidence of said train in site, only to discover that the service had been cancelled with no notification. After using my mobile phone to tell my parents about the problem I contacted my sister to see if she could help me find somewhere to stay overnight in Glasgow. As the evening wore on it became clear that that was not an option, and we settled on a taxi ride to Fort William station and a pick up from there by the parents. The taxi arrived in Fort William just after 11PM, and it still was not fully dark. The driver’s card reader failed to function due to how far we were from Glasgow, but my parents and I had enough cash between us to cover the fare (and every intention of getting the money back from Scotrail, the cause of the problem) and we settled up and set off for Acharacle. It was nearer one o’clock than 12 by the time we got there, meaning that I had been travelling for some 15 hours, with the only serious time spent other than on the move being the very antithesis of restful, so unsurprisingly I was exceedingly tired. The taxi windows were not big enough for taking photographs through, so in addition to everything else I was deprived of pictures of the most scenic part of the whole journey.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I do still have some photographs, some from the walk to the station and some from the most scenic sections of the parts of the train journey that actually happened…

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 7: Exploring Alderney – Before Lunch

Continuing my account of my holiday in the Channel Islands.

We are up to Wednesday March 23 in my account of my holiday in the channel islands. I have decided to divide this day’s events into two as I have so much to share. Here to help you orient yourselves are a couple of maps of Alderney (click to view at full size):

FORT CLONQUE TO BRAYE

This part of the walk was the reverse of the walk to the fort on the Monday, but this time we were doing it in full daylight, whereas it had been getting dark by the time we arrived on the island on the Monday.

BRAYE TO THE CROSSING OF THE ISLAND

In view of where the most interesting sites were, and where we planned to have lunch we had decided to cut off a loop of the footpath in the first instance and then circuit back. This leg of the journey included a spell close to the Alderney Railway.

UP TO LUNCH

Our route to the place we were having lunch took us past the entrance to the Roman fort which was to be our first port of call after lunch. The lunch was really excellent, and in my case included a local beer (brewed on Guernsey – Alderney is not big enough to have its own brewery) called Patois (French for ‘slang’).

I end as usual with a view of Fort Clonque:

Accepting Extra Walking: Hampton Court Palace

An ‘accepting extra walking’ post focussing on Hampton Court Palace, an answer to mathematical teaser I set on Saturday and lots of photographs.

Before I get into my latest ‘accepting extra walking’ post, I need to stress something. At the moment very few places are actually open, and travelling for leisure purposes is just not on. People wanting to put some of these ideas into action will need to keep an eye on the changing situation, and make sure that it is safe to do so before making the attempt.

HAMPTON COURT PALACE AS CENTRE OF A DAY OUT

Hampton Court Palace (I use the full designation because there is a Hampton Court in King’s Lynn and I also know of one in Worcestershire, and the palace, originally built for Cardinal Wolsey when he was at the zenith of his power is the parvenu of the three) is served by its own station, just across the river Thames from the palace itself, the terminus of a suburban railway that runs out from Waterloo via Wimbledon and Surbiton. Other stations within easy walking distance for starting your return journey are Teddington, Hampton Wick, Hampton and Kingston. More ambitious walkers might consider heading on through Richmond Park, aiming for Richmond, or even walking all the way to Putney or Wimbledon – all of these longer walks I have mentioned being scenic in nature. The Richmond Park route would also offer a diversion to have a quick look at Ham House.

This corner of Surrey/ south west London would well repay a visit so long as circumstances allow. There are many ways I could do from King’s Lynn assuming it was safe to do so. The quick route would be to change at King’s Cross to the Victoria line and change at again at Vauxhall to a train bound for Hampton Court. The journey back would be similar, though if I had gone for Richmond I might well rather than use mainline railways take the District to Hammersmith and then the Hammersmith & City to King’s Cross, while if I gone hyper ambitious and walked all the way to Wimbledon I might have got a Thameslink train to King’s Cross or extended that walk by a few more minutes to South Wimbledon and got on a Northern line Bank branch train, again going direct to King’s Cross.

I conclude this section of the post with some map pictures, from my battered old A-Z and from google maps…

ANSWERS TO
SATURDAY’S TEASER

On Saturday I posed the following, taken from brilliant.org:

I mentioned that there had been complaints and a change of wording and asked you not just to solve the problem, but identify the complaints and decide whether said complaints were justified.

Brilliant is a mathematics website, and the question should be viewed in that light. This means that the correct container to select is the one that has nine litres of water in it. You fill the 18 litre container, top up your chosen 15 litre container and because 15-9 = 6, you now have in the 18 litre container 18 – 6 = 12 litres and are done. The complaints were based on the fact that one can measure out 12 litres with the aid of any of the four containers you are asked to choose from, but every other method requires multi step processes and wastes lots of water. Since it was being posed as a purely mathematical question the clarification that was added, specifying that the process be completed in the fewest possible number of steps was not strictly necessary, since for a mathematical question that should have been taken as read. Yes, there may well be genuine grounds for choosing any of the other options, but those grounds are not mathematical, and in any case ethical considerations should lead one in the direction of conserving water.

PHOTOGRAPHS

We end with my usual sign off…

Accepting Extra Walking 2: London and Elsewhere

A second ‘accepting extra walking’ post, this time looking at two very different areas.

As promised yesterday, I am doing a non-cricket post today, resuming my ‘accepting extra walking series‘. For this post, and any others along these line that I produce I will start with a London based example and then move on to something from another period of my life.

LONDON: VISITING THE SOUTH BANK CENTRE

There are many attractions in the South Bank Centre. In my case, with my love of classical music, I was usually going there for a concert either in the Queen Elizabeth Hall or the Purcell Room. From the then family home in southwest London I could take the Northern line to Waterloo or go to Streatham and take a train to Blackfriars (District and Circle as well as various mainline railways) and walk along the Thames from there, a slightly longer but more scenic route than the one from Waterloo. This walking route also takes in Southwark Station (Jubilee). Also, approaching from north of the river one could use Charing Cross (Northern, Bakerloo, mainline railways), from which one could exit direct on to a footbridge across the Thames, and if one was on the Piccadilly line this walk could be extended be getting off at Covent Garden, a short walk away from Charing Cross. Here are some pictures:

BARNSLEY TO WOMBWELL

This one comes from my university days. Barnsley had a leisure centre called the Metrodome, but if you actually wanted to swim rather than just splash around Wombwell Baths was a superior option. The basic journey from Barnsley to Wombwell is one stop by rail with a walk at both ends, but I did sometimes walk all the way there and get the train back. From where I was living at the time, on a side road off Doncaster Road the straight walking route was down to Stairfoot, turn right, and keep walking until you reach Wombwell, which does take quite a while. One little bit of cricket content: one of the roads one passes when walking this way is Roy Kilner Road, named in honour of the Yorkshire and England all rounder of the 1920s who died near the end of that decade from an illness contracted while coaching in India. He only played a few test matches, but his first class record (LHB, SLA) saw him amass over 14,000 runs at an average of 30.58 and take 1,003 wickets at 18.45 a piece. He was born in Wombwell, hence having a road there named in his honour, and died in Kendray, also near Barnsley.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Accepting Extra Walking 1: Some London Examples

Something very different from my usual fare, but every bit as much me as anything that has appeared on this blog. The focus is on occasions when I accepted a longer walk than necessary.

If this post is well received it could be the start of a new series, hence the 1 in the title. As a lifelong non-driver I am looking at examples of situations where for various reasons one might accept extra walking rather than use public transport. I am starting with a particularly dramatic example from my younger days.

STREATHAM/ TOOTING

The boundaries between Streatham and Tooting are somewhat blurred. On postcodes, SW16 is Streatham and SW17 is Tooting (the rest of the late SW postcodes are SW18 – Wandsworth, SW19 – Wimbledon and SW20 – West Wimbledon), but on constituencies some of SW16 is in Tooting, including the postcode I called home for 20 years of my life, SW16 6TE. That house was situated pretty much equidistant from four stations, Tooting Bec on the Northern Line, Tooting, Streatham and Streatham Common all on suburban railways, all of which were 15-20 minutes walk away. Before the time I am talking about in this post I had also used Balham, further distant but still walkable, as a starting point for some journeys, and had occasionally chosen to walk home from Wimbledon, a considerably longer walk. The two pictures below, both created by using google maps show the wider area around my old home and then a closer focus on its immediate surroundings:

GETTING FROM TOOTING TO BRIXTON WITHOUT DRIVING

It was in 1997 that I did a few temporary jobs for Lambeth Council via an agency, which involved travelling to and from Lambeth Town Hall, in Brixton. At that time I was not a big fan of buses, so I have to admit they did enter my thoughts. Because of the way the railways both underground and overground work I had basically two options using them: Northern line to Stockwell and then one stop south on the Victoria line, or Streatham to Herne Hill and then Herne Hill to Brixton, three stops in total (2,1), but a change and potentially significant waits for trains at both stages. I actually decided that the time saving was not worth the cost of travel, and opted instead to walk the whole way. There were many possible walking routes, and I experimented with a few different ones. I came to the conclusion that the best route for my purposes was to spend the early part of the walk there/ later part of the walk back away from main roads, so I used Telford Avenue as my link road from the end of Tooting Bec Common to the A23. Immediately after Telford Avenue in the Brixton direction the A23 meets Streatham Place, which is also known as the A205 aka the South Circular, which swings north towards Clapham before turning south again towards Richmond before a final northern turn to where it meets the North Circular (A406) – at the eastern end they do not quite meet.

NEW MALDEN – TOOTING

Between November of 1997 and September of 1999, when I returned to full time education, I worked as a data entry clerk for a furniture company, based in an office above their warehouse in New Malden. That is significantly further from Tooting than Brixton, and I had a pretty much unvaried route in in the mornings: I would get a train north from Balham to Clapham Junction and then travel out from there to New Malden. In the evenings, especially if the weather was decent there was scope for much more variation, as if I started back along the main road, rather than go into New Malden, I get to Raynes Park, Wimbledon Chase, Wimbledon and South Wimbledon with varying lengths of walk, each of which offered ways to travel onwards, and on more than one occasion I actually walked all the way.

Here a few A-Z map pages to help you orient yourself, and to end this section:

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

This post, even more than most of mine, is very much an autistic person’s post, so I start the links section by directing you towards an excellent thread by Ann Memmott in which she superbly takes apart some derogatory stuff about autistic people. A screenshot of the start of the thread is below, and I urge to to read the whole of it by clicking here.

Next up, a petition titled “Bringing the iconic crane back from extinction proves that conservation works“. Please sign and share either by clicking on the title, or here. A screenshot is below.

Finally, the London Transport Museum have recently produced bitesize histories of the Metropolitan and District lines, which you can read by clicking the respective line names. If you enjoy their efforts, pieces about those lines that I created can be viewed here, here and here (three links, because the original Metropolitan Railway route is actually now served by the Hammersmith and City line).

Now, it is time for my usual sign off…

Cornish Winter Break 16: Falmouth – Getting There and Setting the Scene

The first of several posts in my Cornish Winter Break series relating to Falmouth.

INTRODUCTION

I continue my series about my Cornish Winter Break. Today’s is the first of what will be quite a few posts dealing with the last trip that I made as part of that holiday. This trip was unique in two ways among those I made during this holiday:

  1. It was my idea
  2. It featured a train journey

GETTING THERE

My mother and I got on the train at St Germans at 10:36, changed at Truro for the shuttle service to Falmouth Docks, and arrived at Falmouth just after 12:00. Falmouth was a planned port, first built in the late 16th century to provide an extra starting point for the export of china (it was intended to augment the existing port of Fowey, not challenge it – the person who planned it was actually a native of Fowey). It is a magnificent setting (my camera battery ran out before the end of the trip, but not before I had taken some fine pictures). After a pause to orient ourselves we headed for the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, which will get several posts of its own. The museum occupied as for quite some time, and then we had a brief look at the rest of the town, but I was getting tired by then, and we headed back not very long after finishing at the museum. I intend to revisit both the town and the museum.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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There are a number of these old train carriages in the grounds of St Germans – I am considering staying in one of them when I am in Cornwall in August.

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The train approaching.

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A superb mosaic at Falmouth Docks

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The museum

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