Ashford – Monsal Head Trail

12 June 2016

Hard to believe that after 6 months living in Cheshire, this was our first hike in the Peak District. The track we followed started in Ashford-in-the-Water, through Little Shacklow Wood and Sheldon village, before going down into and along the Deep Dale. Cross the road into Monsal Dale followed by a good climb up to Monsal Head, before closing the trail loop by heading back to Ashford-in-the-water for a quick pint!

The GPS track of the 8.2 mile walk can be seen here on ViewRanger.

Ashford-in-the-water is a very appropriately named village and is very picturesque.

The trail begins by taking us through Little Shacklow Wood. Very pretty but most distinctive was the smell – pungent and at times intoxicating. Wild garlic! We were surrounded by it.

A climb up to and then short walk through Sheldon village, with a quick hello to one or two of the locals.

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Western Australia, Day 3 – Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory

31 May 2016

Following our visit to the ASKAP array the previous day, a nice meal, a couple of beers and a good night’s sleep at the Boolardy Station. This morning, we’d be visiting the other telescope array at the MRO – the Murchison Widefield Array.

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Getting ready to leave Boolardy Station to visit the MWA.

The MWA is a low frequency telescope array, operating between 80 and 300 MHz, and is not made of traditional telescope dishes but of radio antennae. These antennae can come in a variety of designs. At the MWA they have an uncanny resemblance to crabs or spiders crawling across the landscape.

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Western Australia, Day 2 – Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory

30 May 2016

We left Geraldton mid-morning to start our 5-hour trip across the Western Australian outback to the Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory, the future site of the low-frequency Square Kilometre Array and the current site of two SKA-precursor instruments, the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) and Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). The Precursor facilities are defined as being those situated on the two SKA sites in Australia and South Africa.

Maybe an hour out of Geraldton, we stopped at a small town, Mullewa, for a quick pit stop.

Jonesys Cafe, where you can find quite possibly what are the best muffins in the world, and the hottest damned coffee I’ve ever tried to drink. Norm, our bus driver for the two day trip, was staying cool regardless.

Back on the road and we are truly in the desert now. The weather was beautiful, but the northerners amongst us were constantly reminded that this is the Australian winter, and that it is not always like this.

That’s a big ant-hill, Adam! Try jumping up-and-down – let’s see what happens.

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Western Australia, Day 1 – Geraldton

29 May 2016

This was not my first visit to Australia, but it was my first time to Western Australia, and my first opportunity to visit the Australian site for the low-frequency telescope of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Travel the long distance from Europe to Perth (via Singapore), check into the hotel and then try to sleep it all off. The next day, a quick flight up WA’s Coral Coast to the small town of Geraldton, where the SKA’s operations centre will likely be based.

Not wanting to succumb to the jet-lag too soon, we decided to get out for a bite to eat and a stroll along the beach front. Of course, I took my camera with me.

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Pune, India

3 April, 2016

I am very fortunate that in my job I have the opportunity to travel around the world. This past April I travelled to India for the first time. Most of the time was spent in meetings (and eating some of the most delicious curries!). But, our first day was a Sunday and that was a bit of a free day. A colleague of mine had arranged for a short 2-3 hour tour of the city of Pune, arranged by the hotel. I joined her on this trip and took my little Fujifilm X100s with me.

The pictures here are mostly taken from that little tour of the city, although I’ve taken the liberty to scatter some images taken with my iPhone through the week.

On our first stop, we visited the Pataleshwar Caves, a temple cut out of the rock sometime around the 8th century. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva.

This was a small oasis of tranquility in what is a large, bustling, busy and at times loud city. People in the grounds and in the temple were either praying or sitting silently in contemplation.

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Lower Withington Circular Trail

15 May 2016

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This is a route that started by the Red Lion pub in Lower Withington and took us across fields and woods, with sights of new and old sand quarries and sneaky-peeks of Jodrell Bank between the trees.

So which way should we go?

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The GPS track can be found here on ViewRanger.

Cows featured heavily on this hike, as they do in most parts of Cheshire. The bulls in the photograph in the lower left image below took a little bit too much interest in our presence. Doing our best to be nonchalant and cool, we moved briskly on.

Amongst the mix of cattle, there are proper black and white cows.

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A proper cow.

Along the way, we were somewhat surprised to see sand quarries. It’s just something that wouldn’t have crossed our minds, but apparently the sand in Cheshire is high quality and well sought after, providing around 25% of the silica used for making windows in the UK. The conveyer belt that moves the sand from the quarry to the loading stations was miles long.

An example of what can happen to these quarries was soon apparent. At least it appears to be a managed process, and something is returned to the countryside.

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Abandoned farm buildings, ploughed fields and quiet country paths.

Another pleasant and unexpected surprise were the bluebells in Colt Hovel Wood.

The one thing missing from this very enjoyable and pleasant walk was a pub in the middle of the route, but at least there was one at the end.

Oh, and the other thing missing was a wallet with money to buy some drinks with. Sigh.

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Kintyre Way – Deer Hill

6th May 2016

 

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On the second day of our visit to Saddell Bay, we ventured out to follow a trail that Mike had picked out for us (out of the many he had stashed away). The trail would take us to the summit of Deer Hill and is a part of the Kintyre Way.

The GPS track of our route can be found here.

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The summit of Deer Hill (or Cnoc nan Gabhar, if you’re feeling up to it) promised us glorious views to eat our sandwiches by, in what was a beautiful day. So off we started.

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I’ve noticed that I always seem to be taking pictures of the backs of people when we’re on hikes and walks. Normally because I’ve fallen behind taking a picture of something else. As if to prove a point, here are some more pictures of people walking away from me, to go with the ones above.

I must have made a subconscious decision to try and get ahead to take some photos of people’s faces.

Maybe I’ll stick to backs ….

As I hope you can see from this selection of images, the views around this part of Argyll & Bute are truly beautiful, especially on a day like we had with the Isle of Arran providing the backdrop.

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We got to the summit after about 2hrs 20mins and just soaked in the views, accompanied by some sandwiches (thanks Mike!) and some tea (thanks Karen!) and some cake (thanks Mila!).

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Saddell Bay

5th May 2016

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We woke up early that morning. On the road by 5am heading to Scotland, to meet and spend a few days with some very good friends of ours. The road to Argyll & Bute passes through some lovely scenery and I regret not stopping to take pictures and absorb the landscape along the way, but we had almost 400 km to cover. We made mental notes along the way of all the places we need to come back to – I’m sure we won’t remember them all, but if we can return to half of them, I’ll be happy.

We got to Saddell Bay just after lunch time. Our friends were still out exploring, so we took a walk along the Bay, recalling memories from 21 years ago when these friends got married, in the cottages at the end of the bay.

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There was a plastic bucket-cum-basket on the beach.

It was orange (…the bucket… not the beach…).

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Stone collecting. The pile of stones shown below now adorns the windowshelf in our conservatory at home.

Walking up and down the beach you can appreciate different views of Saddell House and the cottages on Saddell Bay.

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Looking sinister, and then pleased with herself.

We weren’t the only ones walking on the beach that day.Saddell_011At the southeastern end of the bay, stands the famous east-facing Land sculpture by Anthony Gormley.

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It was a long drive from Cheshire, but certainly worth it.

Holmes Chapel – Swettenham

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This is an enjoyable walk that takes in some wonderful views around the Cheshire countryside, starting off along the Dane Valley Way.

GPS Track on ViewRanger

The route starts by crossing a long field which was quite muddy following the rains of Spring. Cut through a small wood and cross a brook before quickly coming out to open fields once more.

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There is something about a lonesome tree that I just can’t resist to photograph it.

Lonely Tree, Cheshire

The track does pass along some farmland and one of the farmers seemed to be running a hunting/shooting trip that morning. We tried to keep to the official path, but at one point we were prevented from following it due to, well, a bovine blockade. We had to improvise and made our way around (there’s a tell-tale loop on the GPS track).

Shortly afterward, we are reminded that all gates should be closed behind us, under strict penalty if we fail to abide. Not sure if they would accept a credit card for the 40 shillings, we made sure the gate was firmly closed behind us.

Then we enter Swettenham, a nice little village with a nice pub for a pit stop. The Lovell Arboretum is by the Swettenham Arms, but we decide to leave this for another time. Our drinks are gratefully downed, and we continue to the end.

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