Mam Tor to Castleton, Peak District

17 September 2016

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We had seen Mam Tor from some our previous walks in the Peak District, most noticeably from the summit and slopes of Win Hill.

The GPS route of our walk can be seen on our ViewRanger page.

Looking at Winnats Pass from Mam Tor, Peak District
Winnats Pass from summit of Mam Tor.

We’ve yet to summit a hill or peak in the Peak District and be disappointed by the views. The anticipation of those views is always palpable as you start the climb. I didn’t expect Mam Tor to be as busy with people as it was on this day. There were dog walkers, strollers, hikers, paragliders and hangliders. Yes, I got those last two right. This peak is especially popular with hang- and paragliders, mostly launching themselves into the air from Lords Seat, a hill just along the east from Mam Tor.

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Visit to the Jansky Very Large Array

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When you’re building the world’s largest radio telescope, then you need to go and see how other observatories have done the same and learn what lessons you can – which are the good operational practices and what are the mistakes you should try to avoid.

Early in September, we went to visit the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, in New Mexico, USA. The JVLA is an iconic radio telescope with its distinctive ‘Y’ shaped configuration and featuring in various film and TV shows, most notably perhaps in the movie Contact.

At the time of our visit, the 25-metre dishes were being moved out to their very widest configuration where the furthest distance between two individual dishes reaches over 22.6 miles. They are moved, individually, by a transporter along the train tracks you can see in many of the images here.

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Chrome Hill, Peak District

21 August, 2016

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It was later than usual for us when we decided to go for a walk, so we decided to go for one that was relatively short, but also to go into a region of the Peak District that we hadn’t gone to before. So a quick hunt around using ViewRanger and we came across this walk just south of Buxton, starting from the village of Hollinsclough. We didn’t know it at the time, but Chrome Hill and its neighbour, Parkhouse Hill, are quite iconic amongst walkers of the Peak District.

The GPS route of our 4-mile walk can be seen on our ViewRanger page.

Our walk started in the village of Hollinsclough and headed straight into muddy fields before finding a track. Impressive views of Chrome Hill from the start. Apt that it also known as The Dragon’s Back.

You first come up to Hollins Hill and it tried to tempt us to climb it. It did look like a gentle climb! But we ignored that temptation and kept on our track.

There was another couple that clearly could not ignore that temptation. The views from the top of Hollins Hill must be spectacular, and feeling only a little bit envious of them, we vowed that we would return and do that climb. This would not be the last vow we would make that day.

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Alport Castles, Peak District

13 August, 2016

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This describes the second of two walks we went on when Mike and Karen came to visit this August. The first was in the Yorkshire Dales and this second one we arranged for in the Peak District. We would drive to Fairholmes, where the Derwent and Ladybower reservoirs meet and a car park is conveniently placed. This hike is characterised by long steady climbs and quick windy descents, beautful scenery, sheep, landslips, bulls and river crossings.

A circular walk as usual for us, the GPS track of our 8.3 mile hike can be seen on my ViewRanger page.

From the car park we climb through the Lockerbrook Coppice and then head up for Bellhag Tor.

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The views are amazing and it takes a bit of time to do the climb towards Alport Castles, not because the track is arduous, but because we cannot help but stop and look about us. Sometimes, the spectacular view is behind.

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Site visit to SKA – South Africa

20 July 2016

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We had a flying visit to the SKA offices in Cape Town, South Africa for a meeting. Despite the distance, this a necessary part of the job, especially when you’re working on a globally distributed project such as the SKA. For me, this was also my first opportunity to visit the site where the South African telescope of the SKA is to be built, out in the Karoo desert. Having seen the site in Australia recently, I was excited to see the same in South Africa.

The day starts with an early morning flight from Cape Town in an executive jet, and seeing the sunrise from the air.

There is a direct flight to the observatory site, but we wanted to see the support facility in Klarefontaine, where the Engineering Operations Centre would be located. So this meant stopping in the small, nearby town of Carnarvon. Despite its remoteness and the dusty and makeshift runway, this part of the world is aware of the SKA and is preparing itself.

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Mallerstang – Hell Gill, Yorkshire Dales

12 August, 2016

This was our first adventure into the Yorkshire Dales. On this hike we would see sculpture, lunch by a waterfall, follow rivers, walk past barns in fields and, of course, be studied by sheep.

The GPS track of our (almost) 6.5 mile walk can be found on my ViewRanger account. We were meeting up with Mike and Karen just south of Outhgill to start our walk along a section of Lady Anne’s Way, following the Penine Bridleway.

 

We start on a gentle incline. The weather was wet – not because it was raining, no – I insisted, it’s just that the clouds happened to be laying quite low on this day.

At the top we reach the Water Cut sculpture, by Mary Bourne, one of the 10 Eden Benchmarks located along the length of the River Eden. Mike and I try to take pictures while keeping our camera equipment dry.

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Ghost on the bridge

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Sometimes you just take a really bad picture. You review your images and you wonder how that happened. You wonder how you could have got the exposure wrong, how the focus can be so far out – in fact, what exactly are you focussed on? Certainly not the subject of your photograph! So press the ‘X’ key on your keyboard, forget about it – you’ll delete it later, if you ever remember to.

Then one day, maybe weeks later, maybe even years, you do stumble across that thing in your catalogue that disappointed you so. It’s still there, festering in your catalogue. Right, time to take action. Select it and press the delete key. It makes no difference whether you press the delete key hard or soft, but there is something cathartic about giving it a good, firm ‘tap’. Begone!

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