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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!).
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.
There was a plastic bucket-cum-basket on the beach.
It was orange (…the bucket… not the beach…).
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.
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.
There is something about a lonesome tree that I just can’t resist to photograph it.
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.