My favourite place to holiday: Robin Hood’s Bay

On a recent trip back up north, I visited one of my favourite places in the world: Robin Hoods Bay. It’s a place that always takes me back to childhood camping holidays at Middlewood Farm campsite, which has a well-trodden track down to the beach. The area around the beach is a complete honey pot with cute gift shops, holiday cottages and plenty of places to eat and drink.View from the beach at Robin Hood's BayThe drive through North Yorkshire to reach the bay, which is close to the seaside town of Whitby, is beautiful in itself, but nothing quite beats the view from the top of the cliffs. There is a carpark at the top of the hill (which is usually incredibly busy) where you can walk down the many steps to reach the beach.View from beach at Robin Hood's BayThe beach is a haven for children and I spent many holidays rock-pooling with my Dad and sister, finding crabs and anemones – even a lobster once! This time we stopped for ice cream from the van which is always there and it was wonderful. We sat with the sea creeping in and the last families packing up their beach towels in time for tea. View from the cliff top at Robin Hood's BayAfter eating our ice creams, we went to discover whether our favourite place to eat was serving. Unfortunately, a Tuesday evening after a bank holiday Monday, Ye Dolphin was only offering drinks. We still sat in the lovely old bar lined with beer bottles and quirky pictures, taking in the atmosphere. Beginning to feel hungry, we wandered through the cute back alleys between holiday cottages back up the hill to eat at the Victoria Hotel, which has a beautiful view along the coastline.View back towards Robin Hood's Bay

Fed and happy, we headed back home, stopping to take in the view as we went.

Top 5 walks around Richmond upon Thames

After having lived in the Borough of Richmond upon Thames for the last seven months, I thought I would share my top 5 walks around the area.

  1. River Crane Walk
River Crane Walk
River Crane Walk

This was the first walk I did when I moved to Twickenham in November last year. It was fairly late in the afternoon with the winter nights drawing in fast, but it was beautiful to see the orange sun shining through the trees and listen to the bird’s evening chorus.

The walk is pretty easy and can be accessed from the Staines Road in Twickenham via Meadway. We turned left onto the footpath which follows the river along to Hounslow. There are plenty of benches with intricate carvings along the way as the path meanders along the riverside and it is perfect for an evening stroll. Read more here.

Bench along the River Crane Walk
Bench along the River Crane Walk
  1. Teddington to Kingston

The walk between Teddington and Kingston (via Teddington Lock) is a must for the summer. With sweeping views of the River Thames and the shade of trees, there are plenty of places to sit and relax or enjoy a picnic by the river. The walk itself is flat and paved for the most part and, at only 1.5 miles, it is an easy walk for all the family. Follow the signs to Teddington Lock from Teddington high street and turn right after crossing the bridge to reach the path. I decided to turn back upon entering the outskirts of Kingston, but you can continue into the town centre for plenty of cafes and shops. Read more here.

The walk towards Kingston
  1. Bushy Park
Bushy Park
Bushy Park

Whilst living in Teddington, I was amazed to find that I could walk for 10 minutes down Park Road and suddenly be in open countryside. The road takes you to the gates on Chestnut Avenue from which you can explore the entire park along various paths. Following the road, you will eventually find yourself at Hampton Court Palace (somewhere I still need to explore). However, I tend to take the right fork through the trees that takes you either round to open parkland if you turn right onto Cobblers Walk, where I have watched beautiful sunsets, or towards The Pheasantry café and woodland gardens if you continue straight. Whichever way you choose to go, the park is teaming with wildlife, including the many deer that call it home.

  1. Twickenham to Richmond

Despite exploring this route in the depths of winter (gloves and scarves at the ready), it still amazed me how beautiful Richmond looks as you approach along the Thames walk. It was mid-afternoon as we neared the town, its red brick blazing in the late winter sun. The path itself is encased in trees and a little rough in areas but otherwise very walkable. We walked from Staines Road, Twickenham to the opposite bank towards Ham House, but turned back here as it was rather muddy and we were losing the light. The view along the Thames is incredible and well worth the 3 mile walk from Twickenham and is easily accessible from Twickenham riverside off Church Street. Both Twickenham and Richmond have pubs and restaurants in abundance, so there are also plenty of options to refuel along the way. Read more here.

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View from Richmond Bridge
  1. Teddington Lock to Ham House

Teddington Lock tops my list mainly because of my experience getting lost and wandering forever along the banks of the Thames in beautiful sunshine. The walk takes you through an overhanging of trees and is the least busy of all the walks listed, allowing for you to completely immerse yourself in your surroundings. Again following the signs to Teddington Lock from the high street, turn left upon crossing the bridge taking the path along the Thames to Ham House. The path is easily traversed with a couple of benches for pit stops and emerges from the trees to wonderful views across to Richmond – once again shining orange in the sun. You can continue along this path to Ham House and on to Richmond joining the Thames path to Twickenham, which can make a nice circular walk I intend on attempting soon. Read more here.

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Looking toward Richmond along the walk to Ham House

Do you know of any other walks in this area? Let me know in the comments!

Lake District Chronicles: 8

Fearing a torrential downpour, we decided not to do the full route pictured on the map and find our own way back to Keswick – which in hindsight was not very wise.

Skimming Stones in the rain: Keswick to Walla Crag

It was about this time last year, I had finished my final exam of third year at university – and it was all over! So, we decided to celebrate with a trip to the Lake District. I had picked up a map on directions from Keswick to Walla Crag the previous summer, and was yet to try it. Therefore, we set off on a fairly cold May day to Keswick.

Walla Crag Route Map
Walla Crag Route Map

After stopping to buy some lunch at the local Booths, we wandered through the centre of town to reach Keswick’s Town Hall and Tourist Information Centre – the start of our walk. Following the same route to the Castlerigg Stone Circle, we were soon in open countryside with Derwent Water far below us. Climbing through trees and fields, we spent a lot of time stopping to take photographs despite the overcast sky.

Woodland on our path to Walla CragHowever, we soon came to a dilemma. I had been so busy enjoying the walk, I had unwittingly led us the route of Castlerigg Stone Circle and we needed to fall back on ourselves to reach the correct path. Not exactly as planned, but the slight detour was worth it for the fantastic views across Derwent Water and towards Blencathra and Skiddaw.

Looking towards Blencathra
Looking towards Blencathra

Upon reaching the ascent of Walla Crag, we realised that we had misjudged the gradient and, for an easy walk, it was pretty steep! We followed the path around to Surprise View, which gives an amazing panoramic view across the whole of Keswick and Derwent Water. But now the rain was creeping in as the clouds darkened and spots of rain formed on my glasses.

View from Surprise View
Surprise View

Fearing a torrential downpour, we decided not to do the full route pictured on the map and find our own way back to Keswick – which in hindsight was not very wise.

We followed a less traversed path along the side of one of many stone walls that section the Lake District’s landscape, before reaching an even steeper descent. With the sound of a waterfall nearby, we attempted to navigate the ill-formed path, jarring knees on too high steps and slipping on loose gravel as the rain began to fall more heavily. Reaching the cover of some trees, we sought a quick break to recharge the batteries and nurse an injured ankle. Mosquitos had found us, however, and came in droves, driving us to keep moving as we continued our descent.

Descent from Walla Crag
Descent from Walla Crag

Making our way through the Great Wood, we found ourselves at the edge of Derwent Water. The rain was coming down thick and fast by this point – perfect weather for skimming stones of course! It became the mission to find the best stone to skim as we dodged along the banks using the trees as cover.

Looking out across Derwent Water
Looking out across Derwent Water

Eventually, we gave in to the inevitable and enjoyed the rain, seeing how far we could throw our rocks and collecting the best as we went. All too soon we were making our way back into Keswick, where we found a café for a hot drink to warm us up as the rain still fell.

Returning to Keswick
Returning to Keswick

It was the weekend of Keswick Midsummer Festival, so we sat for a while in the shelter listening to the acts and watching those stood in the rain getting drenched – but really, what did they expect in Cumbria? Some of the acts where pretty good and we would have liked to stay longer, but were restricted by the bus timetable.

We returned to Lancaster looking like drowned rats but perfectly happy with our little adventure.

Nature Poetry: Skimming Stones

I’m posting this poem as I think it quite fits with my next (and last) Lake District Chronicles post, which will be live next Sunday. Another of my poems written whilst at university, this was inspired by how the simple act of skimming a stone can drastically change the appearance of the water. Let me know your interpretations!

Skimming stones

A pool lays secluded

beneath the weeping willow

whose tendrils tickle the surface.

The silent kingfisher perches,

cleaning his feathers, as minnows

begin their calm procession.

Where the water is shallow

you can see the glint of gold

in their scales. A lost time

when the world was serene.

 

Then you started skimming stones.

 

The smack as the perfect flat stone skips across the surface,

small explosions as it crosses the standing water.

Ripples spreading out, battling to reach their widest scope,

rolling over one another until the large rings merge –

fade to the tranquil mirror

 

but the stone still rests at the bottom.

A 10 mile “wander” around Teddington Lock

A gorgeous 16C caught me by surprise when I went for a walk yesterday. The sky was grey and I’d worn my thickest jacket thinking it would be cold – but it was glorious!

I’ve lived in Teddington for three months now so felt it was high time I explored the lock, which is only a mile from my house. Perfect for a short wander to clear my head. Or so I thought.

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Teddington Lock

I have a wonderful, if not slightly reckless, habit of finding myself in places where I can lose myself completely, which naturally leads to never quite wanting to leave again. This was one of those occasions.

Upon reaching the lock, which is a quick wander down from Teddington high street, I found that hundreds of other people had had much the same idea. The nearby pubs and tearooms were teaming in the bright sunshine that had luckily broken through the clouds. People were out in force on the water, on boat tours or yachts, a family came past in bright orange kayaks and there were a number of barges and rowing boats spotted along the way.

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Teddington Lock

There are two bridges across the lock and, to avoid a group of cyclists, I decided to explore the base of the first bridge. All I found was an overgrown footpath and a dead end, but the smell transported me back to Yorkshire and wandering through the countryside. I found myself encased in wildflowers, their scent filling my nostrils and taking me a million miles away. Yet, a gate prevented any further exploration and I had to return to the bridge.

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Half-way point

After crossing, I was faced with a decision: 3 miles to Richmond Park straight ahead, 3.5 miles to Ham House and Gardens to the left, or 1.75 miles to Kingston Bridge to the right. At this point, I was still convinced this was just a short wander along the river, so chose the Kingston path.

The path divides in two with one strand following closely to the banks of the Thames, the other is a sturdier path further up the bank. I chose the higher path, which took me through woodland before emerging into the open sunlight with views of the river.

Taking pictures as I went, I meandered along the path listening to the sound of the river mixed with children’s laughter and the chitter-chatter of their parents. Until I reached a line of houses where the path turned into a tarmac road. Not really wanting to wander through Kingston, I decided to head back but, this time, I took the lower path.

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Half mile tree, just before Kingston

Now my view was less obstructed, I could photograph the expanse of the River Thames with the sun now on my face. Having only traveled a mile or so, it wasn’t long before I was back at the signpost. To go home, or not to go home?

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View back towards the lock

Not to go home.

I decided to continue along the path towards Ham House and Gardens, not expecting to reach the stately home but knowing the walk would be pretty. After following the edge of the lock, I was soon immersed in woodland. I heard the sweet calls of blackbirds and robins flitting through the trees. I love being among the trees, it’s a place where I feel safe and at home. The fresh smell of new leaves and various wildflowers intermingled with the earth as I wandered.

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The path to Ham House and Gardens

The path is fairly similar the whole way along with the Thames to your left and woodland on the right, which made it easy to lose track of how far I had walked. It wasn’t until I saw the outcrop of Eel Pie Island that I realised I had almost walked as far as Ham House! So much for a short walk…

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Ham land

I sat on a bench for a little while, admiring the beauty of Eel Pie Island and growing envious of the houses there. As I looked, however, I suddenly noticed two little eyes watching me and a couple of pointy orange ears. A fox. Realising I was not a threat – I could not easily traverse the water between us – he settled down to sun himself. I admired him for a while before continuing my walk.

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Eel Pie Island

By now it was getting late and I had set myself a target of turning back once it had reached 5pm. It was 4.54pm. I carried on forward a short way until the woodland opened up to reveal a car park and what I can only assume is the ferry point between Twickenham and Ham House. I could see The White Swan on the opposite bank and Richmond looming in the distance. I sat for a while taking in the view.

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View towards Richmond

The journey back was harder. My feet suddenly felt the 19,884 steps (according to my Samsung Health app) I’d taken and my lack of preparation meant I was in dire need of a drink. Barely pausing, I power-marched back to the lock, reliving all the beauty of my walk there and being startled by squirrels who interrupted my path.

After walking roughly ten miles, I collapsed on my bed, tired but feeling wonderfully fulfilled.

 

Nature Poetry: roam free

I started this blog as a little exploration of my own creativity, which also meant the inclusion of poetry. So, today, I am sharing a poem which I wrote whilst in my second year of University as it feels quite fitting. I hope you like it and please leave comments below!

roam free

to feel the world against my skin

the beauty of a single puddle

Cerulean Blue of a serene sky

tells me the storm is passing by

 

the wind sings of fantastic destinies

the ability to fly through distant lands

travel the seas with migrant swallows

watch diving gulls catch their supper

 

traverse the Alps to the highest point

watch magnificent eagles glide below

freedom circling the fir tree tops trying

to pick mountain hare from the snow

 

I’ll sweat from the heat of African desert

cross paths with regal lion or rascal hyena

multitude of colours in the hazy distance

a mystery waiting to be explored

 

Australia bound I’ll swim with the sharks

Great Barrier Reef’s magnitude of coral

scuba diving in this myriad of rainbows

bake to a crisp in hot orange sun

 

on to Old Faithful at Yellowstone Park

hot hissing geyser shooting 100ft high

magma lies beneath threatening through

the bubbling mud and spluttering springs

 

this just a snapshot of possibility

so many more expanses to traverse

my mind wanders in endless opportunity

I roam free in a world of open doors

Off the beaten track: North York Moors

To rise swiftly from the valley of cars,
Scything the heather in mud-spattered arcs,
With boots crushing broken straws of bracken,
In peat which darkly preserves our passing,
– Christopher Woodall

After my stay in Leeds, I travelled across to my hometown of Hull to see my family. Whilst I was there, we decided to head out to the North York Moors on an, unfortunately, less pleasant day than my trip to Ilkley.

Image of Daffodils on North York Moors with a river running through treesDespite the overcast skies and spots of rain, we had a wonderful exploration of the moors around Rosedale, seeing a part of the landscape we’d never been to before. Wild daffodils were in their droves around the base of trees and little Coal tits fluttered through their branches. It was a little haven away from the roadside, the only pull back to the real world being the slight whoosh of traffic in the distance.Image of river running through trees on the North York MoorsRosedale is known for its beautiful Abbey ruins and remnants of the industrial revolution as the area was used for its richness of iron with ironstone mines, kilns and the moorland railway scattered across the landscape.
Image of River on North York Moors near Rosedale

We wandered along the river bank before coming to a series of stepping stones across to the opposite bank. It was either cross or turn back, so we ventured forward – making sure my mum was in the middle, just in case!

We made it across the river to climb up a Image of View through the pines on North York Moorspath through the dense heather, our intention to make it to the highest point of the moor. The higher we climbed, however, the more apparent it became that there was no obvious peak and we could continue indefinitely.
Turning back, we realised how far we had gone as we were now well above the trees on the opposing valley.Image of View on North York Moors After returning to the car, we headed to Rosedale where we found a lovely café, the Abbey Tea Room and Store in Rosedale Village. There is a large picture window looking onto the quaint village green and I can highly recommend their gluten-free Chocolate Cake!

The day was drawing to a close, so we took the scenic drive back home passing over the top of the moors and down through the seaside town of Whitby.Image of View on North York Moors

Ramble over Ilkley Moor

Wheear ‘as ta bin sin ah saw thee,
On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at?!
Wheear ‘as ta bin sin ah saw thee?
Wheear ‘as ta bin sin ah saw thee?
On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at?!

At the end of March, I travelled to Leeds to visit a couple of my best friends from University. The sun was out so we decided to explore West Yorkshire with a trip to Ilkley Moor.

Image of White Well's Spa Cafe on Ilkley Moor
Looking up to White Well’s Spa Cafe

Despite the very ill-suited footwear (note to self: always bring trainers), we managed to scramble up a muddy slope to reach White Wells spa café. Upon reaching the top, we realised there were two pathways to the café we had completely missed! Google had not lied and the muddy shoes were completely avoidable!

Image of view across the valley from White Well's Spa Cafe on Ilkley Moor
View from White Well’s Spa Cafe

Nevertheless, the view was incredible and we spent a while with our mugs of coffee catching up in the gorgeous spring air. The daffodils were in full bloom and everything seemed bright and fresh in the early afternoon sun.

The path continued on from the café, which also houses an old bath house we decided not to take a plunge in! The view just got better as we climbed higher onto the moors and after walking for a while we saw the famous Cow and Calf in the distance.

Image of White Well's Spa Cafe on Ilkley Moor
White Well’s Spa Cafe on Ilkley Moor

The Cow and Calf are a large outcrop of rocks sitting high on Ilkley Moor, so named because one of the boulders is large, with the smaller boulder sitting close to it, like a cow and its calf. However, we agreed that it definitely takes a lot of imagination to see this!

According to local legend, the Calf was split from the Cow when the giant Rombald was fleeing his wife and stamped on the rocks as he leapt across the valley. The legend also states that his angry wife dropped the stones she held in her skirt to form another local rock formation, the Skirtful of Stones.

Image of view towards Ilkley
View towards Ilkley

We were still a good way away and it was already mid-afternoon, so we decided to head back the way we’d come, dodging the puddles and tackling some rather precarious steps along the way. Descending by the marked path, we reached the road into Ilkley. We wandered through the quaint high street before finding another café to sit and talk for hours until heading home for pizza and movies – because, of course, we had earnt it.

Image of View from Ilkley Moor down towards Ilkley
View from Ilkley Moor down towards Ilkley

Lake District Chronicles: 7

I had become interested in Wainwright and his exploration of the Lake District so settled on Orrest Head as our destination – the view from which sparked Wainwright’s decision to extensively map out all of the fells.

Bowness-on-Windermere and Orrest Head

“…quite suddenly, we emerged from the trees and were on a bare headland, and, as though a curtain had dramatically been torn aside, beheld a truly magnificent view…” – Alfred Wainwright

Image of trees along Sheriff's Walk and Mill Beck
Sheriff’s Walk and Mill Beck

In my third year of university, I made the best decision to become a fresher’s rep. I met a fantastic group of people – who were all interested in exploring the Lakes!

Image of Mill Beck from Sheriff's Walk
Mill Beck from Sheriff’s Walk

 

As an extension of their Fresher’s Week, I planned a trip to Windermere.

Windermere has often been a connecting point as I journey on to elsewhere in the Lakes, but is just as beautiful – if not quite so spectacular as further north.

I had also become interested in Wainwright and his exploration of the Lake District so settled on Orrest Head – the view from which sparked Wainwright’s decision to extensively map out all of the fells.

Image of Waterfalls on Mill Beck from Sheriff's Walk
Waterfall

However, before climbing the fell, we decided to head towards the lakeside and took a shortcut via a number of hidden waterfalls I had found on a previous trip. The footpath is called Sheriff’s Walk and branches from the main road to Bowness-on-Windermere (Lake Road) and takes you down towards Bowness and Lake Windermere.

The walk was beautiful as we wandered through trees and the autumnal colours, with the constant melody of the river.  There are a number of waterfalls as Mill Beck travels towards Windermere, with a considerably larger waterfall closer to the lake. We enjoyed skipping across “stepping stones” and throwing stones in the clear water.

Image of a yacht on lake Windermere with misty mountains
View from Bowness-on-Windermere

Finally, we reached Bowness-on-Windermere, which was busy even in October. We wandered along the lakeside and sat for a while in the park, enjoying the scene.

The weather was turning, however, so we headed back to Windermere in time to climb Orrest Head. With a few spots of rain and the wonderful smell of wood smoke, we easily ascended the small fell.

Image of View across to Windermere
View across to Windermere

There are some incredible views from various points along the meandering track, which begins across the road to Windermere station. But it is when you reach the summit that you can really see what ignited Wainwright’s interest. For such a small elevation, you can see far and wide – almost every inch of the fells surrounding the Lake District’s largest lake and beyond.

We picked out Scafell Pike and Crinkle Crags; with the distant behemoth of Great Gable just visible despite the cloud. Definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a quick and easy walk with fantastic views.

Image of View from the top of Orrest Head
View from the top of Orrest Head
Image of View from the top of Orrest Head
View from the top of Orrest Head

View more of my Lake District travels by clicking the Lake District Chronicles above or to the right.

Wandering the streets of Lincoln

Image of Lincoln Cathedral for Wandering the streets of Lincoln
Lincoln Cathedral

Last weekend, I had a fantastic time visiting friends in Lincoln – and took some snaps along the way. We first went to look at the Cathedral, which was a bit of a climb for these London legs!

We wandered around the outside of the Cathedral, taking in all of the exterior and contemplating that it’s a shame you cannot see the stained glass the same from outside – whilst inside, it was beautiful!

Image of Stained Glass in Lincoln Cathedral for Wandering the streets of Lincoln
Lincoln Cathedral’s Stained Glass

 

It was a quick visit and we did not pay for the tour, but lovely nonetheless. I always like visiting churches. I am not religious myself, but I find it peaceful to wander around with the slight noise of shoes on stone and hushed whispers.

Everyone was hungry, so we decided to find somewhere to eat. Most cafés were packed full, obviously popular with their location next to the Cathedral, but we ended up at a lovely vegetarian café called Pimento Fashion and Tea Rooms.

Image of Lincoln Cathedral for Wandering the streets of Lincoln
Lincoln Cathedral

My lunch of Tomatoes, Green Olives, and Basil Open Toast was delicious – especially with the addition of mozzarella. This place is definitely worth a visit if you have any kind of dietary requirement with gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan (the list goes on) options.

We spent a while catching up and eating, before browsing the many gift shops and heading to the Castle. Inside the Castle walls would be perfect for picnicking when the weather is a little warmer; and on clear days, you can get a good view over Lincoln and the countryside beyond.

Image of Lincoln Crown Court for Wandering the streets of Lincoln
Lincoln Crown Court

By then, we were all ready for a sit down and a cuppa, so headed back to get ready for the evening. Lincoln City was playing against Arsenal, so everywhere in town was packed! In the end we had a wonderful, surprisingly quiet, meal at the Swan Holme, which is just out of town. The pub/restaurant has a vintage style, which complimented the traditional food being served. Wine and roast dinners later, we were all talked out and ready for home.