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.The 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.The 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. After 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.
Fed and happy, we headed back home, stopping to take in the view as we went.
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.
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.
However, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 walk towards Kingston
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.
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?
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Despite 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.Rosedale 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.
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 path 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.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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
“…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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
View more of my Lake District travels by clicking the Lake District Chronicles above or to the right.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Something which has been on my bucket list for a while now is Kew Botanical Gardens. So, as a nice surprise birthday treat for my mum, we decided to go.
It was a horrible, drizzly day and we arrived far too late to fully explore – due to the closure of the District Line… – but it still enthralled us in its culture and history. In the winter months, admission is reduced to £10.80 for an adult ticket because some areas are closed. However, we timed it perfectly with their Orchid Festival, which definitely made up for not seeing everything.
We began in the Palm House, where we saw plants from all over the world – from the Americas to Australasia. But I was most taken by the architecture. Beautiful, ornate metal work with twisting staircases, it was like something out of a Victorian fairy tale. But of course, that is exactly what it was, with experts considering Kew’s Palm house to be the most important surviving Victorian iron and glass structure in the world.
It was designed by Decimus Burton and engineered by Richard Turner in the same style as the shipbuilding industry. This is why it can look like an upturned hull from a distance. The result is a vast, light, lofty space that accommodates the height of large palm trees and allowed for the introduction of such species to Europe in the early Victorian era.
We then dodged the rain into the Princess of Wales Conservatory, where the Orchid festival was taking place. We had been informed at the front desk that some areas were off-limits due to the festival, so believed we wouldn’t be able to see any of it. This was not the case. Other than the parts being worked on, we were able to wander freely through the orchids and see all of the wonderful displays.
The festival celebrates how plants are used in India and Indian culture in worship, medicine, and everyday life. Inspired by the vibrant colours and magnificent plant life of India, the festival featured huge floral displays of exotic orchids, decorated rickshaws and animals made out of flowers. It was really beautiful and the colours truly reflected the culture and traditions of India
The conservatory is a myriad of different climates and you can wander from desert to rainforest – and easily become lost too! We spent a long time discovering all of the different plants and photographing the orchids, before heading towards a new feature at Kew: the Hive.
The Hive was designed by UK artist Wolfgang Buttress, originally as the centrepiece of the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, and reflects the life of a bee hive. Inspired by scientific research into the health of bees, the installation uses multisensory elements to give an insight into the real live workings of a hive. The structure is made from thousands of pieces of aluminium and is fitted with hundreds of LED bulbs that glow and fade to the real-life rhythms of the bee hives in Kew.
There was such an atmosphere created within the structure and it was incredible to get a small insight into the world of bees.
After a short walk through the walled and alpine gardens, we came across a gallery where we found intricate drawings of orchids. It was fascinating to see these anatomical drawings from as far back as the eighteenth century and read a little bit about current beliefs at the time.
It was a lovely trip despite the rain, and we agreed we must go back when the sun is shining to spend a whole day exploring top to bottom.
I’d wanted to go to Keswick for weeks, but just kept getting drawn elsewhere… plus, it is 3 hours on the bus! But I finally made it! It began as a beautiful, warm September day – perfect for walking.
My first stop was the Tourist Information centre in Keswick, where I bought a couple of maps: one being the route to Castlerigg Stone circle.
The route begins conveniently at the Tourist information centre and wanders through the centre of town before turning off past a row of houses to suddenly find yourself in woodland.
You soon come across a farmhouse, where there is a Tea room – which I have never tried but if you have, let me know!
Then you begin to climb through the trees, alongside the river. As you climb there are flashes of the gorgeous view down to Keswick and Derwent Water.
After crossing a bridge and a road, you suddenly find yourself in open countryside. Walking across the fields, you get fantastic views of Blencathra and Skiddaw to the left and the beginning of the Helvellyn range on your right.
Turning left when reaching the gate; it was a boggy walk in the gorgeous sunshine until reaching the road, which you need to cross to get onto the final stretch.
Once you reach the stone circle, there is this incredible feeling of calm. I just sat on the grass looking at it for hours, taking it all in. Then I went for a little wander around and a closer look at the stones. There was something romantic about the place and I could easily have stayed longer, but clouds were starting to draw in so I decided to head back.
I took a different route back into Keswick – and naturally got a little lost almost ending up in Penrith… Thankfully a couple of walkers pointed me in the right direction!
The walk back along the railway line was lovely and I got to the bus station just in time.
So the last month has been a little hectic, moving house will never be an easy, smooth-running task. But I did – miraculously – still manage to get out and about during January.
My first excursion was to walk along the River Thames from Twickenham to Richmond. Every time I had been down to the Riverside in Twickenham, I had seen the path, but hadn’t the time to explore. However, with a visit from my cousin as motivation, I finally walked it – and it was definitely worth the aching feet that evening.
First stopping at the Barmy Arms for some lunch, we warmed our hands before stepping out into the freezing mid-January wind. The walk was easy, with lots of beautiful scenery to see. Families were in abundance, especially around popular Marble Hill House (another one for the bucket list). Yet, I had never felt more relaxed.
We saw waders and mallards minding their own business in the shallows. Squirrels were calling to each other in the trees and we stopped for a while musing on the species of birds around Richmond Bridge.
Upon crossing the bridge, we decided to see where the path on the opposite side of the bank went. However, after wandering for half an hour, we soon came across the mud. With the light fading, we decided it was time to head back – but not before a failed attempt at finding a seat in the White Cross. Next time…
The walk back blessed us with an amazing orange sunset over the water, which I attempted to capture – badly!
This is definitely a walk to do many times, at all times throughout the year, and we will be coming back to tackle the opposite bank – wherever it goes…