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Entries about scenery

A Day In The Cotswolds

Cotswolds

sunny 21 °C
View Cotswolds on kmmk17's travel map.

After the last 18 months of not getting to go very far, we managed to have a day out to the Cotswolds on one of the few nice summer's days of 2021.

With a lot of leave still to use, we'd taken the week off and spent much of it decorating the living room. But to give us a bit of a break from all the work on a 'week off', we decided to have a day out and picked the best one weather-wise in what had been a pretty miserable summer.

The first place we headed to was Bourton-on-the-Water, which involved driving across country. As we were almost there, the road we needed to take to cross over to Stow-on-the-Wold was closed, with the nearest diversion adding another 30mins to our journey. Feeling that this might be a bit excessive, we decided to try our luck and see how far down the road we could get before cutting around the road closure on country roads.

As we almost entered Stow-on-the-Wold, we cut off and diverted via a suburb to the south. However these tiny narrow lanes were not suitable for the huge cars ignorant people love to drive. Arriving at one bend where there were loads of parked cars, the developing trail of cars I was caught up in met another travelling the opposite way. A trail of three cars had already headed down what had become a de facto single lane highway which our larger trail was already on. As we had right of way, and also nowhere to go, the cars headed towards us had to reverse to allow us to pass. Some of them did so amicably, but one driver decided he would only reverse as far as possible for all our cars to mount the verge and squeeze past - despite him being able to reverse back slightly more and let us drive on the actual carriageway.

My blood was now boiling. How dare this ignorant man just sit there so obnoxiously expecting us to do something so unnecessary. So I sat there waiting for him to reverse further, but he would not. So, as I was forced to mount the verge passing him, I stopped adjacent to his window, wound mine down and absolutely lost it at him - shouting, screaming and swearing right in his face. He probably didn't care but it made me feel better anyway.

As we left the town we could see the huge traffic queue that had formed due to the closure of the important road. Thankfully we were missing it via our reroute, and around 10 minutes later we were in the middle of an extremely busy Bouton-on-the-Water. Despite being a weekday, probably due to the nice weather and the school holidays, it was full of people and we were lucky to get parked.

Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton-on-the-Water

After a little walk we ended up on the main High Street of this beautiful village, where a small river runs just to the south creating an area of parkland where many families were picnicking. Crossing several of the bridges we started at the west end by the Motoring Museum, before heading into gift shops and ending outside the Model Village. It is quite simply the idealised English village.

But being a Cotswold village, there wasn't much to do, and so after picking up some souvenirs we then headed back to the car park and made our way to the nearby city of Gloucester.

Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral

Around half an hour later, and just outside the Cotswolds we arrived and parked in the shopping centre car park. We then went for a wander over to Gloucester Cathedral. This huge cathedral contains the tomb of Edward II, and also served as a filming location for the Harry Potter films.

Cloisters

Cloisters

There, they did the typical thing of providing 'free' entry, whilst in reality trying to force us to give them a donation. So we pretended to leave and then when no one was looking legged it across the vestry - we only wanted a quick look!

Edward II's Tomb

Edward II's Tomb

We went for a little wander into the cloisters and courtyard, before heading back to the exit via the tombs. We then headed back towards the centre, stopping for lunch, before making our way towards the Docks, located on the edge of the River Severn.

On driving into the town it dawned on me that this was also the city where Fred and Rose West had lived and murdered, and their house, where 9 bodies were found in 1994 was just a short walk away. So we decided to walk back via the site, which has since been knocked down and turned into a footpath.

We were now headed back towards home, but we also had another Cotswold village we wanted to stop by at - Bibury.

Bibury

Bibury

Much smaller than Bourton-on-the-Water, it was very scenic. However even at 4:30 on a weekday afternoon, we were lucky to get a space. After driving past the best parking spaces, we could see a learner driver was just getting into the car. After turning around, a stroke of luck, he was trying to pull out. So I let him go and then nabbed his spot.

We then went for a short walk around the village, before making our way back to the car, and a final drive home.

Bibury

Bibury

It may have only been one day, but it was a nice break from the normality of home, and it was very scenic. Would recommend.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 19:20 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged hills river scenery city cathedral quaint Comments (0)

Grey Skye's Ahead

Isle of Skye - Highlands

rain 16 °C
View Highlands & Islands on kmmk17's travel map.


After a brief stop of the Eilean Donan Castle, we made our way further west, crossing the bridge over to the Isle of Skye where we were instantly struck by beautiful mountain views.

This afternoon was the only time it was going to be dry during our stay on the island, and so with plenty of time, we made our way up to The Storr. This is the iconic view of Skye and one of the best of Scotland, but it was not without a struggle. Barely leaving the house these days, the strenuous 45 minute climb was hard going. It was very steep and only I made it to the top.

The Storr

The Storr

However it was definitely worth it. The views were incredible and lived up to their hype, despite the biting wind at the top.

After strolling back down the hillside it was now almost time to check into our hotel. Having driven across much of Skye to get to the Storr, it was only a short drive south back to Portree where we would stay for the next two nights.

Like Ullapool, this was the most important town for miles, and still had a population below 2,500. Therefore there were limited options for accommodation and food. We stayed in a hotel on the central square and parked around the corner, whilst after gong for a little wander over towards the port we grabbed dinner at an Indian restaurant. It seems every British town - even in the middle of nowhere - will have a Chippie and an Indian.

Portree Port

Portree Port

The following morning, as expected, it was wet and miserable. We drove north, past The Storr and on to Kilt Rock. Here, Loch Mealt drains into the sea over beautiful cliffs. However despite the rain, the dry weather until now meant ironically, that there wasn't a huge amount of water actually falling.

Kilt Rock

Kilt Rock

Getting soaked, we didn't hang about long, and continued our way north to the Quiraing, a landslip in the middle of the Trotternish peninsula. To get here was a steep windy drive. After driving through what felt like an amphitheatre, before a steep hairpin bend, we made it to the top.

From here there are supposed to be amazing views of spectacular scenery and on to the sea. But as we were in the clouds, sadly we'd have to imagine it.

Quiraing

Quiraing

We continued crossing the peninsula, and arrived on the other side above the town of Uig, which even in miserable weather looked beautiful.

Uig Bay

Uig Bay

Just around the corner from here is The Fairy Glen, an unusual landscape created by a landslip, that could easily have been home to the Teletubbies. Home to ponds and small mounds it was a very strange place, but due to the weather we didn't fancy walking around it and so after driving through it we turned around and returned back towards Uig.

Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen

We had originally also included visits to Neist Point and the Fairy Pools on the west and south sides of the island. However with terrible weather and both being over an hour away on low quality roads in opposite directions, we decided to give them both a miss and instead enjoy a relaxed afternoon.

After arriving back to the hotel, we chilled for a few hours before having dinner in the restaurant downstairs after a quick stroll to the watchtower that overlooks Loch Portree.

Watchtower

Watchtower

After two nights on Skye, the next morning we checked out of the hotel and headed back towards the mainland. The weather was abysmal - it was hammering down and the wind had really picked up. Then, as a lorry drove past - Smash! - a stone had smashed into the windscreen and caused a massive dent in the windscreen.

How annoying. In all the driving I'd done over the years this had never happened until now when I was in a hire car. But worse things were to come. As we crossed back across the Skye Bridge, and for no apparent reason, a massive crack started to form across the windscreen right in front of my face....

Posted by kmmk17 13:34 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged scenery bridge hill waterfall highlands&islands Comments (0)

When We Couldn't Even Wed in Gretna Green

Northumbria - Barnard Castle, Hadrian's Wall, Lockerbie & Gretna Green

overcast 17 °C
View Northumbria on kmmk17's travel map.

With travel completely disrupted by Covid, and all our original plans out the window, any travel this year would be last minute and national.
We seized an opportunity with lockdowns easing and semi-decent weather to get some time away from the house and have a minibreak.

Similar to those carried out in previous years, we would carry out a road trip exploring part of the country we hadn't seen before - this time heading up to Northumbria.

We began by setting off up the M1, stopping at Woolley Edge Services, where every northern holiday begins, before reaching Barnard Castle via Scotch Corner and the A1.

Barnard Castle

Barnard Castle

I hadn't heard of the place until it made the news when the top government adviser broke lockdown rules to visit in order "to test [his] eyesight", but it was actually really pretty and being almost en route, we decided to stop.

We took a short walk by the riverside, before then driving through through the centre of town which was really very pretty. It was not much longer before we were driving past the Angel of the North and arriving at our hotel just on the edge of Newcastle.

By now it was late afternoon, and we had already spent a lot of time travelling, so all that was left was to grab some dinner and chill at the hotel.
Our hotel was just around the corner from the MetroCentre - the second largest shopping centre in the country. However with the country only just coming out of lockdown, many of the shops were closed, and almost every restaurant was closed. We ended up settling for a takeaway McDonalds, which we had to take and eat in the car park.

The following day was our first to really explore the area, and as the weather had seemed the best today, we headed towards Hadrian's Wall.

Like all Roman creations, it was created without really taking into account elevation, and so it runs in an almost straight line across the country. Most of which has now been lost, but a section in the remote middle of the country remains in quite good condition. We parked up and started our work, to find section of impressive wall was cut right across two rather steep hills. It made it stunning, but it was a really tough walk - at one stage it was almost like rock climbing!

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall

As we were not far from the Scottish border, and we had all afternoon, we decided to take a drive into Scotland, visiting a couple of places close to the border.

The first, being Lockerbie - the small village that a plane fell on in 1988. We took a visit to the remembrance garden, on the site of two former bungalows that were destroyed in the crash, in a residential street on the edge of the village. An eery site....

Lockerbie Memorial

Lockerbie Memorial

The second was Gretna Green. Famous for being the first village in Scotland, and where a lot of marriages of English couples take place due to less restrictive regulations on this side of the border. As we couldn't marry in a week's time anymore we pondered if maybe we should just do so here? Except lockdown restrictions were even tighter in Scotland right now and all of Gretna Green was shut. In fact until a few days ago it was on a strict lockdown where no one was allowed out, so hardly surprising.

An empty Gretna Green

An empty Gretna Green

With not much to see we didn't hang about long, and by mid afternoon we were back at the hotel, but we had at least got to see lots of new and different things something that didn't even seem possible a few weeks ago.

Despite some dark clouds, the weather had stayed dry for us and we were hopeful for this to continue...

Posted by kmmk17 05:31 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged scenery rural castle roman wall macabre northumbria Comments (0)

Completing Cornwall

Cornwall - Land's End, St. Ives & St. Austell

semi-overcast 21 °C
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Managing to get some sleep the previous night, we awoke for the second full day of our trip. After a busy first two days we decided to try and take today a bit easier, and after a lie in made our way to the Eden Project near St. Austell.

Although it didn't seem far on the map, it still took us an hour to get there. Upon arrival at this former quarry pit that has been converted into an ecological attraction, we made our way down the slopes and after entering gained view of the two biomes and surrounding landscaped gardens.

Eden Project

Eden Project

We started by exploring the gardens, which contain plants from the local area and the country as a whole, before making our way to the Tropical Biome. In here, there are an array of tropical plants, and a few animals that live in a tropical climate, kept at 28˚C and at the correct level of humidity.

Inside the Tropical Biome

Inside the Tropical Biome

After viewing the interesting alternate climate, we crossed the bridge and entered the Mediterranean biome. Less interesting as we had seen this climate for real many times, it was still clever how the plants can survive outside their natural area and it was very well kept.

Eventually we headed back to the car to continue our journey for the day. Our next stop was not far away - the small fishing village of Mevagissey, around 20 minutes on the other side of St. Austell.

Mevagissey

Mevagissey

We didn't stop long here, but enough time to wander around and get a feel for a real Cornish fishing village. Our next stop was Falmouth, which still took almost an hour to reach. Here we would stop at the Pendennis Castle, with views over the estuary where many small boats are moored.

By this time it was getting late so after driving back through Falmouth, through some of the streets that felt like they belonged on the other side of the English Channel, we headed back to our hotel.

Streets in Falmouth

Streets in Falmouth

After having dinner at the restaurant next door we chilled for the evening when a sore throat started to come on! The following morning after a nice rest the sore throat was still there but nevertheless we progressed with our final full day in Cornwall.

We first started at St. Michael's Mount, a tidal island located off the coast near Penzance. Wanting to be able to walk along the causeway we checked the tidal times and thus went there first thing.

St. Michael's Mount

St. Michael's Mount

After parking we walked along the beautiful causeway and walked into the port where the shops were beginning to open. It was a very small quaint place and after buying some souvenirs we continued with today's trip by heading down to Land's End.

Although it didn't seem far on the map, again it took much longer than expected. After about 40 minutes we arrived at the very commercialised attraction, bought some souvenirs, and took in views of the last point on Great Britain.

Land's End

Land's End

The next place on our list was the Minack Theatre, located just around the corner. This theatre is built into the cliff face and has beautiful views of the sea and nearby beaches. At the time we were there, rehearsals for the next play were taking place so we got to witness a performance without having to pay for it!

Minack Theatre

Minack Theatre

After this we headed down to Lizard Point, the southernmost point on Great Britain, and the only bit located below 50˚N. Unlike Land's End this was not as commercialised, but still had stunning cliffs.

Lizard Point

Lizard Point

On our way back from Lizard Point we stopped off at Loe Bar, a tombolo which has created a lake in a former estuary.

Loe Bar

Loe Bar

After walking along the Cornish coast we had just one more place to visit whilst down here, and that was the town of St. Ives. By this time however I was fed up of the other tourists, from being downright inconsiderate to the worst of what England can offer. It's almost as if all the manners that English people have suddenly disappears the moment they are on holiday. Everytime we saw some nice people, they turned out to be foreign!

Upon arriving in St. Ives it was a mess. Car parks were located all around the town, which was completely incapable with coping. It has small winding extremely hilly streets which end up on the main promenade, full of people who couldn't care less if they were about to be ran over. And yet there is no way around it, as there is a one way loop. When you eventually end up where you need to be it turns out the car park is full anyway. What the town needs is a large car park outside that can cope with all visitors, with a bus/footpath into the town. All roads beyond this point being pedestrianised and for locals only. The amount of money that the council make from car parking could easily fund this but simple disorganisation and mismanagement prevents it.

To make matters worse, when we finally found a car park with spaces, the machines went down preventing anyone from buying a ticket. However as the town did look beautiful we went out of our way in order to pay it a visit.

We didn't stay overly long, with the skanky tourists, the harassing seagulls starting to grate, as well as the time getting on, so after a walk around the town and relax on the beach we headed back to the hotel for dinner and a chilled evening.

St. Ives

St. Ives

After breakfast the following morning, we got the rest of our bits together and headed on our way back home. Again this would take hours, so we made a few stops en route.

After an hour we still hadn't reached where we left the main road to the Eden Project, but the further we got out of Cornwall the better the roads tended to get. We branched off as we got to the Cornwall/Devon border and headed into Dartmoor. Again many winding roads, but as we drove through the moorland we did see lots of scenery and wild animals.

Cow on Dartmoor

Cow on Dartmoor

After a brief stop at the visitor centre we continued the long drive through the winding roads of Devon, before eventually making it towards Exeter, and onwards home. Managing to dodge an 90 minute traffic jam by whizzing around the local roads near Salisbury we eventually made it home just before rush hour!

850 miles in the last five days, but we had managed to see such beautiful scenery. Had the other tourists not lost their manners it would have been more enjoyable but it was still a nice trip away.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 03:15 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged animals nature beach scenery island cornwall Comments (0)

British Antarctica

In Search of the Penguins - Lemaire Channel & Port Lockroy

sunny 5 °C
View In Search of the Penguins on kmmk17's travel map.


After a quieter night on ship, this morning we were rejoined by last night's campers, before it was time to get up for breakfast.

As we hadn't sailed overnight, this morning meant we would be travelling to a new place. However this was far from boring as we were making our way to the southernmost point on the trip - the Lemaire Channel.

Lemaire Channel

Lemaire Channel

Sailing down the channel we were prepared for ice to block the route at any time causing us to have to turn around. Luckily this didn't happen until the very end where a huge block of ice did indeed mean the way through was impossible.

One of the many icebergs in the Lemaire Channel

One of the many icebergs in the Lemaire Channel

With such beautiful views of the surrounding icebergs and snow filled mountains, we were treated to a hot chocolate by the crew, and after turning back around and heading north again, we then headed for Port Lockroy, a British base that we had watched a documentary on the previous night.

Port Lockroy

Port Lockroy

Arriving just after lunch, half the group was to visit Port Lockroy whilst the others would visit nearby Jougla Point, before we all swapped halfway through.

At Port Lockroy

At Port Lockroy

Arriving on shore to find habitation once again was a rather strange experience. At Port Lockroy not only was there a museum about the life on British Bases, but there was also a little shop for us to buy souvenirs. Yes, even in Antarctica you can buy tat!

Souvenir Shop

Souvenir Shop


Posting my postcards

Posting my postcards

Although somewhat overpriced, I bought a few bits, including a postcard to send to wish my future self a happy birthday in a few weeks time. After taking a look around the base I then headed back to take the boat transfer over the Jougla Point where once again we were treated to penguin colonies and other birds surrounded by stunning views of ice and mountains.

Beautiful Scenery

Beautiful Scenery


Returning from Jougla

Returning from Jougla

Back on ship we had yet another birthday to celebrate, and tonight we were also joined by the staff at Port Lockroy for dinner.

As our next port of call tomorrow was literally around the corner from today's location, we anchored down to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the scenic mountains. I had originally planned to finally visit the sauna tonight, however as the views were so beautiful I postponed this for a future evening, only taking a brief visit whilst fully clothed to warm myself up after spending so much time outside in the cold.

One of the hilarious bonuses of this boat was the toilet next to the lounge, which had a huge window with views of the surrounding scenery. Sitting down on the toilet doing a number two, whilst penguins swim past seals resting on icebergs was really the best view for a poo you could ever imagine.

The Loo View

The Loo View


Sunset at Port Lockroy

Sunset at Port Lockroy

After an exciting and busy day, once again my camera battery was dead, and so after taking as many pictures of the beautiful sunset as I could, I finally headed to bed.

Sunset at Port Lockroy

Sunset at Port Lockroy

Despite it being past midnight, due to the southerly location and the albedo from the snow it never really got fully dark, an interesting experience to witness!

Polar Nights

Polar Nights

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Antarctica Tagged mountains sunset scenery tourism penguins colony icebergs penguinhunt antarcticcruise polarnight Comments (0)

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