The Whale Watchers Walk – Palm Mar to Los Cristianos

On Wednesday we were back on the hills again – and several of them. It was  a tough climb out of Palm Mar and a very rough path over the cliffs of Mount Guaza to Los Cristianos. Los Cristianos is a huge resort and ferry terminal for sailing to the Canary Island of La Gomera. It seemed strange to be walking along part of the 10km promenade in our hiking gear. The promenade is lined with bars and fast food eateries but there amongst them is the office for booking Whale Watching Boat Trips. I’m not at all a sailor so I opted to take a taxi back to the house at Palm Mar. The others enjoyed seeing whales and dolphins but I preferred a lazy afternoon with my book.

Palm Mar

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Broadstairs on Sea

On the first Friday of February after leaving St Edward’s Presbytery and dropping my sister off at Ramsgate Station I headed to the little seaside resort of Broadstairs. It’s practically part of Ramsgate but definitely a separate place. I liked very much what I saw. I’d always been intrigued by views of the town which show Charles Dickens’s Bleak House on a cliff looking  out to sea. You can see it in the middle of the picture below. There are several Dickens connections in Broadstairs and I probably didn’t see all of them. At that early hour in the morning I was able to park easily near the sea front. As near as you can get by car, anyway. There are pleasant gardens and paths separating the beach from the road and the main streets and narrow lanes behind.

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Broadstairs Beach

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Gower Peninsula Walks : Llanmadoc

We found Saturday afternoon’s walk in a leaflet “Walking By Bus“. It’s one of a series issued by the City and County of Swansea. The bus service was infrequent so we drove from Rhosili to Llanmadoc car park (£1 honesty box). The north Gower coast is different in character from the south and is estuarine rather than the open sea of Swansea Bay. This area of North Gower is owned and managed by the National Trust. The map below shows the extent of Whiteford Burrows Nature Reserve.

Nature reserve

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Gower Peninsula Walks : Rhossili Down and Mewslade Bay

1st view Rhossili

Last week I met with two Welsh friends and we spent a few days on the Gower Peninsula, mainly hiking but also having a very sociable time which included good food home cooked, good pub grub, attendance at a performance of  The Swansea Accordion Orchestra in the local Village Hall at Port Eynon on the Saturday evening and visits to a good few churches.

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Coastal Lancashire : Heysham to Morecambe via Middleton and the Coastal Route

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a railway walk but with my new diary in hand on New Year’s Eve I scanned the Foscl and Dalesrail and other guided walks websites and pencilled in a few dates including :

Saturday 2nd January 2016 – Heysham to Morecambe via Middleton and the Coastal Route. Travel on the 08.19 Leeds to Morecambe train and book, alight & return Morecambe (bus out to Heysham) 8 miles Easy. Continue reading

Properties at Peppercombe

Bridge Cottage Peppercombe

Bridge Cottage, Peppercombe

In the evening at Bridge Cottage I found a little book on the library shelves :

Peppercombe book

Midway down the valley , deep in the woodland beside the first of the bridges , stands Bridge Cottage. Built about 1830 of stone and cob, it has stood derelict for years, suffering the onslaught of both weather and casual vandalism. Now pink -washed and with a good thatched roof and chimney once more, it is home to holidaymakers throughout the year. Christmas sees fairy lights at its tiny windows and woodsmoke coming from its chimney.

Bridge illustration

Bridge Cottage sketch by Kerry Garrett

Summer sees its doors and windows standing open to the sunlight, the woodland views, the birdsong, the splash and babble of the stream let as it cascades under the bridge by the cottage and onwards down the rocky slope. Mary Elizabeth , aunt to a very old friend of mine Eileen Tucker (who was born in Peppercombe) , lived in Bridge Cottage for a good 60 years. She came there as a bride in 1910 or thereabouts , and only left in the 1970s when she went to live with her niece. It was Mary Elizabeth who planted – tilled is the more usual word in these parts – the rhododendron and the lilac by the cottage that still bloom so richly when spring comes.” [1996. Prominent Press for Sappho Publications]

But before I settled down to read that book in the cosy sitting room with its glowing fire (its woodsmoke coming from the chimney!) I had been for a walk right along the valley to the sea. Entry to the lane from the main road at Horns Cross is by padlocked gate and I walked down to the cottage from there.

Map P'combe bk

Map showing Peppercombe and surrounding areas

From the cottage the track goes down, down, down passing some other properties (also holiday cottages but part of the National Trust portfolio) :

NT cottages, Peppercombe

Coastguard Cottages (NT)

As the view opens up and the sea is revealed there on the left is an unusual building. It looks like a cricket pavilion and is painted brown and cream like the old Great Western Railway livery. It’s Castle Bungalow. Another Landmark Trust property. No-one was there so we crept around it and peeped through the windows. (Perhaps it should count as number five and a half?)

Castle Bungalow enjoys magnificent views of the coastline from the verandah. The bungalow reflects a more recent strand in Peppercombe’s history. Since the early 19th century, there has been a growing appreciation of it as a place to be valued for the beauty of its scenery. You can enjoy the views from inside this 1920s Boulton and Paul bungalow from the snug wood-lined rooms and lattice windows.” [source]

CB closer

Castle Bungalow

Like me, the Castle Bungalow comes from Norwich! Boulton and Paul, the manufacturer, was a well-known and thriving industry when I was growing up there in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Landmark Trust handbook says : A catalogue in the Boulton and Paul archive advertises Residences, Bungalows and Cottages ranging from a substantial six-bedroom house on two storeys (at £4,000) to Bungalow B49 with just a bedroom, a living room and a verandah (in case you should live in the tropics). This, with brick foundations and carriage paid to the nearest goods station cost just £280.

CB Welcome tray

The Castle Bungalow Welcome Tray (through the window)

As it says in the Boulton and Paul website link above “Nothing too big, too small, or too difficult, was outside the scope of their ingenuity.”

Castle B in book

Drawing of the bungalow from the Peppercombe history book

CB and sea

The Southwest Coastal Path national trail passes along the coast here and we couldn’t resist joining it for a while to get a view of the Castle Bungalow in its setting and, of course, just sit on a quiet bench and contemplate the sea and the sky and peaceful scene in front of us.  In the other direction, beyond the bungalow, the path heads towards nearby picture-postcard Clovelly.

CB in position

Castle Bungalow and the sea from the SW Path bench

I spent just one night as a guest at Bridge Cottage … I hope the Christmas Landmarkers will bring fairy lights for the windows!

Cape Cod : Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard and More

Beach at Falmouth

The Beach at Falmouth

It’s time to re-visit my summer holiday and go right back to the first week and a half that we spent on Cape Cod. We had marvellous weather and it’s strange to us but after Labor Day (the first Monday in September) many places close down and the locals more or less have the place to themselves again. It’s the way we like it. The weather is still good but you can find a table at a restaurant without queuing, the roads and beaches are almost empty but most of the local shops are still open.

Estuary Fairhaven

The Estuary at Fairhaven

We don’t usually travel far from our digs but we always make one excursion out of our Cape Cod Comfort Zone and that is to visit my online book group friend sherry who lives in Marion, Massachusetts on the other side of Buzzards Bay. This time our excursion included a new activity as my husband has taken up sailing and as it was impossible for us to find a sailing school open on the Cape he signed up for 16 hours tuition over two days (and including a one hour written exam at the end) at Sail Buzzards Bay  (Fair Winds and We’ll See You on the Water!) based in Fairhaven, Mass. just a few miles from Marion.

101 Main St Fairhaven

Sail Buzzards Bay HQ, Main Street, Fairhaven

Preparation for sailing

Preparation for Sailing School

Needless to say the watery theme continued throughout the trip. One day we took the ferry to nearby Martha’s Vineyard. The ferry from Falmouth to Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard takes just 35 minutes and during the autumn season there are just two sailings in each direction each day (Monday to Thursday – more sailings at the weekend). We understood that it was worth taking the bus to Edgartown where we had lunch, watched the three vehicle five minute journey Chappaquidick Ferry and had a wander around the compact centre of town.

Main St Edgartown

The Main Street, Edgartown, MV

Here’s how the tourist leaflet describes Edgartown :

“One of New England’s most elegant communities, Edgartown was the Island’s first colonial settlement and it has been the county seat since 1642. The stately white Greek Revival houses built by the whaling captains have been carefully maintained. They make the town a museum-piece community, a seaport village preserved from the early 19th century.”

Chappaquidick Ferry

The Tiny Chappaquidick Ferry

Daniel Fisher House

The Grand Daniel Fisher House (1840)

I’d hoped to visit the Whaling Church but it was included on an organised tour from the museum (which also included a visit to Daniel Fisher House) and we just didn’t have time before taking the bus back to Oak Bluffs for our return to the mainland.

MV Museum

The Very Old Vincent House Museum

Whaling Church Edgartown

The Impressive Whaling Church

On several days we would drive down to Woods Hole the village attached to the extensive Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute that dominates the area. There are some good seafood restaurants with docks onto the marina – all very nautical.

Woods Hole Marina

 

Dining at Woods Hole Marina

We also called in to see the displays at the WHOI Visitor Centre. The main exhibition highlight is the 1985-1986 discovery and exploration of the wreck of the Titanic.

Titanic 1

 

Titanic 2

 

Titanic 3

“This 1/570 scale model of the Titanic stern is on loan to WHOI from Roy Mengot of Plano, TX. Roy’s model is based on WHOI data and imagery and is among the best representations of the Titanic wreck as it was found during the 1985 and 1986 WHOI expeditions. The completed bow and stern models took 3,000 hours to build.”

Titanic 4

In addition to the Oceanographic Institute Woods Hole is also home to The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), The National Marine Fisheries Service, the Sea Education Association, The United States Geological Survey and the Woods Hole Research Center. Wow! That’s home to a lot of eggheads.

There’s a memorial statue to Rachel Carson author the far-reaching text “The Silent Spring”.

“I had my first prolonged contact with the sea at Woods Hole. I never tired of watching the tidal currents pouring through the Hole – that wonderful place of whirlpools, and eddies and swiftly racing water” Rachel Carson, author of  The Sea Around Us; The Edge of the Sea; Under the Sea Wind; Silent Spring. Scientist, writer and colleague at MBL, NOAA and WHOI 1907-1964

Rachel Carson on the hot seat

Rachel Carson on the hot seat!

Finally, I still haven’t got round to reading it but maybe I should read this first :

Moby Dick Book