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The view from Monsal Head (taken on a different occasion)

Since I retired I’ve been able to get back to doing some walking in the Peak

District. I’ve been pleased to find that I can still do 10 to 12 miles over the hills, although the longer distance does now leave me tired. This year I’ve been out a handful of times. A couple of these were quite hard – I remember one in the upper Derwent Valley when I went badly off the path and spent a very tiring half hour floundering through waist-high bracken and heather which was very successfully concealing uneven ground below; the result was several stumbles and much hard work. I was glad to finish that one. But in mid September the weather cleared up after several days of rain and I went out again, to an area that I’ve never really walked – just to the north of Monsal Head.

The walk was about 10 miles round altogether, and was quite easy underfoot. It divided nicely into two – out and back. The outbound half took me to Foolow Village. After a couple of miles climbing up not-too-steep slopes the route levelled off and I had another couple of miles walking across the limestone – pretty level, and good underfoot. This was a really good section. A final stretch along a lane took me into Foolow village where I ate my lunch – alongside the pond, no less.

After more walking across the fields to Wardlow Mires the return section begin in earnest at the entrance to Cressbrookdale. This continued easily for a mile or more, and indeed I could have stayed on the path in the bottom of the dale all the way to Ravensdale Cottages, about three miles or so. But I was tempted by a suggested diversion on a side path, steeply up the side of the dale to the rim for the sake of the views, and I did this. Readers, the views were great but it was hard work! Then down an equivalent path back to the dale bottom. Beyond Ravensdale Cottages there was some road walking untilI I reached Cressbrook and the river Wye, where the path took me up to the Monsal Trail. It was about a mile along that to the viaduct over Monsal Dale, followed by the sting in the tail – the climb from the viaduct up the Monsal Head hotel, back to where I’d left my car.

As ever I had my camera and took a number of pictures. Looking at them on the computer I decided that they felt very ‘monochrome’ so that’s how I’ve processed a number of them.

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This is one of the most famous stretches of railway line in the country – the main line from Exeter to Plymouth where it runs along the sea wall between Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth. It was made even more famous in winter 2013/14, when a stretch of it was washed away by a storm.

Here are a few snatched photos from inside a train, taken with a smartphone.

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A Virtual trip…


The Wee Dram

Still no real trips, unfortunately – but this afternoon I was able to do a virtual trip.

We went over to Bakewell, in the Peak District, about 10 miles from where we live. There are a lot of good things about the town – it’s very attractive, there’s a Rohan shop (I wear a lot of Rohan gear) – but best of all is The Wee Dram. It’s a whisky shop, specialising in single malts, and they claim to have over 620 expressions in stock. (An Expression, in this sense, is a particular version of a distillery’s whisky.) I’ve never counted them but there are a lot of different bottles on display – the picture above is of their shelves.

As readers of this blog will know I’m a regular traveller to Edinburgh and I’ve visited some good whisky shops there. I’ve done the same in Glasgow and Inverness; but I reckon the Wee Dram in Bakewell is the best of them all.

So that was my virtual trip – with my feet firmly rooted in Derbyshire, for a few minutes I was travelling around Speyside, the Islands and the Highlands before settling on Islay as my destination, and a new bottle of 10-year old Laphroaig will remind me of the trip. Well, until it’s gone; at which point I shall have to repeat the exercise.

Here’s a link to their website. Slainte!

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Keuka Lake from Hammondsport

Keuka Lake from Hammondsport

Today I drove over to Keuka Lake, another of the Finger Lakes. On the way I also met with Michael Johnson, the writer and publisher of a leading photography blog, The Online Photographer.


Mike at TOP World HQ

I spent a couple of hours with Mike and his dogs. We talked about a whole range of subjects, including photography, politics, blogging, house prices, F1 and Indy-car racing, and a whole load of other things. I gave Mike a copy of a photo book I’d bought – “On Home Ground”, the collection of Denis Thorpe’s pictures published some years ago the Lowry Gallery. (They still have some copies, btw, and at a reduced price.) Mike said that he had in fact heard of Denis Thorpe but then remembered that it was mainly thanks to British readers of TOP. I very much enjoyed meeting him and I hope he enjoys the book. He certainly lives in a stunning place – at least in summer. He did say that it was very lonely in winter.

Then I drove on to Hammondsport, at the foot of Keuka Lake. (more…)

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Unfortunately, I had a very bad 24 hours following the Sunset cruise. Earlier that day I’d had a helping of baclava and ice-cream, and come bed time I was definitely feeling not well. During the night I was quite bad with a very upset tummy; in fact, at one point I was so depressed that I started investigating early flights home.¬†However I had a chat with Val the following morning and she gave me a good pep talk, as a result of which I went to a pharmacy and got some pills (Immodium, in fact, in Greek packaging) and felt a bit better thereafter. But that day I ate very carefully and plainly, drank only sparking mineral ¬†and other bottled water, and no alcohol.

A day or so later when I felt better I mentioned to a restauranteur that I’d been bad and he said that it was almost certainly the ice-cream rather than the baclava. He suggested that it was perfectly possible that ice-cream might be opened one day, might get soft but then might get put back in the freezer overnight, then re-opened the following day. All of which would be a good way of cultivating germs. So be careful of the ice-cream in Chania. (Update in 2016 – a neighbour to whom I mentioned this experience and who’s also been to Crete said exactly the same thing, without prompting: “it will have been the ice-cream”.)

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