Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thames Path 01 - Thames Barrier to London Eye

Mary and I have decided to walk the National Trail, The Thames Path over the next year or so, walking initially from East to West. We will do many of the sections as day trips, using trains to get to and from the start and end points. Later sections may involve two days walking with an overnight stay.

Thames path 01 - The team
The team - James, Mary, Mark, John, Kate, Ian - at The Thames Barrier

For our initial leg we had a subset of the usual suspects: Kate & Ian, their son James, and John. We started at the Thames Barrier Information and Learning Centre. The first part of the path took us past the O2 Arena and miles of housing and disused factories.

Thames path 01 - Trinity Hospital, Greenwich
Trinity Hospital, Greenwich

Then there is a patch of classier Greenwich with some lovely old buildings. There Kate, Ian and James peeled off leaving Mary, John and I to complete the rest of this leg.

Thames path 01 - Old Royal Navel College, Greenwich
Old Royal Navel College, Greenwich

Then the old dockland reasserted itself with apartment block after apartment block often built round old docks. Lunch was a ploughman's and a pint at The Dog and Bell, Deptford.

Thames path 01 - Docklands inlet
Docklands inlet

Eventually the mile upon mile of characterless residential buildings gave way to tourist land. That started at Shakespeare's Globe, past the Golden Hinde replica, Tower Bridge and segued into the South Bank.

Thames path 01 - Roundabout

The sunshine brought the crowds out in huge numbers helped by the Refugee Week festival. Finally we reached our destination

Thames path 01 - London Eye
The London Eye

According to MapMyRide the distance was 15.12 miles but our new Garmin Montana GPS reckons 13.24m which I am more inclined to believe.

Thames path 01 - MapMyRide

Next stage will, hopefully, be on Sunday 22nd July starting at London Eye to somewhere between Putney and Richmond.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Walking in the Lake District 2012 - Day 7

Day 7 in the Lakes. Sat 09-Jun-12. Last day. 11.5 strenuous miles around Grizedale Forest. 4hrs 20 mins walking.

A number of people up for Grant's 50th gathered in Cartmel then moved en-masse to Grizedale Forest Park. Some went mountain biking, some went on gentle walks, we went for a heavy duty walk - "The Siluran Way" - the longest and hardest of the marked paths around park.

Grizedale forest - Silurian way peak
Descending from one of the high spots

Grizedale forest - Silurian way view
A misty view from one of the ridges

Grizedale forest - Silurian way art 1

There were a number of pieces of forest art scattered along the trail. This arch is covered in carvings of forest plants and insects.

Grizedale forest - Silurian way art 2

Lunch was a snack and a pint of Black Sheep Bitter at The Eagles Head, Satterthwaite.

Grizedale forest - Silurian way path

We had to curtail the last part of the walk as we needed to get back and shower and change for the party but even so, according to MapMyRide, we did 11.5 miles.

Summary of our week in the Lakes:
Miles walked - 75.5 miles
Hours walked - 32.5 hours
Blisters - none
Pints of beer consumed - lost count

Training for our Coast to Coast walk next year has officially started!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Walking in the Lake District 2012 - Day 6

Day 6 in the Lakes. Fri 08-Jun-11. Gentle stroll from Ambleside round Rydal Water and Grasmere. Exactly 10 miles in 3.25 hours

We have tried to mix it up with our walks - some countryside, some fells, some coastline and now some lakes.

Rydal Water
Rydal Water

As our route took us past Dove Cottage into Grasmere village we had to have a look at Wordsworth's grave.

Grasmere - Wordsworth gravestone
Grasmere - Wordsworth's Grave

Plus buy some "original" gingerbread from the tiniest shop imaginable - previous a school house support by Wordsworth and his sister.

Grasmere - Gingerbread shop
Grasmere - Gingerbread shop

Lunch at Tweedie's Bar and then the return route completed the circumambulation of the two lakes.

Grasmere duck
Grasmere duck

Rydal Water
Grasmere view

Evening was pub food and beer in The Royal Oak, Cartmel, as a practice run for Grant's 50th birthday celebrations on the the Saturday.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Walking in the Lake District 2012 - Day 5

Day 5 in the Lakes. Thu 07-Jun-12. Through Cark and down to the coast. Very soggy costal path walk including Humphrey's Head. 19.5 miles in 6 hours

Wild foxgloves
Wild Foxgloves

The first leg was cross country to Cark through some very pleasant countryside which is more than can be said for the weather. It started nice enough with paths only a little damp from yesterday but soon enough the predicted rain started.

Stone bridge
Typical stone slab bridge over a small stream

Shortly after Cark we picked up the Cumbria Costal Way and headed down to the shore where the wind and rain really picked up. We had a soggy walk round to near Humphrey's Head then inland to Allithwaite for lunch at The Yakkers pub.

Cumbria Coastal Way
Cumbria Coastal Way

We, perhaps foolishly, went back to the coast for a circuit of Humphrey's Head - a limestone peninsula jutting out into Morecombe Bay. There we got another lashing from the wind and squelched our way back home to the hotel. The boots are still not dried out two days later.

Humprey's Head
Humphrey's Head

Evening meal was at Rogan and Co. featuring Simon Rogan, designer chef, who is competing in the Great British Menu. We went for the four course taster menu with wine which was exceptional.

Update, Sun 10-Nov-13. 
Filing some papers I found the original menu:

Great British Menu
  • Grilled salad smoked over embers, ragstone, custard & cobnuts
  • Native lobster soaked in its own juices with pickled beetroots, sweet apple & cuckoo flower
  • Suckling pig cooked 24 hours with northern mead and nasturtium
  • Hazelnuts and sweet cheese, rosehips and anise hyssop
4 courses £59
4 courses and tasting wines £79

Friday, June 08, 2012

Walking in the Lake District 2012 - Day 4

Day 4 in the Lakes. Wed 06-Jun-12. Transfer to Cartmel and view of Cartmel Priory. Gentle afternoon walk taking in Hampfield Fell and Lindale. 5.5 miles, 2.5 hours

Our four days in Beech Cottage, Windermere, being over we packed up and made ready to transfer to Cartmel for the next four days. We fitted in a bit of shopping before setting off for a new rucksack for me. My current rucksack I also use for cycling and a proper day pack would be lighter with more handy pockets and clips and an air back to keep my back from getting all hot and sweaty. I ended up with a Jack Wolfskin Barny XT 26 with the requisite number of bells and whistles.

Arriving at Cartmel we did a quick tour of the priory followed by a picnic lunch then off for an afternoon walk.

Hampsfell aka Hampsfield Fell

First up, the ascent of Hampsfell to see The Hospice. You can see by the way the trees have grown leaning over that it is pretty windy up there. The Hospice is for shelter from the cold according to the doggerel inside.

Hospice of Hampsfell
The Hospice of Hampsfell

Up the external step for the view including a (new word to me) "toposcope". The board lists the compass bearings to orient the toposcope and view the various points of interest.

Hospice of Hampsfell - toposcope
The toposcope

The return route took us past an old lime kiln.

Lime kiln - back
Lime Kiln - Back view

Lime kiln - front
Lime Kiln - Front view

Wall stiles come in all sorts: wooden, stone, step and pinch - this being a fine example of the latter.

Pinch Stile

Dinner in the Aynsome Manor Hotel in the panelled dining room - an 1852 extension to the house which dates back to the 16th century.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Walking in the Lake District 2012 - Day 3

Day 3 in the Lakes. Tue 05-Jun-12. 10 mile walk from Windermere to Troutbeck and back, taking in Townend, a historic 17th century farmhouse. Lovely rolling countryside, easy walking, about 4.5 hours.

The walk started up the east side of the valley for a view of Lake Windermere from Orrest Head.

Troutbeck Valley - Windermere
Troutbeck valley

We then turned back on ourselves and down across the valley to the village of Troutbeck on the other side.

Troutbeck Valley - path
View across the Troutbeck Valley

Lunch was at The Queen's Head Hotel. Mary with a pint of Dizzy Blonde, and an XB for me.

Troutbeck - Queen's Head Hotel

Next stop was the National Trust property, Townend House. A fascinatingly unspoilt house dating back to the 17th century with much of the interior furnishing untouched since the early 1800's.

NT Townend Windermere - House

The barn was built built in 1666 which is an impressive piece of historical architecture despite its humble purpose.

NT Townend Windermere - Barn

The Lake District is full of what I call "proper" woods: mixed deciduous trees, dappled shade, mossy boulders, babbling brooks, ferns, autumn leaves crunching underfoot.

Troutbeck valley - woods

The home straight took us back through the most delightful woodland. Another good day's walking.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Walking in the Lake District 2012 - Day 2

Day 2 in the Lakes. Mon 04-Jun-12. Fairfield Horseshoe (872m). Graded difficult. 11 miles in 7 hours. Perfect weather - sunny and not too hot. No navigation problems today :-)

This time Mary went for the walking shoes rather than the boots for the benefit of the protruding titanium screw - that worked much better.

Fairfield Horseshoe - Rydall Beck
Rydal Beck 

The walk started gently then got steeper and steeper.

Fairfield Horseshoe - path up

The winding path soon turned into a steep scramble.

Fairfield Horseshoe - view from Heron Pike
View from Heron Pike

Half way up we stopped for a photo opportunity.

Fairfield Horseshoe - Rydal Water
Rydal Water

After the steep climb the ridge eased off for the long slog up to the highest point.

Fairfield Horseshoe - return leg 1
Ascent to the top

No pub at the halfway point here - it was a picnic lunch at the top which was like Piccadilly Circus with walkers, dog and small children milling in all directions.

Fairfield Horseshoe - Rydal Fell
Rydal Fell - view from Fairfield

Starting the descent the views are spectacular.

Fairfield Horseshoe - towards Low Pike
The final leg

So much nicer to be going downhill but it does exercise a different group of muscles.

Fairfield Horseshoe - return leg 2
Heading back towards Ambleside

A long day finished off by a quiet meal in and an early night for our aching muscles.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Walking in the Lake District 2012 - Day 1

Day 1 in the Lakes. Sun-03-Jun-12. Wansfell Pike (482m) and back via Troutbeck. Slightly longer than planned due to poor signage / dodgy navigation. Graded moderate, 8 miles in almost exactly 5 hours.

Wansfell Pike - Stockghyll Force
Stockghyll Force waterfall

This is the first serious walking we have done since Lands End to Penzance last October and the first since Mary's bunion operation. So this was a test of both fitness and capability; plus the first use of the boots I bought Mary for Christmas. The fact that Mary was still recovering from a very bad cold wasn't going to stop her!

Wansfell Pike - summit
Wansfell Pike summit

The ascent was fine with excellent views back down towards Lake Windermere.

Wansfell Pike - Lake Windermere
View of Lake Windermere

Lunch was at the Mortal Man Inn in Troutbeck and then the return leg where it all went a little pear-shaped.

Wansfell Pike - Local resident
A local peers at us

We were so busy admiring the locals that we missed the path and went uphill to try and pick it up again. Big mistake! Eventually picked up the right path again half an hour and an extra mile later.

Wansfell Pike - High Skelghyll
High Skelghyll

After that it was a smooth run back through woodland and a photo opportunity at Jenkin Crag.

Wansfell Pike - Jenkin Crag
Jenkin Crag

Mary did fine but one of the screws from her bunion operation is a little proud and the boots were not forgiving so there was some pain. The surgeon has said that it is a minor procedure to correct it and this proves that it will be necessary.

The evening meal was  at the excellent Hooked seafood restaurant. We found it by wandering around town and although fully booked was able to squeeze us in a table by the door. Fresh fish and a sign in the window that said "We do not do fish and chips!" - it is a far classier restaurant than that.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Trullo Azzurro May 2012

Trullo Azzurro is looking particularly lovely with its new coat of whitewash; we have it repainted every spring by our neighbour Michele.

courtyard whitewashed

While Michele paints the cones his wife Rosa holds the ladder. When she is not holding the ladder she weeds the flower beds. As a result the garden is looking pretty with the yellow iris and lavender in bloom.

cones, irises and lavender

The herb bed is all grown up with the thyme all abuzz with bees and moths.

moth in the thyme

Nothing says "holiday" to me like red wine at lunchtime. Even a simple ciabatta roll tastes better with added sunshine.

lunch at trullo azzurro

We took the opportunity to do some furniture rearrangement. The pizza oven ante-chamber (behind the blue doors) is normally packed to bursting with both guest chairs plus our bikes and olive picking equipment.

We decided to sacrifice our little sitting room and convert it to a fully designated store room. That meant we could move a load of stuff out and leave a far more accessible, dedicated guest storage space. We swapped the green plastic table for the quality mosaic table making the courtyard a classier dining and relaxing area.


We also christened the new barbeque that we bought last autumn to replace the previous rust bucket. Saturday evening - fresh fish from the local supermarket and Sunday lunchtime - pork steaks with yummy seasoning from the same source.

Sunday night we met up with two sets of ex-pat neighbours for a pizza. It is the start of the season for zucchini so stuffed zucchini flowers were on the menu. Something you do not get in a UK Italian restaurant and a reminder that you are in a foreign land eating the real, local cuisine.

fried zucchini flowers

A lovely weekend.

Trullo Azzurro logoTrullo Azzurro: beautifully restored trullo in delightful, secluded valley near Locorotondo, Puglia, Italy. Available to rent on a per week basis, sleeps 4-6. For more information visit http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/trulloazzurro