Saturday, May 22, 2004

Georgian Water Gardens

The morning found us travelling through the Yorkshire Moors, first we climbed up through some beautiful farming country, green fields bordered by the stone walls that are everywhere in England. Then to the moors, I was beginning to think there weren't any when suddenly they were laid out in front of us.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens are spectacular. The abbey ruins are the largest monastic ruins in the country. The river Skell runs under the abbey and we walked up the side of it through the gardens.

Night stop over near Sherwood forest in a 16th Century cottage (Brecks Cottage).

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Millbank Terrace, Stationtown

Left Broom House (once again a lovely stay - went to a local pub for tea last night, thought we were in the middle of nowhere!) and stopped at Appleby in Westmoreland to buy a new plug adapter, left it at Gowbarrow Lodge although they denied it. The lovely people at Broom House rang through for me as it wasn't all that far away and we could have returned for it.

Lovely town, lots of signs for me to photograph, also a lovely walk along the river (phone call from Australia!). Found a little place to buy the plug and it was surprisingly cheap.

Travelled on past Raby Castle, not open unfortunately but the deer in the grounds looked so good we did a uturn to take a photo. Pulled up beside a van and of course I was so excited about taking photos that I jumped out and started clicking away. Marie later informed me the driver of the van was busy relieving himself. What a giggle.

After stopping to find where Mum lived all those years ago we went on to Rievaulx Terrace (Yorkshire). Walked along the elevated grass terrace with stunning vistas over the Ryedale Valley and Rievaulx Abbey. Also wandered through the Georgian temple at the end. Just beautiful.

We were lucky enough to stay in the old chapel at Rosedale. Had the place to ourselves for the night. Walked around Rosedale after we had settled in, very small picturesque valley in the heart of the North York Moors national park.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Peter Rabbit

Stayed overnight in the Lakes District at Gowbarrow Lodge, strange place, but I guess when you travel as we are you have to put up with the rough...

Such a beautiful district, Ullswater was so beautiful. We went for a walk up to the waterfall at Aira Force, probably the most famous of the Lake District waterfalls, the main force falls 70 feet from below a stone footbridge. Loved the footbridge, such workmanship, reminded me a bit of the spikey bridge back home in Tasmania.

So many exciting things to see today. We went to High Top. the delightful small 17th-century farmhouse where Beatrix Potter wrote many of her famous children's stories. There were so many evocative sights here. Mr. McGregor's garden looked exactly as it did when that naughty Peter Rabbit decided to disobey his mother and squeezed under the gate, hey the gate was there as well!

The Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, previously the office of her husband, William Heelis.

Windermere Lake, Derwentwater Lake, Keswick - what can I say! Loved it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Scottish heros and the wall to keep them out

Melrose Abbey is superb, I took so many photos. It is believed that Robert the Bruce's heart is buried here, brought back from the Crusades after he died abroad. On his death-bed Bruce charged that his heart be taken to the Holy Sepulchre by a knight on crusade so it was embalmed and off they set. His body was buried in Dunfermline.

Also walked through Harmony Garden, a peaceful garden with herbaceous and mixed borders, lawns, vegetable and fruit areas, fantastic walled garden.

Our next stop was Abbottsford House on the Tweed River, which was Sir Walter Scott's home with a huge collection of historic relics, weapons and armour, and over 9,000 rare books.

We visited the chapel, which was added onto the house in 1855 by Sir Walter Scott's granddaughter Charlotte, and her husband, James Hope-Scott. They added it on as Hope-Scott was a Catholic, while Sir Walter had been a Presbyterian. The Chapel was built at the time of the Catholic Revival. The inscription over the stone mantel At spes non fracta - But my hope is not Broken - is the Hope family motto.

The garden walk was a must and the path led us along the Tweed River, fantastic stuff. The formal gardens were brilliant but I must admit I enjoyed the ramble along the river.

We stopped at the cafe at the entrance of the house and shared our meal with the birds!

Visited Chesters, the best visible remains of a cavalry fort in Britain. We travelled along a narrow road following Hadrians wall but were unable to stop and explore. The wall crossed the River Tyne at Chesters. there is an extremely well-preserved steam rooms and bathing areas of the garrison’s bath house at Chesters and the museum was very interesting. More millstones - must say I think my favourite photo is the millstones in the Cotswolds. Don't know what I like about them but they interest me.

Monday, May 17, 2004


We left our overnighter at Pinewood Country Home - must admit we have been so lucky in all our accomodation. I can certainly recommend a stay here. Of course had to take the obligatory photos of St Andrews for Rob.

Parked out of Edinburgh and took the bus in and walked through the streets.... ......straight up to Edinburgh Castle. We could have spent hours here...oh that's right we did! There are magnificent panoramas from almost every side. Wouldn't it be fabulous to see a Tattoo here.

Oh well not for us but our next stop absolutely thrilled us. We had never heard of it before but Melrose was the most delightful little place.

Overnighted here as we arrived late and nothing was open. Went for a stroll past the YHA, looked good but we decided to stay at a B&B. The walk was so beautiful, called the Nut Walk but boy were there a lot of what I would call onion weed. Looks lovely but smell.....

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Where is that monster?

Booked a trip on Loch Ness and of course we succeeded where all have failed! We found Nessie!
Well maybe not but it was a good trip, low season we were the only ones on the boat. We motored past Urquhart Castle, almost in the middle of Loch Ness's west shoreline. It is believed that this was the site of a hill fort before the castle was built. The dating for the fort is not very good but seems to indicate about 2000 BC.

The first recorded Nessie story is from the sixth century. Saint Columba was journeying to see King Brude (Pictish king) and discovered a man being attacked by a water beast. He drew the sign of the cross and ordered the monster to leave. Of course the beast turned and fled. Hmmmmmmm.

Travelled on through the Grampians, Cairngorm Mountains, Kinglessie, near Laggan. Monarch of the Glen was filmed near here.
Many of these names are familiar in Australia as well. We then went to Broughty Ferry as this was where Marie's ancestors came from.

Overnight near St Michaels at Pinewood Country House. Another great B&B, they keep coming.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Famous towns

Left Portree after a visit to the harbour.
We did a circut of Skye this morning, travelling towards Staffin, about 16 miles north of Portree. Such spectacular scenery. Beautiful Lealt Falls and looked at the old diatomite works in the Lealt Valley. Then on to Kilt Rocks, just spectacular. We travelled on through the Quiraing, one of the most dramatic areas of geological formations on Skye. Passed Duntulm Castle in the distance, apparently abandoned around 1730 by the MacDonalds.

Uig is a delightful little village on Trotternish, the most northern part of Skye. There are ferries from here to the Western Isles. Passed this funny cottage with rocks to hold the roof on.

More highland cattle!! Love them!! finished the circut back at Portree then straight off the island to Plockton, a popular tourist resort, especially because the TV series Hamish Macbeth, starring Robert Carlyle, was filmed there.
Finished this epic day at Loch Ness!

Friday, May 14, 2004

Commandos and pipers

Stopped at the commando monument coming out of Spean Bridge and were rewarded with a brief glimpse of Ben Nevis as the clouds parted for a minute. Lots of snow, we couldn't believe we had travelled past it and not seen it.

The scenery today has been magnificent. We looked down on Glen Garry and saw lochs in the shape of Scotland.
On to Eilan Donan where Highlander was filmed. Magnificent!
The view from the Loch Ash viewpoint was magnificent.

Then on to our destination for tonight. Something both Marie and I had been looking forward to - Skye. This is where we saw the piper, although we had come over the bridge we went down to where the ferry comes in and as it arrived a piper appeared and piped it in.

Love the highland cattle. Saw serveral on our journey around Skye today. Finally arrived in Portree to find accomodation. One place we stopped at the hostess invited us in while she rang her friend as we "didna want to stay with foreigners". There are apparently lots of English who make an island change and come up and set up B&Bs. The carpet in the place was tartan, loved it! Her friend was happy to take us so once again saved at the last moment, don't have to sleep in the car tonight - probably lucky as it isn't really very warm!

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Spean Bridge

Travelled up the eastern side of Loch Lomand, visiting Balmah.
Wandered around Luss, originally erected to house workers in the cotton mill and slate quarries of the 18th and 19th centuries. The homes have been fully restored and Luss has been designated a "Conservation Village". Of course I managed to find and photograph a cute cat! The church and grave yard were very interesting. There was a Viking grave shaped like an upturned boat.

We went on to Spean Bridge to spend the night. The village is well known as the place where WWII troops arrived by train to begin basic commando training in the area. A commemorative monument 2 miles further up the road stands in a commanding position overlooking the Nevis Range of mountains. We stayed at Spean Lodge, lovely old house, we were up on the top floor and the view was unfortunately obscured by low cloud.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


The trip from Belfast to Stranraer was uneventful, but we were getting pretty excited about arriving in Scotland. Both Marie and I thought we had come home when we first drove up the coast. We had a bit of a wander around Girvan (mainly to find lunch) and then travelled on to our first view of Loch Lomond. Lots of young people here, must be a popular tourist spot.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Red, White and Blue

Back into Great Britain, well the Irish part. We stayed at another excellent B&B in Northern Ireland. Decided to start off early and travelled in mist up the north-east coast to Torr Head. Such beautiful scenery, we saw a very familiar looking village and realised it was by the same person who built Portmeirion, very similar architecture.
We travelled into the Glenariff Forestry Park and went on a walk along the river, it was so lush, with some beautiful flowers and ferns.

We stayed at a very ordinary B&B outside Belfast but close enough to get into the ferry and tomorrow we are off to Scotland, can't wait!

Monday, May 10, 2004

Where is that Cross?

We set out in search of the famous Camus Cross, which although, Marie will strongly deny, is all her fault for telling me about it. After racing around narrow lanes all over Ireland we finally found it in a roadside graveyard. The cross is finely carved with biblical scenes in red sandstone. Anyway I have a photo to prove we found it!!

Our next destination (and a bit of a disappointment because it wasn't open) was Summerhill House but we were able to wander around the gardens. I was hoping to see their collection of heritage costumes.

The Wellbrook Beetling Mill was next on the list and we were lucky enough to tag onto a school group who were being shown around. The guide told us that in fact no linen is being made in Ireland anymore although both Marie and I remembered 'fine Irish linen'. So sad but cheap Chinese imports have made it uneconomical to continue production.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Oh! Wild and beautiful Ireland

We set off early from Colliers Hall, travelling west along the coast to Kinbane. Kinbane means white headland and it is here that Kinbane Castle was built about 1544 by Colla MacDonnell. In 1551 the castle was demolished by canon fire in a battle against English troops. Colla MacDonnell held strong and the attacks defeated, he died in 1558 and it is believed that his remains rest in a vault at Bonamargy Friary.

On to Carrick-a-Rede. A rope bridge spans a chasm some eighty feet deep connecting a small rock island to the North Antrim coast. It once consisted of a single rope hand rail and widely spaced slats which the fishermen would traverse across with salmon caught off the island. The single handrail was subsequently replaced by a two hand railed bridge and the current, caged bridge was installed by the National Trust during Easter of 2000 as a further safety measure. Once across we were rewarded by fantastic views. The walk down to the bridge was extremely scenic and the pathside was scattered with wild flowers.

Afer popping into Ballintoy Harbour, a quick look at Dunseverick Castle we walked down to the Giant's Causeway, a geographical freak caused by volcanic eruptions, and cooling lava. Legend has it that this was the work of the giant Finn McCool, the Ulster warrior and commander of the king of Ireland's armies.

A day of ruined castles and the next one we saw was Dunluce Castle, built by Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster and now little more than a ruin.

We then drove through a small Derry town where there were people lining the sides of the road, looking very grim. A bit intimidating but we learnt later that it was the in memory of the 1972 “Bloody Sunday” massacre.

We visited Bishop's Gate, Downhill and the Mussenden Temple. Set on a stunning and wild headland with fabulous views over Ireland’s north coast is the 18th century it is the former estate of the last Bishop of Derry. The property now belongs to the National Trust and all access is free to walkers. The lovely gardens of Bishop's Gate led to a windy plateau with Downhill Palace and the Mussenden Temple.

We drove back to Colliers Hall after a very full day.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Fairytale Castle

Explored Enniskillen this morning and it probably brought home the 'Irish troubles' to us as there were huge (but decorative) barriers that could be deployed quickly across the roads. Enniskillen itself is set on a lough (Enne Lough) I think and the waterways are beautiful. We went for a walk and met up with a young man talking his children for a play in the park. He was lovely and chatted away as we walked along.

In the afternoon, on the way north, we stopped at the Beaghmore Stone Circles. County Tyrone has 80% of its 61 known circles occurring in paired or multiple arrangements, and the most famous example are the stone circle and row complex at Beaghmore (the moor of the birches.) It was first uncovered in 1945-9 when 1269 stones were uncovered, they had been buried in the thick layer of peat that is a dominating feature of this area. Further work in 1965 revealed more of the complex, although it believed that more structures still lie buried in the surrounding peat.

A total of seven circles, six of which are paired, were discovered, along with many cairns, some of which have associated stone rows. A typical feature of the Beaghmore stone rows is a "high and low" arrangement where short rows of tall stones run beside much longer rows of small stones.

The circles and rows at the site today are thought to date from about 1600 BC, the early Bronze Age, but they are not the earliest evidence of usage of the site. Hearths and deposits of flint tools were discovered and have been carbon dated to 2900-2600BC, in addition, several of the stone rows run over the tumbled walls of field structures which also date from the Neolithic period.

Then on to Ballycastle and Colliers Hall (probably not recommended but OK) for an overnight stay. We had dinner at the hotel in Ballycastle across from the harbour. A really lovely little spot.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Irish music and Guinness

Last night we had a fantastic experience! We went to a little pub in Doolin and listened to a real Irish band. I must admit they started a bit late for us old dears but it was great. We caught the ferry over the Shannon River and travelled up to Licannor, County Clare where we stayed overnight at the Atlantic View, just a stones throw from Doolin, the "Music Capital of Ireland". We were really looking forward to hearing an Irish band in an Irish pub and weren't disappointed.

The B&B is on the fringe of the world famous Burren, a remarkable limestone area, with huge pavements of limestone called 'clints' and vertical fissures called 'grikes'. Situated within the Burren is the Poulnabrone dolmen. A thin capstone sits on two 1.8m (6ft) high portal stones to create a chamber in a 9m (30ft) low cairn. The eastern portal stone was replaced in 1985, following a discovery that it was unfortunately cracked; excavations during the repair showed that this site dated back to about 2500BC.

The Cliffs of Moher rise majestically from the Atlantic Ocean to a height of nearly 200m and extend for a distance of 8km from Hag's Head due west of Liscannor to a point beyond O'Brien's Tower. They take their name from a ruined promontory fort, Mothar, which was demolished during the Napoleonic wars to make room for a signal tower. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara.

To the south of the cliffs is Hag's Head and the cliffs reach their highest point just north of O' Brien's Tower. The Tower was built by Cornelius O' Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru, to impress female visitors. The seastack, Breanan Mór, stands over 70 metres above the foaming waves.

Ended the day by travelling through to Abocurragh Farm Guesthouse, Latterbreen, County Fermanagh near Enniskillen and staying with Mrs Bernie Mullally (funny how they love the title - I saw the Government directory the other day and saw me described as Mrs and nearly had a fit). The house has been featured in Northern Ireland Homes Interiors and Living Magazine and the BBC Holiday programme. As well as running the guesthouse Bernie and Mr Bernie manage a Dairy Farm. When we arrived Mr Bernie was busy in the garden erecting a lattice backdrop to an urn on a plinth. I liked the way they had arranged their stepping stones in the pebbles and thought I might do it across the front of my place, yet to implement! Bernie greeted us like long lost family and brought us delicious home baked biscuits and coffee, I could get used to this!
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