The Melbourne Botanic Gardens

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One of the things we enjoy on holiday is taking a stroll in the evening after we’ve eaten – if the weather permits. Well that wasn’t a problem while we were in Melbourne. A couple of evenings we took the opportunity of a warm, pleasant evening to cross over the Yarra and have a wander in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

The gardens extend over 36 hectares, just south of the river and were established in 1846 on what was originally a mix of rocky outcrops and swampy marshland. Today it’s a “picturesque” landscape of paths meandering along ornamental lakes and beautifully kept lawns, trees, flowerbeds  and other “botanical features” with a collection of over 50,000 plants from Australia and other parts of the world, including rare and threatened species.

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Being early summer and close to Christmas (feels weird writing that!) during our first stroll, on a Saturday evening, there were a number of Christmas parties taking place in the various buildings in the park used for events, and there was outdoor theatre showing current films.

We spent a couple of hours or so wandering around on both our visits and the sun was beginning to set by the time we left – in both cases by the gate facing the Shrine of Remembrance. We climbed the steps to take in the view

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before heading back through Kings Domain (more pleasant lawns and gardens), back a cross the river to Federation Square for a nightcap.

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A Scenic Walk in Manly

On our final day in Sydney we took the ferry from Circular Quay across the Harbour to the seaside resort of Manly. On one of the headlands at the entrance to Sydney harbour it has beaches facing both the Harbour and the open sea.

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The ferry journey takes about half an hour and gives a great view of Sydney from the water

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Arriving in Manly, our plan wasn’t to spend time lounging on the beach, but to follow part of the Manly Scenic Walkway up on to the North Head, one of the headlands that form the 2 km wide entrance to Sydney Harbour

We set off along Manly Beach where groups of schoolchildren were taking surfing lessonsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was a strong offshore wind and the sea was quite rough. The lifeguards were broadcasting stern warnings for bathers to stay within the flags or the beach would be closed.

We followed the coastal pathOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApassing artworksOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand local wildlifePC012643.JPGalong to Shelley beach, a more secluded inlet with calmer watersPC012647.JPGWe than began the climb up into the wilder country on the on North HeadIMG_4059.jpg

 

 

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Although only a short distance from “civilisation” it felt as if we were going up into the “bush”

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Due to it’s strategic position overlooking the entrance to Sydney Harbour, there had been military installations on the North Head for a good part of the 20th Century. We soon cam across evidence of this – abandoned gun emplacements.

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We carried on following the path through the bush

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A little further on we reached the Modernist style former army barracks

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Our route took us straight across the parade ground

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Today, the buildings are occupied by a private school and various small businesses, including an art foundry

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We stopped for a while to look at some of the art works on display.

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Carrying on through more bush

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views of Sydney opened up

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A short distance further on and we reached some more former military buildings where the North Head Visitor Centre is located as well as a café, so we stopped for a brew overlooking Sydney Harbour

Rejuvinated, we continued on with our walk, the route taking us along Australia’s Memorial Walk, a paved pathway with five monuments to remember the major military conflict periods in Australia’s history.

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Carrying on through the bush towards Fairfax Lookout at the end of the headland and looking out over the Harbour and open sea

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Having reached our objective it was time to head back. We could have followed the loop and walked back down to Manly, but we cheated. There’s a road up the North Head and there’s a regular bus service, so feeling hot and a little tired, we waited a short while and hopped on the next bus that took us back to Manly and the ferry back to Circular Quay.

 

A walk through the Plantations

 

IMG_5002.jpgYesterday much of Wales, the Midlands and Southern England were struggling to cope with heavy snow. In Wigan it was a bright, sunny, if cold winter’s day. After being stuck inside for a few days I decided to get out for a walk through the Plantations and Haigh Country Park.

We’re lucky to have this amenity on our doorstep. I only have to walk to the bottom of our street to start a pleasant walk along the river and through woodlands.

Haigh Plantations are an area of woodland bisected by the Leeds Liverpool canal covering about 250 acres. They were laid out in the 1860s over land damaged by mining activity by local cotton workers who were put out of work due to the Lancashire cotton famine caused by the American Civil War. Today they’re part of Haigh Woodland Park.

Starting off walking along the River Douglas and past the flood relief dam at the bottom of Coppul Lane

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Up through the woods to the Lower Plantations

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The bridge over the Leeds Liverpool Canal

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Up through the Middle Plantations

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Past the Lodge by the gate on Hall Lane

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Carrying on through the woods past the Swan lake

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and then the Lilly Pond with it’s fountain

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Leaving the park, a short walk along the metalled road by the main car park, looking over towards the West Lancashire Moors

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Then cutting down Sennicar Lane

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Then back over the canal

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Looking over the fields towards Standish

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Past the old house on Wingates Lane

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and the old foundry

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I walked up Leyland Mill Lane and then down the main road past the hospital down towards Wigan town centre before heading home.

On the marshes at Dartford

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I’ve been down to Dartford in Kent with work 4 times since July this year, staying 2 to 3 nights each time in the Premier Inn to the north of the town.  Dartford’s probably best known for the crossing – a high level bridge south bound and a tunnel north bound) over the Thames which forms part of the M25 outer London ring road (although the crossing itself isn’t officially part of the motorway). Dartford itself is nothing special – just an ordinary working class town. Traffic can be awful though, due to proximity to the crossing.

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As the town is within commuting distance of London, with trains to London Bridge, Charring Cross and Victoria, there’s a lot of new development both in the town and on the outskirts to the north. The latter is the “Bridge” development – with industrial buildings and housing estates built on reclaimed marsh land, just south of the Thames and the former power station and north of the ring road. This is where the Premier inn is located where I was staying.

During my latest stay, starting to become stir crazy, I managed to get out for a walk. I’d spotted a number of lakes as I’d been passing through the estate and Google Maps indicated that there were paths alongside the water. So that’s where I went.

It turned out to be quite pleasant and tranquil on an autumn evening. I even spotted some tufted ducks out on the water (too far away to get a decent photo with my phone, unfortunately).

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There’s a special bus only route through the new estate (the Fast track route that goes from the town centre to the Bluewater shopping mall). I spotted some art works next to a couple of the bus stops that I passed during my walk.

 

Monsal Dale

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The last day of our short break in the Peak District, we’d planned to go out for a walk. I had a few routes in mind but decided to “suck it and see” depending on the conditions. When we woke up it was raining, but the forecast was that it would clear before the afternoon so we would need to restrict ourselves to a shorter walk as I was working the next day and didn’t want to leave it too long before we set off for home. So after picking up some bacon and a few other items at the Chatsworth shop, we drove over to Monsal Head, a famous Peak District beauty spot.

We parked up by the Monsal Head Hotel – the large car park soon fills up at the weekend but there was plenty of room on a Monday morning. It’s in an elevated position looking over the Wye Valley at a spot where the Wye, flowing eastwards, encounters a band of harder rock and is forced to make a sharp turn southwards, carving its way through a of limestone ridge.  Until the 1960’s a railway line from Derby to Manchester ran westwards along the valley over the Headstone viaduct and through a series of tunnels. Today the railway route has been turned into a walking and cycling trail – the Monsal Trail. From the viewpoint we looked down over the viaduct and the valley.

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Despite being a somewhat grey day, overcast with middling visibility, it was still a stunning view.

We walked along the trail some 26 years ago carrying my daughter, who was then a baby less than a year old, in a baby carrier strapped to my back. I remember her hitting me on the head to try to make move quicker! Since then the trail has been improved and the tunnels opened up so that you can walk or ride through them during the daylight hours.

Without a definite plan in mind, we decided to follow the trail westwards for a few miles and see where we ended up, so we took the path down from the viewpoint by the hotel down to the viaduct. This was the view looking north west along Monsal Dale

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and south west, downstream.

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We followed the former railway track, taking care to avoid being run over by bikes! It was reasonably busy despite being a Monday morning in early Autumn.

Views down into the valley itself were rather intermittent as the track was lined by trees that blocked the view for much of its length. Eventually the rather attractive Georgian buildings of Cressbrook Mill came into view.

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Despite being a peaceful valley today, at one time, during and after the Industrial Revolution, Monsal Dale was a hive of activity with the river powering cotton mills at Upperdale, Cressbrook and Litton and with lime kilns further west in Chee Dale.

The first mill at Cressbrook was built for Sir Richard Arkwright in 1779 but this burnt down in 1785 and was rebuilt by his son in 1787. The large Georgian building visible from the trail is an extension built in 1814.

IMG_2881Just after the viewpoint we entered our first tunnel.

IMG_2883IMG_2926 Emerging at the other side there was a view down to very pretty part of the valley known as Water-cum-Jolly

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Soon we were back inside another tunnel, emerging and looking down over Litton Mill. We climbed up the path to the top of the tunnel to get a better view

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Built in 1782 Litton Mill became notorious for the poor treatment of the workers and apprentices – and that’s during a period when workers didn’t have an easy life, to say the least!

At that point we decided to retrace our steps, walking back through the tunnels before descending down into the valley at the deserted train station at Upperdale.

We crossed the river over to the small settlement. The distinctive blue/green paint telling us that the former famm and mill worker houses were now owned by the Chatsworth Estate. The larger house was a Band B while the other buildings had been converted to rental properties. Very attractive they looked too.

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We followed the road for a short distance and then took a path that took us back over the river

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and then under the viaduct and along the river south west from Monsal Head

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Looking back towards the viaduct

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We carried on walking down the valley beside the river

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We didn’t follow the river all the way to the A6 but a short distance after the weir crossed over a bridge to the other side of the river and then followed the path that rose steeply up through  he wooded flank of the valley,

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eventually emerging back at Monsal Head

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We stopped a short while to admire the view and then it was time for a brew in the courtyard outside the pub next to the Hotel.

Up on the moors

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Last Saturday, after a tough few days at work, I decided I needed to get out for a walk. It was a warm day and we probably haven’t got many of those left this year!

I wasn’t able to get out to the Lakes or Dales so decided on a walk closer to home. So it was off to White Coppice to set off up Great Hill and Anglezarke.  It’s a walk I’ve blogged about before but here’s a few pictures from a pleasant day up on the moors.

Starting and finishing at White Coppice near one of the lodges that used to supply water to the mill that used to be there many years ago.

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Past the picturesque cricket pitch

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Then up onto the moors

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A walk around Kentmere and Longsleddale

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The weather forecast for the day after we got home from Shropshire promised good weather. A pity we hadn’t stayed there longer as we would have been able to get out back on to the hills. I was still on holiday from work so I decided to make the most of it and took the train over to Staveley to get out on the fells. Last time I was here a few weeks ago I’d worked out a couple of circular routes that would take me from Staveley over to Longsleddale and back to the Kentmere Valley so I thought I’d give it a go. This is a very quiet part of the Lake District National Park. During the walk, after leaving Staveley, I saw only 4 other walkers on Brunt Knott, two locals in Longsleddale and a mountain biker during a 5 hour walk.

Leaving the staton I picked up a every tasty pork pie at the Bakery in the Mill yard, took the path along the river and walked to Barrley Bridge and was soon heading up into the fields.

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Views of the Kentmere valley and mountains soon opened up to my left.

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I headed towards Brunt Knott passing Brunt farm

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and, although it was a slight diversion, decided to climb to the top. I took a rather direct steep route up to the summit – there’s the trig point dead ahead!

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The views from the summit, on a sunny day, are outstanding in every direction

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Looking south west I could see as far as the Kent estuary and Morecambe Bay

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and looking east there were the Coniston fells

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the Langdales, Crinkle Crag, Bowfell and the Scafells

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Red Scree, Helvelyn (I think!), Yoke and Ill Bell to the north

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Kentmere Pike and and Harter Fell

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Looking towards the east

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the Howgill fells to the south east

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After enjoying the views for a while, and grabbing a bite to eat, I set back down the hill and continued along the path east towards Longsleddale

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It was starting to get rather wet and muddy underfoot

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The fells to the left

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Getting closer to Longsleddale

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Starting to descend into the valley. Looks stunning

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I followed the path north along the floor of the valley

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Looking over to the other side of the valley I spotted an old Pele tower incorporated into a farm house – Yewbarrow Hall.

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A little further along a lonely church – St Mary’s

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Getting closer to the head of the valley

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At the farmhouse at Hollin Root, I turned off taking the path up the hill heading back to the Kentmere Valley

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Looking back down the path

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and south, back down the valley I’d just walked along

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It was a modest climb and I soon reached the relatively flat moorland. There were good views of the fells to the north east and Gatesgarth Pass at the head of the valley.

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After a short while I could see Skeggle’s Water, a small tarn, to the north. No time to divert to take a closer look though. I needed to keep moving as I wanted to catch the train that left Staveley just after 6 o’clock (otherwise a two hour wait for the next one).

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Carrying on across the moorland. It was a lot drier underfoot than the path I’d taken between Brunt Farm and Longsleddale.

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Approaching the Kentmere Valley

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Starting to descend off the moor

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Cutting across the fields

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Heading towards Low Elfhowe in the Kentmere Valley. ONly a few miles back to Staveley now.

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The weir at Barley Bridge

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Another kilometre to the station. I made it with about 15 minutes to spare before the train arrived.

This was an excellent walk in beautiful countryside in an extremely quiet part of the Lake District.