St Kilda


After our visit to the Shrine of Remembrance we hopped on a tram to the popular seaside suburb of St Kilda, only 6 km from the city centre. A little bit of history pinched from Wikipedia

During the Victorian and Edwardian eras, St Kilda became a favoured suburb of Melbourne’s elite, and many palatial mansions were constructed along its hills and waterfront. Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, St Kilda served a similar function for Melburnians as did Coney Island to the residents of New York City and its history draws an interesting parallel. Densely populated postwar St Kilda became Melbourne’s red-light district, home to low-cost rooming houses. Since the late 1960s, St Kilda has become known for its culture of bohemianism and as home to many prominent artists, musicians and subcultures, including punk and LGBT. While some of these groups still maintain a presence in St Kilda, in recent years the district has experienced rapid gentrification pushing many lower socio-economic groups out to other areas

There’s some interesting old photos of the town here.

It was a sunny day, so there were plenty of other people who’d turned out to enjoy the beach and other attractions. On Sunday’s there’s a craft market along the Esplanade, so we took a look


The market was very good. The stalls were generally selling good quality arts, crafts and other items. We bought a painting from a stall run by an indigenous artist and had an interesting chat with him. Unfortunately I neglected to take a photo.

There was also a rather good busker, blasting out some raw blues


We stopped and watched him for a while.

After looking round the market we felt the need for some sustenance and went looking for somewhere to get a drink and a bite to eat. We didn’t have to go far. Acland Street, at the end of the Esplanade, is renowned for it’s cake shops . There’s a whole row of them all with windows full of different types of cakes, tarts, meringues and the like.


We were tempted and stopped for a coffee and cake.

Revived, we walked back along the Esplanade and then took a stroll along the pier where there were panoramic views cross the bay to the skyscrapers in the city centre.


Then we doubled back and walked along the beach


as far as Luna Park, an old fashioned funfair.


By then we felt we’d seen enough so hopped back on a crowded tram and set off to explore Prahan, another suburb.

We returned to St Kilda the next evening. It was quite a windy day and there were lots of people kite surfing in the bay


The reason for re-visiting was to see the little penguins (Eudyptula minor) that nest in the pier’s breakwater. During the day they’re out swimming in the sea, but return after sunset.

Waiting for the sun to go down we had a walk along the beach,


returning to the pier to watch a dramatic sunset.


The end of the pier, where the penguins nest, was crowded. So we weren’t the only ones who’d heard about the penguins! It started to go dark and, at first, it seemed like we had made a fruitless journey. But then there was some movement in the water and a few penguins started to hobble onto the breakwater. After a short while there were dozens of them. Unfortunately it was too dark to get any decent photos – you can’t use flash or you disturb the penguins. However, there’s some photos on the St Kilda Penguins website.

We stopped for a while, watching them come ashore and waddle about on and in the breakwater. They look rather comical on land, but it’s a different story when they’re in the water. Then it was back down the pier to catch a very crowded tram back to Federation Square.


A walk along the cliffs from Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby


We’d been wanting to walk along the cliffs from Robin Hood’s Bay back to Whitby during our recent holiday. Unfortunately the weather hadn’t been particularly promising. But on the Friday the forecast was for sunshine until the evening, so we laced up our boots and took the bus the few miles to Robin Hood’s Bay and set out along the coastal path. It was easy walking at first but we soon had to negociate a series of “ups and downs” along the cliffs.

Looking back shortly after setting out.


A short distance along the route we came across this “rocket post”. Devices similar to this were used by the coastguard to practice rescuing shipwrecked sailors. Rockets were used to fire ropes across to stranded ships.


It was a beautiful day, if a little windy. There were great views of the cliffs ahead and the sea was a beautiful shade of blue.


“Scars” could be seen under the water. It was high tide but these rocky selves that make this stretch of coastline potentially treacherous for shipping would soon be revealed as the tide receded.


Looking out to sea.


Moving along the coast



This must be the shortest lighthouse I’ve seen.



A cliff face of Kittiwakes


A short distance after the lighthouse we passed this disused foghorn station. I wouldn’t have liked to be walking past when this was blasting out.


Carrying on the cliffs


Getting closer to Whitby. We passed the bay where we’d been foddiling earlier that week.







The Abbey came into view


Looking down to the ship wreck we’d walked past during the fossiling trip


Whitby harbour came into view.


Getting closer to the Abbey



We finished the walk with tea and cake in the YHA café next to the Abbey.

An enjoyable walk of about 8 miles. 

Monmouth Beach


Monday morning, the second day of our holiday, started off grey and cloudy with mist over the hills. A planned walk along the coast was deferred and instead we decided to walk over to Monmouth beach, to the west of Lyme. It was here that on 11 June 1685 the Duke of Monmouth, an illegitimate son of Charles II, landed, launching his rebellion to overthrow his uncle, James II, and claim the throne. Following the failure of the rebellion, twelve local men were hanged on the beach.


Initially walking over pebbles and shingle, we eventually reached a limestone pavement which is exposed at low tide. This is the star attraction of the beach as embedded in it there’s a  large number of fossilised ammonites, some approaching a metre in diameter. An amazing sight.


I snapped some examples – using a pound coin to provide some idea of scale.





The pavement and much od the beach is completely covered at high tide so best to go out on a falling tide (check the tide tables online) and you’ll have a few hours to explore safely.


A week in Lyme Regis


We’re just back home after spending a week on holiday in Lyme Regis- an attractive small  seaside town on the south coast in Dorset – just as it’s close to the border with Devon. Its our second visit, having stayed there four years ago.



We were quite lucky with the weather – we had sunshine every day with no rain to speak of – and although we took it relatively easy, we kept ourselves busy with fossil hunting, walking along the south west coastal path and hanging around the sea front and harbour.

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The town has literary connections, appearing in Persuasion, by Jane Austen and The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles who lived and worked in the town (and for a while was also the curator of the town’s Philpott Museum). Personally I’m not a fan of Jane Austen’s Georgian “chick lit” but John Fowles’ modernist novel is a favourite of mine. The Cobb, the distinctive,sinuous harbour wall, features in both novels and also in the 1981 film of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, the memorable opening scenes of which has Meryl Streep, wrapped in a hooded cape, standing on the edge of the Cobb in stormy seas.


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The coast surrounding the town, and, indeed the land on which it is built, is made up of very unstable rocks – mainly shales, clays and mudstones – which are very susceptible to avalanche and landslips.

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The rocks in the cliffs are full of fossils which end up on the beach following landslides after the sea washes the mud away. As during our previous visit we went on a fossil walk organised by the local museum and, once again, it was one of the highlights of the holiday.

Lyme became a highly fashionable resort during the Georgian and Regency period, which is reflected in the architecture, and there were plenty of interesting buildings to look at.



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Belmont House on Pound Street at the junction with Cobb Road. A former owner was Eleanor Coade (1733–1821), the proprietor of a company which manufactured a type of artificial “reconstituted” stone called “Coade stone” which was used to manufacture decorative elements and statues and the facade of the house is embellished with decorative features made from her product. Very durable and resistant to weathering, it was very popular during the Georgian period.


The last resident was  the author John Fowles. After his death it fell into disrepair but it has since been restored  by the Landmark Trust and can now be rented for holidays.

This time, as we booked late, we couldn’t get a cottage or flat with a sea view, but managed to find a Georgian style cottage by the river at Jordan, just a few minutes walk down to the sea shore via Mill Green and Coombe Street.


This stained glass window installed in the wall between the dining room and lounge was a particularly attractive feature

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It was a good, relaxing holiday. But we kept ourselves busy, so plenty to write up!


Another walk along the shore in Sunderland

During our short break in Sunderland last weekend we stopped for a couple of nights with a relative who lives near Roker Park, close to the south end of the beach that stretches north to Whitburn. On Sunday, we wanted to visit some other family members who live in Marsden, not far from the Souter lighthouse. It was promising to be a nice day so we decided to walk the few miles along the coast. When we attempted a similar walk over the Easter weekend, we were thwarted by a very heavy downpour. But this time there were no problems.

It was sunny when we set off but when we reached the Prom sea mist was rolling  obscuring the view of the south pier and lighthouse


It was rolling in and out on the wind, making for some atmospheric views of the beach.




As we proceeded north, the mist was dispersing and “burnt off”


although it was still lingering somewhat out at sea.


At the end of the beach, we followed the path along the cliffs passing several smaller coves. We spotted this man made circle of stones in one of them.




After spending a few hours with our relatives we set back, retracing our steps.


It was a beautiful day, if a little chilly down on the beach due to the sea breeze



The local council are doing a lot of work renovating and refreshing the prom


The tide was in when we reached Roker


And the mist had gone – so we had a clear view of the south pier and lighthouse from the prom.



A walk along the shore at Sunderland


Over the weekend we went up to Sunderland for a family celebration. We stayed in a nice B and B on the seafront at Seaburn and found some time to take a walk along the coast. Although it’s very much an industrial town, Sunderland has a fantastic beach and coastline stretching from Roker through Seaburn and then on to Whitburn.






We walked along the prom from Roker as far as Latimers fish shop and cafe, at the edge of Whitburn, where we stopped for a bite to eat. Service in the cafe can be rather slow, but the seafood is excellent.


After finishing our meal we set off back along the coastal path intending to walk as far as Souter lighthouse.



But when we reached Whitburn high school, dark clouds looming and we thought we’d better set back to our B and B. Unfortunately, not long after we turned back the rain came don. That’s an understatement. It was raining heavily and the wind blowing from the south meant we were walking into it so got rather wet.

Only a couple of hours later the rain clouds had passed over and e were treated to a bright interlude and a blue sky and North Sea.


The tide was in by now and the waves were battering against the Prom