I have been craving ‘ a sea fix ‘ for some time now. Today was finally the day that I got my fix. We headed to Heysham on the Lancashire coast and parked at Heysham Nature Reserve behind the power station. After typing Heysham Nature Reserve into Google maps it told me that we had visited the reserve two years ago. Scary that it remembered. 😜
Heysham Nature Reserve is still open , however the car park and facilities are currently closed. We managed to find a spot near the entrance and Hugo had an off lead wander. At some point we ended up on the rocky shore in front of the power station. Un surprisingly it was easy to social distance beside a nuclear power station. 😊
We walked as far as the striking rust coloured South Pier lighthouse and retraced our steps back to the car.
It was around 11-30 and already cracking the flags at nearby Half Moon Bay when we parked the car on the small car park there. In fact it was getting a bit too hot for Hugo. After a short walk along the cliffs as far as the St Patrick’s chapel remains, we called it a day. Looking back on my post from two years ago, we had a hot weather visit then too! No beautiful new sculptures at that time though. Fab to see the recent editions. 😊
Goodbye beautiful Lancashire coast. Until next time. ❤️
Monday was one of those bright cold days, perfect for a trip to the coast. It’s been a long time since we visited Lytham so we headed for the Lancashire seaside town, parking not far from the windmill on the Green. The Windmill is open to the public in the Summer , so we could only admire it’s sails set against a winter blue sky.
After a walk along the marshy grass and pebbled beach ( Hugo racing round like a demented dog) we found a cute cafe on Clifton Street in town called Bijou for lunch.
It is the Clifton family that resided in Lytham’s grandest residence , the Grade 1 listed Georgian built Lytham Hall on the outskirts of town. After lunch we headed there as I had heard it’s grounds and cafe are popular with dogs and their owners. It’s a bit of a walk from Lytham, but there is a car park if you’d prefer to drive.
The snowdrops are just starting to bloom in the gardens and grounds. In February there are so many that popular Snowdrop Walks are held every weekend throughout the month. The Hall and cafe and gardens have a friendly community vibe with a gardening club, book and antique sales, park runs and guided house tours. I think it’s somewhere we will return. 🙂
So that’s my idea of a happy January day. Sea Air, Blue Skies and Snowdrops. 🙂
I am loving Kate’s words for September, they are giving this post a glowing Autumn vibe. If you would like to see more interpretations of the prompts that Kate chose , please pop over to her lovely blog.. ☺️
Cosy. Here is Simba the cat looking very cosy in his usual spot, on a table at the entrance of an Amsterdam restaurant. It was definitely his presence that attracted us there……..and the cheese!
Changing foliage. Autumn colours in Clitheroe town centre. After the glorious Indian Summer type weather we have recently experienced, it does feel more Autumnal now.
Scarf. I do actually have a recent photo of myself wearing a scarf. This was taken on Allonby Beach in Cumbria. In the distance you can make out Scotland, separated by the Solway Firth.
Baking. I’m not one for doing much baking ( as you can probably tell!) but this prompt did encourage me to bake this pear and ginger loaf cake. Hurrah! A recipe can be found here.
Cobweb. A misty Monday morning walk down by the river gave me ample opportunity to photograph cobwebs……….as there were thousands of them! It’s scary to imagine how many spiders are out there. 🕸️
My Own Choice. This was taken last night on a Bat Walk organized by the Ribble Rivers Trust. My niece and nephew with Bat Detectors. Bats love water apparently and trees ( especially in hedges and on the edge of woods) as both attract insects. They can eat up to a thousand pesky midges a night, as well as other insects and even small fish. The Bat detectors enable the human ear to listen into bat calls which are mostly too high pitched for us to hear. We were able to detect Common Pipistrelles , Noctules and Daubenton’s Bats ( water bats) with the help of the detectors. It was an amazing and fun experience. 🙂
Hi it’s the end of another month ( 2019 is going crazy fast! ) , So I thought I would join in with Kate’s/Hawthorns Scavenger hunt. Her words for May are Seat, View, Starts with a P, Transport, Lunch & My own choice.
Seat. I am recently back from a few days in the seaside village of Ravenglass. Wil & I are lucky enough to have friends whose family have a holiday cottage right on the sea front. And we can rent it for mates rates. So happy days. 😎 Anyway there is a balcony where we spent most late afternoons admiring the sea views and pretending we were in the South of France. You could be fooled ~ apart from my knees are wrapped in a blanket. 🙂
View. The view from said balcony is fantastic, looking out over the estuary. The sunsets in Ravenglass are also to die for.
Starts With P. P is for Sea Pinks. These pretty in pink flowers cover the cliffs of St Bees head , a little further up the coast. Sea Pinks are also called Thrift. Pinks apparently do well in rock gardens and have appeared on the British threepence coin from 1937 to 1952.
Transport. The best way to get around in Ravenglass ? Well I can recommend the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway , a narrow gauge railway set in 7 miles of stunning scenery. My kind of transport.
Lunch. Here’s a recipe I found which was a hit with my other half. It could be lunch or tea.
200g Chick Peas, 200g Chorizo diced, 200g yellow cherry tomatoes halved, 2 tomatoes chopped, 1 red pepper cut in strips, 2 cloves garlic crushed, handful of frozen onions ( I use these because chopping onions always makes me cry) & a little olive oil.
Fry onion & garlic in a little olive oil for 5 minutes.
Add chunks of chorizo & fry for a couple of minutes on a high heat, before adding the pepper strips and lowering the heat again. Cook for 5 minutes then add the chick peas & tomatoes. Stir thoroughly and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on the pan.
Serve with crusty bread.
My Own Choice. Our very own handsome Hugo conquered his third Wainwright last week, Crag Fell looks over Ennerdale Water. I did too….about 20 minutes later!
Head over to Kate’s blog to see more Scavenger hunters.
If your looking for miles of dog friendly coastline then you’ve hit the jackpot in Cumbria. Because most people head for the lakes and fells, the beaches are almost always quiet, few having any dog restrictions at all.
We recently spent four nights in the coastal village of Ravenglass, and visited a couple of other seaside resorts whilst we were there. All three are served by the Cumbrian Coastal Railwayline.
Ravenglass. A tiny harbor village, Ravenglass has an ancient history. The Roman settlement of Glannoventa stood here and was an important naval base. The remains of a Roman bathhouse lie on the outskirts.
The beach is a mixture of sand, shingle and mud. There are lots of well signposted walks along the coast or up into the fells. Our dog Hugo enjoyed running here and his favourite nearby hill walk from Ravenglass was a mornings yomp up Muncaster Fell.
Hugo was made a fuss of in all three of the pubs in Ravenglass. We ate out at The Ratty Arms & The Pennington Hotel. Both were very good. 🐶
St Bees. Twenty minutes north of Ravenglass, St Bees is actually named after an Irish medieval Saint, St Bega . Bega ( a beautiful & devout princess) fled across the Irish Sea by boat, having been promised in marriage to a Viking Prince. She had other ideas, preferring to live in religious solitude on the English mainland.
I’m not sure if St Bega liked dogs ( there is a statue of her and her rowing boat in the village center) but the beach she landed on is a great place for a bracing walk. We took Hugo to the sands at Seacote Park, where there is a caravan park, lifeboat station and beach cafe. I don’t think dogs are allowed inside the cafe but as it was a nice day we had icecream on a bench outside and Hugo was brought water & dog treats.
St Bees is the start of the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk and the cliff top ( safely fenced off ~ Phew!) is also ideal for walkies. Look out for all sorts of seabirds. The cliffs at St Bees head are an RSPB bird reserve.
Arnside. A pretty estuary resort, Arnside resides in the Arnside & Silverdale Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is from here that I took part in The Morecambe Bay Cross Bay walk with Wil and Hugo, three years ago. This iconic organized hike across the shifting sands of Morecambe Bay must not be attempted without an official guide.
On our latest visit Hugo had a good run on the beach but there are also plenty of coastal and inland walks to do in the area including Arnside Knott and along the shoreline to Silverdale. Do make sure you listen out for the sirens that are sounded to warn of the incoming Arnside Tidal Bore, a high tidal wave that happens once a month in Arnside’s estuary.
The village has a couple of dog friendly pubs and cafes. We chose to sit outside with the best ever fish & chips from Arnside Chippy. We also visited a very cute little jazz cafe opposite Arnside’s Railway station. Moochin About is a teeny tiny espresso bar with the cutest decor and vinyl jazz records playing on a record player. Sad to say no doggies allowed inside, purely because it is so small. There are two benches outside though, water bowls and the lovely owner brought out biscuits for Hugo and a collie customer. 🐕
If you have a dog, what beaches do you like to visit with them?
The month of January can be a wee bit meh. The sparkle and celebrations of Christmas are over and done with, so what is to be done ? Possibly go back to the gym, join weight watchers ( my depressing January thing once upon a time) or go into full on hibernation? I say do none of those things. Embrace the winter months. Get out and explore. Snuggle up with a good book or two. Engross yourself in a riveting boxset. Make hearty stews. Drink winter warming brews. This month sounds so much better already. 🙂
I’m presently loving The Marvelous Mrs Maisel on Amazon Prime. I can really get lost in the retro fifties glamor, the whimsical storylines and the laugh out loud moments.
Midge Maisel is a well to do Jewish New York house wife whose life falls apart when her husband leaves her for his secretary. Reeling, Midge accidentally finds therapy in stand-up comedy, almost unheard of for women in those days. This show is a visual treat with fabulous characters and is written by Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator of Gilmore Girls. I definitely recommend. ❤️
I’ve signed up to do the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch , which I had fun participating in last year. If you have any feathered visitors in your yard or garden or even in your local park, it is definitely a great help to take an hour out of your time to just sit and observe who turns up. The Big Birdwatch is on over the last weekend of January. Make sure you fill up the feeders beforehand. Then put the kettle on, relax and watch. You can sign up here.
I’ve also signed up to do the #walk1000miles challenge again. There’s a fantastic Facebook page with a wonderful community of experienced and inexperienced walkers. Lots of walks ideas on there and motivational stories too. Just think, by the end of January there will be an extra hour of daylight, so more time to enjoy the outdoors. I’m certainly looking forward to that!
I always think January is a good time to organize a mini break. Though that might be partly because it’s my other halves birthday. 🙂 Seriously though, what better way to combat the winter blues than a couple of nights away. Out of season breaks are usually less expensive and I was beyond pleased when I found Hubs By Premier Inn in Edinburgh. I’ll tell you if staying in such a bijou room is a good experience, later in the month!
If it’s cold outside, and it often is in January , head for the warmth. A great article in this month’s the Simple things magazine has some toasty suggestions including….
Admire tropical growing palms, ferns and flowers in the warmth of an ornate Glass House.
Book a break at SherwoodCenter Parcsandexperience a treetop sauna.
After a brisk walk on the beach, grab a blanket, buy some fish n chips and eat them on the prom in a wind shelter.
Google pubs near you with a roaring fire. Nothing beats a tipple of your choice in front of a crackling open fire.
My own suggestions ~ wrap up warm in a beach hut, relax in a Turkish baths, head to an independent cinema that serves hot drinks whilst you watch a movie and/or drink coffee with cats in your local cat cafe.
Hi there Scavenger Hunters and those of you just dropping in for a nosy. 😄 It’s Kate/ Hawthorn’s last Scavenger Huntof 2018, so I thought I’d better make an effort and join in. Though I did find some of the prompts pretty tough this time around. Still I do like a challenge, so here goes….
Post/Mailbox. I’m still loving Postcrossing, which is a fun way of sending and receiving postcards from all around the world. These three are off to Italy, USA and Japan. I have already popped them in the post box.
Decay. Bracket Fungi , according to Wikipedia are an ‘ important agent of wood decay, playing a significant role in nutrient cycling and carbon dioxide production of forest ecosystems’. Go bracket fungi! This one was snapped a couple of weeks ago in Ravenglass.
Second hand. I love this book called Sketches of Bird Life by C. F. Tunnicliffe. It originally belonged to Wils Dad and having been handed down, now lives with us. His drawings are beautiful , and you may recognise his style. Tunnicliffe illustrated the wildlife Ladybird Books. 🙂
Strand. Here are my two god-daughters on the shores strand-line in Ravenglass. Hugo is also there, splashing in the water. We loved our time away in this coastal Cumbrian village. You can read about our weekend Here.
Fold. Sorry, its those ‘Festival Sheep’ again. I ended up using the word ‘fold’ in the context of ‘a flock of sheep’ and these are a colourful meadow full near Ravenglass. The farmer marks the ewes that have been impregnated by a ram. I think the different colours mean different fathers and also the number of lambs expected per mother.
My Own Choice. Definitely making my own mouth water here. Wil took me out for tea on my Birthday to Bowland Beer Hall. This was dessert. Yummy! Who else loves Churros with chocolate sauce??
Ravenglass is a coastal village in Cumbria that looks over the estuary bringing together the rivers of Esk, Irt and Mite. The scenery is ever changing as the ebbing tides create rock pools and sand banks. A melodic sound of tied up boats, their parts clanging in the breeze , permeates the sea front.
I recently stopped in Ravenglass for four nights with Wil and Hugo. Some friends joined us for a couple of the nights. Luckily even in November we found plenty to keep us all occupied!
The village has two cosy dog friendly pubs as well as a rocky beach ~ home to many wading birds and beach combing treasures, ancient Roman ruins, a nearby Castle with a Hawk & Owl Centre and the Ravenglass to Eskdale Railway, affectionately known as La’l Ratty.
As well as windy walks on the beach , we enjoyed a stroll to Muncaster Castle which is a pleasant walk through the Muncaster Estate, passing the old ruins of a Roman Bath House.
We all loved the Bird of Prey Display and it was good to know that the staff are so enthusiastic about conserving the different species, especially Vultures, who do get a bit of bad press in the bird world. Seeing them as a ‘ Clean up Crew’ definitely helped me realise what a useful breed of bird they are.
Speeking of birds, Wil and I also visited Hodbarrow Nature Reserve, an RSPB reserve on the coast between Haverigg and Millom. It was a day of high winds and squawly showers, but we enjoyed the dramatic scenery.
Most of all just hanging out in Ravenglass itself was a wonderful experience. I am sure we will return. 😊
Back in August ( was it really that long ago?) we made the journey North to the Isle of Skye, stopping overnight in the small ferry port of Uig, before our crossing to Lochmaddy on North Uist, the following afternoon. So why did we choose a remote island in the Outer Hebrides as our holiday destination?
Some years earlier we had enjoyed watching a TV show called Monty Hall’s Great Hebridean Escape, where marine biologist Monty Halls and his madcap dog Reubs stayed in a restored crofters cottage on North Uist whilst working as a volunteer Wildlife Ranger on the island. The TV programme definitely put the thought into our heads about visiting the Outer Hebrides but it wasn’t until eight years later that we were flicking through a Unique Cottages holiday brochure and saw the cottage they had lived in for six months had been renamed Montys Cottage and is now a holiday let. We decided to book it there and then. 🙂
Uigg Lodge ~ Our hotel room.
Skye Museum of Island Life.
Over The Sea From Skye. Our time on Skye was brief but we did manage to visit a couple of places on the Saturday morning. After a comfortable stay in the Uig Hotel ( very friendly and welcoming, especially to our dog Hugo 🙂 ) we took ourselves off to the mystical Fairy Glen. Its miniature round grassy hills, one of which is basalt topped and from a distance resembles a ruined castle, have been used as landscapes in fairy tale films ‘Stardust’ and ‘The BFG’. We also visited The Skye Museum Of Island Life at Kilmuir. This collection of thatched Highland cottages housed everything a typical crofters village would have needed to make a living from the land and the sea.
The crossing from Uig to Lochmaddy on North Uist takes a little under two hours. Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries operate services to the islands and we spent the trip up on the deck, watching shearwaters skim the surface of the water and gannets dive-bombing the waves. There are dog-friendly areas inside too, so this journey is easy to make with a four-legged friend. 🙂
As we approached Lochmaddy we were welcomed by late afternoon sunshine and we couldn’t wait to get into the car and drive the 40 minutes north to our accommodation.
Monty’s Cottage. Located down its own secluded lane, a few minutes walk from the sea at Griminish, Montys Cottage looks just like it does in the brochure. A cute white washed crofters cottage with a thatched roof and incredibly thick walls, surrounded by the most beautiful countryside. It felt surreal that this place where Monty Halls had mapped out walking routes for the islands and Reubs the dog had run free on the sands, was to be our home for a week. 😁. Inside the cottage was cosy and well equipped. The owner had left us fresh milk, bread, eggs ect, which did prove a godsend as there were no shops open the following day. Be prepared that shops in the Outer Hebrides don’t usually open on a Sunday!
Female Wheatear. Wildlife On North Uist. The landscape of North Uist is more like a waterscape. There are over 800 freshwater lochans on the island. The watery habitat is perfect for wading birds and for one of Britain’s more elusive species of mammal, the European Otter. European Otters will swim in seawater but also need to bathe in fresh water to protect their coats. We were lucky enough to be able to watch two otters playing in the sea nearby the cottage. A magical experience indeed. 🙂 Other wildlife we spotted on North Uist included several birds of prey, red deer, grey and common seals, many beautiful wildflowers and….. jellyfish galore.
All this wonderful wildlife was on our doorstep, literally. Gaggles of greylag geese flew over every day, a merlin regularly hunted for small birds and field mice in the meadow next to the garden, seals watched us watching them as they bobbed in the bay and scores of compass and lion’s mane jellyfish washed up in one of the several little coves nearby. Corn buntings and countless other small birds make their home on North Uist and it’s neighboring islands. They are basically a nature lovers paradise.
Am Politician Bar ( The Polly), Eriskay.
Original haul from the shipwreck now on display in the Am Politician Bar. Looks like someone’s had a couple of wee drams!
Island Hopping. Very handily North Uist is one of several Outer Hebridean islands connected by causeway roads, making it very easy to visit it’s equally picturesque neighbors. Collectively they are known as The Uists. In the north is beautiful Berneray , which in my opinion boasts the most stunning beaches. All white sand and turquoise ocean. To the south is Benbecula and South Uist, both worth exploring too. And further South is pretty Eriskay , where Bonnie Prince Charlie first landed on Scottish soil. Eriskay is also the real-life location of the shipwreck and lost cargo that inspired the film ‘Whisky Galore’. We didn’t manage to visit the islands of Barra and Vatersay which are accessed by boat. Maybe another time!
Eider ducks, Berneray.
By the wind sailor, Berneray.
Life’s A Beach. How I long to stroll again on those never ending white sandy shores. The beaches in the Outer Hebrides can match any in the Caribbean I bet. Though we occasionally had to wrap up to walk on them..even in August! There are so many stunning stretches of sand that it’s hard to pick a favourite. 🌞
As you can imagine Hugo had a riot chasing sticks and balls along countless beautiful beaches. Our far from chunky labrador ended up almost whippet thin after a week in the Uists.
Food & Drink. I must admit we cooked most of our evening meals at the cottage, stocking up at the co op 5 miles away in Sollas. Having Hugo with us meant that we had to find pet-friendly places to eat and there are only a few on North Uist. We found both the Lochmaddy Hotel and Langass Lodge near Locheport to be excellent when it came to eating out. Both welcome dogs and have good locally sourced menus.
Wil was really happy when oneday by chance we discovered Namara Seafood Cafe. This place feels a bit like a hushed up secret ,as it is located in a remote working harbor at Kallin on Grimsay ( another small causeway island), miles off the beaten track. The cafe is part of a chandlery ( boat supplies shop) and is by no means posh. It does serve the best fresh lobsters and crab though, straight from the ocean. Wil was one happy man as he tucked into delicious lobster & chips for £13, sat on a bench outside.
Are there any pubs on the islands? Well, not many! And none within walking distance of Monty’s Cottage. In fact the only pub on North Uist is The Westford Inn which we never got round to visiting. It looks like a good one though, serves meals and is dog friendly.
Path to Barpa Langais.
Public Art & Landmarks. The Uists are home to many artists and creative talents, so it was fun to search out the various sculptures and art instillations on the islands. Even in a week we did not find them all. Interesting historic landmarks include the Neolithic chambered cairn Barpa Langais at the top of Beinn Langais , resplendent in heather by August. Also look out for the Hut Of Shadows at Sponnish, which hides a camera obscura within.
Dotted round the islands are several working craft studios. I noticed beautiful pottery at Shoreline Stoneware in Locheport and bought a lovely print of the machair ( coastal wildflower meadows) at Puffin Studio Crafts on Benbecula.
Are the Uists for you?
If you don’t mind not seeing a soul when you walk on the beach, don’t mind a short drive to the nearest shop and don’t expect a phone signal or WiFi, you will love holidaying on these Hebridean Islands.
Walking, wildlife, stunning beaches, turquoise sea, friendly folk( when you bump into any 😉), fresh seafood, creative art and spectacular scenery. What’s not to love!