Archive for the ‘England’ Category

Lundy Island

Years ago I read a book called “Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast” (highly recommended!) and this is where I first heard about Lundy Island – and I’ve been wanting to visit it ever since πŸ™‚ It’s 11 miles off the coast of North Devon (2 hours by ferry from Ilfracombe), about 5 km long and 1-1.5 km wide. It’s an amazing place where you really get away from it all: no cars, no wifi, no tv’s, hardly any mobile signal (and you get fined if you use your mobile in the pub). There is one village (populated mostly by Landmark Trust wardens) with a shop and a tavern, where they let you run a tab πŸ™‚ People are really friendly. There are no signposts, explanations or warning signs and you don’t even have to stay on the paths – you are encouraged to explore the island with your own common sense. I love this attitude, and I totally fell in love with Lundy Island!

But I’m getting ahead of myself now, let’s start from the beginning. It took me 6 hours to reach Ilfracombe from Reading, where I had been for a course at ECMWF. The next morning I went to the harbour to check in for the ferry. They give you colour coded labels for your luggage, which is loaded on the boat in crates. Ilfracombe is a pretty village, but (like many others) I had mixed feelings about the enourmous Damien Hirst sculpture in the harbour – it seems quite out of place there.

View over the harbour of Ilfracombe, with the Verity sculture by Damien Hirst From the other side the sculture is quite erm, cruel I think! Would look impressive in front of the Tate Modern or something, but it looks a bit out of place in this small harbour town - it's over 20 m tall!

It was cloudy with a bit of rain in Ilfracombe, but it cleared up during the two hour trip to Lundy. The MS Oldenburg rolls quite a lot though, and several people were getting seasick. I was just having fun πŸ™‚ it was very exciting to see the island come into view. From the jetty, everybody has to climb the hill to the top of the island (they do take some people up in a Landrover), but luckily you don’t have to carry your luggage – they deliver it to your cottage πŸ™‚ People were either visiting for the day (4 hours on the island), or for 2 or more days. I would have loved to stay for a whole week πŸ˜‰ but I had to get back to work so I stayed for 2 nights.

The MS Oldenburg on the jetty at Lundy Island Climbing up to the top of the island

The Landmark Trust has lots of holiday rentals on the island, and they all look amazing. Millcombe House (below) sleeps 12 and is actually quite cheap if you share the cost with 12. I went to reception, where they told me my cottage was ready. I was more keen to just start hiking though, so I bought some chocolate biscuits (what’s a girl to do if the bread hasn’t arrived yet? πŸ˜‰ ), rented binoculars and started walking. The sun was shining, it was going to be a beautiful day!

Millcombe House on Lundy, also a holiday rental! The tractor road that goes south to north on the island

There was flowering gorse, very pretty against the blue sky. I visited the ruins of some cottages that I think belonged to an old quarry.

Flowering gorse against the gorgeous blue sky! Ruins of cottages which I think belonged to the quarry

The view to the south was really nice πŸ™‚

Daffodils & the view south Ruins seen from the other side

I continued my way north, alternating between walking on top of the cliffs or following some path lower down. The island is full of funny names, an easy way to keep track how far you’ve come are the walls that cross the island: quarter wall, halfway wall, and threequarter wall πŸ™‚

Impressive rock formations! The threequarter wall - it's easy to know how far you've come on your hike :)

The views were amazing the whole way.

Panorama looking south - you can see there's several paths to follow, either on top of the cliffs or further down Nice views

The cottage is in the photo below is called Tibbetts – another holiday rental. It’s built on the highest point of the island, quite far from the village and it doesn’t have electricity, but what a view! It was originally built as a signal and watch station, in use until 1926. Would love to stay there once!

Tibbetts, which you can rent as well! It's a long way from the village and it doesn't have electricity, but what an amazing place to stay!!

Finally I reached my destionation: the north tip of Lundy Island. There is a lighthouse there, simple called the North Lighthouse (you can guess what the lighthouse at the south tip is called). A beautiful wild place, and I happened to catch the MS Oldenburg passing on its round-the-island trip. The lighthouse was built in 1897, and automated in 1985.

The North Lighthouse The MS Oldenburg was doing a tour of the island, before going back to the mainland, and I managed to catch it passing the north tip :)

The MS Oldenburg on its way around the island I loved the lighthouse :)

I spent quite some time around the lighthouse, before starting my way south again. I came across these Japanese Sika deer, they are so cute! They are indigenous to South East Asia, and were introduced to Lundy in 1927. They are supposed to be shy and hard to spot, but I saw quite a lot of them. They won’t let you come very close though.

Old railway to where provisions used to arrive - it's an automated lighthouse now Japanese Sika deer - very cute!

I walked back along the west side of the island, the wilder, Atlantic side, with spectacular cliffs…

The impressive wild cliffs on the west side of Lundy

Lundy also has wild sheep, a flock of Soay sheep originally from the Hebridean Islands, introduced to Lundy in 1944. They are adorable! The Highland cow was a lot less adorable, he started stamping at me when I tried to pass…

Lambs of the wild Soay sheep - aren't they adorable?? This one wasn't quite so adorable, he was stamping around and I got scared enough to take the long way round, through a swamp...

More pretty views…

Looking north And looking south. Wow :)

Walking towards The Old Light. Nearly 200 years old, this lighthouse was built for a lot of money but never worked well. It’s modern new flashing light actually caused a ship disaster in 1828, and in foggy conditions the lighthouse was too high up and lost in the fog. Finally it was abandoned in 1897 and replaced by the two lighthouses at the north and south tip.

On the way to the Old Light - can you guess the dominant wind direction? :) The Old Light

I was now nearing the southern part of the island again – time to finally go and visit my cottage: Hanmers. Hanmers was built by a fisherman on the path from the beach to the castle, and it has the most amazing views! I fell in love with this cottage, perhaps the prettiest place I ever stayed!

The Old Light Hanmers cottage, where I was lucky enough to spend 2 nights - perhaps the prettiest place I've ever stayed??

Here’s an impression of the cottage: two living rooms…

The living room of my cottage Another living room with books and games

The incredible view from the windows…

View from the window And view from the window looking south, you can see all along the island, so pretty!

One of the bedrooms (the other has a bunk bed), and the kitchen…

One of the bedrooms (it sleeps 4, there's another room with a bunk bed) The kitchen

St Helen’s church in the evening, and sunset at Hanmers…

St Helen's church in the evening Hanmers Cottage at sunset :)

The view to the village in the evening, I love the golden lights πŸ™‚ and the view towards the mainland. In the evening I had dinner in the tavern, a very nice and social place.

View towards the village in the evening - love all the yellow lights :) the building with most lights on is the tavern ;) Night view towards the mainland, you could just about see the lights over there. The long exposure makes the sea glassy smooth, but it actually was very calm then

It had been a long day and I fell asleep early. After a couple of hours I woke up from a lot of noise: the wind had changed direction and got stronger, and the cottage was creaking like crazy in the wind. There were also other strange noises right behind my bed, which I tried to ignore πŸ˜‰ The next day I found out those noises had come from a pygmy shrew that happily walked around the cottage, checking out the bins… (it’s a tiny mouse, but don’t say that on Lundy as THEY DON’T HAVE MICE πŸ˜› ).

It was a very windy and rainy morning, so after breakfast at the tavern, I just had tea and biscuits and read books and looked at the view πŸ™‚ until the rain stopped and I decided to go for a walk. I met some goats, and climbed to the top of the Old Light (which is always open) and sat in the deck chairs with an amazing view πŸ™‚

Three goats, and if you look carefully on the left: two angry birds :D The deck chairs at the Old Light - what a great idea!

Climbing the Old Light The Old Light seen from the graveyard 'next door'

After that I visited the Battery, which I had skipped the day before. It’s another chapter in the ‘we need a lighthouse’ story. With the Old Light being problematic, they installed two cannons at the bottom of the cliff which they fired every 10 minutes (blank shots, which I assume means there’s no cannonball in there?? πŸ˜› ) This was also abandoned when the North & South Lighthouses were built. I also visited the sculpture by Antony Gormley (famous from the Angel of the North) that was erected the day before. There was a group of people on the ferry with someone filming – I realised later it was Antony Gormley and his wife and I assume two journalists. One of them wrote this beautiful article about their visit and about his work.

Going down to the Battery, impressed by all the plants growing on the old wall This sculpture by Antony Gormley had been erected the day before, I actually walked past right afterwards but didn't want to disturb their ceremony

Just below the sculpture is the Devil’s Limekiln, a natural pit more than a 100 m deep. ‘Approach with care’ is all it says in the brochure – there seems to be a path around the edge. I took one look at that and decided against it – especially being on my own πŸ˜‰

The Devil's Limekiln, a natural pit that's more than 100 m deep

That evening in the tavern was even more social as two women joined me – always very nice when you’re travelling alone! And later on I started talking to a man who was there to ring birds, and ended up being invited to join them to the bottom of a cliff to wait for Manx Shearwaters to fly into a net. It was such an amazing experience, it just shows that sometimes it’s totally fine to follow some strangers down a cliff in the dark πŸ˜‰ They caught a couple, ringed them, and I got to release one of them πŸ™‚ Andrew Cleave was kind enough to send me this photo, you can see from my grin how much I’m enjoying it!

Me holding  a Manx Shearwater

Walking back it was nearing midnight, and that’s when they turn off the electricity. It made me smile when all they could think off was getting to their cottage in time to put the kettle on for ‘one last cuppa’ – oh so British! πŸ˜€

The next day the MS Oldenburg was supposed to leave late in the afternoon, but we were told to come to the pub at 09:30 for ‘an announcement’. I was hoping we’d go back by helicopter, that’s an often used alternative when the weather is bad. But no, they decided to cancel the daytrippers and send the MS Oldenburg back as soon as it got there. So after breakfast I just went for a short walk around the village to take some last photos. This is the shop…

The shop

The tavern, and another cottage in front of the church.

The tavern, entrance on the left, and the reception on the right A cottage in front of the church

After paying my tabs at the shop and tavern, I made my way down the hill (your luggage gets picked up from the cottage again, a real luxury!).

Church & Gorse Back at the landing place...

I watched the MS Oldenburg arrive – it looked choppy!

The MS Oldenburg arriving with new visitors Arrival of the MS Oldenburg

And then it was time to leave…

Queueing for our choppy trip back to the mainland

The way back was so different from the way there. The weather was very different obviously, but one nice difference was that on the way back I knew a lot of people on board and I had a very social trip back. What a great trip πŸ™‚ I fell in love with Lundy and hope I can come back again!

Cornwall

After celebrating New Year’s Eve in Southampton, we decided to spend a couple of days in Cornwall – which I’ve been wanting to visit for a very long time. Unfortunately we were a bit unlucky, and I got ill as soon as we arrived to our hotel in Boscastle. Luckily the hotel was very nice, and we had a great view from our upstairs room – there are worse places to be ill. Boscastle is a very pretty place, here are some photos…

View from our hotel room in Boscastle Boscastle, with the visitors centre on the right

The Coastal Path passes right through the village, and you have a great view once you get a bit higher up the cliffs.

Boscastle seen from above The robin that followed us on our walk

This is our hotel, and a nice door at the witchcraft museum – which unfortunately was closed for the season.

The hotel we stayed in, our room was right above the sign Nice door at the Witchcraft museum, which was unfortunately closed for the season

After spending a day in bed while Paul went on a walk by himself, I felt a lot better the next day, and we went on an easy trip by car. We stopped at Strangles Beach, and followed the path down the cliff to the big beach. The weather wasn’t great: foggy and drizzly, but it improved while we were at the beach. We weren’t alone there, there was also a lone surfer battling with the waves πŸ™‚

The Strangles Beach, in heavy fog and drizzle Waves crashing onto the beach

I took my tripod and ND filters, and played around with long exposures of the rocks and the sea. I never get bored of that πŸ™‚

I converted this photo to black & white, as it hardly had any colour to start with Waves crashing over the rocks

It was a grey day, but luckily the fog lifted a bit while we were on the beach The Strangles Beach

Some rocks were very colourful Starting our climb back up the cliffs

After a couple of hours, we climbed back up the cliff and we drove to Crackington Haven for a nice warm tea in a cafe πŸ™‚

Crackington Haven

Stomach bugs are notoriously contagious, so it wasn’t very surprising when Paul got ill that evening πŸ™ We quickly decided to stay another night, as it wouldn’t be wise to drive all the way back to London in that state. After a rough night, we took it very easy and went for a short stroll on the beach at Bude the next day. They have a swimming pool on the beach there (a sea pool), which was built in 1930. Seeing the size of the waves in Cornwall, I imagine it’s very nice for kids to play in this pool instead πŸ™‚

The swimming pool at the beach at Bude Walking along the edge of the pool

Today the only people in the sea were surfers, and these ambitious boys trying to stop the flow from the sea pool πŸ˜‰ The rock formations at the beach are very interesting!

Ambitious boys... Interesting rock layers at the beach

More views of the rocks on the beach…

Rock formations on the beach at Bude The beach at Bude Mussels on a rock

After spending an hour in Bude, we drove to Widemouth Bay. We found a nice view point with great views of this huge beach.

Panorama of Widemouth Bay

Here’s another panorama, which is even better viewed nearly full sized, click here (might take a while to load due to its size).

Even wider panorama of Widemouth Bay :)

It was impressive to see the huge waves crashing here, no wonder this place is so popular with surfers. In the other direction, you could look north towards Bude and see the satellite ground station far away on a cliff.

A wave breaking, it's hard to tell but these waves are huge, and they bring lots of surfers to Cornwall Looking north towards Bude, with the satellite ground station in the background

We enjoyed our time in Cornwall, in spite of our poor health, and now I am determined to come back here and perhaps walk part of the Southwest Coast Path that follows the entire coast – must be a great experience!

The Jurassic Coast

London, Lymington – and a job!

Let’s start with the good news: I found a job in TromsΓΈ! I’m going to work for met.no as a weather forecaster. I’m really excited πŸ™‚ I’m not sure when I will start yet, as this also depends on the second person they are hiring (we have to do our training together). I’m so happy that I found a good job, and I am looking forward to “really” live in TromsΓΈ (I’ve been a visitor all this time, unable to do the simplest things like opening a bank account). We’re also almost certainly going to keep renting the wonderful flat we are in now, but it will become unfurnished – we are excited about decorating/buying furniture. Yay!

I’ve had a busy week… on Monday I took the train to London, which takes only 1.5 hours. I met up with Tanja and her friend Mike, and after a pub lunch, we visited the Victoria and Albert museum. Quite a crazy collection of all kinds of things, very interesting. Below is a photo of Mike and I in front of the big entrance, and the beautiful cafe where we had a break.

We also went to say hi to Tanja’s biggest friend: the blue whale in the Natural History museum πŸ™‚ The museum is next door to the V&A; museum, and housed in a beautiful building. The photo below shows the entry hall, I love it!

On Wednesday I took a train to Lymington, on the edge of the New Forest. From there I walked part of the Solent Way, to Keyhaven and Milford on Sea. This walks takes you through an amazing landscape of brackish marshes on one side and the Solent on the other side. I always thought the Solent is a river, but it’s actually a stretch of sea. At this point, it is quite narrow and you can easily see the Isle of Wight on the other side. The day started out very sunny, but soon the clouds were increasing…

Some lucky people live in this beautiful old building in the middle of the marshes! This area used to known for salt works. Now the marshes are a paradise for birds. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the right lens with me for taking photos of the birds, but I did catch these geese flying over.

The skies became darker and darker, until it started to rain quite heavily. In these marshes, there is nowhere to take cover so I got soaked. I didn’t mind though – I saw the best rainbow I’ve ever seen! Suddenly the sun broke through the clouds and the colours of the landscape became very vibrant against the dark sky – with a beautiful double rainbow as the icing on the cake πŸ™‚

It briefly became quite sunny again after the shower had passed, but not for long. The tide was going down, exposing large muddy areas.

Near Keyhaven, there is a long spit with a castle at the end (Hurst castle). I could see it from far away, as well as “the Needles”, chalk cliffs at the isle of Wight behind it. I decided not to walk to the end of the spit though, as it was really windy and exposed and I didn’t want to get soaked again. I walked from Keyhaven to Milton On Sea to catch the bus back to Lymington. The public footpath was more like a small river, very wet and muddy. It had become very windy too, with some impressive cloud formations. In the photo below (on the right) I managed to get the reeds blurred as they move in the wind πŸ™‚

From Lymington I took the train back to Southampton. I really enjoyed this area, Lymington itself is also a really nice looking town. I told Paul that if we ever move to Southampton, I want to live in Lymington – but unfortunately I don’t think I’m the only one, house prices there are rather high πŸ˜‰ Anyway, no need to worry about that as we are now certain that we’re staying in TromsΓΈ for at least another year πŸ™‚