Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Autumn Shades

It was decidedly nippy as we set out for our walk this morning. The thermometer had dipped to 2 degrees C over night and a light frost glinted on the car roof first thing - the chill has arrived unusually early it seems this year. Out and about, the signs of Autumn are showing everywhere. Leaves are turning to fiery reds and golds and fungi are popping up all over the place. We spotted these among the trees on Shipley Hill a few days ago.
As it was a dark morning and the woodland floor was even darker, a little flash was required which gave the scene a rather spooky look.
All is now quiet on Shipley Lake and even the Coots had stopped scrapping with one another - almost!
Around the lakes of Straw's Bridge, Spindle Trees (Euonymus europaeus) are fruiting, producing their brightly coloured orange seeds from within a shocking pink husk. They look almost unreal.
The wood of these trees is very hard and was once made into spindles for the wool industry as well as butchers skewers - hence the name.
Returning home this morning, through some of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's farmland, the morning sun was slanting through the trees, leaving dappled shadows on the ground.
A little digital 'bloom' gives it an even softer appearance. All rather beautiful...
... and still plenty more of Autumn to come.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Autumn's Coming

Much to Malcolm's chagrin, Autumn is well on its way. The Autumnal effects are beginning to be seen in the countryside. Around the lakes of Straw's Bridge, some of the trees are showing their true colours.
Looking south across the world towards the power station of Ratcliffe on Soar - some nine miles away, it's all starting to look a little more drab.
Of course, the bushes and trees are busy filling their branches with bright berries. The Hawthorns are particularly good, as are the Rose Hips - like these...
and these...
Some flowers are managing to put on a second flush of colour after the ravages of a such a hot, dry summer. This Lucerne (Medicago sativa)for example.
A few days ago, we were pleased to see a small stand of Buckwheat flowers (Fagopyrum esculentu).
This is not a familiar plant in the UK, but sometimes escapes from gardens and cultivated fields, where it is grown primarily for its seeds. But with flowers like this, it makes a quite a show.
A few late butterflies can still be found too. This Red Admiral, was enjoying those Rose Hips too.
Plenty more Autumn to come before winter gets a grip!

Monday, 10 September 2018

Gardens at the end

At the end of our walk around and over the Great Orme, we decided to take a look at the gardens of 'Happy Valley'.
This was a lovely, quiet spot to wander around and enjoy the well-cared-for gardens. A sure sign that summer was coming to an end, were these wonderful  Autumn Crocus.
The Fuchsias were still looking good...
and we had some fine views through the palms and pines to the sea beyond.
Well, that was about it for our little break away in Llandudno. We'd had a great time and enjoyed some spectacular views...
Glimpsed distant Castles, like Conway - here covered in scaffolding a mile and a half across the estuary.
We had seen some rare flora (wild Cotoneaster here)...
those wonderful Kashmir Goats...
and marvelled at the cheek of the Herring Gulls as they attacked fish-and-chip eaters on the sea front and on one occasion, snatched an ice cream from the hands of an unsuspecting pensioner! This one was undeterred by the anti-bird spikes on our hotel windowsill.
I manged to snap Malcolm taking pictures...
and he got his own back on me too! (Don't look at the wrinkles.)
That's it! Time to head for home for a rest after walking about 40 miles during our three and a half days away.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Great Orme 2

Having only completed half of the walk around Marine Drive on Tuesday, we decided to reverse our tracks and do the other half on Wednesday afternoon. We began by climbing up along the tram tracks, a task which had been much easier the day before when coming down!
Despite the thigh-aching climb, the views back down to the town were good.
Eventually, we made it onto the grassy slopes near the top, and across the farmland.
Way out to sea, the Gwynt y Môr off shore wind farm was visible and a with a good zoom, you could make out the Dublin to Liverpool P&O ferry and a huge gas rig with flame burning.
A perfect way to spend an afternoon.
From here, it was back down to rejoin Marine Drive at the point where we left it the day before and to continue back round below the cliffs.
We were treated to the sight of a Peregrine Falcon as it pursued a pigeon and the sound of Ravens among the rocks too.
Soon, the Pier came back into view, marking the end of Marine Drive and a return to the town.
We didn't head straight back to the hotel though. As were passing, we decided to divert and take in the gardens of 'Happy Valley' - but more of that tomorrow!

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Great Orme 1

On Tuesday, we set out to walk round the Great Orme. Marine Drive is a wonderful walk and you get some fantastic views. Below us, at the start of the walk, some very prestigious, million-pound + homes make you very jealous.
Further round, the cliffs sweep down to the grassy slopes below.
A pair of rather scarce Choughs flew past and Ravens called while displaying to each other.
The original idea was to complete the whole of Marine Drive, but the plan was changed when we got to the path up to the summit. So, up we went!
Close to the top, we passed the 12th century church of St. Tudno - Llandudno's original parish church.
Dotted around the area, the famous Kashmir Goats were keeping an eye on us. A gift to Queen Victoria from the Shah of Persia, the original pair of goats have multiplied and now number about 200 in all.
Finally, we reached the 679ft summit...
and some more fine views - this one, looking back down to the town.
Time to get back, this time, we took the direct route, following the Tram tracks back down to the town. Once again, we were being watched all the way. Sheep this time!
Just 7 miles this time - and a pretty steep climb. More about the Great Orme tomorrow.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Little Orme

Neither Malcolm nor myself had ever been round the Little Orme, at the other end of Llandudno bay from the Great Orme. So, we thought we'd put that right on Monday and ignoring the early dull weather and remnants of drizzle, we set out. It was quite a good walk even before we got there, but once away from the road and through the gate, we were soon climbing up through the scrub and catching glimpses of Llandudno through the trees.
There have been settlements on the Little Orme since Paleolithic times and traces of metalworking from the Iron age have been found too (though not by us). Much later, Catholics took to hiding themselves and their literature in the caves around here during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
These days it's all a bit quieter!
Soon, we were looking over the other side of the Little Orme, down towards Penrhyn Bay and the North Wales Coast stretching off into the distance - still looking a bit dull here.
Whichever way we looked, there were good views...
 A large Cormorant rookery occupied one of the cliffs.
And here and there, fragments of our recent past were visible. The area was occupied during the second world war, with gun emplacements used by the Royal Artillery gunnery school.
There are several coves around the Little Orme and Grey Seals can be seen either basking on the beach, or bobbing about in the sea. Malcolm managed to 'snap' me as I was looking for the elusive little blighters!
Enough of that, time to start heading back. Not a bad start to the holiday and a good eight mile walk to kick things off. More to come.