steam power Wales

Family Fun on the Snowdon Mountain Railway

While enjoying a family holiday on Anglesey we decided it would be a great day out if we all went on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, something that none of us had ever done before. The idea was that we would all go up to the summit of Snowdon on the railway and our children with their spouses would walk back down. Jude and I with Arabella would make the descent by train.

We had a brilliant family day out! We began at the train station at the bottom of the mountain railway track, booked our tickets and waited for the off. It was a busy little station painted brightly in yellow and green, decorated with carved wooden detailing. It loked so cheerful on this sunny day. We had time for refreshment in the station buffet as we waited for the arrival of our train. Excitement rose as it pulled in to the station. Our engine was called Padarn. The huge smile on Arabella’s face reflected our excitement.

There is something so special about riding a steam train but the thought of this little engine pulling us up a mountain added extra frisson.


The slow ascent accompanied by the sounds and smells of the steam engine, took us through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. We all felt so lucky. Everyone smiled for the whole journey and excitedly commentated to their friends or family. Passengers who began the ascent as strangers were soon talking and chatting like old friends – the power of steam nostalgia.


At the summit we had a short time to appreciate the engine and the view, enjoy a coffee and watch Jamie, Sam, Jo and Rob set off walking down the mountain, the tallest mountain in England and Wales.


We have waited ages to get around to making the journey of the steam railway to the summit of Mount Snowdon and back, but it was most certainly worth the wait. I don’t think it will be long before we return to do it all over again.






A Family Holiday in Scotland – Part 2 – strolling down the glen

Part 2 of this little series concerning our family holiday in the Scottish Borders, explores a gentle stroll down a beautiful Scottish glen. But first let’s share with you our lovely holiday cottage, a Scottish longbarn conversion, and its amazing grounds.

If the weather is sunny and there are any plants in the garden Arabella loves watering them, but usually has to water her feet first.


Come for us now for a wander around the cottage’s grounds and up its driveway, full of wildflowers, scented plants and mature native trees.


Whenever we went out for the day we began by driving down that lovely driveway which was a great way to start the day. Early on in our week Jude and I with son Jamie, daughter-in-law Sam and 18 month old granddaughter Arabella took off to visit a local glen.

So, come with us on our little walk, a slow walk at Arabella pace.


We were amazed by how many wildflowers we spotted in both quantity and numbers of different ones. Wildlife seemed to really appraciate these plants.

I think the best way to share our walk with you is via a gallery of my photographs, so please click on the first picture and then navigate using the right arrow. Enjoy!

We hope you enjoyed visiting our holiday cottage and its grounds and sharing our walk in the beautiful glen.

countryside landscapes

Dawdling in the Derbyshire Dales – part one – limestone hills and old barns

We hadn’t visited Derbyshire for a long while so decided that a few days away in July would afford us the chance to walk a few of its dales and bring back memories while doing so. Limestone ridges, old stone barns and limestone walls as field boundaries are trademarks of the Derbyshire landscape. Well Dressing is an ancient tradition celebrated by the locals and friendliness an attribute of their characters. We found them all!

I kept trying to get a good photo of this old barn and the surrounding drystone walls, typical of the Derbyshire countryside. I moved around, tried all angles and am still not convinced I got it right. So here are my attempts for you to consider. My preference is the first shot because I like the way the walls lead the eye diagonally towards the barn. Do you think differently?

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This second barn nearer to the horizon seemed a little easier to photograph but I still tried several different shots. I enjoyed the challenge! I personally like the square format photo most of all but you may think differently.

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Limestone ridges are our second feature typical of the Derbyshire landscape and we were extremely lucky to have found a sunny bright day to view them. Their character changes with the light and on dull days they lack texture and sparkle. Shadows sit under the few trees stunted through lack of soil depth and lack of moisture.

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The farming landscape here is soft and friendly with its dry stone walls and a scattering of small trees.  It is an undulating landscape with occasional valleys which are in places heavily wooded.

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When tourists decide to visit Derbyshire many choose the Well Dressing season to make the journey. This is a traditional ceremony when villagers and often the children from the village school make fantastic displays created from flower petals. They make very colourful additions to the characterful villages of Derbyshire. We discovered these creations in one little valley.

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We can add another element to Derbyshire’s points of interest for the visitor. The locals are very friendly. These two ladies chatted away to us for ages as we relished our coffee and cake. As you can see the one liked having her photo taken to go onto my blog while the other claimed to be too shy!

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So with a smile from one friendly local I will finish this post about our week in Derbyshire. The coming posts will feature some walks along the dales.



countryside lakes lakes and reservoirs Land Art landscapes light light quality National Trust outdoor sculpture

A Week in the Lake District – Part 5 – Buttermere and Crummockwater

During our week in the Lake District we enjoyed visiting gardens as we do wherever we visit, but we loved the special landscape all around.

The area around Buttermere and Crummockwater particularly impressed us as we drove around exploring the district in the evenings when the light was adding an extra dimension. Even the views from the road were impressive.

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The breed of sheep specially adapted to the landscape and climate of the Lakes is the Herdwick, which I mentioned in my post about Beatrix Potter. The vast majority of sheep we saw in the area were Herdwicks so it was hard to believe that it was at one time an endangered breed.

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I hope you enjoy the following set of photos of the views as much as we enjoyed the views themselves.

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The Lake District is full of surprises and this slate sculpture was a wonderful surprise!

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countryside landscapes light light quality National Trust photography The National Trust the sea the seaside the shore Wales

A Stroll along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path – Part One

Every year I set myself a challenge that defies my disability. Something totally silly if I take my health into consideration! Something I definitely should not be doing! But these challenges are great fun! I love them! Jude accepts my need to do them but worries when we are following these strange desires. Sometimes I have a need to go a bit further than my actual abilities!

For 2014 my challenge was to walk a mile along a stretch of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, probably the most beautiful of Britain’s long distance paths. For me a single mile is a long distance walk! I did it in late November and survived! Okay I suffered for a good few days after but boy did it feel good! I had such a feeling of elation when I finished the walk. Anyone else would have to climb Everest to get the same thrill! My consultant was proud of me. He likes my crazy ideas.

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So come with us on our trek along the windswept coast near St Davids. As we dressed in suitable gear for a walk in the cold and most likely wet weather we noticed these two using the beautiful backdrop to take photos of their stained glass window. No doubt some great shots will appear in their promotional materials.

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We made our way onto the path by passing through a beautiful stone wall. A sign with wording engraved on slate informed us that the walk to St David’s Head was 1 mile. I hoped to make half way to give us a round trip of 1 mile.

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Jude looked ahead and could see just how far away the headland was that I was aiming to reach. She thought I was mad! We soon started finding colour in the tough grasses – wildflowers of coastal habitats. The first was this Armeria, the Sea Thrift. Close by the much brighter coloured Gorse added a bit of sunshine colour.

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This little delicate plant foiled us completely – neither of us could remember what it was.

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Every rock was painted with Lichen and Mosses. They look just like they have been daubed by an artist. These rocks had fallen from the field boundaries that are specific to this area – stones with soil in the gaps and on top. The soil provides homes for the local flora.

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The light was changing by the minute. We could be in sunshine one minute and then under heavy storm clouds the next. Just see the extremes in the photos below taken within minutes of each other. The temperature varied in the same way – hats and gloves were on and off all the time.

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What made this walk extra special was that it gave double value. We had views over the inlets and headlands over one shoulder and views of the countryside inland over the other.

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As we passed through a wooden gate the landscape changed and the views opened up. The signs on the gatepost invited us to carry on with our walk but be careful not to fall off the cliffs! We hadn’t been planning to! The National Trust sign informed us that we were on St David’s Head. We realised then that we had already walked further than we had intended. We should have turned back and made our way back but my stubborn nature won over and we decided to carry on perhaps making it to the headland in the far distance. This would give us a total walk of two miles. Far more than I should have been contemplating! We had rugged open moorland to cross to reach the headland itself.


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Jude was fascinated by a label hanging over a rock and just had to have a close look. We found it was a marker point on a trail laid out as part of an army training session. We were tempted – just for a moment – to pick it up and take it back to the local barracks to tell them we had found this label. Common sense prevailed however and we resisted the temptation.

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In the photo below we can see the headland for which we were aiming right on the horizon.


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My legs are aching and pain is creeping up my spine just writing this post and loading the photos so we shall take a break for now and return in Part Two.



countryside Gwyndd landscapes light light quality photography the seaside Wales

Over the hills to the sea – part two.

Continuing our journey from home across the Welsh mountains to the sea, we turned more to the north and climbed up steeply into far more rugged countryside. Each corner revealed new startling views of deeply cut glacial valleys and ridges eroded by the grinding action of glaciers in the last ice age. Few trees grow on these steep slopes with their shallow soils. We were now out of the county of Powys and travelling through Gwynedd.

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We drove into a pass that took us up Dinas Mawddry where steep rugged mountains rose up on either side. This is notoriously difficult stretch of road often made impassable by deep drifts of snow. Back in the seventies when we first drove through this pass when cars were less powerful than today cars were often beaten by the steepness and the sharp bends. At the bottom drivers took a deep breath, crossed their fingers and put their foot down. Today’s cars take it in their stride and drivers can instead appreciate the beauty of the place. Some of the following shots were taken through the car windows so are less clear, but it was at times impossible to stop safely.

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As we bypassed Dolgellau the valley widened out and in places rich pastureland spread out either side of the road.

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We turned into a wide valley and the road passed through marshland and muddy areas of the Mawdach estate. Clouds hung low here. The view became hidden and the hill tops disappeared in their mistiness. The road ran through stone walls and the bends slowed the traffic.

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We were now close to our day’s destination the seaside at Barmouth. My next post will be all about our day there.