Showing posts from September, 2012

UK trip 2012 - Whitby

The last stop on my brief walking trip was Whitby, a favourite place of mine since I came here for the first time on a day trip in my teens. It's difficult to say what the allure of Whitby is, but it seems clear at least that it isn't any one thing. More a combination of all it's charms: the spooky Abbey, birthplace of the cult of vampire; the atmospheric old town, the working fishing port and harbour; the excellent and never crowded beach, the multitude of charming little shops selling Whitby jet and other souvenirs; and quite possibly the best fish and chips on the planet - no visit to Whitby is complete without a visit to the Magpie Cafe.

I arrived in the late afternoon, deliberately choosing a hotel some distance from the centre so that I could walk into town along the cliff tops. I strolled down to the harbour, managed to avoid the rush at the Magpie (it's pretty unusual not to have to queue there, although it's always worth it), and then saw out the light with…

UK trip 2012 - Malhamdale

Following my visit to the Peak District, I headed up to the Yorkshire Dales to do some more walking, in particular to Malhamdale and the surrounding area. As before, I wanted to walk again along some of the familiar routes of my youth, especially Pen-y-Ghent and the Malham round (Gordale Scar, Malham Tarn and Malham Cove).

Pen-y-Ghent is easily accessible from the Dale Head road, so I walked up there on my arrival in the afternoon. It's a quick rocky climb after a short walk in, with stunning views all around from the top. Or at least it can be; the low cloud on my ascent put paid to that, and I could see virtually nothing. As far as I'm concerned, there's only one thing to do under such circumstances, and that's retire to the tap room of the nearest pub.
Poor weather was forecast for the following day, and indeed it was raining when I sat down for breakfast. I wasn't particularly relishing a day's trudge in the rain, but actually the sun poked through not long a…

UK trip 2012 - Hope Valley

It's been some time since I've been able to return to my home country for a visit. The last time was Christmas 2009. I wanted to bring the whole family again, but in lieu of that big win on the lottery, I came over for a solo trip. Solo trips usually mean more time for hill walking, and within 24 hours of landing at Heathrow, that's exactly what I was doing.

The Peak District is very close to where I grew up and, when I come to think about it, feels like a long lost friend every time I see it. It's always the first place I go. Well, second, if you count the chippie.

Day 1 was a nice circuit around Castleton, taking in Winnat's and the Mam Tor ridge, and day 2 was an 'Edge' circuit of Hathersage. The weather was great, which led to a bit of a suntan and some great light for the photographs.

Iwai break

So, we managed to get a weekend at the beach before the sea started to get cold. As usual, it was all about getting out of the city for a few days, but it was also a chance to give the kids something fun to do to mark the end of their school holidays. We find that, to an extent, the school holidays can be a bit of write-off because of the summer heat. It's probably a bit of a shame for the kids that we tend not to get out and about that much at that time, so it's nice to fix up an activity-filled weekend away for all of us. It's always nice to make some memories.

We did what we usually do, like body-boarding and crab catching, sandcastle building, we even helped some local fishermen to land their catch on the beach. But there were one or two new things to see and do. Our trip to Okinoshima (near Tateyama) to hunt through the rock pools for crabs and fish and so on, coincided with the start of the Tateyama Music Festival. This meant that was a great vibe for us to take in as…