Tag Archive: holiday

Jul 10 2016

Benllech

Benllech is on the north coast of Anglesey, about an hour and a half drive from our home in Chester. This is a bit embarrassing because it means our holiday home has tourists leaflets for excursions to our actual home!

We’re staying at Tinker’s Patch, a seventies bungalow in an estate just 5 minutes walk from Benllech Sands. It’s a very short drive from the main road with straightforward parking. We can see the sea from the living room window. Benllech is nondescript but has a good selection of mini-supermarkets and a rather good chip shop with a spectacular view over the bay. The Sands are great, at high water they just about disappear and at low tide a great expanse of sand is exposed. There are a smattering a rocky bits and at the top of the beach some nicely stratified limestone cliffs. We made a daily trip to the beach, every afternoon. As usual our intuition about when high and low tides occur turns out to be completely wrong, important at Benllech since at high tide the sea comes up to the sea wall and at low tide there is several hundred metres of beach.

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Day 1 – Saturday

Our first full day of holiday and we visit Anglesey Sea Zoo which overlooks the Menai Straits. It’s not huge but it has plenty to entertain a small child and the cakes in the coffee shop turn out to be pretty much the best of the week.

The mainland across the Menai Straits, south from the Sea Zoo

Day 2 – Sunday

Beaumaris is a rather fine village, with the castle on one edge. It is an odd sort of a thing, it was never finished and has an air of never having been lived in but there are a fair number of walls to walk along and activities for children.

Beaumaris Castle

In town, the Redboat Gelato icecream parlour is rather fine, we had a nice coffee whilst Thomas had a huge icecream. They offer exotic fare such as cinnamon and white pepper and pear and gorgonzola icecreams. We plan to go back one afternoon because Mrs SomeBeans and I did not consider icecream a morning food. The village has a smart nautical feel with the fine Victoria Terrace looking out over the Menai Straits (designed by Joseph Hansom, of cab fame).

Victoria Terrace, Beaumaris

Day 3 – Monday

We saw Plas Newydd as we arrived from the mainland, looking over the Menai Straits. There are forested grounds with a long frontage on the Straits and a house to explore. The house is the summer home of an old family.

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Day 4 – Tuesday

A trip to Copper Mountain and Amlwch, a little north of us on the island. Copper Mountain is a brightly coloured lunar landscape which was once home to much mining activity (and has been for thousands of years). I have never seen such brightly coloured rocks before (and I’ve been to Utah). At the top of the mountain is the shell of a windmill which was used in conjunction with a steam engine towards the end of the mine’s life.

Copper Mountain, Amlwch

Amlwch is just down the road from the Copper Mountain. We saw three museums in the space of 100 yards. The Sail Loft at the harbourside is a cafe downstairs and has a maritime museum upstairs. On the quay is a tiny geological museum. It turns out Anglesey has rocks from pretty much every geological period mashed together. Finally, there is the Copper Mountain Heritage Centre.

Amlwch

Day 5 – Wednesday

To Caernarfon to see the castle today. It’s the most impressive castle I’ve visited, very big with its structure largely intact. There’s a warren of passageways to follow and stairs to climb.

Caernarfon Castle

We didn’t manage to do all of it even in two sessions, broken by a coffee and cake on the Castle Square.

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Day 6 – Thursday

Anglesey Sea Zoo again, it’s rainy and the cloud is low. The ticket from our visit on Saturday gets us in for free. In the afternoon the sun breaks through and we have a last trip to the beach with obligatory icecream.

Mrs SomeBeans recreated the cuttlefish in playdoh:

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Jul 05 2015

Portinscale 2015

We had an abortive trip to Portinscale in the Lake District for our summer holiday last year, ended prematurely by illness. This year we’re back and have improved greatly on last years performance! Portinscale is just outside Keswick, a small town at the head of Derwentwater. In the past we would have stayed a little further from civilisation so we could go for longish walks from the door but with 3 year old Thomas a bunch of attractions in easy distance is preferable.

Day 1 – Sunday

Rather than fit packing and driving the relatively short distance to Portinscale from Chester into a day, whilst simultaneously meeting the arrival time requirements, we travelled up on Sunday morning. In the afternoon we went to Whinlatter Forest Park, a few miles up the road. The entrance is guarded by a fine sculpture of an osprey.

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It has an extensive collection of trails for pedestrians and cyclists. A Go Ape franchise for people who like swinging from trees, some Gruffalo / Superworm themed trails for children. And a wild play area featuring Thomas’ favourite thing – a pair of Archimedes Screws:

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There’s also a very nice cafe. We visited Whinlatter several times of an afternoon.

Day 2 – Monday

We went to Mirehouse in the morning, a lakeside estate with a smallish garden and a rather pleasant walk down to Bassenthwaite Lake.

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There’s a fine view from the lake down towards Keswick.

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In the afternoon we went to the Pencil Museum in Keswick, not a large attraction but Thomas liked Drew the giant and we got 5 pencils for an outlay of £3.

Day 3 – Tuesday

In the morning we went to Threlkeld Mining Museum. Its full of cranes and various bits of mining machinery from the past 100 years or so. There is a narrow gauge railway line which runs half a mile or so to the head of the quarry from the visitor centre. Threlkeld is not a slick affair but it is great fun for a small child fond of cranes, and the volunteers are obviously enthused by what they are doing. To be honest, I’m rather fond of industrial archaeology too!

Basically, they collect cranes.

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All of which are in some degree of elegant decay

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For our visit they were running a little diesel train:

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In the afternoon we walked down to Nichols End, a marina on Derwentwater close by our house in Portinscale.

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Day 4 – Wednesday

My records show that we last visited Maryport 15 years ago. It has the benefit of being close to Keswick – only half an hour or so away. We enjoyed a brief paddle in the sea, on a beach of our own before heading to the small aquarium in town.

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Whinlatter Forest Park once again in the afternoon.

Day 5 – Thursday

On leaving the house we thought we would be mooching around Keswick whilst our car was being seen to for “mysterious dripping”, as it was Crosthwaite Garage instantly diagnosed an innocuous air conditioning overflow. So we headed off to Lodore Falls, alongside Derwentwater before returning to Hope Park in Keswick.

Thomas declared the gently dripping woods on the way to Lodore Falls to be “amazing”:

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The falls themselves are impressive enough, although the view is a little distant when you are with a small child, who coincidently loves waterfalls and demands their presence on every walk:

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Hope Park was busy, but it is a pretty lakeside area with formal gardens and golf a little back from the shore.

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In the afternoon we visited Dodd Wood, which is just over the road from Mirehouse, where we did a rather steep walk.

Day 6 – Friday

On our final day we visited Allan Bank in Grasmere, this is a stealth National Trust property, formerly home to William Wordsworth and one of the founders of the National Trust, Canon Rawnsley. “Stealth” because it is barely advertised or sign posted, and is run in manner far more relaxed than any other National Trust place I’ve visited. It’s a smallish house:

Allan Bank, Grasmere

With glorious views:

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The house was damaged by fire a few years ago, and has only really been refurbished in as far as making it weather proof. Teas and coffees are available on unmatching crockery for a donation (you pay for cake though), and you’re invited to take them where you please to drink. There is a playroom ideally suited to Thomas’ age group, along with rooms Wordsworth and Rawnsley occupied upstairs.

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It has the air of a hippy commune, and it’s sort of glorious.

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Outside the grounds are thickly wooded on a steep slope, there is a path approximately around the perimeter which takes in the wild woods, several dens and some lovely views.

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We glimpsed a red squirrel in the woods.

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As Thomas wrote, it was "”Fun”!

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In the afternoon a final trip to Whinlatter Forest Park.

We left on Saturday amidst heavy early morning rain, the only serious daytime rain of the holiday – probably the best week of weather I’ve had in the Lake District!

Sep 15 2012

Harlech

Rhiwgoch BachOur first holiday with Thomas, now aged 7 months, it promised to be rather different from previous ones! We headed for North Wales since it is close and has a seaside.

We booked Rhiwgoch Bach, a cottage above Harlech, proprietors Ieuan and Gwen Edwards. Gwen provides rather fine Welsh cakes (somewhere between a scone and a biscuit) as a welcome gift. Thomas fell asleep just before we left Chester at 9am and awoke as we arrived a little after 11am. The drive from Chester is straightforward and rather scenic although the final stretch is up from Harlech is a narrow, steep twisting lane hemmed in at both sides by high stone walls with limited passing places. This is the route provided in the instructions to get to the cottage, it makes for a simple description but there is an alternative, rather less exciting route.

The cottage has a large, well-equipped kitchen there is a little private garden – if only the weather had been fine enough to sit out in it. The views from the cottage are spectacular, out over the sea to the Llŷn peninsula, South to rocky Foel Ddu, surrounded by rough farmland.

View towards Porthmadog

Day 1 – Saturday

In the afternoon we visited Harlech, it clings to the side of a steep drop down to the sea with the castle sitting on a rocky promontory.

Harlech Castle (view from outside)

The weather was warm, mainly sunny. Sunset over the Llŷn peninsula was glorious.

Sunset from Rhiwgoch

Thomas helped us with some stargazing by waking us a couple of hours after he’d gone to bed. In a perfectly clear sky, with little light pollution (apart from the cottage security lights), we saw the Milky Way.

Day 2 – Sunday

The weather more overcast today, in the morning we went down to Harlech beach, a huge expanse of sand. In the afternoon we walked up the road and headed to Foel Senigl, a little hill. We didn’t quite reach the top because the track from the road didn’t lead there. As the afternoon drew on the clouds came in and it rained, and was windy.

Thomas and Ian on Harlech beach

Thomas was happy in the cot until about midnight.

Day 3 – Monday

Rain menaced for most of the day, in the morning we went to Porthmadog to do some food shopping. The harbour is pleasant enough and there are a number historic railways. 

Building by Porthmadog Harbour

The rest of the town I found a bit grim.

In the afternoon we went to the beach at Llandanwg, this is closest to the cottage and on a rather more manageable scale than Harlech beach. It has rockpools but more comprised rocks on sand than rocks with holes in them. Behind the beach is a small church with a graveyard full of old slate gravestones, and some short-cropped grass leading down to an estuary.

St Tanwg Church at Llandanwg

Thomas has his first tooth, it’s one of his lower incisors – it isn’t visible but to the touch his gum feels toothy rather than gummy.

Day 4 – Tuesday

A little surprised to find the weather relatively clear, but very breezy. We headed down the road to Barmouth which is a Victorian seaside resort. It has a lengthy promenade to walk along and once again the harbour area is pleasant with some fine stone buildings, the town has some fine old stone buildings and a lot of shops selling seaside tat.

Barmouth Harbour

It seems to have a lot of tattoo parlours for its size, and a disturbingly named “arousal Café”, surely the result of a lost letter.

Arousal Cafe?!

In the afternoon the weather continued fine so we went to Harlech castle, this turns out to be a high value for money investment – the castle has a spectacular location looking out from a rocky promontory across the estuary to Porthmadog and the hills of the Llŷn peninsula. The castle itself is relatively intact, the outer walls almost complete but with most of the internal structure gone. It is possible to walk around the parapets. There is a small park along the road out of Harlech, going south, from which you get a good exterior view of the castle.

Harlech Castle

The sky was clear in the early evening so I had a go at some photography of the night sky, this worked surprisingly well, I have pictures of the Milky Way. I was held back a bit by not knowing how to use my planisphere, the unturn-offable security light and by the fact that constellation naming is more than a little random.

Milky Way

Day 5 – Wednesday

In the morning we went to see the Nantcol waterfall up the valley from Llanbedr. This involved a bit of rough walking, although nothing compared to previous holidays!

Nantcol Waterfall

In the afternoon the weather took a turn for the worse, the wind howled impressively around the cottage, we disappeared into a wet cloud and slept.

Day 6 – Thursday

Our last day in Harlech, in the morning we visited Portmeirion which was in the midst of preparations for the No. 6 festival. The village is bizarre but attractive it’s the sort of weird mock-Italianate style I might adopt if I had money to burn.

Portmeirion

As well as the village the coast on the estate is very fine with views out across the estuary.

Portmeirion (view towards Porthmadog)

In the afternoon we went down again to a blustery Llandanwg beach.

We returned home on Friday morning, Thomas sleeping all the way home.

More photos here.

Jul 16 2011

Reeth

2, Nurse Cherry's CottageIn a change from usual service we went to the Yorkshire Dales rather than the Lake District for our summer holiday, this is the land of my father – whose family lived, and still live for the most part around the southern edge of the Dales. We stayed in a cottage in Reeth (2, Nurse Cherry’s Cottages), recently built but in the old style. The advantage of this are that it’s spacious and the plumbing was not added as an afterthought. I think the cottage was advertised as sleeping up to four people, with two bathrooms and a downstairs toilet it would take 6 pretty comfortably. We are only two, so had plenty of room. We arrived in a downpour but for the rest of the week the weather was pretty good. Reeth is a small village which was once a centre for mining and farming but now is a centre for tourism – lying in the Yorkshire Dales and on the coast to coast path. It’s dominated by a large central green, although there are older buildings many are quite modern but built in the same style as the older, using the local stone.

Day 1

A pleasant walk up Arkengarthdale to Langthwaite, and back along Fremington Edge Top. The walk outwards is through pasture and many narrow styles in stone walls with little gates to prevent sheep escaping. Shortly before Langthwaite there is a footbridge across the river which takes you to a short walk through woodland before climbing up through old lead mine workings up onto Fremington Edge Top. We took the route which avoided the hamlet of Booze, considering that it was so small that it was unlikely to have a good quality sign to picture ourselves besides. Nearby is Blea Barf, and at the top of the valley on the road over into Hawse is Lovely Seat, one can’t help thinking that when the Ordnance Survey visited the locals had some fun.

The walk along Fremington Edge Top is dead straight along the side of the wall. I wonder whether these walls date to the time of the old iron fence posts in the Lake District – perhaps relating to some Enclosures Act. The wall runs along the edge of wild moorland to the north and after a pleasant, if not a little windswept walk you drop back down towards Reeth.

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Reeth viewed from Fremington Edge

 

Day 2

A route from The Green Book starting at Gunnerside, heading to Muker then up Upper Swaledale towards Keld and then back towards Muker via the Pennine Way and so along the river back to Gunnerside. Highpoints were the waterfalls at the foot of Swinner Gill and Kisdon Force. Photographers will know there is a knack to photographing waterfalls such that the water appears milky rather than frozen in time by a short exposure. The problem is this requires long exposures (about 1/2 second) and this is a bit tricky to do without a tripod – a handy rock or handrail must suffice instead. Crackpot Hall was also interesting, the term Hall is rather grandiose but the views down Swaledale were spectacular. Much birdlife to be seen including a greater spotted woodpecker, dipper, spotted flycatcher, grey wagtail, plover – no photos of these since that requires patience, speedy reactions and so forth. Lapwings all over the place.

Kisdon Force

Kisdon Force

Day 3

A more restful day today: we headed down to Harrogate and the RHS Harlow Carr garden. This is horticulture, so I’ll leave the details to The Inelegant Gardener. It’s a fairly lengthy drive down to Harrogate from Reeth – a little under an hour and a half. My abiding memory will be of coffee and Fat Rascal in Betty’s Tea Rooms, attached to the gardens but not providing a route in or out. After a morning at Harlow Carr we headed back home via Richmond: a rather smart little town on a steep hillside with a huge castle (and more waterfalls). The Market Square would be spectacular if it weren’t for a flotsam of cars which spoil any photo. Sharon and I both seem to suffer from a list which prevents the photography of buildings without post-processing. A balanced diet today of Fat Rascal, sausage roll and icecream, available from the icecream shop in Reeth a mere 100 yards from our door (via shortcut).

Richmond Castle

Richmond Castle

Day 4

Back to walking, this time one of my own devising. Starting from Gunnerside we headed up Gunnerside Beck until we reached the lead workings at Melbecks Moor. There a several sets of ruined buildings and mine tailings as you head up the valley. After climbing up through the surface workings we got onto the moor top where were visible grouse, grouse grit stations (where they can pick up grit for their gizzards) and grouse butts from where they can be shot at. You have to get pretty close to grouse before they break cover. Finally, we dropped down into the valley where we got a little lost (and quite badly nettled) trying to find the path through Rowleth Wood. Once on the path through the wood, which is narrow and overgrown, we were further nettled and as I write now a couple of hours later my legs are still tingling from the knees down.

After our walk we visited the Swaledale Museum, which although small was highly informative on the local mining industry – a subject I shall return to in another blog post.

Stonebreaker, with Sharon in background

Stonebreaker, with Sharon in background

Day 5

Over to Wensleydale for our walk today (from the Green Book), from Bainbridge up to Semer Water (a rare natural lake in the Dales) and then onwards and back via the Roman Road. The Roman Road was very straight, and as usual somewhat disappointing – it requires a great deal of imagination to call up the requisite Roman soldiers. The weather was rather better than yesterday which was overcast and prone to the odd shower; today it is a little cool out of the sun.

Wensleydale from the Roman Road

Wensleydale from the Roman Road

Day 6

Final day, today we went back to Wensleydale for a walk from the Green Book starting at Aysgarth Falls and taking in Bolton Castle. The Falls are a bit of a disappointment, the approved viewing locations are a little distant from the falls and are rather confined. Richmond falls offer something similar, with slightly peaty-brown water cascading over flat slabs, but with much better access. Bolton Castle, on the other hand is rather impressive, visible on the valley side for many miles it is a solid, square chunk of masonry. It was built for Richard de Scrope in 1379, and is quite substantially intact.

Bolton Castle

Bolton Castle

 

The Yorkshire Dales are quite different from the Lake District: the peaks are less peaky, the valleys wider and more gentle, although the moors can be bleak when the wind blows and the clouds come down. There are also a lot of picturesque waterfalls, not in the style of the Lake District which tend to be frenzied plummets down ravines but cascades over broad rocky shelves. Villages like Hawes and Reeth can get quite busy as the day goes by but out walking we scarcely saw a soul. The stone walls are all pierced with small stone stiles, which have been the distinguishing feature of this holiday.

Stone Stile

More photos here.

Feb 07 2011

Hinterglemm

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A view up the Saalbach-Hinterglemm valley, Hinterglemm is in the distance

Mrs SomeBeans and I have been skiing again, staying in Hinterglemm in the SkiCircus area of Austria. Hinterglemm is the upper of the two main villages in a valley running east-west, Saalbach is the larger village and gets more sun but the lifts are spread out around the village. We went with Inghams, flying from Manchester to Salzburg, the transfer time is about 2 hours, with a stops at Zell am See and Saalbach which are both relatively close. Salzburg airport can’t really cope with the number of package tour flights it gets in a short period.

Conditions last week were fantastic, for the first four days of our holiday we didn’t see a single cloud, temperatures were fairly low but there was no new snow during the week. Skiing was best between about 8:30am-10am before most people, other than the locals, had got out on the slopes. I suspect getting up at 7:30 every morning is not most people’s idea of a holiday.

Hinterglemm has a lot of lift capacity out of the village, a short gondola ride takes you to a set of four chairlifts on the south-facing side of the valley and two longer gondolas take you to summits on the north facing side of the valley. The link to Saalbach on the south side of the valley is a bit odd: from Saalbach it an an old 3-seater chair lift, followed by a long t-bar drag lift and an old 2-seater chair lift. The return from Hinterglemm the link is a bit easier but still involves a short t-bar. A nice range of skiing with some big wide pistes, pistes through trees and a few long black runs on the north-facing side of the valley which we didn’t try out. The area is pretty well linked up with some circular routes, and the ability to get to pretty much anywhere in the linked are in a couple of hours at most.

We stayed at the Hotel Glemmtalerhof in a large north-facing room looking towards the Reiterkogelbahn which could have accommodated 5 people. The hotel is right in the middle of the village with only a short (~200m) walk to either the Reiterkogelbahn taking you onto the south-facing slopes or the Unterschwarzachbahn taking you to the north-facing slopes. Food was fabulous and overall a good hotel. Drawbacks were that is was a bit noisy, since it sat on the middle of the village and there seemed to be an awful lot of smoking being done in the reception, cafe and bar area. Across the valley, right next to the Reiterkogelbahn, was the Hotel Alpine Palace Wolf which looked very posh and maybe worth a go in future.

Some of the other guests were a little odd: Sunday night as Gala dinner night featured a dessert buffet, which they ate from copiously pretty much all the way through the meal. Mrs SomeBeans, qualified to teach food hygiene, observed sufficient prodding and sniffing of the desserts that she preferred not to partake.

Once again we were plagued by “other people”. This time the party who didn’t realise that “Boarding at gate 7” meant: “get on the plane”, and one of whose children spent the flight gently pummelling my back through the seat back – I was calm since I decided to treat it as a free massage!

Overall a very good holiday with some fabulous skiing: this trip was unusual in that we were able to travel in term time – normally we are restricted to school holidays. I suspect the lift system in SkiCircus copes fairly well with February half-term, so might give it a go then next year.

A selection of photos:

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This is “twinkly snow”, as you ski past it the ice crystals twinkle.
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Mrs SomeBeans and I on a chairlift, we’re a bit camera shy
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Great snowfields near the top of a mountain
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The Leoganger Steinberge, a panoramic view from Wildenkarkogel
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Looking towards Hinterglemm,invisible over the edge, with pretty clouds and icicles
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Obviously I captured GPS data, we covered about 180 miles in 7 days including uplift

More photos here, along with captions.

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