Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lake District

Ravenglass estuary
In February we purchased a voucher for a 2-night stay in the Lake District National Park from KGB Deals for £79 (including breakfast). With train tickets from Dundee to Ravenglass only £34pp return, this trip to England was an effing steal and a perfect birthday present for Husband.  Last week we redeemed our voucher and had perhaps the most perfect holiday ever.

Our voucher was for The Pennington, a gorgeous hotel in Ravenglass, a charming coastal village on the west coast of the Lake District in Cumbria, England.  We arrived on Thursday morning too early to check-in (around 11am) so we dropped our suitcase off and started to explore the area.

The village is super small so we made our way along the main road to the neighbouring tourist attraction of Muncaster Castle.  We had planned to spend Friday exploring this area but we had nothing better to do and it was still relatively early so we decided to enter (£11pp).  This would prove to be the first of many correct decisions made on this trip.

Muncaster Castle
We rambled a bit through the gardens, up to Bluebell Hill, and then back down to the castle.  We started the castle tour just after 1pm and were done before 2:30pm.  The castle is still occupied by The Penningtons and it's their voices (parents, daughter, and son-in-law) who narrate the audio tour.  The tour is lovely and the castle is beautiful.  They've made it charming and comfortable but it's still definitely a drafty, old castle.  I do not envy their maintenance or energy costs but they've done a marvellous job of refurbishing and I wouldn't be averse to spending a summer in their shoes.

In addition to their lovely grounds there is an owl reserve on their land and at 2:30pm they put on a very entertaining bird show.  We got to see a common buzzard, barn owl, and eagle owl in action and learn a bit about their plight here in the UK.  Afterwards, we made our way to the actual sanctuary where they house many more varieties, all available for adoption.  The owls are fed dead chicks, which we got to witness, and then at 4:30pm the leftovers are fed to a rather large but patient group of wild herons.  The whole experience at Muncaster Castle was magical and easily supplanted Glamis Castle as our new favourite in the UK.

After the heron feeding we made our way back to Ravenglass via Public Footpath, passing fields of grazing sheep with their newborn lambs.  The return trip didn't take very long and we were quickly back at our hotel.

Day Two saw us rambling 6 miles into the park to the town of Boot, along the River Esk.  One of the great things about the UK is the fact that one can probably get anywhere via Public Footpath.  We hadn't known that there was a trail from Ravenglass to Boot but we knew we wanted to go and assumed  we'd eventually hit a trail so we just started rambling.  Public Footpaths, Bridleways, and Right of Ways (all free to use) are definitely lovely perks of the British countryside.

Our 12 mile ramble took up the bulk of our second day but it was a lovely way to while away the hours and we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery.  The highlight though was the surprise ending when we popped out of some trees to discover we were at the top of a hill, in a pasture of grazing sheep, with an amazing view of the estuary.

The rest of our time was spent sampling local real ales from the various establishments we stumbled upon, resting at our lovely hotel, and walking along the pebble beach at low tide.  We left Saturday afternoon with giant smiles on our faces from a weekend well done.

For more pictures, please visit my Facebook album here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Perth & Kinnoull Hill

I love Perth!  It's a beautiful city with lovely people surrounded by amazing countryside.  I haven't spent nearly enough time there over these past 15+ months but yesterday I tried to remedy that.

Kinnoull Hill is an 11 km (6.9 miles) circle route, easy for those taking public transportation because the trailhead is just outside Perth's city centre.  The peak at 729 feet is reached fairly early making the bulk of the ramble rather leisurely.

The path skirts the cliff edge to the summit and then winds its way down the backside through fields of grazing horses and sheep, eventually hitting Coronation Road, the historic path of kings and queens of Scotland travelling from Falkland Castle to Scone, the traditional location of coronation.

Leaving Coronation Road at Milkboys Path, outside Scone, we followed neighbourhood streets back into Perth.  At the River Tay, the Sculpture Trail finishes the route by meandering through a few riverside parks back to the starting point.

We had envisaged spending the day in Perth but after our four hour ramble we were wiped out and increased our speed, leaving the Sculpture Trail a bit early, in order to make the return train home.

Although the day wasn't clear and we were hit by a few bursts of mist, we enjoyed this ramble immensely.  The ease of access, friendly locals, and amazing views were well worth the effort and, once again, we were reminded of how every other place in Scotland is miles more enchanting than our ever more disappointing home town of Dundee.

For more pictures, please visit my Facebook album here.

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