Sunday, December 22, 2013

Like busses this is the 4th & I've caught-up!

Today I've been catching-up with walks covered during December.

Todays 4.5627 mile route is available at
It's the fourth I've posted today.
If you've read them, I hope you've enjoyed them.
Today we returned to Rufford, in part due to an article in the Lancashire Walks and Wildlife Magazine.
We didn't stick rigidly to the route as it would have been almost exactly the same as one we've done in the past. So with a few tweaks, we  set off from the carpark, over the River Douglas and along Meadow Lane.
To say the path was muddy, was an understatement.
 Again we've been luck with the weather, the sun shining but a cold wind. The Wind farm dominates the horizon...
 ...for most of the first third of the walk.
 With the low position of the sun at this time of year, visibility was often through squinting eyes or, because of the cold wind, through tears from weeping eyes.

Walking along side the stream... we headed towards Black Moor Road, it was important to avoid low branches.

Horses, in their purple coats, turn their rears to the bitter wind as we headed down lanes eventually crossing a swing bridge. Skiens of geese often disturbed our walk, encouraging skyward glances.
Many of the meadows were flooded with sheep crossing streams/full ditches to reach the greener grass on the other side.
After an enjoyable sunny, albeit windy walk we returned to the car and headed off to the Olde Barn for lunch and to purchase local grown vegetables.

Just before Christmas and it's closed!

What was?
Speke Hall! All the signs said Winter opening at 11:00 but, after today's meander, it wasn't open and others were turning up (in their cars), turning round and leaving. Equally surprised that they couldn't purchase National Trust gifts from Speke Hall's Shop.

The walk today, shown in the image above, was 3.6799 miles and can be seen at
Starting from the Car park, we set off back along the drive, before turning into Stockton's Wood
 and autumnal fungi everywhere...

There is nothing quite like the smell of wood in Autumn.
Speke Hall was visible as we emerged from the woodland, crossed the entrance drive and walked around the edge of the meadow ahead of us.

The path took us along the edge of what must have been part of the airfield at one time and provided views across the Mersey. The refinery...
...reflections of the sun...
 ...and tankers progressing up river.
 Bright hips standing out from their surroundings... 
 and a constantly changing sky...
 ...added to the Autumn/Winter scene.

The one other thing we can be sure of when we walk at,or around Speke Hall,is the landing and/or take off of aircraft from John Lennon Airport.

The only disappointment was that Speke Hall closed but, Dobbie's Garden Centre provided shopping opportunities and lunch...

Walk, Whisky, Food and Beer

After the Lamlash walk, Chris and I enjoyed a swim, sauna and a spell in the Steam room before heading out into Brodick for our evening meal. If you've been to Arran, or you go in the future, the Brodick Bar and the Brodick Brasserie should be on your place to visit! (Same place but separate rooms)

First the bar...

for a pint or more...

...before heading off into the restaurant... 

The food couldn't have been nicer and after two courses neither Chris or I could manage a sweet.
Breakfast in Brambles the next day was equally delicious...
John's Breakfast

Chris's Breakfast
After breakfast it was the drive to Lochranza, the very first place that I ever stayed on Arran. The fact that it has a distillery may have something to do with additional affection.
Parking near the castle we set off, in-land, and it wasn't far before we spotted our first Red Deer...
 To be fair we had spotted lots on the journey but, these were only 100 yards away. The view of the mountains around Lochranza are stunning and I'll never forget the reaction of the children we took on the field trip, from Philip Morant School in Colchester Essex (UK).

We continued along the stream and then along the road through the golf course,before climbing up the side of the mountain. Looking to our right,as we climbed, the Destination for lunch, the Distillery, could be seen....
 and looking back, when we took one of a number of rests, we had wonderful views of the harbour and the ferry dock...
 Red Deer were seen at regular intervals, some very close...
 as we made our way along well trodden paths.
 ...past rushing Burns..
 ...we constantly scanned the mountain sides and the horizon for glimpses of the Red Deer.

I don't think, in all the times we've been to Arran, that we have ever seen so many Red Deer!
Again we were very lucky with the weather and although it was a relatively short walk, with the climbs and yesterdays 9 plus miles, it was enough and enjoyable. Back onto the main road we had a close encounter with a Buzzard that rose up from the valley below us. How lovely and not the only encounter while we were on Arran. It wasn't far, after the encounter, to the Isle of Arran Distillery where we had lunch...

...before heading back to Lochranza Castle and the car. Looking across the meadows we could clearly see the path that we had walked along and with the Buzzard, Hooded Crows, Sheep
 ...and Red Deer...

 ...we arrived back at what remains of the castle...

By now the wind had got up and was bitterly cold so we did a quick walk around the castle and then back into the car for a ride around the Northern end of the island and back across the "string road" to Brodick.
The walk was 3.403 miles and the map is available at 

Remember a stop at the distillery is a must! (even if you don't like Whisky!)

On the way back to the Hotel we parked near a saw mill and visited the Arran Brewery and purchased two cases of Sunset Beer (24 bottles) to go with The Arran Malt. The question is, will they last until Christmas? :-)

If at first you don't succeed...

On the 8th December 2013, yes I'm catching up with past walks, Chris & I drove North, one comfort break, with some refreshments and then onwards into Scotland and onto Ardrossen. First in the queue for the ferry,we had refreshments and then sat in the car as the ferry came into harbour.

I tried out the "Lapse It" app on my iPhone,as the vehicles left for their journey on the mainland.
End result is quite pleasing; thanks for the heads-up Ben!
It was then our turn to drive onto the ferry and cross to Brodick.

Chris didn't venture on deck, unusual for her, but it was wet, windy and a little rough.
Once settled into our Hotel it was time for a swim, sauna and then a cracking meal in the Brambles Restaurant.

The next morning it was back to Brambles for Breakfast before we set out on a walk from Brodick to Lamlash.

After the wind and rain yesterday we were pleased to see sunshine on the mountains. The walk itself should have been shorter but ended up 9.3524 miles long.
The route is available at

So why so long?
Well everything was fine until we reached the forest. Gorse in flower, catkins preparing for spring...

Sun on the mountain side...

Yes we did see the laminated sign on the post at the entrance but didn't read it as carefully as we should have done.
To cut a long story short, we had to turn back because of Logging activity and the closed area blocked our route.

Having retraced our steps we turned away from the stream (burn? Scots Gaelic has the word bùrn, which means "fresh water") and headed back to the coast.
The idea? to walk the coastal path to Lamlash.
On the way to the coast the sun compensated for the disappointment of our blocked route and the scenery, stunning as always.
we passed Highland Cattle...

Admired Goat Fell

Then across the Golf Course with Brodick Castle visible in the distance...

The walk along the beach and Prom provided stunning views, in particular those of Shags fishing and/or drying their feathers.
Oyster Catchers

...and Herrons...

It had to arrive! The climb from the Prom along the A841 before following the coastal path. A number of stops were needed, by me rather than Chris, but with views like this, who wouldn't want to stop every now and then?
 Now this was what we were both looking forward to see...
One it meant we were over the ridge, and two it's Holy Island, bringing back fond memories of our last visit. A few styles...
 ...and a stroll down beside another Burn...
 ...and we were down in Lamlash although this statue got us wondering.

More Oyster catchers, Herons, Curlews and other coastal birds and we arrived at our destination. In time to grab a pint (or 2) of Red Squirrel

...before catching the bus back to Brodick.
By then it was starting to get dark.

All in all, a wonderful day on Arran and yes the weather was spot on for December.