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This is a picture of the Männlichen in Switzerland, with the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau wall in the background and Wengen below to the right. The valley that Wengen sits in must be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

My wife and I once went parapenting off the Männlichen in winter (each dual-seat with a pilot), starting a little out of shot to the right, descending eventually to Wengen below - an exhilarating experience that we shall never forget.

The photo comes from a site that looks really great if you like mountain walking - click it if you would like to visit.

Epping Forest in autumn, a photo I took many moons ago when it was our favourite walking spot.
I was somehow reminded of it when I came across these rather lovely walking sticks carved by the Kansas woodcarver Millard Harrell:

I think that the reason I linked the two must have been a mental picture of Ents, and the choice of Epping Forest as a filming location for Kate Madison's prequel to The Lord of the Rings, "Born of Hope", an astonishingly good amateur movie (released free on the Internet) produced on a budget that would have paid for one day's canteen bill for Peter Jackson's crew.

If you have never heard of it, don't make the mistake of thinking that "amateur" = "naff". See here.

[Lake District visit continued from Part 1]

Start of a walk along and past Elterwater, west of Ambleside and south of Grasmere

All the Lakeland becks are clear as crystal

Ridge between Silver Howe (left) and Loughrigg Fell (right), I think.... (looking north)

Slate spoil heap, a sign that the old industries are still going...

Shortly before I took this, a loud blast (like an extra-loud bird scarer) from over the low rise above us proved the point!

Approaching "Wainwright's Inn" at Chapel Stile - very pleasant

It was that time of year...

[Lake District visit continues in Part 3]

[Lake District visit continued from Part 3]

Start of another walk, starting where the water from Grasmere is about to flow into Rydal Water

Looking back on Rydal Water, Wordsworth's house is on the other side of the lake in the distance

Heading across Loughrigg Terrace, a path that runs under Loughrigg with Grasmere down to the right

Nab Scar, to the north east of Grasmere... and one of many awesome stone walls running up to the top of the fell


Grasmere, where the river runs out on its way to Rydal Water... this is APRIL in the Lake District!! (Apparently the real Lake District April now happens in June, July and August, according to the locals). Just out of the top of the photo people are swimming... words fail me. The sun is hot and it's in the mid 70's...

Grasmere, from the path descending from Loughrigg Terrace

The path descends gently with occasional hairpin bends

Just after taking this picture, we heard the first cuckoo of Spring, loud and clear... 20th April...

Outfall from Grasmere (with my too-fast small digital camera the water over the rocks looked static, so I added a slight motion-blur layer in Photoshop)

Looking back on Loughrigg

...nearly back at the car park., looking back the way we have come

Back at the hotel, at supper... a frequent visitor outside the doors... doors of a restaurant... wide open at 7:30 PM in mid April... still can't get over it!

From the page:

The first time i visited the Lake District, I stayed at the Brothers Water Inn and immediately fell in love with the place.

It has great views looking down Dovedale towards the slightly foreboding Dove Crag.

So it was from here that I decided to venture up Dove Drag to the Priesthole, a small cave situated on the north-eastern side which offers impressive views of Dovedale and beyond...


A Walk in the New Forest - May, 2010

The New Forest (called that by William the Conqueror in 1079 when he cleared settlements to make it his new hunting forest - why change the name now?) is a great walking area. Many suggestions for walks in this area can be found here.

It's going to be a beautiful day... 15.1 hours of sun forecast, which duly arrived (we were lucky - the next weekend, the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May, had its traditional dreadful weather)

The best walks start and finish at a pub... This one is The Oak Inn at Bank, near Lyndhurst

Some very nice properties around here...

Anyone for Poohsticks?

The circular walk (about 5km) followed this curving stream for much of its length

In the bright sun, this beautiful fungus was acting as a natural uplighter

And of course, we met the locals...

Back at The Oak Inn for the traditional end to a good walk!

If you liked this...

[Places to Enjoy Life... In England]

Julia Bradbury (the daughter of a steel-industry father from Derbyshire and a Greek mother, and a right nice lass) has become one of my favourite people after I watched BBC Four's series Wainwright Walks, set in the English Lake District - now available on DVD.

I love the Lakeland Fells and Alfred Wainwright's superb hand-drawn and hand-written guides to them, and Julia clearly does too.

The two series of half-hour programmes take you on ten of Wainwright's best fell walks, through some of the most beautiful wild scenery in the world. The names of the fells convey something of their unique character: Haystacks (where Wainwright's ashes are scattered), Blencathra, Castle Crag, Scafell Pike, Helvellyn, and in the second series Catbells, Crinkle Crags & Bowfell, Helm Crag, High Street and Pillar.

Each programme includes a short sequence of superb aerial photography, taken from a helicopter, providing (literally) an overview of the route to be followed. This footage is a wonderful supplement to Wainwright's guides, and is almost worth the price of the DVDs by itself (and is taken on clear days, even when the actual walks encounter Lakeland's famously changeable weather).

The ground-based photography of the actual walks ("walk" being a term that occasionally includes serious scrambling, but excludes rock climbing needing a rope) is equally superb - the next best thing to being there. Even though you know that camera-men are present, the sense of solitude that Wainwright valued so highly is beautifully conveyed.

Along the way Julia meets various locals, some of whom knew Wainwright personally, all of whom add greatly to the interest of the walks. On some sections she is (very sensibly) accompanied by an expert guide.

Whether you are planning a trip to the Lakeland Fells or would just like to experience them from your armchair, I can't recommend these DVDs enough. They will give you five hours of real pleasure.

[My photoblog of a trip to the English Lakes, September 2008]

(Original post: September 28th, 2008)

English Lake District: Askham to the Cockpit Stone Circle

Earlier this month my wife and I spent a week in the English Lake District. This beautiful part of England has the highest annual rainfall in the UK, added to by the remnants of Hurricane Gustav. It didn't rain all the time, though...

We chose a nice day for a gentle walk that starts at the village of Askham, heading for the Cockpit stone circle on the fells above Ullswater.

Climbing through Askham

A nice barn conversion!

On the way to Heughscar Hill

The locals (a particularly tough lot)

Brown Rigg and High Street (the ancient Roman road that eventually crosses the fell of the same name) - the Cockpit stone circle is just visible on the left edge of the picture, a tiny light-green area from which a track runs to the right

Ullswater below Brown Rigg

The view from Heughscar Hill

Ullswater from Heughscar Hill

On the way to the Cockpit

The Cockpit stone circle, taken from the ground...

...and from the air.

The last photo was taken by Simon Ledingham, who takes many aerial photos using a gyrocopter (or autogyro). A gyrocopter looks superficially like a small helicopter, but its rotor is an unpowered rotating wing, and is much safer than a helicopter if its engine fails. (You probably remember the gyrocopter "Little Nellie" that James Bond flew in the movie "You Only Live Twice", which was actually designed and flown in the movie by Ken Wallis.)

[Lake District visit continues below]
This excellent site provides guided tours of a very large number of walks in the English Lake District (and some other places too). Each tour takes the form of a photoblog and excellent notes, accompanied by annotated large scale maps.

This is a great site for anyone who likes walking - a real work of love by Andrew Leaney. Even if you can't get to the English Lakes, this site is a real treat for the armchair traveller!

For more on the English Lake District...

[Places to enjoy life... in England]