Category Archives: Natural world

Challenging is the new normal, at last

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For the second part of her sea kayaking holiday Sarah heads south, from Mull to Anglesey, and finds she is now comfortable in challenging waters that would have terrified her even a few weeks ago. Well  done Sarah.

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Having been back from Mull for a day, I’m off again to Anglesey. I arrive at Pobty Cottage for my two days here where I will be having coaching with James Stevenson, of Adventure Elements.

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It is a delightful place, right on the beach.

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And equally delightful inside, cosy and compact. Perfect. High tide is around 11pm, and it’s not often you can step outside in your pyjamas and wellies and go for a paddle. Which I do.

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The next morning I meet my coach, James Stevenson. He has plans for us. Continue reading

Kayaking off Mull: Silver seas and golden skies

Sarah and her kayak head for the Hebrides this time. To the island that sits in my own memory as ‘the most beautiful place on earth.’ Other than Liverpool, obviously. Let’s see how she gets on?

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So my last ‘four days on the water’ were not to be and tinged with sadness, and now I am off to Mull for another ‘four days on the water’. I hope it will be a better tale this time. I have driven up to Oban, and am catching the ferry across to Craignure, where I will be staying during my time on the Isle of Mull.

I haven’t been this far north since 2009, when Ronnie and I first came to Mull, twice in the same year, we loved it. As I drive north I have the sense of really getting away. Things slip into irrelevance. It is a good feeling.

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Passing the lighthouse at the end of Lismore.

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And I arrive at Pennygate Lodge, my home here on Mull.

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The view from my window. Continue reading

Sarah goes sea kayaking: Four days that weren’t

The latest of Sarah’s sea kayaking posts. This one a gentle meditation on life and death. “A reminder that life doesn’t always go as planned, especially when we are living with nature, tides, and the natural cycles of life and death. This I know,” says Sarah, whose younger sister has just died.

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For several weeks now I have been looking forward to May, because May is such a beautiful month and I love the increasing light, the long evenings, the shift in the season to almost summer, the growth, the fresh green, in fact just everything about May is a delight. And I also have the prospect of four days ‘on the water’ to look forward to as well.

For my latest sea kayaking trip I am staying at Ty Cert near Rhoscolyn on Anglesey. It is a barn conversion next to this disused chapel, which is currently being converted into a tearoom and gallery.

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My room has its own outside area, a ‘kitchenette’, and bathroom. Cosy and compact.

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It also has a graveyard through the blue gate, and a shared garden. It’s perfectly lovely. Continue reading

A Wirral Meditation

I tell myself I’ve come here to think something through. Something I’ve been thinking about that could do with a walk to get it straight. But as soon as I arrive I know the place isn’t going to put up with that. Because the place itself wants to be noticed. And in the noticing my nagging thoughts melt away. Which is probably what I’ve really come here for anyway.

I’m on the Shining Shore, the walk around Thurstaston that’s been one of my main meditation places, alone and with Sarah, for many years now.

It’s a grey day.

But it’s Springtime anyway.

I’m in the middle of my week and a half of not working and I’ve come for an afternoon out on the Wirral. Some walking, some reading and my lunch is in my bag. Continue reading

The Road to Wigan Pier: Walking to Leeds, Section 4

The fourth section of our walk along the whole of the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

This time we’re going to be walking from Burscough, where we left off last week, all the way to Wigan. Though in fact our journey begins where it will end, at Wigan. (Now we’re walking a good way away from home we’re beyond local Liverpool transport and so are driving to where we’ll finish each day and using their local transport to get to where we’ll walk from.)

So here we are in Wigan.

Where our walk will end later.

On a quiet Sunday morning in a beautiful place.

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Into Lancashire: Walking to Leeds, Section 3

After a month’s gap due to bad weather, colds and sea Kayaking (not me) our walking along the Leeds Liverpool Canal continues on a beautifully sunny and warm spring day, the Saturday before the clocks go forward.

We’ve both missed this time together and are glad to be back where we left off.

Here at Downholland Cross, by the Scarisbrick Arms.

Both fortified by some hand made Welsh fudge from our friend Jayne.

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Sarah goes sea kayaking: The Marshlands, by boat

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In which brave Sarah goes out into the more than choppy waters of the Dee Estuary and the boundaries of her comfort zone are well and truly pushed.

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December 2016. The Shining Shore, Dee sailing club slipway visible in the distance.

One of my favourite places in the whole world is ‘The Shining Shore’ – the shining waters and mudflats of the Dee Estuary. Me and Ronnie have walked all along this shore, from Parkgate to West Kirby, and have a default walk which starts at Thurstaston, goes inland  through lanes and woodland, and emerges on the beach and the cliffs at Thurstaston for the last stretch. We’ve done it so many times in the last six years I feel I could probably do it blindfold. We also walk further up the shore, further inland where the marsh is gradually encroaching, and we call that part ‘The Marshlands’. And yet each time we walk here there is always something to see – wildflowers, the change in the light, the birds in the estuary…. Here’s a selection of photographs of this part of the world from the last five years.

Over the years we’ve observed the cliffs erode, the marsh becoming larger. And the tidal flow in and out of the cut through the marsh. During our years of walking I didn’t imagine that I would enter the marsh through this cut. But this weekend I did. Continue reading