Saturday, May 13, 2017

Spring catch-up

It's been a hectic start to Spring, so much so that i find myself fully 2 months behind with the blog!

Time for a catch-up post then.

Our first visitor to our new home in Falkirk was a nephew and his friend, who he'd visited at Edinburgh University.  Helen was at work so I dragged them first to the Falkirk Wheel for lunch and then on to Stirling, this is the view from the Castle on what proved a cold but sunny Spring morning:


Having visited the Castle and Museum we walked back to the car.   This chap was PM apparently:


And then did an Andy Scott tour, taking in the sculptures on the roundabouts between Stirling and Falkirk (via Alloa) and on to the highlight, the Kelpies, back in Falkirk.   A winter shower was about to blow through, all wind and sleet, but briefly the Kelpies were lit by the sun with the dark clouds behind, I really like the effect:


Shortly after that visit we journeyed to York to spend a weekend with friends there.   Spring was definitely Springing further south, it too was enjoying the unseasonably warm weather:


York is outstanding for architecture and history both:



We really enjoyed the weekend, meeting friends, eating out, exploring and the sunshine helped too.

Next-up a visit from Helen's sister which saw her attending the Saturday morning run in Callendar Park, so we had a wander around there while she completed the hilly version of her regular timed run:


Then it was time to head to the coast at Aberlady, again we were very lucky with the weather:



The next day was a washout however.  We drove all the way to Anstruther expecting the rain to stop but it just got heavier, so a long morning spent in the car hoping for a walk that wasn't to be.

We did get out again the following day though, visiting Killin, on our way to the NNR somewhere up towards Ben Lawers:


It turns out the NNR was dormant but hey we were on a foothill of a Munro, so what else to do but try the ascent!

Ok we weren't really prepared, Helen didn't even have gloves with her.  We did get as far as a plateau with a small cairn of stones but it had started snowing, the wind was blowing strong and we would have had to ascend a path on a steep half-ridge to reach the summit of Ben Lawers so we stopped to take in the scenery:


Fresh snow on the Munro:


Before heading back down and home to defrost, drink tea, etc.   Further research however showed that the plateau we'd reached was in fact our first Munro, Beinn Ghlas!   I was somewhat forgiven for the lack of clarity in terms of our destination given what we'd all achieved.

It proved a beautiful spot even in the tail of winter and one we intend to visit again.

On another grey day we decided to visit the forest at Aberfoyle.


The waterfall was pretty but overall we didn't feel the need to come back again, it's more of an outdoor park for families:


April rolled into May and we found ourselves in Cornwall for the second week out of four, this time on holiday though rather than a working visit.   The holiday itself proved very busy and we ended up visiting North Cornwall and Devon for a break within the break!

Spring was much more advanced here than in Scotland, not surprising given its mild climate and being 500 miles closer to the equator, as we soon discovered:




We parked and walked the short distance to the top of Kit Hill for some spectacular views:


And visited Calstock to see the viaduct there:


We fitted a lot in including the Buckfast Benedictine Monastery (in homage to Buckfast Tonic wine, a favourite in Glasgow) and Castle Drogo which was a very different place.   The walk to and from the Castle from Fingle Bridge was a particular highlight, though all week the weather was against us (and we eyed the wall-to-wall sunshine in Scotland with some envy):


With the holiday done it was time to head back to Scotland and hopefully the extended sunshine we'd been observing from the South.

With Helen back at work i was under instructions to get out and about, so i surprised us both by booking the ferry from Anstruther out to the Isle of May NNR, a place i'd wanted to see since our first visit to this area some ten years previously.

On the trip out we encountered a pod of Bottlenose Dophins:


The island itself is a haven for breeding seabirds:


The Gannets don't breed there, they use Bass Rock further down the Fourth:


The island hosts Puffins, Gulls, Razorbills, Guillemots and Shags:




Alas the swell was too much and the winds too strong for us to land, so we circled the island before heading back to the harbour:


This was only the third time in five years they'd set-out but not been able to land.   I was surprised to be told i'd get a 50% refund.  Decent approach that, i'll be back.

So that's the catch-up.   Spring is now in full swing even up here.  Time for some more exploring....

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