Monday, March 26, 2012

Bardsey Spring

Spring tides and springtime brought the best out in Bardsey Island last weekend. The combination of swell from the south, along with powerful tidal streams brought the surrounding waters dramatically to life all along the rocky shores.

Kev and Gill along with Matt and Chris made the crossing in canoes packed with buoyancy and supplies. The remaining four paddlers carried their cargo in sea kayaks.

Away from the rocks and reefs the sea was pleasantly calm although the booming of the waves pounding the shore was a relentless reminder of the ocean's might. The golden hazy light and the unusually warm temperatures felt more like mid June than late March.

meadow pipit
Bird life is getting busy all over the island. The sea birds arriving in huge numbers including the Manx shearwaters. In the hedgerows, amongst the flowering gorse and along the stone walls all manner of small brown birds like wren and dunnock are enjoying rich pickings.

Having spent the night in one of the cottages there was just enough time for a short morning walk before heading back to the mainland.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Watch the Birdie

A sunny Sunday morning walk took me through woodland bursting with signs that spring is really upon us.
Not only are the hawthorn and birch trees exploding into action but amongst them the birds are getting busy.
Its always worth dropping in on the visitor centre at Sale Water Park. Although recent cutbacks mean that the centre is no longer open to people every day. However, the bird feeder is regularly stocked up.
By mid-morning all of the main paths were getting busy with people out walking and jogging. In the meantime there were still a few quiet corners down by the ponds where it was business as usual for the heron.

Monday, March 12, 2012

River Leven

With painfully slow progress its easy to think that rivers access is going nowhere at all. However, yesterday I paddled the River Leven in the south Lake District. Ten years ago we could only paddle about a mile of this river. We would need to pay a pound for the privilege and be grateful.

These days the river is paddled regularly by small groups along much more of its length. Gradually, times are changing and hopefully more tolerant attitudes will help open up the countryside to more people.

Needless to say, our adventure on the river was a wonderful experience hopping our boats over a series of weirs and down chutes of tumbling, foaming water in rapids that I have never paddled before.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Changes at Chrolton Meadows

I am lucky enough to live beside the Mersey Valley. Chorlton meadows are a wonderful open space with nature reserves and parkland nearby. I was brought up around here and it is rewarding to see how not only the seasons change, but also how things change from one year to the next.

Chorlton Ees nature reserve was developed on land that was once occupied by Withington Sewage Works. Many of the Victorian structures remain to this day mostly overgrown or partially buried.

Changes are on the way once again as the new Metrolink development is about to tear its way through woodland and stride across the River Mersey close to Jackson's Boat pub. It seems that industry will only leave the Mersey Valley alone on a temporary basis. However, its is comforting to know that the sacrifice is being made in the interests of developing a competitively sustainable and modern transport system.

Today I have been carrying my camera around in a my new F-Stop camera case. It can be carried around on its own with a shoulder strap but it also slips conveniently into a small rucksack.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Mad March trip on the Menai

Early March is throwing a variety of weather our way but blustery conditions didn't stop us from getting out for a breezy paddle. Several of us sought shelter in the Menai Straits. We headed south from Menai Bridge and began to take on the southerly breeze that stood between us and and our lunch stop at Y Felinheli.

Starting later than intended, the tide turned against us so we crept along close to the shore to keep out of the flow. Even so the wind and spray kept our forward speed down to a crawl.

Eventually we made it to Y Felinheli through a vicious squall. The best option was to dart into the nearest pub for warmth and refreshment. The folk at Y Garddfon Inn were very welcoming despite our bedraggled and wind-swept appearance. They served us with tea, hot chocolate, chips and beer.

Once we had warmed up the return journey was easy cruising with wind and tide behind us. Upon our arrival back at Menai Bridge the wind dropped and we were greeted by a hint of warm spring sunshine.