The Bogtrotter

Tag: Britain

In search of the Avocet – Minsmere circular walk

by on Oct.08, 2011, under Britain, British Walks

I’ve never been a big bird watcher but some birds just have a magical appeal. The Avocet is one of these, and Minsmere is the place to see them.

Avocet in Flight

Possibly the hardest part of this 5 and a half mile walk is finding your way to the start. The tiny village of Eastbridge is just a few miles north of Aldeburgh. Park at The Eel’s Foot pub, and then start the walk by heading a hundred yards south back along the road. From there turn left and take the public footpath towards the coast. After 20 yards take the right fork (signed F.P.) along a narrow path until you come out into a field. Follow the edge of the field until the far corner then carry straight on through the gap in the hedge. The track now follows a small water channel with signs suggesting that otters can be seen.
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Marlow river walk

by on Jul.16, 2011, under British Walks, Walks

The perfect walk for a Sunday morning – a 3 and a 1/2 mile stroll along the River Thames following the Thames Path from Marlow to Bourne End.

Marlow Reflections

Marlow Reflections


Starting from Marlow railway station, go straight ahead and down the hill towards the river. Just before you reach the river take a narrow alleyway on the left behind the Church (signposted as the Thames Path). This goes through to a back road that has a small mooring point on the river. If you stand on the jetty you get a great view of the suspension bridge that is the main river crossing in Marlow.

Carry on through another back alley and you will come out again next to the river, where you can go onto the small foot bridges and across onto the lock island. Again you get picturesque views across the river, both back towards Marlow and down by the lock and the lock-keepers cottage.

Return to the Thames Path and carry on out of the town. You emerge from the houses to a small field and then have to go under the main bypass road before you hit the real countryside. From here you are alongside the river and get to wave at the passing boats pottering up and down the waterway.

Boat Moored at Marlow


The path opens out into fields, and you continue to follow the river at the edge of the fields for the next mile and a half. Eventually the fields end but the path carries on along the river, firstly through a small park and then an alleyway as you approach the boats moored up at Bourne End Marina.

Carry on past the marina until you reach the railway bridge over the river. Just after the bridge take a narrow path left, away from the river. This opens out into a small cul-de-sac. At the end of the cul-de-sac turn left and you will arrive at Bourne End railway station. From here you can get the train back to the start point at Marlow.

You can download a map covering this walk from the Thames Path web site.

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Amble through the Lakes – walk from Grasmere to Ambleside

by on Oct.04, 2009, under Britain, British Walks, Walks

When you think of walking in the Lake District you immediately think of heading for the fells and mountain-tops, but there are also plenty of low level walks that provide equally enjoyable walking. This is an gentle but varied five mile walk between two of Lakeland’s most visited sites – Grasmere village and Ambleside. The walk is fairly easy going, with little ascent and just one tricky section.

Starting from Grasmere Church (resting place of poet William Wordsworth) take the small road opposite, past the car park and garden centre. You follow this road past a hotel and out of the village, getting your first views of Grasmere lake on your left. You then approach close to the lake, passing a small boathouse and cafe. The road then climbs up and slightly away from the lake, giving fine views across to Grasmere with the village lying underneath the bulk of Great Rigg.
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Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay coastal walk

by on May.09, 2009, under Britain, British Walks, Walks

Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay is one of the most renowned coastal walks in England. As long as the wind is not in your face, it is an enjoyable seven mile walk taking in some spectacular cliffs and scenery.

When you hear the town of Whitby mentioned you immediately think of fish. Not only is it one of the biggest fishing harbours in the UK, it also is the spiritual home to fish and chips. Wander down into the town on any evening and your nose will be assaulted by the smell of fish and chips drifting out of the numerous cafes that line the streets. You know you shouldn’t, but how can you resist?

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey


The walk starts from Whitby centre. Walk through the old part of town on the east side of the river, and head for the 199 steps up to Whitby Abbey. After you climb the steps, pass through St Mary’s churchyard to reach the majestic ruins of the abbey, sat high up on the top of the cliffs. Follow the wall around the abbey until you reach the signed path (marked Cleveland Way) which crosses a field to get to the cliff edge. From here the route follows the sea edge all the way. After about one mile you reach a caravan park. Just follow the road through it for 200 yards before picking up the path again and returning to the cliff tops. (continue reading…)

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LLeyn Peninsula coastal walk – of cliffs and golf balls

by on Mar.15, 2009, under Britain, British Walks, Walks

The Lleyn peninsula is tucked away in the North of Wales, pointing like a finger into the Irish Sea. The coast has some superb walking yet is much less walked than the more famous neighbours down in Pembrookshire. This 8 mile coastal walk goes from Nefyn to Tudweiliog, with a regular bus service running for you to complete the circuit.

Lleyn Coastal Path

Lleyn Coastal Path


Starting from Nefyn a short walk takes you to the coast path above the beach. Follow the path around the cliff tops through the scented gorse bushes. From here you can see the picturesque little harbour of Porthdinllaen tucked under the cliffs in the distance, with Ty Coch (its red pub) standing out. Continue until you reach a road going down to a slipway on the beach. I prefer to continue by going up and through the golf course here, but you can also go down the slipway and follow the beach round as long as the tide is not in.

Porthdinllaen

Porthdinllaen

Follow the path along the clifftops until you are nearly over the top of Porthdinllaen, then drop down to the hamlet. Pass through the arch in the buildings to come into a courtyard, then carry on the rocky coastline. This rocky section is a little more difficult underfoot, but is passable with care. You will then come to Lifeboat Bay with the Lifeboat Station which has protected boats in the area since 1864.

Cross over the slipway and then climb up the steep steps to join the golfers on the course above. You can rest in the shelters here and watch the golfers before following the track down the middle of the course. Then pick up the path to the right which goes down the side of the fairway to rejoin the clifftop.

Walk across Nefyn Golf Course

Walk across Nefyn Golf Course

Leave the golf course behind and continue along the coast. The coastline becomes a bit more rugged and wild now, with hardly a sole in sight. However the path is fairly distinct and easy to follow, with just a couple of slightly tricky bits where the path has been eroded back by small streams. The cormorants and seals provide welcome company along the route – the cormorants diving off the rocks into the sea whilst the seals lounge around on the sand and rocks.

Keep going until you reach the path cutting inland next to a small caravan site. Take this path then follow a small path across the fields to Tudweiliog village, where you can get some refreshments in the shop and wait for the bus back to Nefyn (click for timetable).

To do this walk you will need OS Landranger Map number 123 (Lleyn Peninsula). Alternatively you can download the map from Anquet Maps.

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A walk in the Park – Richmond Park

by on Mar.04, 2009, under Britain, British Experiences

Richmond Park would be just like any other big London green space if it wasn’t for one thing – the Red Deer that wander freely around.

Red Deer in Richmond Park

Red Deer in Richmond Park

Whatever the time of year, you don’t need much of an excuse to go down the the park. Whether it’s for a brisk walk on a Winter’s day, or a relaxing evening stroll in Summer, the deer will be waiting. The deer usually stick together in a couple of fairly large herds, so they shouldn’t be too hard to spot. Our first sight of them was their antlers sticking up like tree branches out of the firns and grasses. However, Richmond Park is the largest of the London Royal Parks (over 2500 acres) so it might take you a while to track them down.

Once you’ve found them, you will be surprised how close you can get. The deer are very used to people in the park so they don’t run off at the sight of you. But don’t mistake them for pets – they are wild animals and you should not approach them too closely or try to touch them. For photographers they are a delight – you can spend hours with a camera getting up close and personal for that perfect shot.

You can find out more about the park, including directions, from the Richmond Park web site.

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Relax in an open top Bath

by on Feb.25, 2009, under Britain, British Experiences

Sometimes you just want to relax and watch the world pass by. At the Thermae Spa in Bath you can do exactly that – looking out over the rooftops of the city from the rooftop pool.

Bath has been renowned as a Spa town since Roman times, and the old Roman Baths have been a visitor attraction for years. But after the old Spa closed in 1978 there was no way for you to enjoy the hot spring waters. That was until the Thermae Spa opened in 2006, with the centrepiece being the futuristic New Royal Bath building.

Bath Thermae Spa rooftop pool

Bath Thermae Spa rooftop pool

One of the great things about the Spa is it is open to all, and you can visit for just a couple of hours. The highlight for me was definitely the open-air rooftop pool. Even though it was an overcast day it felt great to wallow in the warm waters and look over the historic buildings that surround the Spa.

The Minerva Bath inside is equally impressive, with the grand columns towering up from the waters to support the structure above. You really do feel a sense of indulgence as you move between the whirlpools and neck-massage jets. There are also steam rooms “gently infused with essential oils, such as camomile, jasmine and eucalyptus”, although I have to admit their benefits were lost on me.

For those looking for an extra touch you can treat yourself (or your loved one) to a spa treatment such as a relaxing massage or body wrap. Or you could combine two pampering treats in one pampering package – a session for two at the Thermae Bath Spa and an indulgent afternoon tea for two at Homewood Park Country House Hotel. And with just a little bit of imagination you could drift back 2000 years and be bathing with the Romans.

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Broadway Tower – circular walk back in time

by on Feb.23, 2009, under Britain, British Walks, Walks

This is a classic 4 mile circular walk through one of the best parts of the Cotswolds, starting and finishing in the “Jewel of the Cotswolds” that is Broadway village.

Start from the centre of Broadway and follow the old High Street up and out of the village. If several of the buildings look familiar – it’s no surprise. This street is used as a setting for many historical dramas, with it’s chocolate box looks and untouched feel. Carry on up the hill past the car turning circle until you see a gate on your left with a footpath sign next to it. Take this path and go through the low arch under the bypass.

The Green in Broadway

The Green in Broadway

The path goes up and across the first small field, then curves up to the right. You pass through a gateway then cross straight over another couple of fields, climbing gradually until you reach a hedge at the far side of the fields. The walking here is wet underfoot as several springs come up in these fields, and it is difficult to plot a dry route. At the hedge turn left and follow the road for approx 50 yards until you see a path signposted through the woods on your right hand side. You then take the path through the woods, winding you way until you come to the busy A44 road.

Broadway Tower

Broadway Tower

After crossing the A44 you join the Cotswold Way National Trail and continue the gentle climb up onto Broadway Hill, and after five minutes walking you will see Broadway Tower appear in front of you.

Broadway Tower is an original British folly, built as a mock castle in 1799 for Lady Coventry, from which it is said you can view 13 counties from here. I’m not sure if it’s true, but the views of the surrounding countryside do make the climb to the top of the hill worth the effort. We stopped and had a drink whilst looking out over the landscape, watching a group of Red deer which were penned into the field alongside the tower.

Afterwards we went through the big car park and started our fairly steep descent down a track – heading straight towards Broadway. After about 10 minutes the main track appears to come to an end. Carry straight on around the house and you will see the path going across the field to your left.

The route from here is fairly easy to follow as you take a well worn path across several fields back to the village. There are numerous paths criss-crossing as you get nearer to Broadway, but it makes little difference which one you take. All eventually lead back to the High Street, where you can get you bearings and head for the obligatory post-walk tea shop for a well earned cuppa and a slice of cake.

To do this walk you will need to use Ordanance Survey Explorer Map OL45 The Cotswolds. Alternatively you can download the map from Anquet Maps.

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Kew Glasshouses – gardens for all seasons

by on Feb.20, 2009, under Britain, English Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are perhaps the most famous gardens in the country. It’s global importance is recognised by the fact that it has been a UNESCO heritage site since 2003. But while many people visit gardens in the summer – most don’t realise just how much Kew has to offer all year round.

Temperate House at Kew

Temperate House at Kew

I visited there in December and had a great day out. Whilst most of the outside flower beds are fairly bare, the historic glass houses offer up a series of delights for any garden enthusiast. There’s no better feeling on a cold winters day than walking into the misty tropical Palm House and being enveloped by the humid heat. The Palm House aims to recreate Tropical rainforest conditions, and the central trancept contains the tallest palms which are allowed to grow to their full height.

One of my favourite things to do at Kew is to climb up onto the walkways high up in the glass houses. In the Temperate House (the largest Glass house at Kew) you can look down on the world’s largest indoor plant – the Chilean wine-palm (Jubaea chilensis) which rises to over 16 metres tall. Being up in the rafters is a unique experience and gives you a completely different perspective on the plants and trees below.

Orchid in the Glasshouse

Orchid in the Glasshouse

The futuristic Princess of Wales conservatory has probably the most eclectic mix of plants, set in ten distinct climate-controlled zones. Plants include a magnificent range of Cactii in the Dry Tropics zone through to dripping wet epiphytic plants perched on tree trunks in the cloud forest zone. There are also some stunning Orchids in full flower, and don’t miss the Giant Water Lillies in the Wet Tropics zone. And there is even a collection of carnivorous plants to please kids of all ages.

So you don’t have to wait for spring to head out for a garden visit – with Kew’s glasshouses you really do have gardens for all seasons.

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Lode Mill walk on the edge of the Fens

by on Feb.14, 2009, under Britain, British Walks, Walks

Cambridgeshire does not give you the most spectacular walking country, but for those looking for a gentle stroll through the fens should head for Stow cum Quy.  From here there is a lovely 4 mile circular walk across the fields to Lode Mill.

Lode Mill

Lode Mill

From the A14, go through Stow Cum Quy and turn left onto Station Road. Park your car near the small bridge about 1/4 mile along Station Road, and start the walk by standing on the bridge and feeding the swans and ducks.  Cross the bridge and take the path diagonally across the first field on your right (past the inquisitive horses) to join a wide track.  Follow this track for about 15 minutes, crossing the old railway line, until you come to a fork in the path. Take the right fork and you will come to a kissing gate. Go through the gate and follow the signpost along the edge of the fen towards Lode. You will then reach a footbridge on your right – cross this to get to the field opposite.

Follow the path around the field, and then it joins a broad grassy track. Shortly after there is a ruined building on the right, take the right turn here and follow the track behind the building. At a T junction turn sharp left along a track, then the path goes off to the right through a wood. Turn left in the middle of the wood and you come out into a field. Follow the track along the edge of the field (lined with old apple trees) which leads to Lode Mill.

River Bank near Lode

River Bank near Lode

From Lode Mill turn right and follow the riverbank back.  On the opposite side of the river you will see Anglesey Abbey (a National Trust property with a great garden).  As you continue you will have the strange experience of following a river that is higher than the surrounding land.  As the fens were drained the land has sunk, leaving the river flowing above two metres above the fields.  The river gentle winds its way back to the bridge where you started, and you will hopefully find the ducks and swans awaiting your return.

Another version of this walk (starting from Anglesey Abbey car park) and a simple map can be found here.

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