rhythmaning: (sunset)
I was staying in Unst, the most northerly (inhabited) of the British Isles, in Haroldswick, the second-most northerly hamlet on Unst; Norwick, as the name suggests, is further north (and there is a house at Skaw which is Britain's most northerly habitation).

Pretty far north, then. So what I did on my first full day was go as far as I could. I walked to the end of the British Isles; at least, the end you can get to.

The most northerly point on Unst is Hermaness; a nature reserve. Just off Hermaness is Muckle Flugga, one of the lighthouse Stevenson's lights built on one the largest of a chain of skerries; the end of the series, the end of the line, is the literally named Out Stack. (The BBC can get permission to land on Muckle Flugga, but for most people it is prohibited. It also seems quite dangerous, so whilst one can get a boat around Muckle Flugga, I chose not to.)

I walked out across Hermaness Hill, climbing through the heather (avoiding the breeding area set aside for the birds) to the brow of the hill, when the lighthouse came in sight. It was a lovely morning with bright blue skies. The hill slipped steeply down to the sea, with tall cliffs dropping down to the water. There were large numbers of birds - Arctic Great Skuas ("bonxies") on the heath, gannets and fulmars on the cliffs. (And lots of little brown jobs - lbjs - on the heath too, but I could only recognise a few.)

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Walking along the cliffs was very bracing. Looking north, with nothing beyond the light and Out Stack, somewhat daunting. I was the most northerly person in Britain. Everyone was south of me. It did feel a bit special.

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I walked back along the cliffs, on the west coast. There were large colonies of gannets clinging to the steep sided cliffs and skerries. Gannets are vary beautiful - but the fulmars are the most graceful flyers. Both were a joy to watch. Their numbers were impressive, their flights hypnotic. I spent a long while just watching.

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What I didn't see were puffins. I had expected many: Hermaness is famous as being one of the largest puffin colonies in the world. Last time I visited Shetland, I saw large numbers of puffins at Sumburgh; they are captivating birds. They were so impressive when we visited in mid July, we went back the next day, and watched them flying - and clowning! We went back a third time; and there were none: overnight, they had flown away, not to return to dry land until the next spring.

But this time, at Hermaness, there were none. I met a group of six or seven walking the other direction - the only people I passed the whole day. I asked if they had seen puffins, keen to know where to look as I took the long walk back; they hadn't seen any either. At least this meant I wasn't just being thick! They were a group of geologists: Unst has an interesting geology, half of it derived from north America (the result of continental drift - the Highland fault that separates the ancient north American rocks in Scotland from younger European rocks runs through Unst), the rest from the Atlantic floor, including a large chunk of very rare serpentine soil. I have travelled half way around the world looking at plants growing on serpentine (namely, New Caledonia) - ironic that a large area of serpentine is found in old Caledonia, too.

It was, though, a glorious walk, following the cliffs; warm (not hot!), sunny, a bit breezy. The birds I did see were so impressive and beautiful.
rhythmaning: (Saxophone)
I had plenty of time to get from Paddington to Kings Cross for my train back to Edinburgh, so I did something most Londoners wouldn't dream of, and walked. (It wasn't the first time - eighteen months ago, I walked from St Pancras to Paddington one frosty December evening, when I needed the exercise and air. Even then it felt unusual; and I still reached the pub before my friends.)

It was sunny and warm - pulling my case behind me, I broke into a sweat. Between Paddington and Great Portland Street, I stayed off the main roads, going down streets I have probably never walked down - Marylebone isn't really my part of town.

I went onto Euston Road to explore Regent's Place and Triton Square - mostly for the Gormley sculture, "Reflection".

It seemed apt bookending the walk with two railway termini.

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rhythmaning: (sunset)
Back in October, we had some wonderful days. I went on several walks. And took many photographs.

Up Arthur's Seat




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North Edinburgh and the Water of Leith



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Modern, New Town, and Old College



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rhythmaning: (sunset)
The Islay sky was majestic, cloud-filled and impressive.

Then the sun shone.

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rhythmaning: (sunset)
The Brass Jaw gig was in Finchley on a Sunday afternoon: so I walked there, and I walked back, when I took these photos...

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Read more... )

rhythmaning: (sunset)
The highest point near my house: sunrise from Alexandra Palace.

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rhythmaning: (sunset)
The City, Docklands and the south shore of the Thames by sunrise.

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rhythmaning: (sunset)
In case you haven’t realised, I walk a lot. It is my main form of exercise: when I have time, I will walk from north east London where I live into the centre of the city, rather than take public transport. It isn’t actually that slow – a forty-five minute tube journey takes only (!) two hours to walk – and it beats going to the gym.

A regular walk is to the Royal Festival Hall, and later onto Kings Cross. A few weeks ago in October, it was such a gorgeous day – I am very much a fair-weather walker – that I took my small camera along, too, and took a lot of pictures…

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(Of course, I cheated again – the pictures of St Martin’s in the Field were taken a couple of days after the others…)
rhythmaning: (violin)
Back in July, I went for a long walk from Wood Green to Whitechapel, eight miles and a couple of hours, through Newington Green, Dalston, and Hackney.

It was a glorious, sunny afternoon – I was worried about sunburn and dehydration – with a clear, rich blue sky.

A bit of the walk took me beside the Regent’s Canal, from Kingsland Road through to Cambridge Heath (or thereabouts).

I took some pictures. (You did know I was going to write that, didn’t you?)

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(OK, I cheated a little – two of these pictures were taken on a different day, but on the same route, and they fit… Call it artistic licence!)
rhythmaning: (sunset)
We seem to spend a lot of time in Bath. The city, that is. We were there last weekend, when I took no pictures whatsoever; and we were there for twice last year, too, the first time in September and then again just after Christmas.

The weather was excellent on both occasions. In September, I spent so long on a tour of the abbey tower – including the bells and the rather wonderful clock-works – that I ran out of time to look at the rest of the abbey; I put that right in December.

Bath remains full of gorgeous Georgian architecture, and I took pictures all around the city centre, too.

The blue sky showed off the honeyed sandstone.

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Mountains

Sep. 10th, 2010 05:10 pm
rhythmaning: (sunset)
I spent several days last month in Braemar, walking in the hills in the south east edge of the Cairngorms. Some of these hills are very remote – one day was one of the longest I have spent in the hills, a 25 mile round trip (that's almost a marathon, with a couple of munros to climb thrown in, too!) from Linn of Dee up Geldie Burn, halfway to Blair Atholl: there were clear views of the Bheinn a Ghlo massif directly south, mountains which mark the western edge of the Cairngorms.

There were a couple of shorter days, too – a lovely walk up Badoch burn to An Socach, and a much harder walk into the face of a 50mph wind up Glas Tualichain.

There were some beautiful evenings and mornings, too.

I took pictures, natch…

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rhythmaning: (sunset)
Last November, I found myself in Glasgow. I thought I had planned it so I would walk straight onto a train, but in fact I had a couple of hours to spare, so I left my luggage at the station and walked down to the Clyde, and then around the centre of the city. It was a long while since I had been to Glasgow, and it was a beautiful, sunny winter’s afternoon.

Of course, I took some pictures.

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rhythmaning: (sunset)
I have got behind in processing – editing – my photographs. This is partly because I have, for the last couple of months, been devoting my photographic energies to scanning several films – a great many – from a trip my ex-wife and I made to India, back in 1998 or so. The scanner is temperamental: it won’t start, it crashes, and it is slow. It is old, too, so I decided to buy a new, faster, higher spec film scanner. Which, when it arrived, failed to work.

I have finished scanning the negatives – which does mean I now have a further 420 images to edit.

To be getting on with, here are some pictures I took on a walk from Swinton St in Kings Cross to Oxford Circus early in the spring. Walking is the main way I take exercise; most of people rarely walk in London. When I walk, I look up.

This is what I saw.

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rhythmaning: (sunset)
April was a good month - the sky was very blue in London. So I walked, with my camera.

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rhythmaning: (sunset)
It is now six months since I moved back to London. Just after I moved, on a sunny Sunday evening in April, I was killing time in Victoria and Westminster by wandering around taking photographs.

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rhythmaning: (sunset)
I spent my last Sunday in Edinburgh taking photographs; I was walking down to drink whisky in Leith and it was a gorgeous day. I only had my pocket camera with me, since I hadn't anticipated taking photographs, but it was so beautiful I couldn't help it. I took a lot.

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A lot more pictures... )

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