Don’t Underestimate Local Travel

I’m the opposite of most people. I get time off work and instead of feeling relaxed and chilled out, I get bored and angsty. If I don’t have a plan for the day, you can guarantee I won’t be happy! Wandering Beeb on the other hand is quite happy spending a day on the computer, pottering about the house or watching TV. Not me. I’ve got to be on the move, doing something, feeling like I’m taking down names and kicking ass. Basically, feeling like I’ve achieved something in the day. So you can see how a week off work with no plans felt incredibly stressful to me!

Getting sick of my pacing about and mutterings about dying of boredom, Wandering Beeb struck up a plan to visit Tatton Park, a nearby country park.

I’d never been before and hadn’t realised quite how large the park is. After driving down some very narrow country lanes, the park seemed huge.

One of the main reasons to visit Tatton Park is to see the herd of deer that live there. Initially they were quite far in the distance but later in our walk, we ended up with the herd running in our direction after being spooked by some thing. It’s one thing to observe quietly from a safe space and quite another to see huge antlers coming towards you at speed!

Butterfly’s were abundant throughout the park and I spent some time trying to get a good photo – it’s harder than you think! I certainly don’t have the reflexes or camera skills to do it justice. Most of my pictures were of a fuzzy blob, slightly different in tone to the rest of the blurry picture!

After spending a lot of time on winding (read narrow and nauseating) roads, it was relaxing to be near the water for a stroll around the lake. Aeroplanes overhead quickly brought me back to earth as I contemplated my next adventure, but for now, Tatton Park bridged the gap.

Somewhere To Belong

Belongs somewhere doesn’t always mean a particular place

The past couple of months haven’t really seen much travel for me and Wandering Beeb. We have been moving house and as anyone who has been through that experience knows, it takes up lots of time and almost all of your money! After lots of sorting and box carrying, we decided we needed some time out and a bit of time away from the house-moving world.

We jumped in the car and took off to Formby beach and squirrel park. We chose Formby because it’s fairly easy for us to get to, has a beautifully clean beach and has a lovely forest area nearby.

After lots of busy weekends, it was so nice to stroll through the forest area. We’d picked a beautiful day (that one sunny day that the U.K. gets each year!) and the sun was streaming down through the trees. We were keeping our eyes pealed for squirrels but we didn’t spot a single one, despite the forest’s name! We did spot millions of magpies though, so that might have provided an explanation as to where all of the squirrels had gone.

Looking up at the tree line, we were struck by how much they resembled the trees in Zion National Park. This led us on to a lengthy discussion about Zion and what we’d enjoyed there – making us reflect on our experiences. Although it wasn’t quite the same (no waterfall to walk underneath and certainly not as hot!), it had a similar calming effect on the both of us.

We’d arrived in Formby stressed out and worked up, but looking at the trees and taking time to appreciate our surroundings instantly made us feel far more relaxed.

As we strolled along the beach, the sun bouncing off the sea and the calm sound of the waves made us take a breathe and slow down for a second amongst the hustle and bustle of daily life. Jumping over the pools of water and slushing through the wet sand, our shoes became drenched and our socks were soggy, but our smiles were much wider than when we first got out of the car.

Before this trip, I was getting ready to write a post for last week’s photo challenge on my place in the world. I probably would have picked Yosemite as my place in the world – however, our visit to Formby made me realise, it’s not a specific place where I feel at home. Instead, it’s being somewhere in nature: tall trees, water, sunshine and good people are what I need to feel at home, the actual location doesn’t matter.

Sculpture Trails and Tall Trees: Renewal

One of the things I love most about travelling is the opportunity to get outdoors and experience nature. Sometimes a walk amongst the trees or by water is all that’s needed to reset, recharge and re-energise the mind.

On the way back from a weekend away for a friend’s wedding, we found ourselves passing Beacon Fell Country Park in Preston, UK and decided to spend some time exploring.

With 271 acres of woodland, moorland and farmland, there is plenty to explore. We chose to follow the sculpture trail which leads out of the car park, through the woods and up to the summit of the fell.

Views from the top of Beacon Fell

There were beautiful views from the top of the Fell – but be warned, it’s so windy up there! I was like a panda by the time we came down – I had more mascara on my cheeks than my eyelashes!

At the top of the Fell is a stone structure, marking where the Beacon would have stood. There is evidence that the Beacon was used as far back as 1002 AD. Historically lit to warn of danger (e.g. attacks), Beacons are also used to celebrate national occasions such as coronations of a new monarch.

Stone marking the site of the Beacon

Throughout the trail, there are numerous sculptures dotted through the forest by artist Thompson Dagnall. Alongside carvings of bats and birds hanging from the trees, a huge winding snake makes its way down the hill side. People were walking on the snake to make their way down the hill and it was a good test of balance to make it all the way to the bottom without falling off. Watching people tightrope walk down the snake was great entertainment: wobbly arms and legs all round!

Wooden snake sculpture at Beacon Fell

Alongside the wooden sculptures, there were also woven animals dotted throughout the forest. Unlike the bigger sculptures, they were harder to spot and this turned our walk into a bit of a treasure hunt!

Living art work of a deer in the forest

We found that the light changed drastically whilst we were there, creating a very different atmosphere throughout the day. From dark and mysterious to bright and magical, the tall trees filter the light, creating interesting shadows and patterns on the forest floor.

Interesting changes to how the light filtered through the Forest created some great photo opportunities

A fun place to visit, Beacon Fell is a excellent day out, especially if you like a little entertainment in your nature walks. It reminded me of the National Parks in America, which is great if funds are low and more local travel is needed.

Following our walk, it felt like all of the cobwebs (and the impending hangover from the wedding party) were blown away. I always feel renewed after time in the outdoors and it reminds me that being connected to nature is a good way of revitalising myself and recharging my batteries.

The view from the top of Beacon Fell

Although this trip was some time ago, just going through the photos has me longing for forests, hills and new places. Although the rain and cold weather is still here (in April no less!), it feels like time to dig the tent out and think about places to camp when the weather gets warmer.

Getting Lost Close To Home

Feet sinking into the snow, we realised that there was no path anymore and getting down off the hill was going to be a bit of a challenge.

We’d set off for a wander around Ullswater and Aira Force, following the Aira Force and Gowbarrow Trail. The promising views from the summit of Gowbarrow had tempted us out from warm spots by the fire into the snow and wind.

Aira Force is about 1 hour 45 minutes from where we live. We’d packed the car up and headed off to play tour guide for a couple of friends who hadn’t visited before. We were all feeling a bit restless, having been kept inside recently through the bad weather.

We started off towards the falls and even though it was really cold, the sprinklings of snow really highlighted the magic of the falls, making them seem otherworldly.

The Old Norse name of Aira Force translates to ‘the waterfall on the gravel bank river’.

Following the path, we headed towards the open hillside where the snow was much thicker. Due to the depth of the snow, we couldn’t see the path properly and we must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. A small fence led up the hillside and we navigated uneven ground as we walked, the snow sometimes giving way to reveal holes made by a hidden stream. We were all being very careful not to hit one of the drops wrong and twist an ankle as we ascended the steep hillside.

At the top of the hill, the view was stunning. It was hard to believe that we were less than 2 hours away from home. The snow-topped hills in the distance, surrounded by a shimmering lake were reminiscent of any trip to Canada or Europe or the USA.

After snapping a few photos. We quickly realised that the path down wasn’t clearly visible and that going down was going to be much harder than coming up. Although we were all feeling warmer following our trek up the incline, the snow was thicker and it was harder to determine where the drops in the landscape were hiding. After walking some distance towards the gleaming water of the lake, we came to an sharp edge, which would have certainly seen one or more of us loose our footing.

Leading the charge, one of my most confident and positive friends encouraged us all to shuffle-slide down the hill on our bums. It was one of the best parts of the walk and really sticks out as a highlight of the day- the four of us taking turns to help each other down the steep embankment, sliding through snow on our bums, soaking wet, but laughing and triumphant as we reached the bottom.

I love the pictures from this hike more than any others taken on local treks. They prove to me that beautiful scenery can be found close to home if you know where to look. They remind me that travel doesn’t always have to mean the other side of the world and they encapsulate a day that was filled with love, friendship and adventure – the best kind of days you can have.