A walk in the Oltrarno

On our second full day in Florence we decided to do part of a walk in a guide book.  We weren’t following it exactly because it didn’t make sense. Okay I’ll confess, the first part was too close to our hotel, so we skipped it. In doing so, we emerged on the river bank  further east than the walk, so took a slight diversion. Where’s the fun in exploring a new city without going up some back alleys?

We emerged on Piazza Santa Maria Del Carmine, where the church of the same name had a rather dull exterior, and had a peep inside.

This church of the Carmelite order was built in 1268, but was damaged by fire in 1771 and the interior rebuilt in the Rococo style 11 years later. It was nicer inside than out.

We got our bearings back and headed for the Via Santo Spirito, occasionally getting distracted, wondering what was up there or around that corner.

One of the things we did find from the walk description, was this pretty stone tabernacle from the 14th century. The fresco of the Madonna with Child and the Saints Paolo and Gerolamo) is reputed to be the work of Bicci di Lorenzo. The little figure between the  saints is the person who the commissioned the fresco.

A sharp shower sent us rushing for an espresso and a bit of a sit down.

Then we were off again.

Towards Santa Spirito, the heart of this creative, bohemian area.

Oltrarno is the home of many artisan workshops, including the fabulous shop I showed you last week. Surprises and smiles are around every corner.

 

Close to a nursery school, we came across this moving sculpture, in honour of the Armenian genocide.

Let us not forget.

Back to the streets and we were drifting south to what we thought was a secondary entrance to Boboli gardens.

So we turned tail towards the direction of the river, passing elegant gates leading to secluded mansions.

We didn’t fetch up where we expected even then.

Instead we found the Pitti Palace and lunch in a cafe opposite. I made a mistake in that cafe, ordering something with meat. I was quite upset that I’d mixed a word up, but they kindly changed it for what I’d intended to order. That’ll teach me not to think I’m too clever!

We had a gelato and watched the world go by after lunch,

and of course I loved this sculpture.

We ended this walk, which I’m sharing with Jo, who knows it well, at Ponte Vecchio.

I wonder where she’s walking this week.

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The High Lands of Orcombe

 

Orcombe Point at Exmouth marks the beginning of the Jurassic Coast, as well as being a part of the South West Coast Path. Start by walking east along the sea front until the road ends, in front of the red cliff. Look left and climb the zigzag path to the top.


There’s a bench or two along the way.

With plenty to see.

And these information circles dotted on the bank as you climb up the hill are an excuse to stop and breathe!

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It really isn’t very long before you reach the top.Where for a while the sea is out of view.

 

We pass a field where orchids are abundant in May.

Then look seawards again.

On a clear day you can see as far as Portland, but not this time. We’ve found these instead!

Who can play hopscotch?

I did it all the way to the needle, this bit’s for Meg.

If you start walking by the lifeboat station on Marine Drive, then up the cliff to the needle, it’s less than a mile and a half. If you keep going you reach Sandy Bay, with it’s caravan park in another mile. So this walk could take less that an hour, if only there weren’t such wonderful distracting views!

This little stroll is for Jo, my first Monday walk for a long time. Happy Monday Jo 🙂

 

Views of Dartmouth

One of this year’s birthday trips was a day at Dartmouth. We began with a hot chocolate and cinnamon toast at Alf’resco, then meandered gently along the narrow streets.

stopping to see the Lower Ferry,

and enjoy the view to Kingswear, via a very pretty garden, then on along the waterfront.

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The next stop is at Bayard’s Cove Fort, a single storey artillery fort built in the 1530’s as an extra defence against any invaders making it past the castle.

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The path climbs a little now, but that means nice views.

over on the bend

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Around the creek we continue towards the castle, which I think I showed you a few weeks ago.

I’ve never been inside, but I did get told off for peeping around the door in the picture below, it’s English Heritage and a man thought I was trying to sneak in without paying.
But we were hot and in need of ice cream, not dungeons! No photos I’m afraid, but mine was toffee fudge. We retraced our steps to summon the little ferry, turning the board around so that the ferryman could see he had passengers from the other side of the river.I rarely go on a boat, so it’s always a delight to see the view from one.

Lot’s of interesting and very expensive properties on both sides.

and there’s Bayard’s Cove Fort again.

Nearly back to town. Just ten minutes or so on the water, and it feels like a different world.

They’re still crabbing, I’d be a bit nervous if my child was sitting there. We’ve missed lunch, so we stroll towards the little harbour to see what we can find. No lunch, just a pasty and some new sunglasses for me!

It takes less than an hour to walk from the town to the castle, even taking lots of photos and view stops. Even though it’s short, I know that Jo will like it, for the boats if nothing else. She likes to walk on Mondays, or with her lovely daughter, last week they went to Rufford Abbey near Nottingham

 

A Forest walk

Ashclyst Forest is National Trust land on the Killerton estate a few miles east of Exeter. There are walks from 30 minutes, suitable for buggies, and various lengths up to about four hours.

I hadn’t been there for several years, but have many times in the past so I knew my way around. Just as well, the waymarked trails were totally confusing because paint had faded on posts and some signs pointed in more than one direction.

A wood is a wood perhaps, but we started off this way.


We’re well into spring now, everywhere is fresh and green.

I’m fairly sure these are different varieties of spurge

I’m a big fan of lichen and mosses.

Every so often there are glimpses through the hedge, under the shade of young leaves, to freshly ploughed fields.

At the lowest reaches of the woods, the distant sound of machinery could be heard, one of the culprits appeared eventually.

I’m usually driving some impossibly narrow lane when I see a tractor working, so this was a real treat for me, I even got a wave from what looked like father and young son.

There were wildflowers a plenty.

Even a baby dragon.

For those of you who like a bit of decay, last years beauty hasn’t quite faded away.

And still the views keep coming.

We’ve only walked a couple of miles, but with eyes wide open and camera ready, so it took nearly two hours.

The dogs can remember this as a mud wallow and were a bit put out, but no worries we’d brought plenty of water for them!

Now, the path is beginning to look a bit more civilised, I wonder what’s through the gate.

A fairy tale cottage, painted in regulation Killerton colour, what a lovely place to live.

Another fifteen minutes and our pootling walk was over. There are no facilities in Ashclyst, but Killerton House is a ten minute drive, combined with the woods it’s a lovely way to spend a day.

I’m walking with Jo for the first time in ages, are you?

 

 

 

A South West Coast Path walk

Tintagel in north Cornwall is a little village with a big story, it has long been associated with King Arthur. One of the first buildings you come across as you walk down the main street, is the Old Post Office. Dating from the 14th century,this grade 1 listed former manor house became a post office in the 19th century. It’s now looked after by the National trust. I was trying to avoid people, so it’s hard to see the wavy shape of the roof.
The village is one of the most visited places in Cornwall and hence has many touristy souvenir shops.

A late start and an attempt at stopping in Boscastle, unsuccessful because of a lack of parking places, had led to empty tummies, but we managed to resist the lure of fudge! Instead we found the King Arthur’s Arms,


and had a tasty pub lunch. It was wonderful to be able to sit outside, in full sun even though it was October. All fuelled up we walked down the village, perhaps a hundred yards in the direction of the sea, and took a left turning from the road.This is the lane that leads to the coast path and the castle.

We passed this beautiful example of a Cornish dry stone wall.

This old gate post shouted out ‘please photograph me’, knowing I’m not the only one who would like it, I thought it was my duty.

The track continued down towards the sea, but we took the footpath leading to the cliffs. It’s too late for the Thrift this year, the pink flowers will be back next spring, meanwhile the lichens and mosses cling on.

Looking down from the footpath, our first glimpse of the turquoise sea. It could be a Mediterranean island.

And above, a different shade of blue, and what a fantastic view the pilot of this plane had!

I’m happy to settle for this view, of the amazing craggy rock stacks.

Across in the distance was the way to the castle, an English Heritage site. If we were earlier we might have had time to justify the entry cost of £8 each, but for an afternoon stroll we preferred the peace of the hill.

So up we went, and then he came down, crazy guy, I wouldn’t have had a hope of staying on a bike on that track.

Through the narrow gap at the top of the path, the view opens up of the footbridge leading to the castle.

I don’t think that footbridge would be everyone’s up of tea, do you?

We’ve made it up the hill though, and so have they, how clever bringing their own seats.

A few well places benches up here would be wonderful.

Never mind we’ll walk on. It isn’t very far along the top and should you prefer driving there’s a car park at Glebe cliff, that I think is National Trust. From there you could walk east towards the castle, and enjoy the views while avoiding any climbs.

It’s a great place for dog walking, Dido and Daisy were happy.

We left the sea behind to look in the church, and there were more stone walls.

Another old gate post
And then a lane leading back to the village.A last look at the Old Post Office – for now!

I’m sharing this walk with Jo, visit her Monday Walks to see where her other friends have been this week. Mine is a mere two miles, but worth it if you’re in the area and you can always walk the whole of 630 miles of the South West Coast Path while you’re here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beside the City Wall

Yesterday I grabbed a little bit of sunshine and walked the dogs in towards town, with no particular plan. They aren’t very keen on the High Street, so I took a right and headed up Northernhay Street to the park. It was the first time I’ve been there for years and a perfect day for a peaceful stroll. Back in the days when I worked in the Civic Centre, it was a regular lunchtime spot in summer. When I was little and when my own children were, it was a favourite spot, along with the adjoining Rougemont Gardens, for roly-polys, so there I was again.

At the Gate
At the Gate

The first borders on my left were mostly new to me.

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And I don’t remember this Paperbark Maple (Acer Griseum)

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Acer Griseum
Stunning borders
Stunning borders

Time to walk up the steps

mw10This is part of the old city wall.

mw11But it feels like I’m walking in the woods.

mw12One of the old gates, walking on past there are places to peep through.

mw13Dido and Daisy prefer the shade and would like to run off into the trees, I like the sun on my face.

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One of the city’s great and good on a nice curvy path

This wall cries out to stroked.

mw14mw17Ahh more steps!

mw18But the view makes it worth it.

mw19This is the entrance I was looking for. The path through Athelstan’s tower leads to Rougemont garden where you can walk inside the wall.

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I didn’t linger in Rougemont, a sign said no dogs, but I ignored it long enough to spot the teenagers through the trees above.
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And to get another angle on the tower.

Okay, time to follow the rules and back through to Northernhay. By the way the ‘hay’ part means field and we have Southernhay as well.

A rather show offy foxglove variety.
A rather show offy foxglove variety.

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I walked up past the war memorial, to the little pond at the bottom of the slope.

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When I was little there were goldfish that I loved to see, but no-one’s home now.
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This is a short circular walk, part of the longer City Walk Trail, perhaps I’ll take one of the Redcoat Guide tours one day. For now I’m nearly back to the beginning, with the wall high above me. Northernhay is actually England’s oldest public space, it was created as a pleasure walk for local people in 1612, 400myears and still giving pleasure. I hope you enjoyed it, are you walking with Jo this Monday?

mw32A last little bit of treasure.

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Exeter’s history began nearly 2000 years ago, when the second Augustan Roman legion settled here in 55AD. A fortress was built overlooking the lowest crossing point of the Exe, known as Isca and manned by 6000 soldiers. An earth and timber rampart with a deep ditch in front protected the fortress.
Over the centuries the original grey volcanic rock was repaired using Heavitree Breccia, white Triassic sandstone and a pink Permian sandstone was used in the 17th century.
When the fall of the roman empire the city was pretty much abandoned and the land inside the wall returned to farmland, and little is known until Saxon times and from the 9th century the city grew quickly becoming one of the most prosperous in the country.
King Athelstan is credited with repairing the wall in time to withstand Viking attacks in 1001 AD and William the Conqueror in 1068 AD.
This photo is of a print I have, showing the city in the 17th century with the wall still intact, about seventy percent remains now. You should be able to click for a bigger view.

Exeter, inside the wall 1618
Exeter, inside the wall 1618

An Overbecks Stroll

Overbecks is a small National Trust  property at Sharpitor, overlooking Salcombe in the South Hams. The house is Edwardian with a surrounding garden of about seven acres. It is named after it’s last private owner, Otto Overbecks. The house has a small museum, a collection of rather bizarre objects, some of which I’ll try to show you in a few days. The drive down to Overbecks isn’t one that I’d bother with for the house, but the garden is a sub tropical delight, surrounded by woodlands. To get there take the A381 as far as the hill leading down into Salcombe, and then pray that you don’t meet any vehicles along the way. The road goes down steeply with sharp bends big gaps between passing places, cars parked anywhere they can, before it climbs back up around hairpin bends that give you white knuckles. This is coming from a Devon lass, who fearlessly drives narrow, winding lanes in the dark. Of course you might get lucky and not meet a soul! Parking is limited, but we were lucky, so we climbed the last quarter mile up the hill.

Where this view waited.

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Through the imposing wooden gate.
ob2And the first of many lovely paths opened up.

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But we won’t go down the steps to the lower garden yet, we’ve had a long drive and need some refreshments. This is the view from the café.

ob5I really wanted to sit in the conservatory.

ob4Can you see those legs stretched out between the plants? Well there were two very comfy seats, but every time I went past they were occupied, how rude!

ob6Let’s stretch our legs, gently of course, it’s too warm for dashing about.

ob10The planting is very exotic.

ob11Some lush bark for Meg.

ob12Something blue in the distance, but we’ll check that out later.

ob14I liked the look and feel of the stair rails.

ob15No I’m known for my wonky horizons, but honestly it wasn’t me, the silver pear trees were growing sideways.

ob20There’s one of several lawned areas up on the high garden. I failed to capture the true magenta colour of the gladioli’s, never mind, I can see it in my mind’s eye, and you can see how bright the sun was.

ovob21This lass is a lot more calm.

ob18Looking down over the wall there is a small, but very neat box garden.

ob24We walked on down to try to find it, but got waylaid in this sunroom.

ob25Surrounded by the banana garden.

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which of course had Datura’s as well. I should make the effort to call them Brugmansia, but is doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely does it?

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I could sit there all day, but there are lots more lovely plants to see, so off I stroll.

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Up another flight of steps,

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to the highest point and the best view.

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Some more exotica on the way down for ice cream, Salcombe Dairy Honeycombe, it would be rude not to.

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I still didn’t get to sit in here!

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So it’s back down the lane, past the Acer glade.

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I probably only strolled a mile and a half around Overbecks, but I think Jo would like it there and happily share the walk. If you come to Devon and like the idea of visiting Overbecks, I’d go on a weekday during school term, the last couple miles of road should be a lot easier.

 

 

 

 

Lanhydrock, a National Trust Stroll

Last Sunday afternoon I paid a flying visit to Lanhydrock, a National Trust property in Cornwall. Arriving just before 2.30 there wasn’t much time to linger, and after the bluebells, the grounds beckoned.
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Down the long drive we go.
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Here’s the gatehouse.
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First look at the formal gardens, with the chapel in the background.
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Part of the gatehouse door.
It’s raining so I’m going inside the house and I may take you one day, but for now you can see the view through some of the windows.

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After exploring the vast house full of treasures great and small, I resisted the gift shop. Luckily my friend didn’t, so there was fudge to share 🙂 and this door led to the courtyard.
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Where an equally handsome door was firmly closed.
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We head around the corner, where a very pristine garden waits.

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Which isn’t really my cup of tea, I prefer a far less structured, wild look, but I can still admire one occasionally. The rain is annoying now, the mizzely kind that while not heavy, get’s you very damp. We walk back through the gatehouse,

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wishing for more time to explore the windy paths.

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And back up the long drive to where we began, passing the bluebells growing on top of the banks, with late primroses at the bottom.

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I’m sharing my Lanhydrock visit with Jo. She’s been travelling Europe for weeks, but I think she’s still walking for Mondays,

A lunchtime escape

A tolerable day at work is one when I can go out for some fresh air at lunchtime, without freezing or getting soaked. Last Wednesday was one of the very best for a stroll, the sun was shining, the morning had been dull and I needed some space.

Next door to the hospital where I work, is a psychiatric unit, around 150 years old and set in lovely grounds with original trees. If the ground is dry I often head that way, come along with me. We’ll begin beside the old lodge near the front gate.

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It’s like a miniature gothic castle with its crenalations.
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Here’s the back entrance. What can we find in the hedge?

I’m surrounded by birdsong, with a robin singing loudest. Look ahead, we’ll check out the trees.
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The bluebells are guaranteed to help get rid of the morning’s stresses.

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I zigzag from tree to tree, in and out of the hedge.

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jw8These fir cones, like my feet, are rather large!

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I would  have loved to climb this tree, it looks quite an easy one doesn’t it? The one behind on the left is quite special too,

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Look at the chunky bark, it’s been around for a very long time.
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On we go towards the perimeter of the grounds, where it’s a bit wilder, and someone’s had lunch already.
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Time to curve across the lawn, my half hour is flying by.
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But I still need to see that bright tree ahead.
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Wow, such a fresh and glowing green!
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I linger for a minute, enjoying the shadows, but my time really is up. Thanks to this stroll, the afternoon was manageable, two and a half hours until home time. I’m really lucky with the surroundings at work aren’t I? I hope you enjoyed walking with me, I’m sharing with Jo and looking forward to seeing where she walked.

The Day We’ve All Been Waiting For

The weather forecast was right, full sun all day today – yes this Brit is obsessed with the weather, it’s been a long, wet winter. A morning of housework gave me permission for an afternoon stroll, at Sidmouth. The town was busy but we found somewhere to park and a different entrance to the Byes.

I wonder how many times they've shared this bench
I wonder how many times they’ve shared this bench

Lots of blue sky and a tempting path.
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Little peeps of colour
Little peeps of colour
Looking back at the first bridge
Looking back at the first bridge

Here’s Daisy, all excited and with a spring her tail.
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bys6There’s been some storm damage in recent years,

bys7But plenty of new tree planting.

bys8We’ll walk beside the river Sid for a while.

bys9There are remains of a jetty.

bys10Benches everywhere to watch the world go by.

bys11Leaving the river, we’ll go up a gentle rise towards Golden Copse, bys12in Margaret’s Meadow.

bys13The sky became even bluer.

bys14We were surrounded by birds, but most were too high in the trees. Never mind this robin gave us a lovely solo performance.

Back down to the river where lots of families were enjoying the day.

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That’s the Byes, I’ve taken you and Jo walking there before, but in the winter, I hoped you liked spring. The dog friendly café on the sea front was full today as were the car parks, so we headed home. I’ll show you where we made a quick stop tomorrow.

Did you go out for a walk this weekend? I hope you had sunshine as well.