Mt. Megunticook – Camden State Park

We’ve had a beautiful mild Fall this year and even into mid October we are still in shorts some days!   Crazy as we’ve had snow in October in years past.   I won’t complain though as I’m not a fan of the winter and in Maine it’s a very long season.  This year I’m hopefully it’s going to be shorter than usual!

For the first weekend in months we had a free day.  Kids soccer has taken up most of the Fall weekends.

We opted to take a drive up to Camden Maine for hike up Mt Megunticook.   We did this hike around 6 years ago and really enjoyed it.  I’d always wanted to go back and today we did.

The drive is just 1.5 hours from Freeport Maine.  Heading up the coast on US Route 1 to midcoast Maine.   The drive is scenic in places and being Fall, lots of lovely foliage to take in along the way.

Camden itself is beautiful.  Nestled in Penobscot Bay, it’s a wealthy midcoast town with a beautiful harbor and quaint main street.   A tourist destination but with it being somewhat off season not too busy and many of the beautiful shops still open.

We headed straight to Camden Hills State Park where trail access to Mt Megunticook is.   The park offers a wide array of amenities with many hikes.  Camping is still open and the park was busy!

Mt Megunticook has an elevation of 1385feet.  The highest elevation in the park.   It’s a 3.5 mile round trip and I’d say we spent around 3 hours on the walk.  Note the Camden Hills State Park website states the trail is 1 mile and takes an hour.  On the trail, it is marked as 1.8 miles….

It’s an easy/ moderate hike – rocky and rooty throughout.   Our ageing dog (9.5 Golden Retriever) managed it but he will certainly sleep well tonight 🙂

While we reached the summit, its not really necessary.  Just before the summit is ‘ocean lookout’  at 1300ft.  That’s the best place to stop, take in the view before you head back down.  Views of Camden town, the harbor and neighboring Mt Battie and the auto road to the top.

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The summit is a little further up but has no view.  We followed the same route up and down but the map does show some alternate paths to take if you want to change things up!

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After reaching the base car park, we headed into Camden town for a stroll and treats.  We stopped in at Camden Deli which I highly recommend!  The treats we delicious and great coffee!  We strolled to the harbor to see the sun setting.  So serene and pretty…

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After a lovely day, we got back on the road South….

Tumbledown Mountain

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One thing Maine is loved for is the plethora of mountains to hike.   As you head North, there are plenty to choose from.   As the Fall is coming to a close, and mother nature gave us a reminder with 12″ of snow in the mountains this week, we opted to get outside for possibly the last hike this year.

We headed to Tumbledown Mountain.  Just near the town of Weld.

As we headed North, we began to notice a temperature drop…hoping we were going to be warm as we walked!   The access road to the trail is closed as of Nov 1st for the winter so we were just in time but another reminder that old man winter is too close for comfort!

The mountain itself is not huge.  An elevation of 3068ft (935m) but the views are gorgeous and worth the climb.   A novelty to the mountain is the pond that is almost at the summit. I’ve heard that in the summer, those that make the climb reward themselves with a swim in the pond.  Not for us today though.  By the time we reached the top, it was bitterly cold.  Before we reached the top, we encountered snow…more as we gained elevation.  Made for a challenging ascent and subsequent descent.

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The trail is very rocky…initially easily passable but soon became boulders and streams. Steep ascent and strenuous climb.  The kids took it in their stride but glad we didn’t take the dog…it would have been too much for his ageing joints….almost too much for mine!

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We tackled only the Brook Trail.  The easiest but still classed as moderate.  I would agree…some banged up knees as we scrambled up to the pond.   The pond is at 1600ft elevation from our starting point.  Not quite the top but due to the length of climb and 5 kids in tow, we opted not to go further.   We stopped for a snack and to enjoy the view before we took the trail back down.

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Lake en route to the summit

Cornwall – Carnewas

This is a follow up post to the Watergate post yesterday.   We rounded out our day after the stroll along Watergate Bay at another National Trust spot further North along the coast (just a few miles).   This was Carnewas.   This is home to the famed Bedruthan Steps.  Sadly we didn’t go this far as the crew was tired but for a short distance, the rewards were plentiful.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves!

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Idyllic setting

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Views from the coastal path

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View south down the coastline

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Playing with camera filters allows for  moodier shot

Buckland Newton, Dorset

To wrap up our weekend, we decided to stay local and take a stroll around a different village, Buckland Newton.  After a little research in the book Dorset Pub Strolls, we found a pub – Gandering Geese – that offered a 3 mile picturesque walk around the village.

Point #1 – make sure the pub is still open!  Book was published in 2001.   Things change in 15 years….Pub was no longer in operation!   It didn’t deter us from the walk though so we set off on the trail described in the book.   It was a gorgeous walk.  Sun was shining, mixture of meadows and trails and there’s always another pub to find at the end 🙂

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Springtime affords spectacular vistas of rapeseed fields

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collecting daisies and dandelions

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views across Dorset

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Trail walk

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Views on the way back down

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Plowed ‘ombre’ fields

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the curious cows 🙂

Wales – Anglesey Day 3

A delay to the final day of our Anglesey trip but its been a busy few weeks.  I have a lot more experiences to post/ catch up on!

Day 3 of our trip to Anglesey was to explore another part of the island.  We had tackled the rocky coastal walk the day before so now, we headed to more of a beach walk for the day.  The sun was shining if not a little breezy!

On our way to the walk, we drove over to South Stack lighthouse to take a look.  The actual car park for South Stacks was full so we went back down to an overflow car park. This means a short walk back up to the visitor center to pay for entry. The walk is coastal and afforded some beautiful views of the lighthouse.  Having taken it all in and almost being blown of the path, we opted not to go all the way down and enter the lighthouse.

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South Stack light house

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South Stack lighthouse

We then headed back over to Rhosneiger to start our walk.  Not too far to drive and we took a quick spin around the village which was pretty to see.  Due to parking challenges, we did end up parking at the Oyster Catcher.  This was a pub previously owned by the Timpson family.  Recently taken over I believe…together with the White Eagle mentioned in Day 2 of our Anglesey trip.

The pub is located at the end of a large beautiful sandy beach.  Its a nice place to stop for food and drinks.  The downstairs ‘pub’ allows dogs as does the upper deck outdoor seating…which comprises of very cute beach huts to sit in.   As the weather was so beautiful, we opted to get straight on the walk and treat ourselves to a nice meal and drinks when we got back.  Little did we know, by the time we got back a couple of hours later, they had shut the kitchens down as the were ‘overwhelmed’..?  Interestingly, the staff complained to us over new management, and we heard similar grumblings the day prior at the White Eagle.  Clearly a takeover that wasn’t going too well!

Back to the walk…we approached the beach through some gorgeous sand dunes.  Fun for the kids to play on as we made our way through.

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Sand Dunes

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climbing and tumbling down

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a high climb!

We headed left and along the large sandy beach.  If this is the main Rhosneiger beach, then its tipped as one of the best sandy beaches in the UK. It certainly looked like it could be.

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Rhosneiger Beach

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Resting on the beach

A walk to the end took around 20-30 minutes…a gentle stroll and the dog playing in the waves.   At the end, we headed up onto a coastal path.

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Coastal path at end of the beach

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Looking back down the path to Rhosneiger beach

Another nice walk that led us around to an ancient burial mound.  It looked like some work was taking place but at some point, it has been ‘open’ to visitors.  We used this as a turnaround spot to head back to the Oyster Catcher.   On top of the mound, looking beyond Rhosneiger beach, there is another smaler cove/ beach.  This too looked like it woudl be worth exploring as today the cove was filled with surfers taking advantge of the breezy weather/ waves.

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Resting on top of the mound

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View of the surfers cove beyond Rhosneiger beach

With the disappointment of the closed kitchen at the Oyster Catcher, we ended up eating at the pub close the rental house The Seacroft.  A very nice meal and would recommend to others!   A great final day in Anglesey and looking forward to revisiting again one day.

Wales – Anglesey Day 2

We had a great day with a spectacular 7 mile hike along the coast.  The hike started from the house, following the road round to a coastal path just beyond the campground at Treardurr Bay.

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Mix of moorland terrain and rocky terrain

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Stormy skies and windy weather made for great waves

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The route took us along the coast….terrain was a mix of rocky, beaches and moorland.   Most of it pretty flat and easy to navigate.   At each turn, the views were breathtaking and as we had the remnants of Storm Katie, waves were whipping up making it much more exciting to watch.   We were lucky enough not to have any rain which was great.  At one turn we happened upon this rocky cliff.  What do you see??

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What do you see?

The walk took us about 4 miles up the coast, passing what we believe was Prince WIlliam’s and Kate’s home after they first wed.  If you recall, he got a job as as a sea rescue pilot on the island for a couple of years.   The house is large but completely isolated.  Far from anywhere or anything.  Probably good security tactics as there is no approaching without being seen.  I can only  imagine its beautiful inside and he views amazing!

Further on round, we come across an ancient Monks bathing house.   My sister in law has visited the island before so she knew a little of the history etc.  This bathing spot was used centuries ago by monks that settled nearby.  Little/ nothing really remains of the monastery but its interesting to think of the solitude they had on the island back then.  Even now, there is little in these remote corners.

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Monks bath house

We hiked up onto the Coastal lookout point.  It wasn’t manned this day so no-one to chat too but it was good resting point.  However, we couldn’t get all the way around due to the fierce winds whipping around the point!

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Headed over the stile and down to the White Hart

Not far from here, following the path away from the lookout, you will eventually reach the White Eagle in Rhoscolyn.  A pub/ restaurant owned by the Timpson (yes, the cobblers) family.  They own a number of pubs on the island.   The White Eagle is  large establishment which can get very busy at times and was even busy on this blustery day in the off season!.  They allow dogs in certain parts of the restaurant and they were very kind to find a table for the 9 of us, allowing Chester a warm resting spot while we grabbed a light snack…they were also very understanding that, after making Chester comfortable, he then threw up all over the rug!   Absolutely horrifying but after a quick clean up and lots of apologizing as we left, we soon moved on 🙂

We took a similar route back to the house but cut out a few corners of the coastline to shorten the walk.  Luckily for us, the shepherds were out tending to sheep and as we approached a stone wall to cross, there lay a sheep giving birth to a lamb….WOW!  What an incredible experience.  The farmer was on hand for the birth and the kids got to witness this in as natural a setting as possible.  An absolute highlight of our day.

 

On the island of Angelsey, there is also a Royal Air Force base.  This RAF base specializes in the most elite of aircraft and pilots so through out our day, we had the pleasure of watching jets fly about and make all sorts of aerial maneuvers….tricks you’d pay to see at an air show, happening for us and sometimes, felt like just us.  Formations, loop the loops and more.  We like to think that as we waved with each pass by, they did an extra trick just for us 🙂

With 7 miles of walking, sunshine and brisks whipping around us, we were thankful for the coal fire and hot food for when we returned….The young’uns among the group, cleaned up all the fishing tackle at the house and headed out for some fishing off the rocks.  No luck this time but they had fun trying!

Mother nature was kind enough to grant us this spectacular sunset from the house to finish out our day!

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Sunset from Hafn

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Sunset

Wales – Angelsey Day 1

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Watching the sun go down Treardurr bay

This Easter break we certainly kept busy and got around.   Our big trip away was heading up north and spending time with family in Manchester and Anglesey.

Manchester was filled with family time and Easter Sunday dinner.  Good quality time with everyone.

We headed over to Anglesey on Easter Monday for a few days.   Some folks have said ‘why Anglesey?’…mostly with a sound of mocking at such a choice.  In return, I would state, why on earth not??!   It was beautiful and since the trip, my youngest (albeit by one minute :-)) has declared Anglesey her best vacation so far on this adventure…  Citing the location, house, family and activities as her top picks so far.

We had booked a most wonderful house (Hafn) through Travelocity,  right on Treardurr Bay.  It sleeps 10 and there were 9 of us in total.  Despite us being almost at capacity, the house was so large it never felt like we were crowded.   The house and location were spectacular and took our breath away as soon as we arrived.  They accept dogs, so Chester had the excitement of joining us and straight away, he made himself right at home…either taking his place over looking the ocean or quietly curled up on the front doorstep watching the world go by.

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Hafn house and garden

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What a great spot!

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Happy Dog!

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Amazing bay window in the house

 

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View from house terrace

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Taking in the view on arrival

The House had everything we needed.  Well stocked for all your needs.  A lovely large sitting room with coal fireplace which with the cool evenings we were able to use. A family room with TV, DVDs and a cupboard chock full of games.  An amazing conservatory with ocean views and almost every bedroom had ocean views.   Given the bonus of great weather, this was a great find and great deal.

Upon arriving we took a walk down to the bay and beach.  The weather was sunny, dry but a little breezy but we didn’t care.  This place was gorgeous!

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coastal path down to the Bay

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rock climbing!

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Cove along the walk to the beach

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View across the bay. The Grey house is also for rent and is used in many films as a haunted house

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On the way to the bay

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Walking to the beach

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swimming!

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Watching the sun go down

After the obligatory holiday 99 ice creams, we headed to the pub.  Walking distance from the house, The Seacroft was welcoming and accommodated large parties easily.  One later date, we ate dinner here and all enjoyed our meal.  Be warned though, Kids menu closes at 8pm and they prefer not to have kids in there after 9pm.  No problem for us as our kids are older but something to keep in mind.   Dogs also not allowed inside but again, no problem as being a stones throw form the house, we just dropped him home for a post walk nap!

Being our first night and planning ahead, we opted to use the BBQ at the house and do burgers etc for dinner.  A good call, as we were to find, the next couple of days walking, we would become too exhausted to BBQ after expeditions out.   Being right on the ocean, it was a little exposed but we managed to get it lit and dinner cooked.  The kitchen at Hafn is also newly fitted so all appliances were new, clean and working!

First day was a success and looking forward to exploring the island more….

 

 

Ringstead Bay, Dorset

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Ringstead Bay

Spring is finally here in earnest.  We headed to the coast for the day this weekend so get a teaser of warmth and summertime to come along the Jurassic Coast.

We have been to Ringstead Bay once before,  late last summer.  A first time for me and I liked it so much, we thought it would be good to go back and also take some visiting family.  Knowing the weather wouldn’t support sunbathing and swimming, we knew that the walks and views were in themselves enough to take us back.

We parked up at the National Trust Car Park which is easy to find and at this time of year, not busy at all.  To our disappointment when we arrived, the fog was heavy…not expecting that at all but it did clear after an hour to allow us some splendid views.

During our visit, we got to watch some para gliders practice take offs.  Back last summer, I recall seeing the same at this spot so I would assume its fairly frequent.  Fun for the kids to watch and adds to the beauty of the location.  We took the paths down towards the ocean.  One path leads to the an amazing, tiny chapel overlooking the ocean.  Back in the summer, this chapel also served tea and home made cakes.  There was no-one there this time but something to bear in mind if you head up that way.  My guess is, in season, they serve afternoon tea most weekends, so be sure to have a few pounds in your pocket…its worth it!

We headed down to the beach and just let the kids be kids and dog be dog…paddling and swimming (dog only).

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fog lifting over the beach

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post paddle stroll

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foggy view from the top

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a dog and the ocean….happy dog

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splendid views from every angle

The hike back up to the car park is steep in places but we strolled back up at the end of the afternoon, sun kissed and rosy cheeked from our day out by the sea.

Exmoor National Park – Lynmouth/ Lynton

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View of Castle Rock, Exmoor from the roadway

We had the opportunity to visit Exmoor National Park last weekend (North Devon).  A house had been booked to stay in and off we went for 2 nights.  We were staying in the village of Lynmouth.

I have never been to this part of the country before so it was all new to me.  I was impressed with the Park and villages we were in and it is a beautiful place to visit.

First off, if you own a dog, Lynmouth is a dog lovers paradise!  We took Chester, our large Golden Retriever and he was welcomed everywhere!  Even in the pasty shop when we stopped for lunch.  Needless to say, the dog had a great time – lots of walks/ hikes and pub dining!

We were based in the village of Lynmouth.  A picturesque little village right on the water. They say its where Exmoor meets the sea. There is also a fast moving river moving through the village, flowing out into the ocean.   Back in 1952, the village was pretty much lost during a great flood/ mudslides.  Nine inches of rain had fallen in 24 hours and the moors were too wet to take any more.  Resulting in devastating the village.   One village store shows the mud line from that event….above eye level for me!

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River into Lynmouth. Chester taking a quick drink

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River leading into Lynmouth

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Mud level plaque

The village is picturesque and off season, its still quite busy.  Summer months, I am sure it has a completely different feel.  We are enjoying visiting these gems out of season, especially if the weather is dry and sunny.  At this time of year, there are just a few shops open and restaurants haven’t fully opened yet.  If you are looking for an evening meal, plan ahead and try to book somewhere open.  There is an Egon Ronay restaurant in the village but alas was fully booked.  We dined at a local hotel in the end.  It was adequate but I’m sure there is better to be found in the area.

We also ventured up to Lynton village.  This is high above Lynmouth, perched on the cliffs.  A larger ‘town’ and again very picturesque.  Due to its location, there are a couple of ways to get there.    The first trip we took the Funicular railway up.  Its powered by water and a very sweet ‘railway’ line to the top.  Even dogs can ride for a £1!  Chester was excited to join in the fun.  Again, off season, no queuing was needed and we hopped straight on.   The other way up is to walk.  A number of different paths will take you there.  A ‘switchback’ footpath will take you up or one day, we took a coastal path up and around to the town.  Either way, it is high and steep…take on at your own risk!

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Boarding the funicular at the bottom

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View from the top of the funicular

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View of Lynton from paths leading from Castle Rock

We did 2 great walks over the weekend.  One walk was coastal path up into the moors and fields.  We climbed around 200 feet in all which allowed for some pretty views. We got a little off path at one point but made it back to Lynmouth finishing along the river walkway.

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Taking the path out of Lynmouth

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Coastal Path leaving Lynmouth

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Moor like terrain

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Climbing up on ‘coastal’ path

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View of Lynton from afar

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Woodland walk back down to the River

Our second walk was taking the coastal path in the opposite direction towards Castle Rock, a popular hiking destination. This path was difficult at times and the true coastal part is on narrow paths with cliff faces.  However, the path is paved so its easy underfoot.  I am not great with vertigo so I took my time and made it through just fine.  There are plenty of little resting spots on the way up and along to Castle Rock.  Scenery and vistas are spectacular so taking a break is worth it for the view.

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On the coastal Path

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Spectacular views from the path

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Approach to Castle Rock

We made it round to Castle Rock.  Again, another spectacular view.  The contrast between ocean, moors and rock faces is what lends this area to magnificent beauty.   Without sounding like a bore – visit OFF season.  This place was quiet and peaceful but just a little further on, signs for bus parking etc indicates this is a mob scene come summer.  It would be a whole different experience.

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At base of Castle Rock

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At Castle Rock

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Valley of Rocks

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Enjoying the view

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Happiest dog in the world?

We climbed Castle Rock.  Kids went to the top…I was almost there but my fear of heights got the better of me on the final stretch!   I still got to enjoy the splendid views though including those of the Valley of Rocks…another popular destination.

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View of Castle Rock from the roadway

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Views from Castle Rock. Roundabout suggests traffic could be heavy in season

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Almost at the top of Castle Rock

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View through the rocks near the top

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Taking a break on the way down

 

We opted to follow the road and further trails back into Lynton before the decent back down into Lynmouth.  These final trails took us through fields of wild goats…with many kid goats about to play with the kids…one in particular stole our hearts and chased and bleated along the path.  We found it tough to say goodbye….we named her Willomena 🙂

 

Glastonbury Tor

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View of 15th century tower atop the Tor

We are fortunate to live close by to many historical sites in the UK.  One of which is Glastonbury and the Tor.   So one grey afternoon, we headed out to walk up to the landmark we frequently drive by as we are headed to the motor way.

Many of you will be familiar with Glastonbury as being the home of one of the worlds largest music festivals each year.  This is in the the same area so given the Pagan links of this site, it does attract a fair few of the new age festival goers year round!

Glastonbury Tor is a National Trust property but it is open to all.  There is no NT parking so a membership doesn’t support you in that respect either.  Parking can be found in town or close by at a local slipper factory.

According to National Trust, Glastonbury Tor is a ‘prominent hill overlooking the Isle of Avalon, Glastonbury and Somerset’.  It is an ancient and spiritual site where Pagan beliefs are still very much celebrated.  The Tor dates back 5000 years and is steeped in history.  The Tower is remains from a structure (St Michaels) erected in the 15th century.

The walk is fairly short but steep! We were fine but some may find it a little more strenuous than others.   Despite the weather not being great, it was pretty busy.  I can only imagine that in warmer months, this place is quite crowded.  The walk is mostly on a pathway so easy to navigate.  Its best to stick to the pathway towards the top to avoid eroding the steep sides of the Tor.   Part way up there is a bench for anyone needing to take a break.  Of course, my crew sat as soon as they could!   Dogs are welcome but as sheep are frequently grazing around the Tor, its best to keep them on lead.

The walk up to the top of the Tor are spectacular and are worth the climb.  There are 360 views of the surrounding areas and into Wales.

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St Michaels Tower – the top!

 

The trip to the top and back didn’t take long.  Maybe 45 minutes.  I could imagine on a nice warm day, bringing a little picnic and sitting atop and breathing in the view.  But as I said, probably with a lot of others doing the same thing.   That said this is a great stop off if you are passing, or even destination and spend the rest of the day in the surrounding area.

When we were done, we chose not to go to Glastonbury town but to Street.  A stark contrast to the history we just explored but a welcome change for the kids 🙂

Street is just 2 miles from Glastonbury and home of the Clarks Outlet Village.  It was my first time here and I was pleasantly surprised.  A good selection of shops for all ages and nicely laid out.  Good options for a cup of coffee and more if desired.

So if you’re looking a day out in the Southwest to please everyone, this combo works well.

Now, if only we could get the sheep off the road to get home!

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