Royal Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

Sutton Park was my local park as a child, but like most visitors I don’t think we ventured too far in, or far off the main paths and roads.

Today Nigel led the walk, and as he’s used to exploring the whole of the park and not just the main walkways, he took us his own “5 pools” walk.  We learned a bit about the history of the park, and discovered areas that most people don’t know exist.

We started off by the Park House pub/restaurant, and looped round the park until 5 miles later, we ended up back there.

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The first pool we walked past.

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2nd pool (yes I know, most lakes and pools look the same!)

2nd lake

Sutton Park has the remains of practice trenches, which were used for military training. It was difficult to get a photo  at this time of year that showed the trenches themselves clearly.

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Sutton Park also had its own wells.

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The next pool, and the obligatory “Watch It Wilkes” photograph – those bushes were really spiky 😉

lake with nigel and gary     ow

The fourth pool

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Keepers Pool, the fifth  and final one.

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Heading back

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The weather could have been better: it was cloudy and dull throughout, and due to recent rain some parts were a bit squelchy and muddy, but all in all an enjoyable walk.

 

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Walking In Worcester – Diglis Basin and the River Severn

For my walking challenge I need to walk 2.74 miles or more today as well as do some shopping, so a walk into Worcester via the canal to Diglis, and then looping round the river before heading into Worcester city centre for shopping seemed to be a good plan.  We parked just outside the city on Stanley Road, and picked up the canal by Shrub Hill.  It was a 4.5 mile walk in total 🙂

Signpost at the junction of the River Severn and Diglis Canal

Walking along the River Severn towards Worcester cathedral.

Metal sculptures in Diglis – Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist, Ernest Payne, founder of the British Medical Association, Sir Charles Hastings, and soldiers from the Civil War 

Diglis weir.

The Walk 1000 Miles Challenge 2018

So I’ve decided to challenge myself, increase my fitness level and explore lots of new places in 2018: all under the guise of the Walk 1000 Miles challenge, run by the Country Walking magazine.  http://www.livefortheoutdoors.com/walk1000miles/.

Although it sounds a lot, it breaks down to an average of 2.74 miles a day, or 19.18 miles a week.  Still enough to be a challenge,  especially when you add in my personal rules: running outside or on a treadmill, and walking to a shop or shopping will not be included in the mileage.  So its 2.74 miles extra to what I usually do.

If you’re not feeling quite so brave, there’s also a 500 mile challenge for 2018.

Both have busy Facebook groups where you can connect to others doing the challenge online and also arrange a walk, or meet up for somebody else’s pre-arranged walk.

All good fun!

If you plan to do too, let me know – we can cheer each other on!

In the meantime, I’m going to get into practice by finishing 2017’s challenge.  From Nov 8th – 31 December, there are 67 days left – x 2.74 miles = 183 miles.  So that’s what I plan to complete in 2017.  I’ll keep you updated!

Playa De Las Americas, Tenerife

This was our third time in Tenerife, the second in Playa De Las Americas – although the other time we went we stayed in Los Cristianos, which is just up the coast and within 10-15 mins walking distance.

After a very quiet holiday in Gouves, we decided to wanted to go somewhere vibrant and busy this time, and we also wanted a destination that would be warm and sunny at the end of September.  The Canary Islands fitted the bill.  My first choice was Playa Del Ingles in Gran Canaria – but flights were at awkward times, so we chose to go to Tenerife instead, with good afternoon/evening flights.

Our hotel. Parque De La Paz, was in a great area – with designer shopping centres close, and many restaurants and bars just a few minutes walk away.  But the hotel itself was at the back of these, so we didn’t have any disturbances or busy roads to put up with.  The hotel was lovely, and although we had a “studio” room it was large – previously the hotel had been self catering (now all-inclusive) so we had a kitchen, a 4 seater sofa, dining table and large balcony.  Lots of space just for 2! Staff were great, and although pool area was very busy, there was a secluded area with sunbeds just away from the pool where we spend most of our mornings sitting in the sun and enjoying the peace.

If you’d like to know what Playa De Las Americas as a resort is like,  think of a smaller, downmarket version of Las Vegas, and you’ll be close.  Busy, busy, busy, lots of restaurants buzzing with people and live music, bars and shops, lovely beach to walk alongside. Perfect if you want to do some walking, some shopping and some eating and drinking – plenty of choice for all of those.

The  Tenerife version of the Bellagio hotel fountains in Las Vegas. At certain times of the night they burst into colour and dance along to the music. Behind is the Hard Rock cafe.

 

More dancing fountains, nearer to the beach.

On the hotel balcony.

All the grandeur of Las Vegas…..but on a much smaller scale!

Outside the Hard Rock Cafe

Inside the Hard Rock cafe

The first time we went to Tenerife, Kate was about 5 and we took her photograph in exactly the same position. The only difference was she was wearing a dress and had a mop of curly blonde hair!

 

The Historic Worcester Ghost Walk

We’ve been meaning to go on this ghost walk for many years, but never got round to it.  In an effort to cross some things off my bucket list,  I bought tickets for last Saturday’s walk.

The walk is led by “Lord Ron” – a gentleman full of interesting information about the history of Worcester, especially the ghosts from our past.  We were led all around the town centre, from the Elgar statue, to the Guildhall, to St Swithen’s church (and inside the church – Lord Ron wielding an impressive set of keys to open up such venues), down to  Cornmarket (and the scene of many hangings and decapitations in the past) down  New Street and Friar Street (with several houses and buildings have spooky histories) and finally back to the dungeons under the Guildhall – which is where I took this photo. Stories were told about the ghosts themselves, and the people who had experienced strange goings on in recent times in the buildings.

One of our party had an interesting experience in St Swithen’s church. He took a photo of the interior of the church, and when looking at the photo noticed a light on it that wasn’t there in the church.  Probably just something to do with using a camera phone in a darkened church, but interesting to see.  He was also last out of the internal church door, and after he walked through the doorway the door slammed sharply and loudly behind him.  Spooky!

I took the photo below in the dungeons under the Guildhall.  Now maybe it’s my imagination – but can you see the shadow of a person behind the bars, sitting sideways on a bench? And can you see a hand – in the middle of the bars, near the bottom?  Scary!

Gouves, Crete

We spent a week  at St Constantine hotel on the island of Crete, in Kato Gouves.  We were disappointed that it was a quiet location, with just a smattering of shops locally, and a walk of about 10-15 mins to an area with restaurants, bars and shops.  We didn’t mind the walk but all the restaurants and bars were empty, often just the owners sitting at one of the tables, so there was no atmosphere and no encouragement to go in for a drink or something to eat.  The one place we did find was about a 20 minute walk along the sea front, a restaurant with live music, but unfortunately the pavements were so uneven and street lights were sporadic so walking that far for a meal out in the evening was not wise.

Kato Gouves is beautiful and if you are looking for a quiet location, then it could be ideal for you.  Most of the hotels are all-inclusive, which probably explains all the empty restaurants].Sunset at Kato Gouves

The hotel has it’s own small church.

St Constantine Hotel, Kato Gouves

 

The rocky sea front down the road from the hotel.

Coughton Court, Alcester, Warwickshire

Coughton Court is an imposing Tudor house set in beautiful gardens with a collection of Catholic treasures.

The Coughton estate has been owned by the Throckmorton family since 1409. Coughton was rebuilt by Sir George Throckmorton, the first son of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton Court by Catherine Marrow, daughter of William Marrow of London. Throckmorton would become notorious due to his almost fatal involvement in the divorce between King Henry and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Throckmorton favoured the queen and was against the Reformation. 

After Throckmorton’s death in 1552, Coughton passed to his eldest son, Robert Throckmorton and his family, who were practicing Catholics. The house at one time contained a priest hole, a hiding place for priests during the period when Catholics were persecuted by law in England, from the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The Hall also holds a place in English history for its roles in both the Throckmorton Plot of 1583 to murder Queen Elizabeth I of England, and the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, although the Throckmorton family were themselves only indirectly implicated in the latter, when some of the Gunpowder conspirators rode directly there after its discovery.

 

Coughton Court – photos of the front and back of the house.DSC00406

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Up in the tower.DSC00399DSC00401DSC00402

There are two churches in the grounds – here’s the interior of the catholic church.DSC00405

The house has been in the ownership of the National Trust since 1946.

We were fortunate to hear a talk about the Gunpowder plot given by one of the volunteers, who bought it all to life; and also to talk to an ancestor of one of the plotting team who had been hanged, drawn and quartered for his involvement.

Malvern Hills: an end to end walk

On Tuesday I walked the the Malvern hills end to end with my lovely walking group. It was almost 11 miles of undulating loveliness 🙂

The weather was perfect for this type of walk – cloudy at the start but clearing as the day went on.  We started at North Hill, and walked all the way to Chase End, where we had handily left two cars so we didn’t have to walk all the way back – although one member of our group did, mad fellow that he is 😉

A long walk ahead

One of the many fields of bluebells we saw.

At the top of the final hill, and we all look so fresh still 🙂

 

 

 

 

Walking up North Hill, Malvern

A lovely September day, perfect for a walk up the Malverns.

We chose North Hill, the second highest hill of all the hills.

The hills run north/south for about 13 km (8 miles), in between Great Malvern and the village of Colwall, and overlook the River Severn valley to the east, with the Cotswolds beyond. The highest point of the hills is the Worcestershire Beacon at 425 metres (1,394 ft) above sea level.

But first things first: Mr Watch It Wilkes pointing out the dangerous sheer drops on the way up:

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And in a more relaxed mode now he has stepped away from the edge.wp_20160918_001

Getting close to the top now:wp_20160918_003

And views from the top of North Hill:

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