Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Ring leader

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

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Well as you can see I’m more than a little tardy, 21 days behind schedule. Oh dear.

Will it surprise you that it was a springer spaniel that was the ring leader of this little bit of mischief? Not our Spud the dog, you understand, but he’d have loved to join in.

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It was at Skaill House  on Orkney, which as well as being rather grand family estate, stuffed full of beautiful antiques and historic items,

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and the odd exotic thing, that you can only wish had stayed wild

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It also has a touch of the 20thC about its decor in some of the rooms,  as it was a family home until the 1950’s

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It just feels familiar, take this wallpaper, for example.

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What Skaill House has, at the bottom of its garden, is altogether more unusual, and its survival is nothing short of miraculous is a  prehistoric village was exposed in 1850, when a great storm tore away the sand dunes that had protected it. I could show you my photos, but I think you’ll be netter served by the Skara Brae website

They do say if you scratch the surface of Orkney, it bleeds archaeology. I’d not disagree.

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Red Shank

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

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On Orkney again, near the magical Ring of Brogdar; a beautiful redshank. It was raining when we arrived,

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but as is the way, it soon brightened.  They are such elegant birds.

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I think by their agitation and shrill, piping call, that they had young nearby, and that they would like to lead us away from the nests.

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However we were well marshalled by paths and fences so there was no danger to their young, but also no hope of seclusion for their nests, so close to such an famed archaeological site.


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What was that noise?

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

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Whilst I was revelling in the company of curlews, I was startled by a strange noise (I should have noted the curlews were unfazed by it).  I wondered for a moment if it was a badger, but then I didn’t know if the Islands of Orkney have badgers (they don’t it transpires, have a look at the beautiful blog)

If I’d tried to describe the noise I’d have said the sound was a cross between ‘some one shaking a rug and the sound of a pair of flip-flops in washing machine’.  I walked on around the corner and  in front of me was  a small lochan, here I found the answer. A swan running up for take off.

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I’m considering becoming a Foley artist… It sounds like a lot of fun.

Taken at Sand o’ Wright, South Ronaldsay, Orkney


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Curlew

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

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Curlews are one of my favourite birds, at home in Derbyshire they are seasonal visitors to our upland pastures and moors,  apparently the collective noun for a group of curlews is a herd, which I think is very boring, given their enigmatic call, I think ‘a haunting’ would be a more suitable term. 

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In Derbyshire they seem to be nervy and reclusive, always out of reach of a good view, or just beyond  the reach of a long lens.

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  In the north east of Scotland and on Orkney, they seem to have no such inhibitions.  What a joy.

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The Black Isle

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

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The first lighthouse to shine here, so many lighthouses on our tour, the majority being the work of the Stevenson family, a gene pool of genius if ever there was.

Chanonry light house sits on a blanket of candy pink sea thrift 

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This is also a popular place to see dolphins, we were not disappointed, sadly they didn’t come in close enough to the shore for much in the way of photos. Sigh, but never mind I saw them!!!

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The nearby dunes were peppered with flowers, sheltering in the lee of the wind, under the strong arm protection of the grasses.

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The Black Isle was a slight diversion from the official route of the NC500, but definitely worthwhile.

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Giddy Pup

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

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I confess I’m a little overwhelmed by the number of photos I’ve taken, its an understatement to say that this part of the world is photogenic! So I’ll get in the groove with Spud the dog, being a little giddy on a breeze beach  (flapometer 9.7).

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It was here, a few miles north of Applecross we found the biggest starfish I’ve ever seen, I asked Mr UHDD to pose his foot next to it for scale (I’d like to tell you this shot is slightly out of focus to protect you from an uncensored view of a fellrunners foot, which is never a pretty sight, but actually it sloppy work on a windy beach).

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It was at this moment we realised its tentacles were still moving. Now I’ve had enough drama with Mr UHDD and stinging things to suggest he move his foot fast, he didn’t need any encouragement…

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We think it is a Luidia Cilliaris,

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The Road North

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world.

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I’m up for this, I’ve done it before, I’ve a bit of a cop out on the delivery though this year.  Mr Uphilldowndale and I are on the road, with Spud the dog of course. We’re taking a three week tour in the campervan, a week visiting  the Orkney Islands, and driving the North Coast 500 route around the northern coast of Scotland. Daily delivery of posts may not be possible,  there are so many variables, when I find an Internet connection, expect a flurry of posts. Posts will not be exclusively ‘wild’  as there is so much to share, but nature will be here in all its glory.

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Post box, Isle of Sanday

First of all how did we get here? It’s a long drive from Derbyshire (over 500m),  we waved as we tootled along past Tootlepedal’s patch, and broke our journey by calling to see the magnificent  Kelpie sculptures at Falkirk, I’d wanted to see them ever since I saw the video of their construction. I was not disappointed.

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How skilful to get such shape and tone to the muscle structure out of sheets of metal.

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Mr Uphilldowndale wanted to know the nuts and bolts of their construction

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The Kelpies were having a little grooming

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We then went on to call, unannounced, on M and J in Kincardine,  M used to work with me in my ‘wee flower shop’, in Alloa, some 26 years ago, we had not seen them since then. We had a lovely evening with them, and camped out on their drive for the night, their kindness and generosity was just as I remembered. A wonderful start to our adventure

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As we travelled north we were struck by the gorse, it was prolific

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and its vivid colour and perfume,  sweet with notes of coconut, swept along with us.

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