Uphilldowndale

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


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Summer Sheep.

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_15

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) 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.

On a warm day, its  good to get your coat off…

IMG_9878


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Saddle Up

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Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) 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.

Mr Uphilldowndale took his bike with him on our grand tour.  It was good for him to get out for a ride every now and then, a bit like Spud the dog, he needs to stretch his legs.

We opened the blinds one morning, to a sight designed to lure the  sleepy cyclist from his bed

Bike view

We got into a bit of a routine, he’d set off on his bike and I’d follow along a little later to meet up at a prearranged point.  Leaving me with time to potter about with the camera, win,win.

Orkney Orchid

Everybody happy, well except Spud


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Sanday

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_13

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) 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.

We took a ferry from Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney, to the island of Sanday, its a short hop of 90 minutes, just how I like my ferry crossings.

Ferry sanday

Sanday is a low lying island, of wide, white, curving beaches, very beautiful.  The weather was kind when we were there, but you can imagine how wild it can get, it must feel like the gales  and tides are gnawing at the land at times. 

Sanday beach

The wind sculpts the dunes, a derelict building, is being subsumed

Sanday building_

Looking at this, it’s not difficult to imagine how Skara brae disappeared under the dunes

Sanday building 2

As we  walked along the beach,  a curious selkie  swam along with us, close into the shore, we were warned not to let Spud the dog into the sea, for fear of him being taken as  a play thing. Spud much prefers pond water to sea water.

Seal watching_

 

Start point light house, with its distinctive vertical stripes,  which are unique to Scotland ( gives it a bit of an Everton mint vibe, do you not think?)

Sanday lighthouse_

The day ended with a sunset befitting such a lovely place

Sanday sunset


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Heavyweight

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_12

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) 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.

I do like a nice stone roof slate, they are part of the vernacular style of old houses in north Derbyshire,  the island on Sandy  however takes the size of their roof slates to the max! Can you imagine manhandling these beasts into place?  Seven slates for the whole roof?

stone slate Orkney 

Here a mixture of sizes of stone slates on the house and corrugated iron on the adjoining barn roof

Orkney stone slate roof

Lichen have turned these slates orange.

stone slate Orkney shed

The window looks so fragile against the stone, as does the starling perched on the ridge.


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Marine Plastic.

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_11

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) 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.

It saddens my heart, to find plastic on the beach.  I pick it up when ever I can, as do others (it looks like  their are some very useful bits and bobs in here, reduce, reuse, recycle).

Boat marine waste

It seems a sad fact of life that it seems the more remote the beach, the more plastic washes up

Will plastics be the archaeology of the future?  Here bailer twine is being consumed by dunes.

Dunes bailer twine Orkney

I was pleased to see both on Orkney and in the highlands of Scotland efforts to remove plastic (and other debris) from the beach.

Marine plastic Lopness_

It seems ironic to have to use plastic bags to collect the rubbish in, maybe we could knit string bags from the bailer twine, not much use though, for the smaller pieces of plastic (although,hopefully micro beads of plastic from cosmetics will become a thing (or legacy) of the past)

There was a community feel to many of the beach cleaning initiatives.  Like this one

Marine plastic bin_ 

They even have a grabber thing,  to use if you don’t fancy collecting by hand. And not only a dog poo bin, but a poo bag dispenser!

Beach clean_

All this was at the beautiful Balnakeil beach

Beautiful beach Balnakeil_

Apart from the feel good factor of taking plastic from the ocean, for more careful recycling, there can be other unforeseen perks. I was dragging a large piece of plastic net off the beach above, when I was approached by a man (no photo here, you’ll just have to use your imagination) in his early thirties, he was running along the beach with his husky hound dog, of very athletic build and wearing naught but lycra Jammer swim shorts and a sprinkling of Polynesian style tattoos, he stopped and in a very strong French accent thanked me for ‘helping keep the oceans of the world beautiful’.

Don’t worry girls their is plenty more plastic on the beach…


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Starlings on the shore

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_10

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) 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.

I hadn’t really thought about how starlings are to be found at the coast, to us here in Derbyshire they are winter visitors, with vast flocks  occasionally forming  murmurations, I’ve not yet being lucky enough to see one yet.

That said, I have a card, by one of my favourite artists, Mark Hearld, its title is ‘starlings on the shore’ its one of those gift cards I bought ‘for stock’ and I haven’t yet managed to part with, because I like it so much.  I think I’ll find it a frame, its a keeper.

'Starlings on the Shore' by Mark Hearld (A341)

We saw many starlings, on our travels, especially on Orkney,

I spent time one evening watching a  somewhat harassed mother feeding her brood, she worked feverishly, the chicks seemed larger that her, due in part I think to their  baby plumage being  less sleek than the adult.

Starlings fledgling_

It was a risky business though,  Mr uphilldowndale saw a gull swoop down and snatch a chick.

Later we saw starlings gathering on the fence, before taking flight together, they seemed to be using this a tactic to deflect the ever present hungry gulls

Starlings group


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The Auburn Enigma

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) 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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We met some stunning redheads on our travels through Scotland and Orkney: there is much debate about where  the red hair so prevalent in Scotland, has its origins 

red hair

People aside, I do like red cattle, they are my favourites.

Red Highland_ 

They bring to mind a poem from my childhood, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Red head calf

The Cow

THE FRIENDLY cow all red and white

  I love with all my heart:

She gives me cream with all her might,

  To eat with apple-tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,
        

  And yet she cannot stray,

All in the pleasant open air,

  The pleasant light of day;

And blown by all the winds that pass

  And wet with all the showers,
 

She walks among the meadow grass

  And eats the meadow flowers.

 

red heads group

But it wasn’t all bovines, a street cat in Stromness, who was perhaps trying to tell me something.

Red cat

And then there was this lovely wee man, who like us was on holiday on Orkney, he’d got some fabulous beach finds to take back to school for show and tell, I’m not sure his dad liked the idea of sharing a very long car journey, with the rather malodorous treasures. 

Red head boy beach