Uphilldowndale

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


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Voyage of Discovery

Orchid Stromness_

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts that started in June and are still limping along! I’ll get there in the end…  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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You may have noticed it has been taking me a while to get these posts out, there are many reasons,  good and bad,  but one of them is how long it takes me to read around the links I want to add to my post. With every click of a search engine, I’m finding more and more that grabs my attention and imagination. There is the occasional disappointment of course, something I wish I’d know about before we set off on this journey, something we’ve missed as a result. I suppose it is the eternal dilemma of travelling, how much do you prepare, or  how much of the fun of travel is the  unexpected discovery.

The town of Stromness, Orkney for example, it  was full of surprises,  from the orchids (photo above) growing on a little waste ground near the campsite,  to the town itself, it appears perfectly preserved, look at the main street.

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(We missed a sign taking us an easier route to the campsite, I did wonder what rabbit hole I was disappearing down as I drove the camper van through the ever narrowing street).

So little street furniture, signs, road markings, sale boards  and general stuff. I wondered how it had managed to remain so intact, has it been restored to this, or has it just sidestepped change? Then (wandering around the Internet again) I found photos of this street from the 70’s and 80’s it looked  pretty much just the same (a gorgeous little collection of photo journalism).  I also discovered that the Townscape Heritage Initiative is the mover and shaker of this exemplary street, and for support the beautiful shops and galleries 

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It is a town stuffed with sea faring history, with a heritage of whaling, exploration and was the recruitment centre for The Hudson Bay Company, the knowledge and skills of the seamen of this town being highly sought after.

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I found this enchanting little film, made by the primary school children in Stromness, I’m sure I recognise the cat that makes an appearance, the film will tell you all about the history. I wanted to show you the crow-step gables, a feature of Scottish architecture

Stromness crowstep 

At every corner, a route down to the quayside, back in time there would have been wooden piers built to cope with the influx of mackerel boats and so many boats moored here, you could walk across them.

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The museum is full of quirky artefacts, and slightly scary mannequins (which did seem to be a feature of the museums we visited)

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But maybe the biggest surprise though was The Pier Arts Centre, a vibrant gallery, of contemporary art, including over 20 works by Barbara Hepworth, what a gem of a place. 

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Stone the Crows

Stone the crows? I wouldn’t dream of it personally.

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It’s a phrase you don’t hear very often, its origins are unclear

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"What I says is crows is devils." Tom pointed at the trees, where the blue-black legions sat squabbling and blinking their wicked white eyes. …

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I came across these handsome birds, in a car park in Wales (we got about a bit last week!). Hopelessly back lit and mooching about, in and out of the shadows, they kept me entertained whilst trying to eat my sandwich in the car. I did a lot of that last week too.

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Can I encourage you to pop across to dou dou’s site and take a look at the beautiful birds there


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A Walk in the Park

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park to be precise. I walked further than I expected, but it wasn’t a problem, the day was bright and crisp.

I was bewitched by an ‘intervention’ by David Nash.

Seventy One Steps

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Made from oak that is charred and oiled they follow the lie of the land. The steps are set into 30 tons of coal, they will weather and erode into the landscape.  Climbing them, they felt were quite magical. They are no ordinary steps.

I thought the woods at the top of the steps were rather magical too.

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I loved the gnarled roots. I’m sure I heard somewhere that 90% of a trees roots are in the top two feet of the soil?

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Duncan obviously like it here, once upon a time.

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