Uphilldowndale

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


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Sleeping with corncrakes

It was one of my Hebridean holiday aspirations to see a corncrake, a secretive little bird, that at one time used to live in our meadow,  here in  north Derbyshire so Freddy the farmer told me.

Killed off: The Corncrake

Freddy was born around 1920, and farmed from this house until the 1970’s, when during that life time the corncrakes disappeared from our meadow, I don’t know, but I do know that there are now only  just over a thousand calling males (and hopefully a similar number of females) in the UK. The birds demise has been a result of changes in farming practice, and the birds reluctance to break cover when the grass is mown, you can guess the rest.

One of the best places to find them is the islands of the Outer Hebrides, where much work is being done to give them the best chance of breeding safely.

One you’ve heard a corncrake, you will know its call forever.

We heard plenty but didn’t see a one.  They favour clumps of nettles and long grass.  I spent a long time staring at clumps of nettles, knowing the blighters were in there.

what no corncrake.jpg

They’d lure you in with a call, then fall silent for fifteen minutes or so, then, just as you were starting to think you’d move on they’d give another rasping call.

The best time to see and hear them, is at dusk, or dawn, or just after it has rained. the problem with dusk and dawn in the Outer Hebrides in June, is that dusk is very late and dawn is  very early.  We heard plenty, especially around four am. I have the badge to prove it.

I slept with corncrakes!

A calling corncrake is a lullaby I can sleep with.

 

 

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Pobull Fhinn

Time for a view,  from, Pobull Fhinn (Finn’s people)  a stone circle on the isle of North Uist,  over looking Loch Langass Lochens_

We had a fine lunch (if a little upmarket by our usual campervan standards) at Langass Lodge .  A hunting shooting and fishing kind of establishment, with a hearty stock of midge repellent and tick removers for sale in reception.  Ticks yuk, we’ve had trouble with them in the past during Mr Uphilldowndales fell running days they can get anywhere! Time to tuck our trousers in our socks!

We met some of the locals,

Deer Outer Hebrides

who probably have quite a few ticks between them.

Deer Outer Hebrides 2

 

 

 

 


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Information Point

Well appointed.

information point

We did have a bit of a struggle finding visitor information (this point aside) we were several days into the holiday before we picked up a copy of ‘Made in the Outer Hebrides a free cultural guide’, and  ‘Building our Islands: architectural trail’ leaflet, by which time we’d passed by many things we’d have sought out. It’s almost as if the Islands are very modest about some of their assets.

 

 


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Pick up a…

P-P Penguin,  penguin waiting for a bus, Scalpay Outer Hebrides.Pick up .JPG

On the lovely little Island of Scalpay.  It’s only since 1997, that there has been any chance of catching a bus either to or from Scalpay.

Prior to 1997, the residents of Scalpay were reliant on a small, sporadic ferry to transport them 300 meters across the Sound of Harris onto North Harris. Thanks to generous funding provided by the European Union, work commenced to connect the two islands by bridge. Making this dream a reality would be challenging and costly; £6.4 million to be exact.

 


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A room with a view, Dun Carloway

A Broch cut away
More modern local buildings are a little more modest, but will they still be standing in 2000 years time?.
Dun Carloway 2

 


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Brutalist Bus Stop

Following on from the Brutalist style church, a Brutalist bus stop with postbox, on the isle of Lewis

Bus Stop Lewis_.jpg

Looking like a remanent of the cold war, a bus stop with presence, its quarters offering shelter from which ever way the wind blows.

I couldn’t help but think if you were back at home in Derbyshire and tried sheltering around the back of a bus stop, the 199 bus would sail straight past without stopping.