Dr Gwen


I'm just an ecologist,, SFF fan and rainbow loving gal who wishes she had more time & money for travelling!

Born & bred in the UK I grew up with summer holidays to remote corners of this isle and my memories of these trips involve scrambling up mountains in the rain! Great times! I am fascinated by the natural world around us, by all the amazing creatures that share it with us & the ways they & their habitats fit together.

Having finished my PhD in Ecology in 2010 I set off to see Australia & New Zealand for several months to escape! This blog began then, I've missed several UK based holidays out between 2012 & 2016 but promise to try to be better at documenting my trips now.

Our last day. Due to covid we had to be out of the cottage earlier than usual but that was ok. We packed up & headed to the south Peaks for a stoll along Dovedale (last visit when I was a child). This is a lovely, easy stoll along the river - it would usually be easier but the high water levels had flooded some of the path & the stepping stones were completely impassable! We strolled along to Reynard's Cave and I decided to brave the muddy climb up to the cave itself - slightly anticlimactic to be honest! Then we said farewell to the Peak District & headed south stopping near Birmingham to have lunch at the Litchfield Tea Company & pick up some essentials from my dad. Here I discovered Rooibos Earl Grey ... read more
Dovedale information
Washed out stepping stones

Another decent walk today - I actually merged two walks from Castleton together (to make FrankenWalk!) Our trip was almost sabotaged by a collapsed dry stone wall partially blocking the track, but we cleared the stones out of the way then called our landlord to see if they could contact the farmer to make sure the cattle in the field didn't escape through the broken wall. We set off from Castleton heading up Cave Dale passing Peveril Castle. The rain the previous days made a strwam running down Cave Dale so we had to watch where we put our feet! From the top of Cave Dale we headed across some pastures then north along a farm track to Windy Knoll. From here we did the steep climb up Mam Tor then followed the ridge north-east. We ... read more
Post-walk chocolate and cake in Castleton
Collapsed dry stone wall
Heading up Cave Dale

Today we did a longer walk from Ladybower Reservoir over Rowlee Pasture to Alport Castles. The walk started with a climb through the woods, including Lockerbrook Coppice along footpaths and forestry tracks. There was a laid stone track across the bogs of Rowlee Pasture, although a couple of stones had topped ot sunk and requierd jumping over. The rain started at this point obscuring the lovely views along the valley. From Alport Castles the path dropped down into Alport Dale. Crossing the River Ashop we skirted Blackley Hey then returned across the river and climbed over a shoulder passing below Pasture Tor and Bellhag Tor before dropping back down through the forest to Ladybower Reservoir. We head tea & chocolate sitting by the reservoir before heading back to the cottage to dry off yet again.... read more
Off on a walk!
Heading into Lockerbrook Coppice
Path over Rowlee Pasture

As it was wet we spent the morning exploring Treak Cliff Cavern - one of the caves where they still mine Blue John stone. Due to covid they couldn't do the usual cave tours so instead we downloaded an app & were given our own starting time (at 10 min intervals from other people) to go on our own self-led tour. It worked very well and we had a lovely time poking around in our own time. On the way out of the cave we found the cave spiders by the door although they proved rather difficult to photograph. There was a lovely view from the exit but then the heavens opened again to we ran inti the vesotor centre to look around the museum. Ww thought of doing a short walk form the cottage, but ... read more
Rainbow over Mam Tor and Hollins Cross
Treak Cliff Cavern
The door into Treak Cliff Cavern

A rather last minute holiday to get away for a few nights. Our friends kindly agreed to come & cat sit at out house whilst we were away so Monday started with a socially distant run through of Max's routine & other useful things around the house then we went to dop the ferrets off for their own holiday at Three Shires! Having bid farewell to all our furred babies we headed north we skirting the south edge of Sheffield we stopped off at Upper Burbage Bridge for our first walk on the moors. We headed south along Fiddler's Elbow to Higger Tor then on to Burbage Bridge. We got slightly sidetracked scrambling over rocks & took a slightly convoluted route but ended up in the right place. After a short walk along the A6187 we ... read more
Heading up Higger Tor
Burbage Rocks

Africa February 20th 2020

Up early, ate my breakfast egg sandwich and drank my orange juice as I threw my night clothes into my case. My leg felt itchy so I shook out my trousers and a hairy caterpillar fell out! Just what I needed! I put some antihistamine cream on my leg hoping it wasn’t anything too nasty and headed down to reception to meet my driver at 5:30am. The early start was to ensure we didn’t get stuck in the rush hour traffic that starts from about 6am. Chatting to my driver it turned out he had grown up in one of the large slums in Nairobi and had come through Moving Mountain’s scheme and now works for Adventure Alternative. There were three security checks to get through at the airport, one at the gate where I had ... read more
The dry heart of Africa
The Nile upstream of Aswan
Croatian coastline

Africa » Kenya February 19th 2020

19thFeb – maasai village - Nairobi A very lazy start for us with breakfast at 8am and leaving the camp at 8:45 after saying goodbye to Peter, Patrick and the others. We also gave one of the older villagers a lift to a local town to save him a long walk. Our first stop for the day was a Maasai village where Raphael, the son of the chief, greeted us and showed us around. First we were shown a couple of traditional items – one was a lion’s head skin from the days when to get married a man had to go and kill a lion. If he wanted to get married a second or third time he had to go and kill 2 or 3 lions. This no longer happens and instead he pays a ... read more
Maasai jumping dance
Maasai womans welcome dance
Making fire

Africa » Kenya » Rift Valley Province » Masai Mara NP February 18th 2020

Up a bit earlier today and leaving camp with Wilson at 6:50am to get to the park gates soon after 7am for a full day in the Mara. We spent much of the morning driving to and fro across the Mara following sightings of a leopard. The first we missed so had a brief detour to the river where we saw a baby crocodile and the stone marking the boundary with Tanzania (we didn’t stop for a photo as leopard!) - then shot off back to the other side of the Mara where a leopard had recently made a kill (wild dog Simba said). We passed lots of vans going the other way so were a bit worried it would have gone but there was still one van there who pointed out to us the bush ... read more
Nile monitor
At the river

Africa » Kenya » Rift Valley Province » Masai Mara NP February 17th 2020

Slept very well, up & ready to leave for the Maasai Mara at 7:30am with a packed lunch and joined by Wilson who was going to help Simba find us a leopard! On the way out of camp we passed a dik-dik and once in the park we saw: Black rhino Elephants (incl. more babies) Cheetahs (a single one in the grass then a group of 5 in the shade under a tree) Vultures Great bustard Secretary bird Shrike Warthogs Ostrich Baboons Buffalo Impalla Topi Gazelles (Grant’s & Thompson’s) Hartebeest Hippos Lilac-breasted roller Maasi giraffe Vervet monkey Although I think Chavaunne spotted more than out two guides! Lunch was eaten under the shade of an acacia tree keeping a close eye on a nearby herd of elephants in case they decided to come our w... read more
Black rhino
Black rhino
Maasai Mara

Africa » Kenya » Rift Valley Province » Masai Mara NP February 16th 2020

Packed up bags and tent and ready to leave by 8am for the long drive down to the Masai Mara. Moses had to leave us today to take another tour group to Meru National Park (as he knows it best) so on route we met up with Simba and transferred our bags to his van before saying goodbye to and thank you to Moses. We stopped for lunch and a loo break by a curio shop where we bought more souvenirs before heading down to Wajee Mara Camp not far outside the Masai Mara gates. We met Patrick, the camp manager just off the main road & drove with him down the very rough & bumpy track to the camp. It was a beautiful campsite nestled among trees. We also met Peter there & were given ... read more

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