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.

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland » Kraków October 3rd 2022

We had a leisurely start then out to Gossip for breakfast before wandering up up to see St. Florian's Gate - built around the 14th century as a rectangular Gothic tower in the city walls this is part of the city's fortifications against Tatar attack - and the Kraków Barbican - a fortified outpost once connected to the city walls. Wandered back down to the Main Market Square with Saint Mary's Basilica and the cloth hall. After a quick browse of the souvenirs we went to look around Rynek Underground museum situated below the market square. This contains remnants of medieval walls, streets and waterworks reconstructions of workshops, the remains of burned settlements, the oldest of which dates from the 11th century. There were also holograms, fog machines and screens to ... read more
Dragon's Den
 Juliusz Słowacki Theatre & stained-glass exhibition advertisment
St. Florian's Gate

Europe » Slovakia » Slovenský Raj National Park October 2nd 2022

Our final day in Slovakia dawned dry & sunny! Because we'd had to swap hikes around due to the rain on Friday we had a longer hike than planned to do today so we set off early. Jamie's hip was complaining after all the hiking yesterday so we drpoped her off to do a shorter route with plenty of strudel time at Ranč Podlesok, which we'd taken to calling the Strudel Hut! Her walk was slightly more adventurous than she thought, in part due to a large gate blocing the route forcing a detour. The rest of us headed over to trek up Piecky (Fireplace) Gorge, which gets its name from the amazing rock formations that span the canyon. Again there was more water than usual due to the previous rain and there was a lot ... read more
There was't much of a dry path to find here!
Super high ladder!
Picking my way upstream

Europe » Slovakia » Slovenský Raj National Park October 1st 2022

Slept much better and woke with eyes still slightly swollen but not painful and with only light rain. After breakfast we headed back into the Slovak Paradise National Parkto hike along the Suchá Belá Gorge, one of the longest and most popular canyons in the park. The previous rain meant the stream was in full flow so we had to trek through water, climb over fallen trees and ascend ladders - the path even went through a window-like hole in the rock. Emerging from the canyon we ate our sandwiches before continuing along the top to the symbolic cemetery above Kláštorisko. Here the group divided with some heading off on a longer, more adventurous route down with Jan (which admittdly sound like more fun!) whilst Jamie and I took the shorter, gentler route with Andy that ... read more
A series of ladders
Wooden walkways
Picking our way upstream

Europe » Slovakia » Slovenský Raj National Park September 30th 2022

On Thursday we were up at 4:30am to get to the airport on time *yawn*. My flight got into Krakow just after 12, got through border control fairly promptly & ended up at Jet Bistro for a cup of tea. Using the chat group I discovered Lisa was there too so we met up and were gradually joined by others until about half the group were in the cafe! We chatted until Martin, Andy & Jan from Much Better Adventures arrived at 5pm to collect the group & set off in two minibuses on the 3h drive across to the border to our hotel in Slovakia. It was rainy & dark so we didn't get to appreciate the mountains fully as we crossed the border but we did appreciate the traditional food at Penzión Strachan where ... read more
Prielom Hornadu canyon
Group at the Tomasovsky viewpoint
Prielom Hornadu canyon

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

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