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 » United Kingdom » England » Lancashire September 28th 2018

We decided to head into the Forest of Bowland a bit more today, since we'd only really driven through it on the rest of this holiday! Our destination was the Gisburn Forest & Stocks Reservoir. The Dale Head Ramble was a 3.2mile walk along the edge of the reservoir then up through Birch Hills, down to Bottoms Beck and back along Egg Berry Road (a stoney track rather than surfaced road). Despite being a forestry commision plantation it was a beautiful wood to walk through, sunlight through through the green leaves and glinting off the water, blue skies above. From the bird hides by the reservoir we saw several ducks and geese, a flock of lapwings, and a barn owl hunting on the opposite shore! After lunch we drove over towards the coast driving through the ... read more
Cormorant at Morecambe Bay
Gisburn Forest
Gisburn Forest - clear-felled area

Europe » United Kingdom » England » North Yorkshire » Malham September 27th 2018

Mark had his lazy day so stayed at Station House watching TV and reading. The rest of us headed off to Malham Cove, driving over the narrow, windy roads on the high empty moors skirting the southern slopes of Scosthrop High Moor. At the Visitor Centre we were recommended a 5 mile walk to Malham Cove and Gordale Scar. The clouds had cleared and we had lovely clear skies for the rest of the walk. As a group of young, noisy, school children set off towards Gordale scar we decided to do the walk in reverse. Will was glad about this as he preferred going up the reported 663 steps rather than down them. (Although when we got there Dad only counted 370 steps!) The path took us along the pretty Malham Beck to where it ... read more
Gordale Scar
Janet's Foss
Malham Cove

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Lancashire » Lancaster September 26th 2018

It had rained overnight and was a cloudy, drizzley sort of day so we went to Lancaster and visited the castle. We went on a guided tour and heard all about the history of the prisions (closed in 2012) and the county and criminal courts (which are still used so no photos allowed). Sadly the battlements are out of bounds so no good views of the city either. We had a tasty pub lunch after which Dad went off to visit his friend who lives in Silverdale but managed to leave his bag at the pub with his phone in it! Mark ran ater him to the car park but he'd already left. The rest of us pottered around the market (buying onion bhajis, eggs, milk sweets, books and a rag rug!) then went to the ... read more
Lune Aqueduct
Inside the pub!
View from the back of the castle

Europe » United Kingdom » England » North Yorkshire » Ingleton September 25th 2018

Tuesday was our long walk day and we wanted to find a nice circular route up Ingleborough! Dad, Mark and I drove to the Ingleton Information Centre where a very helpful man let us in early and let us flick through the walk guides. Annoyingly the way we drove in and parked didn't have an obvious P&D sign and though we were only there 20min tops avery inflexible parking warden gave Dad a ticket! (Even though we provided photographic evidennce of lack of signs in this part of the car park they made him pay it!) We did find a nice looking route though which was a bit under 10miles - incoroporating parts of The Pennine Journey and A Dales High Way. We parked on car on the outskirts of Ingleton and climbed the long rocky ... read more
Ribblehead viaduct
A glimpse of Ingleborough
Limestone pavement

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Lancashire September 24th 2018

Monday morning we all squashed into Mark’s car again and drove to the north end of Morecambe Bay to visit Arnside Knott. Mum & Will couldn't face the steep losoe rocky path to the top so enjoyed strolling through the woods below whist the rest of us when up to the view point. We it was a lovely spot with views as far as Blackpool Tower to the south and Pit Hill Castle on the peninsula to the west. We then had a lovely stroll through the woods around the top of the Knott & saw Arnside Tower. Once we'd met up back at the cars we drove to the Leighton Moss RSPB reserve, where had a tasty lunch and went round the hides on the reserve and up the tower. There were lots of ducks, ... read more
View from Arnside Knott
View from Arnside Knott
View from Arnside Knott

Europe » United Kingdom » England » North Yorkshire » Ingleton September 23rd 2018

Sunday morning after breakfast we set off for Ingleton and the White Scar Caves. We arrived just in time to join the next guided walk whick took us about a mile, mostly following an underground stream. There were a couple of waterfalls, a long section walking above the stream. Some parts were narrow and tight and we were glad of our helmets which frequently hit the roof. There were several interesting formations and our guide told of stories about the cave's discovery. Then we went to the Ingleton Waterfall Trail, stopping for lunch at the entrance café. This was a beautiful walk starting going upstream along the River Twiss passing the Pecca Falls, Hollybush Spout and up to Thornton Force then leaving the river & heading across the fells past Twisleton Hall. There was an intrepid ... read more
Pecca Falls
First underground waterfall
We had to go unfder this waterfall

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Lancashire September 22nd 2018

Mark & I set off after an early lunch (well, late fry-up brunch) & headed towards The North. As usual there was traffic on the M6 but with one quick stop we arrived at the Station House, Melling around 5pm. After a quick look around we put the kettle on just in time for Mum, Dad & Will to turn up with the tea! They had set off mid-morning but stopped at Tatton Park to look around the hall & gardens - there were some interesting bits in the house but Mum found the gardens a bit boring. After a cuppa and deciding who had which rooms we left mum sorting out supper (venison stew) and went for a walk through Melling - where the pub had been converted to a garage - and across fields ... read more
Into the woods
Paw prints!

Due to the aforementioned landslide closing Route 1 south of Big Sur we loaded the car & headed south on the inland 101. Most of our route followed the El Camino Historic Road, a 600-mile (965-kilometer) road connecting 21 Spanish missions in California (along with a number of sub-missions, four presidios, and three pueblos), stretching from the San Diego area Mission San Diego de Alcalá in the south up to Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma, just north of San Francisco Bay. The route was marked by lots of historical bell shaped markers. The 101 rejoined the coast around Pismo Beach and we detoured briefly to Avila Beach for lunch. Several other people thought it would be a good lunch spot as we hand to drive around the seafront a few times before we found a ... read more
LAX at sunset
Farewell America!

North America » United States » California » Big Sur May 6th 2018

Our original plan for the holiday was to drive back to LA from Monterey down the famously beautiful coastal Route 1. However due to a pretty epic url= in 2017 the road is still closed so instead of a day in Big Sur then stopping for the night further south we decided to day trip it to Big Sur from Monterey. Sadly landslides had also taken out lots of trails, including the Ewoldsen Trail we had planned to do so we came up with a new plan involving a short hike and several scenic stops. After breakfast we set off down Route 1 passing Point Lobos and contining to our first stop - the photogenic Bixby Creek Bridge. It was pretty good but not a patch on the Clifton Suspension Bridge, or Ironbridge! We then continud ... read more
On Buzzard's Roost Trail
View from Buzzard's Roost
Watching sunset from Ocean View Boulevard

Not such an early start needed for today's sea kayaking so we got to breakfast - muffins, bagels & fruit. We then headed back into Monterey to find Montery Bay Kayaks HQ for our 9am sea kayaking tour. After a bit of confusion as to where the car park was we got there before the store opened and stood apart from the school group who were there too. We also met the two couples who were doing the tour with us. We got in, met our guide and got into our wetsuits and had a brief "kayaking 101" briefing before getting on the water and heading out. Felt odd having un-feathered paddles but soon got used to them. Our tour was a four hour, 5.5 mile, trip through Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary​ and over to Lover's ... read more
Harbour seals
Point Lobos coast
Harbour seal suckling

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