Monthly Archives: March 2015

BEACON FELL – WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES.

Had an old mate up from Surrey staying with me last week. For a quick fix of fresh Northern air I took him walking up at Beacon Fell in the afternoon almost as soon as he had arrived. We did the usual circuit of tracks, visiting most of the onsite sculptures and the summit trig point for restricted views. There was something strange though – we never saw another person. Now that for Beacon Fell is very spooky, there is always, no matter the weather, somebody often with a dog using the paths. OK the cafe had been closed half an hour and it was a dull day but that wouldn’t normally matter. Not a single car in the car park or on the orbital road. I have never seen the place so deserted. Spooky indeed.

A few days later I repeated the exercise with family and grandchildren on a sunny Sunday afternoon. What a contrast, there were people and dogs everywhere. The car parks were packed and a queue was forming at the cafe for ice cream and teas. It was good to see so many people getting some exercise but there was an atmosphere of Blackpool about the place.

Everyone to their own choice but I know why I prefer the quieter times.

Another surprise was the change in the crocodile carving since I last visited, people have started to hammer in coins and I didn’t feel this was overly detrimental. The sculptor may disagree.

Then [2014]

and now.

 

NOT ANOTHER ECLIPSE PHOTOGRAPH!

The forecast for this morning was poor with cloud probably obscuring the partial eclipse. Slept in till 9.30 when I woke up with a start, lept out of bed and pulled the curtains open to reveal the clouds just parting as the moon crept onto the sun. All disappeared just as quickly. Following my daily resuscitating strong coffee peeped out again to see the moon scuttling past the sun.  Quite pleased with the morning so far.

Of course I hadn’t bothered with any special sun blocking measures as it was so misty in the first place and I was only taking quick photos as the clouds opened. But it made me think of the measures you should take for viewing eclipses, pin hole cameras or very dark glasses or….

blackpool-1968-by-tony-ray-jones

… this chap was safe from the sun but missed the eclipse. He was the photographic subject of Tony Ray-Jones in 1968. This links me in to an afternoon this week I spent at the Walker Gallery  enjoying          Ray- Jones was prolific in the late 60’s but died young from leukaemia. He produced a historical document of the English psyche and eccentricity from those times. Tony Parr was influenced by the photography of Ray-Jones though he never met him. Parr has gone through Ray-Jones negatives and selected a series of prints for this exhibition. In addition there is a room of Parr’s own prints from a decade later  mainly exploring the quirky environs of Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire and its people.Jpeg

You should watch ——–  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV817fJgd28

and also

And also    https://vimeo.com/116251335

Just to keep you interested see also the insights of this favourite blogger of mine —-  https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/only-in-england-photos-by-tony-ray-jones-and-martin-parr-at-the-walker/

Get yourself to the Walker to view this fine exhibition and start to explore their other gems………

WALKING LANZAROTE. Over the sea to La Graciosa.

This trip was a bonus. The GR131 doesn’t go onto this island – but should and maybe will.

Having discovered the existence of Isla Graciosa off the northern tip of Lanzarote it looked like an ideal place to explore. No roads, few cafes, lovely beaches, virtually uninhabited. I had a spare day so I made myself get up at 6, miss breakfast and catch the first bus. I arrived in Orzola just in time to catch the 8.30 ferry which took a little over 25mins to cross the relatively calm sea to the little harbour on Graciosa – Caleta de Sebo.

One is greeted by a few sea front cafes and lots of people trying to hire out cycles for the day. I wandered away from the busyish front to a smaller bar for a coffee and time to plan the day.  I found a man with a jeep who gave me a bumpy ride up towards the top end of the island. Poor chap had a swollen face from an infected molar and was in a lot of pain, his nearest dentist was on Lanzarote!

Once he had gone I was left in this isolated wild volcanic land. I wandered up along the coast to the northernmost rocky point, black larva disappearing under Atlantic breakers. What a great place to sit and contemplate, the only sounds were the wind and waves. Other uninhabited Islands were visible to the north and east but no boats appeared.

More islands.

More islands.

I then started my walk around the east coast of the Island. There was a vague sandy path through the rocks and several times I diverted onto sandy beaches. The fascinating breakers coming over the rocky promontories were a challenge to my photographic efforts. In a couple of places were rock arches breached by the sea.

I didn’t see a soul until I reached the apparently uninhabited small harbour village of Pedro Barba, a couple of mountain bikers had reached here on tracks. By now the early mist had lifted and the sun was warm, a small sandy beach had me stripped off and swimming in the clear water. Magic.

I ate some lunch whilst drying in the sun. Looking down the coast there seemed to be no way below the cliffs and I contemplated moving inland to continue south. However once I had followed the beach further I spotted the path going across the crumbling cliff face and enjoyed a Kilometre or so of exciting walking.

After the cliffs there was a better path round the coast on a more open ash field backed by distant volcanic cones. At times the path was really crunchy as you walked over thousands of shells.

Sparse flowers were a delight…

At one point someone had collected all the round stones in the area and created a concentric  design giving good symmetry with the background of volcanic cones.

Again there were glorious beaches and rocky coves all the way back to Caleto del Sabo.

Time for a beer before catching the ferry back across the strait under the dramatic 2000ft  Famara cliffs of Lanzarote and round the rocky point into Orzola harbour.

What a great day!

WALKING LANZAROTE. GR131 – the northern bit.

Haria – Orzola.

Back again on that no.7 bus, this morning the driver seemed to be in racing mode and I quickly reached for the seat belt.  My timetable was getting a bit ragged by now. As it was already hot and sunny I enjoyed an orange drink in one of the cafes before leaving. Simple road walking led me to the one pleasant pedestrianised street in Magues. At the top of the road I was tempted by an open door into a ceramics workshop. The potter owner was all too pleased to chat and explain his methods – he incorporates volcanic material into his clays which produces some unusual and unique finishes. Unfortunately he had very little to show as the bad weather of the last few weeks had prevented him firing his open wood burning furnace. The one piece I most admired was far too large for hand luggage, shame.

I used lanes running beneath some fine volcanic cones and when I took a closer look at the map realised, all too late, that I could have done a high traverse of some of these.  Further on the track ran through the Bermejo vine growing area with some fine shelter walls, I took the opportunity to chat to a worker pruning the vines. What an excuse later tonight to taste this wine.

There was some delightful walking through a larva field bedecked with flowers. I passed an Aloe Vera farm doing good trade with the tourist buses [see how I try to distance myself from being a tourist – yet that is all I am]

Aloe Vera plants.

Aloe Vera plants.

Somehow I found myself walking down a footway by the side of the road for the last 2k into Orlzola, not how I imagined the end of the walk. The busy little harbour was reached, no dipping my boots in the Atlantic. Boats from here make the choppy crossing to the adjacent Isla Graciosa. Orzola lies below some very steep intimidating cliffs at the northern end of Lanzarote and you can see why the GR131 terminates here rather than up that precipitous coast. Even at this low elevation rugged volcanic rocks disappear into the sea and gave a fitting place for contemplation – should I go across to Graciosa tomorrow?

The Northern Tip of Lanzarote with Graciosa across the channel.

The Northern Tip of Lanzarote with Graciosa across the channel.

WALKING LANZAROTE. GR131 – over the top.

Teguise – Haria.

The title is not strictly true as the military have a well defended installation on the highest point, Penas del Chache 675m, as you can see from the above picture. The day started gradually along the usual sandy track through fields out of Teguise, there were some striking examples of the crushed black larva fields.

Teguise in the distance.

Teguise in the distance.

It was already hot and sunny and the wind seemed to have abated. As I gained height euphorbia and senecio plants dominated the rough ground. The beautiful white Ermita de las Nieves provided a sheltered haven for a snack, the wind had strengthened again. Whilst sat there a man appeared with a bunch of wild flowers, produced a vase and water for them and having lit a candle in the doorway  said a silent prayer. The place was obviously important to him and the simple ceremony touching. Whilst up here I also witnessed  the surreal sight of a mule stood in the back of a pickup truck being transported slowly, presumably to some new field for work. Alas not fast enough with the camera.

A thrilling hour was now spent traversing along the lip of the cliffs dropping 600m to a wild Atlantic sea at Farmara. One could just see the Island of Graciosa. Wouldn’t have approached so close if the wind had been any stronger, as it was I was hanging on to my hat. Fantastic spot. Descending into Haria was rapid on an ancient paved track zigzagging down crossing several times the modern road zigzagging up. This road seemed very popular with cyclists powering up, they all looked very fit. There were quite a few English voices amongst them so maybe they are here for winter training. Haria was another pleasant white village with some lively cafes, the coach trips were in. A 3 euro bus trip had me back into Arrecife within an hour and the trudge from the bus station to my hotel. I even had time for a swim in the sea before supper.                                                         This was the best day so far.

WALKING LANZAROTE. GR131 – the middle bit.

Montana Blanca – San Bartolome – Teguise.

I am now using the older  bus station a good 20mins walk across town.  There was nothing to keep me at Montana Blanca when I arrived. The morning was dull and very windy as I walked over to the larger town of San Bartolome.

San Bartolome.

San Bartolome.

This was a busy spot with complicated streets winding through it and out the other side onto the central ash plain. Hills kept appearing out of the mist

Most of the time I was walking on a dirt road between agricultural fields, an area known as El Jable,  to be honest it was rather boring. A minor highlight was crossing a small larva flow about halfway.

Many of the traditional crops are grown here – cereals, tomatoes, melons, marrows and potatoes. Small pits were dug down to the subsoil and windbreaks built. Now with more mechanisation fields can ‘ploughed’, a layer of manure is spread and then crushed black larva is brought onto site and spread out to act as a  moisture retaining layer.

Imported crushed stone.

Imported crushed stone.

Small depressions are still constructed for each plant and sometimes little hedges of wheat planted as a wind break. All manner of other wind breaks are constructed from pallets, boxes and stone. The area is not a pretty sight.

The rise up to Teguise became visible eventually.The town of Teguise had been the Island’s capital at one time and had some fine buildings and plazas. It was worth exploring and enjoying a cortado before catching the return bus.

WALKING LANZAROTE. GR131 – from pits to summits.

 

                                                               The black ‘vineyards’ of LA GERIA.

Uga – Conil – Montana Blanca.

Early morning and I’m back at Uga and a coffee in the bar after the bus trip. Well signed lanes lead out of the village and a track starts climbing up towards the cone of Montana de Guardiama through a dessert of black ash.I’m passing through a well known wine growing area, La Geria. How anybody grows anything here in the black ash is a miracle. But the hillsides are covered in semicircular wind shields around pits dug in the ash with vines hanging in there. The amount of work involved must be immense. At the col I drop my rucksack and head steeply up Guardiama, missing my poles because I travelled hand luggage only. Soon up at the trig point, 606m. The volcanic rocks hereabouts are encrusted in lichens reflecting the moisture laden air of the Atlantic. Views are rather misty but I can see the coaches heading into the volcanic Timanafaya national park. Enjoyed the airy perch.   Ahead are the volcanic summits around Conil and Montana Blanca my destination. Unfortunately its road walking that takes me there passing white villages of mainly holiday villas. Some people must have ideas of grandeur…  others more taste…  and the locals just live…

Passing between volcanoes I arrive in Montana Blanca and there in front of me is the bus stop. My bus is due in 15mins but after an hour I wander to a nearby bar to make enquiries – no that bus stop is no longer used and it ill be another hour before the next bus.  Get me a taxi is my response and I’m back in Arrecife in 10mins for 12Euros.

The defunct bus stop.

The defunct bus stop.

In recognition of the La Geria wine growing area I’ve walked through today I buy a bottle of the local Yaiza red wine to enjoy with my supper.

From this                                                                                          to this.