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Once Upon A Time in Greece

Walking or running off the roads in Greece (or indeed anywhere in the Mediterranean) is a bit of an adventure, but having seen a noticeboard with a map of guided routes around the northern end of Kefalonia, I ventured out on the 10km Battery Trail with a photo of the route on my phone. I set off for a run before 8am, but it was already hot on the road out of the picturesque port of Fiskardo.


The Rough Bounds of Knoydart Part II

The Sunday is the day we’ve all been waiting for – a clear sunny day in the Highlands – and I awaken early at the prospect. Before breakfast I take a walk along the loch shore until I reach the sun. I sit on the rocks and gaze into clear waters where there had only been a muddy estuary yesterday and am tempted to swim until I try the water temperature. Ladhar Bheinn and Beinn Sgritheall stand as imposing sentinels either side of the loch and I gaze up at all the rocky features I had been unable to take in on yesterday’s walk.


The Rough Bounds of Knoydart Part I

Knoydart, or the greater Rough Bounds (or Na Garbh Chriochan), is often referred to as 'Scotland's last true wilderness’ and has long been somewhere I have wanted to make the pilgrimage. So finally I find myself waiting on the quay at Mallaig with an old friend, Dave, to catch the traditional wooden ferry along Loch Nevis to the remote peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. Sadly we are not alone – my vision of the two of us joining a few locals on the crossing is scotched by dozens of backpack-bearing hikers queuing along the pontoon. Many are waiting to start the TGO Challenge, a 200-mile trek across Scotland with several possible starting points and no set route.

The Mysterious Tree of Stoodley View

inter sun produces a light like no other, and we are fortunate to have a had a number of perfectly clear days recently. On one such day, I realised soon after 3pm that the sun was fast disappearing from the valley and raced from our dark hillside across to the trees of John Wood above Keighley Road. On days like this the beech here are bathed in a gloriously rich orange light, deepening still further as the Heptonstall hillside’s shadow chases me up the hill. The only thing to do was to continue higher, up past Hurst Road and Stoodley View to the soggy fields above. I wasn’t the only person to realise this and looked across the fields to several other solitary figures or small parties crouched on walls or stiles to gaze at the finest of winter sunsets.

Access All Areas

In the summer of 2020 I began swimming (I decline to add the unnecessary prefix ‘wild’ because, as my Aussie friend always points out, it is after all just swimming) in a whole series of new places. Until then I’d assumed there were only two good swimming spots in the valley, both of which had become overrun long before Covid-19. I went in Gaddings Dam occasionally early or late in the day or the season, but never on a hot day in summer, and I had long since abandoned the dark hole of Lumb Falls to the local kids bombing from the top of the waterfall.

The Magic of the Woods

Believe it or not the English were once thought of by southern Europeans to be rather whimsical and prone to flights of fancy, such was our belief in fairies, fauns, dryads, nymphs, pixies, goblins, trolls and demons. I’m not sure what happened, but if this sense of magic still resides in us I think it is most likely to be brought out by the woods. It is easy to find yourself wanting to skip when walking through leafy bowers between twisted oak trees or crossing a carpet of bright bluebells. The woods can excite the child in all of us, make us want to spend all day building dens and tree houses, chasing each other with spears or bows and arrows or playing silly hide-and-seek games as we used to before we brought too many thoughts into the wood with us.