Bermuda: coasts and caves

Bermuda: Coasts and Caves

On days 4-6 of our Bermuda break, we continued to tramp the Railway Trail up and down the islands. As one lovely bay looks very like another, I’ll restrict myself to highlights.

Day 4

Bailey's Bay, Bermuda
Bailey’s Bay, Bermuda

On Day 4, we walked the North Shore through Bailey’s Bay (above) and on to Coney Island. From here, we could see the Martello Tower at Ferry Point which we’d approached from the other side a few days before. We visited two caves, one at Blue Hole Park that you just climbed up and walked into, and the more complex Crystal Cave which you paid to enter. The day finished at the Swizzle Inn where we tried one of the local tipples – rum swizzle (too sweet!)

Day 5

On Day 5 we returned to Somerset Bridge where we started our very first walk, but this time we turned east instead of west. Highlights included Whale Bay and the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse.

John had the energy to climb the lighthouse tower for the view. I relaxed on a bench with a cold drink!

View from the lighthouse
View from the lighthouse

Day 7

Our final walk took us along the South Shore from Horseshoe Bay – the prettiest part of the coast we had seen all week, and there was some competition!

Flora and fauna

The Railway Trail

Although we had almost a full day in Bermuda before our flight the next evening, this was our last excursion along the Railway Trail. I confess my expectations were rather more sophisticated than the trail turned out to be. At its best, it looked like this:

However, a lot of the time it ran parallel to a road, or even became the road, so I don’t think I’d want to follow it again. That’s not to say I wouldn’t go back to Bermuda – I would, but I’d spend more time exploring the towns and some of the lovely little museums which we missed because we were so busy walking.

One more post to go – on Bermuda’s capital, the City of Hamilton.

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Lighthouses and cliffs: three Shetland walks

Our last few days in Shetland were spent at Busta House in the North Mainland. From there, we did three great walks, all featuring lighthouses and spectacular cliffs.

Esha Ness

Esha Ness Lighthouse
Esha Ness Lighthouse

From the lighthouse at Esha Ness, a circular walk takes you past multiple features. The deep, dark inlet of Calder’s Geo and Moo Stack:

Loch of Houlland and its broch:

The Hole of Scraada, a blowhole where the ground has collapsed. At one end, a burn runs into it; at the other a tunnel leads to the sea which appears dramatically 300 yards inland from the cliffs:

Dore Holm, a sea-stack with a huge natural arch, which is said to look like a horse drinking, and then back to the lighthouse (with the ubiquitous sheep):

Muckle Roe

Muckle Roe is a separate island, but it’s so close to the Mainland that you can reach it by a short bridge. There’s only one road, and when it ends a very pretty walk leads to the lighthouse.

Point of Fethaland

Fethaland is the most northerly point on Shetland’s Mainland. To get to the Point and its lighthouse, once again drive till the road ends and either follow the farm track or a coastal path (we went out by the former and back by the latter) before crossing onto an island via a spit of boulders and pebbles. Here, there are a dozen or so ruined fishing lodges used up until the early 20th century. On the way back, we visited the small churchyard of St Magnus with some unusual wooden grave “stones” – the one in the gallery below is for a two-year old boy who died in 1898.

And so ends our adventure on Shetland. Next stop – Orkney!

(This post is linked to Jo’s Monday Walks. Take a look for some round-the-world rambles.)

Jarlshof to Sumburgh Head

Medieval farmhouse
Jarlshof and the Sumburgh Hotel
On a glorious morning we set out for the southern tip of Mainland Shetland to visit Jarlshof and Sumburgh Head – there’s a lovely cliff walk between the two sites. We started off with morning coffee in the Sumburgh Hotel and thought we might be back in time for lunch, but there was so much to do that we only made it in time for afternoon tea and cakes. Not complaining….

You might think Jarlshof sounds like a Viking name, but it was actually coined by Sir Walter Scott. It’s my favourite of all the archeological sites we visited on Orkney and Shetland because its multiple layers cover such a long period from the late Bronze Age to the Middle Ages. The picture at the top of the post shows the remains of a medieval farmhouse. There are also oval-shaped Bronze Age houses, an Iron Age broch and wheelhouses, Viking long houses and a 16th century laird’s house. The site is run by Historic Scotland and includes a small visitor centre.

Wheelhouses
Wheelhouses

Norse house
Norse house

Laird's House
Laird’s House
After a wander round Jarlshof, we set off along the cliff-top path, with the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head clearly in view ahead of us.

It’s not very far, but there were many stops to look over the cliff edges (safely!) to see birds – so many birds. The puffins are my favourite – and presumably John’s too as he took umpteen photos of them.

We spent a lot more time at the lighthouse than we expected – I don’t remember there being such an extensive visitor centre last time we were there. You can even rent holiday accommodation there if you wish (though not in the tower itself).

Finally, it was time to turn round and return to the Sumburgh Hotel via the other side of the Head. As the lighthouse retreated into the distance behind us, Sumburgh Airport came into view ahead, and from there it was a short drop down to the hotel.

I’m linking this post to Jo’s Monday Walks. I wonder where everyone else is taking us this week?

Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

Annapolis Royal is one of the oldest European settlements in Canada. It started in 1605 as Port Royal and changed hands between the French and the British many times in the next century or so, becoming Annapolis Royal, in honour of Queen Anne, when the British captured it in 1710. We had 3 nights there, here’s what we enjoyed:

Eating and drinking

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We stayed at the Bailey House (above), the only B&B on the waterfront and the oldest inn in the area. It was beautiful inside and the breakfasts were outstanding – no lunch required. However, by dinner we had usually recovered our appetites. There aren’t many restaurants and one ruled itself out entirely by a) closing at 8pm and b) having nothing vegetarian on the menu, but we liked Bistro East enough to visit twice and Ye Olde Pub was fine for bar food, as you might expect from the name. John is eating a lot of fish and I am eating a lot of pasta, pizza and the odd veggie burger. Not a very slimming diet!

In Annapolis Royal

Suzan, the B&B owner, strongly recommended the Candlelight Graveyard Tour, so we did that on our first night. We met at Fort Anne at 9.30pm, were all given a lantern to carry and taken round the Garrison Graveyard by an undertaker-garbed guide. It was very skilfully done, and the stories of the dead served to bring history alive. We went back to the Fort and graveyard in daylight to have another look and were amazed at how many stories had been packed in to such a small area. The Historical Association, which provides this and other tours, also has a leaflet with a self-guided stroll around the town which tells you the history of many of the old buildings, takes you to the Historic Gardens and, if you do the whole thing as we did, French Basin Nature Trail.

Outside Annapolis Royal

The original site of Port Royal is on the other side of the Annapolis River from today’s town. You can visit a reconstruction of the habitation which itself is historical – it was built in 1939/40, which makes it an early example of this type of preservation.

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Also across the river, and over the North Mountain, is Delap’s Cove Wilderness Trail which takes you down to the Bay of Fundy. It was pretty, but only half of it was open when we were there.

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On our second day, we went down the “Digby Neck”. This is a narrow peninsula running parallel with the shore and connected by ferries to Long and Brier Islands. We started at the end and worked our way back up. Brier Island was the prettiest area with hiking trails, two attractive lighthouses (there are a lot of those in Nova Scotia) and a nature reserve full of nesting gulls.

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Long Island’s main claim to fame seemed to be its Balancing Rock – however the 4km hike left us underwhelmed, it wasn’t that spectacular.

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Finally, Digby itself had an interesting harbour with both lobster boats and pleasure craft.

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As before, there are a few more pictures of all the above on my Nova Scotia Pinterest board

Halifax and Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

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(For more photos, see my Nova Scotia Pinterest Board and John’s photo journals.)

Halifax is just over an hour’s flight from Montreal. We arrived on a balmy Saturday evening to find the Tall Ships in town. After a stroll along the waterfront, we ate Thai in a lovely little restaurant called Gingergrass just a few doors from where we were staying, the Waverley Inn. This is a place of Victorian charm, built in 1866 and a hotel since as long ago as 1876, but still very comfortable.

The next morning, we set off to walk around town and were just in time to catch the changing of the guard at Government House.

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This was only the first bit of Scottish culture we encountered. At the Citadel, there was a lot more. Nova Scotia is obviously a whole lot more Scottish than we are back home! I wasn’t sure if I wanted to visit the Citadel – I’m not really interested in army history – but because there was so much live action I enjoyed it.

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We found a great place for lunch – the Wooden Monkey, very near the Citadel and specialising in organic food, humane meat, gluten free and vegan dishes. I had a delicious chickpea salad, and the beer was good too. (So far, we’ve tried beer from three Halifax breweries – Alexander Keith, Propeller and Garrison – including blonde, amber and IPA – what a brilliant place to stay!)

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Afer lunch, we did some more strolling and ended up in the Public Gardens, which, according to the guide book, are considered to be the finest Victorian city gardens in North America. I can believe that – they were just beautiful, and as an added bonus there was a band playing because it was Sunday afternoon.

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After that, it was back down to the Waterfront to look at more Tall Ships before heading back to the Inn for a rest before dinner – pizza at Piatto with more beer and a free dessert because our pizzas were ready at different times. Thanks guys!

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On Monday, we drove down the coast to Peggy’s Cove, a lovely little fishing village with a much photographed lighthouse:

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For dinner, we returned to the Wooden Monkey because we liked it so much the first time. And that is the end of our brief stay in Halifax. We’ll have one more night here at the very end before we fly home, but for now we’re off to Annapolis Royal.

A few days in Fife

Looking for a break between Christmas and New Year, we found a good bargain at the Inn at Lathones near St Andrews. The plan, if the weather was good, was to do some small sections of the long-distance Fife Coastal Path. The first day, we were really lucky. It was bitterly cold and windy to start with, but pleasant once the wind dropped. We set off from Elie to do the section up to St Monans, where we had lunch in the lovely Mayview Hotel. We did think of walking further and getting a bus back to the car, but having done no research on this we decided not to risk it and walked back the way we came. It’s a very good section of the path with a windmill and several ruined castles and towers and it seemed even more beautiful on the way back in the late afternoon light.

Elie from the harbour:

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Lighthouse at Ruby Bay where we parked:

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Lady’s Tower:

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Ardross Castle:

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Newark Castle and tower:

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St Monans:

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The windmill was part of the salt industry at one time; in the late eighteenth century it pumped water into the salt pans and you can still see traces of the panhouses – mostly just green mounds, but this one is clearer:

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Some of the atmospheric pictures from the way back:

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Our plans for the second day were to do a short section of the path near St Andrews, have lunch there and then drive further round the coast to do a bit more. However, while we were having lunch, the rain and sleet started and we abandoned that idea. We did get some walking in the morning though, starting from East Sands:

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After lunch and a bit of shopping, we headed back to the log fire in the hotel bar. This had two advantages: it was warm and it had wifi so that I could write this post. The same was not necessarily true of the rest of the hotel! The bedroom was quite cold until the evening when the heating cranked up, and the wifi wasn’t strong enough to allow us to connect there. However, the food was very good, the staff were great and the place was otherwise comfortable. It’s an old coaching inn, but the bedrooms are all comparatively modern as they have been constructed from outbuildings such as the Smithy and the Old Forge. It’s also a local music venue and seems to have had some good gigs. Last time we visited it was summertime and I think if I was coming again I would wait for better weather – mind you, that’s probably true of most places in this country!

Inn at Lathones

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