Well, 2009 turned out to be the complete opposite to 2008 with many trips including one long haul and a change of transport.
Following my failed attempt in 2007 to visit the Ardnamurchan Peninsula when I “chickened out” on the access road I had been considering downsizing to a vehicle that would give access to those more difficult locations that I wanted to visit. I had looked at smaller converted vans before buying the motorhome, however having now experienced the downside of the converter of my motorhome going into administration and the difficulties that entail regarding repairs and spare parts I was wary of similar difficulties again if I bought another conversion. One morning while researching on the Internet I came across a VW California which as far as I am aware is the only main vehicle manufacturer built camper van. I quickly disposed of my motorhome and went on to acquire the California. The image below shows the camper on the most westerly campsite on the British mainland on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula – just to prove that the change helped to achieve my objective. To clarify this visit was in 2010 which I will discuss more in the next post.
The first trip in the camper was to Dorset an area of the country that I had not visited for some time. I was keen to explore the Jurassic Coast and the Isle of Purbeck – which by the way is not an island, so I based myself just outside Wareham. My photo walks took me along Studland Bay through to Old Harry, from Worth Matravers out to the coast to Dancing Ledge and round to St Aldhelm’s Head. Other days included Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. Unfortunately, I could not visit Tyneham which was on my list of locations as the area was closed on my visit as it is within an army firing range although I did manage an evening trip to Corfe Castle. Other images from this trip can be seen in the Dorset gallery.
My next trip of the year in May was back up to Scotland, this time to spend the week around Wester Ross based at Poolewe on the shores of Loch Ewe. Such a great location and a wonderful area for photo opportunities and great walking. My photo walks included the Loch Clair and Loch Coulin Circuit considered to be one of the most scenic low-level walks dominated by the backdrop of Beinn Eighe and Liathach, along the side of Loch Kensary and back along the banks of the River Ewe and around Mellon Udrigle with superb scenery of the sea and cliffs and the chain of mountains lining the coast of Wester Ross and Sutherland. Although not the most scenic, the walk to Slaggan Bay from Achgrave, as well as being memorable for the soaking I got on the return walk I managed to produce one of the better images from the trip which has been published as a double page spread in Country Walking magazine and is shown below. Some of the other images from this trip can be seen in the Wester Ross gallery.
Still only June and next heading off to the Yorkshire Dales for the week based in Hawes, again an area of the country I had not had the opportunity to explore before. The weather on this occasion was extremely mixed with significant heavy rainfall. The rivers rising and swelling extremely quickly which was something to keep my eye on with the camper parked backing onto a river. Although the weather played a big part I did not manage to make the best of the photographic opportunities in the area and certainly will have to return now that I know the area a little better. One thing I am becoming more aware of is that no matter how much preparation you carry out for a photographic trip until you know the area in some detail it is extremely difficult to make the best of the opportunities that are available. One of the walks I recall was in Upper Swaledale from Keld to Muker along Kidsdon Side and back by the river. June is probably one of the best times to complete this walk with the wildflowers in the hay meadows at Muker in full flower. I also managed a walk around the Ribblehead Viaduct on my way home.
My next trip was the most memorable of the year, although not part of my journey around the British Isles, but to Canada and in particular Alberta and British Columbia. You may be pleased to read that I do not intend writing about that trip at this stage, for the reasons mentioned above but I am sure a separate post on this trip could be made available in due course.
On we go and this time a week in September in South Devon with plenty of opportunities for continuing my photo walks along the South West Coast Path including amongst others visits to Hope Cove, Bigbury( including Burgh Island), Bantham and Start Point. I could go on about the merits of the scenery and walking in this area of the country but if I continue I won’t have the space to include my last trip of the year. The image below shows Woodcombe Sand, part of Lannacombe Bay which links Prawle Point, the southernmost peninsula of South Devon, and Start Point.
The final trip of the year was in October to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. My base on this occasion was in Killin which is on the northern outskirts of the Trossachs meant a considerable amount of driving back and forth to get to my preferred walks/locations for the day. It did, however, give me the opportunity to research further north than I intended into Glen Lyon, the Tay Forest Park and Loch Rannoch. This is a great time of year to visit The Trossachs with the trees just starting to change colour. Because of the amount of driving, I completed each day the walks on this trip were limited but did include walking a significant amount of the Three Lochs Forest Drive. Although you are supposed to drive through I decided to walk the trail which consists of seven and a half miles of winding forest road with superb views across the forest towards the Trossachs. It was on this occasion that I met a guy from Glasgow who was camping and fishing on Loch Drunkie. For those of you who have just been watching the series on BBC2 “One Man and his Camper Van” it was the exact same spot that they used during his visit to the Trossachs where he caught and cooked a fish on the loch side. Who knows fame may be mine one day.
Well what a year, the busiest yet and the longest post to date. Hope it as not been too long and you gave up halfway through. I would be interested in your thoughts.
I wonder what next year will bring?