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Posts Tagged ‘travelling’

Stonehenge in mid-winter (c) JP Mundy 2015

Stonehenge in mid-winter (c) JP Mundy 2015

There is something incredibly – er – timeless and ancient about wandering around Stonehenge in mid-winter, frost on the ground, icy mist clinging to your skin and a weak wintery sun teasing from just beyond the clouds.  The kids and I dropped in late in the day on the way back from Devon to London in the new year, and if a band of druids had emerged from the mist instead of Chinese tourists, we would not have been surprised at all.

Stonehenge in the winter's sun (Well, the sun is trying at least, the clouds and mist just seem to get in the way!)

Stonehenge in the winter’s sun (Well, the sun is trying at least, the clouds and mist just seem to get in the way!)

The last time I visited, about a million and two years ago, you just parked in a layby beside the road and headed in for a look-see.  There are now plans to take the entire road underground so that the landscape is returned to what it would have been thousands of years ago when Stonehenge was first built. Now there is a most impressively and sensitively done visitors centre, 2km away, so it does not impose on the landscape.  You can choose to walk the grassed pathways across the fields, much as the locals might have done 3000 years ago, and approach Stonehenge across the plains. Alternatively, you can cop out and jump in a very efficient (and very warm!) little bus which drops you about 200 metres from the stone circle. Along with your admission price comes a free audio guide which will help answer all those questions you have: “Where are the stones from?” (Some of them are from Wales); “How did they get here?” (rolling wood carts and possibly boat); “What was it for?” (They still can’t say for sure, but possibilites are as a sun dial, place of worship and a proto-type MacDonalds drive-in – or not).  Still partly unsolved, and all the more awe-inspiring for it.

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Eucla - it's a LONG way from anywhere (C) JP Mundy 2014

Eucla – it’s a long, LONG way from anywhere

Looking west across the 'bite' of the Great Australian Bight

Looking west across the ‘bite’ of the Great Australian Bight

Well, hello after a VERY long time – I feel I owe you about a year of posts, as I have been travelling like a loon with work this year and haven’t found the time to update you – this year has seen me in Mongolia, Viet Nam, Canada, Wales, Nepal and India – though regrettably, not out and about doing much walking, other than the gorgeous Ridgeway in England for my birthday in May. In the June holidays though, the kids and I decided it was road trip time and drove 4,500km across the Nullabor Desert to Perth. It was epic – in the genuine sense of the word. Where else can you drive dead straight for 90 miles (145km), and then they have to put a 6 degree bend in the road to account for the curvature of the earth???!!!! And along the way, the road doubles up as an airstrip for the Royal Flying Doctor Service?!

Across the Nullabor

Across the Nullabor – Yes.  It’s flat.

Anyway, we had a great trip, across our vast and beautiful land: the Great Australian Bight was full of humpback whales and their babes, lolling about just metres from the cliffs and the beauty and silence of the land was very healing for the busy, 21st Century soul.

Late afternoon looking west across the Bight

Late afternoon looking west across the Bight

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As (incredible) luck would have it, my day job has brought me to the wilds of Snowdonia in North Wales this week, and I have managed to fit in some incredible walks in these beautiful Welsh mountains.  The one advantage of jet lag is that I have been up every day very early so have walked before each work day has started. At the start of the week, the weather was unimaginably good and I had time to walk up Mt Snowdon (Yr Wddfa, which means The Burial Mound), taking the easy route up the 15km return Llanberis path to start with which follows beside the remarkable mountain railway. This is a highly accessible and easy route for anyone who wishes to walk this majestic, mythical mountain (King Arthur died on its slopes and his sword Excalibur was reputedly thrown into Glaslyn (a lake) on its slopes – his knights are still supposed to be asleep under a neighbouring mountain, awaiting his return!). The walk takes you past Welsh Mountain ponies and lots of sheep and in the early morning was quiet, though very busy on the return.

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I headed off the Llanberis path at LLyn Du r Arddu before the final climb to take a more interesting and peaceful route with a bit of a scramble up around Clogwyn Cloch to the top – where you are greeted by the surreal sight of a train station! I have climbed Yr Wyddfa in years gone by, via the Pyg Track and the Miners Route, but always in cloud and mist, so the views this time were just astounding. The haze of the warm day reduced visibility, but apparently on a clear day you can see all the way across to Ireland and the Isle of Man!

LLyn (Lake) Du r Arddu, beneath the summit of Yr Wyddfa (Mt Snowdon)

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