December: Goodbye 2017!

Well, December has absolutely flown by! Christmas has come and gone, Santa brought me a horrible cold and there was actually snow outside my house for about 3 hours the other day! It's been lovely to spend time with family and just generally have a few peaceful days filled with too much food! Again, I was walking quite a bit and the weather was pants, but we did manage to get out a couple of times in amongst the festivities!

A walk I have wanted to do for a long time is Whitbarrow Scar. Our house faces the scar, but within the last 18 years or so, we just have never explored there! It's something we have talked doing a lot, but finally we can tick it off our list! My grandad gave my mum and I some of his old walking books, one of which featured Whitbarrow Scar. These books are 40 years old come 2018, and some of them have dates written in of when my family have walked them previously. Given that the books were so old, I was a bit dubious in how successful the walk would be - especially as majority of the sign posts listed were walls, gates or benches which may not be there anymore! There were a few points when attempting to reach the scar summit that the directions (or maybe our interpretation!) led us the wrong way, and at one point down the side of the scar rather than up! After a quick brew break on a bench overlooking the nature reserve, we saw some people coming down a path and decided to head that way instead. When almost reaching the top, we reached a marker from the book so knew that we were on the right track, though unsure of where exactly we were meant to turn up!

The views from the the top of Whitbarrow were fantastic, partially due to the constantly changing bouts of sunshine, fog and a couple of raindrops! We thankfully managed to stay dry on our walk, and no cameras or phones were ruined in the process! It was amazing how many places you could see from Whitbarrow as you wandered around, including the Cartmell Fells, Blackpool tower and even my own house far away in the distance! As the walk up took longer than expected, we only walked as far as The Lords Seat, as indicated in the walking guide, although we did want to explore further but we will visit again! The walk down was extremely steep, though I imagine it was easier to walk down it than up it! The rest of the walk was along the bottom of the scar and through a few villages so it was a nice contrast to being at the top of the scar.

Typically, the snow arrived just after Christmas... everywhere but my house it seemed - we had the tiniest sprinkling which just turned to mush once one or two cars had driven past but we could see that the fells were covered so we went to Scout Scar to admire the snow from a distance! It was freezing cold and there wasn't much daylight left, so we didn't stay long, but walked so far and had a brew looking towards Morecambe bay and then headed back to the car. The snow capped mountains looked stunning in what little daylight was available, which painted the landscape in gentle pink shades. The snow hasn't stayed around for long near where I live, so I'm glad we managed to appreciate whilst it was here!

A lot of people have been writing posts on social media about their achievements and good memories in 2017. Now, as I tend to be behind the camera rather than in front of it, all my pictures to share would be of landscapes or nature, I thought this would be as good as place as any to write about a few of my my favourite places visited over the last year! I've spent half of the year living in Wales, and the other back home in the Lake District so I have visited some interesting places and made lots of new friends along the way! I also had a weekend away in The Wirral with my mum and Grandad, and that was a definite highlight of the year! It was great to spend sometime at the seaside and explore somewhere completely new. The whole place was beautiful, we stayed Thurstaston for two nights and New Brighton for one. We spent a lot of time walking along the beach and having picnics, played some crazy golf (I lost so badly!) and we even came across a little fairy garden which was really cute! I'd love to visit there again!

Although I didn't get out to many places in Wales, it was lovely to live somewhere else completely new and explore nature and many castles! I really loved how the Pontypridd/Treforest area was just surrounded by nature and how each path you took would lead you somewhere magical! I lived below Pontypridd common, and there were many different trails leading up to it, depending where you fancied exploring that day. It overlooked Pontypridd and beyond into the Rhondda valleys, and it was a particular favourite of mine as I rarely saw people wandering up there so you could really relax and lose yourself in nature! There was also the Rocking Stone at Glyntaff, which I came across by complete accident and knew I had to visit instantly! The Rocking Stone is an old stone circle upon one of the commons above Pontypridd, also overlooking Treforest. There is small woodland area near the stone circle, and there is also a monument dedicated to both World Wars at the edge of the field. Again, this is a really peaceful walk, although is is certainly a lot busier than the common! It was amazing to have such an old piece of history on my doorstep!

My favourite thing about Wales is the amount of beautiful castles dotted up and down the country. Two of my favourites in particular were Castell Rhaglan in Monmouthshire, and Castell Caerffili near Cardiff. Both of these castles given their age are in fantastic condition, particularly Caerffili, and you are able to explore rooms and towers - and both offer a scenic view of their respective towns from the top of the main towers! I think Welsh castles are so enjoyable because there is plenty of information provided and interactive features within the walls, but not too many that is distracting or difficult for people to take in the scenery, or in my case take some photos! Caerphilly in general was such a beautiful place to visit, with the town built around the castle grounds. The castle is also the second largest in the UK after Windsor Castle, and therefore the largest ruined castle. I would definitely love to visit more Welsh castles in the future!

This year we have tended to visit a lot of our regular haunts around our house in the Lake District, partially due to many cases of car trouble in the latter half of the year! We did manage to visit a few places I've been eager to go to for a while, and these places did not disappoint, for example Whitbarrow Scar as mentioned above! I really loved our autumnal walk around Yew Tree Tarn, a long time favourite place as it's marker that I'm close to my grandparents house in Coniston! My favourite Cumbrian ruin of the year was without a doubt Furness Abbey, I had seen pictures mostly on Instagram before our visit but these photos really did not do justice to how magnificent and large the abbey was! It was a really interesting photography day due to the many doorways, windows and half broken walls to line up in my shots. It was also a favourite as the day began dry, rained a little and then once the sunshine was on true August form, we walked up Hoad Hill to enjoy the last brew from our flask! It was a great day out as we got to visit two new places in an area we don't tend to visit much!

Some of my other places visited this year was when I was in between DLSR cameras - unsurprisingly, the walk in which my old Sony A200 was waterlogged has not made my list of favourite places! We visited Flookburgh miniature village, which was very amusing to see ducks wandering between Lake District landmarks looking like giants! Afterwards we walked along the bottom of Humphrey Head and sat on the beach overlooking the airfield whilst we ate lunch. We saw several groups of parachute gliders jumping out of the mini plane over the sand dunes and landing in the airfield which was really interesting to sit and watch! I imagine their views over Cumbria and the sea were fantastic, but it's something I'd never dare to do! We also visited Little Haweswater near Yealand in Lancashire, which we happened to come across by accident on our way to Silverdale after visiting Warton Crag and the old rectory! Again, this was a really tranquil walk with lots of wooded areas in full bloom for summer. Some of the best places really are those found by accident!

I have had an amazing 2017, thank you all so much for your support and love over the past year! I wish you all the best for 2018, and hope stick around to join me on my photography journey!