Holidays and Other Excursions

Tag: sheep


Monday 6 March 2017

Today turned out to be a little more interesting than anticipated – by accident.  Jackie had expressed a wish to visit Hay-on-Wye which is about an hour’s drive and as Monday tends not to be a restaurant day it made sense to go and see the book capital – even if we were not overly worried about buying books.

So we wander around and it is clearly an amazing collection of bookshops.  I take a look at the shop proclaiming to have a good selection of railway books but I manage to persuade myself that I do not need any more!  We look in some of the other shops (books and other items) as we meander around the town.

We then head into one of the cafes and decide that hot soup is needed to warm up before we make the return journey.

Hay-on-Wye is a pretty little town and exists for book buyers and tourists with a very large car park at the southern end of the town; not overly full today.  I suspect a damp Monday does not bring out the best in the town and I have no doubt it gets busier in the summer.  Our outward journey skirted the Brecon Beacons as headed northwards and the entire setting is very attractive.

The sat nav when asked gives several routes back south so I choose one which is not the main road but appears to run largely parallel to the road that brought us north this morning.  We head out of town and find the right turning and almost immediately we start climbing.  And climb some more.  And keep on going up!

I later discover we are going over the Gospel Pass. As we climb we have to be careful as there are sheep everywhere and a sheepdog trying to collect a flock at one point.  When we reach the top there are some stunning views over the countryside.  Magnificent but unrecorded and I cannot find Jackie’s pictures.

As we progress I express the view that I am glad we are doing this trip out of season as the lane gets narrower and narrower and I have no idea what we might meet coming the other way (later in the year there is a programme on channel five where celebrities take some large camper vans over this road – I am surprised they fit!).  Some wonderful trees along the road too – Jackie’s photos:

We pass Llanthony Priory but again it is getting later in the day and we do not want to stop as it is not very warm.  We shall need to return one warmer day.

Back to Penpergwm and we hibernate out of harm’s way!

Banff National Park

Friday 15 May 2015

Another day and so the tour continues.  Although it had been looking a little grey overhead it starts to brighten up and we head up towards Norquay for a great view down on to the town which is laid out below plus some more long horn sheep and some praire dogs running around the field.  The latter tend to be far too small to be visible in photographs unless I invest in one of those extreme telephoto lenses – which is unlikely.

Pictures today are here.

Our tour today is essentially to see bits of the huge Banff National Park and to enjoy some of the highlights.  So back on the coach everyone and try to stay awake in the hope of spotting wildlife.  Although I and others can be seen dozing from time to time, particularly on some of the longer runs through the lush fir forests.  The fir trees are in fact very close together which we gather tends to limit the ability of the animals with large antlers to be able to progress through the forest, which looking at the road side is clear as spotting animals any distance into the wood is impossible.

The established view over forest fires has changed in recent years.  Historically the aim was always to seek to extinguish fires to prevent loss of trees – they can happen from natural causes such as lightning strikes as well as man made intervention.  Now the pendulum has swung and a small amount of controlled burning of the woods has happened, although we were told in one case that it had spread further than planned.  Working out the right ecological balance must be difficult.

Our second stop should have involved coffee but once again we are slightly early; the lights in the restaurant are on but the door is locked. Cleaning and preparation for the season is underway!  This is Johnston Canyon where we have time to walk as far as the lower falls before returning.  I saw a variety of small creatures running around whilst stopped here, chipmunk like but even though I was at ground level photos are not worth it as they tend to say.  In the car park was a “Beaumont” car – a General Motors marque used between 1966 and 1969 and in good condition.

The coffee stop is taken at Samson Mall (damn fine coffee in Laggan’s Bakery – no sign of any cherry pie anywhere in Canada so far) plus some sandwiches to eat at our next halting place – Lake Louise; another beautiful piece of scenery which I would love to look at for even longer.  But do not turn around; behind you is a modern hotel, with no style or design; you could find it in Dubai or almost anywhere. And it is huge.  Never mind, most of the time whilst facing the lake it does not impinge on the pictorial quality of the place; just do not turn around.  Shame it is not panto season.

We temporarily leave Alberta for British Columbia and the Yoho National Park.  In theory there is a one hour time change at the border but as we are returning to Banff later this change is not made.  I wonder how local residents popping across the border cope – or perhaps there is actually very little local traffic?

Our purpose is to visit the Kicking Horse river where there is a bridge which has been left by the water cutting through the rock and later we move onto the very peaceful and quiet environs of Emeral Lake; although we are in Yoho the photos to be found at this link.

Our journey then reverses to head back to Banff; I note for the first time Canadian Pacific trains as opposed to CN which has been the mainstay betweenToronto and Jasper; but this more southerly area was CP dominated.

In the evening we decide on something completely different and catch the bus into Banff.  We wander around the town assessing the various eating possibilities but our choice is unaltered – it is time for a greek meal in Balkan, which occupies the Cascade Hall.  Pita bread and three dips is probably to much; Jackie has a moussaka which I acknolwedge looks good and apparently is good to eat whilst I consume some skewered steak, rice and potatoes.

On the journey into town the bus was running late on the timetable and this continued as we found when we returned to the bus stop.  Indeed the gap was such that we reckoned we could walk back to the Caribou Lodge first and so it proved as we were back indoors, walking at Jackie’s usual leisurely pace without being passed by the bus.