Tuesday 19 June 2012

Skye hill walking - finding the way

I had a walk in my favourite part of Skye yesterday - the wilds of Duirinish. There's no-one there, no roads, no houses, just miles of moorland which has been unchanged for centuries. There's plenty of birds twittering, and red deer warily watching you from time to time, but you are unlikely to meet another walker, or even see one in the distance!

Here's a couple of pictures of Durinish moorland -

That's the Outer Hebrides Isle of Harris on the far horizon.

This is the summit of Ben Corkeval. MacLeod's Tables are ever-present. The deer fences are a bit of a pain, as there are no gates, so the only option is to find a strainer post, which won't wobble, and then scramble over the top!

The bealachs between the hills are pretty featureless. So how do I know where I am going, and which way to go to get home again? There are some familiar hills, and bits of Skye coast can be seen from higher ground. I do carry an OS map, but mostly I rely on high tech satellite GPS navigation. This little device is possibly the best £70 I have ever spent.

Here, the display is showing how far I have walked, my precise location (by grid reference in this instance), the time of day, the total time I have been out, and my average moving speed. This display can be changed to show other details, but these are the items I find most useful.

This is the picture I took from NG 19394 45367

Before I set out, I use mapping software on my computer to plot the route I wish to take, and can put a 'waymarker' on places I particularly want to visit - maybe a hill summit, waterfall or whatever. This then gets uploaded to the GPS device. The display can be switched to show the route I have plotted, and as I walk, a track also appears on the screen, so I can see how close I am to the plotted route, and can easily find the waymarkers, as I can see my track getting closer to the waymarker 'pin'.

Once back home again, I can reconnect the device to my computer and download my track and then superimpose it over an OS map display. like this:

I can even use other software which uses my track and the precise time of day to accurately geo-locate every photograph I take.

Oh yes - and I do carry spare batteries!

Friday 15 June 2012

allotment news

Our dry weather continues. We've had no rain here for several weeks now. Temperatures are normal enough, and we have occasional cloudy days, but the wind continues to be from the dry north.

However, with a bit of watering, the allotment is looking good. The sickly runner beans are recovering, growing new leaves, and the biggest are now finding their support poles. The frosting they endured will put them back three or four weeks, but I think we'll get beans to eat - providing we don't get a gale in a few weeks time...!!

I've finally given up waiting for rain, and planted the broad beans. Here in this bed are also swede and (just visible) carrots.

I am trying some carrots in here too - it's the local way of avoiding carrot root fly, which only fly just above soil level, so shouldn't get into these tubs!

Also have a couple of tubs planted with dwarf runner beans. Just look at the wonderful wild growth around the tub! Well - it's wonderful here, but I spend a lot of time weeding all the 'wild' out of the veg beds!

Thursday 7 June 2012

Allotment news - It's bean a disaster...

What has happened to my runner beans?

They were fine when I transplanted them from their pots. They all had plenty of root growth, but about a week from being planted out, they started looking sick. I watered them, thinking that the dry weather was upsetting them, but they just continued to wither. It's not the planting out that has caused the problem, as I have seven or eight plants still in pots that I didn't have room for, and they have withered too.

Could we have had a cold enough night for them to have been nipped by a touch of frost???

Anyway, they are still standing up, so I am hopeful that there is enough life in the roots and stems for them to put on some new leaves and recover.

I'll keep you updated!

Charity Garden Weekend: 26/27th May

... and yet another retrospective post from me!    I really MUST get my act together but life currently just seems to 'get in the way'.  However, I couldn't let any more time elapse without putting finger to key and posting a few photographs of the Charity Open Garden Weekend hosted by Ann, Alasdair and Vicky Galbraith on 26/27th May.   This was done as part of Scotland's Yellow Book Garden Scheme and was an opportunity of both visiting their wonderful grounds and croft plus boost funding for three cancer charities - namely Beetson's Pebble Appeal, Highlands Hospice and Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres.   
Cakes and other refreshments were there in abundance courtesy of Ann and her band of supporters.  Below is a shot of the heavily laden dining room table with Sue presiding over the raffle tickets!

We were extremely fortunate to have had a lot of lovely raffle prizes donated by local businesses.  They formed a very impressive display too....

... and the weather was glorious!  Hot, dry and calm - ideal for the garden tours and just sitting outside and soaking up the sun.  We also had a raffle prize draw for the three items within the kindly donated gifts which could not be saved until the main draw later in June.  Below Vicky draws a winning ticket !!

When things were a little less busy I was able to take a tour round myself and took a couple of photographs of the er.... 'estate'!   Below Ann and Jenny stand by the river soaking up some of that fabulous sunshine!

... and finally at the end of Sunday afternoon have the opportunity to lounge around with a refreshing drink on the patio reflecting on the weekend's activities.

What a weekend it was too!  Wall to wall sunshine, happy and smiling people everywhere and such a spirit of togetherness and caring was really in evidence throughout.  It was both an honour and pleasure to be there!  Sales of both cakes, refreshments and raffle tickets went well too and the following day Ann and Vicky were able to bank £1,300 for the three chosen cancer charities. An amazing result over an equally amazing weekend!   Well done to everybody who had some part to play - both large and small!

Tuesday 5 June 2012

allotment news

An update to yesterday's post really - here's a couple of pictures of the allotment as it was at lunchtime today - notice how brown the grass is becoming in this sunny dry spell we are having. The rain that was forecast yesterday hasn't happened...

In the brassica bed, it's two rows of brussels sprouts (still in their pots in this picture, but planted now) then a row each of savoy cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.

The runner beans were looking very droopy, so I have been watering!

Monday 4 June 2012

allotment news

I think I omitted to post that the runner beans are all planted. This happened last week, and I'll take a photo tomorrow..maybe...

However, the weather forecast is promising RAIN tomorrow. It has been dry here for ages now, so I have been delaying planting out the brassicas from their pots. But on the strength of the weather forecast, the broccoli and cauliflower plants have gone in this afternoon, and all being well, the savoy cabbage and brussels sprouts will go in tomorrow.

More soon!

The Tip of Trotternish

I have just taken on another holiday cottage to 'manage' - that is, I will advertise and market the cottage and handle enquiries and bookings, while the owner will do the turn rounds, maintenance, etc. I have also created a website for the cottage which I am certain everyone will want to rush to see - it's here

You will see that the cottage is at the northern tip of the Trotternish Peninsula - a drive of more than an hour from here at Roskhill - so we haven't been up there very often. However, visiting the cottage to meet the owners and take photos for the website gave me an unmissable opportunity to explore a little of the countryside and coast in that area.

Just like everywhere else on Skye, the place oozes history, with plenty of ruined croft buildings to be found... (click any picture to see them full-size)

This one is particularly interesting, being built on top of a neolithic chambered cairn, with some of the burial chamber stones incorporated into the wall of the dwelling - a bit of an unusual feature, and probably a talking point when the neighbours called in ('come and see my burial chamber...')

And there's ruined walls...

... and a ruined church...

Then the nearby countryside is worth exploring too...

On my second visit to see the cottage, I drove a couple of miles to the north eastern tip of Skye. The pictures below were all taken during one 5-mile walk. This looks like a good spot for a holiday...!

Towards Rubha Hunish

Rubha na h-Aiseig (and more ruins...)

View down the coast past the summit of Ben Volovaig (only 110 metres, but great views)!

... and a wonderful natural arch