I'm looking to make a passive income from blogging, and thought that documenting my walks would be a productive and enjoyable way to do it. I don't know how easy this will be to keep up, but I'm aiming to post once or twice a month. Stay tuned!
I went to Wales with a group of friends for a weekend getaway. We rented an Air BnB between a group of ten in the area of Abersoch. The property hosted plenty of bedrooms, great views of the sea, and a swimming pool. We didn’t have many plans other than having a splash in the water and getting the wood fire going, but some of us mustered up the energy to explore the local countryside.
We drove to Llanbedrog beach and found what we thought to be an ‘easy’ route on the OS maps app. We parked opposite some colourful beach huts, then went to investigate the shore. Our path led up to a viewing point marked by the ‘tin man’ sculpture. The ascent was unexpectedly difficult and we had to stop and catch our breath a few times. Once we were ready to go back down again, it had started to get dark. We all turned on our phone lights and carefully made our way back down, with a few pee stops on the way.
Despite being a last minute hike that didn’t cover much ground, it was surprisingly challenging. Steep steps guided us both up and down, we were provided with rope bannisters to cling onto and this made for tough work. A descent in dark, slippery conditions was a little treacherous, but we made it back safe and sound. We took a detour to Lidl so that we could cook a big dinner for everyone (pasta with garlic bread). It was a very enjoyable weekend, with good company, good food and lots of fun.
The ‘tin man’, known as the ‘iron man’ to some locals, has had an interesting history. He first incarnation was a wooden figure head from a boat, installed in 1919 by Solomon Andrews. Unfortunately, he was vandalised, but a local artist called Simon Van de Put created a replacement sculpture which was erected in 1980. This man was constructed from metal, but because the material hadn’t been treated, by 1987 all that was left of him were his boots. The third and final installation was again created by local talent. Berwyn Jones, David Jones and Hugh Jones can all be credited with this accomplishment. The ‘tin man’ as we know today was helicoptered into position in 2002.
Surprise View car park, Grindleford, Sheffield, Hope Valley S32 2JA
Last month I was invited on a group hike in the peak District for somebody’s birthday. I caught a 9am train from Manchester Piccadilly to Hadfield station. Such a big group was a challenge to organise, so I waited a while for everyone to arrive.
Once everyone was here, we split up into cars and drove about 40 minutes to our destination. We arrived at Surprise View carpark at around midday, and began on our hike. We followed a planned route, guided by the birthday girl. The weather was warm, but there was a breeze so it was bearable.
On the first leg there was a bit of an incline, and it was fairly mild considering the amazing views at the top! After a break we started heading down again. Later on we entered some woodland, and had a quick scramble up a steep bank back to the car park.
The area that we hiked seems to be very close to Hathersage, so I decided to focus my research there. This point in the Peak District is known for its millstones, and inspiring one of the most famous works from the Brontë sisters.
Millstone production, and the quarrying of materials has been practiced in the area since medieval times. The millstone has also become a strong symbol of the Peak District, representing the long history of the region.
While I’ve never read any Brontë novels, I’ve started to think that maybe I should. Charlotte Brontë was so captivated by north Lee hall in Hathersage, that she made it the setting of ‘Jane Eyre’, only under a fictional title. We did pass through the grounds of a country house, and while there are many impressive properties in the area, I may have been tracking the footsteps of Charlotte Brontë without even knowing it!
The route was 9.69km (6 miles), while it was a very fun day out, I was extremely relieved to buy an ice lolly from the ice cream truck at the end!
I’ve been too busy to go walking recently, so I decided to write about Manchester Cathedral instead. I have recently become a welcome volunteer here and I have discovered it to be a very interesting place.
I work two shifts a month, and I have already met a few of the charming volunteers. Before I started, I had to complete some online training, and an in person induction. Then I got covid which pushed my start date back a few weeks.
I have enjoyed my time at the cathedral so far. The role consists of meeting and greeting visitors, trying to answer questions they might have, and informing them of any events happening on the site. There is a lot of information to learn, and it’s difficult to answer every question, but I’m trying to pick up things as I go. During my first shift they were preparing for a candlelit concert in tribute to Fleetwood Mac, so that was really cool to watch the set up take shape.
On my most recent shift, one of the volunteers offered to coach me for the tour guiding role. This was very kind of her as the position interests me a lot. I’m going to try and retain as much information as I can, and do my own research.
Speaking of research, the history of the site is captivating. The cathedral is believed to have dated as far back as the Anglo-Saxon period, the evidence for this is the ancient ‘angel stone’, still on display today. The basic structure of the building is Medieval, but the architecture has been updated over the years. In the Victorian era, a major restoration of the church was conducted, in the Gothic style. In the last century, part of the cathedral was destroyed by a German landmine in WWII. As a result of this some decades later, stained glass windows were installed to replace the damage.
The church continued to go through changes up until the present day, and I’m sure more changes will happen in the future! There is so much to learn about the history of this cathedral, and I have only scratched the surface. So stay tuned for another cathedral post once I’ve done more research down the line.
Sources: volunteers and literature in the Cathedral
While I was in Ireland, I spent a bit of time in Annacarty, Tipperary, with family. I was shown many local historical sights, but I can’t remember all of them! My ‘tour guide’ also had a very strong accent so I didn’t retain all of the information. The two that I do remember are the Rock of Cashel, which I have visited previously, and Hore abbey.
In order to reach Annacarty, I got a train to Limerick Junction, and I was picked up by a cousin there. She drove me back to the family farmhouse where she lives with my aunty and uncle. It had changed quite a lot over the years, and the most interesting addition was the excitable Dalmatian, Bridie May.
I stayed for three days, and several family members dropped in to help out on the farm, and say hello to their English cousin. I was chauffeured around a lot due to not having a car, and there wasn’t really any public transport in the area. I was also force fed a lot of Irish cider, but I wasn’t complaining.
A few factors meant that I wasn’t able to access the historical sites of the area on my own, so I had to settle for some drive by viewings. Overall, I had a very entertaining trip. The transport situation wasn’t quite what I was used to, and I was exhausted by my last day. But I would love to go back to explore more of what Ireland has to offer.
Hore abbey is a medieval monastery, dating from the 13th century. It has changed hands throughout the years, from the Benedictines, to the Cistercians, to Elizabeth I granting the land to some lucky Earl. Nearby, many of the buildings which make up the rock of Cashel were built in the same century. For a few hundred years before, it served as a seat for the kings of Munster, until it was donated to the church in the 12th century.
The first place I wanted to visit when arriving in Ireland was Newgrange. It’s a prehistoric site and tourist attraction. Planning my journey looked easy, but it ended up being a 3 hour trip each way.
From my hostel in Dublin, I walked half an hour to get a bus to Drogheda. Once in town I took a taxi through the Free Now app to Brú na Bóinne visitor centre.
There was a short walk through the car park, and it appears I arrived right on time as I was offered the last slot on the next booking. The ticket included the museum in the visitors centre, and a guided tour around the Knowth and Newgrange monuments, (but not Dowth) plus bus rides to the sites.
I was in a group of roughly twenty people, and the bus took us to Knowth first. A tour guide greeted us with a ten minute talk, then we were free to roam the area for half an hour. After that we watched a short film on the monuments, and headed back to the bus. I was very impressed with the satellite mounds at Knowth, I especially enjoyed the ancient artwork depicted on the stones, and the viewing platform at the top of the largest mound. The whole site had been excellently preserved and restored, and there was evidence of later architecture in the vicinity, such as abandoned farm house structures.
The next stop was Newgrange. We could see the huge monument as we approached the site, where we were greeted by another tour guide who split the group in two. The first group went inside the chamber and the second group explored the grounds, then we swapped over. The passage was a tight squeeze, but fascinating. We got to see the ancient chambers, and a brief demonstration of artificial sunlight illuminating the interior. I also enjoyed taking in the outdoor scenery and observing the monument from all angles.
Personally, I preferred Knowth to Newgrange. While it was an amazing opportunity to explore inside a Neolithic chamber, I thoroughly enjoyed finding my way through the maze at Knowth and taking in the higher views. Each site had its own toilet facilities and there was also a café in the visitor centre. This was one of the most intriguing historical walks I’ve been on and I absolutely loved this tourist attraction!
Brú na Bóinne is the encompassing area that contains Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. The complex was constructed over 5000 years ago, before the pyramids of Giza. Its builders were Neolithic Stone Age farmers. While it’s hard to be sure of its exact function, there are some clues to give us ideas. Some human remains, both burnt and unburnt have been found on the site, suggesting at least one purpose was burial tombs. The ancient stone artwork is a point of fascination, depicting lunar imagery among other things, which suggests a purpose of astronomy. The winter solstice sun, which shines through the roof box at Newgrange looks like the structure was built with ceremonies in mind, probably of a religious nature. During the Bronze Age and Iron Age, the use of this site slowly declined toward ruin.
These monuments are also linked to Irish mythology. An interesting one involving Dowth, is about king Bresal who ordered his men to build a tower to heaven. His sister cast a spell to make the sun stand still, so they could complete this task within a day. The pair committed incest, therefore breaking the spell. The sun went down, the builders left, and Dowth was in darkness. Coincidentally, some remains found at Newgrange are that of a man who was born out of an incestual union. While some believe this man was proof of ‘pure’ royal bloodline at that time, he could be viewed as a real life myth.
I made it to Dovestone reservoir! The travel turned out to be not as complicated as I thought. I got a train from Manchester Piccadilly to Greenfield, then walked for roughly an hour until I arrived at my destination. Greenfield was a very pretty little town, I got the impression it was popular with old people.
On the other side of the built up area, I found a forest path with several mysterious trails leading off it, and as I passed through I decided I would explore them on my way back. There was a short but steep incline leading up to the reservoir, and I was greeted with dramatic Peak District views.
I began on a circular walk, and took my time discovering off shoots of the designated route. The sun was in and out, but it stuck around long enough for me to put sun cream on, and it was extremely windy by the water. I caught a beautiful sight of Greenfield from high up, and I found an area called Binn Green. While it was basically just a car park, it was in a perfect position to observe the landscape.
I continued my exploration, and I found another memorial forest! I had previously found one at the Singing Ringing Tree that I mentioned in another post. This memorial forest was a lot larger and denser, and felt like a very peaceful place to visit.
I had some lunch while sitting by the water, and some ducks and other birds became very interested in me! I googled what I could feed them, and started with some dried apricots. When I realised that they were struggling with the stickiness, I gave them some banana which went down a treat. I also spotted what I believed to be a pheasant, and got it on video.
After that I decided to call it a day, as it would be a long journey back on foot all the way to the train station. As I returned on the forest path I took a few little detours, bumping into a very curious lamb in a field, and risking a very dodgy bridge crossing. It was an extremely enjoyable trip that I’d been looking forward to for a few weeks now, and it was lovely to see so much wildlife.
Dovestone reservoir is owned by United Utilities, and was built in the 1960s. It is a source of water for the surrounding areas, and is a popular recreational beauty spot. What I found really intriguing was Fletchers mill which I passed on my way to the reservoir. There were originally two mills in the area, Greenfield and Stoneclough. It’s unclear which one came first, but the second mill opened in 1921, and produced cigarette and tissue paper. In 2001, workers were told to go home one day, never to return. This resulted in the state of the mill being left exactly as it was. Because it has been ‘frozen in time’, Fletchers mill attracts keen Urbex enthusiasts, people who explore abandoned urban structures as a hobby.
Stannybrook Rd, Failsworth, Oldham, Manchester M35 9WJ
I tried to go to Dovestone Reservoir on Sunday but ended up taking a detour. I didn’t get up early enough and the bus to the reservoir wasn’t very frequent so I decided on a change of plan. Daisy Nook Country park was a half hour walk from Ashton under Lyne interchange, so I set off.
It was good weather, and Daisy Nook was a very pleasant place to explore on a day like this. There were quite a few families out, and lots of dogs. The park reminded me in its layout of Clayton Vale. Both sites seem to have main paths surrounded by forest, and lots of smaller paths leading in different directions.
I was quite impressed by the amount of wild garlic growing, and the scent was pungent. I also spotted quite a few bluebell patches, so it definitely felt like spring. The wildlife was flourishing, in the form of many birds.
I sat down on a bench in front of what I believe was Sammy’s Basin to have lunch and watch the ducks. I started to feel quite lethargic and lacking in energy. At the time I thought I was just tired and getting hay fever. Turns out I was ill (not COVID) and had to take the next two days off!
Despite the turn of events, I had a very peaceful time at Daisy Nook, it’s a place that I’ve wanted to go to for a while.
Once I had recovered from my flu, I started researching the rich industrial history of Daisy Nook. The park holds many stories! The name came about from a poet called Ben Brierley, who wrote about a fictional park and called it Daisy Nook. His artist friend Charles Potter used Waterhouses as a reference when depicting the place Ben had wrote about. After that, the area was always known as Daisy Nook. The park seemed to inspire some notable artists, because L.S Lowry depicted a scene in one of his paintings.
I stumbled across the Manchester History Revisited Facebook page, to find some vintage photographs of the annual Daisy Nook fair. Unfortunately, no date is given, but I distinctly remember fair music playing during my own visit, so it’s still going strong!
Finally, there is the legend of the Crime lake boggart. I’m a little unclear on what this boggart was supposed to do, apart from shining a light in people’s faces… but a band called the Oldham Tinkers performed a song called ‘the Crime lake boggart’, which can be found on Spotify.
This is my first Tali Walks abroad post! My partner and I embarked on a cheeky getaway for a few days. The only requirements for entry into Germany were to bring your vaccine passport, and only the hotel asked to see it.
We made our way to Manchester airport on the Monday morning. There were queues to get through security, but the journey with Ryan Air was smooth and efficient. Once we touched down in Brandenburg airport, the train was the next point of call. We got off somewhere in the city centre, walked down Friederickstrasse for about twenty minutes, then arrived at the Gat Point Charlie Hotel.
There were two museums that stood out to me on this trip, the first was the Kommunication museum which was close to our hotel and very interesting. It really covered everything on communication from ancient times to present day. There was so much information it definitely had something for everyone and was very comprehensive.
The second was the fascinating Spy museum. There was a strong green theme running through the interior and there were many interactive activities among the exhibits, such as trying to find all the hidden bugs in a room. While there was some focus on ancient and modern espionage, much of the museum was dedicated to the 20th century, especially the world wars. One of the best parts was the individual gadget exhibits, showing how ordinary items like pens, suitcases, and even underwear had been modified for surveillance purposes.
One of the most exhilarating parts of our holiday was renting electric scooters and riding them through the never ending Tiergarten city park. There were several scooter companies to choose from, I used Lime through my Uber app. The cycle lanes were really good in Berlin, so using the scooters was a no brainer.
We were very impressed by the vegetarian eating options of the city, and we sampled some very varied and tasty cuisine while we were there. One of my favourites was the Little Green Rabbit, it was a lunch place that did cafeteria style health food. The dishes were wholesome and nourishing, and the freshly made smoothies were to die for.
The vibrant night life was impressive, although we barely scratched the surface. On one of my favourite nights we stumble across Murphy’s Irish bar on St Patrick’s day! Of course it was packed, there was nowhere to sit and it took us ages to get a drink, but the vibes were spot on.
Something that I personally found to be the most interesting was Charlottenburg palace. We paid for a self-led tour of the decadent inside. While it was gorgeous, we didn’t actually take too much notice of the history so I researched it later! The palace had sprawling grounds to walk around afterwards, with beautiful views of the gardens.
The former residence was constructed in the 17th century for the Prussian Queen Sophie Charlotte. The grounds and surrounding area were named Charlottenburg in her memory when she died. The structure was originally of baroque design, but underwent many renovations over the years. Today, many of the rooms are actually preserved in the rococo style. From 1880, Charlottenburg ceased to be a summer palace for the royals and was opened to the public.
On the final day, we checked out of the hotel, had a very tasty brunch at an Italian place, and then went to the Berlin Wall Panorama. After our last tourist activity, we headed back to the airport, ready to go home. It was a very enjoyable break, the weather was decent, and there was lots to do!
Today I went to Bramall Hall. I initially thought it would be a quick and easy location to access because I’m not too far from Stockport. However, while the journey wasn’t horrendous, the transport links weren’t great. I caught the 192 bus to Stockport, and then the 379 to Bramall. There are three buses you can get from Stockport, but all of them only run once an hour so I had to wait a while for the first one to arrive. The good thing was I didn’t have to pay any extra for travel, because many Stockport buses are run by Stagecoach, so I just used my weekly bus pass.
Once I arrived, I just had to cross the large roundabout to get to the park. I decided to have a good gander around the woodland paths first before I went up to the hall. I followed the riverside trail that led through the woods and alongside a small lake. There was plenty of life, both wild and domesticated. Children were feeding ducks and geese on the edge of the lake, and it was a popular dog walking spot so there were lots of canines running around.
I made my way up to the hall to view the landscape below. After all that walking I was getting a bit peckish, so I headed to the café. I was given the option of sitting inside and having a traditional, restaurant-style meal, or sitting outside and ordering a quick lunch as a take away. I choose outside, I had to wait a bit, but finally I was able to tuck in to my soup and bread, brownie, and boozy hot chocolate.
After eating, I headed to the visitor centre. There, I bought a £5 ticket for a self-guided tour of Bramall Hall. At the entrance, I was given a floor plan to follow and began on the one way system tour. It was incredibly captivating, most of the hall was set up to imitate how the Victorian occupants had lived their everyday lives. Because the site dates back to the early medieval period, some of the rooms were in the original or Tudor style. Each room had an information plaque explaining their main uses, including notable people and relevant events. I watched two videos which went into detail on some of the more intriguing architectural articles of the hall. Unusually, they also placed pine cones on many of the chairs and beds. These were a novel replacement for ‘do not sit’ signs, as a lot of the furniture was old and fragile. I’m not sure how well it worked though!
I was lucky enough to have my Bramall Hall tour all to myself, and when I was done I decided to go home. I did manage to record this route on OS maps, and called it ‘Bramall Hall’. I marked it as moderate, and even though I stopped for a break, I feel like I walked for more than 45 minutes. I did walk 2.49km (1.5 miles).
Bramall Hall has a very interesting history. Over a thousand years ago it was two separate estates, owned by Anglo Saxons. After William the Conquerors’ invasion, it changed hands to Hamon de Massey (or ‘Masci). Two hundred years later, Matthew de Bromale took up the estate. One of his descendants married a Davenport, and the hall remained in the family for a whopping 500 years. The estate was finally sold in the 1800s to the Nevills, and by 1935 the Hazel Grove and Bramhall Urban district Council had taken possession of the mansion.
From the outside, Bramall Hall appears very Tudor in style, however, the Nevills made lots of renovations in their time to bring it up to Victorian standards. The park was their doing, and it’s still in the Victorian romantic style today. Many rooms inside were refurbished according to Victorian fashions of the time.
One room which managed to avoid a complete makeover was the solar room. This was a medieval family room for earlier inhabitants of the hall, and boarded up plastered walls had preserved their interior decorating. When the plaster walls were removed in modern times, fascinating Tudor murals were revealed underneath. These murals told many stories and painted many pictures, from moral messages encouraging observers to be good Christians, and nursery rhymes.
My partner and I planned a trip out for an early Valentine’s day. He mentioned he’d been to ‘Blue John mines’ as a kid and though it would be cool to revisit. On the day, we got the train from Manchester Piccadilly to Edale. We had been to Edale before, which is definitely a story for another time! On the train journey I tried to find a taxi that could take us to the cavern, because it was only a ten minute drive and it was pissing it down. No taxis would take us, so we decided to brave the weather. We stopped off at the Penny Pot Café for a cup of tea and some Wi-Fi access. There was no signal around Edale train station, but we did manage to use our phone data later in the journey. Once we had downloaded a map, we set off.
It took us about an hour to walk to Blue John Cavern. The weather wasn’t pleasant, but we maintained high spirits. For most of the journey there was a steady incline, and we had to take a few quick rest stops. Towards the end, we walked through a car park for Peak District hikers and ramblers. From that point, it was a sharp decline to our destination.
Blue John Cavern appeared to be a small house nestled in the mouth of a cave within a hill. The house turned out to be a gift shop, with an admissions desk, a small snack bar, and toilet facilities. We bought tickets, which were £15 for adults, and waited fifteen minutes for the next tour. Ten of us went down together, led by a very nice tour guide whose name I can’t remember, but he said he’d been working there since he was fourteen. And let me tell you, he definitely wasn’t fourteen anymore!
Before we descended into the cave, we were warned to watch our footing and use the handrail. There were hundreds of steps taking us down into the depths, and I clung on with an iron grip. We stopped several times on the way down, where the tour guide pointed out interesting features to us. It was fascinating, I took quite a few photos that didn’t turn out to be very impressive, but I managed to capture some sites that you don’t see every day.
Once reaching the end of the tour, we slowly made our way back up. Even though we could feel the climb in our calves, our guide gave us regular breaks so it wasn’t too strenuous. When we finally came back up for air, I bought a few crystals from the gift shop, and we had a speedy sandwich each before heading back. The return walk to the train station was somehow more pleasant, maybe due to the downhill stroll and the rain clearing up. We jumped straight on the train, but had to wait half an hour for it to set off. Feeling very damp and tired, we got an Uber from Piccadilly and were glad to peel our wet clothes off once we got in. While it wasn’t exactly the day we planned for, we enjoyed it nonetheless!
I had no signal to record a route on OS maps, but I estimate that our round trip ran roughly up to 12.8 km (8 miles), including the underground tour.
The caves have an interesting and diverse history, they are named after Blue John stone, which is a type of fluorspar only found in this area of the Peak District. The Romans were aware of the precious stone, but not this particular cavern, and ancient vases crafted from this material have been discovered. The name ‘Blue John’ is believed to derive from the French name ‘bleu jeune’, which means blue yellow. In the 18th century, French miners came to the cave to see what all the fuss was about. They noticed the blue and yellow colours in the dark stone, but after many years the French words were morphed in to the English ‘Blue John’. To add to the unusual past of this location, a man called Lord Mulgrave decided to host a dinner for the miners inside the cave. That particular spot on the tour is now marked as Lord Mulgrave’s dining room.