After much faffing about, gnashing of teeth, expletives, and going around in circles through stylesheets and MySQL databases, I’ve got this thing looking pretty much how I want it. It’s now as good as ready for the grand fanfare and launch to the unsuspecting world. I wanted it ready before my trip to the USA this coming weekend and it should be. I just need a few more photos in the general gallery. (Incidentally the concept of offering some of my best photos for sale is still a little way off).

But life has not been revolving completely around this site. I spent the Bank Holiday weekend trying to walk in Exmoor and Dartmoor with my friend Jen, but while the company was good the weather was far from it. Mist ruined the views from Dunnery Beacon although the walk through pastures and woodland was pleasant all the same. The next day the expedition over Dartmoor lasted about 30 minutes after a drenching, being blown about Hayter Rocks, and not being able to see beyond 50 feet in front of us. Thankfully dropping down to lower ground we salvaged something of the day with a walk at Budleigh Salterton on the coast, circling the River Otter estuary and briefly visiting the cliffs.

On Saturday I joined a group of 15 walkers and tackled Robinson, Hindscarth, Dale Head and Fleetwith Pike in the Lake District. There were incredible views of Buttermere and Crummock Water, being blessed with a warm sunny clear day. Buttermere from Fleetwith Pike 31st May 2008 After the 11 miles walk and over 4,000 feet of total ascent I was glad I was staying overnight at Coniston again and not facing the drive back to Leeds. I’ll leave you with a photo of Buttermere taken from the summit of Fleetwith Pike (648 metres or 2126 feet if you prefer!) Shame darker clouds were beginning to loom just at one of the most impressive spots. :-(

I was lazy this Saturday and instead of getting up early and heading for the Lake District to do a lengthy walk as planned, I didn’t leave Leeds until midday and ended up watching the FA Cup Final in a pub at Braithwaite near Keswick! So when I got to Coniston, my base for the night, I decided I’d do something worthwhile with the evening and set off on a stroll. I set out towards the top of the village heading for the Coniston Fells that form a dramatic backdrop to the location. The path I hoped to find was mainly level with a few minor undulations, but there was the option of a slight detour along a trail that branched off and climbed steeply up the fell side. When a small cairn of stones appeared to signal the start I took it and fought my way up through some gorse and over a fairly eroded route towards a rocky outcrop known as Long Crag. Once at about the 200m contour I decided enough was enough and settled down for a breather to enjoy the view. This is it below…

Long Crag view of Coniston

It was incredibly peaceful up there away from any human interaction. All I could hear was the sound of the distant rushing water of Church Beck, ewes with their lambs bleating in the pastures below, and out towards the direction of Tarn Hows the call of a solitary cuckoo. I soaked up the view of Coniston Water for 10 minutes watching the steam gondola make its ultimate trip of the day. Finally forcing myself up from my rocky perch, and I headed back down to rejoin the main path as I had about another three miles to complete before dark.

The lower path soon entered a wood carpeted with bluebells. The light wasn’t the best for photography but I attempted a few shots largely in vain but here’s one of the better ones…

Bluebell wood Coniston

The stroll through the wood was beautiful, I had it to myself or so I thought until a jogger came from behind me and half scared me to death! Now a bit jumpy I was startled again by rustling in the undergrowth about five minutes later, but this time it turned out to be a small deer. I froze quickly enough not to scare the doe completely and for a couple of minutes she kept a wary distance but allowed me to watch in delight. The trees prevented a good clear photo, and my attempts to slowly creep nearer to get a better view tested the doe’s patience and she was away.

Once out of the wood my route doubled back along the Cumbrian Way through fields of black lambs and on the descent into the village I passed three or four rabbits which fled as I tried to get a better vantage point to snap Coniston Water from the wrong side of a dry stone wall. I got back to the B&B farmhouse at 9:30pm still in the fading evening light. It was then that it struck me it was actually Saturday night and most people across Britain would be out now sinking a few lagers around their favourite boozers. I’m probably in a very small minority but they are welcome to it. I enjoyed my alternative Saturday night entertainment and feel better for doing it. I wonder how many of the drinking classes would say that the next day when nursing hangovers and trying to piece together scant memories of the night before?!