St Abb’s to Pettico Wick

St Abb’s to Pettico Wick and return via Mire Loch (3.5 miles)

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The Berwickshire Coastline with Bass Rock in the far distance

 

(3.5 miles)

It’s me! Some recent lovely comments on my site made me decide to have another go.  Walking is slow and distances are short for me at the moment which is frustrating – but when the weather is being kind, as it was on the coast today, I suppose it doesn’t matter so much if you can’t walk fast or too far!

 

We usually walk around St Abb’s Head from the village and return via Mire Loch, missing out Pettico Wick.  Today we decided to go and have a look at this little cove starting from the National Trust Car Park just before you get to St Abb’s village and walking through the farm and out along the ‘Discovery Trail’ before diverting along the ‘Lighthouse Loop’ to the sea at Pettico Wick.  It’s all really well marked, the views are lovely – ahead and looking back towards St Abb’s and Coldingham Bay.

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Pettico Wick

Pettico Wick – no idea why this pretty bay is called this, apart from that an alternative name is listed by Canmore (Historic Environment Scotland) – Pettycarwick Bay – so it’s probably just got shortened over time and is now known as Pettico Wick. It’s a tiny harbour with a pier which was built so that supplies for the St Abb’s lighthouse could be landed. We didn’t venture down as there were lots of divers milling about preparing to set off on an exploration of the waters.

The coastal habitat here is a Voluntary Marine Reserve and is protected and part of a European Marine Site.  Apparently there are offshore forests of dense seaweed and the area is full of a mix of Atlantic and Arctic plant and animal species.  You can sometimes see dolphin here and we’ve seen a porpoise previously.

We reach the coast and walk a little way along the coast path northwards to see the thousands of guillemots nesting on the cliffs – they’re tightly packed together on the ledges. Puffins, kittiwakes and razorbills are also known to nest here but it’s hard to make them out amongst the hoard of guillemots – collective noun: A Bazaar of Guillemots –   that’s just what it sounds like too!  It’s unwise to get too close to the cliff edge for obvious reasons (!) but also because we know that breeding success in guillemots and kittiwakes is reduced by the presence of people, who cause the nesting birds stress (shown by raised heart rate) and a related energy loss which may lead them to desert their nests.  I don’t have my real camera today so can’t get good pictures of them but here’s one I took another day!

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Why do they all face the cliff instead of the sea?

We head back inland along the shore of Mire Loch passing by the reed beds (those black clouds just drifted away!)IMG_1520.JPG

and spotting what we thought might be a reed warbler chattering away.  Looking it up in my book later though, it seems that reed warblers are rare this far north so I think it was probably a sedge warbler – it had that distinctive white stripe above his eye.  They like reed beds and marshes with some trees and bushes, so its perfect for him here.  This is a first for me – never seen one before! No camera!!

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It’s getting warm as we head on through the wooded path and I’m beginning to wish I’d left the extra layers at home!  There are plenty of insects enjoying the sunshine including this moth – known as Mother Shipton because it’s wing pattern is said to look like an old witch, you have to look at it for a long time and turn it about a bit but could be I suppose:

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There are also lots of wild flowers and I’ve just got my phone which doesn’t do flowers and insects very well.

I did manage a good picture of the brightly coloured Northern Marsh-orchid which seems to be doing well here:

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And have a look at the lovely Scots Pine cones and flowers:

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We saw the swans nesting last time we were here – and this time they were guarding 5 cygnets from the hovering gulls.  Swimming not far away was a little troop of golden-eye duck – so pretty! So needed my camera!!

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There’s a steep uphill climb on the way back and I’m slowing down even more. The best way to deal with being slow I’ve found is to pretend you just wanted to take another picture:

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Mr M pretending he’s looking for something on the path and not at all wondering how far behind I am!

The hills around here are full of sheep and they roam freely – or laze about – whichever takes their fancy:

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He’s lovely and knows it!

 

At last I can drag my sore feet through the car park and down to the Old Smiddy Coffee Shop where we stop for a cup of tea and admire the nasturtiums outside of the lovely Number Four Gallery where Mr M dropped of some more arty stuff earlier today….

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So there we are, I hope you enjoyed reading about this walk.  I just wanted to give a trio of mentions:

to the St Abb’s Ranger who writes a blog, A Day in the (Wild) Life, which is full of lovely photos and interesting info! I notice s/he’s not posted since November last year but hopefully s/he’s just been super busy and will be back soon!

https://stabbsrangers.blogspot.com/2018/

to the National Trust for Scotland for the amazing information/visitor centre at St Abb’s which is full of interesting and very useful (for me) information boards, ‘what you might see’ books and leaflets:

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And to Mr M for this beautiful painting of Mire Loch – which of course we don’t get to keep – it’ll be part of his exhibition in The Robson Gallery, Halliwell House, Selkirk from 16th July and you can see it – and more – there:

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Mire Loch by Andrew Major

 

St Abb’s Head and Mire Loch

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Date: 28th September 2016

Route: From St Abbs National Trust Car Park, along coast path to St Abb’s Headland and then inland alongside Mire Loch.

Distance: 4.5 miles/7 km


What a stunning walk!  Despite the rain and fog, this may be one of the best walks yet since we’ve been in Scotland.

Following on from last week’s ramble to Coldingham Sands, we decided to explore the coastline further. This National Nature Reserve managed by the National Trust for Scotland is just along the road.  At some point we’ll put them together to make one longer day out – with soup and sandwiches in our back packs I think!

I hope you enjoy reading about it:

Continue reading

The Lost Gardens of Heligan and Penrose Estate

Saturday, 26th September 2015

Hello

Things are warming up around here in more ways than one!  The sun has decided to shine and for the last couple of days its been just like Summer.  Also, we’re hoping to move to Scotland before the end of October so it’s going to get a little too busy for walking and blogging.

Sadly I have to concede defeat and admit that I’m not going to make it to 1000 miles this year.

Never mind, there’s a whole new world of walking out there just waiting for me and Mr RR!  As soon as we’ve got ourselves settled in, I daresay we’ll be off on some lovely new walkabouts.

Meanwhile, it’s going to get a little quiet on the blog…..but here are a few miles to keep you going until I get back to it all again.

See you in Scotland!

The  (Notso) Wee Ricketyrambler


The Lost Gardens of Heligan (3 miles) and The Penrose Estate (6 miles)

We took ourselves up to the Lost Gardens last week and had a wander amongst the vegetable gardens and the dahlias:

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I love the Italianate Garden:

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but my favourite thing is the Potting Shed!DSCN2197

I want one!

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Beautiful fungi:

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Marvellous marigolds:

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Fantastic flower gardens still:

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Simply stunning!

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They’ve got a new family of Tamworths who could squeal extremely loudly:

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And a pair of Ostrich:

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Mr RR did the rope bridge walk……but I’ve don’t it before and once is enough!DSCN2223

Then today we took the top path around Penrose, descending for coffee at the Stables Cafe and then returning alongside the lake and Loe Bar.  We saw sparrows – flocks of them – A Quarrel of Sparrows!  Five Great Crested Grebe – A Waterdance of Grebe, a Swim of Cormorants and a Posse of Herons!  Quite a good morning for birds on the whole:

We debated whether they might be Tree Sparrows - but no, I don't think so - just House Sparrows
We debated whether they might be Tree Sparrows – but no, I don’t think so – just House Sparrows
A Swim of Cormorants
A Swim of Cormorants

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The views across to Helston were unusually clear:
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DSCN2235These are Oak apples – a soft spongy ball found on the end of Oak tree twigs.  Inside the apple is divided into cells and in each cell lives a grub, destined to become gall-wasps or flies very soon!

On the way back along the coast path from Loe Bar we noticed hundreds of tiny holes in the bank:

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They went on for quite a way and there were wasps hovering all around.  Despite many tries I was completely unable to get a picture of a wasp! Except this one:

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Can you see it?  On the left hand side – just emerging from it’s hole.

I think these must be Bee-killer wasps!  These insects are voracious predators of Honey Bees – they capture and paralyse them and then carry them back to their nests before laying eggs on them.  The developing larvae then feed on the bee.  Twenty years ago this insect was rare but it is now colonising new habitats throughout England.

Total miles walked this year: 579


PZ57 - mixed media on board
PZ57 – mixed media on board

Artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major

http://www.andrewmajorart.co.uk

http://www.artistsandillustrators.co.uk/Andrew-Major

The Trelissick Man and The Men of the Trees

Sunday, 13th September 2015

Hello

Firstly – welcome to new readers!

Mr RR and I took a trip to Trelissick for a look at the gardens, and found the hydrangeas, which are not really my favourite plants, looking lovely, especially the amazing Hydrangea peniculata ‘Burgundy Lace’ which is blooming in the round border outside of the house.  If I was going to buy a hydrangea, this would definitely be the one! Continue reading

Blackberry Picking on Penrose Top Path

Saturday, 12th September 2015

Hello

After saying yesterday that the blackberries were not yet ripe at Mullion, I decided to take myself for a walk around the Penrose Estate and followed the top path which is lined with brambles, to see if things were any further on there.  There were a few juicy ones to be had but it’ll be another couple of weeks I think before they’re really ready.  I came back with just about enough for a pie though.

Enjoy reading

Rickety Rambler x


Porthleven circular via Penrose Top Path and Penrose Farm (4 miles)

You remember yesterday I was trying to discover why blackberries go from green to red and then black?  Well today, quite by chance I found the answer!  Isn’t it funny when things happen like that?  I was really just trying to find out which berries these were:

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Still not sure what this one is…..any ideas? Is it a type of Laurel do you think?
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This is a hawthorn – the ends of the berries show where the withered remains of the flower persists.

when I found a whole section in my Reader’s Digest Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs about berries.  So ……what it says is that the main evolutionary objective of plants (and animals obviously) is to develop efficient means of reproducing themselves.  Trees and shrubs do this by producing seed bearing fruit for dissemination by the wind or other means.  It’s the ‘other means’ which is important for us.  When fruit turns red and then black, it draws the attention of birds and animals, which obviously eat the fruit and then redistribute the seeds!  I knew that really!

As well as that, most berries are rich in sugars, starch and other nutrients and are eagerly sought out by wildlife.  Those such as rowan and yew are eaten whole, the seeds they contain have hard outer coats and resist digestive juices, therefore passing intact through the animal or bird, usually landing far away from the parent tree so that it has a space of its own to grow in.  Others, like cherry are not swallowed whole.  Birds eat the fleshy covering and discard the stone containing the seed, again often away from the point of origin.  Interestingly, the seeds of mistletoe stick to the birds beak and they wipe them off on branches of trees – on which they then grow!  How clever is that!

Anyway, there you have it.  Blackberries go red then black to attract the birds and animals that eat them, they swallow the seeds and then poo them out later!  I did know that really…..

I walk on along the lane managing to gather a few ripe blackberries, enough for a pie anyway. I stop to look at the field of sweetcorn:

Sweetcorn
Sweetcorn

and I spot this little fellow, clinging on to a stalk and swaying in the brisk wind:

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Bluetit in the sweetcorn field. Look at his little legs clinging on for dear life – he’s got a good view from there though.

and then, as I turn the corner onto the farm lane I see a strange sight.  In the field to my left are tractors – nothing strange in that you may say…….but there are loads of them:

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At first, I think they’ve all gathered together to take part in the harvesting – but that’s odd because the hays already been cut.  I walk on trying to work it out.  As my view becomes clearer I can count up to 30, or maybe even more, tractors in this field, some with trailers laden with what looks like sand:

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These two are having a race

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Eventually I guess, when I see all the people watching them, that it’s a competition!  It’s very well attended and everyone seems very excited.DSCN2089

Walking on past Penrose Farm I spot a marquee and a sign saying YFC Ploughing Competition and I realise that it’s the Young Farmer’s Club having a bit of a fun day.  Although they probably wouldn’t thank me for calling it that – I think it’s serious stuff this tractor driving/ploughing competition thing.

The Helston and St Keverne Young Farmer’s Club (www.cornwallyfc.co.uk) is part of the Cornwall Federation of Young Farmers which was formed 77 years ago and has over 750 members – quite a lot of them being here today I think!

As I move on past the farm I see that the cotton thistles are just going over:

Cotton thistle - heraldic emblem of Scotland
Cotton thistle – heraldic emblem of Scotland

and the Hedge Bindweed is in flower:

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Convolvulus – traditional names include bindweed, hell weed, devil’s guts and devil’s garters.

Although it’s a very common plant, it is quite interesting.  The flowers stay open all night apparently – but only if there’s a moon (and no, I am not staying up all night to check!)  They don’t have any scent, but they manage to attract the hawk moth which uses its long tongue to extract nectar from the base of the flower and pollinates the plant.

Bindweeds once shared the generic name of Convolvulus – a reference to their ability to wrap themselves around stems and branches.  In the 19th century a Scottish botanist, Robert Brown thought its distinctive structure justified gin gin it a new name and called it Calystegia derived from two Greek words, Kalyx – meaning cup, and stage – meaning covering.

In The Medieval Flower Book, Celia Fisher mentions that it was once used as a purge – but a dangerous one unless used in small quantities mixed carefully with sweeteners and spices. she goes on to say that, the artist of the Carrara Herbal described the plants ‘undeniable beauty’ and indeed it was encouraged to grow over arbours both in the Islamic gardens of Spain and here in 15th century England.  Now of course, we spend a lot of time trying to get rid of its nightmare mass of underground roots!

I hurry on as, despite the promising start to the afternoon, it’s starting to rain and not only am I coatless, but I’m wearing just a sleeveless vest (and some shorts of course!).

Total miles walked this year: 563.5


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Across Penrose to Loe Pool – Mixed Media on Canvas

Artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major

http://www.andrewmajorart.co.uk

http://www.artistsandillustrators.co.uk/Andrew-Major

Acorn Bank

Saturday, 5th September 2015

Hello

We left bonny Scotland today and travelled down the M6 towards our overnight stop in Cheshire.  On the way we avoided the motorway service stations and instead made our way to Acorn Bank, about 6 miles from Penrith for a lunch break and a stroll around the gardens.  This is a National Trust property described in their blurb as a ‘tranquil haven with a fascinating industrial past’ (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/acorn-bank/ ).  They are right – it’s an interesting property which not only provided us with a much need coffee break and a tasty lunch, but a chance to walk in their gardens, orchards and acres of ‘wild garden’ – mostly woodland with a pretty river flowing through it. Continue reading

Sloshing around Predannack

Friday, 15th August 2015

Hello

Yesterday we went back to Predannack and across walked to Kynance Cove which has become a favourite circular walk for us.  After torrential rain all day on Thursday, it was pretty wet!  But despite grey clouds it didn’t rain on us during the walk. Continue reading