A sojourn in South East England

The shingle and high tides are the perfect conditions for having a careening based shipyard at the old fishing port at Hastings.

Trawlers sit on the shingle while their catch is sold in the huts on the foreshore.

The fishing port and old town sit under high cliffs where a funicular to the top of the cliffs gives a great view.

And the old town has the buildings that are so out of square that I wonder how they have stood for a week yet they have for centuries.

Old out of square Tudor style building are part the village of Rye. Especially, the beautiful Mermaid Street.

And around Church Hill where some of the oldest buildings in the village are found.

Once the sea lapped at the edge of the town of Rye but that was many many centuries ago. The beach is now a couple of miles down the Rother River with marshland in between.

From the mouth of the Rother the shingle beach curves gently for just over 10 miles to the the cliff at Fairlight.

The tide of 4 metres means an ever changing view along the beach. It also means ever changing water conditions.

My favourite little beach is at Pett Level especially at high tide where the drop away from the high tide line is steep. This means on a hot day a couple of steps off the shingle and you can plunge into the cool Atlantic waters in the English Chanel.

Fishing is part of the culture of the South East be it the small fishing boats on the shingle at Pett Level

Or the commercial boats like at Hastings and at Rye.

And bounty from the sea such as a pan of plump fresh scallops.

Upstream of Rye, the Rother River winds its way through the country side.

Past little villages like Newenden where the local pub provides a spot for a cool ale or bite to eat.

But, for me, the most special place is the Rye Nature Reserve. With its walks, wildflowers and birdlife. It was my solice when I was locked down in Rye Harbour in April 2020. It is a most beautiful place.

There has recently been a heat wave in the UK and Europe. Rye Harbour was the perfect place to escape the heat and to see the storm to end of the heat wave roll in.

Final days on the Atlantic Coast of Morocco-Volubilis Moulay Bousselham and Asilah

From Fez to the Atlantic Coast one passes Volubilis, the ruins of a Roman city close to Meknes. The site is most recognised for its intact mosaic floors.

Volubilis was basically deserted when Fez became the centre of power in Morocco.

The northern part of Morocco between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean is rich fertile farming land.

Moulay Bousselham is a small fishing town on the Atantic coast with a large inland lake which is a major site for endemic and migratory birds.

The ocean here is quite wild and the beach strewn with rubbish so the estuary is the towns main attraction. As well as the fishing boats and market.

And it’s at the fish market that you may find a guide to take you bird watching. Or more accurately he will find you as you stop at the gates of the camping ground that has closed down.

But the Moulay Bousselham estuary is a fantastic site for bird watching and a 3 hour boat tour with Khalil is great. You see;

Greater Flamingos

Spoonbills

Egrets

And an array of gulls, terns, storks, cranes and plovers.

The Atlantic here is wild a steep shore and cross currents from the tidal river making it treacherous.

The estuary provides a safe place to swim after unfortunately picking a path through the litter.

It is such a beautiful beach such a shame the litter is so overwhelming.

Asilah is another beach town a couple of hours north of Moulay Bousselham along the coast. It’s also only a short ride from Tanger and the last night in Morocco was spent there.

The Medina, built within the old Portugese fort is mainly residential with a strong art presence. It was in Spanish control into the 1970s and still retains a strong Spanish influence.

I think I can leave my tales of Morocco here. What an amazing journey saw so much but I feel I missed so much more.

There was Belgian couple at the Hotel in Rissani. They had travelled to Morocco 9 time 7 on a motorbike. Mmm so Im thinking a second trip will not be too indulgent!!!

Goodbye Portugal and Hello Spain

The Atlantic Coast of Portugal can be a bit crowded so a route east of Porto along the Duoro River into the Mountains then north to the spa city of Chaves was the best option

It was a great choice; clear windy roads and wonderful scenery.

It was a short ride to Chaves less than 150km but storms ahead dictated the length of the ride.

And the storm came casting an grey pall over the old centre of Chaves.

While Chaves is a Spa town the waters are used primarily for therapeutic use rather than leisure so lolling in a hot spa wasn’t an option. But drinking warm mineralised spa water straight from the spring was.

Cups are filled straight from the Spring.

The rain cleared over night and it was a clear run over the mountains into Spain

So it was goodbye Portugal

And hello Spain,

Confirmation I was in Spain came at Astorga and its Gaudi designed building.

The route headed around Leon and into the Picos de Europa.

I had travelled to the Picos in 2018 and it was a great opportunity to revisit.

The road to Riano to Potes is just beautiful.

From Potes in the town plaza there is a magnificent view of the central Massif of the Picos de Europa

Just 23km on from Potes is Fuene De in the heart of the Picos and one of the most beautiful camp grounds I have stayed at in all my travels

From Fuente De there is a Cable Car that ascents 753 Metres to a high plateau at about 1600 metres. There are number of walks in the mountains. One is an 11km return walk the ascends 770 metres to a refuge.

It’s a hard walk but the views spectacular.

Being up with the eagles.

Fuente De is a short ride back to the ferry port city of Santander. It was such very different circumstances arriving in Santander than it was in 2020.

The mountains and the sea in South East Australia. – part – 1 The Mountains

The south east corner of Australia is the cold place

The snow place

The icy Southern Ocean place

It’s been my place for many years.

There is an arc of mountains that follows the curve of the land almost parallel with the coast.

Th.e Australian Alps

The sandy yellow coastline

The deep Southern Ocean

All in a sweeping curve of nature.

At the top of the Australian Alps is the Kosciuszko National Park

The Park is one of my favourite places

To ride

To walk

To bath in the icy streams

Or thermal pools

My favourite camp spots are out on the Long Plain

Ghost Gully is my favourite camp site as it’s surrounded by the beautiful Ghost Gums.

The Aboriginal people say if you listen closely, when there is a breeze you can her the whispers of the ancestors.

It’s a place where I have rarely failed to meet an interesting character.

Louis is 79 and Ace his Palamino a big 15 hands tall.

Louis finds the big 16 and 17 hand horses a bit of a stretch now. So Ace is his companion.

Louis is a horse whisperer and been breaking and training horses since he was 15.

He attracted this mob of wild horses over to the camp.

He was getting the wild horses comfortable with him with the aim of capturing the foal, a young colt, to break and find a home for.

The horses are feral in the Alps and are displacing many native animals. It’s a contentious issue between horse lovers and those wanting to preserve Australia’s unique fauna.

Although it was autumn the wild flowers provided colour.

Toward the end of the Long Plain is Blue Water Holes, a series of high gorges and mountain streams.

At over 1200 metres altitude let me assure you the waterholes offer a bracing dip.

A far more comfortable swim can be found on the other side of the Snowy Mountain Highway at the Yarrangobilly thermal pool.

A beautiful 24c natural thermal pool and spa in the middle of the bush.

Down from the high altitudes in the low swampy plains the bush is thicker and kangaroos and other native animals abound.

From Kosciuszko National Park the Alps run West. Mt Donna Buang in the Yarra Ranges on the eastern edge of Melbourne is the last peak in the Alps.

It doesn’t get much snow these days. Unlike most of the other mountains it has not been burnt by bushfire and has beautiful tiers of rainforest topped by snow gums.

The pinkish trunks of the snow gums are both unique and beautiful.

And in the valley below are waterfalls and swimming holes in the mountain rivers.

Some of my most memorable times in nature have been in these mountains.

Nitmiluk National Park 4 -some final observations

The Cutta Cutta caves limestone caves may not the most colourful but are an amazing insight to the forming of the artesian springs in the Northern Territory.

In the wet season this cave and others like it act as funnels collecting the monsoonal rains to flow through the limestone and into the artesian basin.

The water heats up and flows out at thermal springs at Mataranka and Katherine.

The sunset over the Katherine with the bats taking off into the night ( look closely at the photo just above)

The birdlife is abundant but at Edith Falls there was something special.

This Great Bower Bird singing his full repertoire of songs. (The Great Bower Birds are amazing at mimicking sounds which they include in the songs. Other birds calls, engines starting, towels fluttering are all included.)

His singing was successful as he seduced this female into his carefully constructed Bower.

How wondrous is nature.