Back in the summer holidays (which feels like a loooong time ago now) we visited Fowlsheugh, hoping to see puffins. There were some puffins, though you don't get nearly as close to them as you do some other places I've been. There was plenty to see though - other birds and wildlife and great scenery too.
We decided to have a day out on the last day of the summer holidays. A trip to Troup Head to see the gannets (not that there were *that* many left), a barbecue on the beach and then a walk to Hell's Lum. We had first spotted Hell's Lum from the distance, when we visited Peace Camp. Today we decided to see if we could explore it.
Looking towards Pennan from the path to Fort Fiddes, and then looking across to Hell's Lum.
It was a steep scramble...
... but we managed it no problem.
Reaching the top here ...
... we could see a glimmer of light in the distance, and hear the sea.
The tunnel stretches right through the headland and is very impressive.
We scrambled our way back up, which wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. Seems rather ironic that, after all this scrambling up and down very steep slopes, I managed to badly sprain my ankle immediately on returning home - by running to get the washing in as it had started raining! So I haven't been out walking since, and going by the slow rate of progress with my ankle it'll be a good few weeks more before I'm walking anywhere much - let alone somewhere like Hell's Lum.
Not really the best way to end the holidays - or to start a new job!
Earlier this summer I went along to watch some of our club members competing in the canoe slalom competition at Seaton Park in Aberdeen. It looked good fun, maybe I'll even give it a go next year...
This is the course that Tim Baillie started out on. He won a gold medal in this year's Olympics in the C2 class, along with his paddling partner Etienne Stott. Last term I was lucky enough to be able to arrange for Tim Baillie's parents to come along and talk to my class. (Thanks Chris & Ken, I really appreciate you giving up your precious time for us.)
We had a fantastic morning with them and the children gained a huge amount from it, as well as getting the chance to sit in slalom boats, try on a buoyancy aid and 'paddle' a chair with my paddle. We watched some exciting footage of Tim and Etienne racing and the children were really fired up about seeing them in the Olympics. I hope they all managed to see the historic moment when they won Britain's first ever canoe slalom Olympic gold medal!
And it all started here at Seaton Park, coached by Alan, who gives up lots of time to coach at our club too. I've learned a lot from him, and from other volunteer coaches and experienced paddlers like him. Thanks to you all!
I'm currently unable to do much (any!) walking due to a sprained ankle, so I'm taking the opportunity to think back to a few walks and days out over recent months.
A few months ago, just after I moved to Inverurie, I climbed Bennachie for the first time.
At first you're climbing through the forestry, which is lovely and is something I very much enjoyed after so many years in Orkney withough any forestry. The trees are a mixture of species which makes for lots of beautiful vistas everywhere you look.
As you get higher up, you reach the point where the view starts to open out.
Looking towards the top of the Mither Tap.
It looks very close from this point, but it's a steep path to follow...
The views are ever-changing...
As we got higher, the light changed...
... and the snow clouds started to appear around the side of the hill.
Before long, it was snowing!
Another ten minutes or so later, and we were back in the sunshine, albeit with a bitterly cold wind to accompany it.
There's the remains of a pictish fort surrounding the summit. The walls are just fantastic - and make a good place to shelter from the wind too!
We didn't stay on the top for long, as the wind was just too cold, just staying for long enough to enjoy the views.
As we descended we could see more snow showers passing by.