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Canadian Adventure – Jasper Wildlife

Downtown Jasper

Here we are in Jasper – Jasper, an alpine town in Canada’s Alberta province, is the commercial centre of Jasper National Park. Amid the snow-capped Canadian Rockies, the park has glacier-fed lakes, forests and rivers. The Jasper SkyTram climbs to the summit of Whistlers Mountain, with views of downtown. The Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archives presents exhibits on the fur trade, railway and early exploration of the park – ready for a day’s exploration and adventure.  We set out from our hotel – Chateau Jasper to walk into town.  It was not too bad a day weather wise.  Our first stop was to find the railway station to familiarise ourselves with the procedure to board the Rocky Mountaineer train.  Alas it was closed – we had not realised that the station only opens on the days that the Rocky Mountaineer departs/Arrives.  The line is usually freight only.  Mind you we took the opportunity to get a photo in front of the old steam locomotive on static display at the station – I would have loved to be on a train hauled by that engine.  As we had the morning to explore we wandered around the town, bought some gifts and Susan enjoyed a fresh made Banana Split, I forget what I had (no evidence exists 🙂 ).  After a nice morning we headed back to the hotel to meet our scheduled tour and exploration of the environs of Jasper and see the wildlife as well as the views.

Jasper is surrounded by mountainous peaks, everywhere we looked a mountain was there, after a while we blanked them out. Hard to believe but true.  It was a case of not being overwhelmed – however that cannot be said for scenery we saw on the coach trip.  On thing we learned right off is the meaning of “Bear Jam”.  Usually it is traffic jam or delays caused by accidents, on this tour is was delays caused by Bears, Elks, Long Horned Sheep and Mountain Goats – all came under the cry of Bear Jam.  When and wherever a bear was spotted near the roadside or along the treeline the traffic slowed and came to a standstill. Windows rolled down and cameras produced.  As that great bear “Yogi” once stated “Everybody loves a bear BoBo” or was that picnic baskets?

The mountains looked high from Jasper but they really took on a different aspect as we traveled alongside/up and down them. It was not that long before the cry was uttered “bear on right hand side” and sure enough there was a black bear merrily walking through the trees.  He was travelling relatively fast, nonchalant with not a care in the world, Sauntering along -was he heading to food, a date with a she bear only he knew, we just grabbed the opportunity to grab the odd picture or dozen.  I certainly took some odd ones. We and the rest of the bear jam, watched the bear amble along for some time. Eventually our driver guide decided it was time to find some Osprey nests.  Along the way we passed through part of the rainforest devastated by fire in 2008 and still struggling to recover. As someone who lives in Scotland I found it hard to accept what my eyes were telling my brain.  Complete destruction – having been involved in fighting a few house fires I am well aware of that raging beast – but not to the scale that was obvious here.  Thankfully there were signs of recovery, but, as our guide said, “It will take a wee while yet”.   The devastation was only outdone by the pleasing sight of a lake set in the mountains.  Alas the nest did not appear to be occupied.  However, this did not deter our driver./guide as we continued our tour for another hour, spotting Elk, Black Bear, Long Horned Sheep and Mountain Goats (all of which had the proverbial <name of animal> Jam.  Only in Canada can one have wildlife so close to a road and drivers stop), before returning to our hotel for the evening.

Elk
Click to see full gallery of images)

 


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Canadian Adventure – Icefield Parkway

Banff on a rainy day Click for Gallery

 

Banff to Lake Louise (click for Gallery)

Extract from Wikipedia”The Icefields Parkway (FrenchPromenade des Glaciers), is a 230 km (140 mi) long scenic road that parallels the Continental Divide, traversing the rugged landscape of the Canadian Rockies, travelling through Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. It is named for features such as the Columbia Icefield, visible from the parkway. It links Lake Louise with Jasper to the north. At its southern end, the Icefields Parkway terminates at Highway 1. Highway 1 west leads to Yoho National Park in British Columbia and Highway 1 east to Lake Louise and the Town of Banff. A second parkway, the Bow Valley Parkway also links Lake Louise and the Town of Banff. Known as Highway 1A, this road parallels Highway 1 and, at the midpoint, passes the Castle Mountain junction where Highway 93 south, or the Banff-Windermere Highway, branches southwest into Kootenay National Park in British Columbia.[3]  

Chateau Lake Louise

 

 

Our journey started at Banff and our first port of call was Lake Louise.  The first striking sight is that of Chateau Lake Louise.  A sort stroll from the bus parking bay takes you a very striking lake.

Lake Louise
Click for album

Depending on the available light the colour ranges from Aquamarine to cobalt blue. Regretfully we had insufficient time to explore the trails around the lake.  Judging by the crowd it is a well loved site with many activities available.  However we had to continue North to our next port of call Peyto Lake – via Bow Summit. The scenery on this part  of the road trip kept getting better.  As we climbed the views alternated between vast mountains looming over our coach to passing reflection lakes

En route from Lake Louise to Peyto Lake Click for Gallery

Peyto Lake Click for Gallery

En route to Athabasca Glacier.
Click for Gallery

From Peyto Lake we headed for the Athabasca Glacier and a walk on the ancient ice. However, we had a spot of lunch before that of the adventure.

Athabasca Glacier Click for Album

The final segment of our Icefield Parkway tour was to Jasper via a Glacier Skywalk and the Athabasca Falls.  The Skywalk was a test of one’s nerve.  During the trip the weather varied from hot bright sunshine to cold rain at Athabasca Falls it became a downpour.  If you visit the Rockies of Canada I highly recommend this coach tour from Banff to Jasper via Icefield Parkway.

Athabasca Glacier to Jasper via Glacier Skywalk and Athabasca Falls Click for Album

Updated 24th August 2018 – Small video of Icefield Parkway trip Staring from Banff

 

 


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20170724 – Stroll Around The Loch

Livingston, formerly Livingston New Town, is situated between Glasgow and Edinburgh and easy to get from west and east.  Being sited next to the M8 and the A71 gives Livingston good road connections to North, South East and west.  Linlithgow (Historic Town) is the other side of the Bathgate Hills and is approx 30 minute drive from my home.

St Michael’s Parish Church

(1) St Katherine’s Aisle Window

Churches dedicated to St Michael have traditionally been placed on high ground and St Michael’s Parish Church, Linlithgow, is no exception. Built on the rise between the town of Linlithgow and Linlithgow Loch, anywhere else this large church would command instant attention over a wide area. But here it shares the stage with its larger neighbour, Linlithgow Palace, which lies immediately to its north.

(1)  St Katherine’s Aisle Window – Technical details: Canon 500D,  f4.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 28 mm,  Shutter 1/40th sec ISO 100

(2) The Choir Technical details: Canon 500D,  f3.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/30th sec ISO 200

 

Stroll Around Linlithgow Loch

A circular walk 2.25 miles around Linlithgow Loch is a nice way to while away some time.  Dependant on how you treat the walk it can take 30 minutes for joggers to an hour for the stroller, even more if you stop to enjoy the wildlife and views etc.  Feeling somewhat housebound Susan and I decided to go feed the swans and ducks – taking seed not bread, and my camera.

(3) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f85, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/200th sec ISO 100

 

Swans, Ducks etc.

The loch is well known for the water fowl, ducks and swans.  Whilst used to humans around them they are still untamed wild birds, and if you get too close you get one warning, especially from a mute swan.

(4) Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

(4) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f3.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/30th sec ISO 200

As we walk around the loch the terrain changes to a wilder less maintained landscape.  This of course allows the wild flowers to bloom and prosper much to the delight of the bugs, butterflies, moths and of course THE flower of Scotland – The Thistle.

(5) Bee and Thistle

(5) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f8, Sigma 150-500mm Zoom @ 500mm,  Shutter 1/840th sec ISO 200

Royal Ruins – Linlithgow Palace

As we walk around the loch the ruins of the once Royal Place of the Stuarts attract the eye.  Birthplace of the last Queen of Scots, Mary Stuart the ill fated Queen.  James V before he died is reported to have said “it came wi a lass, it’ll gang wi a lass” (meaning “It began with a girl and it will end with a girl”).

(6) Cross of St Michael’s and Linlithgow Palace Ruins

(6) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f8, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 100 mm,  Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 125

Gallery

Click on image for Gallery

 


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20170212 – Feeding Our Souls

Feeding Our Souls

I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs that Susan has a love of the mountains.  She is an ex hill walker and has climbed various Munros, Corbetts etc.  Me.. I’m strictly sea level.  Susan was getting me to do some hill walking before her bout with cancer.  I know she misses her walks in the Pentland Hills (not far from where we live).  I can feel when her spirits begin to dip and all I have to say is Road Trip Glencoe.  Before I know it she has grabbed her boots, camera gear etc before I get my camera gear and car keys.  Funny for a lass from Manchester she has a deep love of Scotland’s people and countryside.  I uttered those fatal words on Sunday 12 February 2017 and zoom.. we were away.  Dependent on time of year, and weather of course, we have our favourite stopping off places when we do this drive but more of that later.  However, I’m going to digress here – the term Feeding The Soul came from Susan herself and was the tile of her blog. She let her blog lapse in 2012 but recommenced in 2014 with a blog title “Don’t Stop Believing” in September 2014.  A year later she was fighting a bigger battle and she did not stop believing.

Back to our feeding the soul trip:

Loch Lubnaig 3rd January 2015

 

Loch Lubnaig is one of our stopping places and at the first car park going north.  The loch is usually so still here it gives a mirror reflection (see image taken on right). Alas it was not so on this trip.  Our next stop is at the Golden Larches Cafe for a very welcome cup of coffee before our next regular stop Loch Tulla Viewpoint.  However, on this trip we stopped south of  Bridge of Orchy to photograph the Horseshoe Curve Viaduct near Auch.

Technical details:  Nikon D5300, Nikon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 22mm, f16, Shutter 1/5 sec ISO 100

 

 

Horseshoe Curve Viaduct

 

The Horseshoe curve… North of Tyndrum, South of Bridge of Orchy.

The railway builders hadn’t the money for a viaduct across the mouth of a broad valley. The result is the famous ‘horseshoe curve’, where the line enters, circles & leaves the glen at the foot of Beinn Dorain. We have crossed it on the train trip to Fort William.  Susan and her friend Debbie attempted to walk to Bridge of Orchy from Tyndrum but ran out of time.

Technical details:  Pentax K-1 (full Frame), Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 29mm, f7.1, Shutter 1/320th sec ISO 200

Loch Tulla Viewpoint (A82)

On leaving Bridge of Orchy the A82 crosses over a small river by means of a single span steel bridge – which I have always taken as the start of a long climb with horseshoe bends raising to Rannoch Moor.  At the end of the first bend there sits a large car park with views of Loch Tulla and surrounding area.  During Summer and good weather it is a popular stopping place, especially with tourist busses.

 

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 18-270mm Zoom Lens set at 43mm, f9 ISO 200 shutter 1/500th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

Lochan na h-Achlaise

Lochan na h-Achlaise and Loch Ba are separated by the A82 road to Fort William. The lone trees and rocks with snow-capped peaks in the distance create one of the most atmospheric landscapes in Scotland.

Lochan na h-Achlaise

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 18-270mm Zoom Lens set at 80mm f9 ISO 200 shutter 1/320th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

 

 

 

The Great Shepard

Buachaille Etive Mor

I suspect that this may be one of the most photographed Munro in Scotland and Walkhighlands appear to agree “Buachaille Etive Mor is one of the best known and loved of all the Munro peaks. The epic view of the mountain from the main A82 road makes it appear quite unassailable and is one of the most photographed sites and sights in Scotland.  I also think it would be very hard to get a picture that has not been done before.

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 18-270mm Zoom Lens set at 29mm  f7.1 ISO 200 shutter 1/120th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom

 

 

Feeding Her Soul…

Susan Feeding Her Soul

Doing this catch up blog reminds me we are overdue for another visit to Glencoe:)

 

Gallery

The road goes on.. To Loch Etive

 


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Our Holiday Adventure 2016 Part 2

As mentioned in part 1 we had 4 main objects to meet on this holiday they were:

  1. Travel on Strathspey Railway (See part 1)
  2. See Dolphins
  3. See White Tailed Eagle
  4. Enjoy ourselves

We had hired a caravan at Coulmore Bay, North Kessock, Inverness from Val Beales Chalmers.  We hired her smaller caravan before, but this 6 berth was a superb base for our touring around Sutherland etc.

Dolphins – The Moray Forth Dolphins are an established tourist attraction and attract large crowds.  Most dolphin watchers head for Chanonry Point.  During the high season there is restricted parking facilities.  However we had arranged for a trip on the Gemini Explorer. a converted ex-lifeboat. This was a much better option for us. On our trip around the Firth we were lucky to see a super pod of 26 dolphins (several pods working together hunting fish).  We were surrounded by the dolphins, who provided a natural exuberant display including bow riding. (Click on image left or here to see gallery)

Applecross Pass -Bealach na Ba :  Bealach na Ba, meaning pass of the cattle, was used in earlier days to drive cattle from Applecross and surrounding settlements to other parts of the Highlands, it was not part of the historic Drove Routes. – Susan and Sid often suggested that I should drive the route.  It now forms part of the North Coast 500 tourist route. It is not an easy drive and I considered the options.  I wished to enjoy the sights and knew if I drove I would be too busy watching the road over the pass and miss the sights.  The solution take a bus tour and let the bus driver do te driving and I could enjoy the sights with Susan.  Highland Express Tours Inverness had such a tour which would take all day.  Gary (our driver) really made the trip special along with the views as well 🙂 . (Click image on right or here to view gallery)

White Tailed Sea Eagle: Having declined to drive the route to Bealach na Ba I found myself driving part of the route as we headed for Island of Skye via the Skye Bridge.  Our destination was Kylerhea and the Glenelg Ferry. I should have realised that the trip would not be a simple one or straight forward.  We crossed the bridge and after about 1 mile we turned left off the main road heading down a single (with passing places) dirt track road with some ineradicable sights and heart stopping drops.  Thanks fully it is not a busy route or else congestion would occur.  It is also not a route for the faint of heart.  We sat for 2 hours waiting and watching the sea eagle both of us feeling privileged to see such a magnificent bird.  We opted to take the ferry across to Glen Elg and complete a circular tour back to our holiday caravan HQ.  The drive up and down Glen Elg was worth doing on its own right.  There are two view point where one can get photos of the “Five Sisters” of Kintail.  As we made our way back to base we reflected on this trip which so happened to have completed three of our four objects.  As for the fourth object I could tell that our 14 days in the heart of Scotland had re-invigorated my partner. Whilst her energy and stamina were still below par there was once again that zest for life.  She once told me that it was the simple things that brought her great pleasure but it was the mountains of Scotland that fed her soul. We had many adventures (or trips out if you prefer) that helped to restore the zest.  One was a simple walk from the centre of Inverness to North Kessock across the Kessock bridge. Outings to Dingwall, Glen Ord Distillery (need to be 18 0r over to visit web site)(purchased a 12 year old and 18 year old bottle of Glen Ord Singleton.  Inverewe Gardens, Loch Maree, Rogie Falls, Plodda Falls Boat trips from Inverness and Gairloch Harbour.  The longest trip was to Orkney which included a ferry crossing the longest non ferry trip was the Wester Ross Coastal Trail.

It has taken me a year to update this blog.  There are many reason for the delay and hopefully now equilibrium has been achieved I’ll have time to catch up to this years adventures with my Partner Susan.  As for the blog I have not finished with 2016 yet :).  For those who took the time to read through this rambling blog my thanks for taking the time I hope you enjoyed it and followed the links to the albums.  Even to a city bred boy the highlands and islands of Scotland cast a magical spell and bring peace to my soul.

 


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201608 – On our Holiday August 2016

I was tempted to use that old essay title used by many of us on return to school after any holiday break – “What I did on Holiday”. In a sense this was a very special holiday in many ways.  I had watch my partner battle her cancer, facing decisions on treatment and her battle to regain strength.  At the start of 2016 we planned this holiday and we had set three objects to attain:

  1. Travel on Strathspey Railway
  2. See Dolphins
  3. See White Tailed Eagle
  4. Enjoy ourselves

We had hired a caravan at Coulmore Bay, North Kessock, Inverness from Val Beales Chalmers.  We hired her smaller caravan before, but this 6 berth was a superb base for our touring around Sutherland etc.

21/08/2016Strathspey Railway:  We boarded the steam hauled train at Aviemore Station.  It was hauled by Ex-LMS 2-6-0 Class 2MT no. 46512 “E. V. Cooper, Engineer” for our return trip to Broomhill. (Click here on image right to view album).  We arrived at the caravan unpacked and had dinner.  The journey had tired out Susan, so a quiet night sitting down at the old ferry dock in North Kessock.

 

Following day 22/08/2016 – Two Castles and A Canal:  An early start of the day saw us heading east towards the Moray Firth in search of Macbeth’s Cawdor Castle. It was not until I entered the basement of the castle did it dawn on me that I had previously been to this castle. We enjoyed a walk around the grounds and garden, alas we could not tackle maze as it was being renovated. From Cawdor we headed east for a long drive to our next historic castle Urquhart. (Urquhart Gallery) This was a tactical error due to the site being a tourist attraction with nearly all the tour busses stopping to drop off their passengers.  In fact it was too much for the both of us – so we cut short our visit and headed for Fort Augustus – see Gallery.

A Special Trip – Orkney: Susan was invited by a drama friend to visit Orkney I was included in the invite.  We were sailing from Gills Bay to St Margaret’s Hope by the first ferry of the day.  We left our caravan at 5 am on a very foggy Monday morning.  I had set up TomTom (SatNav) to give me directions.  Even as I type this I shudder at that drive up via unclassified roads, single track (to me farm tracks) lanes as well as the main roads.  I’ll give the programmers of the SatNav their due – the device got me straight there in less time I would have taken using just the main roads.  Never again I tell you.  I turned left and came face to face with a family of deer fine in clear weather but in fog!.  We did get to Orkney and Susan friends made us welcome and took us round the tourists spots like the Italian Chapel, Skara Bra etc. (Click here or on image at left to view Orkney Gallery)


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Hiatus – How to bridge Gap in Blog – Part 2?

Due to personal life effecting events this blog came to a grinding halt in June/August 2016. However life carried on as did my photography.  My partner had been diagnosed with uterine cancer in September 2015.  During the operation to remove the cancer her urethra tube (right side) was damaged.  It was several months before the tube was healed enough to allow the Chemo treatment to be started.  I know my partner was stressed during this time and so was I. However, we did manage a few outings – with rest in between our gentle adventures.  Thankfully that is all behind us now and we can relax a little bit. So How to bridge the gap – Part 2?

May 2016:   As Susan’s energy level began to recover our occasional outings got longer.  We revisited a few places one being a firm favourite is the historic village of Killin at the head of Loch Tay.  The river Dochart provides a series of spectacular falls/rapids.  On it flood days you senses are assaulted by the scene and roaring of the rushing water deafens the hearing.  (Click here or on image at left to view gallery)

 

 

June 2016:  Visit to our local Zoo/Rescue centre Five Sisters Zoo near West Calder.  The zoo has rescued 3 ex-circus brown bears and 4 ex circus lions with the help of public donations.   It is one of the most popular attractions in West Lothian (Click here or on image right to see gallery).

 

 

July 2016:  A three-day trip to Cardiff for the British Final of the 1-Act festival was followed by a three-week construction of a model railway – (see earlier blogs).   Susan had recovered enough to join her fellow Mercators for their performance of “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Man of Mystery” in the Edinburgh Fringe.  Our one photographic outing was  along with our fellow Intrepid Sid Morgan when we visited the Weeping Window exhibition at The Black Watch museum Perth and a wee side trip to Balvaird Castle.

August 2016: Two outings – one in connections with the model railway and my interest in what is now termed as “heritage Railways”, to me it will always remain “Steam Locomotives”. In May we went to see the “Flying Scotsman” at Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway  our rail trip in August was to travel to Tweedbank to see 46100 “Royal Scot”.   (Click here or on image below to see gallery)