Gondola ride up the Nevis Range

Cable car ride

The other highlight of our Scottish Highlands trip, was the gondola ride up to the Nevis Range. They call it a gondola, but to me it’s a cable car. Gondolas make me think of the Venice boats navigated by Italian men in straw hats. Anyway, it’s not the gondola ride itself, but the scenery from the top of the mountain.

The mist lifted and fell in cycles when we arrived at the top. I must be out of rhythm with nature because whenever I got to the end of a walking trail and stood at the viewpoint, the fog descended and all I saw was whiteout!

~ Spotted Cow

Trail from the cable car

Foggy view

Viewpoint bench in the mist



Mallaig harbour

The Jacobite steam train stopped at Mallaig for a couple of hours before it headed back to Fort William. When we stepped off, the dark clouds started rolling in. We did a short walk around the picturesque harbour before heading to the pub. Not many photos on this stop, but I wanted to share this one where the dark clouds jostle with the sunlight over the boats in the marina.

Weekly Photo Challenge: H2O

~ Spotted Cow

First night

Giant checkers

Our first night in Scotland was at the Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel at Aberfoyle, near Loch Lomond. The hotel setting is stunning as it sits on the shores of Loch Ard. I had no phone signal while we were there and I couldn’t get onto the hotel wifi. So I was quite cut off from the world, and it was wonderful. It certainly didn’t matter when we took evening drinks on the terrace and admired the view. And when we were hungry, we headed into the restaurant for dinner and still managed to enjoy the view because it had windows all round. We only stayed the one evening, but it set us up in the right mindset for the rest of our trip.

~ Spotted Cow

MacDonald Forest Hills Hotel

Dining room



Road trip

Road trip

The most amazing thing I did this summer was a road trip in the Scottish Highlands for 6 days. The scenery was unbelievable and a lot of the time, the most beautiful bits were un-capturable because it was so big & grand and we were whizzing by. I’m excited about posting the pictures here over the coming sessions, and I’ve included a few starters below. It was very difficult to pick and so I’ve chosen Scottish icons like the flag, the thistle and the highland cow. Unfortunately no Nessie. Boo.

~ Spotted Cow

Scottish flag

Scottish thistle

Scottish souvenirs

Highland cow

Loch Ness life float

An English seal


I went to the Blythburgh summer fete last month and among the day’s frivolities was a boat ride around the local waterways. And we saw a seal ! It had never occurred to me that I might see a seal in England. The said creature, however, was none too impressed by us, a boat load of humans leaning over the side to take his picture. His look of disdain says it all.

~ Spotted Cow

Lewes Castle

Lewes Castle

About 20 years ago – when we were young adults who thought we were worldly – Purple Cow and I happened upon Lewes in our travels around the south coast of England. We didn’t stay the night because there was a festival in town and there were no beds. So, we wandered around the lovely streets, thinking what a quaint town it was, before we got on the train to Brighton.

Somehow, we managed to miss Lewes Castle, which is smack bang in the middle of town, on the top of a hill. Those were the days before the internet told us everything. Nevertheless, it seems incredulous that we missed such a prominent landmark. I don’t know if it wasn’t as clearly signposted as it is now or if the tourist office wasn’t open or we just never looked up.

A few weeks ago, on a sunny summer’s weekend, I visited Lewes on a day trip. Imagine my surprise when I read that it has a 1000-year old Norman Castle built by William the Conquerer’s son-in-law, William de Warenne, and that it has incredible views over the Sussex countryside. I felt like a wally. Look at the pictures. It is incredible that we completely missed it. It’s a good thing that I’m not so slack on my travel research.

~ Spotted Cow

The Barbican

View of Lewes town from the castle

View of bowling green from Lewes Castle

Donkey Wheel

Saddlescombe donkey wheel

The Actress and I spent an afternoon at Devil’s Dyke, and one of the sights on the Histories and Mysteries walk was the Saddlescombe Donkey Wheel. We both thought that it would be a wheel laid flat which you push round to raise water from a well. In fact, what we found looked more like a big wooden hamster wheel, which a donkey trots on to bring water up from its source.

The Saddlescombe donkey wheel dates from the 17th century and is protected by the National Trust. Otherwise, we might’ve thought it a good idea to have a go !

~ Spotted Cow



Wooden bucket on donkey wheel


Devil’s Dyke

Steep hill

On the weekend, The Actress and I went for a walk at Devil’s Dyke, just outside Brighton. It was a 15-minute ride on the happy bus to get to the lush countryside. Devil’s Dyke is a deep, steep, mile-long valley. The legend goes that that the Devil, in a mood, dug a big groove in the earth to drown the local parishioners. The scientific explanation starts from the Ice Age and is a much less exciting story, albeit more informative.

We chose the Histories and Mysteries walk from the National Trust site, which was a moderate figure-of-8 amble up and down the valley, with a few interesting stops. It starts and ends at the pub, and there is a tea room in the middle, which was a thumbs up for both of us. I should add that The Actress is a much hardier walker than I am, and would probably have favoured a circuit five times as long. She was humouring my Saturday afternoon out in the fresh air.

~ Spotted Cow

Devil's Dyke valley

Woman & her dog in the valley

One of the views from the top

Happy bus


My lovely friend – The Actress – and I spent Sunday afternoon out at Devil’s Dyke, just outside of Brighton. I’ll put up some post-cards over the coming week, but first I wanted to show you the Number 77 bus that we took to get there. I was expecting the usual red and cream Brighton & Hove bus, and along came a happy aqua and pink bus with prints of the local sights. There are short information and story boards inside the bus, on the walls, ceilings and seats. We sat behind the seat with the Tennyson poem, whose first line also runs along the side of the bus.

You came, and looked and loved the view
Long-known and loved by me,
Green Sussex fading into blue
With one gray glimpse of sea.

I’m keen to explore more of the area just so I can get on the happy bus again. You can see in the picture that we were accompanied that day by the characteristic dark clouds of a British summer’s day … although they did take off in another direction after a fashion.

~ Spotted Cow


Vesuvius Fail

Vesuvius crater walk

This is my one picture from the walk up and around the crater of Mount Vesuvius. It was cold and the fog swept in thick and fast, after what had been a lovely, sunny morning. Two minutes after this picture was taken, you couldn’t see the Bay of Naples when you looked out. The wind blew hard and I thought I was going to fly off the path. I hadn’t brought gloves and my fingers were painful … although once inside the crater, I could warm my palms over the smoke holes. Still, it has to be said that I didn’t enjoy it very much and I spent the entire time wishing I hadn’t chosen the privileged optional walk in.

And wouldn’t you know it … the fog lifted upon our descent from the crater !

~ Spotted Cow


Positano. View from the sea

It was some version of this image that made me choose my trip to the Amalfi Coast. It’s the town of Positano, sitting on a cliff-side. I saw it while browsing holiday sites and decided that this was where I wanted to go. I’ve done this before, i.e. choosing a holiday from a magazine picture, which is how I went on the Trans-Siberian Railway and to Cappadocia in Turkey.

Positano is very picturesque. On the holiday, I had the luxury of approaching it from the sea – by ferry – and from the mountain tops at the end of the Path of the Gods trek. Hence, I have my own multiple versions of this picture, from a great many angles. And besides, descending into Positano after the walk, was thoroughly refreshing, especially as the old knees had had a good workout. A cold beer on the seafront was my first destination.

~ Spotted Cow

Positano. View from the mountain

Painter on the beach


The Enchanted Forest

Walls in the forest

We walked the Valle delle Ferriere route when we walked from Amalfi up to Ravello. The way winds through some lush forests, with rivers and waterfalls, and old paper mills and ironworks (hence its name). It was lovely and peaceful, and a refreshing difference to the cliffs and sea that tourists mostly associate with the Amalfi Coast. It rained for some of that day but we had wet weather gear, and instead of getting us down, it added to the enchantment of the forest.

~ Spotted Cow


Old paper mill


Lemon country

Size of the lemons !

The Amalfi Coast is undoubtedly lemon country. We walked through lemon groves everyday, and limoncello bottles lined the shelves of every tourist shop. Admittedly, I’ve never got over the limoncello’s cough syrup taste, but I don’t dislike it so much as to refuse an aperitif.

Several times, at the street stalls, I came across what looked like giant, genetically modified lemons with a very gnarly rind. I never found out what they were called, although they’re obviously from the same family. The monster lemons are impressive when stacked up next to their conventional cousins.

~ Spotted Cow


Lemon groves

When the mist lifts …

Town nestled under the clouds

The weather was variable in the first few days that I was on the Amalfi Coast, and there were times when we were completely enveloped in mist. It was a walking holiday, and we walked regardless of the weather. We would arrive at a peak and the tour leader kept saying to us, his expectant troops, “the view is stunning, I assure you !” But all we saw was white cloud.

However, the few times when the opaque white fog did lift, it was usually a most spectacular sight.

~ Spotted Cow

Walkers in the mist

Heavy white fog

Ravello. Villa Rufolo

Arches at Villa Rufolo

We walked from Amalfi up to the town of Ravello, through the lemon groves and forest. It was lovely and lush, although we did get rained on in various phases! Nevertheless, the sun came out when we arrived at the top and we visited the Villa Rufolo. We had been set a photo competition to take the photo on the front of the tourist brochure. It was a mad scurry around the gardens, interspersed with “wows” when anyone came to the sea view from a different angle. I can safely guarantee that pretty much everyone will get the picture postcard shot.

~ Spotted Cow

Amazing views

Tourists in the garden



Hairy heights

Bridge spanning cliffs

We did a lot of walking on the mountain top cliff edges along the Amalfi Coast, which meant that there were a lot of lookouts from great heights. This bridge picture makes me think of The Italian Job movie and I almost expected to see car chase with Minis revving along the roads.

Some other high-up vistas below. I think I took photos of Amalfi from just about every perspective possible!

~ Spotted Cow

House through the trees

Amalfi view from up high

View from a great height


Glimpses of Amalfi

Birdseye view of Amalfi

I was on an Exodus walking holiday on the Amalfi Coast last week, and I’ve come back with hundreds of photos of towns perched on rocky outcrops. The weather was variable in the first half of the week, with intermittent phases of sun, cloud and rain, but it got better. And the views are glorious.

There was lots of up & down walking. Lots of steps. Lots. Especially on the first day walking down from Bomerano to Amalfi, when you’ll curse them all the way down. But get to the end and you can have your cocktail and flop on the beach.

~ Spotted Cow

Amalfi through the archway

Sunloungers on the beach

Brighton station

Station clock and signs to the beach

I’ve just come back from 5 days by the sea in Brighton. Is that a long weekend or a short week? Anyway, it was a restful time where I caught up with sleep, caught up with friends and generally hung about.

I managed some photography down on Brighton Pier, trying to capture the mood of the amusement park. I’ll post the pictures as I organise them. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with an image of the Victorian station clock which greets you when you arrive into Brighton by train.

~ Spotted Cow