Well what a great summer it’s been! There’s been bombs, bees, washed up whales (but that one was a hoax) and lots and lots of tourists! No two days were ever the same whilst working down at Ynyslas NNR. I think it must be something engrained in to the human psyche where if you get to call working outdoors during one of the best summers in memory, it really doesn’t feel like a proper job. There was never such thing as an average day. Some days you’d find yourself out surveying rare reptiles, others you’ll be digging a hole to bury whatever cetacean decided to beach itself and die on that particular day, and then others you have to deal with the tourists. Oh so many tourists! You’ll always get the awkward ones, but I can honestly say that before this summer, I’ve never had the pleasure of working with such a fantastically diverse group of people of all ages and backgrounds, and there’s nothing more rewarding than the moment someone comes up to you after having given a talk with genuine excitement for the subject you’ve been talking about, and a desire to learn more.
Anyway, enough jibber jabber. Here’s a few shots from the summer. More to come.
My office for this summer is at Ynyslas National Nature Reserve working as a warden for Natural Resources Wales, and quite like last year, it’s hardly your average 9-5 job! Part of my job out on the reserve is to monitor the reptile populations due to an ongoing sand lizard re-introduction project throughout the UK. However, sand lizards seem to be about as elusive as rocking horse blood… or is it shit from a stone? Either way, they’re difficult to find and I’ve only caught a glimpse of one since working at Ynyslas. Part of the job also means photo-monitoring of whatever I see when I’m out and about so hopefully I’ll have plenty to show for it as the season goes on.
This summer I’m lucky enough to be able to call myself the Ranger of Hafod y Llan camp site, part of the Hafod y Llan estate owned by the National Trust. The site is located in Nantgwynant right at the foot of the highest mountain in England and Wales, Snowdon. Whilst the weather in Wales isn’t renowned for being tan inducing, there were days when the sun was shining, the air was still and that Vit-D really got flowing!
I was recently very lucky to be accepted on to a habitat identification course run by Operation New World to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. During the week that we were out there I met some absolutely fantastic people and made some brilliant friends and whilst the course had it’s ups and downs, it really was worth it for the experience gained and friends made. Have some photos.
The view from Colderon Hondo
Some shots taken whilst out for a stroll of the Starlings roosting under Aberystwyth Pier.
I’ve always been a white water kayaker, sea kayaking never really appealed to me that much until last summer. Then the bug bit. Although there’s certainly a journey element to white water kayaking, it’s more about getting whatever feature you’re on at the time right, and the adrenaline it gives. However with sea kayaking, it’s all of those small parts put together that make the journey so special. That’s what did it for me, when I finally discovered the pleasure and satisfaction in the journey. It’s been written and said a million and ones times in a variety of different ways by various lyrical florists, but sometimes it needs to be said simply, and at the risk of pulling the biggest cliché in adventure media, it really is about the journey and not the destination.
With the abundance of flat water (even though there is only one true lake), sooner or later it was inevitable that I’d end up in a sea kayak getting some lake touring done in the Lake District. Being one of the most beautiful places in the UK, it makes sense to get out and about to get to see all it’s natural beauty from a view point many haven’t and won’t get to, whether it’s in the mountains, on the crags or on the water. Doing it at night though….well you don’t quite get to see the place quite as well, but I’ve lived here 3 years now, I’ve seen it quite a lot and it seemed like it’d be more of a challenge at night.
Myself and two friends from uni (Luke and Laura), headed down to Ullswater layered up with thermals and armed with head torches, glow sticks and our paddling gear. After getting kitted up, we climbed in to our kayaks and launched in to the lake, breaking it’s obsidian like surface in a landscape bathed in moonlight. On such a still night, each of our paddle strokes was silent as our kayaks carved through the smooth surface with just the slightest rushing noise as the water ran along the sides of our boats. We’d launched around about the middle of the lake and were paddling down towards Pooley Bridge, some 3 and a half miles of paddling with water for a hundred or so meters either side of us and dwarfed by the dark outlines of the surrounding hills against a clear sky. Even with the glowing lights of the various properties dotted along the lakeside, the middle was a profoundly lonely yet peaceful place to be, but a place where the company of friends is very much appreciated as opposed to being there alone.
Taking a kayak out at night really isn’t a great way to see any of the sights of the Lake District, but it really is a different way to experience them and one well worth doing, especially on such a calm night.
Here is the result of a bouldering session at Beacon Edge
So I was down on the banks of Rydal Water recently. Although we did spend more time in the pub than the lakeside that day, I did however manage to take these shots.
Here are a couple of photo’s I took this summer of the sun setting over Cardigan Bay.