1 Grassington, Yorkshire dales Length: 11 miles½ hoursmap/OS Explorer OL2) Anyone who grows up in or around the Yorkshire dales ends up carrying it with them. There’s something about the crumpled-duvet landscapes of emerald field and heathery fell, about encountering its sudden, Shire-like valleys threaded with muscular peat rivers, about stumbling across a ruined abbey at dusk or drinking well-earned beers by pub fires that forever sticks in the head and the heart. One of the national park’s greatest pubs has to be the Craven Arms at Appletreewick (mains from £8.95). Tucked into the fell above the river Wharfe, and the halfway point of a wonderful 11-mile circular walk from Grassington, it could go toe to toe with anywhere for the title of “perfect country pub”. Its standout feature is the “cruck barn” at the back, built by the owner using traditional materials and the first in the dale for 400 years. Reaching the Craven Arms from the … [Read more...] about 20 great pub walks, chosen by nature writers
Preserving nature in the national parks a history
An Irish mansion that was home to an aristocratic family before they were driven out is set to be renovated after becoming completely overgrown by the surrounding forest. Moore Hall in County Mayo was built by famed Irish politician George Moore between 1792 and 1795 and was a bustling family home until it was destroyed by the anti-treaty Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the civil war in 1923. Abandoned and left to rot, drone photographs show its overgrown ruins sitting on Muckloon Hill overlooking Lough Carra, after the local council bought it last year for £350,000. At the time of the fire Colonel Maurice George Moore, a former British Army officer, was a Senator in the newly formed Seanad Éireann of the Irish Free State, Ireland having gained its independence from Britain with the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921. During the Irish Civil War, waged between those who were for the treaty and those who were anti-treaty, the IRA were attacking homes … [Read more...] about Destroyed by fury and fire… reclaimed by nature: Irish mansion that was home to wealthy family until they were driven out during Civil War almost a century ago is set to be renovated after becoming completely overgrown by forest
Kenidjack Castle, Cornwall From the vantage point of this cliff fort, there are clear views over Cape Cornwall to where the Channel and the Atlantic meet. On a stormy day this is a truly wild place, as the coastal winds batter the shoreline. Kenidjack is a multivallate fort, which means it has more than one rampart. Most of the southern end of the fortifications has been lost to erosion but much of the triple northern rampart is still intact. There is evidence of neolithic stone quarrying and of tin mining throughout the bronze and iron ages: tin would have been a prized commodity in the bronze age, because it is essential to make bronze itself. This whole area must have been important to trade, and its inhabitants may have adopted snippets of language or culture from beyond these Cornish shores. Remains of a cairn circle can be found up near the ruins of the tin mine and Ballowall Barrow is a short walk south, past the remains of the early Christian St Helen’s Oratory and the … [Read more...] about 10 amazing ancient ruins in Britain with great views
I bought a ticket to Cuba in 1998 when Fidel Castro promised a Christmas Day holiday after a 30-year ban. The holiday itself was a tinsel-free affair, but I heard live music and caught a glimpse of Castro in the main square at Santiago de Cuba as he toasted the 40th anniversary of his revolution. Since that first trip, I’ve danced, drunk, dived, fished, hiked, cycled and driven around Cuba. I’ve had my fortune told and portrait painted, ridden vintage American cars with no seats, picked up a spent bullet in the Bay of Pigs, and paraded through Havana on a giant fibre-glass stiletto. Cuba is utterly bonkers and I love it, as do those who come in search of an offbeat sunny break. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolution but it’s not all austerity and rationed food. Since a change to private business rules almost a decade ago, this Caribbean island now offers holidaymakers swanky apartments in colonial villas, rural hideaways, beach getaways, bike … [Read more...] about The Cuban holiday revolution: It’s still got its crazy charm, but visitors are discovering a new side to the Caribbean island… luxury!
New literature museum The Museum of Literature Ireland, or MoLI (for some the acronym will conjure up images of Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses) has been a long time coming. The National Library of Ireland and University College Dublin began talking about a collaboration in 2010, with the aim of making proper use of two important assets: the NLI’s extensive James Joyce collection, and the university’s historic home, a fine Georgian townhouse on St Stephen’s Green. It was always going to be a big tourist draw, but museums dedicated to books or writers rarely capture the magic of reading. MoLI, which opened last week, is different. Unsurprisingly Joyce, who attended university in this building, features heavily, with a vast array of rare editions and manuscripts that are sure to delight fans of Ireland’s great modernist. It is anything but a mausoleum for old books though, and an assortment of clever interactive exhibits coupled with a strong focus on … [Read more...] about A local’s guide to Dublin: literature hotspots and places to visit