Belguim: Antwerp Zoo

Antwerp Zoo (Dutch: ZOO Antwerpen) is a zoo in the centre of Antwerp, Belgium, located right next to the Antwerpen-Centraal railway station. It is the oldest animal park in the country, and one of the oldest in the world, established on 21 July 1843.

Extract from ‘Wikipedia’

Antwerp Zoo is a place where you can easily spend your entire day exploring this beautiful place with plenty of creatures from near and far, amazing gardens to sit and enjoy the scenary (and to picnic too!) as well as a cafe and shop to check out. The zoo has plenty of seating throughout the park to admire the animals around you and if you’re fortunate some good weather too.

If you ever get a chance to visit this wonderful place, be sure to check out times for talks, feeding times etc but be aware the staff will be talking in Dutch throughout these talks.

At the time of my visit, the zoo was busy expanding into more land as well as new exhibitions, so lots of construction about. This inconvience was compensated by a lower admission piece but luck would have it as we arrived to pay our entrance was 5 Euros less due to a promo that had not been advertised – 19 Euros!

Below are my photos from the day – Enjoy!


Butterfly House


Monkeys, Meerkats and Koalas


Penguins


Birds


The Elephants


Reptile House


Aquarium


Big Cats, Zebras and Everything Else


The Gardens

 

 

 

Geocaching

Ah Geocaching – You may have never heard of it, or have and don’t play it or you are a GEOCACHER! You can be a Geocacher from any country and it is a global game which means you can play it at home or abroad: How awesome is that?

Now to answer the question you might be asking, Yes I am a Geocacher but I’m nowhere near prolific compared to many others. I often hunt out geocaches when I travel abroad as many are placed in areas of significance but not the norm for a tourist to visit, exploring a place of interest and/or beauty. Of course, I have found geocaches in my local area and actually own one myself after adopting it from a fellow geocacher – I walk pass the location 2-3 times a week and I do not live far that any maintenance/replacement can be done fairly quickly.

If you have watched the video at the top of the video then you have learned what geocaching is and if you haven’t – Go watch it! It is an activity for all abilities, whether you play regularly or not. I am able but I have also been out with groups of people with a range of disabilities from being blind, in a wheelchair, learning and mental – It really is an inclusive activity.

Geocache containers and their hiding places

As the video states, geocaches range in size, containers and difficulty. Thy can be small nano containers which are magentic, or large containers with treasures that a pirate would be proud of. You can be taken into the centre of a city filled with lots of people or into the hills, where there are less people. Those whom don’t know of this game are known as “Muggles” and the aim is to grab a geocache (cache for short), sign the logbook and return it as exactly as you found it without being discovered – Trickier than you think! However, whilst many find enjoyment of being a ninja, if you get the odd look, lack subtlety or just want to celebrate your acheivement, it is okay! (Seriously, it is.) Just remember, other geocachers maybe near by and you want them to have the same journey or discovery as you did, as it’s all part of the fun. Some of the hiding places are very ingenious, so if you think something might be a little crazy, check it!

On the hunt for geocaches…

What do you need? The answer is is the video, either a phone with GPS or a GPS device and many people find that the latter are often more accurate but both devices will encounter similiar problems and that is mainly sateillite coverage. If you go to find a cache in the woodlands and their is a lot of folliage, expect the ‘distance’ to be off and when you get within 30ft of the cache location, start looking. I have got 2ft within a cache location before according to the GPS and the cache itself was actually about another 10ft away. These things like many aspects of the game will come to you in time, also learning new little things that build up your experience, skills and knowledge of the game.

There are many tips out there and a large community to support and share stories. Each geocache will have a little information on them about the cache itself, maybe a handy hint (if you are struggling) but it is also handy to read previous logged comments by other geocachers too.

Come on… join us!

 

Yorkshire: Hackfall Woods

hf11Hackfall Woods in Ripon, North Yorkshire is a wonderful woodland that I have had the wonderful opportunities to visit on several occassions, but also help with some of the conservation work to restore it to its former glory. The woodland is first mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086 with ownership over the past millennium ranging from the Knights Templar, Lords, Earls, the local village folk and for the past 40 years has been owned by the Woodlands Trust.

Entry sign from Grewelthorpe village entrance.

 

The woodland is very large consisting of 117.67 acres from flat ground to very steep climbs to reach the highest parts with the rewarding views. However, the woodland is filled with wonderful colours, cascades, follies, warerfalls and a winding riverside so that ‘rewarding view’ is only a perspective, nature as beautiful looking from above as experiencing within. There are four main walking trails to see the woodland which cater to all abilities and time-restraints, however due to the terrain wheelchair access is near impossible. If you would like to find out more about the walks around Hackfall Wood just click here.

Mowbray Castle (except top-right image, which is Fisher’s Hall)

Other buildings at Hackfall include The Banqueting House (which the featured image at the top of the page was taken from), which has been beautifully restored and can now be rented out as a holiday cottage from The Landmark Trust. Walking trails converge on both sides of the house (also known as “The Ruin”) particularly as this gives visitors a birds-eye view of the woodland, which on a clear day means that you can see for miles – Absolutely breathtaking!

Down by the pond and fountain you can find the Rustic Temple, a small place to sit and watch the world go by as well as other visitors. The fountain does constantly flow wither water but rather displays a small show every 15 minutes during summer when everything is in working order, although I have been aware of some issues recently that need repairs. Many walking trials divide from this central place which lead you up rocky terrain or down to the riverside, with one such trial taking you past the building titled The Grotto and then eventually to a set of steps that lead you up to Fisher’s Hall.

Throughout the site there are information boards detailing you about the buildings and of course, the flowers and wildlife. Visiting in Spring, Summer and Autumn are brilliant times to see Hackfall in all its glory and the woodland is known for the array of Bluebells on sight that typically bloom in late April. Keen birdwatchers are also in for a treat and I know people whom have seen Kingfishers here on more than on occasion!

 

 

Bluebells in bloom, woodlands and the riverside

Free parking is available on the site but this is small, so arrive early! If the car park is full, there are two layby’s alongside but please head to any signs asking not to park in front of farmyard gates. If these are also full, head back to the village of Grewelthorpe and park near the The Crown Inn pub as a walking path runs alongside the building (signs are posted at the start), which take you to the back entrance of Hackfall Wood. The walk is around 10 minutes through fields and over stiles, a popular route for villagers whom frequently walk their dogs in the area. If you feel like you are going in the wrong direction, someone should be along sooner or later to query this 🙂

An amazing, beautiful landscape in rural Yorkshire – Pay it a visit, you will not regret it!

Yorkshire: Asygarth Falls

When adventuring to the Yorkshire Dales, we often stop in this picturesque spot for our lunch break, grabbing our bags with our pack ups and heading down to one of the three falls (Upper, Middle and Lower). As the Upper and Middle Falls are the closest to the car park, we tend to visit these the most but the Lower Falls are just as outstanding.

For the walkers amongst you, there are plnety of trails alongside the river and the falls themselves, as well as the surrounding woodlands and area. St Andrew’s church located nearby is worth a visit too.

Rain or shine, the falls are incredible to witness at any time of year but head over during the winter months to witness the water gushing over compared to the drier summer months. Below are some of my photographs from high and low waters from the Upper and Middle Falls.

Note: If you see an honesty box asking you for money, this is very old and the falls are free to visit bar the cost of parking. Next to the car park is an exhibition centre and shop, toilets and a cafe. Meets all your needs!

Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Yorkshire Wildlife Park, a place I have managed to schedule a visit to twice in extreme weather – An endless torrent of rain and the heat that just won’t quit. The images from this latter visit feature in this post and suprisingly, the Polar Bears seemed to enjoy this weather the most as they swan in the lake whilst most of the other animals seemed to be sleeping through the hot day or had hidden themselves completely in the shade or any shelter they could find. A nice game of eye spy!

Located in South Yorkshire on the outskirts of the town of Doncaster, the YWP is well-signed posted off major motorways so it isn’t easy to get lost. YWP is relatively new having only officially opened in 2009 and as of 2016, boasts a number of animal enclosures and an even wider variety of animals of all sizes from across the globe. With so much to see with talks held throughout the school holidays and some weekends, you can easily spend the day here with a number of cafes, play areas and picnic places to cater for families and any hungry bellies!

I hope you enjoy the photos!