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  • Nature | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    Our following offer is of a pleasant, lazy FULL day - visiting a couple of wonderful historical sites with magnificient gardens and parks: Hall Place and Danson House.

    Our itineraries of hall House and danson House - can be combined into a very pleasant full day out of London.

    Dining out: in the steak house near Hall Place or Nando's restaurant opposite the central bus station in Bexleyheath.


    20 minutes walk from Bexley rail Station (zone 6). Go through Bexley High Street and ask for the "Bridge". Just off the A2 road with bustling transportation. 

    Open daily 10.00 - 17.00. 7 GBP (concessions - 5 GBP) for unlimited entry during the year. My personal impression is that you can skip visiting the house and concentrate on the stunning gardens (free). Entrance to the current exhibition in Hall Place house - free as well. 

    Nice looking cafe' on the Cray river with small waterfalls. There is a fabulous (reasonably priced) adjoining grill / steak house.

    On weekends - farmers' market in the main entrance.

    Magnificent Gardens, stunning topiariy sculptures, interesting glasshouses, sunken garden, rose beds, visitor centre with nice displays of local artists and riverside cafe', endless meadows (sometimes with wildlife).

    Allow 90 minutes - 2 hours for visiting just the gardens

    Amazing topiary of chess pieces and Queen's Beasts:

    Rose Garden:

    River Cray:

    Hall Place Cafe':

  • Nature | United Kingdom > London, United Kingdom > Highgate to Stoke Newington - Capital Ring Section 12
    Updated at Mar 16,2014

    Highgate to Stoke Newington - 1 day walk.

    Start: Highgate Station.

    End: Stoke Newington Station or Stamford Hill Station.

    Distance: 8 km.

    Source: Capital Ring web site. -

    Introduction: This section starts at Priory Gardens, near Highgate Station. Although this is a densely populated area, surprisingly this walk is one of the greenest parts of the Capital Ring. This is largely achieved by following most of the Parkland Walk - London’s longest nature reserve - along a former railway line. It is easy walking on firm paths and pavements, with a steep climb including some steps at the start; this can be avoided on an alternative route. After the Parkland Walk, the route passes through the beautiful Finsbury Park, along by the New River – created as a canal four hundred years ago - past Stoke Newington Reservoirs, into the attractive Clissold Park and finishes at the fascinating Abney Park Cemetery. There are pubs or cafés at Highgate, Crouch End Hill, Finsbury Park, Manor House, Woodberry Down, Clissold Park and Stoke Newington. Public toilets are at Finsbury Park and Clissold Park.

    Directions: From Highgate Station ticket office, take the Priory Gardens exit, follow the road around to the right, using the right hand pavement to join the Capital Ring on Priory Gardens. Turn right up a narrow footpath between house numbers 63 and 65. Follow the main path as it climbs up through Highgate Spinney, keeping close to the left edge of the wood. At the road (Shepherd’s Hill) turn right onto the main road (Archway Hill). Opposite lies the former Highgate Methodist Church, now a community centre with café and toilets. Turn left for 50 metres then left again down Holmesdale Road. Follow the left hand side of Holmesdale Road as it bears right. At the next bend, go through a gate on the left and down a steep slope to join the Parkland Walk:

    The railway line, now occupied by the Parkland Walk, ran from 1867 to 1970 from Finsbury Park to Edgware and Alexandra Palace. It is now a haven for wildlife with about 250 species of plants and the shy Muntjac deer living here. Follow the broad track ahead for the next two miles, crossing over or under several roads. At Crouch End Hill you encounter the eerie, deserted platforms of the former Crouch End Station. Continue under a bridge and on to some graffiti-covered arches:

    On the left, emerging from the brickwork, is the scary figure of a spriggan, a kind of goblin. Spriggans were grotesquely ugly, found at old ruins guarding buried treasure and generally acting as fairy bodyguards. They were also said to be busy thieves. Though usually small, they had the ability to swell to enormous size - they're sometimes speculated to be the ghosts of the old giants. They were said to steal human children and leave baby spriggans in their place. The route now passes the skateboard track of Crouch Hill Community Centre. There is a link here to Crouch Hill Station. Continue along the Parkland Walk, beside Blythwood Road, then past a grass-covered reservoir on the left at Mount Pleasant. The next bridge crosses Stapleton Hall Road. At the end of the Parkland Walk, turn left across the main East Coast railway line from London to Scotland. The link to Finsbury Park Station leads off to the right and ahead lies Finsbury Park. Cross the park's carriage drive. On the left is a café, with toilets and a picnic area. Follow the path ahead past a play area:

    At the McKenzie Pavilion building turn left to enter a more formal garden. Keep ahead to the elegant wooden shelter with seats and the Capital Ring signpost.

    At this point there is a choice of routes to Clissold Park, either on the main route beside the New River, mostly on grass or earth with a short flight of steps, or more directly – saving 1 mile (1.6km) – on a level alternative route beside roads. For the alternative route, turn right at the signpost. Follow the path across the carriage drive again and go through the ceremonial gateway, with Manor House Station nearby. Turn right across Seven Sisters Road, then left across Green Lanes. Turn right to follow Green Lanes for 400 metres, rejoining the main route by passing The Castle. The main route continues ahead at the signpost. Shortly take the central path ahead and follow this across the carriage drive again. You leave the park on to Green Lanes, one of the longest roads in London at nearly seven miles. Originally Green Lanes, a former drover’s road, was made up of separate lanes that linked a series of villages, which is why the name is plural. Cross at the lights and turn left, then go through a bright green gateway on the right to join the New River Path; the surface is a bit uneven in places. The New River is spectacularly misnamed, as it is neither new nor a river — it’s nearly four hundred years old and an ingenious artificial watercourse:

    Built at a time when fresh water for London was in very short supply, it brought water 40 miles from springs in Hertfordshire to lslington. Following a very twisting route, the gradient dropped very gradually so that gravity pulled the water along; the canal dropped two inches every mile. There was considerable opposition from local landowners and it cost a fortune, but the entrepreneur and goldsmith, Sir Hugh Myddelton, pushed it through with support from King James I. Today the ‘river’ still supplies water to the capital. You can follow the river on foot for most of the way from Hertford to lslington. There is an industrial area to the left and on the right trees, birds and the residential buildings of the massive Woodberry Down Estate. With some 50 blocks this forms the largest council housing estate in Britain:

    The route temporarily leaves the New River path to cross Seven Sisters Road, turn left to the controlled crossing, cross over, then go right to cross Amhurst Park road. Go to the right, parallel with Seven Sisters Road and watch out for the Capital Ring sign on the left. Go through a kissing gate and back onto the New River path. Walk alongside the river, passing a splendid large weeping willow tree dipping its branches into the water.

    Go up some steps and follow it across a lane. Go down the slope and on past the East reservoir, on the left, where the flowing water of the New River comes to an end. Cross Lordship Road and continue ahead beside the West reservoir, which is now a nature reserve and water sports centre. At the end, cross a footbridge and turn right along a service road. To the left is the Reservoir Café, housed in the old filtration plant. On your left is The Castle, a fine example of the imaginative recycling of a utilitarian building. The former water pumping station’s brick walls and turrets now provide a large indoor climbing centre:

    At the main road – Green Lanes, where the alternative route from Finsbury Park rejoins – follow the signs to Clissold Park. Once in the park bear half left to follow the right hand side of Beckmere and Runtzmere, the two small lakes that add to the attractiveness of Clissold Park; they are named after Joseph Beck and John Runtz, two campaigners who persuaded the Metropolitan Board of Works to buy the land and create a public park:

    Just before the second lake turn right towards Clissold House, built in the 1790s for Jonathan Hoare, a local Quaker. In front of the house is a short stretch of water which was once part of the New River that you have just followed. An interesting inscription on a drinking fountain behind the house commemorates the three daughters of Wilson Yeates, Esq., apparently aged 134 years. A closer look reveals that the sisters sadly died at the ages of one, three and four. The monument was erected by their sister, Rose Mary Crawshay. Bear half left, between the mansion and a children’s playground and follow the signs to Stoke Newington Church Street. Pass the oldest church – known as The Old Church of St Mary’s – and go along a path through the graveyard:

    The church was built in 1563 and enlarged in 1829 by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament. It was bombed in 1940 and restored soon after. Opposite is the ‘new’ Church of St. Mary's which was built in the 1850s in response to the rapid growth of the population. The Rector, the Reverend Thomas Jackson, offered the site of the old rectory and garden for a new church to be built opposite the 300 year-old Old Church. Stoke Newington attracted non-conformist Christians of all kinds; one of these was Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, who is commemorated by a local street and pub. Continue left along Church Street, passing the old Stoke Newington Town Hall, now a branch office of Hackney; it’s built on the site of Stoke Newington Manor House, 1500-1695. The route now passes through Abney Park Cemetery. To avoid the steps that lead into the cemetery continue along Stoke Newington Church Street and then turn left along Stoke Newington High Street to rejoin the route at the cemetery gate. with reception buildings, chapel and landscaping – to take a non-denominational approach with no separation between the graves of different religions; consequently there was no consecration of any part, except where individuals chose it for their plot. It’s now a very evocative site and nature reserve where over 300,000 graves have been laid since it opened in 1840; many notable people are buried here. Every path has a name and you will follow Abney House Corner, Lions’ Ride, Wilson Ride, Chapel Ride and Swayne Path. Inside the gate, take the left hand of two narrow paths leading between graves to join a wider path, where you turn left. Opposite lies the grave of William Booth, who founded the Salvation Army in 1865:

    In 200m, at a major path intersection, turn right to pass the chapel. From the chapel, continue in the same direction past another path intersection until you come to a broad, paved avenue by a sundial; follow it to the main gate. The visitor centre contains a display about the cemetery’s history. Beneath your feet lies a plaque containing Egyptian hieroglyphics, translated as ‘The great gate of the mortal part of man’. Beyond the gate, turn left along Stamford Hill and shortly after cross over at the traffic lights to reach the junction with Cazenove Road, the end of Section 12. For Stoke Newington Station turn left for 120 metres.

    In case you are still in shape, walk northward along Stamford Hill road - crossing densely-populated parts of Jewish Stoke Newington / Stamford Hill:

    On the seveth road to the right - turn right to the Ravensdale Road to stroll along an elegant road with nice-looking mansions and houses - mostly populated by the Jewish community:

    In the second right road - turn right to Leabourne Road:

    In the end of the last road turn right to the Castlewood Rd. It continues into the Clapton Common main road: an interesting, ethnic, vibrant hub of Stamford Hill. Head along Clapton Common (crossing Stamford Hill/High Rd) until you'll see (on your left) the Stamford Hill station.

  • Nature | Montenegro > Perast
    Updated at Jun 11,2013

    First we were acquainted with the amazing Bay of Kotor, with its two islands – “Our Lady of the Reef” and “Saint George” – which appeared to come closer and closer. The closest view is from Perast, so we sat down for a cup of cappuccino and gazed at the bay and the islands. 

  • Nature | South Africa > Hermanus
    Updated at Jun 19,2013

    When we stayed at Hermanus, we found out we were lucky with the whales at Gansbaai, cause  the weather was very poor in Hermanus and there was low visibility.

  • Nature | Peru > Granja Porcon
    Updated at Jun 27,2013

    The next day I went for daily tour to Porcon ( , an area that in the past had been a victim of deforestation, and in the last 20 years had been going though reforestation and now it's reclaiming its natural form - mountain forests with lots of different pine types. The company incorporated for this matter was called "ATAHUALPA JERUSALEM" so to give honor to history and religion. Across the road you'll find huge signs with quotes from the new testament. In the heart of the forest, there's a community created fabric from sheep wool and a lot of tasty dairy products. 

    There's also a zoo with many animals from all Peru regions - local bears, condors and pumas from the Andes, jaguars, monkeys and parrots from the Amazon, and of course the magical Vicuña - a delicate and shy relative of the llama. Those who can't visit one of the Peru jungles, it's worth it to visit here and see in a glance what the Amazon has to offer. You can register in every tourist agency in Cajamarca. Some of them are located in Plaza De Armas

  • Nature | Italy > Lago del Predil
    Updated at Jun 19,2013

    We continued to Passo di Predil, with Lake Predil, also featuring snowy mountains around it and an intense green color. We continued to the Sela pass, 4 turns all and all, and when we almost reached the end we stopped in a small restaurant with a view of the snowy mountains and had a very bad cup of coffee with homemade strudel and gibanica.

  • Nature | Slovenia > Lake Bohinj
    Updated at Jul 10,2013

    Day 17 – A visit to a typical Slovenian restaurant

    After breakfast, Mojca gave us an explanation on the places we planned to visit that day, and even recommended a typical Slovenian restaurant. We started at Lake Bohinj and admired the reflection of the mountain on the water. We continued to Savica Waterfall. We already knew about the 500 stairs, but when I checked our online guide afterward I read that someone counted 550 stairs. We stopped occasionally until we reached the summit and it was worth it. The waterfall seemed like it was springing out of the rock with a green pool at its feet.

  • Nature | Norway > Bleik
    Updated at Jul 11,2013

    After fixing the accommodation issue, we drove to Bleik which was 7 km from Andenes on the western part of the island because we booked a trip for 15:00 for the birds islands. The ship was a fishing boat, no where to sit, just to grab some ship part and hope we won't fly overboard. 

    The ship rattled between the waves and we prayed for good. We knew in advance that you could not disembark on the Bleik bird island as it was 32 years ago, but the ship encircled the island and we had plenty of time to  take pictures of the many Puffins. The Puffins can hardly be found on the island itself as in the last 10 years the sea eagles have grown in numbers and they preyed upon them. So they stay in groups among the waves. The tour was an hour and a half. 

  • Nature | Australia > Yuraygir National Park
    Updated at Jun 9,2013

    "…We walked along the shore of Yuraygir National Park. The beach is lovely, with small inlets with rocky sandstone roofs. We got as far as the beautiful Shelly caves. Two of them were flooded – the sea was stormy that day – but we could still visit the other two. The soft sandstone was melting, and the colors resembled the layers of a cream cake. The path passed near changing coastal flora. On the beach we found rocks and shells, all kinds disgusting mollusks, and a chair someone left behind a long time ago".

  • Nature
    Updated at Feb 15,2014

    St. james Park:  (3-4 hours. At least 3 hours in the park in a sunny day). Stunning, relaxing and picturesque.

    St James's Park opens from 5:00 am until midnight all year round.

    Main Attractions: (from East to West): (The closest start tube station is: Charing Cross near Trafalgar Square). (The closest end tube station is: Green Park).

    Horse Guards Parade, Inn The Park, The Mall, The Lake Bridge, Deckchairs, Playground, Buckingham Palace.

    Restaurant: Inn the Park.

    Refreshments: The playground, Artillery Memorial, Marlborough Gate and Horse Shoe Bend. Several stalls selling refreshments. There are bathrooms in the park as well.

    Tips: No lightning at evenings, and some points of the park get very dark. 

    On weekends there are more visitors but never feels crowded.

    Take some bread and nuts with you and you'll be able to hand feed the birds and the squirrels.

    Leave the footpath and go for a walk in the wood.

    Deckchairs for hire during the summer. Lots of benches to relax on.

    For photographers: different vistas towards Buckingham Palace and the London Eye from the park. Views of Buckingham Palace from cross-the lake area. St. James's park has a lake with 2 islands: West Island and Duck Island. Good views of horse guard parades !!! Get the chance of seeing the horses being ridden up to St James's Palace for the changing of the guard.

    Walks: Princess Diana Memorial walk (11 km.). The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk is a long circular walking trail in London dedicated to the memory of Diana, Princess of Wales. It goes between Kensington Gardens, Green Park, Hyde Park and St. James's Park - passing five sites that are associated with her life: Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, St. James's Palace, Clarence House and Spencer House.

    A wonderful park that stretches from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade. It is surrounded by some of London's most famous landmarks including Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace, Westminster, Houses of Parliament  and Clarence House. Very central to Buckingham Palace, the Queens Mews , War Cabinet Rooms, Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade. When we refer to St. James Park we mean also: The Mall, and Horse Guards Parade and spectacular, annual Trooping the Colour (Once a year, to mark the Queen's official birthday Trooping the Colour is held on Horse Guards Parade in St James's Park). You also have St James Palace if you to visit something nice. The best way to reach Buckingham Palace is through St. James Park !

    It is a relaxing place: The flower beds and grass beds are enjoyed by visitors all the year round. Many of the plant specimens are marked here in this well landscaped park. The majority of trees in the park are Plane trees. Extremely peaceful interlude to the busy London buzz surrounding the park.

    During the days the Grey Squirrel is the most likely mammal for visitors to see. During the nights - foxes and mice. The Pelicans in the lake and ponds - are one of the main highlights of the park. The Mallard and other species of dick seen on the lake in St James's Park all around the year. You'll be excited over the squirrels (asking people for nuts by sitting up on their back legs and staring at you), ducks, geese, swans and other birds.

    St James's Park is the oldest Royal Park in London. About 500 years ago, the St James area was known mainly for farms, grazing beds and woods.

    Cleaning statues near the The Guards Parade:

    The Royal Mews Guards:

    Buckingham Palace seen from the bridge:

    View from St. James's Park towards Whitehall: