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  • Nature | Ecuador > Puerto Lopez
    Updated at Jul 1,2013

    On the main street there are plenty of agencies offering whales tours, which usually came combined with snorkeling - it's up to the weather and your mood. A tourist guy will take you from the agency to the beach - walking distance - and there you my be shocked. The beach is packed with everyday routine life of the city, which is first, a fishermen city. They bring from the sea all kinds of odd fish, including huge swords fish, and many birds flying in packs above to catch the small fish the kids are throwing to the air. In all this mess, there are loose dogs and fruit peddlers with packs of watermelon and pineapples on their head. The professional photographer was shooting like mad there, and so did I. 

    Eventually, it was time to fold the pants and disembark. The moment we could we settled on the boat's roof, and it was an experience on it's own - the amazing speed, the jumps of the waves, the cold spray of water, and of course we could see the whales without anyone to block our sight. 

    We saw them from a distance - random fins waving hi above the gray water, or half a heavy body just showing up with a pink belly turned upward and immediately disappearing in the abyss. Every time the captain wanted to go back to shore, another show started - these are of course male whales trying to make a point to the females. 

  • Nature | Australia > Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
    Updated at Jun 9,2013

    "Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is at the outskirts of Canberra. The road leading to the park is very beautiful, and it took us straight to the biggest mountain range in Australia – The Great Dividing Range. Inside the park we walked around for a couple of wonderful hours in an area with lots of animals. Best of all were the koalas. Every morning, the rangers mark the trees where the koalas are, making the search an easy one. We saw two of them, adorable, captivating, and, naturally, sleeping. We had luck with one, as it was sitting, unusually for a koala, only 2 meters above the ground. The strange marsupials of Australia are very beautiful and special – kangaroo, koala, wallaby, opossum, echidna, platypus, wombat… usually it’s no problem seeing them in nature. We met them everywhere".

  • Nature | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 12,2014

    Hendon Park to Highgate - 1 day (8 June 2013).

    Source: Capital Ring web site: the original route + extension of Highgate, Archway.

    Distance:  10 km. (with the extension: 13 km.

    Start: Hendon Central Station.

    End: Highgate Station or Archway Station.

    Main Attractions: Hendon Park, Brent Park, THe Naked Lady, KIngsley Way Park, The Archer, Highgate Wood, Highgate Archway, Highgate Cemetery.

    Introduction: This walk passes through many green spaces and ancient
    woodlands on firm pavements and paths. The walk is mainly level but there some steep ups and downs and rough ground, especially at the end towards Highgate Station. This may be difficult for wheelchairs and buggies but it can be avoided by taking a parallel route. Interesting things to see along the way include the lake in Brent Park, once a duck decoy, the statue of ‘La Delivrance’ at Finchley Road, Hampstead Garden Suburb dating from 1907, the distinctive East Finchley Tube Station opened in 1939 with its famous archer statue and the three woods – Cherry Tree, Highgate and Queen’s Wood – all remnants of the ancient forest of Middlesex.

    There are pubs and cafés at Hendon Central, Northway, East Finchley,
    Highgate Wood and Queen’s Wood. There are public toilets at Highgate
    Wood and Queen’s Wood. There’s an underground station at East Finchley, as well as buses along the way.

    From Hendon Central Station turn left and walk along Queen’s Road. Cross the road opposite Hendon Park gates and enter the park. Follow the tarmac path down through the park and then the grass between an avenue of magnificent London plane and other trees. At the path junction, turn left to join the main Capital Ring route.

    Walk through Hendon Park exiting left onto Shirehall Lane. An elegant and quiet park. Note the moving memorial garden for the Holoucast and other 20th-21st centuries Genocides victims. Designed by John Creed, Glasgow, year 2001:

    Turn right along Shirehall Close and then left into Shirehall Park. Follow the road around the corner and turn right towards Brent Street. Cross Brent Street, turn right and then left along the North Circular road. After 150m enter Brent Park down a steep slope. The route now runs alongside the River Brent and runs parallel with the North Circular for about a mile. This was built in the 1920s and is considered the noisiest road in Britain. The lake in Brent Park was dug as a duck decoy to lure wildfowl for the table; the surrounding woodland is called Decoy Wood. Brent Park became a public park in 1934:

    Leave the park turning left into Bridge Lane, cross over and turn right before the bridge into Brookside Walk. The path might be muddy and slippery in wet weather. Where Mutton Brook joins Dollis Brook to form the River Brent, turn right and follow the path alongside Mutton Brook, through the subway and straight on. You are now on part of the Dollis Valley Greenwalk. Keep on until you reach Finchley Road, where there are bus stops. Finchley Road was built around 1826. Just visible on the green, north of the North Circular Road, is ‘La Delivrance’, a 16-foot statue in bronze of a naked woman holding up a sword. It is the work of the French sculptor Emile Guillaume and has a number of local names including ‘Dirty Gertie’, ‘The Wicked Woman’, and most popular (to the exclusion of its real name) ‘The Naked Lady’.  Allegorical commemoration of the victory of France and its allies over Germany in the first battle of the Marne (Sept. 1914) and in the WW1:

    Cross Finchley Road at the lights, turn right and then take the path to the left. Keep straight on over the footbridge. At Addison Way, fork left to keep straight on behind the houses until reaching Addison Way again. Turn left and go straight on, then cross Oakwood Road onto the main road, turn right straight after the bridge over a brook, leading into the parkland adjacent to Hampstead Garden Suburb. Hampstead Garden Suburb was promoted by Dame Henrietta Barnett in 1907 and principally planned by Sir Raymond Unwin, with contributions from many leading architects of the day. Purposefully designed to create a range of house styles and sizes, the suburb offers many open spaces, pedestrian walkways and beautiful mature trees. Carry straight on through Northway Gardens and go past tennis courts to the right and left. Keep left where the path forks and leave the park up the slope. There are cafés here. Cross Northway and enter another riverside park. Follow the path and at Kingsley Way turn right. Kingsley Way is part of the later suburb added in the 1930s. The housing here is built to higher densities with less character and distinction due to increased building costs:

    Next enter Lyttelton Playing Fields. At the notice board bear right along the path past the play area, pavilion and tennis courts, all on your left. Leave the park by a narrow lane, turn left into Norrice Lea and pass the 1956 red brick Hampstead Garden Suburb synagogue with its classical stone portico. From here cross over Lyttelton Road, turn right and then immediately left into Vivian Way. At the end of Vivian Way turn left onto Deansway and then right onto Edmunds Walk. From Edmunds Walk follow the signs turning right at the T-junction onto another path, The Causeway; cut through the station when open (or carry on down the path if closed) to reach the Great North Road. East Finchley Tube Station, was opened in 1939. Notice the figure of the Archer by Eric Aumonier, pointing down the line:

    Cross at the pedestrian lights, turn right and bear left just before the bridge and enter Cherry Tree Wood. Keep straight on, ignoring paths to right and left, and notice the low lying field which used to be watercress beds. Leave the park just after the cafe and turn left into Fordington Road. At the junction with Woodside Avenue, cross over Lanchester Road and go straight on. Take the steep tarmac path on the left after 40 metres to enter Highgate Wood at Bridge Gate:

    Enter by fine metal gates with their images of animals, and keep straight on to the drinking fountain:

    Turn right at the fountain along a dirt track to reach the next junction. There are toilets and a café here. Turn left, passing the wooden cabins housing the nature study centre and then bear right following the path which runs parallel to the road:

    Drop down to the left to exit Highgate Wood through New Gate. Owned and managed by the Corporation of London, Highgate Wood with its 28 hectares of ancient woodland probably dates from the last ice age. Part of the Ancient Forest of Middlesex, the wood features in both the Domesday Book and more recently the Bishop of London’s estate. Cross Muswell Hill Road by the pedestrian lights and immediately enter Queen’s Wood Local Nature Reserve. Follow the downhill path to the Eco-house Lodge, which has a café, and bear right following the Shepherds Hill sign. At the bottom of the hill follow the waymarks up the hill and cross Queen’s Wood Road and then up a steep slope to Priory Gardens:

    At Priory Gardens, turn right and follow the road towards Highgate station. You may end your daily trip here.

    We suggest you to continue your tour with a short stroll in charming Highgate Village: From Highgate Station ascend the steps and turn left (down) to the Archway. In the first junction, turn right and enter the Jackson Ln to have a glance at the vibrant Highgate Community Theatre. Set within a Grade II listed former churc, Jacksons Lane Arts Centre is a multi-purpose arts venue for theatre, children’s shows, workshops, performances and evening classes. There is also a cafe:

    Return to the Archway and walk down the street (south-east). You'll enjoy the special, pastoral, multicultural atmosphere of this road with many interesting houses on your left (west) side. 10 minutes walk down the street will bring you to the St. Augustine of Canterbury Church - home of a thriving community centred around the dignified and involving celebration of the Mass each Sunday:

    Turn left to Langdon Park Rd. to appreciate the charming row of houses on your left:

    Return to the Archway (St. Augustine Church). From here you can choose: either 12 minutes walk to the famous Highgate Cemetery or 10 minutes walk down the Archway to the Archway Station. Keep in mind that there are a lot of limitations on your visit the Highgate Cemetery (see below). Plan ahead your visit there !

    Walking directions to Highgate Cemetery: (by tube - the best way is from the Archway Station - see below). (Don’t go to Highgate tube – it's a much longer walk!).

    From St. Augustine Church: From the Archway turn left onto Winchester Rd. Take the stairs.  Turn left onto Cromwell Ave.  Turn right onto Hornsey Ln. Continue onto Dartmouth Park Hill.  Slight right toward Swain's Ln.  Turn left onto Swain's Ln. Turn left and Highgate Cemetery is on your right.

    From Archway Station to the Highgate Cemetery: To reach the cemetery by London Underground, take the Northern Line (High Barnet branch) to Archway. On leaving the station (Highgate Hill Exit), you can catch a bus (143, 210, 271) for the short ride up to Highgate village, from which the cemetery is a six-minute downhill walk. Alternatively, walk up Highgate Hill (past the Whittington Hospital) to St Joseph’s Church with its large green copper dome. Just beyond the church, turn left into Waterlow Park and go downhill across the park, past the duck ponds, to the Swains Lane exit (below the tennis courts). The walk takes about 20 minutes.

    Admission: to the East Cemetery (where Karl Marx is buried) open: Monday to Friday - 10.00 - 16.00. Weekends and public holidays: 11.00 - 16.00. Admission: 4 GBP. Children under 18 free. East Cemetery guided tours: Saturdays at 14.00. Adults 8 GBP, Children - 4 GBP. Tour price includes the admission charge.

    Admission to the West Cemetery is by guided tour only. The tour price includes entrance to Highgate Cemetery East. Guided tours last about an hour. OPen: Monday to Friday: one tour daily at 1.45pm. Booking essential: tickets go on sale about a month in advance. Saturday and Sunday: tours normally run every half hour from 11.00  - 15.00. You cannot book. Tickets are sold from 11.00 for all tours that day. Places are limited. Tours: 12 GBP for adults, 6 GBP for children aged 8 to 17. children under 8 not admitted.

    Facilities: The cemetery has toilet facilities. Cafés can be found in Waterlow Park and at Lauderdale House (across the park and near St Joseph’s Church). Highgate High Street has coffee shops, pubs and restaurants. There are also shops, cafés and restaurants at the bottom of Swains Lane, near Parliament Hill Fields.

    The cemetery's grounds are full of trees and wild flowers. There is an incrediably peaceful and beautiful atmosphere as you wander the small paths through the ancient trees and woodland. The grounds are a haven for birds and small animals such as foxes. For its protection, the West section, which holds an impressive collection of Victorian mausoleums and gravestones allows only tour groups. The East section, which contains a mix of Victorian and modern statuary can be roamed freely. The East cemetery has all the famous people in it, but the West Cemetary is much more picturesque with beautiful Victorian tombs. The East section has maps for finding graves of the famous.

    Famous graves: East - Karl Marx, George Eliot, Douglas Adams (author of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) and Max Wall. West - Michael Faraday, Lucian Freud and those of Charles Dickens' family (although not the novelist himself, who is buried in Westminster Abbey).  

    Karl Marx tomb - East Section:

    Egyptian Avenue - West section:

    Circle of Lebanon - West Section:

  • Nature | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    I'll take you, step by step, to a memorable day along the Thames along one of its unknown, but, still, beautiful sections. Full with nice views, modern architecture. Its last section from Putney Bridge to the Imperial Wharf is totally hidden from the herds of tourists and one of the best experiences I've seen in London !!!

    Distance: 7.5 km. (Chiswick to Putney Bridge including the Bishoph's Gardents) / 10 km. (Chiswick to the Imperial Wharf including side-walks).

    Start: Chiswick train stn.

    End: Putney Bridge tube stn. / Imperial Wharf tube/train stn.

    Lunch: 5-10 minutes walk from Putney Bridge tube station - there are 3-4 restaurants. Other options are dining in one of the restaurants along the Thames in Fulham or around Fulham Football Club.

    From Chiswick station turn right to Grove Park rd.

    Arriving to T junction, turn LEFT (Huntington Avenue) heading to Chiswick Bridge (attention: turning right will bring you to the opposite direction, to Kew Bridge !).

    Walk 8-10 minutes until you see Cavendish Road on your left. Turn RIGHT to a small alley with nice houses. When this alley starts to bend leftward, you'll see a small signpost of the "Thames Path" pointing to the RIGHT to a small path leading to the Thames. After walking 5 minutes you arrive to the Thames. Turn left, walk along the river in the direction of Chiswick Bridge. 300 meters before the bridge you have to bypass a group of houses to return to Chiswick Bridge.

    DO NOT PASS THE BRIDGE. Find the stairs down to the river, on your right, just in the beginning of the bridge. Continue along the river (starting from a small boats' dock). (Note: you may pass half of the bridge to take photos of the river and the new residence projects of Chiswick).

    On your right, along the river bank, you'll see many nice houses:

    Walk along the river - either in a tarmac walking path or along the asphalted path for cycling. After 1 km. walk you arrive to the Chiswick Boat House. Here you have another BIG bypass. Walk along the road, passing the Rugby, Football Health & Racquets Club and Chiswick House Sports grounds. You return to the river exactly where the Emmanuel School Boat Club stands on the river's bank. You'll find yourself behind the Barnes Bridge (the bridge is on your back).

    Walk along the river with nice houses and mansions on your left (Duke's Meadows and Cornish Pier Estate projects) and the Chiswick Pier and the Thames on your right:

    Cornish Pier Estate houses in Chiswick along the Thames:

    Now, you face another big bypass. Leave the river and walk along the long Chiswick Mall road with its aristocratic mansions until you arrive the Black Lion pub. Here you return to the river. Continue to walk along the Thames heading to Hammersmith Bridge.

    400 metres before Hammersmith Bridge (after the Furchival Gardens project) you have another small bypass. Follow the "Thames Path" signposts. Continue along the river until the green Hammersmith Bridge.

    The Rutland Arms Pub near the Hammersmith Bridge:

    Hammersmith Bridge:

    A house along the Thames - near Hammersmith Bridge:

    Passing to the left of Hammersmith Bridge you face another bypass of the Thames: you take the Criep Road and the St.George's Vision 2000 project is on your left. You meet, again, the Thames in Fulham and continue along the Thames with on an attractive promenade.

    Completed residence projects in Fulham:

    Continuing along the promenade you pass through other attractive, completed buildings on your left (the northern bank).

    On the opposite bank you'll note the decaying Harrods Furniture Depository.

    On the mid-way between Hammersmith Bridge and Putney Bridge - there is another small (50 metres) bypass. You return to the river through Adam Walk road (signpost may be misleading !). You meet the river, again, in the Rowberry Mead Gardens. Near Stevenage Park (with black metal gates) you are forced to bypass the river, just near the black walls of the Fulham Footbal Club (FFC) premises. Continue walking until the (eastern) end of FFC stadium.

    Johnny Haynes (1934) - Fulham Football Club:

    Returning to the river  - you'll see the Bishop's Park and Fulham Palace on your left. A special Tip is devoted to the Fulham palace and Bishop's Park. Please allow 1.5 hours to these attractions. At this point, we recommend that you keep walking along the park fences above the Thames bank - until you arrive to the park exit. Another 50 metres and you face the Putney Bridge tube station.

    After walking 8 km. along the Thames - we suggest that you take the tube/train to the Imperial Wharf station. You can continue, on foot, 3-4 kms. more, along the river from Putney Bridge to the Imperial Wharf area (Chelsea Harbour). Our suggestion: turn left to Putney and find a restaurant there (5-7 minutes walk). Return to Putney Bridge station and take tube/train to the Imperial Wharf Overground station.

    I bet that 99.99 percent of London tourists never heard about the Imperial Wharf area, or, at least, never visited this area. I think that the IW district is one of the three or five most impressive sites in London or around it. It is located between Putney and Chelsea. Unless you are a local (even if you are as well!) it is not going to be that easy to find. This is unforgettable area !

    Leaving the Imperial Wharf overground train station - head westward (to the new buildings/marina) in the river direction. The station is 200 metres from the river.

    Enter the luxury Wyndham Hotel (after getting permission from the security staff members):

    After poking the hotel lobby and restaurant - continue to the hotel's terrace to take photos of the Imperial Wharf Marina. The surrounding and athmosphere are very posh and aristocratic:

    The section of the Thames beneath the Imperial Wharf station is called Chelsea Harbour. Walking along the pier, in this part of the river, will leave you breathless. Come during the afternoon hours of a bright day and you'll agree with me that the scenery along the northern (opposite) bank is astonishing. Let the pictures speak for themselves:

    There are great views over the Thames:

    Battersea Bridge is adjacent to the Chelsea harbour pier:

    However there is something oddly sterile about the buildings, which all look like they are all flat-packed:

    The Imperial Wharf Parkland or Sensory Gardens are designed to stimulate the three senses. Divided into three uniquely planned spaces and dedicated to the senses of Aroma, Sight and Touch. The Sensory Garden is one of the best gardens I've seen in the UK: full with discipline, talent and quality.

    The Aroma Garden:

  • Nature
    Updated at Mar 17,2015


    Visegrád (high fortress) is 40 km north of Budapest, situated halfway between Szentendre (see our blog on Szentendre) and Esztergom - where the Danube meanders though the Börzsöny and Visegrád hills with a sharp turn. Visegrád is famous for the remains of the Early Renaissance summer palace of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary and the medieval citadel. Once, you arrived to Visegrád - you will be rewarded with unforgettable view of the historic fortress, the spectacles performed there, the stunning view of the mighty Danube, the green hills around and the quiet, picturesque village downstairs. There are many marked trails around for walking or cycling/biking.

    Boat service between Budapest and Visegrád: Mahart (Mahart Passnave Passenger Shipping Ltd.)  is the largest company operating ferries and scheduled ships, including hydrofoils and sightseeing cruises from / to Budapest. More information on timetables, prices and routes can be found at The most spectacular and enjoyable way to get to Visegrád - is by boat. Boats run between Budapest and Visegrád from April to September. They depart from Vigadó tér in Pest between Erzsébet Bridge and Szabadság Bridge. Mahart Passnave offers both boats (3.5 hours) and hydrofoils (1 hour) to  Visegrád. See for timetables. Both boat and hydrofoil services operate on a Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday between June and August but on the weekends only in May and September.Timetable: Saturdays and Sundays, 6 April, 25 May, 20 August: at 14:00 (arrival 15.30),  Tuesday and Friday at 10:00 (arrival 15.30). Prices: ADULT: 1.500 HUF, CHILD (2-14 years): 750 HUF, CHILD (under age of 2): FREE OF CHARGE, DOG (leash required): 750 HUF:

    The boat passes under the Chains Bridge:

    The Fishermen Bastion from the booat to Visegrád:

    The Calvinist Church in Buda from the boat:

    St. Stephan Church and Buda Castle from the boat:

    Batthyány tér from the boat:

    Margit hid (Margaret Bridge) from the boat:

    Vác is a town in Pest county with approximately 35,000 inhabitants. The boat calls at Vác before arriving to Visegrád:

    Kismaras town - between Vác and Visegrád:

    The Lower Castle and Solomon Tower from the boat approaching Visegrád:

    To Visegrád by Train: There’s no direct train service to Visegrád from Budapest. Alternatively you can take a train to Nagymaros from Nyugati Railway Station - trains departing at 7 minutes past the hour (direction: Szob) taking 41 minutes. From Nagymaros take a ferry (rév in Hungarian) which will take you across the Danube to Visegrád. The ferry dock is a few minutes walk from the train station and a ferry leaves in every hour. Visegrad to Nagymaros also runs every hour at :50. The timetables can be found at or

    By Bus:  Buses depart to Visegrád from Ujpest Városkapu vasútállomás (District XIII) Metro station - east to Árpád Bridge (M3, blue metroline, Árpád Híd station). Take the bus (runs every 20-60 minutes) that travels through a town called Dorog (75 minutes approx.). You can purchase your ticket in advance at the Árpád Bridge Bus Station up until half an hour before the departure of your bus. You can buy ticket from the driver too when you board the bus.
    Find exact information about buses departures to Visegrad: (Hungarian only).

    History: Visegrád played important strategic role in the eras of the Celts, Avars, Romans then in that of the Hungarians. Due to its favourable location with the Danube and the rocky hills - the Romans built a fortress here during the reign of Constantine the Great which became a significant part of their eastern defense lines along the flow of the Danube. Visegrád was first referred to in Latin documents in 1009. The Mongols destroyed the the first fortress during their raids in 1241-42. After they left Hungary King Béla IV (1235-1270) built the current fortress.  The hexagonal Solomon Tower (Salamon torony) was built in 1258. Visegrád gained international importance during the Anjous kings (1308-1387). King Charles I of Hungary made Visegrád, his hometown, the royal seat of Hungary in 1325. Charles Robert started to built its royal palace, earlier, in 1320, in the area near the Danube bank which became his and his court's favorite residence. Visegrád hosted the famous Royal Summit in 1335 when Charles Robert King of Hungary, John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia; Casimir III, King of Poland; Charles, the Moravian Marquis; Heinrich Wittelsbach, the Bavarian Prince, and Rudolph, the Saxon Prince made an agreement to protect the participating countires' financial and commercial independence from Vienna and from the Western countries. Mainly, it was an agreement securing an alliance between Poland and Hungary against Habsburg Austria. The glory days of Visegrád continued under the rule of Louis the Great (son of Robert the Charles), under whom the palace's current layout was formed. King Sigismund from the Luxembourg House extended the former palace building and added more courtyards and gardens. King Matthias (1458-1490) elaborated the whole complex and constructed a magnificent Renaissance palace around the fortress. King Matthias extended the palace with the courtyard on the 2nd terrace in the middle of which stood the Hercules well (Herkules kú) with the coat of arms of the King Matthias on its side. A chapel with gilded wooden ceiling stood on the the 3rd terrace of the palace. Vlad Tepes (Dracula) was imprisoned in Solomon Tower between 1462-1474. Visegrád lost importance after the partition of the Kingdom of Hungary following the Battle of Mohács in 1526: forces of the Kingdom of Hungary led by King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia were defeated by forces of the Ottoman Empire led by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The Turks put an end to Visegrád's heyday in 1543 when most of the 350-room palace and the Visegrád town were destroyed. Visegrád started to flourish again after the historical compromise between Hungary and Austria in 1867. After steam ship traffic begun on the Danube - Visegrád became increasingly more popular holiday and excursion spot until today. In 1991, the leading politicians of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland met here to form a periodical forum between these countries - "the Visegrád group" - distant memory to the famous meeting centuries earlier in 1335. The castle of Visegrád is called Fellegvár in Hungarian, meaning "cloud tower".

    Walk in the town:

    The boat lands at the MAHART boat station, where the pleasure boats are continuously arriving.

    On the left side of the road the Renaissance Restaurant, Fő utca 11, is located near Salomon Tower, renovated in renaissance style. The waiters and waitresses of the restaurant are dressed in costumes and serving on earthenware dishes the specialities, which are made according to the contemporary recipes.

    Just right next door is the Castle Hotel, situated at the bottom part of the Solomon Tower.

    Continuing our journey on the main road, we pass the MOL petrol station and we reach the central car park of the town on the left side, from where we can take nice walks on the main street of the town, or if we stay on the main road we reach the ferry station. The ferry station is located opposite the Rév Street, on the no. 11 main road offering an hourly crossing to the neighbouring Nagymaros. Boats from/to Nagymaros/Visegrád (at 06.30, and between 08:00 and 21:00 hourly, cca. 15min). Schedules are indicative due to water, weather and other reasons. The Sirály Restaurant, Rév utca 15 is near the ferry station.

    On the Danube embankment all along the town a shady promenade was established.

    If we take the Rév Street towards the town - we see, on the left side, the popular Black Raven Restaurant and B&B and on the right side the Visegrád Hotel and Sea-gull Restaurant with its modern, but still assimilating building to the landscape, it offers high standards and delicious dishes for its customers. The Grill Garden is mainly a popular spot for the warm summer evenings, and the little shops of the Rév Street offer all sorts of souvenirs for the tourists. At the crossing, on the corner the 17th century Roman Catholic Church in late Baroque style is located, next to it the beautiful sculpture of Saint Margaret of the House of Arpad is situated in a well-maintained park. After that we reach the building of Don Vito Restaurant and Pizzeria, Fő utca 83 - delicious food and desserts, and even offers pizza delivery, reminding us of the 1920-30s atmosphere.

    The next building is the Town Hall, which due to its recent reconstruction adapts very well to the street image. There are Information boards about the famous houses and former residents of the Main Street (Fő utca). The most famous building complex is the former Royal Palace (see above and below).  The King Matthias Museum (see below) introducing the history of the palace is situated in the building next to the entrance of the garden (Fő u. 29.), which was built from the stones of the palace. If we continue our walk on the Main Street (Fő utca) we pass the house 5 Fő utca, where Artúr Görgey (1818–1916) the General of the 1848/49 revolution lived his last 30 years in complete seclusion, he also died in here. Hotel Var is in No. 9:

    Located at the end of the street, on a small square is the bronze bust of King Matthias, the composition of János Fadrusz, which is a copy of one part of the famous Matthias Monument in Kolozsvár erected in 1903. On the right side, if we take the Salamontorony Street we can reach the Lower Castle tower (see below). If we walk back down the Salamontorony Street towards the embankment, and we continue our walk to the right, we can find a square-shaped tower remnant. This is the round bastion or water bastion, (Kerekbástya Palotaház),  Fő utca 11-13. It was erected at the same time as the fortress system, representing its lowest part. This was an observation point for the Danube’s traffic and with the help of hoisting apparatus they were sending water to the lower castle. The top of the multi-storey building was ruined; János Schulek created the current form of the lower part in the 1930s. On the steps of the round bastion the fortress builder King Bela IV’s statue, and on the iron banisters the arms of Arpad-, Anjou-, Luxembourg- and Hunyadi-families are exhibited. The round bastion is connected with the lower castle and then to the upper castle through an outer wall built in the 13th century and it is still there today. The gate was cut in the wall around 1820, under which the road goes towards Budapest. The old route was located in the Lower Castle, next to the Solomon Tower and crossing the northern tower gate built in the 13th century. Today this is the Panoráma Street northern part, and if we continue along approx. 300 m we get to the Sibrik Hill. The Archdeacon Church (Főesperesi-templom), Mátyás Király út (Sibrik Hill), stands here. Open MAY - SEP: SAT and SUN (or on other days by appointment). Built in Romanesque style. At the beginning of the statehood Stephen the 1st have constituted the castle called Visegrád as county seat. The first parish church of the county was built on the hillside near the castle. The church of the archdeaconry was built on its site after 1063, in King Solomon's time. Price: adult 200 HUF:

    If by the church we turn right (i.e. towards Esztergom direction) we can take a pleasant walk in the typical street of this small town. During our walk we can find two tourist agencies (the Bauer Reisen Travel Agency - Fő u. 46, and then the Hungaro Reisen Travel and Hunting Organizer Agency – Fő u. 68.  where the staff is more than happy to assist us, and it is also possible to purchase some souvenirs. Next to the well-kept bed of the Apátkúti Brook on a small walkway we can also make our way to the Visegrád Mountain.

    We can find the Honti Hotel and B&B on the Main Street  which is very popular among visitors with its quiet, romantic and pretty surroundings, pleasant rooms and delicious cuisine.

    The Caravan Camping is accessible from the no. 11 main road by the hotel’s entrance. If we carry on straight from the church we reach the well-kept King Matthias Street. The Goulash Country Tavern attracts its customers with its geranium covered windows and garden. We may continue our walk next to a pleasant park with a fountain, or we decide to turn to the Széchenyi Street, where the Community Centre and Library is situated in the old mansion house. The Library awaits people who would like to read or use the internet, and in the exhibition halls of the Community Centre temporary exhibitions are organized. If we carry on along King Matthias Street we pass the Pilisi Parkerdő Rt. central building

    and then we reach the crossing with a lay-by where two buildings are of special interest. The excellent Brook Inn is located in the bend towards the town, and across the little wooden bridge over the brook towards the forest we can see the friendly buildings of the Forest School.

    If we carry on the path of the Forest School we may take pleasant forest walks and excursions. After the Devil’s Mill Waterfall

    and the Magda Spring we can reach the park located on the Telgárthy Meadow and the Miklós Bertényi Botanical Garden.

    If we turn left at the crossing we reach the Nagy-Villám (Big Lightning) facility:

    The Silvanus Conference & Sport Hotel is located on the 325 m. high Black Hill, offering 106 panoramic view rooms and a conference centre. Wellness- services, squash courts are providing full relaxation and recreation. For those interested in the gastronomy national and international specialities are offered.

    The Nagy-villám Entertainment Centre offers various programs for those who are looking for an active relaxation: canopy-, bob-, mini golf- and during wintertime a ski slope is awaiting its customers.

    Fun Extreme Canopy, Nagyvillám, Visegrád. Open MON - SUN 10.00 - 18.00:

    The Visitor Centre and tourist spot in Mogyoróhegy is very popular among those who prefer the fresh air and pleasant surroundings; also the Danube Bend Forest School and Jurta Campsite are popular. Visegrád’s latest treasure is its thermal and mineral water, which are brought to the surface from 1400 m depth with the help of the wells of the Lepence Valley. This 39 °C thermal water supplies the swimming pool of Lepence, which was opened in 1977, where the Lepencei Brook reaches the Danube. From the terraced pools of the complex there is a beautiful view of the Danube Bend’s Dömös area. The most beautiful and highest-level hotel of the Danube Bend, the Thermal Hotel Visegrád opened its gates in 2003. The thermal-, wellness- and conference hotel offers 174 rooms, an excellent restaurant and many entertainment activities, therapies, fitness, wellness and spa services to its visitors:

    Arriving to Visegrád Hill and its attractions:

    All attractions (The Royal Palace, The Salomon Tower, the Lower Castle and the Upper Castle have commanding views over the Danube River. The Royal Palace, THe Salomon Tower and the Lower Castle lie all in ruins at the foot of the hill in the town premises. On the other hand It requires quite an effort to walk up the steep pathways and tracks to the Upper Castle/Citadel. But you can choose a path through the forests keeping things cooler. There are infrequent local bus services up to the Upper Castle from Visegrád town pier and also an expensive minibus option.

    Really great views from above. Great for people who like to take photographs. There are 3 ways up. You can reach the Upper Castle/ Citadel via a trail marked ‘Fellegvár’ (Fortress) leading east from behind Solomon Tower. This one is a steep path through the forest starting right from the Solomon tower. I'd recommend taking this one, as it's much shorter and protected from direct sunlight. Unless it is raining or was raining the day before, as the path becomes very slippery and dirty. And do not take this path down, as it's dangerously steep.

    An alternative, less steep path goes from the town centre area: find the trail marked 'Kálvária sétány' (Calvary Promenade) starting behind the Catholic church on Fő tér. 45 - 60 minutes walk up.

    The third one is a regular road, much less steep, but open to direct sunlight and 3 times longer than the forest path. Take this one if you're really into hiking:

    You will tired when you get to the top. Very tough trail. So if you have issues walking on tough terrain, figure out where the minibus is.

    Consider taking a shuttle bus taxi, it's really worth it. There's only one shuttle service, just ask any hotel or restaurant to call them for you. The taxi from the top to the bottom cost us 2000 HUF.

    For those with a car, there is a car park at the base of the Upper Citadel (300 HUF per hour for parking).

    I realize these notes may make getting there sound onerous. It's not a difficult trip BUT a diable one. The whole area has a quiet, VERY relaxed air to it. One of the spots I remember well of my trip through Hungary. It's a very nice area of Hungary !!!

    The Lower Castle:

    The Lower Castle is the part of the fortification system that connects the Upper Castle with the Danube. It is located a few meters away from the port/pier on the main road. Matyas Kiraly muzeum Visegrad is housed on the lower castle. Most of the visitors come to Visegrad for the upper castle because of the view but it’s a pity not to visit this one too.THe tower got its name ’the Solomon Tower’ after a false story about Solomon’s captivity, as Solomon was not kept in this tower, but on the Sibrik Hill. The 31 m high, five-storey tower with its 3,5-8 m thick walls was the country’s strongest construction. It served as the earliest part of the protection system to control the route crossing through its gates and continuing on the Danube embankment. The five-stories were used as bedrooms, kitchens and storage areas (sometimes as prison). The building is currently a museum, where the most valuable findings from the palace are exhibited among others (see below).

    Prices: Adult: 700 HUF,  Student, Senior: 350 HUF. For the Solomon’s Tower you need a separate ticket. Salomon tower closed NOV - MAR and all year Tuesdays:

    King Béla IV statue between the boats' pier and the Lower Castle:

    Start of the short ascent to the Lower Castle. Left: Solomon Tower:

    The lower castle from the Danube bank:

    The Danube from the Lower Castle:

    In the lower Castle's centre rises the Solomon Tower, a large, hexagonal residential tower dating from the 13th century. In the 14th century, new curtain walls were built around the tower. During a Turkish raid in 1544, the southern part of the tower collapsed. Its renovation began only in the 1870s and was finished in the 1960s:

    King Matthias Museum (Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum Mátyás Király Múzeuma), Visegrád, Fő u. 29. is actually located at the Lower Castle and Salomom Tower and part of it in the Royal Palace. Opening Hours: TUE - SUN 09.00 - 17.00, Closed: on Mondays. Salomon tower closed NOV - MAR and all year Tuesdays, the Royal Palace open till 16:00 (NOV - FEB). The exhibitions present the reconstructed Gothic fountains from the Royal Palace, Renaissance sculpture in Visegrád, and the history of Visegrád.

    Interesting item is the Visegrad Madonna that was found in the 18th century among the ruins of the palace chapel. This red marble lunette relief belonged to the furnishings of the palace chapel. The Virgin holds the child in a gentle embrace, who, standing on a cushion, raises his right hand in blessing and with his left hand presses a small bird – a gold finch symbolic of his future Passion – to his breast. The masters of the Italian Renaissance depicted the Virgin and child on numerous 15th century reliefs in a similar arrangement. As to formal qualities, closest to the Madonna of Visegrád are two reliefs in the Ducal Palace in Urbino and the Bargello museum in Florence. The similarities are most apparent in the modelling of the drapery, the heads, and the hands.

    Another highlight is the Fountain of Hercules. The fountain of the ceremonial courtyard is a unique masterpiece of Hungarian Renaissance art. Its prototypes were the fountains of the Italian 14th century. On the side walls of the octagonal basin, the coats of arms of Matthias appear among fruit garlands tied with ribbons. Above the round bowl of the fountain, decorated with jewel motifs, rose the central statue of the fountain representing the fight of Hercules and the hydra of Lerna. A stream of water sprang forth from the mouth of the animal. In the art of the Matthias period the figure of Hercules refers to the militant king. The leading master of the workshop responsible for this fountain may
    have been Giovanni Dalmata, while the decoration of the bowl and the fruit garlands are related to the works of the Roman master Andrea Bregno:

    There is a knight show held in the courtyard outside the Lower Castle. They have it in English, Russian and Hungarian. 1500 HUF. The knight show is put on by the people from the Renaissance Restaurant. It's pretty entertaining. They get volunteers from the crowd, so you may get to throw a spear or shoot an arrow:

    Royal Palace:

    The first royal house on this site was built by King Charles I of Hungary after 1325. In the second half of the 14th century, this was enlarged into a palace by his son, King Louis I of Hungary. In the last third of the 14th century, King Louis and his successor Sigismund of Luxembourg had the majority of the earlier buildings dismantled and created a new, sumptuous palace complex, the extensive ruins of which are still visible today. The palace complex was laid out on a square ground plan measuring 123 x 123 m. A garden adjoined to it from the north and a Franciscan friary, founded by King Sigismund in 1424, from the south. In the time of Louis I and Sigismund, the palace was the official residence of the kings of Hungary until about 1405-08. Between 1477-84 Matthias Corvinus had the palace complex reconstructed in late Gothic style. The Italian Renaissance architectural style was used for decoration, the first time the style appeared in Europe o

    utside Italy. After the Ottoman Turks' siege in 1544 the palace fell into ruins, and by the 18th century it was completely covered by earth. Its excavation began in 1934 and continues today. At present, the reconstructed royal residence building is open to the public, and houses exhibitions on the history of the palace and reconstructed historical interiors. Royal Palace 1100 HUF (reduced 550 HUF).

    Reconstructed high Gothic fountain in the royal palace at Visegrád:L

    Upper Castle / Fellegvar / Fortress:

    After the Mongol invasion, King Béla IV of Hungary and his wife had a new fortification system constructed in the 1240-50s near the one destroyed earlier. The first part of the new system was the Upper Castle on top of a high hill. The castle was laid out on a triangular ground plan and had three towers at its corners. In the 14th century, at the time of the Angevin kings of Hungary, the castle became a royal residence and was enlarged with a new curtain wall and palace buildings. Around 1400 King Sigismund also had a third curtain wall constructed and enlarged the palace buildings. At the end of the 15th century, King Matthias Corvinus had the interior part of the castle renovated. The Upper Castle also served for the safekeeping of the Hungarian royal insignia between the 14th century and 1526. In 1544 Visegrád was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, and, apart from a short period in 1595-1605, it remained in Turkish hands until 1685. The castle was seriously damaged by the Turks and was never used afterwards. The castle is now open to the public for visit.

    The castle is open TUE - SUN 9.00-18.00. Price: - Adult 1,400 HUF
    - student, senior: 700 HUF.

    The 13th-century citadel sits on top of a 350m hill and is surrounded by thick rock moats. The real highlight is just walking along the ramparts of this fortress and admiring the sensational views of the bending Danube and its surrounding Börzsöny Hills:

  • Nature | United Kingdom
    Updated at May 8,2015

    Around Hampstead Heath and Village:

    Start/End: Hampstead tube station.

    Minimum time: 3-4 hrs.

    Distance: 9-10 km.

    Orientation: Landscape Heath and woodland scenery and some impressive views across London. The Heath may be a bit complicated to navigation. Come on sunny weekends and you'll find many visitors everywhere - locals and tourists. This trip supplies very detailed instructions. Signposts along the Heath paths - help as well.

    Weather: only on 100% sunny day. No compromise. The walk crosses Hampstead Heath can be muddy in places after heavy rain. Most oft our walk is along non-muddy paths.

    Accessbile toilets: Parliament Hill staff yard, Athletics track, Golders Hill Park Café, Golders Hill Park Zoo, Vale of Health, Heath Extension, Kenwood House.

    Note: Many places is forbidden to bicycle or have barbecue.

    Health walks on the Heath: Suitable for all levels of fitness, but especially aimed at those just starting to exercise and older people. Any participants with health concerns should consult their personal doctor before coming on their first walk.

    Camden: Every Monday, 9.50, Meet: Hampstead Heath Overground Station, Contact: Camden Active Health Team,

    Islington: Every Thursday, 11.00, Meet: Archway Leisure Centre, McDonald Road, N19, Contact: Active Health Team,, Tel: 020 7689 9846.

    Barnet: Every Tuesday, 9.30, Meet: Golders Hill Park, North End Road entrance, Every Thursday, 9.30, Meet: Hampstead Way/Linnell Drive junction.

    Heath Extension: Every Sunday, 10.30, Meet: Hampstead Way/Wildwood Road junction, Heath Extension,, Tel: 020 8359 4600.

    In an EMERGENCY Tel: 999

    The earliest known inhabitants of the Hampstead area were Mesolithic forest hunters who settled here in about 7000BC, with their campsites being excavated on the West Heath between 1976 and 1981. A barrow on Parliament Hill suggests that there was a Bronze Age settlement on this desirable hilltop.In the end of the 17th century many wells containing  medical waters were discovered in Hampstead Heath. They gave Hampstead Heath a long period of reputation of 'Spa Area'. After a bright start, Hampstead wells popularity declined, a casualty of competition with other London spas. By the end of the 18th century Hampstead's days as a spa were over, but they'd managed to attract substantial development in the area and established its reputation as a healthy and attractive place to stay. The 19th century saw Hampstead expanding with the 1860 North London Line ('Silverlink') bringing in crowds of day-trippers to enjoy the Heath. By 1891 the population of Hampstead had doubled to 68,000 from its 1871 total, spurring on the building of new churches, chapels, schools, police and fire stations, a cemetery, water supply and sewage system, with a Town Hall being built in Haverstock Hill in 1878. Hampstead became part of London of 1888.

    We start at the Hampstead tube station - where Heath Rd (south) and Hampstead High Street meeting point.

    Head northwest on Hampstead High St toward Heath St. Turn right onto Heath St. Turn right onto Back Ln:

    Turn left onto Flask Walk. Turn left onto New End Square. Burgh House & Hampstead Museum is  on the right. Burgh House is a Queen Anne  building, built in 1703. At one time, After WW2, which it was lucky to survive, it was bought by the local council. It is now the home of the Hampstead Museum of Local History. One of the rooms is a wood panelled art gallery with regular exhibitions. There is a delightful, prize winning terraced garden, originally designed by Gertrude Jekyll (world reputed gardens designer) and maintained in her style with tables and chairs set up for the enjoyment of afternoon tea. In the garden there is a little wooden handcart, painted with the name Henry Kippin. Henry Kippin was the local chimney sweep, the last of three generations of Kippins who swept the chimneys of Hampstead for a hundred years.

    Continue walking (north-west) along New End Square and (in the junction) bend LEFT (almost straight on) to New End Road - with beautiful red-bricked houses along its left (west) side.

    On your right you've passed the 18th century Duke of Hamilton Pub:

    New End Theatre, Hampstead, 27 New End, is one of London’s leading Off West End theatres presenting the best in new and and issue–led writing, which includes musicals, comedy and classic revivals:

    We are heading now to the Heath and, first, to to several ponds.  It is approximayely 10 minutes walk to the Vale of Health Pond. Head west on New End toward Heath. Turn right onto Heath St. Turn right onto Hampstead Square. Turn left toward Holford Rd. Turn right onto Holford Rd.  Slight left onto Cannon Pl. Turn left onto Squire's Mount.  Continue onto Vale of Health. Turn RIGHT on the first path and a bit later LEFT (in the T-junction of paths). Two blue plaques can be found for previous residents DH Lawrence and Rabindranath Tagore.

    The Vale of Health Pond is on your left. Today, it is, mainly, a fishing area:

    Hampstead Heath walk past Hampstead Ponds, Pergola, Hill Garden and Jack Straw's Castle, north London, England  - photos, feature and comment

    It is 10 minutes walk to the Viaduct Pond.  Continue walking in Vale of Health (heading north). After 160 m. turn right and after 500 m. the Viaduct Pond will be on the right.

    It is 1.6 km. 20 minutes walk to the Wood Pond (very close to Kenwood House). With the Viaduct Pond (its length) on your back - take the forward path i.e: Head southeast toward Lime Ave. Turn left onto Lime Ave. After 160 m. turn left. After 320 m. you come to a junction of paths. Take the LEFT path. After 480-500 m. take the FIRST RIGHT path. After 160 m. in another junction take the RIGHT path and after 320 m. the Wood Pond will be on the left. Wood Pond is found to have a round island close to the shore with silver birch trees.

    GOC Hampstead 108: Wood Pond, Hampstead Heath

    More eastward there are: Thousand Pound Pond and Stock Pond. Further 10 minutes walk to Kenwood House. From Wood Pond head NORTHWEST with the path. On the next junction of paths take the RIGHT path (when the heath is on your right). Continue on this apth when Kenwood House (Hampstead Lane) is on your left (signposts will help here). (Do not take the path leading to the Pagoda). Open: everyday 10.00 - 17.00. FREE.

    There's been a house on this site since 1616, but the current neoclassical mansion was remodeled by Robert Adam between 1764-73. Kenwood House has fabulous landscaped gardens with open air concerts held in the bowl by the lake during the summer. The estate was bought in stages for the nation in the 1920s and the final acres being entrusted to the nation in 1927. The House just opened in 2014 after almost 1 year of restoration. Bus 210 brings you from the tube station to the front entrance.

    Central entrance to Kenwood House:

    Handkerchief Tree in Kenwood Estate grounds:

    View to the Heath from Kenwood House:

    Restaurant in Kenwood House Garden:

    Two Piece Reclining Figure, 1963–1964 by Henry Moore:

    Flamme by Eugène Dodeigne:


    Kenwood House interiors. The art collection, while truly sublime, is small. A wonderful collection of art: Rembrandt , Constable, Reynolds among others. The house has leather covered seats and you can sit on them (!) if you get tired:

    Self Portrait with Two Circles by Rembrandt (1661):

    File:Rembrandt van rijn-self portrait.jpg

    It takes 2.2. km. approx. 30-35 minutes to walk from Kenwood House to the Parliament Hill. From the Pagoda in Kenwood Estate, go down and turn right. When starts the downhill, pass through the gates. The path bends left (eastward). The path surface is now paved. Keep going straight down the hill. You pass Goodison Fountain on your left. The path continues east-south and you pass Wood Pond on your left. Further down Millfield Lane you pass the entrance to Kenwood Ladies' Bathing Pond on your right. Keep going straight along Millfield Lane (direction: east-south).From Millfield Lane you turn right to a gravel path. Pass traffic barrier and you pass Toilets and drinking fountains are on your left. Take the right fork at the end of the Bird Sanctuary Pond. Your direction now is west-south. After the Bird Sanctuary Pond is the Model Boating Pond. Turn left and follow the path downhill. Your direction is now southward and the Model Boating Pond is on your left. Following the path you pass the Men's Bathing Pond on your left. Your direction now is east-south. You will pass Highgate Number 1 Pond on your left. At the junction - keep going straight ahead. At the next junction take the left hand path  and with your face to the Parliament Hill Staffyard and the cafe to your right,

    Parliament Hill is famous for its iconic views over London. Tourists and locals lounging on the grass and admiring landmarks (The Gherkin, St Paul's) among the numerous tower blocks. Originally a point of defense during the English Civil War, it was named after the troops loyal to Parliament and was often referred to as Traitor's Hill. More recently, it is a film location and a popular place to fly kites. The surrounding Parliament Fields also play host to a regular farmers' market and house a public lido. Parliament Hill sports a state-of-the-art adventure playground. The imaginative equipment is designed to challenge children rather than keep them boringly safe, and there’s also a huge and popular paddling pool. Parliament Hill café: T: 020 7485 6606, Location: off Highgate Road, Parliament Hill, between the tennis courts/bowling green and the bandstand. Opening hours: 9.00 - 16.00 (earliest) 21.00 (latest) as seasons change.

    To go down from the Kites Flying top of the Parliament Hill to Keats House - we chose a bit longer route (there are at least three routes), but it is an interesting one meandering between more ponds. It take 12-15 minutes to arrive to Keats House. Head south toward Parliament Hill. Continue straight onto Parliament Hill road. Turn right toward S Hill Park Gardens. Turn right onto S Hill Park Gardens. After 160 m. turn right toward S End Rd. After 150m. turn left toward S End Rd. 150 m. further turn left onto S End Rd and turn right onto Keats Grove. Keats House, 10 Keats Grove, will be on the left. Opening hours: Summer (1 March - 31 October) Tuesday to Sunday: 13.00 – 17.00, Also open on Bank Holiday Mondays. Winter (1 November – 28 February) Friday to Sunday: 13.00 – 17.00, Last admission time 16.30. Admission prices (tickets are valid for one year)​: Adults: 5.50 GBP, Concessions (Over 60s, students and jobseekers): 3.50 GBP, Children 17 and under: Free.

    In this house Keats fell in love with Fanny Brawne, wrote some of his greatest poems and was nursed through tuberculosis before dying on a trip to Italy. It is a sad but beautiful place. Worth the price of admission only if you are interested in poetry and Keats. There is a tour of the house and a tour of the garden. Both are included in the admission charge. There is a beautiful garden and the house is in great shape and with historic value and heritage. Allow 1 hour. The guided tour lasts 40-45 minutes.

    File:Keats House.jpg

    Head east on Keats Grove toward S End Rd. Turn left onto S End Rd, slight left to stay on S End Rd and Continue onto 2 Willow Rd. This historic house is on your left. Entry to 2 Willow Road is by tour only for the first part of the day. Tours at 11.00, 12.00, 13.00 and 14.00 are filled on a first come, first served basis at the door on the day itself. Alternatively, you can explore independently from 15.00. Last entry is at 16.30. Prices: Adult: 6.00 GBP, Child: 3.00 GBP, Family:  15.00 GBP.

    2 Willow Road is part of a terrace of three houses designed by architect Erno Goldfinger and completed in 1939. It was one of the first modernist buildings acquired by the National Trust, giving rise to some controversy. Goldfinger lived there with his wife Ursula and their children until his death in 1987. With surprising design details that were ground-breaking at the time and still feel fresh today, the house also contains the Goldfingers' impressive collection of modern art, intriguing personal possessions and innovative furniture.The collection includes important works of 20th-century art by Henry Moore, Max Ernst and Bridget Riley amongst others, as well as original furniture and fittings designed by Goldfinger. A very interesting place and personality behind and well designed home that stands the test of time very well:

    File:1 2 3 Willow Road Hampstead London 20050924.JPG

    Sir Roland Penrose, The Real Woman by Sir Roland Penrose, 1938

    Return to the beginning of Willow Road (eastward, exiting Goldfinger's house - turn right) and turn RIGHT to Downshire Hill Road (the heath should be on your back). Consider eating at the Freemasons Arms restaurant (modern house and popular restaurant):

    Downshire Hill road is a splendid typical Hampstead with Georgian houses especially in its last section:

    St John's Church, Downshire Hill:

    File:Downshire Hill Hampstead St John's Church.jpg

    Head southwest on Downshire Hill and walk the whole road until its end.  Turn right onto Rosslyn Hill which continues as Hampstead High Street (350 m.). Turn left onto Perrin's Ct. Turn right onto Heath St and turn left onto Church Row. This is even better typical Georgian road with preserved houses iron fences. Church Row, often praised as one of the most attractive streets in Hampstead:

    Do not miss the St. John-at-Hampstead Church, 14 Church Row built in 1745. The wooded churchyard is a lovely spot for quiet contemplation. Many famous Hampsted residents buried in its churchyard including: John Constable, romantic painter, Peter Cook, writer and comedian, Kay Kendall, actress, film star of the 1950s, Hugh Gaitskell, Labour Party leader from 1955 until 1963, John Harrison, inventor of the marine chronometer,  J M Barrie whose children inspired Peter Pan, Jack and Peter Llewelyn Davies (children of the above) in the same grave as their parents and their brother Michael, in a separate grave,

    We are approaching the end of our day. It is 8-10 minutes walk (at most) to our last two destinations: Fenton House and the Admiral's House.

    Head west on Church Row (the church to your left) toward Holly Walk. Turn right onto Holly Walk (nice climb). Turn right onto Mt Vernon. Turn left onto Frognal Rise. Slight right onto Windmill Hill. In the middle of Winmill Hill, on your right is Fenton House. Prices: House and Garden: Adult - 6.50 GBP, Child: 3.00 GBP, Family: 16.00 GBP. Garden only: Adult: 2.00 GBP.

    Handsome 17th-century merchant's house with walled garden. Fenton House dates from 1696. It was built by William Eades, who designed a house with a minimum of carved stone detail. The house was purchased by the Fenton family in 1793. In the early 19th century James Fenton added Regency detailing and a classical colonnade to the exterior. The exteriors are largely brown brick with rubbed red brick used for window and door details. The house is two story, with a third level of rooms under the gabled eaves. Lady Binning bought this beautiful 17th-century house in 1936 and filled it with her highly decorative collections of porcelain, Georgian furniture and 17th-century needlework. The delightful walled garden includes fine displays of roses and a vegetable garden: it is really several gardens in one. A formal area of terraced walks surround green lawns. There is a separate rose garden, and a kitchen garden and apple orchard beyond. Unique charm and atmosphere.

    File:Fenton House Hampstead front February 2006.jpg

    Turn right onto Admiral's Walk. Discover the Admiral’s House built around 1700, and featuring in the Walt Disney film Mary Poppins.

    Continue along Admiral’s walk to one of John Constable’s residence and discover how the great artist attempted to paint the very nature of ‘wind’ itself inspired by his experiences here. It is 5 minutes walk to the underground station. Head EAST on Admiral's Walk toward Hampstead Grove. Turn right onto Hampstead Grove. Continue onto Holly Bush Hill. Keep left to continue on Holly Hill. Turn right onto Heath St and you face the Hampstead tube station.

  • Nature
    Updated at Apr 28,2016

    Tende - Train des Merveilles (the Wanders' Train from Nice to Tende and back):

    Start & End: Chemins de Fer de Provence station. The modern new station is at 4 bis, Rue Alfred Binet - about 6 blocks north of the Nice main railway station (Gare de Nice-Ville, Avenue Thiers).

    Duartion: 1 day. Weather: ONLY SUNNY DAY !!!

    Lunch: there are 3-4 restaurants in the town of Tende. All of them are good with reasonable prices. Expect some of them to close off around 13.30...

    Introduction: Merveilles means, in French, marvels or wonders. The name of the train line doesn't, actually, refer to the train itself but to the area of the Mercantour National Park in the Southern Alps where the "Vallée des Merveilles" (Valley of Marvels) is located. Tende falls within the eastern part of the Mercantour National Park. The wonders are the thousands of prehistoric rock engravings found there. This Nice-Breil-Tende-Cuneo railway line follows the Roya valley to cross the Alps into Italy. Tende, itself, is a small town, half-French, half-Italian and is one of the places from which you can access this Valley of Marvels and Mercantour National Park. There are a lot of lovely mountain villages along the line, along with great places for hiking.

    The train itself is nothing special: modern, comfortable, its carriages are decorated with images of the 3000 year old glyphs and there are, only, 1-2 carriages... 

    The track climbs from sea level to 1000m through more than 100 tunnels, few of them are spiral. A magnificent engineering achievement.

    It was built between from year 1882 to year 1928.  Much of the line is separate from the surface of the earth. 30-40% of the travel time is under tunnels and another 10-20% over viaducts. The rest  - you see pretty riverside or hilltop villages, spectacular cliffs and canyons, pretty forests and green, prospering valleys. Along the ride - there are 8-9 stops.

    The landscape beyond Fontane-Saorge:

    During the main season, from June to September you catch the 09.15 train from Nice. The full trip between Nice and Cuneo takes about three hours; between Nice and Tende is 90-120 minutes. Normally, the timetable is: departure from Nice-Ville at 9.23, arriving in Tende at 11.24. You can take your bicycle with you on the train, at no extra cost. To get back to Nice you need to check the railway timetable at the Tende station as it varies from day to day ! You are left with 4-5 hours for exploring Tende itself and the castle above the town. it's not a big town and you can do it in the 4-5 hours allowed before the afternoon train. The area around Tende is excellent walking country. The sights from the castle, perched high above Tende, over the town and its surroundings - are SPECTACULAR. The town itself - is charming and picturesque. In Tende do not miss the ultra-modern Musée des Merveilles to find out more about the rock carvings. Do not forget just exploring the narrow, sloping alleyways of the medieval core of Tende.

    Stops Along the Way, from Nice to Tende:
    • Nice main railway station
    • Nice St. Roche
    • La Trinité
    • Drap - Cantaron
    • Peillon Ste Thecle
    • Peille
    • L'Escarène
    (long tunnel)
    • Sospel
    (long tunnels)
    • Breil-sur-Roya
    • Fontan - Saorge (loops inside mountain)
    • St Dalmas-de-Tende
    • La Brigue
    • Tende

    During the train ride - you are  "flooded" by non-stop, informal commentary in English as well as French. Sometimes, you can avoid the commentated carriage and find shelter in a second, more quiet (and less crowded) carriage. The return journey has no commentary. Commentary on the entire journey:
    - Weekends and public holidays in May (except May 1) and October
    - Every day from June 1 to September 30,

    Prices: Prix : 15 € for adults, 7,50 € for children (12 yrs old +), FREE for children until 12 yrs old. No need to book. Buy your ticket at the counter the day of departure,  or reserve your Zou Pass at: (15 €). For 15 euros, ZOU! Pass allows you to travel for 24 hours unlimited throughout the Alpes-Maritimes region. Valid from 1 June to 30 September. Tende has a railway station on the Nice/Ventimiglia-Breil-Cuneo line run by the SNCF, with connecting service from Ventimiglia/Nice in the southwest to Turin to the north. Train services are mostly operated by Trenitalia.

    Tende, itself, is located in the French Alps within the French Mercantour National Park. The mountainous town is bordered by Italy to the north. The line of mountain tops between the two countries contains more than 20 summits exceeding 2,000 meters. The Col de Tende (Tende Pass), a strategic pass through the Alps to Piedmont, has been modernized to be a road and railway tunnel. Tende is split from north to south by the Roya river valley. The Réfréi river joins the Roya river within the limits of Tende.

    Tende is a medieval village and belonged successively to the Count of Ventimiglia in the 10th century, then the Counts of Provence and the Counts of Lascaris of Ventimiglia before being swapped several times between Italy and France. First to the Duchy of Savoy, then the First French Republic (later the Napoleonic Empire), then restored to the Savoyard Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont (which became in 1861 the Kingdom of Italy). From 1861 to 1947 Tende was part of Italy, and was damaged during the Italian Nazi invasion of France in 1940. Tende was the last commune to join the French Republic in 1947, when Italy was forced to give up (after defeat in World War II) some alpine areas to France. Tende is located on what was once an important route of the salt trade between Italy and France. During their reign of Tende, the Lascaris would demand a toll of those transporting salt and others passing through the region. While the main language of Tende is French, most of Tende's residents also speak Tendasque - a mix of the Ligurian language with Provençal influences.

    Note: the is a public restroom in the Bar de Sport in Tende's centre.

    Tende is a very lovely little Italian-style medieval mountain town, with the houses grouped tightly together on the slope of the mountain. You certainly feel that you are in a mountain town - a total opposite to a riviera town. The most striking thing about Tende, given its relative isolation, is the size of the town and in particular the very extensive old center, with numerous paths, roads and alleys to explore (on foot, the roads not being adapted to vehicles). The medieval houses, typically three-five stories high, are built sturdily from the surrounding rock. Buildings are typically medieval houses and alpine architecture, with narrow streets, vaulted passages and sculpted door lintels. The houses are roofed in "Lauze" stone, a local varient of slate, and are often dark in the shadow of the mountains.

    The renaissance period painted houses around Tende central square were built later than the smaller stone houses in the outskirts (see below):

    The main square in  Tende in memorial to the heroes of WW1:

    The Main Square:

    Fountain in the centre of the town:

    The view to the east from the town/village centre:

    Many houses are still made of wood. There are many "trompe l'oeil" paintings on the town buildings, sometimes the whole wall but occasionally just a single painted window beside real windows:

    Tende alleys in the ancient town are VERY picturesque. Allow half an hour for strolling along these narrow trails. Most of the residents, there, are far beyond their eighties:

    Place de Chatelain:

    Green "schist" doorways on village street. These doorways are carved from large pieces of the "schiste verte":

    Modern painted sundial:

    The most important religious building in Tende is the Collegiale Church of Notre-Dame that dominates the centre of the town with its tower and Baroque facade. The Collégiale Notre-Dame de l'Assomption is the large, dark-ocre building in the middle of the old town. The Count of Tende, Honoré Lascaris, ordered its construction in the 15th century. We quite liked the lintel statues of Christ and the 12 apostles. The decorative stone carvings of the 12 apostles above the doorway date from 1562, and the bright colours of the facade were only added in the 19th century:

    The interior is full of fine and ancient items. Open in the summer 9.00 - 18.00 and during the winter 9.00 - 17.00:

    The base of the Collégiale Notre-Dame de l'Assomption bell-tower is bright, but the sundial isn't very useful without its pointer:

    The main highlights around Tende: 

    The ruins of the 14th century castle that once stood above Tende - the Chateau Lascaris, largely destroyed in the 17th century - can be visited by following the steep path at the top of the town.  A walk of 40 min along sloping trail leads to the ruined castle or fort above the town. We do the climb with two parts. First, arriving to the highest viewpoint over the Tende town/village, and, later, continuing to Tende cemetery with further striking sights over Tende and the surrounding Alps:

    The trail climbing up over Tende:

    The views from the highest viewpoint are breath-taking:

    Viaduct and view to the north from the castle hilltop. The railway viaduct crosses the valley towards the station at the left:

    The view to the north-east from the castle hilltop:

    Ten km north of town is the Col de Tende, one of hundreds of beautiful sites in the region. The Col de Tende is the source of the Tende river, at 45 km long. The view to the south-east from the castle hilltop towards the Roya Valley:

    Roya Valley - south of Tende:

    A small fountain near the highest viewpoint:

    "Lauze" stones on Tende roofs - from the climb to Tende Cemetery:

    From there we climbed further, with our face to the south, to the town/village cemetery. There, we'll find the very few reamins of the ruined castle. The castle ruins themselves consist largely of one single 'spire' of wall that still remains. Particularly notable here is the adjacent cemetery and the lovely views back across the town and surrounding mountains. Today the proud silhouette of the proud central fort recalls the darkest hours of the Nizza Savoia wars between Nice and the Italians. It belonged to the Kingdom of Italy and then moved to France as a result of the Treaty of Paris in 1947. This central fort or castle extended both on the Italian side and the French side. The hillside Tende is overlooked by this spire-like remnants of the castle of the Lascaris. It  was built in the 14th century as protection from the attacking Count of Provence, Charles d'Anjou. The castle was destroyed in 1692 when King Louis XIV ordered his Marshal, Catinat, to destroy all fortified structures in France that might challenge his rule. The fort was completed in 1880 and was joined by a defensive barracks (today there are significant remains) that was able to accommodate about 300 men. The Central Fort was also served by a cable car that ensured the connections in case of snowfall. From this ruined fort - there are paths leading to other defensive positions of the Maritime Alps. As we said before, the only complete structure that remains is a circular tower, transformed into a clock during the 19th century. The voice of the clock's bells can be heard day and night throughout Tende.

    On the way to the ruined fort and the cemetery:

    Tende houses - from Tende Cemetery - view to the east:

    Tende houses - from Tende Cemetery - view to the east:

    Tende houses - from Tende Cemetery - view to the south-east:

    Tende houses - from Tende Cemetery - view to the south - the Roya valley:

    There are various scenic routes to follow into the valleys around Tende. The Col de Tende is one of the most attractive, and follows north from the town towards Italy:

    View from the cemetery to the north - the viaduct leading to Tende station:

    The remains of the castle of the Counts Lascaris: a view of the hilltop Tende and the Roya valley:

    The castle ruins themselves consist largely of one single 'spire' of wall that still remains:

    The tranquil area, near the river, almost flat:

    One big attraction close to Tende is the Valley of Merveilles, with literally thousands of prehistoric carvings to be seen in the rocks. Further examples and replicas can be seen at the Musée des Merveilles in Tende, The museum's name comes from the nearby Vallée des Merveilles. Do not miss the museum with free admission.  The museum documents stone age and other historic artifacts from the Mercantour National Park. It opened in 1996. Great displays in different languages: 

    There is notably a large collection of real and reproduced petroglyphs from the surroundings of the nearby Bégo Mountain:

  • Nature
    Updated at Apr 11,2017

    Bourton-on-Water, Batsford Arboretum (near Moreton-in-Marsh), Sezincote, Broadway Tower, Moreton-in-Marsh.

    Main Attractions: Bourton-on-the-Water: High Street, Dragonfly Maze, Stow-on-the-Wold, Birdland Park and Gardens, The Model Village, Model Railway, Cotswold Motoring Museum.

    Batsford Arboretum and Falconery, Sezincote House and Garden.

    Broadway Tower, Moreton-in-Marsh.

    Duration: 1 day. Transportaion: By bus: there are regular buses to Moreton-in-Marsh from Cheltenham Royal Well bus station (Stand E) on the 801 Pulham’s Coaches service. Cheltenham Royal Well - Moreton - MON-SAT: 07:40 (M-F only), 08:40, 10:10, 11:40, 13:10, 14:40, 16:10, 17:10, 18:30.   Moreton-in-Marsh - Cheltenham - MON-SAT: 06:50, 07:55, 09:15, 10:45, 12:15, 13:45, 15:00, 16:30, 17:40, 18:45, 19:50. Bus 801 Summer Sunday Timetable (May to September inclusive) From 7th May 2017: from Cheltenham Royal Well to Moreton Railway Station: 13:15, 17:00. From Moreton Railway Station to Cheltenham: 11:45, 15:30, 18:20.

    Bus 801 itinerary: Moreton-in-Marsh – Stow-on-the-Wold – Bourton-on-the-Water – Northleach – Andoversford – Cheltenham Royal Well.

    More information:

    Planning ahead your day: plan your visit during the months May - September and ONLY on Thursdays or Fridays. ONLY during these times - you can visit the stunning Sezincote House and Garden. It is a 1 hour ride by the bus (quite a bumpy way) from Cheltenham to Bourton-on-Water. There, you can have a 1.5 or 2.45 hours relaxed stroll and catch the next bus continuing to Moreton-in-Marsh. From there it is an 30-45 minutes (2.5 km.) walk to Batsford Arboretum. From the Corn Exchange in High St, Moreton-in-Marsh you head south on Fosse Way/High St, 32 m. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Bourton Rd and follow Bourton Road for 2.3-2.5 km. to see the Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre on your right. On your way you pass the Moreton-In-Marsh Caravan Club site (600 m. from Moreton). In their office you can get more up-to-date information.

    Bourton-on-the-Water is only 6 km. from Stow-on-the-Wold, and, is one of the most popular tourist spots in the region being serviced by the many shops, cafe's, and attractions. It, often, has more visitors than residents during peak times of the tourist season. Regularly voted one of the prettiest villages in England, Bourton on the Water has a unique appeal to visitors and residents alike, there is plenty to see and do with a wealth of attractions and shops, restaurants and tea rooms, or simply for you to enjoy some tranquil time by the River Windrush with its beautiful bridges throughout. It is known for its picturesque High Street, flanked by long wide greens and the River Windrush that runs through them. The small historic core of Bourton-on-the-Water along with associated areas along the River Windrush have been designated a UK Conservation Area. Walk along the river for a very rewarding and refreshing experience. The river Windrush that runs right through the centre of this lovely village, and the combination of the water with the honeyed stone, the low bridges and the weeping willows have a uniquely pleasing effect. The river is crossed by several low, arched stone bridges beside neat tree-shaded greens and tidy stone banks. These arched bridges have led to Bourton-on-the-Water being called the "Venice of the Cotswolds". Standing back from the river are traditional Cotswolds buildings, many of which are now tourist shops for the day-trippers and visitors. On the fourth Sunday of each month, there is a farmers' market. The Windrush was one of the rivers that burst their banks in the floods of 2007. Keep an eye on the weather. Since we stay in Bourton only very short time we stick along the High Street which is particularly picturesque with the River Windrush running through it with several pretty little stone bridges crossing. This walk makes use of the North Cotswold Diamond Way and the Oxfordshire Way to take you through the countryside to the nearby fishing lakes. You could also extend your walk by following the Windrush Way west along the river. The walk also passes Birdland (see below). It is, approx. 800 m. walk from the Primary School to the Birdland - all along the High Street (from north-west to south-east). We suggest you walking along the High Street (continuing as Rissington Road) the whole way to the Birdland (and the adjacent Dragonfly Maze) and, then, return (along Rissington Road) to the Model Village, continue south to the Windrush river and return along the river back north-west, passing the Tourist Information Office, arriving to the Motoring Museum and cutting back (north) to the High Street 801 bus station. There, catch the bus further to Moreton-in-Marsh:

    After walking the whole section of 800 m. along the High Street - you see, on your right and white and yeloow signs of the Dragonfly Maze. The Dragonfly Maze, designed by Kit Williams Dragonfly Maze - which comprises a yew maze with a pavilion at the centre. The object is not only to reach the pavilion, but to gather clues as one navigates the maze. Correctly interpreting these clues when one reaches the pavilion allows access to the maze's final secret.Constructed by Kit Williams of 'golden hare treasure hunt' fame. The maze deserves at least 45 minutes. It is NOT an easy task to decipher this maze. £3 per adult:

    The Birdland Park and Gardens Is an authentic zoo for birds and is home to some of the most exotic and rare birds from around the world, including the only group of King Penguins in England. It has a remarkable collection of penguins, some of which have come from the owner's islands in the South Atlantic. There are bird-of-prey displays and a penguin feeding demonstration. It has, also, a large pond full of salmon which can be fed by the public. Getting up close to the exceptional collection of birds is all part of the experience. The majority of the birds are NOT kept within cages, it is nice to see them in the open. Open Daily: from 10.00 (Except Christmas Day), Easter – 2 November: 10.00 – 18.00, NOV – MAR: 10.00 – 16.00. Last admission one hour before closing. Prices: Adult £9.95, Child (3-15) £6.95, under 3s are free, Senior / Student £8.95. Book online and save 10%:

    We return along the High Street back to the west and see the Model Village on our RIGHT (north). The Model Village is an excellent miniature of Bourton using authentic building materials depicting Bourton-on-the-Water as it was in 1937 at 1:9 scale. It was built by local craftsmen in the 1930s, and opened on the Coronation Day of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth1937. It, actually, replicates and depicts the village of Bourton - so, I do not know if it is worth the (quite low) admission fees: Adults £3.60, Children aged 3 to 13 £2.80, Over 60's £3.20, Under 3's Free. Open: every day (except for Christmas Day). Summer: 10.00 - 18.00, Winter: 10.00 - 16.00:

    Bourton Model Village is famous for it's miniature bonsai type trees, which are carefully pruned to keep them to scale. The Bourton village itself also features a large range of evergreen miniature trees:

    During the summer, a game of medieval football is played with goalposts set up in the River Windrush itself. Two teams play with a standard football, and a referee attempts to keep order. Crowds line the banks of the river, and the aim is to score as many goals as possible (while getting everyone else as wet as possible):

    From the Model Village continue north-west along Rissington Road (passing the Post Office on your left).On your right is the The small Model Railway Exhibition on the High Street has some of the finest operating indoor model railway layouts in the country. It is mainly a shop (with online service). It is frequently closed so double-check opening times. Formally open: June - August:  daily including Sundays, 11.00 - 17.00, September - May (Excluding January): weekends only (Sat & Sun) 11.00 - 17.00: 

    When you pass Moore Road on your rihjt - turn left to Sherborne St - to see the The Cotswold Motoring Museum in The Old Mill. It is home of Brum (the adventurous four-wheeled hero of children's TV). The Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection is fluent with vintage car collections, classic cars and motorcycles, caravans, original enamel signs and an intriguing collection of motoring curiosities. Open: everyday, from mid-February to mid-December 10.00 – 18.00. Prices: Adults £5.75, Children 4–16 years £4.10, Under 4s Free, Family 2 adults & 2 children £18.00:

    In case you call in Stow-on-the-Wold Market Square- do not miss the village's houses and renowned bakery. In Huffking bakery all the products are handmade and made of original Cotswolds ingredients. The staff members there believe very firmly in sourcing ingredients locally wherever possible. The Huffkins bakery and tea room deserve a visit for its own !!!

    As we said in our introduction, keep in mind it is a 45 minutes - 1 hour walk from Moreton-in-Marsh via the Monarch’s Way to Batsford. This picturesque footpath brings you right up to the Arboretum. The Batsford Arboretum is located on the outskirts of the village of Batsford near Moreton-in-Marsh.

    Opening hours: every day from 9.00 to 17.00 Monday to Saturday and from 10.00 to 17.00 on Sundays and bank holidays. Prices: Adults £7.95, Concessions (65+) & students £6.95, Children (4-15) £3.50, Families (2 adults and 2 children) £19.95. During midweeks expect very few people there, and you can spend a relaxing couple of hours strolling around the arboretum. BUT, during the weekends it can be VERY crowded and chaotic. it's beautiful whatever the season. The Batsford Arboretum really peaks in autumn with the vibrant colours of the trees (mainly, Acers). Great views and variegated vistas but ONLY in a bright day. Good map and paths well kept. Some of the paths can be quite slippery when it is wet. Expensive restaurant (better, canteen). Take a picnic with you:

    55 acres of Parkland overlooking the Evenlode Valley containing over 1500 species of trees. In spring displays of flowering bulbs, wild flowers, and magnolias. In the autumn is is an astonishing display of trees and shrubs. A lot to see - ponds, plants, wildlife, lake, garden centre, Falconry Centre (see below):

    The Cotswold Falconry Centre is right next to Batsford Arboretum and home to around 150 Birds of Prey – many of which can be seen in free-flying demonstrations each day. The Falconry Centre is open from mid-February to mid-November. Visitors to the Falconry Centre are eligible for a 10% discount on entry to Batsford Arboretum and vice versa. Just show your Falconry ticket at the Arboretum Entrance. Prices: Adults: £10, Concessions: £7.50, Children (4 - 15 years): £5, Family ticket (2 adults & 3 children): £25. Season tickets are also available.

    Up to an hour long and four flying displays a day, Free flying demonstrations take place daily from 11.30, 13.30, 15.00 and also at 16.30 in the summer. Please note: Dogs are not permitted at Cotswold Falconry Centre (except guide dogs). Exceptional experience. Astonishing range of birds of prey in action. Each display,  featured a different selection of hawks, falcons. eagles, kites, owls and even vultures, flying free or to the glove.... The birds are well kept and look happy to perform their admirable demonstrations.

    African Pygmy Falcon:

    Flint Burrowing Owl:

    Desmond - Great Horned Owl:

    Common Buzzard:

    Ferruginous Hawk:

    Red Backed Hawk:

    Bald Eagle:

    Black Chested Buzzerd:

    Black Chested Eagle:

    Bateleur Eagle:

    Lanner Falcon:

    Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis):

    Peregrine Falcon:

    'Grace' the Barn Owl, in flight:

    Snowy Eagle:

    Chris and Falcon in flight:

    Now we retrace our steps and head back eastward with our back to the Arboretum and our face to Moreton-in-Marsh. On Monarch Way (A44), on our right (south), 200 m. after exiting the garden centre - we have a path leading to Sezincote House and Garden. The path is approx. 500 m. walk from the road. This stunning complex is open May to September inclusive ONLY on Thursdays, Fridays and Bank Holiday Mondays: 14.30  to 17.30. Admisson: £10 (includes house tour and garden). A fabulous, fairy-tale place hindered by several points. Attention:
    no credit or debit cards accepted and no children are permitted !!! Tea and cake served May to September. The complex is a bit of a walk but disabled parking is available close to the gate but even from there there is a bit of a climb up to the house. Map is £3. No free maps. DO NOT buy a map. It is terribly outdated. They use machinery during visiting hours. Expect noise and dust.

    The fascinating Sezincote House (named in The Doomsday Book) (frequently not open for visitors) was built in Regency time by a man who made his fortune in the East India company and it inspired many features of the Brighton Pavilion. The architecture has an Indian style. It is topped by copper onion dome straight out of India. Sezincote House is dominated by its red sandstone colour, typical in Mughal architecture. The house is made of stone, taken from a nearby quarry and may have been artificially stained. Inside, the dining room has fabulous painted walls of an Indian scene painted by an artist who had never been to India. Inside, there is also a sequence of extra-large windows with an arch-shape at the top. When the Sezincote House is open - there is a 45-minute historical tour outlining the origin, history and furnishings of this amazing house. The house is a memorial monument of Colonel John Cockerell, grandson of the journalist Samuel Pepys, who returned to England after having a fortune in the East India Company. John died in 1798, three years after his return, and the estate passed to his youngest brother Charles, who had also worked for the company. Charles commissioned his brother Samuel, an architect, to design and build an Indian house in the Mogul style of Rajasthan. Once completed, Sezincote dazzled all who came. When the Prince Regent visited in 1807 he was so impressed that he went on to change his plans for the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. Designed by John Nash, it echoed the exotic Indian style he had admired at Sezincote.

    The landscape was designed by Humphry Repton. It is essentially a renaissance-style garden with elements of Hindu style, as seen in the crescent bridge with columns. There is a small area of formal garden to one side of the house, with a moderately nice water feature (which I would not describe as a "canal" as you can easily step over it) but it is strangely soulless and empty. The rest of the gardens, reached after a pleasant stroll (you go down) on mostly grassy paths along the hillside, are gorgeous but, again, hilly so you might a bit struggle (stepping stones under the bridge). There is also a fair uphill walk back to the entrance. It is a lot longer on the way back. The gardens' planting is lush, and there is plenty of it along the stream: the stream itself starts in a very nice circular pond with fountain, and paves its way down the hillside, through a larger pond with a bridged island, to a terminal (being renovated, during summer 2016). There are some lovely mature specimen trees to be seen, and there is a nice rambling "route" to be taken, which allows you see all of it -  you don't keep walking into dead ends.

    The temple to the sun god Surya at the top of the garden:

    In the charming curved orangery they serve superb and inexpensive tea and cakes:

    Return from Sezincote House and Garden to the A44 road (Monarch Way).Here you have two options, depending on the exact hour you finished with the Sezincote site: return to Moreton-in-Marsh High Street or catch a bus to the Broadway Tower.

    The #1 bus passes from the Batsford Arboretum bus stop (its destination is Startford-upon-Avon) every two hours: 09.30, 11.30, 12.30, 13.30, 15.30, 17.30 heading to the Broadway Tower near Moreton-in-Marsh. Please make sure with the exact timetable. The bus departs from Moreton-in-Marsh High Street at (MON - SAT only !):  09.28, 11.28, 13.28, 15.28, 17.28, 19.28. The bus arrives to the Fish Hill Picnic Area, on Buckle Street and to Broadway High Street - and from there you climb uphill 1.2 km. on foot to the Broadway Tower. Fish Hill got its name because, after their efforts of climbing the steep hill, local people would go to the pub at the top to refresh themselves, and would drink ‘like a fish’:

    The Broadway village is a Cotswolds classic for a very good reason, It was ’discovered’ by the Victorian artistic elite in the 1870s and has been adorning calendars and biscuit tins ever since. From Broadway High Street follow the Cotswolds Way (CW) Acorn signs up the climb to Broadway Tower which has a William Morris Room and refreshments. Bear in mind it is quite demanding climb uphill. The views all the way up are beautiful as are the sheep. Sometimes, you can see  deer nearby:

    The Broadway Tower is a unique place, standing in its dramatic location at 20 m. high (spiral staircase) it has some of the best views in England. You can see up to 16 counties from the top of the Tower. It’s a paradise for cyclists, walkers and wildlife lovers. Perfect for a half-day out. NOT suitable for people with mobility problems. Open: everyday: 10.00 – 17.00 daily. The adjacent Morris and Brown Cafe (excellent coffee), (toilet facilities): everyday 9.00 – 17.00. Prices: Adult £5.00, Child (6-16) £3.00, Child (0-6) FREE, Concessions £4.50, Family (2+2) £14.00. Bunker & Observer Post £4.00, Bunker & Observer Post & Tower combined £8.00. Annual Pass £10.00.Online tickets:

    The "Saxon" tower was designed by James Wyatt in 1794 and built for Lady Coventry in 1798–99. The tower was built on a "beacon" hill, where beacons were lit on special occasions. Lady Coventry wondered whether a beacon on this hill could be seen from her house in Worcester — about 35 km away — and sponsored the construction of the folly to find out. Indeed, the beacon could be seen clearly. Over the years, the tower was home to the printing press of Sir Thomas Phillipps, and served as a country retreat for artists including William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones who rented it together in the 1880s. William Morris was so inspired by Broadway Tower and other ancient buildings that he founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877. In the late 1950s, Broadway Tower monitored nuclear fallout in England; an underground ROC Corps bunker was built 50 yards from the Tower (see below). The bunker was one of the last such Cold War bunkers constructed and, although officially closed down in 1991, the bunker is, still now, one of the few remaining fully equipped nuclear/atomic facilities in England. Nowadays, the Broadway Tower is a touristic site with a country park with various exhibitions open to the public at a fee, as well as a gift shop (over-priced stuff) and Morris and Brown Cafe'.  Near the tower is a memorial to the crew of a WW2 British bomber plane that lost its bearings and crashed into the hillside here, killing all on board during a training mission in June 1943:

    On a clear day the views from the tower are stunning. It's a great photo opportunity. The views are incredible and made better by a fabulous day. You are at the second highest point in the Cotswolds with its beautiful landscape laid out beneath you, so take a few minutes to soak in the breath-taking views over fields, hills and hedgerows as far as South Wales in the distance:

    The Cold War Experience at Broadway Tower: fifteen feet below a field on the Broadway Tower estate lies a relic of the Cold War. Note: access to the bunker is via a ladder. There is no disabled access. Children younger than 12 are not allowed access to below ground areas. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Suitable clothes and footwear must be worn. The former monitoring bunker was once part of a wider network of similar structures all over the United Kingdom built to study and report the effects of nuclear explosions and the resulting radioactive fallout. They were/would be expected to spend 3 weeks below ground during a Nuclear Exchange. The Broadway Tower bunker was closed in 1991. It has now been fully restored to how it would have been in the 1980’s at the height of the Cold War. The Cold War Bunker is open ONLY at Weekends and Bank Holiday Mondays from 1 April to 31 October - 10.00 – 16.45 and the guided tour lasts around 45 minutes. Special openings are available to Schools, History Groups and pre-booked parties during the week. Admission Price of the Bunker & Observer Post: £4.00.

    To return to Broadway village - walk back along Coneygree Lane turning right (north) at 11th Century St.,  Eadburgha’s Church and back to the village. To return to Moreton-in-Msrsh - catch, again, bus Johnsons #1 from the Broadway Village High Street. It departs every two hours, Monday to Saturday: 11.58, 13.58, 15.58, 17.58, 19.56. In case you have still daylight time - we'll visit the beautiful market town of Moreton-in-Marsh. Return to the Corn Exchange in the High Street and head northward along this main street:

    On your left is the Redesdale Hall, town's main public hall dating to 1887, with a clock tower above. The Redesdale Hall hosted the local council house. It was erected in 1887 by Sir Algernon Bertram Freeman Mitford, Lord of the Manor of Moreton in memory of his kinsman, Earl of Redesdale (1805-1886). The White Hart Hotel is also visible beyond, as is the Crown Inn:

    Note the special houses, or better, cottages along the western side of the High Street. A few of them are hotels or guest houses or even manors:

    A bit further north is the Tourist Information Office and, on your right (east) is the Congregational Church:

    Moreton-in_marsh Infants School:

    Moreton-in_Marsh old Post Office:

    Moreton-in_Marsh shops:

    Old houses in Moreton-in-Marsh:

    A symphony of old roofs:

    Beyond the Cacao Bean coffee house - the High Street turns right (east) leading to the Moreton-in-Marsh Railway Station.

    Catch a train from Moreton (weekdays:13.58, 15.55, 16.56, 18.12, 20.01) or the Pulhams Coaches #801 bus to Cheltenham:  MON-SAT: 12:15, 13:45, 15:00, 16:30, 17:40, 18:45, 19:50.,

  • Nature | United Kingdom
    Updated at Aug 17,2017

    Tip 3: A short Walk along the river Avon:

    We start our walk from The Stratford Boat Club. THe walk starts on the section along the SOUTH bank of the river - where the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) building and Bancroft Gardens are on the OPPOSITE side of the river:

    In this urban section of the river - our direction of walk is from north-east (our back) to south-west (our face). Further down, on our left - are Stratford Sports Club grounds:

    Half way from the RSC building and the Holy Trinity Church (all on the opposite bank) - we see the Stratford-upon-Avon chain ferry boat operated manually. Last in its kind in the UK. The ferry is owned by Stratford-upon-Avon District Council. It links Waterside, roughly halfway between the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Holy Trinity Church, with the water meadows on the opposite side of the river. The vessel used on the service is named Malvolio, after the character of the same name in William Shakespeare's comedy The Twelfth Night:

    The river is full with activity, boats, colors and vibrations:

    We arrive to the place where Holy Trinity Church is opposite on the northern bank of the Avon:

    Here, the path leaves the river and take a short detour section a bit distant from the river, bending right, closer to the Avon - returning to the New Lock:

    50 m. further south from the New Lock, on the southern bank of the Avon, we arrive to a small, shallow waterfall:

    We walk 1 km. further southward along the river - arriving to a wooden, pedestrian bridge. We cross the river - heading to the northern bank. The view from the bridge to north-east is very beautiful:

    After crossing the bridge, we descend along small stairway, leading to an asphalted road, parallel, but, a bit away from the river. On our right - Lucy's Mill. The road/asphalted path leads to the Holy Trinity Church. We see its steep, high spire all along this road:

    You walk around the church, the graveyard on your left, the river on your right (there is a small entrance in the graveyard's wall), and we descend 10 stairs down to the river. We continue walking, north-east towards the city - along the Avonbank Gardens, along the river on our right. In the end of the path, you'll see, on your left, pretty close to the church, The Dell: a FREE, outdoor stage in Avonbank Gardens. Spontaneous, open-to-the-public stage of amateur groups performing. It is a good idea seeing a play in just over an hour in very relaxed (and beautiful) surroundings:

    The background wall of this stage is gorgeous:

    Now, on the northern bank of the Avon we approach the Swan Theatre and the RSC building:

    We connect, now, with the Bancroft Gardens or the Avon river Waterside. Don't miss, now (in Bancroft Gardens) the willow sculpture of Bottom (whom Titania falls in love with - Midsummer Night's Dream) - by Emma Stothard: