Tag Archives: Sunderland Winter Gardens

Favourite walks - beechwood path

Favourite Walks for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

We love to walk. Our favourite walks take us on modern multi-user routes, along coastal paths and old railways, but we also love to scramble along leafy, muddy woodland tracks in our own local woods. For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week, we are sharing walks, both indoors and out. All of the photos I have chosen, feature places we love to walk.

My header shot is of our beautiful local beechwoods. We know and love this path in all seasons and all weathers. Its surface can be dry and sandy or distinctly soggy, with deep puddles and rivulets cascading between the tree roots. Its popularity with cyclists in recent years has prompted the addition of limestone gravel to some parts of the path to keep it passable in wet conditions.

Favourite walks - the aerial walkway, Sunderland Winter Gardens
The aerial walkway, Sunderland Winter Gardens

I thought I add one indoor walk for this challenge. Sunderland Winter Gardens are like a little oasis in the heart of the city centre. This high level aerial walkway is a wonderful vantage point from which to view the impressive tropical plants in the Winter Gardens. For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge last week, I showed you the fountains you can see both inside and out at Sunderland’s miniature-tropical-rainforest-in-a-giant-greenhouse.

Favourite walks - Whitburn Coastal Path
Walking along Whitburn Coastal Path to Souter Lighthouse

At least once every Summer, we head out to the North East coast and walk along South Shields Leas to Souter Lighthouse or walk the Whitburn Coastal Path. Both of these paths are maintained by the National Trust along this beautiful and fascinating – but also the most dangerous – stretch of England’s coast.

When we aren’t walking coastal paths, we love to walk along old railways. Here in North East England, we have many old railway tracks that have been turned into a connected set of footpaths.

Favourite Walks - Lintzgreen Station, Derwent Walk
Walking through Lintzgreen Station on the Derwent Walk

Here we’re walking through one of the old stations that stood along the Derwent Valley Railway which carried passengers and freight through our leafy green valley last century when coal mines and steel furnaces were the main employers. You can see the train platforms on either side of the track. My son had evidently found something interesting and had climbed up onto the platform from where passengers would have travelled northbound through to Newcastle. This footpath is now known as the Derwent Walk, a multi-user route that forms part of the C2C long-distance cycle route, and which links up to the Waskerley Way, below.

Favourite walks - Waskerley Way
Heading out across the heather moors on the Waskerley Way

The Waskerley Way railway path takes us out over the heather moors and is another favourite walk of ours in Summer when the purple heather blooms. I love walking this path but you have to go prepared – this is real moorland and the weather can change suddenly. A warm Summer’s day in our valley can mean a cool and brisk breeze on the moor and passing showers envelop you – you literally have your head in the cloud! Warm clothing and waterproofs are definitely a good plan.

Favourite walks - going to our camp
Walking to our camp in the woods

Not all of our favourite walks are on wide and well-defined footpaths. We also love leafy woodland tracks. A few years ago we built a camp entirely from natural materials and there I taught the boys to cook outdoors over a small wood fire. The camp was deep in the woods, so the walk to reach it required a bit of scrambling through brambles and steep-sided streams. Here we are taking the narrow track along the top of the stream gorge on our way to cook at the camp.

Favourite Walks - going home along the old railway
Going home along the old railway in our woods

Wherever we may roam, we always return home, and quite often the walk home is along the old railway in our local woods. Just like our favourite beechwood path that we saw at the beginning of this post, we have walked the old railway in every type of weather – sun, rain, fog, frost, ice and snow. We knew all its muddy puddles. We sometimes even sledged along it on the way home from school, years ago when the boys were young.

When the railway was very dry, you could still see the impressions in the ground where the old wooden railway sleepers had lain when it carried the mineral line that took the coal from our village to Newcastle. I’m slightly sad that this Spring the old railway has been resurfaced with gravel to make a modern multi-user route. However, with the increasing rainfall due to climate change, the puddles in some places were becoming so deep and wide, a boat was almost needed! So perhaps the new path surface was the only practical solution 🙂

Do take a look at the walks others have shared for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge Badge

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Sunderland’s Fountains

A trip to Sunderland is not complete for our family without a visit to Sunderland Winter Gardens and Mowbray Park.

Fountain - Sunderland Winter Gardens
Fountain – Sunderland Winter Gardens

The “Winter Gardens” is really an absolutely enormous greenhouse, full of exotic plants such as banana plants and pitcher plants that you’d normally find in a tropical rainforest. It’s probably hardly surprising that in this mini rainforest, water features are important. One of our favourite water features is this stainless steel fountain. The water cascades down the surface of the tall steel tower, making wonderful wave patterns and catching the light as it flows.

Fountain - Mowbray Park, Sunderland
Fountain – Mowbray Park, Sunderland

Right outside of Sunderland Winter Gardens is Mowbray Park, a lovely old-fashioned municipal park, complete with a duck pond and this rather marvelous fountain. I love the way my son has captured the falling water in this shot.

Do take a look at the fountains others have found for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Large subjects - cumulus cloud

Large subjects for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge

Cee said, “Have fun and use your imagination and creativity with this topic.” … and I took her words literally. As Cee also pointed out, what we see as large can be purely a matter of perspective. I certainly had a lot of fun trawling through my photo archives to choose my selection for this week’s Black and White Photo Challenge on the topic of Large Subjects.

Large subjects - trees
One of my favourite stands of pine trees in our woods

This stand of Scots Pine trees hugs a small escarpment above a stream in our woods and we often pass by them. At their feet, bluebells grow in Spring and then a bed of bracken takes over in the Summer months.

Large subjects - Winter Gardens
Treetop walkway at the Sunderland Winter Gardens

Whenever we visit the Sunderland Museum to see an exhibition, we never leave without taking a walk around the wonderful Winter Gardens that are there too. Here in the heart of Sunderland is a miniature tropical forest in this fascinating giant greenhouse, complete with a treetop walkway from which you can gaze down on the amazing tropical plants and mesmerising water features.

Large subjects - Koi Carp at the Sunderland Winter Gardens
Koi Carp at the Sunderland Winter Gardens

At ground level in the Winter Gardens is an artificial ‘stream’ that is home to many colourful Koi Carp. On this particular visit a few years ago, my son took a whole series of photographs of the fish – in all their colours, shapes and sizes, including this rather well-grown monster!

Large subjects - a toad in the hand
My son holding a very small toad in his hand

Staying on the theme of small boys and creatures, this young toad is being carefully persuaded to have its portrait taken. My son’s hand looks very large compared to the tiny toad. We have spent many happy hours down beside our local river, especially in Summer when the new ‘toadlets’ are just beginning to leave the water and venture into the unknown lands of the riverbank. Our boys loved to catch the little toads but were always very careful not to hurt them.

Large subjects - Theatre Royal, Newcastle
The Theatre Royal at the top of Grey Street in Newcastle upon Tyne

The Theatre Royal on Grey Street in Newcastle upon Tyne is a large and beautiful building. I thought of the theatre for the ‘large subjects’ theme because in its town centre location its large size makes it difficult to photograph all of it at one go. This does not prevent the Theatre Royal from being a very popular building for photographers. Whenever I have been photographing the theatre there have always been several others doing likewise, from quick phone snaps to serious tripod set-ups.

Large subjects - cloud
A large cumulus cloud over our valley

Here’s another of my favourite photography subjects, clouds. From just outside our house we often see wonderful cloudscapes. I captured this impressive cumulus cloud as it sailed away south-west, up the valley.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my selection of ‘large subjects’ and do take a look at what others have found for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor