An Architecture Tour of Ålesund, Norway

The port town of Ålesund is often considered to be the most beautiful in Norway, largely down to the distinctive Art Nouveau style of architecture of the buildings, set on a canvas of several small islands, against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains dropping sheer to the fjords below.

The famous view of Ålesund from the Aksla Fjellstua viewpoint. (Blue Clipper is tied up alongside in the mouth of the harbour, on the right hand side of the picture).

Wandering through the streets of the centre is an ideal way to explore the Art Nouveau influences throughout the town. Now I must admit, I have never studied architecture or design, or anything creative beyond high school art, so this is a guide produced by an appreciative amateur, not an in-depth lesson in architecture.

What is Art Nouveau?

Saying that, let’s start off with a little introduction into the style known internationally as Art Nouveau. It defined the look around the turn of the 20th century; Europe of La Belle Époque, the gilded age that led into the darkness of WWI. Crossing architecture, art, graphic design, furniture making, and crafting, the style was heavily inspired by dynamic forms found in nature, making use of asymmetry, whiplash lines, and ornamental motifs like flowers, trees, and insects.

In Scandinavia, Germany, and the Baltic nations, Art Nouveau was known as Jugenstil (Youth Style), in Spain as Modernisme, especially Modernisme català in Catalonia, and in the UK as Glasgow Style. You’ll recognise the Art Nouveau style immediately in the entrances to the stations of the Paris Métropolitain, on the façades of Sagrada Família and the other works of Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, in the Willow Tearooms of Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow, in the stained glass work of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, and in the jewellery of René Lalique.

Why is Ålesund Well Known for Art Nouveau?

The reason Ålesund has such a prevalence of Art Nouveau buildings is the consequence of one fateful night in the town’s history. At around 2am on 23rd January 1904, a fire broke out in the factory of the Aalesund Preserving Company, on the island of Aspøya, when a cow kicked over a burning torch, spreading quickly to neighbouring buildings. Fanned by strong winter winds, the blaze quickly engulfed the wooden buildings around the Brosundet fishing harbour. By daybreak, embers caught in the wind had started several separate fires on the other side of the water.

Despite the efforts of fire fighting crews, including a steam-powered fireboat, the situation was soon out of control. Residents were evacuated, grabbing what they could carry and heading out into the winter morning. In total, 850 buildings were completely destroyed, and a further 230 seriously damaged. More than 10,000 people were displaced from their homes in the firestorm, and incredibly only one life was lost, having tempted fate by re-entering her home to save personal items.

Relief funds were donated from across Norway, and Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II, who regularly visited the area on sailing voyages in the fjords, dispatched three ships to provide humanitarian aid to the stricken population. The reconstruction of the town became an urgent project, and following Norwegian independence after the dissolution of the United Kingdom of Sweden and Norway in 1905, a way of cementing national identity.

The result is a beautiful collection of period buildings with the bright colours, Art Nouveau ornamentation, and architectural flourishes of the prevailing Jugendstil style. Today, Ålesund is a partner in the Réseau Art Nouveau Network, which connects European cities with a rich Art Nouveau design heritage, like Brussels, Vienna, Glasgow, and Barcelona, and less well known examples, like Darmstadt in Germany, Aviero in Portugal, and Szeged in Hungary.

Ålesund Art Nouveau Walking Tour

This post will lead you on a virtual tour of Ålesund, uncovering the Art Nouveau architecture of the town, and when you finally travel there yourself, can act as your self-guided walking tour. The route starts from Skateflukaia, near the Tourist Information Centre (Turistkontoret). The walk is only around 5km at most, and will take a couple of hours to complete.

Head away from the water’s edge to find Kongens Gate, a cobblestone-clad pedestrian shopping street, and follow it to the junction with Løvenvoldgata and St. Olavs Plass. Turn left, then left again outside the Løvenvold Kino (cinema) on to Storgata. Don’t forget to keep looking up at the buildings to spot details like flowers, sunbursts, carvings and spires inspired by traditional stave churches, and even dragons. At the junction by the Scandic Hotel, turn right and head uphill into Byparken.

The Løvenvold Kino on the corner of Storgata.

The View from Aksla Fjellstua

Byparken, a pocket-sized park at the foot of Aksla, is the starting point for the ascent up the 418 steps to the Fjellstua mountain viewpoint. By an incongruous monkey puzzle tree is a statue of Viking chieftain Hrólfr Ragnvaldsson or Gånge-Rolf (Rolf the Walker), supposedly a local lad born in Ålesund, and much better known internationally by the name Rollo, Duke of Normandy. For fans of the Vikings TV series, he’s the inspiration behind Rollo, ruthless brother of the hero Ragnar Lothbrok.

The steps are well-paved and have sturdy handrails, and benches are located every twenty steps or so, breaking the challenge of the ascent into more manageable chunks if needed. There’s no reason to rush though, as the views on the ascent are worth lingering over, and the ice cream selection at the Fjellstua as you soak in the panorama is just reward for the effort.

Almost nearly half-way. Five more minutes. Honestly.
Byrampen is an overhanging viewpoint part-way up the steps.

The view from Aksla Fjellstua is easily one of the most recognisable in Norway, and certainly among the most beautiful. Ice cream coloured buildings cluster around the harbours of the central three islands of Ålesund. The islands and skerries of wider archipelago lie dark in the sparkling water of Breidsundet to the west. And the sheer, often snow capped, peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps encircling the Hjørundfjord provide the backdrop to the south.

To return to the streets, there are several well-signposted walking trails from the top of Askla, all of which are much quieter than the steps, and give sensational views over the rooftops to the Sunnmøre Alps or the islands beyond. It takes around 20 minutes to descend from the Fjellstua.

Looking across towards the Sunnmøre Alps.

The Fjellstua is a stop on the Ålesund sightseeing train, which visits several tourist attractions around the town and has audio commentary in various languages, and is served by a hop-on hop-off bus, so climbing the stairs isn’t essential to appreciate the views from the top.

Island Hopping

Retrace your steps to St. Olavs Plass, then follow the edge of Ålesundet, the narrow channel that provided safe harbour to the historic herring fishing fleet and is now home to a flotilla of small sailing boats.  Hellebroa bridge, between the islands of Nørvøya and Aspøya, feels like the true heart of Ålesund. Crossing Ålesundet, it is the perfect vantage point for photographing pastel-painted buildings reflected in the sheltered water.

Blue Clipper in the harbour in Ålesund.

Two sculptures look over the old fishing quays near the bridge, reminding passers-by of the importance of the industry to the town. The Boy Fisherman (Fiskergutten) is said to invoke the optimism of youth, while nearby The Herring Wife (Sildkona) is a tribute to the women who processed and salted the catch ashore, ready for export across Norway and the rest of Europe.

Ålesund Art Nouveau Centre (Jugendstilsenteret)

Just over the road from Hellebroa is the old Swan Pharmacy building at Apotekergata 16, the highlight of Ålesund’s Art Nouveau offering. The beautiful interior of the shop was preserved while it continued to operate, along with that of the private residence on the upper floors, and after the business closed in 2001, it was redeveloped into the Art Nouveau Centre (Jugendstilsenteret).

Interpretation tells the story of the devastating fire in 1904, and subsequent reconstruction of the town, and explores the Jugendstil, Art Nouveau, and Glasgow Style influences that were blended with Norwegian folkloric art and Norse heritage to create a distinctive Nordic Jugendstil style in Ålesund. If design is really your thing, the centre is unmissable, as is Art Museum Kube (Kube Kunstmuseet) in the neighbouring old Norges Bank building.

Jugendstilsenteret features examples of Art Nouveau period furniture and interior design.
The old Norges Bank frontage of the Kube Kunstmuseet gallery.

Things saved from the fire

A short walk from the Jugendstilsenteret on Apotekergata, the area of Molovegen near the harbour mouth is home to the handful of wooden buildings that survived the fire in 1904. Similar to the traditional buildings of picturesque Bryggen in Bergen and Gamle Skudeneshavn on the island of Karmøy, they give a glimpse of how Ålesund would have looked at the turn of the 20th century.

One of the buildings holds the Fisheries Museum (Fiskerimuseet), a small museum that details the heritage of one of the biggest fishing fleets in Europe, and keeps traditional boatbuilding skills alive. The best views of the old harbour can be seen from the small lighthouse at the end of the breakwater.

The Fisheries Museum on Molovegen and the Molja lightouse on the outer harbour breakwater.

To the Church

Finish your Art Nouveau walking tour by retracing your steps on Molovegen, then turning onto Øwregata. Any diversion into side streets will reveal more eye-catching buildings and architectural features, but continue uphill towards the imposing yellow building of Aspøya school, to lead to Kirkegata and Ålesund Kirkje.

The large stone church replaced the original that was damaged in the fire. The foundation stone was laid by King Haakon VII in 1906, and the period style is evident, especially in the arch windows. The highly decorated interior is also worth a peek if you visit during their opening hours.

Top Tips to Explore Art Nouveau Ålesund

Don’t miss the Ålesund Art Nouveau Centre (Jugendstilsenteret) at Apotekergata 16, for the context behind the design movement, a glimpse of some stunning period interiors, and some specialist collections. The centre is open Tuesday to Sunday, with entry costing 90NOK (U18 entry is free). There’s also a gorgeous café, and small gift shop in the original pharmacy.

Art Nouveau inspiration from forms found in nature.

The Tourist Information Centre (Turistkontoret) on Skateflukaia is the starting point for guided tours through the summer season, and has a selection of guides and leaflets available in a range of languages with more information about the local architecture.

Take yourself for coffee and cake in one of the many cafés or bakeries around the town as a break from your walking tour, such as Apotekeren Kafe or Walderhaug Bakeri og Konditori. I recommend trying a couple of local specialities; either fruity, slightly boozy Skilpaddekake (turtle cake) or almondy, meringue-topped Verdens Beste kake (world’s best cake).

Getting to Ålesund

Hurtigruten coastal ferries call in Ålesund daily all year round. It’s an overnight sailing northward from Bergen, or three nights on board travelling south from Tromsø. Port stops are usually brief, however Ålesund is one destination with the opportunity to spend a few hours ashore or take part in an organised excursion.

My view down Ålesundet from my bunk on Blue Clipper, tied up on the quayside on the outer harbour.

A large number of visitors to Ålesund arrive via cruise ship, with just a few hours to spend in port. Fortunately, ships dock in a central location, making a walking tour the ideal way to explore the city during a stopover.

A bus service connects Ålesund with Bergen, with the scenic journey taking around nine and a half hours.

Have you visited Ålesund? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.
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Armchair Travel: 10 books telling the stories of cities

A selection of some of the best books that dive deeply into the daily lives of cities and the hidden worlds that lie within.

This instalment of Armchair Travel dives deeply into cities around the globe through rich and engaging histories, compelling travelogues, and works of fiction where the city setting is as much a character as the protagonists. These books really are the essence of armchair travel, capturing the character of a place and time yet unvisited.

Here are 10 of the best books that explore cities around the world, plus a bonus that looks into what makes an urban environment so alluring.
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Five Reasons Why You Should Explore Cities on Foot

There’s something about walking. Studies continually show us that walking can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, in addition to the benefits to physical health from moving our bodies just to get around.

Cities, generally, are designed to be walked. Walking means we can dictate our own tour schedules, with no peak time travel charge, and possibilities open up beyond bus stops, tram routes, and metro stations. choosing to skip out on places or stop and linger longer. It means a journey from A to B can be just that, or run through the entire alphabet of diversions en route as we invent our own routes and build new connections.

The distinctive structure of V&A Dundee, a world-class design museum that was part of the revitalisation of the Scottish city.

I think there’s so much to be gained from setting out to stretch our legs and test our bearings whenever we visit new places, or become reacquainted with the old familiar streets.  Here are my five top reasons why exploring cities on foot is the way to go.

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What I’ve been reading this season | Summer 2021

Climate Crisis

Our climate change turning point is right here, right now.

An article by Rebecca Solnit that examines our inability to recognise the impending climate crisis without a tangible catastrophe as we make our transition into the anthropocene era.

Just how historic was Western Canada’s heat wave? Nothing can compare.

An article from The Tyee outlining the devastating impact of the “heat dome” conditions experienced in North America in June and July 2021.

A heatwave thawed Siberia’s tundra. Now, it’s on fire.

A National Geographic article examining the devastating impact of fire in the boreal forests and tundra peatland regions of northern Siberia, ecosystems that lie over frozen permafrost soils.

We’re here to see the Great Doomed Thing.

A heartfelt longform essay by Robert Moor reconciling personal tragedy, as his partner survives a near-death experience, with a recuperation visit to a fragile ecosystem, and examining the idea that travel is heavy with personal meaning and ecological consequence.

Rewilding and Regeneration

Regeneration at Mar Lodge Estate.

Andrew Painting, Seasonal Ecologist for National Trust for Scotland at Mar Lodge Estate, the largest National Nature Reserve in the UK, located in the heart of the Cairngorms, describes the changes happening on a walk in Glen Quoich, Clais Fhearnaig and Glen Lui.

The Bleak Industrial Beauty of Scotland’s Heather Moorlands.

In an extract from his latest book, Stephen Rutt examines the intensive management of heather moorland for grouse shooting through muirburn, and the impact on the ecology of our uplands.

The Willow Walk: Why a team of volunteers carried 3,000 saplings into the Cairngorms

At the beginning of June, on a sparklingly clear day, I was one of the volunteers to lend a hand to transporting a few thousand downy willow saplings over the Cairngorm plateau to their new home in the Loch Avon basin. Sydney Henderson of Cairngorms Connect describes the project.

Let Kinloch Castle fall into curated decay, and become the ruin Scotland needs.

An interesting proposal from Fraser Macdonald, to recognise the continued costly upkeep of a piece of built heritage, a decadent folly, is unsustainable, and a move to managed decline, curated decay, would seem logical. And might just rock the established order in heritage conservation.

The Great Outdoors

New to outdoor adventure in Britain? Here’s how to keep yourself safe.

An excellent article by Ash Routen encouraging us to take responsibility for their own safety in the outdoors and develop a sense of self reliance as they push their boundaries. Timely too, with the number of people discovering their love of hillwalking, camping, and other outdoor activities on the increase.

‘It is treated as a commodity to be conquered.’ Can mountain tourism ever be truly sustainable?

A thoughtful piece on the damage caused to fragile mountain environments by mass tourism by Nick Drainey, and a potential slow travel solution in the form of the ecomuseum concept.

Connecting People and Places: A Policy Statement on Rangering in Scotland

A document produced by Nature Scot on the tangible benefits of an effective family of Ranger services across Scotland.

What I’ve loved this season | Summer 2021

Where I’ve been and what I’ve done

In early June, I was part of a team from the Cairngorms Connect project partners that carried 3,000 tiny trees up onto the Cairngorm plateau, to their new home in the Loch Avon basin. The downy willow (Salix lapponum) saplings are rare trees, which can survive in the low temperatures and high winds, and an important species in the montane scrub habitat of the upper slopes of the mountains.

Laden down with willow saplings on the plateau.

Grazing pressure from deer and other animals mean only a few scattered plants remain, often in the most inaccessible locations, and too isolated from each other to guarantee successful reproduction. The idea behind planting the new saplings is to give the species a fighting chance, and attempt to safeguard the future of the montane scrub zone as part of a larger-scale habitat regeneration project. Read more about our day here.

The crags of Hell’s Lum and the Allt Coire Domhain in spate with snowmelt.
Looking back down into the Loch Avon basin at the tiny patch of green of the willows cached for planting the following day.
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Round the World Recipes: Greek Spanakopita

While international travel isn’t possible, I’ve been playing around in my home kitchen and recreating some of my favourite foods from around the world.  I thought my take on Spanakopita, a Greek spinach and feta pie, would make a great second summery serving of my Round the World Recipes.

What is spanakopita?

A real Greek classic, spanakopita is a delicious savoury pie found in every bakery in Greece and features on the menu in most tavernas. Made with earthy-tasting spinach leaves, sweet sautéed onion, and salty-sharp feta cheese sandwiched in crispy-crunchy filo pastry, it’s actually really simple to cook but looks like you’ve made a great deal of effort in the kitchen.

Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, there’s plenty of opportunity to get creative, and play around with different flavours and techniques. Try other green leafy vegetables, using leeks rather than onions, or adding other cheeses like ricotta or halloumi. Or try using different herbs depending on your taste.

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Gear Review | Alpkit Numo Sleeping Mat

Whether or not you get a good night of sleep (or even just a series of small naps during the darker hours) on a backpacking trip has a real impact on how much you enjoy the experience. A comfortable sleeping mat helps with rest and recovery at the end of a long day of walking or biking, turning your multi-day expedition into an enjoyable undertaking, letting you push yourself on a personal challenge, rather than make an arduous slog back to civilisation.

So what am I looking for in an inflatable sleeping mat? Mostly I want to be able to have a comfortable night of sleep*, without my hips sinking through to touch the ground. I want to be able to move in my sleep without it rustling like I’m sleeping in an empty crisp packet. And I want it to be lightweight and packable for backpacking and bikepacking trips.

*I’m not expecting it to silence the cuckoo that starts to call from around 3am anywhere in Scotland where you can see a tree during May and June.

How I tested the Alpkit Numo

I tested the Alpkit Numo with a strenuous overnight camp on the living room floor, followed by a few cheeky bivvies in locations I won’t divulge as wild camping was not permitted. After that I took it as part of my kit to complete the TGO Challenge coast to coast crossing of Scotland in May 2019, using it for 10 of the 11 days I took to complete my route.

Testing out the Alpkit Numo sleeping mat in a camp at the end of the garden.

Product description

The Alpkit Numo is a compact and lightweight inflatable sleeping mat. The dimensions are 180cm x 48cm, tapering to 43cm at the foot, and it weighs in at just 375 grams (including the stuffsack and repair kit).

Once inflated it provides 8.5cm of cushioning. The mat is inflated by blowing through a single valve, and it’s claimed just 12 breaths will inflate the chambers sufficiently to give a comfortable fill.

The Numo is constructed from quite rugged-feeling  TPU coated ripstop nylon, with some insulating hollowfill fibre in the upper part of the mat. With no foam inside, the Numo rolls up into a stuffsack giving a compact package 21cm x 8cm diameter (slightly larger than a can of cider, just a little smaller than a bottle of red wine).

Field results

Inflating the mat takes a lot of puff, and left me a little light headed after a long day of walking in the sun across Rannoch Moor, but it was pretty quick to prepare my bed for the night. The fabric and construction feels quite rugged and resistant to abrasion, but as an air mat, would be vulnerable to puncture by a sharp stone or twig.

The six large air chambers run lengthways on the mat, and the outer chambers are slightly larger to keep you quite central. The thickness of the mat means even side sleepers will be comfortable lying on it, and it didn’t rustle or crinkle during the night.

I’m really not so tall, just 1.67 metres (that’s 5’5.5″, and half is very important), so the length of the mat at 1.80 metres was perfect for me to sleep in my usual way like a sprawling starfish or the outline of body at a crime scene. If you’re much taller or broader, you may find it’s a little too short for you.

There’s some hollow fibre insulation in the upper part of the mat, but that’s all the Numo provides. However, I found it was fine during some frosty nights in early spring in Scotland, with the coldest temperatures dropping to around -5°C overnight. Any colder, or in snowy conditions, I’d try it in combination with a closed cell foam mat for additional insulation from the ground.

Two days before the end of the TGO Challenge, my mat developed a slow air leak that left me lying on the ground during the night, but thankfully insulated by the rum consumed in the Mason’s at Tarfside. Once I got home and located the leak, I was able to use the repair kit and a youtube film to patch the puncture, and so far, it’s still holding.

If my repair hadn’t worked, Alpkit offer a 3-year warranty to repair or replace the product, and have a repair station that can attempt a fix outwith that period.

Worth the money?

Absolutely. There’s no similar product available anywhere near as low cost as the Alpkit Numo, so though it’s not perfect, for backpackers on a budget, it’s ideal.

My bothy bed for the night, using the footprint of my tent to protect the sleeping mat from splinters in the table.

Conclusion

While it might be possible to find other inflatable mats that are lighter and warmer, there’s nothing else I’ve seen that matches the size and weight with the low price, making it a great budget option and a gateway into the world of lightweight camping.

The construction of the Numo feels like it would be quite resistant to wear and tear, and last well, but it’s also vulnerable to punctures that would leave you lying on the ground with no insulation. So with the caveat that care needs to be taken when locating your sleeping spot for the night, I would recommend it to backpackers and bikepackers for three seasons of expedition use.

Disclaimer: I bought the Alpkit Numo sleeping mat with my own money after all the bills were paid. This is my honest review after several months of use.

If you’ve got any questions about finding a sleeping mat to suit you, leave a message in the comments below.
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Armchair Travel: 10 of the best books about cycling adventures

A selection of some of the best books about cycling adventures and exploring the world by bike.

This instalment of Armchair Travel sets out on a two-wheeled adventure, looking at some of the best books about exploring the world by bicycle. These books capture the beauty and simplicity of a self-propelled adventure, whether you’re planning to take inspiration for your own trip or just travel vicariously and avoid being saddle-sore at the end of the day.

Here are 10 of my favourite books about engaging pedal-power and travelling on two-wheels.
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What I’ve been reading this season | Spring 21

Walking

How 2020 became the year of the walker

In this article, Alan Franks explores how the shrinking of our personal geographies imposed by travel bans and lockdown restrictions to manage the Covid-19 pandemic played out with a deeper, more textured connection built through local walking.

Is walking the most adventurous way to travel?

Leon McCarron shares experiences and lessons learned from many miles travelled on foot, including the idea that walking connects conversations as much as places.

Werner Herzog: ‘The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot’

An interview with Herzog about his friendship with travel writer, fellow walker, and subject of his latest film, Bruce Chatwin. The piece explores the idea that the focus of travel should be on the pursuit of curiosity and ideas, rather than arrival in the destination.

“Walking” by Henry David Thoreau

A classic essay by Thoreau, first published in 1862. A long and absorbing read from one of the key figures in the development of nature writing.  Make yourself a coffee and settle in, and I’d be interested to hear your take on this in the comments below.

Winter

Having a miserable winter? Go for a walk

A piece by Dan Rubinstein with a Canadian perspective on walking through the winter in a landscape shaped by Covid-19, and the opportunities moving slowly through our surroundings can bring.

The positivity we feel during or after a walk, no matter the weather, isn’t happenstance. Rather, it’s the result of how our brains respond to natural environments, including tiny pockets of urban green space, and how we process information accumulated at a pedestrian four to six kilometres per hour.

Following Footprints

Tracing tracks and trails left in the snow gives Ben Dolphin an insight into the winter habits of local wildlife on a snowshoeing trek near his home in Fife. A taste of what this incredibly snowy winter was like while we languished in lockdown.

Snowshoes in Scotland – More than just a novelty?

A guide to getting out into the Scottish hills on snowshoes by Alex Roddie, including what to look for when buying a pair.

Country Diary: Following in the Footsteps of Nan Shepherd

Winter wanders around Creag Dubh in the Cairngorms connect Merryn Glover with the rich details found in the work of Nan Shepherd.

Women Outdoors

The shocking murder of Sarah Everard, who went missing in London in early March 2001 after walking home alone from seeing a friend, raised a huge amount of discussion in online forums and prompted some thoughtful responses examining the experience of women taking part in outdoor activities, particularly when solo or in isolated locations.

Sarah Everard: Why women shouldn’t have to risk their freedom for safety

Some great analysis of advice given to women, personal safety strategies, and the conflicts and complexities that exist in the discussion and development of solutions from The Conversation.

If anything is going to change, a dramatic culture shift is needed. The widespread prevalence of violence and harassment also needs to be acknowledged – and challenged – without putting the responsibility on women.

Reclaim these Peaks – Women’s Safety Outdoors is Everyone’s Problem

Ruth Keely shares responses from conversations on social media, and examines how the perception of threat from harassment and violence results in women altering or mitigating their participation in activities.

The BAME Women Making the Outdoors More Inclusive

An article from the Guardian profiling three inspiring women, Zahrah Mahmood, Riane Fatinikun, and Omie Dale, who challenge us to recognise additional barriers to accessing to the countryside exist for women of colour, and are challenging perceptions, encouraging participation, and making the outdoors more inclusive.

Our outdoors are for everyone. Safe, enjoyable access to outdoor space should not be a privilege.

What I’ve loved this season | Spring 2021

Where I’ve been and what I’ve done

At the end of March I packed up my stuff to move house again, after a winter in Aberdeen, to relocate to Ballater, in the heart of the area I cover as part of my job as a seasonal ranger for the Cairngorms National Park. I’m glad to be back on Deeside, and have some fantastic locations to visit available right from my doorstep.

The weather early in spring was stunning; bright warm afternoons following crisp mornings where the temperatured dropped below freezing overnight. Perfect conditions to get out on some of the walks around Ballater, like the Seven Bridges route along the side of the River Dee.

Stopping by a pool on the riverside in Strathdee, near Braemar, to listen to the frog chorus. It’s hard to make out in the picture, but I counted over one hundred toads in the pool.
A wander up Glen Ey, near Braemar. Despite the low cloud and occasional drizzle, some excellent wildlife sightings from ground-nesting wading birds to soaring raptors overhead.
Continue reading “What I’ve loved this season | Spring 2021”