A Day In Dartmoor National Park, England

Stepping over another gnarled and twisted tree root my foot reaches for the wet slate bedrock path beyond. I pause to watch streams of water gush down the muddy bank before disappearing underneath the path below my feet. Glancing across to where the bank drops away on my right I watch the water suddenly reappear…

Stepping over another gnarled and twisted tree root my foot reaches for the wet slate bedrock path beyond. I pause to watch streams of water gush down the muddy bank before disappearing underneath the path below my feet. Glancing across to where the bank drops away on my right I watch the water suddenly reappear before tumbling down the hillside and disappearing between the ivy consumed trees.

From the rumble of flowing water that emanates from the bottom of the gorge, through the moisture hanging thickly in the air, to the droplets which coating glistens on every surface, water is definitely the theme of this lusciously fertile environment.

Out of the three possible options I'm taking the three-mile 'long and easy' walk through Lydford Gorge in the west of Dartmoor National Park.

During the 17th Century Lydford Gorge was infamous for being the hideout of the Gubbins family of outlaws who violated the neighborhood. Its turbulent history now long gone the gorge serves as a haven for walkers, almost Tolkien-esque with its idyllic moss-covered rocks and fallen timbers.

I follow the path as it twists and winds its way between trees that seem to cling willingly to the steep sides of the deepest gorge in the southwest. As I descend from the hilltop I follow the River Lyd until reaching the hubble spectacle of the longest waterfall in Devon.

The water from the river tumbles almost vertically down the 90ft drop that constituents White Lady falls. After pausing for a few moments to stand in awed admiration I cross the river and continue my journey.

Occasional the water appears silken as it flows peacefully over the riverbed but mostly it courses, surges and crashes over the rocks with unbounded energy. At this point of my journey the reason for the warning about treacherous paths I received becomes irrelevant. As I cling to the metal handrail while carefully stepping over the water-soaked rock my feet remain only inches from the gushing waters edge. After some arduous climbing my efforts are rewarded by the sight of the second natural spectacle this gorge harbors, The Devil's Cauldron.

The cauldron is a whirlpool whose circular shape has been carved deep into the steep-sided cliffs by trapped rocks. The water sees to furious bubble as if boiling as it thunders between the rock faces frothing manically. I step out onto the metal walkway that permits an aerial view of the cauldron to appreciate the awesome noisy power of the torrential water flooding through the restricted passage. After a few minutes and a few photos I leave the cauldron behind and ascend the gentle stroll back up the gorge. The sudden change of environment as I step from the dark, damp gorge into the warm daylight makes it seem almost otherworldly.

I then enjoy a forty-minute drive through the heart of the Dartmoor National Park that offers the opportunity to really appreciate the spectacular dancing of light on the moorlands rustic color scheme. This large expanse of pristine moorland being the origin of Dartmoor's national park status

My next destination starts at the Bellever Forest. Upon arrival I decide to take the historic bridleway called The Lich Way to my destination. During medieval times The Lich Way was known as the 'Way of the Dead' due to it being the path along which coffins were transported on their way to the churchyard. My destination is the Bellever Tor. A Tor is simply an outcrop of rocks that rises abruptly from the surrounding gentle slopes. This particular Tor promises spectacular views across Dartmoor.

The path to the Tor is a fairly gentle walk presenting easy access for all abilities.

I am more than happy to enjoy the number of opportunities the route offers to pause and admire the views of the yellow and purple blanket of heather that races off towards the horizon.

As the Tor comes into view the striking forms of the rippled rocks jutting from the soil contrasts imposingly with the soft contours of the hillside. The rocks seem to stare out timelessly across the Dartmoor landscape like monuments or unfinished statues. Their hard weathered faces standing as silent witnesses to the ravaging wind and rain which often punishes this beautiful but barren part of the country.

As I embark upon the climb to the top of the Tor my hands grip tightly to the coarse surface of the lichen covered granite rocks. Upon reaching the top I witness the heart-stopping exhilaration as I stand up to be satisfied by the stunning rolling views across the rugged landscape. I look out over the autumnal shaded patchwork of rusted oranges, dusty browns, faded greens and the striking but delicate mauve of the heather. In the distance can be seen the massive lines of the nearby prehistoric houses.

After leaving the Bellever Tor I embark on the twenty-minute drive to the lovely village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Thankfully as I traverse the winding single-track road the only opposition traffic that greets me is a couple enjoying a leisurely trip in a horse trap.

The world-famous St Pancras Church, also known as the Cathedral of the moor, dominates the village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor. The elegant stone built cafés, craft shops, pubs and art galleries that make up the rest of the village center seem to gather around its imposing stature.

After exploring for a while I decide to stop at one of the cafés to enjoy the day's generous weather and relax with a cream tea. As the sun's rays beat lazily down in the fading afternoon I sit and watch the numerous other visitors as they explore the village. Cars patially crawl along the roads weaving between the many tourists crisscrossing the road. Since its compact size the village is busy with people out to enjoy it's delightful charm. Many join me at the café; many poke around the shops investigating the goods on offer while many sit on the park benches simply watching the world go by.

After soaking up the atmosphere it's time to depart for my next destination. Found only a few minutes up the road The Hound Tor is steeped in local history and mystery. The tor is so named due to the similarity of the rock formations to dogs' heads peering over the hillside. It is also supposedly the inspiration for the Sherlock Holmes adventure The Hound of the Baskervilles

I pause at the foot of one of the rocks as a petrified girl of about ten is patiently guided down by her father. The climb to the top is not demanding but it's certainly not for the faint hearted. But for those who do dare to rise to the challenge the reward is a view even more stunning than the Bellever Tor. Despite the wind it is certainly worth standing up and absorbing the 360-degree panoramic views.

To the southeast of the tor can be seen the remains of Hundatora, a deserted medieval village. After descending from the rock I decide to pay a visit to Hundatora.

Despite the busyness of the village it's interesting to look around, soak up the atmosphere and take a moment to imagine the history of the lives that once occupied the site. People stand in discussion of the villages' plan. Children play enthusiastically between the rocky outlines of the houses and run down the ancient streets. In one house sets a tie-dye wearing couple with a flask of tea relaxing in meditation on the thought of the long gone village.

After my walk around the village it's time to head back to the car and end my day in Dartmoor.

Topes De Collantes Cuba

Covering approximately 80 square miles, Topes de Collantes (Collantes Highs) is a nature reserve park in the Escambray Mountain range in Cuba, 3 miles above the city of Trinidad. At near 2,600ft above sea level it is the third highest peak in the range with San Juan peak at 3,740ft and Potrerillo peak at 3,054ft…

Covering approximately 80 square miles, Topes de Collantes (Collantes Highs) is a nature reserve park in the Escambray Mountain range in Cuba, 3 miles above the city of Trinidad. At near 2,600ft above sea level it is the third highest peak in the range with San Juan peak at 3,740ft and Potrerillo peak at 3,054ft higher. The Escambray Mountain range spreads across three provinces; Villa Clara to the north, Cienfuegos to the east and Sancti Spiritus to the west. The north face of the mountains are home to a variety of plants and animals while the much drier south face is home to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Trinidad City and Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills).

In 1954 the Cuban president built a massive sanatorium for tuberculosis patients in the area owned by coffee growers. It is believed that the president's wife Martha became a victim of the disease and whilst at the sanatorium fell in love with the place, persuading her husband to build her a house in the area. After the revolution the hospital was used as a school and then in the 70's it was converted into the Kurhotel specializing in rehabilitation and special therapies. Scattered through the seven storey high hotel you will find a huge collection of original Cuban art with 750 pieces from Cuba's most famous painters. In the 1980's the Mountain Campus of Las Villas University was built here.

Many species of animals are found in the reserve including Cuba's national bird the Tocororo, the Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpecker, the Cartacuba and some beautiful unique hummingbirds. When exploring this amazing reserve you will come across rivers, natural pools of crystal clear water, waterfalls, caves and if you are lucky enough to take your cheap holidays between June and September you will see hillsides covered in Cuba's national flower the Mariposa (Butterfly Lily ). This tropical rainforest boasts more than 40 indigenous species of orchid, 100 species of ferns with some more than 20ft tall, more than 40 species of coffee which grow in the shade of 130ft tall pines, West Indian mahogany, eucalyptus, banana trees, wild plantain , species of ginger, magnolias, jasmine and begonias.

There are lots of trips to be taken in the reserve including;

Paseo Ecologico – an ecology walk of just over half a mile which takes a path connecting the Kurhotel with the hotel 'Los Helechos'. Along the walk you will see mariposa flowers and ferns under a canopy of pines and eucalyptus.

Parque La Represa – built around 'Martha's House' on the banks of the River Vega Grande, the park is home to many exotic species and the tallest, oldest mahogany tree in Cuba.

Hacienda Codina – the estate has many species of orchids, medicinal mud baths, medicinal and ornamental gardens and Altar's Cave which has a secret passage which ends with amazing views of Trinidad and Ancon.

Parque Codina – ideal for camping and birdwatching with many hiking trails to caves and waterfalls with numerous viewpoints along the way.

Parque Guanayara – this park is home to the Cascada El Rocio waterfall, canyoning cascades, camping, hiking trails and swimming opportunities.

Caburni Falls – a 2 mile hike, through coffee plantations where you will see traditional farmer's houses, to the Caburni River which falls over a 203ft rock wall into a series of pools.

La Batata – a scenic walk which ends in an underground river-cave system with natural ponds.

This is just about as close to nature as you can get so do not miss a visit to this amazing nature reserve park when on your last minute holiday deals to Cuba, wonderful memories of Topes de Collantes Cuba will live with you for ever.

Photography Is Ruining Travel

Traveling is all about gaining new experiences and seeking new environment's to gain a wider knowledge of other regions on our planet. Every man and his dog has a camera these days presented in different formats from your standard digital camera to SLR cameras to camera phones and i-pads. In most cases these are the…

Traveling is all about gaining new experiences and seeking new environment's to gain a wider knowledge of other regions on our planet. Every man and his dog has a camera these days presented in different formats from your standard digital camera to SLR cameras to camera phones and i-pads. In most cases these are the first thing we ensure we have packed before traveling abroad, and they are one of a few items that we take out with us on our day-to-day adventures. The problem with cameras is that they seem to get in the way of our day-to-day activities. Everybody seems to have the urge to take a picture of just about everything they see, rather than savor the moment with their own eyes.

It's fair to say that some people spend their entire holiday looking through the viewfinder of a camera rather than with their own eyes. In many respects people are more interested about going home with a few good images representing their holiday rather than experiencing the holiday at the time for what it is. Not long ago I was on a boat trip in Namibia and we were being followed by a pod of dolphins riding the crest of waves behind our boat. I spent the whole time looking through the viewfinder of my camera trying to capture the perfect image of the dolphin's instead of enjoying the experience for what it was, and that was the experience of a lifetime, I never really got the perfect shot I so desperately wanted.

If we're not careful we could all find ourselves in a situation where getting the perfect picture takes priority over the experience, where does it end? When you travel on safari these days all you see is hundreds of tourists all peering down their camera lenses at the animal in front of them rather than just sitting back and saving the moment of being in the presence of such a wonderful creature. Although technology is positive in most ways, this certainly does not seem to be a great indication of things to come. There seems to be so much pressure these days for people to get great pictures to impress their friends and families back home that half of the holiday is spending trying to get yourself into a scenario where creating this picture is possible.

There was once a time when taking a camera on holiday was not important and it was all about the experience instead. These times seem to have come and gone and the future certainly does not look promising judging by today's standards and people actions whilst on holiday. With almost everyone having access to a camera these days competition between people to get the best picture is always going to be rife and until there is a fundamental change, photography over the experience of a holiday seems to be the way it's heading.

The Black Opals of Lightning Ridge

Australia's Governor General, the Honourable Bill Hayden AC, named the opal as Australia's national gemstone on 27th July 1993. Of all Australia's opal, black opal is the most exotic, treasured and looked for. Around 95% of world's supply come from Lightning Ridge in New South Wales or “The Ridge” as it is known locally. I…

Australia's Governor General, the Honourable Bill Hayden AC, named the opal as Australia's national gemstone on 27th July 1993. Of all Australia's opal, black opal is the most exotic, treasured and looked for. Around 95% of world's supply come from Lightning Ridge in New South Wales or “The Ridge” as it is known locally.

I first traveled to “The Ridge” in 1999, it was a year of good rains and even in the summer the countryside appeared to have a green tinge. The road and surrounding plains are relentlessly flat marked occasionally with a distant farmhouse or shed. A contrast to later visits following eight years of drought meant that some children and dogs had grown up never knowing rain. Located 8 hours drive North West of Sydney near New South Wales border with Queensland, Lightning Ridge is less a ridge than an ever so slight rise of ground swapping out of Australia's wide brown plains. Sparsely vegetated with scruffy eucalyptus and native grasses, the entire area covered with houses, camp sites and shanties. At night roaring portable generators power all the dwellings that are beyond the reach of the towns electricity supply.

The town is a decent size with paved roads and smart homes that decide at the fringes to the shanty town of the surrounding mine sites. The population officially is around 1,000 people despite the membership at a local bowls club boasts more than 2,400. No one can really say how many souls inhabit the local area but the black opal attracts people from all over the world to live and dig for the luminescent gems.

In my many visits I have met an aging ex showgirl from Paris, investment bankers, politicians and even the make-up artist who looked after Elizabeth Taylor in some of her big films like Ben Hur and Cleopatra. Fortune has favored many black opal seekers, others have found solace and friendship in the outback community and have never left. This town in many ways is still a frontier of sorts, hellishly hot in summer and subject to flooding of the nearby river at times. The swarms of flood mosquitoes can on occasions be so intense it is almost impossible to see and breathe if you ventured outdoors unprotected.

There are many rare unique sights and places to visit in “The Ridge.” One of the pastimes of visitors is to sift through some piles of dirt that miners have left aside in their diggings. This is known as “noodling” and a number of famous black opals have been found this way. What better way to relax after a day of sifting through the dirt and dust than to swim in the bath water hot Artesian Bores. These bores are from Australia's Artesian Basin, when rain falls upon the inland side of the Great Dividing Range, the water seeps underground and a million or so years later bubbles above ground into artificial pools. A nifty local way to keep cool in summer is to wear a light shirt into the water, when you step out into the hot wind the evaporative effect is so cool it takes your breath away!

Another unusual way to look around the camp sites is to take the self drive “Car Door Tour,” the painted doors of cars have been hung in trees. This way you can take the red door tour or green and so on guided by tree bound car doors. It is a great way to find your way around the maze of opal diggings without needing your GPS to get home. This is worth doing just to get a glimpse of outback architecture such as the Astronomers Monument and Amigo's Castle along with other unique building styles. In town there is the house built of bottles, numerous opal mine tours and a number of shops where you can buy the precious black opal gems. One of the more unusual things you are ever likely to do is pub crawl through the bush taking a swig at “The Glengarry Hilton,” “The Sheepyard Inn” and “The Club in the Scrub.”

Below ground is of course where most of the action lies for miners of black opal. Visitors are not excluded from the cool tunnels, tours undertake to show sculptures and even a cinema underground. There are many eccentricities about Lightning Ridge and the people who live in the black opal country. Overall, like many places of the world, the heart of Lightning Ridge lies in its community, it's why I keep returning.

Cao Bang, A Picturesque Place of People and Scenery

Waking up early in the morning, our adventure begun by visiting the local people in Quang Hoa district. The locals here are mostly Tay, Nung and H'Mong tribes, each has its own customs and costumes. It's quite hard to distinguish amongst them if it's your first visit. I find it very interesting throughout all my…

Waking up early in the morning, our adventure begun by visiting the local people in Quang Hoa district. The locals here are mostly Tay, Nung and H'Mong tribes, each has its own customs and costumes. It's quite hard to distinguish amongst them if it's your first visit. I find it very interesting throughout all my travels to Vietnam that there are 54 different tribes in Vietnam, there is so much diversity in this country it is incredible. Talking to the guide, he shares his knowledge about the tribal costumes; costumes of Tay women look like Ao Dai but in black. The most remarkable part of their costume is a highly detailed colored bell above the waist. Nung women's traditional outfits, on the other hand, have wide sleeves on both the top and bottom, wrists and collars are decorated by colored pieces of cloth. Costumes of H'Mong women are the most colorful in my opinion. The top part of their costumes are full of beautiful colors and flare; the skirt is also decorated by incredibly detailed embroidered motifs. As we visited a H'Mong family, some women were gathering together to embroider a piece of cloth, asking them what they were doing, they shared the process with us. This particular piece of cloth will be used for their daughter's wedding dress. Under their ingenious hands, the piece of cloth turned into a beautiful dress with colorful and delicious flowers. Her daughters wedding is very important to her and having the most beautiful dress is her gift to her daughter. Leaving the H'Mong family, we enjoyed the locally prepared picnic lunch. The most memorable food for me was the ant-egg cake. It is made from sticky rice, ant eggs and a special leaf called Va. The cake smells strong of Va leaves and is greasy from the ant eggs. This is one of the culinary traditions of Tay tribes. If you do not want to try ant eggs do not worry, there are other delicious dishes, one of my favorites, Roast Duck with seven flavors. The meat is soft, smells delicious and simply melts in your mouth with every bite.

After our dining experience, we depart for Ban Gioc waterfall on a road where the scenery is so beautiful that you wish you walking rather then driving. Far away, despite the high mountains that surround this beautiful place; I heard the roaring of the waterfall. It got me excited and motivated for my hiking trip towards the waterfall. The atmosphere is full of cool refreshing water vapor. At over 90 feet, the huge volume of water pouring down through the limestone steps is breathtaking. In the middle of the waterfall, there is a large stone covered with trees, over the centuries it split the water into three streams which look like three strips of white silk flowing down to the Quay Son River. In the rainy season, this waterfall only has a single stream rumbling down into the Quay Son River due to the large amount of water. Day and night, the water beats on the flat rock with white foam spreading out around it. It was a beautiful sunny day and I enjoyed seeing the steam form magnificent sparkling rainbows as it rose out of the water. After our hike, we took a big bag of chestnuts back with us that we collected through the trip; chestnuts in Trung Khanh district are very famous for their sweet taste and delicious smell.

At the foot of Ban Gioc waterfall is the broad river which is as flat as a mirror and a perfect place for swimming. The two sides are lush with grass, forest and scattered clusters of orchids. Buffalo and cows graze leisurely nearby as you enjoy complete serenity. Off in the distant is a mound of wild-purple daisy blossoms beside yellow-rice fields that are waiting to be harvested.

Ban Gioc waterfall is shared by Vietnam and China. Standing on the Vietnam side of Ban Gioc waterfall, I saw a Chinese tourist; they waved and we changed a smile. It's a wonderful feeling while standing in this beautiful area that is shared by two countries.

Leaving Ban Gioc waterfall, we headed back to Cao Bang province and stayed the night there. Our small group, shared pictures we took through the day and enjoyed eachother fellowship. Pictures can not describe all the beauty that surrounds this wonderful destination.

Make a Great Event Even Better With An Instant Pop-Up Marquee

If you're running or planning a social or commercial event, then hiring a marquee can help make the event even more enjoyable-and successful. At a corporate event or function, marquees can provide a quiet space for guests to get away and enjoy a private conversation. You can also set up marquees for dining and catering,…

If you're running or planning a social or commercial event, then hiring a marquee can help make the event even more enjoyable-and successful. At a corporate event or function, marquees can provide a quiet space for guests to get away and enjoy a private conversation. You can also set up marquees for dining and catering, and they provide an excellent 'Plan B' in the case of rain, wind, or other inclement weather.

You'll also find different types of marquees at outdoor festivals and music events. These provide shelter, privacy, and can also be used by vendors who are selling products and services. Marquees can be made more private by installing side panels. At a local produce market, farmers and other providers can 'set up shop'.

Companies use marquees for company outings, product launches, retirement parties, corporate entertainment at sports events-and more.

Schools, colleges, and universities use marquees extensively. They use shade for prize givings, sporting events, admissions fairs, and special events. Many families use marquees for weddings, family reunions, barbeques, baptisms … and other occasions.

You can hire a wide range of marquees in a wide range of styles .. They can be set-up fairly quickly if you're the DIY type or the hire company can install marquees in just about any location.

Factors to take into consideration when thinking about marquee hire include: size of the event; number of people; available space; possibility of inclement weather; type of meal (s) being served; type of vendors; length of the event; and expectations of the guests or attendees.

In addition to providing marquees, many hire companies can provide large, attractive, and sturdy umbrellas. Some marquee hire companies in Melbourne provide StarShades with its robust and unique design. The 'giant' and strikingly elegant StarShade is 75sq / m and is large enough to accommodate 120 people standing! The 'Large' StarShade is 40sq / m and can accommodate 60 people standing. So the StarShade is much bigger than it appears in photos-and must be seen to be fully appreciated.

Accessories are very important to individuals and companies that rent marquees. Accessories include folding chairs, patio tables, trestle tables, red carpets, and, for the winter-heaters. Finding the right marquees, umbrellas, StarShades, and accessories begins with an evaluation of your needs. Then you can rest assured you have the right marquee and related items to help you make your outing, festival, or event a complete and total success.

Great Places to Experience the Outdoors in New Zealand

New Zealand is known for having a spectacular range of scenery; beautiful mountain ranges, landscapes, lakes and oceans, glaciers, and geothermal wonders. So it's only natural that such a beautiful playground will feature countless outdoor activities for the keen adventure! Whether you want to explore the water, land, or clear blue skies, New Zealand has…

New Zealand is known for having a spectacular range of scenery; beautiful mountain ranges, landscapes, lakes and oceans, glaciers, and geothermal wonders. So it's only natural that such a beautiful playground will feature countless outdoor activities for the keen adventure!

Whether you want to explore the water, land, or clear blue skies, New Zealand has plenty to offer. If you're planning a holiday exploring New Zealand, read on to discover some of the best places in New Zealand to experience the outdoors.

Queenstown
Queenstown is known for a variety of adventure activities, including Skydiving, bungee jumping and the Shotover Jet. You can also walk, drive or bike around this beautiful region – Queenstown is surrounded by snowy mountains and sets near the crystal clear waters of Lake Wakatipu.

Rotorua
Rotorua is home to some of the most exciting geothermal wonders in the world. See bubbling hot mud pools, geysers and colorful landscapes in one of Rotorua's many geothermal parks like the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Or experience bush walks and water activities around one of the beautiful lakes. If you're a keen camper, take a backpacking tent with you to one of the many campgrounds in the region.

The Bay of Islands
With its perfect weather and sandy beaches, the Bay of Islands is a great destination for summer. Go dolphin or whale watching, take a cruise around the islands or explore the many beaches – and do not forget to take a day trip up to Cape Reinga to stand at the very top of New Zealand! The Bay of Islands is known for its mild weather, so take a backpacking tent with you and stay in a different destination every night.

The Marlborough Sounds
If you're a keen tramper, the Marlborough Sounds is the perfect place for you. You'll never be short on places to explore, or bush tracks to walk. Walk the very popular Queen Charlotte Track, or take some time out to try some water activities like kayaking, boating, or fishing.

Hot tip: To truly experience the outdoors, it's best to go camping with a backpacking tent. That way you can travel light while experiencing the beauty of New Zealand's clear summer nights, and the friendly flora and fauna.

Now that you know how easy it is to explore New Zealand, all you have to do is plan your trip, and pack. Do not forget to travel light with a backpacking tent and camping gear, and explore as much of the landscapes, mountain ranges, oceans, glaciers and lakes as you can!

Canal Boat Holidays on the Four Counties Ring

A circular route which is perhaps slightly more challenging in terms of it's level of difficulty, but well worth the effort! The Four Counties Ring satisfies boating holiday goers looking for rural views, with the Cheshire plains visible from your narrowboat, and pastoral scenes amid the Cheshire locks climbing to the panoramic views at 'Heartbreak…

A circular route which is perhaps slightly more challenging in terms of it's level of difficulty, but well worth the effort!

The Four Counties Ring satisfies boating holiday goers looking for rural views, with the Cheshire plains visible from your narrowboat, and pastoral scenes amid the Cheshire locks climbing to the panoramic views at 'Heartbreak Hill'. The ring route offers a diverse mix of wildlife, countryside views, quaint villages and city life.

Which canals are part of the Four Counties Ring?

  • Shropshire Union Canal (1827)
  • Middlewich Branch (1833)
  • Wardle Canal (1829)
  • Trent & Mersey Canal (1777)
  • Staffs & Worcs Canal (1771)

Cruising up the Shropshire Union Canal with it's rolling countryside, the southern stretch of this navigation offers lock free cruising until Market Drayton, a traditional market town. The town is full of 17th Century architecture and has been home to gingerbread for the last 200 years. Cruising north takes you through Adderley and to Nantwich, a historic town just south of Hursleton Junction containing over a hundred listed buildings. Passing through the town by boat you cross the Nantwich aqueduct and north to the Middlewich Branch.

Middlewich is set in the middle of the Cheshire salt industry, from the canal you can see mountains of salt next to the remains of Roman salt sites. Middlewich is home to an impressive set of historic halls and gardens, such as Little Moreton Hall, one of the most famous Tudor Halls in England, Rode Hall and Dorfold Hall. Cruising from Middlewich to Stoke-On-Trent via the Trent & Mersey is the most lock heavy section of the ring. The Cheshire Locks are a flight of 26 locks dating back to the 1770's which raise the canal from the Cheshire Plain to the Summit Level at Kidsgrove.

The Trent & Mersey Canal is home to the spooky Harecastle Tunnel just north of Stoke on Trent, which spans approximately 1.75 miles. Mooring just south of Stoke-on-Trent you can explore the city on foot, spending time discovering the famous Staffordshire Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and Wedgewood Museum. Staffordshire is perfect for foodies, Stoke-On-Trent has plenty of fine food restaurants & every October the market town on Stone hosts a 3 day Food and Drink Festival to celebrate the best of Staffordshire's local food produce.

As you pass the Haywood Junction onto the Staffordshire & Worcester (Staffs & Worcs) Canal the waterways widen, rumour has that when this section of the canal was built the landlown had insisted that the canal be widened as he thought narrow canals were unsightly! This is now referred to as Tixall Wide just east of Great Haywood. The Staffs & Worcs Canal stretches approximately 20.5 miles from the Haywood Junction to Autherley Junction, where to continue on the Four Counties ring, you cruise north back onto the Shropshire Union Canal. There are 12 locks on this stretch including a flight of four locks just as you cruise past Gailey.

We would recommend a 1 week holiday minimum for those wishing to complete this ring route, depending on daylight hours and level of experience. Although 10 days would be make for a more comfortable cruising schedule as to achieve this route in a week you would need to cruise approximately 9.5 hours a day. For those with no previous experience who really want to do a ring route rather than an out and back journey, there are shorter circular routes that we would recommend you try first, such as the Droitwich Ring or Birmingham Ring.

Research: The Best Preparation for Your Texas Whitetail Hunts

In Texas, Whitetail hunts are some of the most sought after packages at ranches, especially in the Golden Triangle. This is because Whitetail Deer are very prominent in the area; in fact, over 70 percent of all typical and 45 percent of non-typical Boone & Crockett whitetail entries come from this area. Whitetail Deer are…

In Texas, Whitetail hunts are some of the most sought after packages at ranches, especially in the Golden Triangle. This is because Whitetail Deer are very prominent in the area; in fact, over 70 percent of all typical and 45 percent of non-typical Boone & Crockett whitetail entries come from this area.

Whitetail Deer are among the most widespread species of deer in North America, with an estimated population numbering at 20 to 25 million, with 30 different subspecies recognized to date. In addition, Whitetail Deer are chased by around 11 million hunters each fall, as it is encouraged to keep the deer population at a controlled level.

If you plan on traveling to the Golden Triangle in Texas for Whitetail hunting, you can be confident that you will encounter a number of bucks while out on the field. But before you venture out into the wild, there are a number of things you should do to ensure a successful hunt.

Doing research prior to engaging in Texas Whitetail hunts is important, since it can help you get familiar with how your target will have during the hunt. Even the smallest details about your game can determine the success or failure of your hunt. These details include their daily patterns, eating habits, and behavior when passive, as well as when threatened.

For instance, doing your research will help you find out that Whitetail Deer are mostly active at dusk and dawn, often feeding at night. They also have a designated home range, which may vary depending on the season. In the summer, Whitetail bucks run in packs called bachelor groups, which can consist of up to 28 deer. Starting in September, these deer start visiting the same feeding area consistently, making fall and winter the best times for Texas Whitetail hunts.

From wiki websites to hunting forums, the Internet is a good resource to turn to when doing research prior to a hunt. Here you can share hunting tips with those who have been successful, as well as share stories with hunters of the same skill level. You can also consult experts at Texas Whitetail hunting ranches to learn tips and tricks, and apply this knowledge in your own hunts.

Arm yourself with the right hunting equipment and adequate knowledge of your target. Doing so allows you to be more effective on the field, as you try to stay one step ahead of your game.

Taking Dive Classes As Part of Your Vacation Plans

The great outdoors offers a bit of something for everyone. People who enjoy spending time in the water, scuba diving is a great activity that can bring new appreciation to one's surroundings. Regardless of whether you choose to have a scuba diving adventure on your vacation or if you want to begin regular dive excursions…

The great outdoors offers a bit of something for everyone. People who enjoy spending time in the water, scuba diving is a great activity that can bring new appreciation to one's surroundings. Regardless of whether you choose to have a scuba diving adventure on your vacation or if you want to begin regular dive excursions in your own area, the right water training should always be completed to ensure your safety and the safety of others in the water with you .

With the proper lessons, scuba diving can be a great hobby and adventure that can be fun and more rewarding than you can even imagine. The cost of dive classes will vary from place to place, but scuba diving is a skill that can be fine tuned into more than just a vacation activity or hobby. Even the most basic dive classes are a great stepping stone to doing more as a certified diver. You do not want to go for the cheapest dive classes you can find. You want reliable, certified Scuba dive instruction from a scuba instructor and Divemaster as there is a lot more to scuba diving than putting on a wetsuit and going underwater.

There are organizations out there that you can turn to find a Diver instructor or Divemaster that is certified, experienced and qualified. If you have a vacation coming up that you are plan to take a dive excursion, complete your dive classes before you go. Even if the place you are headed offers quick lessons, those are usually geared towards tourism and the lessons will be short and will brush quickly over some safety points you need to know to have a safe and fun experience.

Accidents are often the results of poor training. Carelessness and ignorance will find beginners in trouble when they get underwater, sometimes ending with fatal results. Taking a NAUI certified dive classes is the best way to be a responsible, well trained certified diver.

So before you take off on your vacation or out to your local dive spot take the first step and take the proper dive classes. Dive classes have a classroom portion that requires studying of the NAUI manual and a written exam. In conjunction with your classroom portion of your dive training you will take your limited water training in a local pool to learn about equipment use and get your first practice dives. Then you will have some form of open water diver classes / training where you get to go on a real dive under the close supervision of your Dive instructor / Divemaster.

If you are already on vacation and wondering if a dive is a sensible choice, it is best to use caution. The most important tip for scuba diving anywhere is to always go in the water with a partner, a buddy dive. This is just as true for experienced divers as it is for beginners. Remember that the only way to communicate with your partner or other scuba divers while under water is using sign language. Make sure you learn the basic signs well. Checking your equipment yourself and asking questions before you dive into the water is extremely important. Double check that your tank is full, your goggles, fins, BC, and regulators are in working condition. Always stay close to your group and the Divemaster.

Scuba diving is a great adventure and rewarding hobby that can take you to places you never imagined and provide you an opportunity to see the world in a whole new way. NAUI's motto is “Dive safely through education” by taking the proper dive classes and learning all of the proper dive procedures and safety measures; you will truly be able to enjoy your scuba diving adventures.