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Wassailing in Herefordshire

Nearly 200 hardy souls turned up at Queenswood Country Park for our wassailing experience. It was a cold and dark January night with a hint of snow in the air!


We had been invited to the event by friends and on the day we all nearly chickened out. It was cold and dark and had been snowing earlier. But we aspire to being hardy country folk and wrapped up warm. First of all, there was hot mulled cider and a blazing fire. Because people started to gather, the drummers drummed and we huddled round the fire with our flaming torches.

The host explained that we would form a procession through the woods to the orchard and an ancient apple tree. The “Butler”, dressed in a rag cloak would lead the way, drumming all the time. We were given a heath and safety briefing which was like no other! “If you get lost, look for the light of the flames and follow the noise of the drums”.  An air of anticipation and excitement was palpable. 

Wassailing in Herefordshire - Queenswood Country Park
Wassailing in Herefordshire - Pagan Rituals

Pagan Rituals

Whilst it was the first time wassailing had been done in this particular location, it is an ancient pagan and early Christian custom. The dictionary states it means “drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way”. To be fair, that’s pretty much what we did! We followed the Butler through the woods and once we got to the tree we were handed pieces of toast. We had to attach our toast to the tree and chant the chorus to the Butler’s song.

“Bring us hats full, cups full, bushel bags and sacks full. And my pockets full too. Huzzah Huzzah!” I felt slightly self conscious but I soon got into the spirit of it. 

Wildlife Trust

The event had been organised by the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and was a lot of fun. The children shook the rattles and drums they had made at the craft workshop earlier. We grown ups drank from the wassail cup. After we’d all processed around the tree at least once, we headed back to the fire and pizza van. Finally, safe in the knowledge that we’d done our bit and added something new to our memory banks!

Wassailing in Herefordshire - Wildlife Trust

18th February 2019

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Fairy Pools in Skye

In the list of top 10 walks in Skye is a Fairy Pools one which we did the last time we were in Scotland. Billed as short in length with a difficulty rating of medium! Medium would be a piece of cake - or so we we thought...

Wild Swimming

And it mostly was until the end. When crossing the raging river, well, slow trickling stream really, I stepped on a wet stone, missed my footing and slid gracefully into the water. There was a lady behind me who asked if she could help me up. I handed her my camera which I was keeping above the water.  A man behind me asked how cold it was – which surprisingly it wasn’t particularly! No one was quick enough with the camera to take a picture but I was soaked all down one side. Fortunately the weather was beautiful and I was fine. But it was still an adventure worth reporting!

Fairy Pools in Skye - wild swimming
Fairy Pools in Skye - fairy pool splashes

Fairy Pools

The Fairy Pools we’d gone to see are a series of waterfalls and emerald pools which are fairly undramatic but pleasant enough to walk alongside for almost an hour each way. What is dramatic though, is the Black Cuillins mountains that we were walking towards. These are where the River Brittle originates. Stunning views!

If you fancy doing the walk yourself, there are instructions on the Isle of Skye website.

Food and Drink

After drying out, we headed for the Oyster Shed in Carbost and then, further down the hill, to the Tallisker Distillery. Both were on our things to do list following our walk to the Fairy Pools.

From the Oyster Shed, we bought fish soup for lunch and a seafood platter to take back to our AirBnB for dinner. After lunch, we relaxed then embarked on the distillery tour. The tour was quite interesting and we got to taste some whisky at the end. I found it a bit too peaty to invest £30 in a bottle though.

Fairy Pools in Skye - Talisker Distillery
Fairy Pools in Skye - Black Cuillins

The seafood platter was delicious but not enough for our healthy appetites so we used it as a starter, followed by bacon, black pudding and haggis! A good Scottish supper, with stunning views of the nearby Black Cuillins.

So there you are - a couple of things to do in Skye along with the local Treasure Trail that we did when we were there too! 

14th January 2019

Posted In: Ideas

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