Dolomites

Take in a deep breath of mountain air at the Dolomites.

  • The Dolomites is a mountainous region located in Italy’s northeast, in Europe, and it is part of the Southern Limestone Alps.
  • The ‘Dolomites’, or ‘Dolomiti’ in Italian, are also known as the ‘Dolomite Mountains’ and ‘Pale Mountains’, the latter translated from the Italian term ‘Monti Pallidi’.
  • The Dolomites cover an area totaling 1,419 square kilometres (548 square miles) and includes nine mountain ranges.
  • At least 18 peaks of the Dolomites, have an elevation greater than 3,000 metres (9,843 feet).
  • The Dolomites are often noted for their picturesque scenery, from their rocky wall faces, glacial peaks and lush forests and plains.
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Part of the Dolomites
Image courtesy of Navin/Flickr
  • The Dolomites were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009, and the mountain region features numerous nature reserves.
  • At an elevation of 3,343 metres (10,968 feet), Punta Penia, of the Marmolada range, is the tallest peak of the Dolomites.
  • The light grey rocks of the Dolomites are mostly sedimentary rock, such as limestone, as well as dolomite, which the mountains are named after, and the area is renowned for its quantity and quality of fossil reef specimens.
  • Various sporting activities can be undertaken in the Dolomites’ region, including mountain climbing, skiing, cycling, paragliding and hiking.
  • The Dolomites area was a battlefield during the course of World War I, with fighting going on between Austro-Hungary and Italy; and evidence of the war can still be seen in the region.
Bibliography:
The Dolomites, 2016, UNESCO World Heritage Convention, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1237
Dolomites, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolomites
The Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, n.d, Dolomite Mountains, http://www.dolomitemountains.com/en/dolomite_mountains/about_the_dolomites.htm
The Dolomites, 2010, UNESCO World Heritage, http://www.dolomitemountains.com/res/download/pdf/34_en.pdf

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Snæfellsjökull National Park

Who says ice and lava can’t coexist? Snæfellsjökull National Park says otherwise!

  • Snæfellsjökull National Park is a protected area of western Iceland, that notably consists of a glacier atop an active volcano.
  • The highest point in Snæfellsjökull National Park is the Snæfellsjökull volcano, also known simply as ‘Snæfell’, at 1446 metres (4774 feet) at its peak, and its crater has a depth of 200 metres (656 feet) and contains ice.
  • Snæfellsjökull National Park covers an area of roughly 170 square kilometres (65.6 square miles), while nearby there is Bárðarlaug, a lake contained in a crater, designated as a natural monument; and a visitor centre promoting the natural, cultural and historical aspects of the region, located at Hellnar, not far from a nature reserve.
  • The last eruption of the volcano of Snæfellsjökull National Park occurred around the 3rd century AD; and today’s visitors are able to hike up the mountain, or use a variety of tracks to drive, cycle, horse-ride or walk upon, to see other areas of the park.
  • Snæfellsjökull National Park was formed in 2001, with the intent to preserve the significant natural and historical attributes, including the remnants of the farming, fishing and trade communities and associated structures, in the area.
Snæfellsjökull National Park
Part of Snæfellsjökull National Park
Image courtesy of Almir de Freitas/Flickr
  • Snæfellsjökull National Park features many different geological formations, including both rock and lava formations, a few craters, as well as a number of caves.
  • Snæfellsjökull National Park is the only protected area in Iceland that encompasses both the edges of the island country, and mountains.
  • Most of the lava fields of Snæfellsjökull National Park have a significant layer of moss across the top, and over 130 species of flora can be found in the area, which includes a number of rare plants.
  • The Snæfellsjökull glacial volcano in Snæfellsjökull National Park, is often listed as one of Earth’s greatest stores of energy or spiritual power, and the glacier has been inspirational to many creative people.
  • Wildlife in Snæfellsjökull National Park includes many bird species, whales, seals, foxes, crustaceans and other animals.
Bibliography:
The Mysterious Snæfellsjökull Glacier, n.d, Visit Iceland, http://www.visiticeland.com/things-to-do/national-parks-in-Iceland/SnaefellsjokullNationalPark
Snæfellsjökull, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sn%C3%A6fellsj%C3%B6kull
Snæfellsjökull National Park and Nearby Protected Areas, n.d, Environment Agency of Iceland, http://www.ust.is/library/Skrar/utgefid-efni/Baeklingar/%C3%9Ej%C3%B3%C3%B0gar%C3%B0urinn%20Sn%C3%A6fellsj%C3%B6kull%20B%C3%A6klingur%20EN%20www.pdf

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Bigăr Waterfall

Bigăr Waterfall is one of the greatest of nature’s beauty.

  • Bigăr Waterfall is a spectacular waterfall found in the National Park of Cheile Nerei, in Romania, in Europe.
  • ‘Bigăr Waterfall’ is called ‘Izvorul Bigăr’ in Romanian, and is also known as ‘Bigăr Spring’, ‘Bigar Cascade Falls’ and ‘Coronini’.
  • Bigăr Waterfall runs over a very large, rounded mossy rock and cliff edge, that hangs over the river below.
  • While moving over and down the rock and moss, Bigăr Waterfalls diverts off into many different small streams of water.
  • Bigăr Waterfall is situated in part of a native reserve – Izvorul Bigăr, in the Anina Mountains, which has been protected since 1982.
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Bigar Waterfall
Image source Unknown (Places to See) – Assumed Public Domain
  • Water from the Bigăr Waterfall falls 7 to 8 metres (23 to 26 feet) over the moss and into the river below.
  • Bigăr Waterfall is often cited as one of the most beautiful and unique waterfalls in the world, and as such, it has become a popular tourist destination.
  • Bigăr Waterfall is exactly halfway between the North Pole and the Equator, on the 45th parallel.
  • Local myth states that Bigăr Waterfall is actually the hair of a young, love-struck girl, forbidden to love a boy named Bigăr, and in despair, the girl’s tears and hair were turned into a waterfall, where Bigăr drowned.
  • Bigăr Waterfall is fed by an underground spring in a nearby cave, and spills into the Miniş River.
Bibliography:
Bigar Waterfall, 2016, Atlas Obscura, http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/bigar-waterfall
Bigar Waterfall, 2016, Thousand Wonders, http://www.thousandwonders.net/Big%C4%83r+Waterfall
Condrea D, Bigar Waterfall: The Magic of a World Famous Attraction, 2016, Uncover Romania, http://www.uncover-romania.com/attractions/nature/bigar-waterfall.html

 

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English Yew

English yews rank up there with other ancient trees.

  • English yews are a species of evergreen tree, native to North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
  • The scientific name of the English yew is Taxus baccata and it is from the family Taxaceae, the family of yews.
  • ‘English yews’ are also known as ‘European yews’ and ‘common yews’; and they are a type of conifer that have been commonly grown on church properties and in cemeteries.
  • English yew trees can grow to be 10 to 30 metres (33 to 98 feet) in height, while its trunk can be as large as 2 metres (6.6 ft) in diameter or more.
  • It is not uncommon for English yews to be 400 to 600 years old; however they can be much older, with trees in existence estimated to be 2000 years old or more.
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English Yew
Image courtesy of grassrootsgroundwell/Flickr
  • The English yew is used ornamentally in many gardens, often as a clipped hedge or topiary, and it can be grown as a bonsai.
  • English yews are best grown in sunny to partly shady locations; and they have small narrow leaves that are green in colour, that can grow to a length of 3 cm (1.2 inches).
  • The seed of an English yew is brown, with a bright red fleshy fruit surrounding it, and the fruit is roughly 0.8 to 1.5 centimetres (0.3 to 0.6 inches) in diameter.
  • The leaves, bark, seeds, and other parts of English yews, excluding the flesh of the red fruit, is very poisonous and potentially fatal to humans and animals, and they can cause headaches, rashes, breathing issues, joint pain and cardiac arrest, although symptoms may be absent.
  • The wood of English yews is a flexible, hard softwood, that is of a quality suitable for woodworking, including the construction of bows and musical instruments.
Bibliography:
English Yew, n.d, Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/plant/English-yew
Taxus baccata, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxus_baccata
Taxus baccata (Common Yew), n.d, KEW Royal Botanical Gardens, http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/taxus-baccata-common-yew
Taxus baccata: Englisn Yew, 2015, University of Florida, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st624

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Sørvágsvatn

Sørvágsvatn is a place right out of the fantasy books.

  • Sørvágsvatn is a lake found on the island of Vágar, the third largest island of the Faroe Islands; and the group of islands is a country belonging to Denmark in Europe, that is located on the edge of the North Atlantic Sea between the United Kingdom, Iceland and Norway.
  • ‘Sørvágsvatn’ is also known as ‘Leitisvatn’, and these names have the meaning ‘the lake by Sørvágur’ and ‘the lake by Leiti’ respectively, although many just call it ‘Vatnið’, meaning ‘the lake’.
  • Sørvágsvatn covers an area of roughly 3.4 square kilometres (1.3 square miles) and is the largest lake of the country.
  • Whilst being significantly close to the ocean, Sørvágsvatn is located 30 to 40 metres (98 to 131 feet) above sea level, not far from the edge of a cliff.
  • The locals of the Sørvágsvatn area have not come to an agreement on the lake’s official name, with one community preferring one name (as the name is derived from their village) and the other communities preferring the other name.

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The Sørvágsvatn Illusion
Image courtesy of Tommy Wooh/Flickr
  • At a certain angle, a photographic illusion can be made to cause Sørvágsvatn to appear hundreds of metres above sea level, in part due to the elevated landscape surrounding the lake and its close proximity to the ocean.
  • Sørvágsvatn spreads a distance of 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) in length, and it feeds into the ocean via a waterfall known as Bøsdalafossur, that falls 30 to 35 metres (98 to 115 feet) over the end of a cliff.
  • There is a walking track along the edge of a section of Sørvágsvatn, where the waterfall can be reached, and there are some good vantage points of the surrounding areas, and birds can often be spotted in the area.
  • The British army used Sørvágsvatn as a base for seaplanes throughout World War II, and built an airport adjacent to the lake, which is still used today for civilian purposes.
  • A road follows the edge of a significant portion of Sørvágsvatn; and a boat tour can be taken across the lake, and the tour also includes a walk to the waterfall.
Bibliography:
Excursions in Vagar, 2015, Faroe Islands Tourist Guide, https://www.faroeislands.com/excursions/v%C3%A1gar/
Hiking in the Faroe Islands, 2014, The Faroe Islands, http://www.visitfaroeislands.com/media/276297/VFI_Hiking_UK_HQcompressed.pdf
Lake Sørvágsvatn in Faroe Islands, 2012, Amusing Planet, http://www.amusingplanet.com/2012/04/lake-srvagsvatn-in-faroe-islands.html
Lake Sørvágsvat, 2016, Atlas Obscura, http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/lake-sorvagsvatn
Sørvágsvatn, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%B8rv%C3%A1gsvatn
Strutner S, An Optical Illusion Makes Lake Sørvágsvatn Look Absolutely Trippy, 2015, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/story_n_7306018.html?section=australia

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Wolfsbane

Don’t let wolfsbane be the bane of your life!

  • Wolfsbane is a genus of highly toxic perennial plants, found in the mountainous regions across Asia, Europe and North America.
  • The scientific name of the wolfsbane is Aconitum and it is from the family Ranunculaceae, the family of buttercups.
  • ‘Wolfsbane’ is also known as ‘monkshood’, ‘aconite’, ‘blue rocket’, ‘devil’s helmet’ and ‘women’s bane’, among others; and it is said to have been used as a method of killing troublesome wolves, hence one of the plant’s common names.
  • Wolfsbane typically grows to be a height of 0.6 to 1.2 metres (2 to 4 feet), and it is often used ornamentally in the garden, especially towards the back of a garden bed.
  • The blooms of wolfsbane are grouped along tall stems, and they are generally a blue or purple colour, though they can also be pink, yellow or white.
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Wolfsbane
Image courtesy of Randi Hausken/Flickr
  • Wolfsbane flowers are similar in appearance to a monk’s hood, and what appears to be five petals, are actually sepals.
  • Wolfsbane consists of pseudaconitine, a toxin that is very poisonous, and a person (or animal) can be poisoned by consuming any part of the plant, though touching the plant may also be hazardous, especially if one has open cuts or abrasions.
  • Wolfsbane poisoning can cause vomiting or nausea early on, leading to a burning feeling, weakness and numbness, and it usually affects the heart, often causing death within a short time-frame if left untreated.
  • Sunny locations are preferred by wolfsbane plants, although they can still survive in shade, and they grow from tubers; or new plants can be started from seed.
  • The toxic attribute of wolfsbane plants has not been neglected throughout history, as it has been used for both hunting, particularly for poison arrows, and assassination.
Bibliography:
Aconitum, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aconitum
Buchan U, How to Grow: Monkshood, 2015, The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/11215801/How-to-grow-Monkshood.html
Rhoades J, Aconitum Monkshood: What is the Best Way to Grow Monkshood in the Garden, Gardening Know How, http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamenta l/flowers/monkshood/growing-monkshood-plants.htm

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