Beak season: Pink-footed geese are found inland

Wildlife Weekend: Wintering birds in the Kingdom of Fife

Spend most of the first day in Largo Bay, south-west of Kirkcaldy. There may be no finer location to watch the wintering seaduck for which Scotland is renowned. If the tide is high and the sun shining, start with the light behind you at the bay’s eastern edge, Ruddon’s Point. Look westwards for dense black rafts of scoters, mainly common scoter. A flash of white wings draws your attention to velvet scoters secreted among them. Check the flock carefully and you could even see surf scoter. There is no more regular British site for this North American visitor.

Travel special 2014: Hit the pause button on the rail'n'sail route from London to Dublin

I start by making some calculations to soothe myself. Using the Rail & Sail combo route from London via Holyhead to Dublin takes nine or so hours; to fly between the two cities takes 50 minutes – but a few hours have to be added on for the to-ing, fro-ing and faffing at airports. A one-way rail/sail ticket costs about 30 quid all in – a flight is double that, unless you're very organised or lucky. Even if you're very disorganised, the rail/sail option can be bought just before you travel at no extra cost.

Travel special 2014: Soak in the scenery on a train journey from Newcastle to Carlisle

The train between Newcastle and Carlisle runs parallel to Hadrian's Wall and offers a window on some of the most spectacular scenery in England. But the 60-mile Tyne Valley Line is itself a part of history, built in the 1830s during the first era of nationwide railway expansion. Following the path of the Tyne inland from Newcastle, the line passes over two listed viaducts and through five listed stations, including Hexham, which dates to 1835, making it one of the world's oldest purpose-built railway stations.

Travel special 2014: Escape the bustle of London on a rail journey to Pen-y-Bont

The journey home – 'home' still being the word I instinctively use for the house I grew up in, atop of wild Welsh hillside, even if today it's where I go to escape everyday life – begins with bustle. The battle on the Tube with a case, the dash around Euston juggling handbag-paper-coffee-lunch. It's wise to stock up: the journey to Pen-y-Bont takes over four hours, via Crewe and Shrewsbury. It's very much not the route a crow would fly...

Bard work: The Globe Inn

Burns Night: Ode to the Scottish bard

Follow the 'ploughman poet' Robert Burns on a pilgrimage around south-west Scotland

The damage caused by a cement leak to a signal control room at Victoria Station

Victoria line cement ‘flooding’ fixed: Workers used sugar to stop spilled concrete from setting

Supermarket sweep may just have saved TFL from further embarrassment

10 best Valentine’s Day getaways

Looking for somewhere to book for 14 February? Or just seeking a venue for a romantic weekend at any time of year? Either way, try one of these special places to stay.

The affordability of travelling by National Express means it attracts passengers from all walks of life

The National Express: Moving stories on the buses

With 17 million people travelling on National Express coaches every year, it's become a national institution

The Stonehenge site

Stonehenge: no more going round in circles

After decades of delay, Stonehenge's new visitor centre finally opens to tourists today. So has it been worth the wait? Simon Calder takes a tour round this gateway to the Neolithic past

Rock star: Rooms in The Slate Shed follow a musical theme

B&B and Beyond: The Slate Shed, Wales

A former quarrymen's workshop provides a cosy, characterful base for exploring the Snowdonia scenery. By Holly Williams

Here’s looking at yew: the Borrowdale trees

Tales from the Trees: Borrowdale Yews, Cumbria - Wordsworth's ancient yews live on in England's lakeland

The continuous ridge of russet, stone-strewn lakeland mountain encircles a valley floor as flat as a paddy field. Lights of farms are beginning to spark and the cries of tawny owls reverberate around the bowl of darkening fells. In the distance, sunset pinks the snow-dusted peak of Glaramara. It is a suitable stage to approach the most notable trees of northern England.

New for old: Little Clarendon Street

A slice of Oxford: The dreaming spires inspire new life

This handsome university city is undergoing a modern makeover, as Adrian Mourby discovers

An Edwardian gazebo in Kingston, passed as you meander along the river Thames

Walk of the month: Kingston upon Thames - Red bricks and boxes on the riverbank

The Thames Path combines history with nature as it forges towards the capital from Hampton Court Palace

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