In the last couple of weeks I have visited two places that I have not been to before. Having spent my childhood near the sea I always enjoy going to the coast but I had never been to Drigg just south of Sellafield. It was amazing, long stretches of beautiful beach with sand dune cliffs. We walked through the dunes to the Irt estuary where we were excited to see two egrets. Drigg village has its own railway station with a manned level crossing and the platforms have beautiful mature gardens looked after by the lovely owner of a craft shop and coffee stop at the station. It was one of those special days.
I had always wanted to find Doctor Bridge at Eskdale but none of the walks I had done in the area had included it. I think it was probably the name that fascinated me – why was a bridge called Doctor Bridge? I found a useful little pamphlet with a nice circular walk that included Doctor Bridge starting at La’al Ratty terminus at Dalegarth, always a fun day out. It is a very attractive packhorse bridge that apparently Edward Tyson, a surgeon, had widened in 1734 so that his pony and trap could go across!
In my last blog I referred to the National Trust’s purchase of Brackenthwaite Hows. Following local concerns the National Trust met with residents to discuss their plans. If you are interested Roger Hiley has put an excellent report on their Loweswatercam website.
It is getting to the time of year for one of my favourite hedgerow flowers, meadowsweet: I can post a picture but not its beautiful scent. The foxgloves are also looking very upstanding at the moment, I took this picture along the lane looking towards Melbreak.
Harebells next month!
The bluebells on Brackenthwaite Hows were stunning this year and looking across from Foulsyke they made a beautiful blue carpet on the side of the hill. When I went up last month to take some pictures, the only other people I met were a couple of friends also out for a gentle afternoon stroll. However last Wednesday, Brackenthwaite Hows hit the national headlines with the news that the National Trust had bought it for its view and link with a Turner painting. I think many people locally, both residents and visitors, have mixed feelings about this. It is good that the future of the hill is secure and it will remain cared for and accessible but it is a quiet little local gem and one would have reservations about it becoming ‘a place to visit’. There is also always the issue of any increased volume of traffic putting more pressure on our narrow roads and limited parking facilities. The National Trust are acknowledging concerns and are holding a meeting with locals later this month.
Although the flowers and trees in the hedgerows and fields have a regular sequence, some years particular flowers are more outstanding than others. This year it is the May blossom that has really been spectacular. What I find interesting is that most of the blossom is white but there are a few with pink flowers which come out a little later. I have also noticed that there are an increasing number of aquilegias escaping from gardens onto the roadside. These are on Scale Hill bridge!
People often ask what it is like living here and I always reply, ‘Lovely.’ As well as all the beautiful scenery there is a lot going on. In particular the local village halls host a range of activities and clubs and there are regular film nights, concerts by visiting musicians and plays by travelling theatre groups. Tonight I am going to ‘The Chef Show’ at Ullock which is about a busy Saturday night in a local curry house and there is a local chef cooking during the play – hope we get some of it to taste!
It’s not very often I can post pictures of Rannerdale bluebells taken at the end of April, it’s usually mid May when they are at their best but this year they have been very early. The cuckoo was quite early as well, first heard in the woods on 25th April (last year it was 29 April.) However we did wake to snow on the tops on Saturday morning!
The hedgerows are lovely at the moment. Poppy, my six year old grand-daughter was totally amazed by the speed at which the Jack in the Hedge grew during the week she was here at Easter.
However it is now being overtaken by the cow parsley.
And I had to include this photo of the verge on the Hope Beck road.
My ‘Tommy’ who looked out to Gable last year from the seat in front of Foulsyke has now got a new home in my front garden. I am going to try to surround him him with plants for remembrance and also those that would have been around at the time of WW1.
And one final picture of the bluebells!
This week has been a bit of a strange one at times. Firstly, the weather! Last Sunday, Mother’s Day, I sat outside for my breakfast and gazed at the view. On Monday I admired the primroses on the verge of the road down to Maggie’s bridge at Loweswater.
Wednesday morning I woke up to a completely white world! The snow didn’t last long in the garden and on the fields but the tops of the higher fells have remained beautifully white all week.
However the strangest thing that happened last week was on Saturday when I found some flowers on the kest in front of the seat, then looked down at my feet and realised I was standing in someone’s ashes. I was totally taken aback by this, why were they here, whose were they? I tried to take it as a compliment that perhaps someone enjoyed the view from the seat so much that they wanted their ashes scattered there but part of me also wanted to say that the seat is part of my garden which I am very happy to share with passers by but I’m not sure I want stranger’s ashes there.
Anyway, on to more positive things. I had my annual Visit England inspection on Tuesday and the inspector was very happy with all he saw, so that is excellent news. We continue at Five Star level with Gold Awards.
For those of you who follow my blog, Max, my rescue border collie who is a bit of a reluctant walker, was not to be outdone and passed his Silver Obedience Award. As well as several other tasks, he had to walk on a pavement around the village where he goes to classes – what an achievement for him!
Stop Press: The ospreys are back at Bassenthwaite – follow them on Osprey Watch
I was supposed to be out walking with friends this morning but then we had a sudden heavy fall of snow which made the roads treacherous, so I went outside and took a photo of Tommy in the snow instead.
The weather has been so mixed lately. Two weeks ago guests were walking on the high fells in T shirts and I certainly felt I could have done with my shorts on in the garden. We had frog spawn in the puddles up in the woods (some frogs never learn) and there was a solitary primrose out as well. Now it’s cold and wet again but not quite up to the ‘Beast from the East’ standard of last year.
During our tropical spell we had some beautiful days and the views were amazing particularly in the morning and evenings. I took these pictures on a morning dog walk from the top of Brackenthwaite Howes (up from Lanthwaite Wood). One looks along Crummock to the high fells and the other, which I obviously couldn’t resist, is of the view towards Foulsyke.
I had my son Paul and his family here for half term. They are all keen cyclists and I am amazed by how much the children can do. One day they took ‘L’al Ratty’ which everyone loves, to Dalegarth and cycled back to Ravenglass along the Eskdale Trail. They had a fabulous time – picnic included!
I have myself just got an E-bike as I enjoy cycling but get put off by having to cycle up Scale Hill or Fang’s Brow (of King of the Mountains fame in last year’s Tour of Britain) to get out of the valley. It’s nice just to pop down to Lorton shop on my bike and I’m looking forward to going up to Whinlatter to try their new Gorse Trail.
PS If you are coming on holiday and thinking about bringing bikes I do provide secure bike storage and cleaning facilities.
Kate’s in Crummock decorating, Ian is working through his ‘to do’ check list and Steve is power-washing the courtyard! I seem to be spending my time making endless lists and cups of tea and coffee. Yes, it’s January again and the cottages are being prepared for this next year’s visitors!
There has still however been time to get out for a few walks. There’s a nice little book ‘Walks around the Lorton Valley’ by David Ranshaw in Lorton shop so Judy and I decided to do one of the Kirkfell ones earlier this month: it was lovely and we passed places we had never been before. I will add three copies to my shopping list for the cottages, it’s a useful little guide.
Our local walking group went to Eskdale. We don’t often go there as it is quite a long winding drive but it is a beautiful valley. It was a fascinating walk, the plan being to go up to Great Moss, a rather extensive bog surrounded spectacularly by the Scafells, Bowfell and Crinkle Crags, then cross the river and return via Taw House. Although we had not had much rain locally there must have been a deluge there: the river was in spate, the waterfalls were spectacular and we could not cross the river at Great Moss so we had to return the same way. This was not a problem as the views are quite different in the opposite direction and we got a second chance to cross and marvel at Ling Cove bridge, a beautiful, ancient packhorse bridge.
In the last week there has been a little snow mainly on the fells, nothing lying locally. I still have my Tommy silhouette on the seat and thought I would leave him there until it snowed as I might get some nice pictures.
There’s also a tree in a field down the lane that catches the morning sun and I keep thinking I must take some pictures of it so one sunny, frosty morning, I did just that – that’s what January is about!
The Keswick climber has found a new fell this year and I think he must have got some new gear for Christmas!
Wishing you all a Happy Christmas, thank you for reading my blogs.
The past week has been very much focussed on the commemorations for the centenary of the end of WW1 and there has been much to do and see locally. As well as the Remembrance Day services, many local towns and villages had silhouettes and figures as well as poppies in public places and on Sunday evening beacons were lit at Mosser and Lamplugh.
Both Ullock and Branthwaite which are villages I pass through on my way to Workington had WW1 figures on their village greens.
St John’s Church in Keswick created a magnificent cascading display with 1300 knitted poppies. Amazingly they survived all the wind and rain that was thrown at them.
Lorton held an Arts Festival with films, talks and an exhibition of ‘Tales from the Valley’ to which I contributed with some postcards sent from my Uncle Will in France to my mother who was ten years old at the time. He was in the war from 1914 and sadly died at the end of September 1918.
On Remembrance Day itself I joined around 200-300 people on the top of Castle Crag in Borrowdale for their annual service: a moving occasion.
My silhouette on the bench outside Foulsyke? He has a large poppy windmill which whizzes round in the breeze as he gazes towards the fells.
The first half of September has been pretty busy in Loweswater. First there was the Show, if you want to get the feel of it check out Roger and Ann Hiley’s website.
The following week there was lots of excitement for the Tour of Britain cycling race. The Team Time Trials were being raced from Cockermouth to Whinlatter and Stage 6 covered much of the Lake District and passed through Loweswater on its way to the coast. My son, Paul, and grandson, Arthur, came up for the event and we had a great time watching and cheering on the cyclists. On the Thursday we spent the day at Whinlatter for the Team Time Trials
And on the Friday we were on Fangs Brow which was part of the King of the Mountains challenge. Here are Geraint Thomas, Wout Poels and Chris Froome from Team Skye powering their way up the hill.
It has started to feel quite autumnal in the past couple of weeks, the swallows and house martins have been gathering, probably on their way south from further north. There have been some beautiful misty mornings and I was very pleased with some photos I took of my WW1 silhouette on the bench at the front of Foulsyke. I wasn’t so pleased when I went back into the house and found Peggy, the cat, was on the table eating my breakfast!
Keeping with the animals, Max, much to everyone’s surprise, achieved his Bronze Obedience Award a couple of weeks ago.
It’s not very often you see a cement mixer on the fells – I saw this one today on the Miners Path near Castle Crag.
Although the weather seems to have returned to normal, this summer has been memorable for the heatwave weather in June and July. The weather was so hot at times that guests going out for long days on the fells were leaving Foulsyke at 5 am to get most of the climbing done before the full heat of the day!
Have you noticed the fashion for building stone stack sculptures? There were several down at Crummock as the lake level got lower but I rather liked this somewhat precarious stack on top of Crinkle Crags.
There is a lot going on in Cumbria, the Lake District is not just lakes, fells and beautiful scenery and Theatre by the Lake in Keswick has excelled itself with this year’s summer plays in the Main House. Three very different plays, a hilarious and clever Jeeves and Wooster, Alan Bennett’s brilliant Single Spies and the final production, Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, had the audience laughing and clapping in their seats. They were all hugely enjoyable – I wouldn’t know which to recommend the most.
I have recently been to Penrith Station which has been decorated by Penrith Community Gardens. It is incredible and a wonderful welcome to visitors arriving by train.
There was even a yellow crochet covered bike. I have already told my son Paul that there is no way I am doing anything like that for the Tour of Britain which passes through Loweswater at the beginning of September – Gosh, Fang’s Brow a King of the Mountains climb!