Well, that’s not a headline you see very often is it?
However there is usually a certain amount of predictability about May, spring flowers, lambs, birds but each year there are differences. This year the spring flowers all seemed to come together or overlap, we had primroses and bluebells out together and you could count over twenty different flowers in the hedgerows. The spring flowers are now giving way to the whites and pinks of cow parsley, dog daisies and campion and the lanes are becoming narrower as the hedges encroach.
I heard the first cuckoo on 29 April and there’s scarcely a day goes by without hearing one in the woods or across the valley. The blackbirds in particular have been very busy in the garden and I found one trying to build a nest on top of one of my car wheels – not a very sensible place.
Lambs are always a big feature in May and the black herdwick lambs are very special. They are not, however, easy to photograph when they are small as their mothers see you and put themselves between you and their lambs.
Many people ask how Max, my rescue collie is getting on. He is a lovely friendly dog and has come a long way since I got him last year. He is gradually gaining confidence and is enjoying going out for walks more. He is also learning to pose!
And finally no May blog would be complete without a picture of Rannerdale bluebells.
April -There But Not There
Have you heard of the There But Not There campaign? At the moment I find very few people have. It is a charity campaign to commemorate 100 years since the end of WW1. It’s a bit like the Poppies in the Tower of London but not so visible. Instead of poppies there are silhouettes, some large public ones of the iconic Tommy outline but also some ‘seated’ silhouettes for local communities and individuals to bring those who died back into their communities.
I have always had a big interest in WW1 as my mother’s much loved brother, Will, fought throughout the war and sadly died at the end of September 1918. Other uncles fought as well including my Uncle Tom who survived Passchendaele. As a child WW1 was still very real to my family.
As soon as I heard about the campaign I knew the ideal place for a Tommy – the seat outside Foulsyke which looks towards Great Gable which itself was given to the National Trust in 1923 by the Fell and Rock Climbing Club in memory of those members who died. Many of you, I expect, will have seen the memorial on the top of Gable.
The seat is a bit open to the elements so my silhouette had to be firmly anchored – he is screwed into the bench and looks amazing – he really is there but not there. When there is dew overnight, he picks up condensation and is a ghostly white. The condensation gradually evaporates and the white shape becomes smaller till he disappears.
What a brilliant concept!
There’s been an awful lot of weather since I did my last post and I think everyone has stories about the Beast from the East. Here in Loweswater we are generally protected from the worst of snowy conditions by our proximity to the sea but we did get more snow than usual and as it was so cold it stayed on the ground and then the wind came and it drifted. It was difficult to get out of the valley for about three days but that was not really a problem.
Our predominating wind is from the west and trees and their roots have grown in such a way to withstand this so such strong winds from the opposite direction has caused several trees and branches to come down. The hawthorn tree in the field in front of Foulsyke was one such casualty. However the sheep are now making use of the lower branches to have a good scratch!
However on the Saturday after the snow the sun shone and I went down to Crummock and saw the most amazing ice sculptures along the wall by the pumping station. They were so beautiful.
The Siberian weather was not the only event that week – we also had an earthquake, epicentre Mosser, can you believe that?
The Keswick to Threlkeld railway path is a delightful path by the River Greta steeped in history and enjoyed by many walkers and cyclists (it was part of the C2C route). It was very badly damaged by Storm Desmond: two bridges were washed away and a third left unsafe. There are now plans to restore it but it is going to be incredibly expensive. There are projects to help raise the necessary funds, one of which is the K2TChallenge. It sounds fun and I am thinking how I might participate. I have lots of happy memories of walking, cycling, pushing grandchildren in buggies along the path and it would be lovely to see it reopened again.
Grasmoor and Whiteside from in front of Foulsyke
One of the most important pieces of news this month is that I have had my annual VisitEngland inspection. The inspector was very helpful and complimentary and he writes:
Crummockwater Cottages once again retain the Five Star Self Catering Rating with consistent high scores within the ratings. The continued high standards further ensure the Gold Award is also retained for another year.
We are currently into a dry but very cold spell of weather. Judy and I went up Grisedale Pike yesterday, it was beautiful but extremely cold and windy on top – wouldn’t like to guess what the wind chill factor was. We saw this pretty ice formation on a stream by the path going down to Force Crag mine.
It wasn’t quite so dry a couple of weeks ago at the beginning of half term when our walking group went up Broom Fell and Lords Seat: in fact it was near blizzard conditions at one point. As we came back down into Whinlatter Forest however there were lots of children enjoying themselves on sledges and someone had made a fun little snowman on one of the tables.
Although it is still very wintry there are now a few daffodils out, the birds have started singing and I found some frogspawn in the woods earlier this week. Not sure how long it will survive.
The dry clear weather does give some good opportunities for photographs so here is one of my favourites this month of the old jetty at Crummock.
Christmas seems quite a long time ago now but Foulsyke is a lovely place for a family Christmas. The grandchildren are at that stage when Christmas is magical which makes it all very special.
Poppy and Edith (and Clare and I!) had a wonderful day on the Santa Express on the Eskdale and Ravenglass Railway This was followed by a visit from the local carol singers in the evening which delighted the two girls.
The children were all very excited on Christmas morning to see that Santa had visited and had left some crumbs of mince pies on the fireplace. Later in the day they found reindeer poo in the garden (courtesy of the local sheep)!
One of the pleasures of living here is that there is so much for everyone to enjoy. There were bike rides, walks, visits and probably too much eating!
Ian and Emilia on the top of Whiteside
Paul and Ann on the top of Honister
Poppy and Ella with Adam, Paul and Ian at the climbing wall in Keswick
Ella and Arthur pointing out Grannie’s house from Brackenthwaite Hows.
Some images of the New Year
The morning sun on Lowfell
The lone pine
A misty morning, photo courtesy of John Macfarlane
The first snowdrops.
A Happy New Year to everyone!
The past month has been one of contrasting weather patterns, there have been some gloriously sunny days and some very cold ones with even a little snow on the tops of the fells. There was also a lot of rain. I went down to Crummock after a day of very heavy rain and there was no way you could get round the lakeshore as the bridges were islands. The river was almost up to the car park and the monitoring station just inside the gate from the car park was completely surrounded by water.
Although the water subsides fairly quickly the ground remains very wet. A week ago I was at the far end of Crummock and it was just too wet to walk through to Buttermere, I did however see a rather damp herdwick paddling across the stream to pastures new.
Last Sunday was a lovely day so I went up onto Brackenthwaite Hows in the morning before getting to work on the garden: it was beautiful.
Someone, of course, always gets to the top first!
It is now December and the Christmas lights are on. Cockermouth looks very pretty and twinkly but my favourite is always the climber on Keswick Moot Hall – he never fails to makes me smile.
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas.
The weather seems to have been the dominant theme this past month and although Ophelia was the storm that was most in the news (perhaps it was her name) we had some pretty damaging rain the week before. After the rain stopped I paddled down to Crummock by High Park to Sandy Yat but could not get further round than the promontory: the photo below is of the wall and path towards the pumping station. I had to go back the way I came and was rewarded by seeing a diving peregrine over Melbreak – what could be better.
Ophelia was just very windy, not much rain, but took out our electricity for sixteen hours: tree on a power line by Watergate. The day after Ophelia I went for a walk along the Loweswater terrace path only to discover that the rain the previous week had washed away the bridge at High Nook – no sighting of it anywhere apparently, thought to be at the bottom of Crummock!
I heard and saw the first flock of migrating geese overhead about a week ago and there have been several since. The fieldfares have also fluttered in. There is still colour in some of the hedgerows, dog daisies and campion mainly but the biggest surprise was an unseasonal primrose on the track down to Maggie’s bridge.
Although we have had some disappointing weather there have been some better days. Last week my son Paul and his family came to stay for halfterm and on a beautiful sunny day the children and I picnicked outside on the bench.
We took the opportunity to go to Muncaster one day: the autumn colours were looking impressive from the castle ramparts.
They also do an excellent Hallowee’en for all ages!
We had our first frost at the weekend – wonder when there will be snow on the fells this year?
It is now becoming quite autumnal, leaves are blowing into the courtyard and the trees across in Lanthwaite Wood are subtly starting to change colour. The swallows and house martins have departed but I have not yet heard the skeins of geese overhead as they start to migrate. There seem to have been a lot of wayside flowers in a late second bloom, dog daisies, scabious, meadow sweet. And I have had an incredible amount of red admirals on my sedum and the tall spikes of actea in the garden.
The first Sunday of the month was Loweswater Show. The weather forecast was dire and at times it seemed doubtful if the show would go ahead but it did, it is a lovely valley event and the rain held off till around 3 o’clock. If you want to see more about the show Roger and Ann Hiley have got lots of pictures on their website which give a super flavour of the day. I thought it would be easy to photograph some penned herdwicks, a captive audience, but they can still manage to turn away.
I had better luck taking a walk down the field towards the lake one evening. The farmer had penned some sheep next to the wall with Grasmoor as a perfect back drop.
Yesterday was a stunning day, with a calm, misty morning, sun just breaking through. I decided the baking could wait and headed down to Crummock with Max: he was not allowed to cause ripples in the lake till I had taken a few pictures.
Well, not only was the Lake District awarded World Heritage status but Cumbria Life chose to put a picture of Crummock Water taken from Low Fell on their cover to celebrate this achievement: Foulsyke is obviously included!
Low Fell was also my new dog, Max’s first foray onto the open fells and his first Wainwright although the way he is developing, I think submerging himself in all the lakes and tarns would be his preferred challenge.
The heather on the fells is wonderful at the moment. As I write, I am looking out towards a gloriously purple sided Whiteside. The photo however is one I took the other day on Low Fell.
Many of you know I have three chickens but over the past month or so you were only likely to see two as one had got a serious case of broodiness. I thought at first she would eventually give up but she didn’t so I did what we all do these days and googled it. Options seemed to be giving her fertile eggs to sit on, putting her in a box, dunking her in water or putting freezer blocks underneath her. I chose the last option which fortunately worked, I didn’t fancy the other alternatives. It was amazing how hot the blocks became after a night’s incubation.
Several friends and guests have mentioned The Gather, a community café and centre, at Ennerdale Bridge. I had family staying a couple of weeks ago so we went for a light lunch before having a walk along Ennerdale shore. Well worth a visit, both children and dog friendly and lovely food.
This morning I decided to go for a walk along the Loweswater terrace path, or coffin route as it is also known. I was lucky, there was no-one on the seat as I passed so I had my morning coffee overlooking both Loweswater and Crummock, what could be nicer!
It’s July and the harebells and meadowsweet are out – two of my favourites! Meadowsweet is all along the hedges and there are great swathes of it in fields and meadows but you can often come across harebells unexpectedly; I found this little patch in the field by Park Beck and there was another clump growing out of the church wall as I passed by.
The main summer season is well underway now at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. ‘Handbagged’, a play about the meetings between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher, is excellent, very funny but also gently reminding us of serious issues. ‘As you Like It’ started last week and is a very modern take on Shakespeare’s play, very imaginative with lots of music and dancing, very enjoyable. We had an excellent pre-theatre meal in the café on a limited choice menu; it was very nice and relaxed and you don’t have to worry about getting to the theatre on time.
My most exciting news at the moment is that after nearly a year without a dog I have now got Max, a rescue border collie. He is very friendly with both people and dogs and even accepts that he is Peggy, the cat’s, new best friend. As a rescue dog he does have some problems, he is very nervous and doesn’t seem to have been used to going out for walks but he is gradually learning it can be fun. This morning we made it down to Crummock with Andy and Jenny, my neighbours, and their dogs. Clare, my daughter’s comment on his reluctance to go for walks was that he had heard on the doggy grapevine how far I walk!
I often put in a photo of the view from my garden but this month I am putting in a picture of my garden as it is looking so colourful at present.