I don’t think anywhere has had good weather in the past month or so but every now and then there have been clear, sunny autumnal days. Last Wednesday was one of those and Judy and I decided to check out a walk over at Ullswater for our walking group. Gowbarrow is one of those ‘good value’ fells, like Low Fell behind Foulsyke, that without too much effort and ascent you get fantastic panoramic views. We started by going upstream from Aira Force which was coming over very powerfully because there had been so much rain in the previous few days and then branched off right up the fellside: the views from the top, where we sat and had our lunch were amazing. An added bonus of the walk is the return along the balcony path overlooking Ullswater.
Last Sunday I went along to Buttermere as I had heard that Dubbs bridge, the one that crosses to the far side, had been rebuilt and was open again. It looks very sturdy now and will be welcomed by all who enjoy a walk round the lake or a game of Pooh sticks.
I always like an outing to Silloth on the Solway coast, it’s a fascinating place with its long promenade, wide cobbled streets and interesting history. It now has a new attraction, a statue by Durham sculptor, Ray Lonsdale in memory of a local man, Peter Richardson. The work of art – named “Big Fella” – is of a man and his dog sitting on a bench taking in the sea views and shielding his eyes from the sun. What immediately hits you when you first see it is its size, it is 12 feet high.
After that you can then start to take in the detail.
I usually try to write something at the beginning of a month but August this year was extremely busy as my sister, Margaret had her 80th birthday. We grew up as children in Sunderland and as my father worked in the shipyards we had ‘shipyard holidays’ which coincided with Margaret’s birthday. We always spent our holidays in the Lake District so Margaret wanted to celebrate her 80th here as well with family and friends.
We all had a super time and I am just putting one picture up of Margaret and the grandchildren in the woods on her birthday. The children decorated the letters for a banner to say Happy Birthday which we hid in the wood for Margaret to find: there was a bit of resistance to putting the letters in the right order as the children wanted to hold the ones they themselves had done!
Poppy and Edith, Clare’s children, stayed on after all the partying and in a quieter moment Poppy wrote a lovely poem:
Lots of lakes
Yellow leaves in Autumn
Towards the end of August life was slowly returning to normal and I was once again able to take the dog for quiet walks early in the morning down to the lake.
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.