I’m sorry it’s been a little while since I posted anything but I will hopefully get back into my monthly notes in the New Year. In the meantime, to help make us smile on a grey December day, is a red squirrel on the feeder by Buttermere Cottage. We are so delighted to have them around the gardens again.
I send my best wishes to you all for Christmas and the New Year.
It is starting to be quite autumnal. Last week I saw the first seasonal skeins of geese going overhead, you always hear them first but it is astonishing how high they fly and how speedily. There’s also several red squirrels about which is lovely, lots of acorns as well which will be good news for them.
Another sign of the time of year are the annual flu jabs! In Loweswater we were treated to a drive thru session at the village hall, don’t usually expect that view with a jab.
September has been busy locally particularly at weekends: it is understandable that people want to get away, want a break, but it does have its downsides, quiet spots aren’t as quiet and traffic becomes a greater problem. I did however smile at one of Buttermere’s parking restrictions the other Sunday.
Over the summer I have been able to see some of my family and it was my son Ian and his family’s turn at the beginning of the month. Matias is only 9 months old but he made it up his first Wainwright, (obviously this has to be Low Fell), albeit in a back pack!
It is lovely to have guests in the cottages again and I am very grateful to my cleaning team for all the extra work and time they are putting in to make the cottages as safe as possible for everyone. They are usually a fairly invisible presence between guests but here they are in all their glory, ready to go on a Saturday morning.
It seems a long time since I posted anything but with re-opening the cottages and all that has involved and seeing family again, time has just passed. The cuckoos have gone, the sheep have been shorn and the hay fields cut. Sadly the nights are also cutting in.
Thinking of sheep, we have a flock of herdies down the lane and since they were very small lambs two have been regularly coming over onto the road where I expect they think the grass is greener or being herdwicks they believe walls are there to be crossed. They have gradually extended their range and have been visiting my garden. Hope they are not tempted by my red hot pokers.
Moving on, we have been very excited to see more red squirrels about, I have one visiting the feeder by the dog kennels and they are also running across the front garden. No photos as yet, they are too speedy.
I had Poppy and Edith, two of my grandchildren for a week earlier in the month. They are great little walkers and made it up to the top of Low Fell from Thackthwaite. We picnicked by the south summit and had what they described as the best game of I-Spy ever.
They also had a lovely time on Loweswater with my friend Judy but unfortunately I couldn’t be with them as it was Saturday and I was involved with changeover.
Since lockdown Judy and I have been getting out and about on our bikes and last week we went to Longlands Lake which is the other side of Cleator Moor. It was a fascinating cycle as we went down the C2C cycle track to Cleator. The lake itself is on the site of an old iron ore mine and has been managed to support a wide range of wild life. It is also a nice friendly place to visit and we met several local families who had come for picnics and to feed the ducks.
Saturday 4 July – re-opening
The first guests are here! It is lovely to see them again. After all the uncertainty, changes, endless lists and preparations the day when we can welcome visitors back has finally arrived. And it’s raining!
It has been a busy few weeks getting ready for re-opening; risk assessments, more specialised cleaning equipment, PPE, reorganising the cottages and the way we work to give guests confidence in their accommodation. In addition I have applied for and received both Visit England and AA Covid 19 accreditation and my son Paul has been busy adding a Covid information page to my website which will soon be up and running – thank you Paul.
The glorious weather we had for most of Lockdown finally came to an end last weekend. There had been a few hints, one morning I got up to see the lake covered in mist and at times it became a bit a bit hazy and cloudy.
I should have known however that the weekend my daughter Clare and her family came the weather would really change. It was the first time I had seen any of my family since mid January but we were not to be put off by the weather.
The girls fished in the lake, visited Postman Pat and even had a very wet game of Pooh Sticks at Buttermere.
After they left 8“ rain fell on Honister and poured straight down the fells into the lakes. The week before we had been looking at stone stacks and walking along the beach to the pump house. Now the stone that I use as a marker for the water level which had been several feet up on the shore was now completely submerged in the lake.
And it was impossible to get along the path to the first bridge by the weir.
Enough of the weather, in one of my earlier blogs I mentioned a small nature reserve just beyond Rogerscale. The information on the gate had said that in June you could see the greater butterfly orchid. So last week I cycled over, there they were, right in the middle of the field, difficult for me to photograph but it was very satisfying to find them.
It was strange not writing a blog last Sunday but everything is changing as we are all able to get out and about more and starting to plan towards the future. We are expecting to hear this week about re-opening: we are now able to access draft guidelines of how to make our properties safe for everyone when visitors return. There is a lot to think about, a lot to do and I think the cottages will look and feel rather different. I am buying specialised cleaning equipment and products as well as PPE for the cleaners and myself so we can deep clean. Guests who are booked in July and August are being very helpful and flexible about dates so I can leave gaps between lets: as well as the cleaning I think it gives a lot more confidence to everyone if a cottage has been left empty for a few days. Anyway, enough of that and onto more interesting matters.
Although we have had some rain in the past week the lakes are still rather low as you can see from this photo from one of the bridges by the weir at Crummock. My friend Kathryn and I had a lovely evening just meandering round the lake taking photographs.
It is interesting to see the old tree stumps emerging looking rather fossilised.
The lake was very still so we got some lovely reflections and colours.
A few day later I was down at the lake with the dog and found a rather substantial stone stack, a lot of thought and work must have gone into that. It lasted about a week.
The flowers are looking good at the moment, the foxgloves are adding a lot of colour everywhere.’
I found this cotton grass on the top of Fellbarrow, it doesn’t photograph very well, you just have to imagine the effect but the clouds are rather nice as well!
I think many of you saw the awful footage of the amount of cars ‘parked’ around Buttermere the other weekend. A few days later I cycled to Buttermere and had to smile at one of the solutions in the village.
I also went to Buttermere early this morning, the first time I had actually been down to the lakeshore since before lockdown.
We have had some beautiful reflections during lockdown.
Sunday 31 May 10th Lockdown Post
This is my 10th weekly lockdown blog: our world and our view of it is very different from when I began. Although there are still many restrictions in place most people are able to go out and about and as we carefully start to go about our ‘new normal’ daily lives I think it is time to move towards my more regular monthly posts. I have enjoyed writing these rather special blogs and would like to thank everyone who has emailed to say how much they have appreciated Loweswater in Lockdown.
The big excitement at Foulsyke this past week has been the bird in the tree! (You can see her more clearly if you zoom in). I first thought it was a grebe but found that difficult to understand, it was then thought to be a merganser but has now been confirmed as a female goosander. There are sometimes two of them circling around for a while early morning and they are always interested in the beech trees along the front. Apparently, I have learned, they nest in holes in trees so I will just have to wait and hope.
It is definitely the time for white flowers, cow parsley is still crowding the hedgerows and dog daisies are now out as well.
In boggier areas the cotton grass is looking very fluffy…..
…. but what a difference a day makes.
The lake is getting even lower and I am watching where the old jetty was by the kissing gate.
Even more stones are appearing and if you look carefully you can see the lines of the old jetty under the water.
During the past weeks I have been going out on my bike more and last Friday Judy and I cycled to Cogra Moss and then had a walk round the lake where we found the perfect spot for our social distanced picnic.
Many of you may remember the Tommy silhouette I placed on the bench in front in 2018 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the end of WW1. I retired Tommy into the garden and now he is looking very settled amongst flowers of healing and remembrance still looking out towards Gable.
Look after yourselves and thank you for reading my weekly lockdown posts.
24 May, Bank holiday weekend
At present there is no information on when I may be able to re-open the cottages except that it is hoped to start opening the hospitality sector from July 4th. Guidelines and conditions will be issued: I hope they come before too long so we can plan and work towards receiving guests again. My top priorities will be to give guests the confidence to stay at the cottages and to ensure that my staff and myself are safe working around the cottages and for myself also to feel safe living alongside guests.
Thought I hadn’t put a picture of ‘the view’ on my blog for a little while so here is one taken on one of the sunnier days this week.
The weather has been very variable, wind, rain, low cloud, glorious sunshine. This has had a knock on effect on the amount of visitors and on sunny days the car parks are full. This morning I saw no-one as I took a rather damp and windy walk around by the lake. I did however make my first lamb rescue of the season. It had got its head stuck in the fence wire and because its horns had started to grow needed some help to get out again.
Many people are saying that during lockdown they have become more observant and appreciative of the world around us. When I was walking down by the pump house at Crummock one morning I looked at the trees that now enclose it: I imagine they were planted as small saplings when the pumping station was built over a hundred years – a plaque on the side dates it as 1903. There is also a very nice weathervane on the top.
The lake was still very low and I as I walked further round to the kissing gate I noticed some stones out in the lake, I expect they were part of the old jetty that used to be there.
I have been intending for a while to put some pictures up of Pottersgill, the old farmhouse between Foulsyke Wood and the Wilderness. I’m sure many guests wander along there and muse on its history.
Although it is very much a ruin with trees growing through it, you get a definite feel of it as a dwelling and it has a beautiful rounded wall which is still very much intact. It’s not however very easy to photograph.
My friend Judy and I met for a cycle ride this week which was lovely, we went down to Lorton and then to Rogerscale before turning left towards Brandlingill. There is a very small nature reserve by the junction which is covered with common bistort. We will have to return for the orchids.
We then cycled on to Mosser where there is a little old church that is closed but still holds an annual carol service. Before electricity was installed the church was lit by a ring of tractor headlights for this service.
We then sat on the verge by the road for coffee and cake and had a good catch up before cycling home via Mockerkin. Judy had some extra residents in their barn during lockdown, a family of tawny owls. This picture was taken just before the young fledged.
May 17th Starting to come out of lockdown?
It’s Sunday morning so it must be blog time. It’s interesting that in these strange times when there has been no difference between days most of us develop some sort of routine. As we are trying to emerge from full lock down it no doubt will all change again. I have missed having guests in the cottages and seeing people around. It will be good to welcome visitors back but I think everyone here is concerned that having such sudden unlimited travel within England could jeopardise safety for places like the Lake District.
My bluebell survey this week started with Holme Wood but I went the long way round via the Mosser road and came across these escapee aquilegias: I thought they looked so pretty on the side of the track but there isn’t a garden in sight.
The blue bells in Holme Wood still looked lovely but are soon going to disappear under various fast growing greenery. I particularly liked this little triangular patch where the shoreline path branches off from the main track – always a decision time!
Next were Rannerdale bluebells, they were still looking good but were also on the verge of going over and being overtaken by the bracken. the ones on the Rannerdale Knott side flower a little later and were still in full bloom.
The best bluebells however this week were those on the north side of Brackenthwaite Hows, beautiful swathes of blue and a wonderful scent.
The most noticeable changes at the moment are in the lakes and rivers where the lack of rain has meant that water levels are low.
I think many people, like myself, measure water level at Crummock by the big stone on the shoreline from the main track through Lanthwaite Wood. It is usually just touching the water but can be a fair distance out in the lake at times. At present it is quite a long way on the beach side.
As you walk round the lake beyond the bridges the water is usually up to the wall. At the moment you can walk along the shore to the outflow of Dubs/Park beck.
There’s some old tree stumps appearing and I wonder if they are from the time when Crummock was turned into a reservoir.
It’s always interesting to see what emerges and as you reach the Pump House the old foundations have appeared on the shore.
One last picture – Postman Pat! My grandchildren love going down the fields in front of Foulsyke to visit Roger Hiley’s chain saw sculpture; there’s even some bluebells at the base.
Look after yourselves
What a change in the weather as we come to the end of the seventh week of lockdown. Yesterday we were sweltering in shorts and t-shirts and today we are wearing jackets and woolly hats to go out as a windy Arctic chill hits us.
Last Monday I took the dog out bright and early wondering what pictures I might take during the week. I didn’t get far, my first stop was just down the lane by the old oak trees that overhang the road, they are now in leaf and positively glow in the morning sun.
As I got down by the Kirkstile I had to smile as there is a Loweswater Gold van in the car park. The Kirkstile are now doing Click and Collect beers!
Most of my travels this week have been a bit of a bluebell search and I cycled down to Rannerdale on Tuesday. There have been issues with social distancing and protecting the bluebells and for a while there was a one way system from Cinderdale Common with a viewing point. We were also asked not to go through the gate into the bluebells. However I understand this is no longer operating so perhaps another visit is required.
Holme Wood, another excellent place for bluebells, is looking very pretty. The bluebells and stitchwort make a colourful carpet amongst all the developing green. The sunlight coming through the trees adds to it all but makes it more difficult to photograph.
I can now just about see the blue haze on Brackenthwaite Hows from my window and Max and I went to investigate on Friday morning. The colour is much more definite and the bluebells are looking stronger and taller.
Once you are looking out for bluebells you find them everywhere. The verge by the junction from the Hope Beck road onto the gated road has an amazing display, however, given the colour of many of the bluebells I think they are perhaps garden escapees but they still look very lovely.
Anyway there was not a bluebell in sight for my photo of the week which I took coming back along the river path through Lanthwaite Woods.
Look after yourselves
May 3rd, Week 6 of lockdown
It is often difficult to come to terms with the natural beauty and normal progression of Spring when our world is turned upside down. In our sixth week of lockdown, the sound of the cuckoo is an everyday occurrence and swallows are starting to investigate places to nest. Welsh poppies are adding bright spots of yellow in the hedgerows although the cow parsley is beginning to muscle in. In the fields there are still many new lambs appearing and the older ones are now finding their feet and are charging around in little gangs.
The weather has not been so sunny and clear this week but there were a couple of days when there was no wind and the reflections in Crummock were near perfect. You may notice that the level of the lake is quite low because of the lack of rain in April.
As the weather became cloudier I was having to think a little bit harder about where I might find this week’s pictures. Generally one doesn’t walk along the road by Loweswater very often but there is an interesting little enclosure with an explanatory board just a little way before the Mosser road. That is the track which is signed ‘Unfit for motors’, but there is still the odd car or van that tries (and usually fails) to prove the sign wrong.
If you have seen the film ‘Miss Potter’ the opening shots are taken up the Mosser road just before the footpath down to Askhill.
I am told the Rannerdale bluebells are starting to come out so I think I will have to have a cycle along there sometime this week. They are also appearing on Brackenthwaite Hows but are not yet creating the carpet effect that I will be able to see from across the valley at Foulsyke.
Earlier in the year I baked and froze batches of cakes to go in the cottages for guests so when lockdown began I had rather a lot of cakes in the freezer. I gave some to friends, one even became a birthday cake, and obviously I have been eating them myself as well. They are now just about finished and so I baked myself a fresh carrot cake yesterday and enjoyed the first slice with a cup of tea in the garden.
I intended to include a picture of Lorton shop as they are open and providing a valuable service to the community. I went through Lorton on my bike yesterday but there was a car in front of the shop so no photo. However coming back along the Hopebeck road I got my photo of the week.