It’s springtime, the skies are blue, although it may be a bit cold, and we are open! It is lovely to have guests in the Cottages again, everyone so happy to be able to come away on holiday after lockdown. I had a haircut last Monday, what a difference it makes and to celebrate I had my first Luchini’s icecream of the season on Whinlatter.
After welcoming yesterday’s guests I took the dog out past the Kirkstile where people were sat in the garden having drinks and headed down the lane to take a picture of some beautiful primroses I had seen on the verge a couple of days ago. There were also lots of glowing celandines which made me ponder on why flowers like celandines and dandelions get such a bad press in gardens – I do know the answer but in the right place they are lovely.
The mornings in the past week have been very cold, I registered -3C on the bridge by Lanthwaite Wood the other day. There has been very little wind and early in the morning Crummock has been very still with lots of incredible reflections. Max however needed a swim…..
Towards the end of last year when we were able to meet outside in small groups six of us decided to get together for some local walks (plus coffee and cake!) These sadly came to a halt in January but we have now restarted with a walk up Melbreak last week. We went up via Todd’s Trod in Mosedale which Mark Richards, in his new series of walks books, Walking the Lake District Fells, has named after the local farmer who told him about the route. Below is the view towards Loweswater from Melbreak top.
This morning I met a friend I had not seen for a while for an early morning walk over Sale Fell. We had a hazy but lovely view across Bassenthwaite as we meandered around the fell catching up on each other’s news.
On our return we came by the walls of the old Wythop church, always a place to reflect on valley life in times gone by.
Hopefully we are going to be able to reopen shortly after Easter which will be good news for everyone, it has been a long winter. However there are signs of Spring, the snowdrops have looked beautiful for a long while but are now being taken over by the crocus and daffodils. I walked through Loweswater churchyard yesterday and the spring flowers in amongst the graves were lovely.
The sign at the junction by the Kirkstile that Wainwright referred to as ‘a negative signpost’ in his section on Melbreak suddenly disappeared one day. We were rather worried for a while wondering what had happened to it as it is such an iconic sign. However a couple of weeks later it reappeared looking very smart and clean. The sign at the end of the lane has now been taken off, it must be the local council having a clean up.
Over the past week or two we have had some beautiful still and misty mornings. It’s lovely to go down to one of the lakes early when it’s like this. There are often swans gently gliding around on Loweswater and one morning I saw two red squirrels chasing each other through the woods.
It’s also nice to go up a bit to look down on the mist over the lake and Brackenthwaite Hows is an ideal place for this.
During lockdown several of the local groups have gone online with Zoom presentations, it has been good to see local friends who you otherwise may not have seen and there have been wide ranging presentations including one from Rosie, a local girl running from Loweswater to Mongolia highlighting climate activism. Unfortunately she had to temporarily halt her journey in Bulgaria and return home because of the pandemic. At the other end of the timescale we had a fascinating lecture by the history society on local Neolithic settlements in the valley which are quite extensive and there’s even evidence of stone age ‘cups’ on the large rock in a field towards Loweswater.
Anyway I had better come back to the present time and get on with preparing to re-open the cottages.
The beast from the East
Like everywhere else in the country we have had the ‘Beast from the East’ during the past week. Instead of snow however we have had mainly sunny days with blue skies but it has been bitterly cold with temperatures scarcely rising above freezing. Earlier in the week it was very calm and the swans were quietly feeding on Loweswater
but there was ice about.
By Friday morning we were being hit by an icy blast and the bushes along the wall at Crummock were starting to ice over.
I couldn’t get through to the pumping station because of an icy bush hanging over the track which was sheet ice.
After a very windy night I braved the weather and went down to the lake again but by the gated track to reach the far side of the pumping station.
The route to the kissing gate was impassible
It was incredibly beautiful but I now certainly understand wind chill.
We’re now a week into February and the snowdrops are looking at their best.
The weather has been very mixed from sunny days with snow and ice to rain and squelching mud. One rather icy day Judy and I met at Maggie’s Bridge and went up the valley between Hencomb and Gavel. We went to the sheep fold at the head of the valley, returned to High Nook and from there joined the terrace path. We stopped for a very cold lunch on the seat – Judy amazingly still had some Christmas cake to share! The view from the seat shows a very clear snow line between the valley and the fells.
As I walked home along the road from the far end of Loweswater I found these lovely broken pieces of ice gathering on the shoreline of the lake.
I think during the lockdowns we have become more observant and also give ourselves time to stand and stare. I came across this beautiful lichen on a tree stump when on a bike ride near Rogerscale.
The past weeks have not just been walks, I have also had my cottage inspection and retained my five star rating. The inspector writes:
‘The properties sit safely at the higher end of the banding with all areas meeting the expectations at this high Star level. The continued high levels of presentation have enabled the Gold Accolade to be reconfirmed once again this year.’
Like many people, I still can’t resist taking photos from the front of Foulsyke particularly on bright wintery afternoons.
I think however the sheep had other things on their minds.
The cottages have been unoccupied since November either because of lockdowns or tier restrictions so it has all been very quiet at Foulsyke. At present I am doing the usual January jobs of preparing the cottages for the oncoming season, repainting, replacing, renovating etc. I am also having to work on my booking conditions and cancellation policies because of the pandemic: hopefully these will be on the website shortly. It is currently uncertain when we will be able to reopen but let us hope it will not be too long before I can welcome guests again.
Now on a much lighter note I thought I would post a couple of fun pictures. Mark, the National Trust ranger was busy with his chain saw over Christmas and festive reindeer and snowmen appeared at Loweswater. Children were also delighted to discover a goblin tree along the lakeshore.
We have just had a couple of days of wonderfully snowy weather which then disappeared overnight. Here are some photos I took on Friday.
First thing Friday morning
A sheep along the lane
Two pictures of Loweswater in the afternoon sun
And sheep feeding on my way home
Since the November lockdown my walks have been local, most of them starting from the door which on occasion can lengthen a walk considerably. It has been interesting to find new routes or put parts of walks together in different ways. My walking friend Judy and I found new routes up Burnbank and Carling Knott and added the path above the intake wall to Thackthwaite to a Low Fell walk. Yesterday’s walk in the snow was put together as we went along. We started on the fell road to Mosser, then went up the valley between Low Fell and Darling Fell. After enjoying ‘emergency rations’ of coffee and Judy’s energy giving Christmas cake at the stile, we continued up the right hand side of the beck before bearing right to join the main Low Fell track. Instead of turning right to Low Fell we turned left to visit Fellbarrow before returning to the top of the fell road. As some fairly gloomy clouds loomed in the distance we enjoyed a visit to this perfectly placed snowman on Watching Crag.
We are seeing red squirrels on a daily basis which is lovely. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the West Lakes Squirrel Initiative. If you have had difficulties making bank transfers to them unfortunately the account number I was given had the last two digits reversed so the last two numbers are 98 not 89. If you want to check anything further please get in touch.
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.