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.
April 26th Week 5 of Lockdown
Week 5 of lockdown has been another gloriously sunny week, it was quite windy and cool at first but then it became very warm and still. There has been no rain at all this month, it is very dry everywhere and the lakes and rivers are noticeably low. I feel so sad for everyone who should have been here enjoying such beautiful settled weather.
As I walked down the road past Nether Close to Crummock last Monday morning I wondered about perhaps looking at roads and paths in this week’s news but then other things caught my attention like the cave in Lanthwaite Wood which just happened to have a shaft of sunlight going into it.
However thinking about paths took me up the Mosedale valley which was an old rather boggy route to Ennerdale. I went as far as the holly tree which is marked on the OS map as the Mosedale Holly Tree and, according to Wainwright, is the only tree in Lakeland to be given a name! It is also referenced in Margaret Forster’s book, ‘The Memory Box’, on a walk to Scale Force.
On the way home I went into the now empty car park at the Kirkstile with its superb backdrop of Melbreak and could not help but think about the enormity of what is happening at the present time.
Another tree which stands out locally is the lone pine on the side of Low Fell above Foulsyke. It would be really interesting to know its history.
Foulsyke and Crummock Water from the lone pine
As I said at the beginning it became very still towards the end of the week and the reflections in the lakes were truly amazing so here are a few of the many pictures I took.
Crummock before Max went for his morning swim.
Reflection of Melbreak
Sheep going for a drink at Crummock by the kissing gate
Max being hopeful of a swim at Loweswater
I was hoping to have some pictures from yesterday’s bike ride but unfortunately I had a puncture five miles from Foulsyke on a rough road beyond Rogerscale. The moral of this story is to always carry a spare inner tube! It was a long walk home.
Look after yourselves
19 April Week 4 of Lock Down
We are now into the fourth week of staying at home and the sun keeps on shining. Some of you may wonder why there are no pictures on the fells but we have been asked by Mountain Rescue not to go onto them.
Last Wednesday I decided to go along to Ling Crag, the previous time I went the cloud was down so I thought it would be nice to get some pictures where you could see the tops of the fells. I had a lovely walk along the shore and was about to sit down on the promontory when the F15s decided to fly down the lake! The noise was incredible and then after they had passed there was another roar but this time it was from the lake and the water started churning. I could hardly believe it but then they flew past again and the same thing happened.
After I had my coffee and had thrown Max’s ball into the lake for him I walked further along to the bridge towards Buttermere: it was worth it for the view coming back.
Many of my walks are variations of Crummock shoreline so here are a couple of spots which many of you will be very familiar with.
One of the positives at the moment is that we seem to be seeing more red squirrels about both in gardens and in the woods. I saw one in Lanthwaite Wood one morning, it was running across the undergrowth but by the time I had got my camera out it was up a tree – can you spot him?
I think one of the loveliest aspects this past week have been the hedgerows and roadside verges.
Bluebells by Nether Close
Surprise cowslips by Crabtree Beck
Jack in the hedge everywhere – this is a plant that always makes me smile
And I couldn’t leave out the hedge along the lane coming back up to Foulsyke from Crummock.
Look after yourselves
12 April Week 3 of lockdown
Today is Easter Sunday, coming to the end of the third week of lockdown.
During the past week Spring really seems to be arriving, the verges have started to take off and the Jack in the Hedge will very soon be in flower. The trees in the woods have suddenly become a lot greener and underneath there are carpets of white wood anemones. These were on the riverside path through Lanthwaite Wood.
There is still however a very surprising reminder of winter by the boathouse at Crummock, why this holly tree holds onto its berries I do not know.
The other morning I went up onto Brackenthwaite Hows, a favourite walk.
The views from there are wide ranging and you can see the whole of the layout of the valley.
It was very hazy and still on Good Friday. I decided to go out on my bike to Buttermere: it was beautiful but quite eerie.
There was no-one about apart from a few cyclists and some farm vehicles (and a police car). The sheep are the kings of the road. I could also stop on the roadside to take pictures!
I was rather pleased with this picture of the Buttermere pines.
A knock on effect from the lock down: the chickens no longer need to be in lock down.
Later…….. a cuckoo was in heard the woods today which is very early.
5 April Second week of lock down
All my walks at present are from the door and I think as we are more restricted we are much more aware of our surroundings. Loweswater is a quiet place at the best of times but it is noticeable how much quieter it is at the moment, probably like it was fifty years ago. The bird song however is beautiful.
There are more lambs about this week, these herdwicks are just along the lane.
I came across the 87s along the Hopebeck road.
Several of my walks are obviously down to Crummock by a variety of routes. Many of you will recognise the tree sculpture in the bay at the foot of Melbreak. It definitely does have four legs and it has been referred to as many things from an elephant (although it has now lost its trunk) to a dinosaur.
Last Thursday I decided to walk along the Melbreak side of Crummock to the promontory by Ling Crag. I thought I would try to take a similar photograph to the Abrahams’ Solitude one where the end of the promontory blocks the lake behind. I didn’t get it quite right but I quite liked the photo I took, despite the low cloud!
Sadly we are very aware of death and our own mortality at this time: Loweswater churchyard is a beautiful place to have a quiet think.
One of the graves that always makes me smile is that of Chris Todd, who as his gravestone reads ’Gathered these fells for 60 years’
Hope you like the larger pics, also if you click on one it will now enlarge – thank you Paul!
Sunday 29 March
Today is Edith, my youngest grand-daughter’s 5th birthday, I’m sure she will have a lovely day but it will be rather different. Everything has changed so in the last week and it takes time to come to terms with it all. It is very hard having to cancel people’s holidays but overall I am managing to transfer bookings to later in the year or even to next year. While I have been phoning or emailing guests several have asked that I keep my blog going.
I thought it would be nice to base it round my daily dog walks which are local and are places and paths that guests are familiar with. It has also helped in the last week that the weather has been so good!
The walk round Crummock shoreline is a familiar one and I expect many of you have sat on these logs beyond the kissing gate and looked across to the boathouse. There’s a little bit where the logs cross and gives you a nice back rest.
The logs themselves are getting quite old now but there are still some very lovely gnarled patterns in them.
Last Wednesday was a beautiful, still and hazy day, perfect for taking classic early morning shots.
By Saturday, as I walked down to the lake by Lanthwaite Wood car park, some of the logs from the big log pile by the entrance had been used to effectively close the car park to vehicles.
I don’t always go to Crummock, I can go in the other direction towards Loweswater. The Loweswater pheasant is looking particularly good at the moment.
I went up the Mosser road on Friday and came across this surprise host of daffodils.
There is a lovely field of herdies along the Loweswater road and when I went out they were all tucked into the fence fast asleep, it would have made a beautiful picture except for the hedge between myself and the field, there was no way I could get a picture so I just had to satisfy myself with one on the way back when they were up and in the middle of the field.
I obviously can’t finish without a picture from Foulsyke: here is one of the daffodils by the seat.
Look after yourselves, I will try to do another post soon.