May 2023

Buttermere Cottage garden this afternoon.

Ever since I started this blog in 2011, there are two items that I always write about in May; Rannerdale bluebells and hearing the first cuckoo.

The bluebells are a short and beautiful walk through the Rannerdale valley with flowers carpeting both sides of the valley. They are a very special sight but sadly we are told they are suffering from their own popularity: hopefully there is now an increasing awareness of  the long term damage that can be caused by visitors not staying on the paths.

A Rannerdale Herdy!

Although Rannerdale is the most well known area for bluebells in the valley, there are many other places that have eye-catching shows, some just a display by a road or on a fellside. I can see the blue on Brackenthwaite Hows from my garden.

It is always interesting how flowers vary from year to year. This year the primroses were outstanding and so is the gorse and hawthorn. It is also an excellent year for stitchwort, a rather retiring flower that always seems to in the shadow of other flowers.

This year I heard the first cuckoo on 29 April but my neighbour had heard it a few days earlier. All the birds are very busy at the moment. We have lots of swallows swooping around and some are nesting in the store round the back and my front hedge is home to many families of sparrows. We have been visited on a couple of nights by a baby owl sitting on a roof – hope his mother knew where he was. I also had a more unusual visitor to the garden, a red legged partridge who obligingly posed on the wall for me.

And last but not least the squirrels are about at the moment and one of my guests last week passed on this beautiful picture of one running up the grass behind Crummock Cottage.

 

April 2023

Looking through my pictures over the past month most of them seem related to the arrival of Spring. Daffodils are everywhere including in the churchyard.

Cockermouth, with its association with Wordsworth and his famous poem, had  displays of daffodils made from all manner of materials everywhere. Even Mayo in Main Street was decorated.

Primroses are now out along the road side verges, I liked this picture I took from the Loweswater road with Low Fell in the background.

It was a sunny morning today and as I walked along by the river at Crummock there were swallows flying overhead, the first I’ve seen this year. We are now also seeing the lambs out in the fields. This lamb and its mother stayed still long enough for me to take a picture of them as I came home from my morning dog walk.

It has been a beautiful day.

 

March 2023

Last Tuesday was gloriously sunny but bitterly cold so my friend Judy and I decided to do a walk we had been promising ourselves for ages; Cold Fell and Matty Benn’s bridge. The way was fairly pathless at times so it was one for such a clear day. We got some amazing views from the top of Cold Fell and could see out over the Solway to the Isle of Man. It was said you could see Blackpool Tower but the wind turbines were muddying the view beyond Black Combe.

Matty Benn’s bridge was tucked away off the main track as we headed back to the Cold Fell road. It lived up to expectation. It is a very narrow and beautifully formed stone arch bridge  with no sides crossing a small gorge. The story goes that Matty Benn, a farmer in the mid-1800s, used to ride her horse over the bridge on her way home after she had been to market and a local inn!

The predicted snow arrived overnight on Thursday and we awoke to a winter wonderland. Even my WW1 Tommy in the garden got a new coat.

The obvious pictures to take in front of Foulsyke are towards the lake but the sun was so bright in the morning I had to point my camera towards Whiteside which was looking very white indeed.

The local herdies were tucking into their feed as I took the dog for his morning walk.

In the late afternoon I walked down to the lake where the views were absolutely stunning.

 

 

February 2023

The snowdrops are out, always a sign that it will not be too long until spring is properly with us. The birds are starting to sing and the woodpeckers are drumming on the trees in the woods.

It is also time to open the Cottages for the 2023 season. January has been busy checking everything, decorating, cleaning, replacing where necessary and making sure that everything is in good working order. We had our annual VisitEngland inspection in November, the inspector was very happy with everything and we retained our Five Star rating with Gold Award in all cottages scoring an important 100% on cleanliness.

It seems a little while since I last wrote anything although I had made a few notes and lined up some pics from walks. The most recent was yesterday when I saw the first frogspawn on the track up Mosedale en route for Melbreak, no more pics from the day as the clag was down.

It was rather different the day after New Year’s Day when I had my first picnic of the year by Derwentwater.

Two weeks later we had a fall of snow and you just couldn’t miss the opportunity of walking on the fells. Here is the view from Darling Fell across to the aptly named Whiteside.

Later in the month I had a rather different walk with some local friends. We followed the coffin route from Workington to Camerton described by Alan Cleaver in his book ‘The Corpse Roads of Cumbria’  It was fascinating. The start in Workington is marked by two stone crosses built into a house wall on Cross Hill and then follows down to the river via Workington Hall and Mill Fields. The walk then continues along the riverside to Camerton church.

And to add to our enjoyment we saw two little egrets by the river – amazing.

 

December

It must be coming up to Christmas as the climber is attempting the ascent of the Moot Hall in Keswick again.

Thank you to everyone who has visited this year and I hope to see you again sometime. So many of you have commented on how much they have enjoyed the peace and quiet of Loweswater and the surrounding areas.

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas

October

The past month has been one of very mixed weather, some sun but like everyone else we’ve also had our fair share of rain, clouds and wind but it has generally remained warm.

At the end of September there were some lovely early autumn morning dog walks.

A few days later it was impossible to get across the bridges at Crummock.

At the beginning of October I took a trip to Silloth on the Solway coast with some friends and we walked round Grune Point. It’s a lovely walk with lots of sea birds, well worth a visit. On the way back I spotted a hay bale sculpture which an ice cream selling farm had built just south of Allonby: it really made me smile.

Looking at the photos I took through the month, most of them looked a bit cloudy and damp.

The weather does not really stop you from going out walking and you can still appreciate the views. This is one from the top of Walla Crag last Sunday morning.

Further along Borrowdale at Ashness Bridge the autumn colours were beautiful despite the clouds and we appreciated the view with a couple of traditionally dressed Asian ladies.

 

September

Today, Sunday 18 September, the day before the Queen’s funeral, seemed a bit of a ‘loose end’ day so I decided to take a nostalgic walk from Rosthwaite over to Watendlath and hopefully have a coffee at the tea room at Caffle House Farm where I worked during a summer holiday when I was a student many years ago.

It is a very special place with its beautiful tarn, old packhorse bridge and also its importance in the Herries chronicles as the place where Judith Paris, Rogue Herries’ daughter, lived.

It was a good walk although the weather was a bit dull but the tea room was open!

The big event locally in September is Loweswater Show on the first Sunday in the month. It is the first time it has been held for three years because of bad weather or the pandemic so it was a rather special occasion. It was good to see the sheep dog trials again although one or two sheep had minds of their own.

I especially love to see the herdwicks in their Sunday best.

The animal being carried is I believe a goat!

Loweswater Show however would not be the same without Tony and the Luchini’s ice cream vans. You may know their shop in Keswick or have seen their van at Surprise View on Whinlatter – best ice cream ever!

Tony has just got a new state of the art van which was publicised throughout the day over the tannoy system. On the far side of the van there are photographs of the family going back to 1901 when the business started.

If you would like to see more of the show visit Roger Hiley’s  loweswatercam

Finally, a happy snappy of Max at Crummock one rather cloudy morning.

August

I took this pic of Foulsyke on my phone coming back home up the field from a morning dog walk. It’s a view I see most days but there was something about it that day that made me take my phone out of my pocket.

There is an increasing awareness of the need to protect and improve our environment and several of my recent blogs have included the local wild life ponds that have been created by the West Cumbria Rivers Trust. They have also been busy at the far end of Loweswater reconnecting Dub Beck with the flood plain through meanders, back waters and pools rather than the existing straight channel. It looks very natural already.

I have recently read Lee Schofield’s book ‘Wild Fell’ He is the site manager at RSPB Haweswater and the book is about the development of a landscape scale nature reserve which incorporates working farms: it is a fascinating and thought provoking read.

On a lighter note, Theatre by the Lake’s summer production of ‘One Man Two Guvnors’ is one their best, it is brilliant and I have been encouraging visitors and friends to go and enjoy it. Two cottage guests went yesterday and one of them ended up on stage – I did tell them not to sit in the front row!

The walk from Lanthwaite Wood car park to Crummock has been enhanced this summer by some local poetry.

And one of the poems ( which has got a bit mucky)

And finally Crummock in the early morning sun.

 

July 2022

Staying indoors as much as possible during the current heatwave, I thought it was a good opportunity to write my July blog! Despite the heat the farmers are working hard in the fields cutting and baling hay. There’s a low hum of tractor noise from very early morning until late evening and there is a pervasive smell of new mown hay everywhere.

The other scent that is very distinctive in July is that of the meadowsweet. I was down at Crummock very early this morning and you could smell the meadow sweet before you reached the water meadow beyond the pumphouse: it is particularly abundant this year.

Continuing with scents I went to Lowther Castle the other Sunday to see the rose garden having watched it develop over the past couple of years. It was designed by Dan Pearson inspired by the Sleeping Beauty myth and planted in the shape of an old English Rose: it is absolutely beautiful, well worth a visit.

On my way back from Lowther, I made a detour at Eamont Bridge to visit Mayburgh Henge which is a large and impressive Neolithic henge. Its banks are very high and it is said to have been constructed of pebbles collected from the nearby river.

I have become interested in Cumbria’s neolithic past having read  two fascinating recently published books, one by Adam Morgan Ibbotson, Cumbria’s Prehistoric Monuments and the other Stan Abbott’s Ring of Stone Circles.

On a local level  I had often wondered about a tree in Holme Wood which is on its own on a raised mound: I am told this was a neolithic burial chamber and there is a second similar mound a bit further along the path.

Back to Foulsyke, the view towards the lake one morning last week was rather special and then when I turned round towards Foulsyke I was surprised again.

June 2022

The main event throughout the country at the beginning of June was the Queen’s Jubilee and Loweswater joined in the celebrations.

A cherry tree was planted at the Grange at the other end of the lake. Chris Todd, a local farmer, did the heavy spade work and Jonathan Edwards, the Olympic triple jumper who has a house in the valley, added the final spade of soil. Local residents watched happily on, a glass of fizz in one hand, a flag in the other. We then moved to a beautifully decorated village hall for lunch followed by cake which was cut by two older residents who attended the village hall in the 1940s when it was the local school. It was a very happy and friendly occasion.

Sarah, one of my Saturday helpers, is a great cake maker and she brought in an amazing cake for us all to share at our lunchtime break on Saturday changeover. Needless to say, it was delicious.

Lorton marked the occasion by creating a beautiful Jubilee Garden next to the Yew Tree Hall: its opening was celebrated with Pimms and afternoon tea.

The West Cumbria Rivers Trust working with local landowners and farmers are continuing to create wildlife ponds in the valley. The four in the field behind Foulsyke  are now looking very established. A new more extensive pond system has just been created in the field in front of Foulsyke. I am looking forward to seeing what wildlife it attracts, I have already seen some ducks checking it out.

Thinking of wildlife, we have so many birds visiting the feeders at present, today I counted six young bluetits on the nuts at the same time and there are also woodpeckers, including young, visiting several times a day. I was very excited the other morning as I walked the dog along the river path at Crummock to see a goosander swimming along with two chicks. I wondered if it is the same one that I used to see flying around the beech trees in the front garden.

It is particularly beautiful walking by Crummock at present as the meadow along the shore between the pumphouse and the kissing gate is full of grasses and wild flowers. The views along Crummock towards Gable are very special but it can also look very attractive in the other direction.