Saturday, August 10, 2013

Angle Pikes and Tarn - The best on the list.

Sometimes perhaps it is the time of day and the light but the view of Angle Tarn from Angle Pike was one of the best new Lakeland scenes I have enjoyed for a while – I can’t wait to enjoy this walk again.

We weren’t able to set out to the walk until after 4.00pm but as the day had been a little overcast it was now improving at pace. The Ullswater Valley is close enough to Wetheral Cottages to be just a short journey to the start of our walk. Parking the Car in a small lay-by at Bridgend on the A592 between Patterdale and Hartsop we could easily pick out our starting route, after crossing the valley bottom a steady climb saw us up to Boredale Hause (the col between Angle Pikes and Place Fell). We stopped on the way up to pass the time of day with a shepherd who was assessing the whereabouts of a ewe and lamb in preparation for a gather (bringing the sheep off the fell) the following day in preparation for clipping (shearing) the following day.

Angle Tarn from Angle Pike
 Wool this marvellous natural fibre but the Herdwick and Swaledale sheep which are the main breeds in this terrain produce a rather coarse wool. Recently much research has been undertaken into alternative uses and we now find it used as house insulation but traditional garments woven or knitted with Herdwick wool still benefit from the weather proof properties of the basic product.

From Boredale Hause we swung right the path becoming a bit more rugged and our expectations to see Angle Tarn became more eager. Our first good view of the tarn came from the top of the first of the two Angle Pikes, the light on the tarn and the surrounding fells made the scene worth the effort. The rain the day before had cleared the air and from this vantage point we could clearly see, Penrith, the Dumfriesshire Mountains to the north and towards the southeast High Street, round to Helvellyn in the west. Brothers Water (always thought it a funny name for a lake!) glistened up at us as well. We were ready for a drink so bagged the second Pike and then found a sunny crag overlooking the tarn for
 our break.

Brothers Water from Angle Pike
Knowing the route we had chosen took us well beyond the tarn, we were not able to enjoy the view for perhaps as long as we would have wished, so descending from this crag to the tarn we were able to follow a newly laid path along the edge of the tarn but this soon gave way to a route that was a bit indistinct and then back onto a newly laid path. Stopping a couple of times to check the map to ensure our instincts were taking us in the right direction we soon saw Hayeswater in the distance, then once it was below us we found the path down, this being the aim of our decent and from where we were to follow the service track back to Hartsop.

Reaching Hartsop the walk had already taken us just over 4 hours a little longer than planned and yet the terrain had not been difficult but there was still good light as we took the path to Patterdale which led back to our car. Yes even if we were just to climb up to the pikes and paddle in the tarn the walk gave some of the best views I have seen for a long time. Angle Tarn we will be back.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Where was James Bond at this Smuggler's Retreat

As the good weather continues a walk on the cooler side of hot was called for and as it’s also enjoyable to go to another area within the county a costal walk seemed to fit the bill. St, Bees is just over an hour away from Wetheral Cottages. With the expectation of it being cooler on the coast and perhaps an onshore breeze, we chose the walk around St, Bees Head. The walk was taken from “OS More Lake District Walks (Pathfinder Guide)” a 6.5 mile walk with less than a mile of road walking. This was the area I was brought up in, so I knew the route well, but despite living and working within a couple of miles to one of the highlights of the walk – Fleswick Bay – this was only my fourth visit to the bay, but another memorable one.

St, Bees Beach and Village

The walk starts from the seafront Car Park from where the first part of the route is easily visible and appears more challenging than it really is. This is also the start of the Coast to Coast Walk so those treading the route to Robin’s Hood Bay would traditionally touch the sea before leaving. Walking up the south head gave us good views, despite the heat of the day causing a hazy skyline, of the beach, village, Wasdale Fells in the distance also to the south Black Combe. Once up the South Head we could see a hazy Isle of Man and Southern Scotland. We met very few other walkers and within the hour were sitting enjoying refreshments on the shingle in Fleswick Bay. The sea was a clear blue and one could just imagine this as an ideal location for James Bond to land with his young lady! Yes this is a really idyllic smugglers cove location and with no road access and set between the mastiffs of the north and south head it still retains its wow factor. Gulls and Cormorants flying to and from the nesting sites visible high up on the south head held our interest as we enjoyed watching the receding tide.

Fleswick Bay from the North Head

The path up onto the north head had been clearly visible as we walked towards Fleswick but though the joints seemed to have stiffened (obviously we had enjoyed the ambience of the cove for too long) as we climbed up onto the north head we were rewarded with a good view point looking back into Fleswick. The path then took on a rather steadier gradient up to the highest point near the Lighthouse. The head is an PSPB Reserve and we found several viewing hides along this part of the walk, we took advantage of one of these and were surprised to see some very precarious ledges packed with Guillemots.

The St, Bees Lighthouse now controlled from some central point stands quite majestically on the top of the head, I remember as a small boy being show round the workings and was amazed at the size of the bulbs used. The path continues steadily on along the cliff edge and soon the industrial landscape of West Cumbria becomes clearer – wind turbines very much in evidence today. We took a slight detour to Birkhams Quarry, a sandstone quarry, and from there took the lane to the village of Sandwith.

Gullemots on St, Bees Head

Whitehaven was once one of the major English ports with sailing ships trading with the Caribbean, Americas as well as slaves. The Beacon and Rum Story in Whitehaven are well worth a visit and very informative of this period of Whitehaven’s history. Empty ships return to the Americas often took on sandstone as ballast, this was used for building and was I believe used to face a government building in America. The building required some renovation in the late 60’s so Birkhams Quarry was reopened to fill this need and still produces a small amount of building material as required.

Once in the village we joined our first stretch of road, then about ¼ of a mile out of the village we took a narrow lane to Demesne Farm, through the farmyard then a short lane walk we found ourselves crossing the Whitehaven to St, Bees road. Here we once again had good views into the Ennerdale Valley. The route then leads through another Farm – Bellhouse – then the path drops down into the St. Bees valet and we soon see a sign off to the left which signals the route those heading along the Coast to Coast route should take but we continue on to St, Bees some 2 or 3 miles ahead and of course our ultimate goal.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Power of Cumbria - Fell Ponies

Fell Pony from the Society Website

Fell Ponies, known for their stamina and quite temperament but it is testament to their versatility that the breed has survived to today, for their ancestors probably roamed this area even before Roman times. Before the days of mechanization, the Fell Pony was a "jack-of-all-trades,' shepherding on the fells of England's Lake District, working as a light farm animal and pulling the family carriage on various occasions as well as being a Lakeland fells to the merchants and lead from mines to the coast for smelting. Today, Fell Ponies are popular for both riding and carriage driving. In fact the Queen owns Fell Ponies which were driven by her husband, Prince Philip, in international competitions and he often used to appear at The Lowther Horse Trials held each August. Follow the history and current information on the Fell Pony Website.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Welcome to 2013 and News from the Cottages

Welcome to 2013

This year we decided to donate to Charity in lieu of Christmas Cards so our local Lazonby First Responders who have attended guests in need of urgent medical attention have benefited.

We have posted a Voucher which currently offers previous guests and their friends as well as colleagues a 15% reduction off any full priced 7 day stays completed before 16th, March of 10% off Weekend (Fri to Mon) or Mid-week Breaks (Mon to Fri)—it certainly will make someone happy.

Reservations must be booked at least 10 days prior to arrival and is subject to availability, contact us direct eith by email or phone from our website.
Penrith Increases it’s attraction

Penrith is due to become an even more vibrant shopping centre with the imminent opening of the New Squares. The town has a great atmosphere and the recent opening of two more supermarkets has given it a new boost. Sainsbury’s opened at the east end of town whilst the local supermarket chain Booths opened opposite Morrison’s. Booths stock a wide range of locally sourced food and are a well respected northern supermarket with a simple philosophy “Sell the best goods available, in attractive stores, staffed with first class assistants.”

Penrith is more than supermarkets, it is a “Real Life Shopping Experience” with a wide variety of individual stores where service is not extra and prices inline with what is being offered elsewhere. The town has three local butchers all of a high standard and Cranston’s also run the Cumbrian Food Hall on the edge of town where they produce a tasty Cumberland Sausage which our family have enjoyed for over 25 years, but we now prefer the Cumberland Sausage found at Little’s the butcher in Devonshire Arcade, Little’s recipe is just a little spicier.

Yummy! Cumberland Sausage
  In 2011 Cumberland Sausage was awarded “Protected Status” so must be now produced in the County of Cumbria and made to specific ingredient quantities. The legend of Cumberland Sausage probably started around the West Cumbrian port of Whitehaven which imported a lot of spice and sugar from the Indies but before docking in Whitehaven some of these taxable items were unloaded at the Freeport on the Isle of Man and then smuggled across to the Cumberland Coast. The smuggles would often hide out in farms and leave some of the contraband as payment for the farmer’s hospitality and silence. Of course the Custom men were constantly on the prowl and so the story goes the farmers wife was making sausage when she became aware of the imminent arrival of the customs officers and in her desperate bid to conceal the spices left by the smugglers she threw the lot in with the sausage mix and continued to make the sausages, so was born the recipe for Cumberland Sausage.

Lowther, Askham and beyond.

Lowther Castle now being renovated
 Lowther Castle and the rejuvenation of the Castle gardens has moved quite a pace since our Blog of September 2011 and so the gardens should have developed to be well worth another visit this year. 130 acres of gardens must take a lot of up-keep and obviously employed numerous gardeners at one time. The Courtyard Café is now open and this grand setting adjacent to the old castle is, on a beautiful Cumbrian day, an idyllic place to relax for a while, then view the ruins now in an advanced stage of restoration. The Castle will not at this stage be fully restored but brought back to provide a safe environment which can be used to tell the tale of the Lowther families who lived there. With a plethora of country walks within the Lowther Castle area the Courtyard Café has become a welcome staging post.
View From Heughscar Fell towards Ullswater

The Lowther family have lived at Askham Hall since the demise of the castle and here also has been developed a Tearoom in the old farm buildings, it certainly has created an old worldly atmosphere—not tried the stone baked pizza’s yet but had good reports.

 From Askham it is a reasonably gentle uphill stroll to the top of Heughscar Fell from where there are great views over Ullswater and the Helvellyn Range of fells. This is one of those viewpoints accessed with not too much effort yet offering really rewarding views, as with Castle Crag and Walla Crag in the Borrowdale Valley. As you headed on up towards Heughscar Fell you are sure to see a herd of Fell Ponies, who's ancestors probably roamed this area even before Roman Times.

Before the days of mechanization, the Fell Pony was a "jack-of-all-trades,' shepherding on the fells of England's Lake District, working as a light farm animal and pulling the family carriage when required. For centuries the Fell Pony’s major role was as a pack or pannier pony carrying goods of all kinds. Their work was both local and long distance, particularly carrying wool from the Lakeland fells to the merchants and lead from mines to the coast for smelting. Today, Fell Ponies are popular for both riding and carriage driving.

Let the Train take the Strain

The Settle to Carlise Railway

 The Carlisle to Settle Railway (though it goes to Leeds) has had a chequered history, on being threatened with closure - there was outrage: critics of the closure pointed out that this was a main line, and the campaign uncovered evidence that British Rail had mounted a dirty tricks campaign against the line. However it was saved and is now a thriving and very scenic route. The short journey from Langwathby or Lazonby to Carlisle runs adjacent to the River Eden and is well worth enjoying.

Carlisle has much to offer and the railway station is just a stones throw from the city centre and no parking charges. Carlisle, though small by city standards, is a cultured and vibrant city and in 2012 was voted the “Happiest Place to Live” (not quite first as I don’t recall them questioning the residents of Great Salkeld!)

Castle visits as a small boy were an extremely boring experience things have changed, the Castle and Museums in Carlisle are fun and interesting.

Places to Visit within Half an Hours travelling


Ullswater Lake and surrounding valleys and fells with many easy and difficult walks or climbs.

Carlisle the Great Border City

Northern Pennines - European and Global Geopark great walks through varying wildlife habitats.

Sleddale a peaceful and perhaps desolate valley made famous by the cult film “Withnail & and I”

Sleddale Hall

Keswick, Lake Derwentwater and home of the pencil & Pencil Museum, and popular “Theatre by the Lake”

Places to Visit in under an hours travelling

Windermere, Grasmere, Ambleside Lakeland History, Beatrix Potter, Lake Cruises

Hadrian’s Wall and the Roman Forts Vindolanda and The Roman Army Museum

Western Yorkshire Dales                            Check Availability and Dates from here

We look forward to welcoming you in the coming months. John and Linda

Fell Ponies on Heughscar Fell near Akham

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, August 27, 2012

Water Fools (Fous de Bassin)

Water Fools (Fous de Bassin) an extraordinary show

 Early in August the bay at Keswick came alive! Lakes Alive promoted the production of Water Fools (Fous de Bassin) an extraordinary show on water and part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The story (though a little difficult to follow) was of a man who’s humdrum life was transformed when his head inexplicably burst into flames and then extraordinary things began to unfold.

The crowd all seated on Crow Park, a real natural amphitheatre, enjoyed the performance throughout, as one after another, the props and characters were introduced to the watery stage. Good lighting and a finale firework display all surely made for a great evenings entertainment.
Lakes Alive have promoted many great Events in the region over the last few years visit their website to see future events.

Keswick is also the home of "Theatre by the Lake" Cumbria's leading professional theatre company, which produces a traditional summer seasons of drama, much loved by Keswick's summer audiences, as well as a winter program - there is always something for everyone in Cumbria.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 20, 2012

A day at "Via Ferrata"

A Day at Honister Mine and "Via Ferrata"
Don't pass over the pass without a look in!

My grandson (age 11) and I (very old!) enjoyed the “Go-Ape” experience at Whinlatter Forest last year and said we would progress to “Via-Ferrata” this year, so became a little disappointed when there appeared to be planning issues at Honister and thought our plans had been scuppered. However all seems to be in order now so we pre-booked our experience and enjoyed a fantastic day there last week.

Just about a 40 minute drive from Wetheral Cottages and plenty of room to park, as we were in the first party; the day a rather balmy but very windy one. A great senic journey through the "Jaws of the Borrowdale Valley". On the way there I had been explaining to my grandson that normally the temperature falls as we gain height and with the car showing the current temperature it was a great opportunity to demonstrate my geographical knowledge!. It all went wrong as we travelled further down the Borrowdale Valley the temperature rose and rose even more as we traversed up the Honister Pass. (I’m sure that was what I learnt in Geography but it probably has something to do with the change from Fahrenheit to Centigrade!!)

After registering, we and about 8 others in our group were all kitted out with a safety harness and hard hat, following our safety brief we were off along the track to the side of Fleetwith Pike. Honister was a big industrial, site mining mainly slate, and evidence of that is still very much to be seen. The first part of the climb was mainly climbing down and did help us become accustomed to our safety equipment and obviously gave our guide a good indication as to the party’s capabilities. Each member of the party was always secure being attached to a safety rope that ran alongside the route taken and our guide was constantly watching you abided by the safety rules. (common sense really)

The Via Ferrata is a climb made up of “U” shaped metal bars secured into to rock face which support you and these give you a safe foot and hand hold whilst giving you the experience of rock climbing. The second section was more challenging than the first and really did give you the concept of standing on a rock face and overhangs with 100s of feet below you. (Sorry my grandson has reminded me it’s meters now!). This part culminated in the traversing of a rope bridge. I found this quite hard work but my grandson, whilst not too happy about the wobble, crossed without too much difficulty. It was good then to sit on an outcrop and enjoy the view across the valley to the fells opposite Robinson and Dale Head for a few moments.

“Onward and up ward”, the final short climb led to a “Cargo Net” stretched out between two outcrops - it made an interesting final climb but perhaps a real rock scramble would have been better. A final walk up through some mine workings to the top of Fleetwith Pike we were able to enjoy the views over Buttermere, Crummock, Loweswater and a little beyond but sadly the day was deteriorating so the Solway Firth and Scotland were not visible.
Fleetwith from Honister

We had booked for the Mine Tour also and with Lunch included in this package we just had time to enjoy a hearty bowl of soup and a sandwich before the Mine Tour began. Our mine guide introduced us to the mines history and a short video then, suitably equipped with hard hats and lamps, I felt we should be singing the Seven Dwarfs song “Off to work we go…..”. The mine entrance being a short bus ride from the visitor centre, the bus ride in it’s self being quite a thrill if sitting on the righthand side of the bus, the ground falling away quite fast to the right of the roadway..

The tunnel into the mine was quite low at points but once inside the huge cavern that had been hewn out, our guide explained the workings and history of the mine in a very enjoyable way, his light-hearted talk was aimed at all ages and explained how some of the children there would in the past have been expected to work in the mine (with no electronic gadgets) just brawn. We moved on through a labyrinth of tunnels each leading to yet another large cavern with more explanations of how the workings progressed in the early part of the last century.
Robinson from Honister

My grandson and I had an enjoyable day though he did not enjoy, what he thought was rather like a History lesson, as much as the Via Ferrata. Sadly Mark Weir a local Borrowdale boy, who had the vision to see Honister as a visitor attraction, offering local employment in a differing way, was killed in a Helicopter accident. I hope his family are able to continue with his vision and we look forward to returning to perhaps enjoy a “Zip-wire” from Fleetwith back to the visitor centre. After all there was an aerial rope way at the mine in the early 1900’s. Concerns about the flora around Honister have also been raised but again all this has already withstood hundreds of years of industrial discharge and workings but I saw no evidence of any recent disruption.

Visit for more information but better still go and enjoy all that is on offer at Honister.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Do Ya Ken John Peel?

Caldbeck the resting place of the famous huntsman John Peel was very quiet, with no baying hounds in sight just a braying Donkey when we stopped off for a cup of tea recently. Though we did try to sing “Do you ken John Peel” but the acoustics or the singer were not in tune so it was back to “I love to go a-wandering…..”!!

Our walk to Caldbeck had started at Hesket-Newmarket, mecca for real ale fans and home of the famous Hesket- Newmarket Brewery and Old Crown Inn. On this occasion we refrained (sadly) from starting with a pint of “Doris’ 90th, Birthday” bitter but normally a good lunch or bar meal at The Old Crown, to boost the energy prior to the walk to Caldbeck is well worthwhile.

The route follows the River Caldew to it’s confluence with the Cald Beck, the two rivers form a small Isthmus just before joining and the walk around the Ithmus is well worth the extra effort. The route crosses the Cald Beck and follows this stream to Caldbeck.

There are several places for refreshment and craft outlets to browse in Caldbeck, the first one we came to was Priests Mill, then we wandered up the main street to join the path again. Leaving the village the route took us up past the Old Bobbin Mill to the Howk, a limestone gorge, which I’m sure will be quite spectacular in times of more abundant water flow. A bridge here crosses the gorge before the path crosses a field to the road. Once at the road head back towards Caldbeck but take the first road on the right signed to Upton. Through this hamlet take the lane to the left signed Matthew Rudding, a farmstead which you skirt through before crossing a few fields to join the road back to Hesket Newmarket.

This walk was inspired by a walk depicted in a book titled “Borders of Lakeland” by Robert Gambles, published by Cicerone Press in 1994.

Labels: , ,