Starlings are noisy bossy birds, I know when they descend upon the bird feeder there will be little left, empty coconut shells knocked to the ground and fat balls depleted in the blink of an eye. I can’t help admiring their starry plumage and their cheeky chatter though and would love to witness a murmuration , where flocks of starlings sky dance the heavens . Instead I will make do with this poem by Mary Oliver who perfectly captures the spirit of these characterful birds.
Photos were taken in Melmerby over the wintery wknd , where several starlings gathered & chattered.
Our last weekend at the caravan before we closed it down for the Winter was idyllic. Cold, fine and frosty. This is what Melmerby looked like on Saturday morning. Jack Frost had sprinkled his magic.
We headed into Keswick later that morning. Hugo enjoyed playing with his inflatable in the lake. Didn’t see many other wild swimmers. 😉
After lunch we headed back to the Eden Valley as Keswick was bustling with festive shoppers. We parked up in Edenhall and enjoyed the quiet solitude of a countryside walk. The combination of frost and mist was both eerie and magical.
This morning we left a beautiful winter wonderland for our rather green Lancashire home.
The River Eden is truly Cumbrian. Beginning high in the fells of Mallestang at its source, it meanders it’s way some ninety miles through Eastern Cumbria up towards Carlisle, and finally merging with other rivers as it enters The Solway Firth. Some twenty years ago ten sculptures were commissioned to celebrate the history and beauty of the area, they are The Eden Benchmarks and I’m hoping to discover them all.
There are other riverside features too. Wil , Hugo and I visited Lacy’s Caves , five chambers cut into the red sandstone cliffs along the Eden at Little Selkeld. Also nearby is a Druid Stone Circle Long Meg & Her Daughters. Faces cut into the rocks by the river at Armathwaite and more red sandstone caves at Wetheral are on my list of places to see. 🙂
Eden Benchmark Sculptures seen so far.
South Rising. Carved from local Lazonby red sandstone, South Rising by Vivien Mousdell is situated on The Ladies Walk at Edenhall near Langwathby. It comprises of two curved rock seats, apparently representing the rivers perpetual journey and the annual migrations of the Eden’s fish and birds. Although not terribly intricate , this sculpture has stood the test of time, twenty years hasn’t weathered the carving too much. Though it was quite hard to find amongst the undergrowth! The Ladies Walk is especially nice in the summer with river, cornfield and woodland views. Lots of wild flowers and the possibility of refreshments at The Edenhall Hotel.
Vista. Definitely my favourite of the Eden Benchmarks we’ve seen so far is Vista by Graeme Mitcheson. Carved into a large sandstone boulder are the discarded boots, clothing and map of a walker who has decided to chance a paddle ( or maybe even a wild swim) in the river below. Vista is situated in Coombs Wood, a pleasant riverside walk from the lovely village of Armathwaite. Below the sculpture ( and unbeknownst to us at the time) are several carved faces in the cliffs as well as a poem etched into the red sandstone. Definitely a reason to return, maybe when the bluebells are out in the spring.
Cypher Piece. In the picnic area near the Eden Bridge at Lazonby lies Cypher Piece by Frances Pelly. Two adjacent rocks have been carved with clues about the Eden’s human history. Unfortunately this benchmark has really succumbed to nature and moss covers the entire piece. We could make out a fish but other detail such as a Celtic horses head, a ram’s horn and a Norse Tomb Decoration were invisible to our untrained eyes.
Red River. Looking out over the Eden at Temple Sowerby, Red River by Victoria Brailsford can be accessed by a footpath from the cricket field at the North of the village. This local Lazonby sandstone sculpture is still in good nick, the steps are carved with water ripples, the balls apparently representing large pebbles in fast flowing water. Not far from Temple Sowerby is NT Acorn Bank where we saw our first Eden Valley Red Squirrel in its adjacent woodland. 🙂
So there you have it, four of the ten Eden Benchmark Sculptures and six more to find…
Hey there I’ve just had a week off work ( not that I am putting in many hours at the moment, it’s the quiet period before Christmas) so I thought I would join in with Natalie’s Sunday Sevens.
We took a few days off to spend time at the caravan. Definitely noticing the cold more there now though. Having bought hot water bottles and an electric blanket ( oh yes!) we should be toasty enough on our next couple of visits, before we close it down for the winter. Did a couple of walks including a circular 4 mile route from the Bowder Stone at Rosthwaite to Grange. I can now tick this large Andesite Lava boulder off my copy of 111 Places In The Lake District That You Shouldn’t Miss. 🙂
We also had a wander up to The Beacon Tower which stands on a woody fell above Penrith. That morning the skies were a brilliant blue!
Wil booked us into the Haweswater Hotel for a night as an early birthday present. Hugo here looks a bit like a Devil Dog. 🙂
And here he is at the caravan watching Wil make a cheeseboard. His eyes are on the prize!
We gave in and bought a TV and blu ray player for the van. We don’t have WiFi up there so no Netflix etc. A chance to get reaquainted with our old dvds! Watched two seasons of the fun flatmates comedy Spaced from 1999-2001. It’s hilarious!
This aft I went for Bottomless Brunch at Escape in Clitheroe. My friend Fi brought her daughter Bronte ( here she is above with her god mother’s 🙂 ) and she proved very helpful in ordering us our ‘ bottomless’ glasses of Prosecco from the bar downstairs. Without her I’m not sure our Bottomless Brunch would have been very bottomless! Not the best service but a pleasant afternoon out anyways.
All in all I have had a very nice Birthday week. 🙂
An early birthday treat from my other half was a night away in the secluded Haweswater Hotel, located on the banks of one of The Lake Districts lesser known lakes. We had stayed here previously a couple of years earlier and since then a few more rooms have been refurbished in a 1930s art deco style, in keeping with the hotels history having being built by The Manchester Water Corporation in 1937. Back then the Haweswater Reservoir had been created by flooding the Mardale Valley, it’s villages and farms forever condemned to a watery grave. A picture of the former Dun Bull Inn has pride of place above the fire place in the reception/entrance hall.
It was about 3pm when we rocked up to our home for the night, enough time to take Hugo for a short walk along the lake side road. It felt bitterly cold, there was a smattering of snow on the fells. We couldn’t wait to get toasty inside.
Bad news greeted us. The heating wasn’t working! Thank goodness all the fires were lit downstairs and the hotel had raided the local B &Q in Penrith for plug in heaters for the bedrooms. We would have to make the best of it…
Fortunately our room ( Wainwright) seemed to warm up ok with the plug in heater provided. And there was still hot water. Phew! Our room was actually a lake view suite with a cosy sitting area. Quite bijou but totally fine for us and the dog. I certainly loved the decor. 🙂
The thought of a roaring fire enticed us back downstairs. The guest lounge with its huge sofas and twinkly lights was certainly very inviting.
Dogs are allowed to accompany guests into the lounge and bar but not the formal dining room, so we took our evening meal in the bar and enjoyed breakfast there the following morning. The food and service was excellent. My sticky toffee pudding was to die for. 🙂 Hugo was given some treats by the friendly staff.
My only disappointment was not catching a glimpse of the native red squirrels that visit the garden and bird feeders outside. Squirrel food can be obtained at the bar and on our previous visit we were lucky enough to see one of the little fellas.
Despite the heating problems we enjoyed a lovely stay at The Haweswater Hotel. The staff are so friendly and accommodating. I would definitely visit again in the future.
Although my heart belongs to small independent cinemas ( see my post about The Palace in Longridge) ,it has been hard for me to resist the twinkly lights of a shiny new Picture House , recently opened in my home town. The Everyman Cinema chain prides itself on its lifestyle choice ethos ~ watch a film from a comfy sofa with food & drink orders delivered straight to your seat. All this comes at a price of course. Including an online booking fee , a movie ticket will knock you back £12-85. A friend and I decided to take in a midweek Downton Abbey matinée, a guilty pleasure in itself. 😁
The new Everyman Cinema is situated at Holmes Mill , just a stone’s throw from my house. Already home to a beer hall, food hall, bistro & boutique hotel ,the sympathetically converted mill is quite the perfect location for a quirky three screen cinema.
My friend and I were a little early for the showing, so we sat and relaxed with a drink in the spacious lounge area. The decor here is retro chic. Having just watched The Shining on TV the night before, I giggled as I gazed at the funky floors and furniture, they really did remind me of the interior of the Overlook Hotel. 😁
We didn’t opt for food brought over to our seats, but if you do fancy eating, the menu includes pizzas, sharing plates and Spielburgers as well as sweet treats such as popcorn & ice-cream. You can even come to the restaurant just to eat, or enjoy a cocktail maybe, without seeing a movie.
And what of the comfy sofa seating? It is indeed very roomy and relaxing with cosy cushions, plenty of leg room and there are wide arms & small tables to place your food and drink on.
Unlike your typical Vue Cinema no adds were shown before the feature, just trailers. I do love trailers, almost as much as the film. 😁. Downton Abbey by the way was great, just like a double Sunday night episode with lots of Maggie Smith’s wit.
I was quite prepared not to love Clitheroe’s new cinema, but actually it is good that the town has one again. Save me a seat for an occasional treat, I might just turn up on the day though, and hopefully waver that expensive booking fee!
Dog friendly hikes and exploring, mostly around New England. Our Adventures includes: waterfalls, the beach, conservation land, lighthouses, state parks, the woods, the mountains, statues, and castles.
This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. I am a 16 year old young naturalist with a passion for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. I have been blogging since May 2013 and you can read my old blog posts at www.appletonwildlifediary.blogspot.co.uk