It was a beautiful sunny day on Saturday, perfect timing for a walk from Dufton in Cumbria’s Eden Valley. Nearby at Flakebridge Woods, the bluebells are a vast carpet of blue. Go see them before they disappear!
I have left the walks book we used at the caravan, so my walk description might not be totally accurate. I do have a photo of the route though, below.
Anyway ,we parked roadside in the pretty village of Dufton. There is a small carpark in the centre, but that was full. The village is popular with walkers hiking Dufton Pike, High Cup Nick and The Pennine Way. This walk though is mostly low level with lovely fell views.
This was a delightfully scenic walk, made more so by spring sunshine and spring flowers. Thanks for joining me!
* I have deleted a photo of moles hanging from a fence, a practice often seen in the countryside. The moles are considered
pests by farmers and the mole catcher displays them , he gets paid per mole. Sorry for any offence.
If your thinking of doing a gentle walk in Cumbrias Eden Valley, then this one’s for you.
The adjoining villages of Bampton and Bampton Grange are lovely and quiet with a real community feel. We parked near the bridge in a small roadside parking spot by the river. From here we crossed the bridge passing St Patrick’s Church on the right and took a footpath to the side of the former Crown and Mitre pub. Then we headed across Knipescar Common and walked back along the River Lowther.
This was a pleasant 2.5 mile walk in a little known area of the Lake District. 🐑
The morning of our planned 11 mile walk from our van in Melmerby, the sun was shining brightly. Having done a walk into the fells together a couple of years ago, Wil thought it was high time we got back up there. I agreed in principle ( I love a view! ) but I knew I would spend most of the hike trailing behind my other half, nearly all of my views would be of a couple of small specs disappearing into the distance. 😉
Book ‘ Walking In The North Pennines Cicerone Guide ‘ by Paddy Dillon. Walk 6. Explorer Map 0L31. 18 km ( 11 miles).
This was quite a challenging walk for me with lots of uphill bits and a long slog back down from Hartside. The weather was on our side though and not a soul in sight for many a mile. With only tumbling lapwings and chattering meadow pippits for company, it’s certainly a great way of spending time with nature.
I just had to share these photos from our walk on Saturday afternoon. We found ourselves in an enchanting snowdrop wonderland. And we had it almost to ourselves, apart from a couple of others with their dogs.
We were walking through a little woodland adjacent to NT Acorn Bank in Cumbrias Eden Valley. Although the house, gardens and watermill are closed until March, a public footpath meanders through the woods. Much of the ground was carpeted in one of our most delicately beautiful Spring flowers ‘ The Snowdrop’. Seen as a symbol of hope and purity, snowdrops were apparently named after pearl drop earrings, not flakes of snow.
It was really magical to wander amongst them. Have you seen any impressive Snowdrop displays this year?
It seems like a good time to do my Wildlife Moments Round-Up post of 2022. Currently wrapped up in my duvet with snotty tissues and a snoring cat, the ideal conditions, you might say. 😚
Anyway this year hasn’t seen me discover any new to me wildlife, but I have managed to photograph some of my favourite mammals and birds. Red Squirrels especially, have been very obliging. Most of the wildlife I have seen in 2022 has been either near my home in Clitheroe, Lancashire or local to my caravan in the Eden Valley of Cumbria.
My favourite wildlife moments have included watching the beautiful courtship dance of a pair of Great Crested Grebes and feeding Fallow Deer apples. ☺️
What have been your own favourite wildlife moments of 2022?
Saturday dawned grey and drizzley. Time for a woodland walk, somewhere with adequate shelter under a canopy of softly falling leaves. We headed to Armathwaite in Cumbria’s Eden Valley, Coombs Wood with its Riverside path, covered in crunchy copper beech leaves, was our destination.
There are lots of Woodland Walks like this, following the wide River Eden. We came across one of ten Eden Benchmark Sculptures , this one we have seen before, ‘ Vista’ by Graeme Micheson . It depicts a solitary walker who abandons his clothes on a rock , for a dip in the water below.
The Woodland in Autumn is ablaze with colour. I have yet to visit in the Spring when Bluebells, Wild Garlic and Yellow Star of Bethlehem cover the forest floor. Now is a good time to find fungi, see blazing gold bracken and patches of blooming Gorse.
Leaving Coombs Wood our route took us through the little hamlet of Longdales and along an old bridleway with Pennine Fell views, on a clearer day.
And then we headed back along the road to the village of Armathwaite, which had two choices for a pub lunch, a hostelry at each side of a bridge that spans the River Eden.
The Fox 🦊 & Pheasant beckoned, it’s the kind of pub that lights a welcoming fire and has some good real ales on tap. The locals hang their hats on a stuffed foxes head. We enjoyed sandwiches with chips on the side.
Believe it or not, there were as many showers as rays of sunshine 🌞 on Saturday. Somehow we managed to dodge the rain quite expertly though, as you can see by my photos. You’ll just have to imagine the speedy dashes to the car , to get out of the sudden downpours.
A trial Pumpkin Patch at Kirkoswald was the mornings destination. It was so close by ( to the caravan) that I just had to drag Wil and Hugo for a wander round a field of giant ( and teeny) pumpkins. The Patch belongs to Eden Valley farmer and writer Hannah Jackson aka The Red Shepherdess . I hadn’t heard of her until very recently , apparently she is quite the celebrity in Cumbria. Anyway if your in the area over the upcoming school holidays Red’s Pumpkin Patch is opening again, until all the Gourds are gone. Just take your wellies!
Later on Saturday we visited family in Askham, first we took Hugo for a walk on the Lowther Estate. Not for us today , the impressive Castle Ruins & Garden , we made the most of the footpaths that fan the parkland instead. The sun shone inbetween showers, a bracing breeze whipped up swirling leaves and buzzards soared in the sky.
The heavens opened on our way to visit Mum . After a lovely tea we headed back to the caravan. There’s no cosier evening than one feeling snug and toasty, whilst rain pitter patters on a tin can roof. 😊
Sunday stayed dry and on our way home we called in at Kirkby Lonsdale in South Cumbria. It was warm enough for ice cream at The Milking Parlour on Jingling Lane. I visited my favourite shops and bought a new bobble hat. Happy days. 🍦
Thanks for dropping by. Are you feeling Autumnal yet? 🍁
Just to confuse you ( and myself ! ) this post includes photos from two separate visits to Alston and The South Tynedale Railway. We were there in the Spring ( I included a brief update in my April Round-Up) and also more recently in July. The weather was actually better in April! Anyway I’ve mixed the best photos together , so you get an idea of what the area is like. 😊
The top of this North Pennines town is 350 metres above sea level, making it England’s highest Market Town. However I haven’t actually stumbled upon a market happening yet !
There are plentiful old buildings in Alston, many have been recently renovated by the Alston Townscape Heritage Scheme. The olde worldy look of the town has been used in the past to its advantage. It was transformed into a Victorian fishing village for a 1999 BBC adaptation of Oliver Twist.
Once upon a time Alston was connected to the Northumberland town of Haltwhistle by rail. The 13 mile track was closed in the seventies , but part of it has been preserved as a Narrow Gauge Heritage Railway. On both our visits we headed to the railway for walks along the adjoining railway footpath.
There’s a fantastic cafe at the Station called Hickins@thecrossing’scafe which is the perfect pitstop for a lovely lunch. It’s so welcoming , I wouldn’t have a problem waiting there a while. 😚 Also at Alston Station is a museum, toilets , shop and ticket office.
Walking the South Tyne Trail ,which runs adjacent to the railway 🚂 is a pleasure. There are bridges, views and wildlife along the way. Springtime saw Lapwings nesting in the fields, undisturbed by passing walkers and trains. Summer blooms such as Orchids and Melencoly Thistles adorn the trackside from June. In April we walked to Kirkhaugh Station and caught the train back and in July we continued on to Slaggyford ( 5 miles ) , which is currently the end of the line.
There are both Steam and Diesel Locomotives in operation and the railway is run by a friendly group of volunteers.
Between Alston and Slaggyford you can hop on and off at both Kirkhaugh and Lintley. Various local Walks leaflets are available from Alston Station.
On our second visit we arrived at Slaggyford Station in perfect time to catch the train back, after a quick brew at the buffet car. Dogs aren’t allowed inside the buffet car, but the pretty waiting room is open to all, including four legged friends.
We didn’t get time to explore the Northumberland village of Slaggyford on this occasion. It’s unusual name possibly derives from the Old English for dirty muddy ford, referencing a fast moving part of the River Tyne that dredged up river mud.
The journey back from Slaggyford takes about 30 minutes on the train. The carriages are more spacious than that of The Ratty Narrow Gauge Railway at Ravenglass & Eskdale.
We ended both our excursions with a pint at the Turks Head Pub in Alston. I had first thought the pub was named after an actual Turkish Man’s bonce, but a Turks Head is actually a decorative knot !
Bank Holiday Weekend ( also platyjubes of course! ) , we escaped the celebrations for a while, choosing a less obvious Lakeland area for a countryside walk.
Shap is a long grey stoned settlement in the North Eden District. It has a couple of pubs, a shop, cafe, chippy and an open air swimming pool, the highest heated outdoor pool in England. The steady A6 is the main road that meanders through the village, it used to be the principal thoroughfare for the Lake District & Scotland.
Not far away is the busy M6 , but to the West of Shap it is picturesque and remote. I had downloaded this Walk from the Eden’s River Trust. Part of the route is on the Coast To Coast footpath , though we didn’t see one other human being out walking. It was so peaceful.
Things then got a bit scary , a family of cattle that we hadn’t noticed at first started to take a bit too much interest in us as we tried to cross the field. They had a Bull with them and youngsters, but it was the cows themselves that started kicking up a fuss , fairly galloping towards us. We managed to scare them away , though not before Wil got knocked off his feet and Hugo got butted. I’m not sure how but we legged it into a solitary farmhouse garden with the cattle at our heels. Definitely a hair raising encounter, we were a bit shuck up!
To make matters worse we would have to sneek past the herd again to continue with our walk. We waited until they had calmed down and ambled away, an unconcerned resident of the farmhouse didn’t seem to care that we had hotfooted into their garden or that the cows had chased us there…
The Preminstratensian Order of Monks from France settled in Shap in the 13th Century and built beautiful Shap Abbey from local stone. The monks became known as The White Cannons because they wore robes made from undyed sheep fleeces.
Here was a lovely place to stop for a while by the river Lowther again. I must admit we had lost our thirst for continuing the planned route , which would take us through the hamlet of Keld and on past another large standing stone called The Goggleby Stone. Instead we made our way back to Shap through a couple of cow free fields and along a country lane.
We ended up having a delicious cheese scone and a cup of coffee each at the Abbey Kitchens cafe in Shap, the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by. I’m so glad Wil and Hugo were non the worse for our ordeal. We will definitely be keeping our distance from any cows in the future. Although apparently there are some handsome looking Highland Cattle in Swindale………..
My goodness these months are whizzing by are they not. May seems to have come and gone in a flash! I am currently off work as it’s the Spring Bank Half Term Holiday ( advantage of being a school cleaner) so it’s a good time for me to do my May Round-Up Post.
Reading ~ not that much to be honest. After recently extending my hours at school with five earlies a week, I find myself frankly too knackered to pick up a book. Wrong I know! I have bought The Lake District In 101 Maps & Infographics to take to the caravan. And I shall learn all about Haunted Cumbria, Cumbrian Film locations and quirky Cumbrian place names, amongst other things. Should keep me going for a while!
Watching ~ it’s all about good old nostalgia for me at the moment. I’ve been to the movies! We Clitheronians are very fortunate in that we have a fabulous Everyman Cinema in town and May has not disappointed on the film front. I have enjoyed both Downton Abbey A New Era and Top Gun Maverick , they are both appearing on the big screen right now.
On the box my go to show is Grace & Frankie. I am as usual a bit late to the party with this one. Not sure how a witty comedy series starring Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin escaped my attention until now but I am loving the pairing of uptight Grace and Kooky Frankie. 🙂 Other shows I have returned to in May include Ozark , Bosch Legacy and of course Stranger Things.
Eating ~ It is rare that Wil and I spend time up at the caravan without our Black Labrador Mr Hugo, but we did have one weekend in May when we were there without him. It seemed a good time to book a meal out somewhere where you wouldn’t usually take a dog. Roundthorn Country House on the outskirts of Penrith is one such place, there wasn’t a four legged friend in sight. Which was strange for us, though also kind of liberating not eating in front of a drooling hound, eyes transfixed on our dinner. The food was yummy but I couldn’t help missing my boy.
Exercise ~ Our pet free weekend was all because we actually won a prize! We won half a days E-Biking at Lowther Castle In the Lakes , it was great fun. However I still felt like I had done some proper exercise even if it was power assisted cycling. 🙂 There haven’t really been many notable walks this month, just my normal dog walking routes. I have loved seeing the wild flower displays, the lacey blooms of Cow Parsley have been beautiful lately.
Enjoying ~ Relaxing at the caravan ~ My favourite area at the van is probably the front bit of decking, which is a real sun trap and perfect for lounging about on a deck chair with a brew. I especially like to look up and watch all the Swift’s whizzing about the sky, now they have returned from Africa. The scent of a lovely lilac bush in the garden there was a real treat too.
~ Friends Reunited ~ On the last day of May it was great to meet up with some friends I haven’t seen for two years. I love how normality has returned at last, I’m not taking it for granted.
Thanks for dropping by. Hope your May has been a good one. 🧡