Category Archives: wildlife

A Pleasington Walk.

Welcome back to Lancashire for this walk which is a couple of short train journeys away from my hometown of Clitheroe. We don’t use the train often enough and hope to remedy that when finding future hikes. This walk is featured in the Guide To Lancashire Pub Walks by Nick Burton, a handy little pocket size publication. We did a few of the walks mentioned during the first lockdowns , when the pubs weren’t even open. Happily not so the case now. πŸ™‚

Anyway we caught a train from Clitheroe to Blackburn and then went on to the village of Pleasington from there. The whole journey took about 40 minutes including connection time. The walk took us up The Yellow Hills to see The Wainwright Memorial and then through woodland and Witton Park. Refreshments at The Railway Hotel in the village , at the end.

Pleasant Pleasington sign at the Railway Station.
We walk past Pleasington Priory.
And a house with Stone Lions guarding it.
And then through a field of cows. They were pretty calm until a farmer appeared on a quad bike, then they started chasing it around the field.
We escaped the cows!
A friendly Cat on a drive-way.
Fly Agaric, though not the best specimen.
Looks like we are on the Witton Weavers Way.

After walking through some woodland we ascended the gentle slopes of the Yellow Hills to come across the Wainwright Memorial , a fitting tribute to the Blackburn born Fell Walker, writer and illustrator Alfred Wainwright.  As a young man Alfred would walk in these hills above Blackburn. On a clear day he would be able to glimpse upon the fells of the Lake District, they would eventually entice him to Cumbria where he recorded his hikes in his famous Pictorial Guides.

The Wainwright Memorial was unveiled in 2013.
Intrepid Hikers.
No distant views as wasn’t clear enough. The Yellow Hills are named after the yellow blooms of the Gorse bushes that grow here.
A Polypore Fungi.
Crow Wood.
Autumn colours appearing.

We walked on to Witton Park, following woodland paths downwards through Billinge Wood and Crow Wood. The Crow Sculpture I had hoped to see didn’t appear to be there ( unless we somehow missed it !) , though there was an information board near where I thought it should have been. And there were plenty of real crows, magpies and other wildlife in the woods.

Crow Sculpture Information Board.
Nuthatch.
Grey Squirrel.
Witton Park.
Butler’s Bridge over the River Darwen.

Witton Park is vast, covering 480 acres. It is Criss crossed by various walking trails and has a visitor centre. We will have to return oneday as we didn’t come across the centre and only saw a small part of the grounds on our walk. After crossing Butler’s Bridge it was a short meander up past the Priory and back into Pleasington.

Pleasington Priory was opened in 1819.
The Railway Hotel.
Railway Flowers. πŸš‚πŸš‚
Waiting for the train back to Blackburn. Pleasington is a request stop , so be prepared to stick your arm out. 😁

Map ~ OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors.

Book ~ Guide To Lancashire Pub Walks by Nick Burton.

Distance ~ 4 Miles/ 6.4km.

Bank Holiday.

It was a certain Black Labradors 7th birthday at the weekend. Hugo enjoys opening his own presents. Tearing off the wrapping paper and shredding it into little pieces is all part of the fun. πŸ™‚

To avoid the Bank Holiday crowds on Saturday we headed over the border into County Durham , another county within half an hour’s drive from the caravan.

Our first destination was Cow Green Reservoir , the water of which shone a stunning topaz blue. From here we walked to the nearby Cauldron Snout Cascade, one of the longest waterfalls in England. There were a few walkers doing the Pennine Way, but mostly we had the place to ourselves.

Cow Green Reservoir.
Birthday Boy.
At the top of Cauldron Snout.

After eating a picnic lunch looking out over the water we decided to drive to nearby Killhope Lead Mining Museum in Upper Weardale. We didn’t do the underground mine tour but did spend a good couple of hours exploring the overground.

Outdoors at Killhope Lead Mining Museum.

Up until the 12th of September there are five large billboards to find outdoors, as part of The Architect Of Ruins Exhibition by Steve Messam. They look particularly striking against the rural/industrial backdrop. I was also delighted to see several Red Squirrels from the Hide in the Woodland. Dogs are welcome at Killhope and the attraction is currently free!

On Sunday we headed to Allonby , a favourite beach of ours for walks with Hugo. On the way we called in at a farm that had opened their Sunflower 🌻 field up for charity. It was amazing to see all those golden flower heads waving in the breeze.

Sunflowers galore. πŸ™‚
The beach at Allonby.

Before we set off home on Monday we took Hugo for a walk in the grounds of Acorn Bank at nearby Temple Sowerby. The gardens, grounds and water mill are open to the public and owned by the National Trust. There are some lovely Woodland walks here, perfect for wildlife spotting and walking the hound. πŸ™‚

Lily pond at Acorn Bank.

It was a bit of an action packed bank holiday weekend. Hopefully Hugo enjoyed his birthday. And thank you to my wonderful other half for driving. He’s definitely a good un. 😁

Arnside Break.

Although I shared a very lazy story post when I got back from my holibobs on the coast, I do think  it would be a  shame if I didn’t blog a little bit about my stay in lovely Arnside.

Arnside is a village on the Kent estuary, where the river meets the sea, overlooking Morecambe Bay. A former fishing port, the resort is now a popular little holiday destination.

We stopped at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks which is situated on the sea front. Dating back to 1660 the pub is one of the oldest buildings in the village and a cock pit still exists under the restaurant floor. Today’s guests can enjoy simple pub food, a good selection of ales and gins and a warm welcome, canine visitors too.

All Arnsides seafront views take in the impressive 50 Span Viaduct , with regular trains making the crossing over the River Kent. The Railway Station is excellent with great services to Carlisle, Lancaster and Manchester. Oneday we took a train to nearby Ulverston , the coastal route is truly stunning and definitely worth doing. πŸ™‚

On a clear day the diminutive Arnside Pier must surely have the best vistas of any seaside pier. The Lake District fells are misted over in the above picture though.

I love the 2 Minute Beach Clean Stand on the sea front. Litter pickers and bags are provided and anyone can go and do their bit. I must admit the beach was noticeably rubbish free. πŸ™‚

There are some lovely local businesses in the village to mooch round. I loved them all ! I did treat myself to a few things including a cute fox pin from The Little Shop and a bottle of gorgeous smelling hand lotion from Homeleigh Vintage .

Make sure you wander up Pier Lane when shopping. There’s a fab sweet shop, a cupcake shop and a wonderful art gallery there, all almost hidden from view.

And we can also recommend the bijou but belting The Wayside Cafe near the railway station for coffee, cakes and delicious brunch options.

I do love a pub with a view. πŸ™‚ Arnsides other watering hole The Albion has possibly even better estuary views than Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. We certainly had a few beverages sat outside of an evening.

As new visitors to Arnside we got incredibly excited ( ok I got incredibly excited) on our first night when a sound rather like a wartime air raid siren suddenly filled the air. Having read that a warning siren precedes the arrival of the Arnside Tidal Bore, I immediately started scanning the horizon for an impressive wave rushing up the estuary. An hour later ourselves and a couple of other tourists were still sat watching ( and freezing our bits off, the wind had gotten up) whilst all the locals had disappeared inside. The Bore didn’t make an appearance !

It turns out that the Sirens tend to go off regularly anyway, but it is only in certain high tide conditions that a tidal bore occurs.

If you want to keep an eye out for the bore virtually The Arnside Chip Shop is home to the Pier Webcam and there are a couple of good videos to view on the website. Also I have to say , awesome fish & chips !! But be warned , this is a very popular chippy….

We fancied a fish & chips supper one evening and the queue didn’t seem very long. When I placed my order at the counter though, the apologetic server told me there would be a 1 Hour 20 minute wait! She then gave me this chunky ‘ vibrating device’ that counts down the time and starts vibrating even faster when your order is done. Cut to us sat outside The Albion with a siren booming across the bay and a constantly vibrating handbag. 🀣 Our supper was definitely worth the wait but as the wind had whipped up we took it back to the room and consumed with mugs of wine. 😊

There are some great beach walks from Arnside to Sandside or the pretty village of Silverdale. Or you can head up Arnside Knott for scenic views over the bay. Signposted from the village, the Knott is a small hill with big vistas and well worth the climb. Known for its varied wildlife especially wading birds and rare butterflies , the whole area is a nature lovers paradise. πŸ™‚

Dark Red Helleborine.

A myriad of footpaths Criss cross the Knott and surrounding countryside. A beautiful place indeed. 😊

Hopefully you have enjoyed my little tour of Arnside as much as we enjoyed our visit to this quirky and delightful seaside village. πŸ’•

Weekend Wanderings ~ A Flowerpot Festival And A Roman Wall.

Of the Flowerpot Festival in Settle, the Visit Settle website says ‘ Be Entertained, Astounded and Astonished by the beautiful flowerpot displays in our lovely town’. I couldn’t agree more! Here are a small selection of what we spotted when we dropped by Settle last Saturday afternoon. The Yorkshire Dales town is showcasing it’s stunning flowerpot creations until the first week of September.

The resemblance is uncanny!

On Sunday we were in Northumberland, a county we are discovering more of from our caravan base in the North Pennines. We visited Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 73 mile wall was built under the orders of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD122 , guarding the Northern frontier from invaders further North. Today what remains of Hadrian’s Wall is looked after by English Heritage and other organisations.

We parked at Housesteads Roman Fort and walked along the Hadrian’s Wall Path as far as Sycamore Gap, about 4 miles there and back. Confusingly Housesteads is looked after by both English Heritage and the National Trust, yet the car park is run by National Parks. So as NT members we still had to pay for parking. Then I realised I had left my membership card at home anyway! So we didn’t bother paying to see the fort remains, we just went a walk instead.

The wildflowers along the wall are beautiful. Plenty of harebells, knapweed, ladies bedstraw and field scabious. The heather was just starting to bloom and mountain pansies were dotted here and there.

Your not really meant to sit on an ancient monument but Hugo and I did have one quick photo taken just before Hotbank Farm. A very scenic spot for a hill farm. πŸ™‚

To the left of Hotbank farm lies a body of water called Crag Lough. I had no idea before I wrote this post that lakes in Northumberland and very Northern England are known as loughs . There are several loughs near Hadrian’s Wall.

Sycamore Gap is an iconic and well photographed spot along Hadrian’s Wall. A few hundred years old Sycamore tree 🌲 grows in the dip. The sycamore is known as the Robin Hood Tree as it appeared in the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves.

My goodness, there is so much more to discover in this fascinating part of the world. I am sure there will be future posts!

2021 Is Cumbria’s Year Of The Coast. β›΅πŸŸπŸŒž

I have recently found out that 2021 has been named Cumbria’s Year Of The Coast ! Many people flock to the lovely Lake District , yet the  county also has over 100 miles of diverse coastline to explore. Known for its secluded beaches, coastal walks & wildlife and dramatic sunsets, Cumbria’s coastline is very much a hidden gem.

So I thought I would share some of my own moments by the sea as well as note down a few places I would like to visit next time I’m in the area. Happily my August Summer holiday will be split between two seaside settlements this year. We have our usual weekend away with friends booked in Ravenglass plus the four following nights further South of the county in Arnside. Happy days. πŸ™‚

Allonby.  A former fishing village, Allonby was also a popular Victorian sea bathing resort. It retains some interesting old buildings including the handsome Reading Rooms built by Alfred Waterhouse , who went on to design London’s Natural History Museum & Strangeways Prison.  Charles Dickens and fellow writer Wilkie Collins  stayed two nights at The Ship Hotel on their 1857 walking tour of Cumberland, after Collins badly sprained his ankle in the Lakeland fells.   Today the village is popular with painters who love the light and Solway sunsets.  The beach is a mixture of dunes, shingle & sand , perfect for walking the pooch.  A great place to indulge in Fish & Chips is the local chippy ‘The Cod Father’.  Where to stay ~ the former home of artist Percy Kelly is a beautifully renovated holiday cottage. Percy Kelly’s Cottage.

Scenes from Allonby.

Arnside.  The views over Morecambe Bay toward the Lake District are stunning from the charming seaside resort of Arnside. Pretty shops, tea rooms and pubs line the sea front. A Victorian promenade and small pier adorn the village and the beach is sandy but tidal, so visitors must beware of changing tides. Organized Cross Bay walks are a popular hiking route from Arnside to nearby Kent Bank.  Every few weeks a siren sounds in the village, warning of a natural phenomenon  called a tidal bore , a fast  incoming wave that sweeps across the estuary.  Where to Stay ~  enjoy scenic  views over the bay  from  Ye Olde Fighting Cocks  pub with rooms.

Arnside with the viaduct in the distance.
Morecambe Bay Cross Bay Walk.

Baycliff.  Our first holiday with  Hugo was in a beachside cottage at Baycliff, a small former fishing and farming community that looks over Morecambe Bay.  Baycliff  has a pretty village green and two pubs. A vast beach of shingle and sand offers ample opportunity for walks and bird watching , a two mile stroll east brings ice cream ( or coffee and cake ) rewards if you drop by  Bardsea’s Chill & Grill . Also nearby is Ulverstons Buddhists Temple for World Peace whose gardens, woodland trails, beach, cafe and gift shop are open to everyone. Where to stay ~  practically on the beach if you can at the nautically inspired Driftwood Cottage.

The beach at Baycliff.

St Bees.  Alfred Wainwright recommends that walkers dip their boots in the North Sea at St Bees , the starting point of his Coast To Coast Walking Route. 182 miles later and those aching feet can seek solace in the sea at Robins Hood Bay.  For me a wander along St Bees sandy beach or atop it’s red sandstone cliffs is quite enough.  RSPB St Bees Head is home to colonies of seabirds including  guillemot and razorbill. And the 11th century priory in the village dedicated to St Mary and St Bega features some colourful stained glass windows.   Where to Stay ~ Former Railway waiting room transformed into comfortable self catering accommodation. The Station House.

Sea Pinks and the Start  of the Coast To Coast walk.
St Bega Statue. Image ~ Contours.co.uk

Bowness-on-Solway.  Bowness is a small coastal village which was once the site of a sea facing Roman fort called Maia. Situated on the Western edge of Hadrian’s Wall ( no longer visible), the settlement is the start/finish of another long distance walking route, the Hadrian’s Wall Path. There are a couple of pubs , a cafe and  free range chickens were wandering along the village road when we visited last year. The Scottish coastline is clearly seen over the Solway Firth and nature lovers have The Solway Wetlands Centre and RSPB Campfield Marsh to explore. Where to stay ~  Glamp in luxury in a fully equipped wooden pod at Wallsend Guest House & Glamping.

RSPB Campfield Marsh.

Grange Over Sands. It was the railway that brought well heeled Victorians to Grange, turning it from a small fishing village to a genteel holiday resort. With its pretty gardens along the promenade and vast views over Morecambe Bay ,the town is a lovely place to visit. Over time the sands have shifted and it is salt marsh meadows that  now seperate Grange over Sands from the sea. There are a good selection of independent shops and businesses in town, a park with an ornamental duck pond and the Save Grange Lido group continues  its campaign for the restoration of the 1930s marshside art deco lido. Where to stay ~ relax in style whilst taking in the views. Bay Villa bed & Breakfast.

Grange Over Sands.
Morecambe Bay potted shrimps.
Grange Lido. Image ~ Air Pixels Media.

Haverigg. Situated at the mouth of the Duddon Estuary, Haveriggs golden sandy beaches have Blue Flag Status. The village has a recently opened Wake Board & Water Park , guaranteed fun for all ages! And RSPB Hodbarrow Lagoon is within walking distance. Look out for the 7 tonne sculpture ‘ Escape To Light’ by Josefina de Vasconcellos , situated by the Haverigg Inshore Rescue Station. Where To Stay ~ Family & dog friendly camping and glamping options at Harbour Lights Campsite .

Haverigg cottages.
Port Haverigg Aqua Park ~ photo from their Facebook page.

Maryport. A seaside resort with a rich maritime history and once the location of a Roman port, Maryport enjoys access to a vast sand & shingle beach and all the amenities of a typical coastal town. The Lake District Coast Aquarium is based here as well as the Senhouse Roman Museum on the promenade. Bob over to the village of Mawbray to stock up on local cheeses from The Cheese Shed. Where To Stay ~ Ann’s Hill Lodge & Cottage in nearby Bridekirk for a romantic getaway.

Senhouse Roman Museum. Photo ~ Senhouse Roman Museum. .
Miles of golden sands , Maryport. Photo ~ A Ball.

Ravenglass. The charming and sleepy estuary village of Ravenglass is the perfect place to chill with an ice cream ( if you can find the almost hidden Ice cream Hut ) on the rocky shore. Ravenglass is the only Cumbrian coastal settlement to be included in the Lake District National Park. Wast water, England’s deepest lake is 20 minutes drive away. Discover more of Lakeland by venturing on the The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway whose steam trains take visitors on a seven mile journey through the spectacular Eskdale countryside. Travellers can hunt for waterfalls, secluded tarns and enjoy a pint at the Woolpack Inn, recently voted Cumbria’s best pub. Where to stay ~ the railway station in Ravenglass has sympathetically restored two Pullman Coaches into quirky self catering accommodation.

Ravenglass Estuary.
All aboard the Ratty Railway.
Seven go to Eskmeals Nature Reserve ( a short drive from Ravenglass). Photo ~ F Middleton.

Silecroft. Silecroft it seems, is all about the beach! When the tide is out a vast expanse of shingle and sand appears, making it popular with horse riders, dog walkers and kite flyers. Both Murthwaite Green trekking centre and Cumbrian Heavy Horses offer beach riding , the formers horses appear galloping along the sands in the opening credits of Country file. The slopes of Black Combe Fell offer a scenic backdrop to Silecrofts seascape and rare Natterjack toads breed in the area. The beach has free parking, toilets and a shoreside cafe and there is a pub and store in the village. Where to stay ~ admire Silecroft Sunsets from a beautiful beach side cabin with hot tub .

Cumbrian Heavy Horses. Photo ~ Cumbrian Heavy Horses.
Wren enjoying the views. Photo ~ B Hudson.

Silloth. With its wide tree lined streets and attractive town green, Silloth-on-Solway is a classic example of a Victorian seaside resort. Victorians would come here to enjoy the mild climate and invigorating sea air, visitors today can enjoy those too as well as a lively year long programme of events held on the green. The town benefits from a sandy stretch of beach with dunes , a terraced promenade and amusent arcades. Other attractions in Silloth include a Vintage Motorcycle Museum and the unique Big Fella Sculpture by artist Ray Lonsdale. Where to stay ~ the Greenview Guest House overlooks the bay and has an in-house bistro.

Silloth Scenes. Photos ~ A Garley.

Walney Island & Piel Island. At eleven miles long and one mile wide Walney Island is the eighth largest island in England. It is seperated from the industrial port town of Barrow in Furness by Jubilee Bridge. The North and Southern tips of the island are nature Reserves, South Walney Reserve is home to Cumbrias only Grey Seal colony. Kite Surfing is a popular passtime at Earnse Bay which has a large shallow sandy beach. Piel Island is a much smaller island with its own castle and pub. An ongoing island tradition dating back to the 18th century proclaims that each pub landlord becomes ‘ King Of Piel Island’. The Ship Inn has recently reopened and a ferry runs from Roa Island during the summer months. Where to stay ~ Wild camping is available on Piel Island. Or cosy up nextdoor to a lighthouse in The Hide on Walney.

Piel Castle from Walney Island. Image ~ South Walney Nature Reserve.
Seal pup on at South Walney. Image ~ Cumbria Wildlife trust.

Whitehaven. Whitehaven is a Georgian port town and has more than 250 listed buildings. It’s early fortune came from sea mining, coal transportation to Ireland and also the trading of rum, spices and slaves from Africa. This colourful and somewhat dubious history is recorded in The Beacon Museum and The Rum Story . There is an attractive harbour and beach in the town, from where it is possible to take a cliff top walk to St Bees. Where to stay ~ Fine dining & boutique rooms Georgian Townhouse Hotel .

Whitehaven harbour. Image ~ Sally’s cottages.

Hopefully my post has given you a taste of what the beautiful Cumbrian Coast has to offer…..

Thank you to my lovely photograph contributers.

Silloth Scenes ~ A Garley, Wren enjoying Silecroft Beach ~ B Hudson, Maryports Golden Sands ~ A Ball, Seven go to Eskmeals Nature Reserve ~ F Middleton, Ravenglass sunset ~ J Blackburn.

Hot Summer Days.

I can’t quite believe how hot the weekend has been, especially Saturday! I am not big on hot weather, but finding nearby water to splash about in certainly helps.

We figured that heading to the Lakes from the caravan might just prove too crowded. So we packed our swimming stuff and found our way to Garrigill in the North Pennines. Having visited Ashgill Force back in October, we thought it might be nice to return to this lovely waterfall on a hot Summers Day.

Ashgill Force…looking dry.

Unfortunately we hadn’t thought that it might presently be but a trickle and not the mighty force that we remembered. Recent warm weather had dried up the fall. Luckily downstream were some smaller waterfall pools and not a soul in sight.

Hugo finds a waterfall.
Beckside path.
A narrow gorge.
Go on, jump in!

Unlike most labradors Hugo is not a great swimmer. He will go for a doggy paddle but tends to dip in and out of the water and is mostly only interested in the wet stuff if someone flings a stick/ball/stone in for him to retrieve. We also have to encourage him to have a drink. Daft dog!

I didn’t exactly do much swimming but I definitely cooled down in this mini waterfall which was like a natural jacuzzi. Refreshing and cold. πŸ™‚ Not long afterwards we were startled by a group of Gill Scramblers making their way upstream. I was so surprised I forgot to take a photo! Then we saw the flash of a Red Squirrels tail as it scrambled up a tree. A fab and mostly peaceful morning was spent by the water. πŸ™‚

Above Nook Farm Shop & Cafe.
Felt as warm as Rome.
A substantial salad.
Nook Farm Shop & Cafe.

A friend recommended a good spot for lunch about ten minutes drive from Garrigill. Nook Farm Shop & Cafe on the roadside near Alston is popular with motorcyclists and the food is quite delicious. The farmland is also home to the remains of an ancient Roman Fort which we were too hot and lazy to investigate. This time!

Early evening stroll in Melmerby.
Early morning stroll.
Breakfast on the decking.

Sunday too was hot though there were a few clouds in the sky. On the way home we met my Mum and brother for Sunday lunch at The Fat Lamb near Ravenstonedale, a quirky country Inn full of classic car memorabilia.

The Fat Lamb near Ravenstonedale.

How are you keeping cool? It’s a bit of a heatwave were having!

Whalley Wander. πŸ¦‰

Ready for a gentle wander around Whalley? Here are a few photos from Sunday mornings stroll around this attractive Ribble Valley village, a couple of miles from my hometown of Clitheroe.

We parked near the impressive 48 arches of the red and blue bricked viaduct that spans the river Calder. Whalley Viaduct is the longest railway bridge in Lancashire and if you travel from Blackburn to Clitheroe by train, you will cross this impressive structure.

Whalley Arches.
A peek through the trees.

Nearby is the fourteenth century Whalley Abbey Gatehouse which belonged to the Cistercian abbey in the village. I can almost imagine the monks passing through the archway.

Whalley Abbey Gatehouse.

If you look closely in the trees around Whalley you may be surprised to see some life-like bird sculptures. Delighting those who spy them amongst the greenery, the wrens are lovingly handcrafted by a lady in the village. Most are sweet little wrens , but you never know who could be watching you from above.

Whalley Wren.
What a hoot !

A spot of quiet contemplation ? The peaceful garden of the English Church Of Martyrs nextdoor to Whalley Abbey is dotted with benches, full of flowers and there are several religious statues.

English Church of Martyrs was built in 1926.

We head to the River Calder via the pretty stone terraces on Calder Vale.

Calder Vale.
Spot the Barn Owl. πŸ™‚
Pretty White House on the river.
Whalley Weir.
Whalley Weir.

Whalley Weir is a man made weir on the river and is said to be the reason why the monks of Whalley chose this spot for their abbey. It’s a tranquil place to watch the ducks. πŸ¦†

Whalley Old Grammar School.

Back in the village and here is the Old Grammar School, now used as a pre school and for adult education. The War memorial is a focal point.

The Tooth Fairy resides here. 🧚

Whalley has many independent shops and cafes, no shortage of places to stop for a brew. We headed over to Cafe Autisan at Whalley Abbey. They do a wonderful rocky road, demolished before I remembered that I should of taken a photograph. 🀣

Whalley Abbey.
Another Wren.
The cafe service is still take away only, with outdoor seating in the courtyard.
Tudor houses across from Whalley Abbey.

Hope you enjoyed my bumble around a popular Ribble Valley village. πŸ’–

Afternoon Tea In Skipton, A Scenic Train Journey & Two Dog Statues.

So the world must slowly be getting back to normal , for I have been out for Afternoon Tea. Oh yes I had my cake and ate it too…..though there were definitely enough goodies left over for a doggy bag.

Gill booked a table for five at the suitably stylish Alexanders Grand Cafe & Restaurant in Skipton. Situated on High Street this elegant venue has botanically inspired decor and a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere. Perfect for whiling the afternoon away with the girls. πŸ’—

Photo ~ Tammy Cardoso.

Like all the best Afternoon Teas, Alexander’s is served on pretty vintage china. I actually used to own an identical ivy patterned teacup and saucer set , which I turned into a teacup candle in my craft fair days. I still appreciate a vintage tea service. πŸ™‚

The food was delicious. A shot of velvety veloute, three choices of sandwich, pork pie, a selection of cute cakes and of course , a fluffy scone served with jam, strawberries and clotted cream. Tea, coffee or hot chocolate were included in the price of the afternoon tea, which was Β£25 per person. We additionally paid for a glass of something each, Becky and I chose a refreshing Cherry Blossom Cocktail from the cocktail menu. Cin Cin !

Photo ~ A Ball.

Afterwards I joined the girls for an hour or so, exploring the canal side and shops, before catching the train from Skipton to Langwathby in Cumbria. Langwathby happens to be a village not far from Melmerby where the caravan is based. Wil and Hugo had driven to the van a day earlier and were due to pick me up from Langwathby station. I was quite excited to board the train as I would be travelling on the famed Settle – Carlisle Railway.

My journey photos.
Ribblehead Viaduct ~ WordPress free photo library.
Ruswarp the dog at Garsdale Station ~ Pinterest.

This is a very scenic train journey that meanders its way through the stunning Yorkshire Dales and Eden Valley countryside. We passed over the impressive 24 stone arch Ribblehead Viaduct and through England’s highest mainline station at Dent. I did find it pretty impossible to take many good photos out of a speeding train window though, so I borrowed a couple online.

At Garsdale Station a statue of a dog on the platform peeked my interest.

Graham Nuttall and faithfull collie Ruswarp ,pronounced Russup.

Back in the 1980s the Settle to Carlisle Railway was under threat of closure. On a quest to save the iconic transport link, The Friends of The Settle – Carlisle Line managed to obtain over thirty thousand human signatures plus one pawprint signature. The pawprint belonged to The Friends co – founder Graham Nuttalls 14 year old border collie Ruswarp, a frequent traveller with him on the line.

It was Ruswarps pawprint that swung the decision and after years of campaigning the line was saved in 1989. πŸ’— 🐾

In January 1990 Graham Nuttall and Ruswarp went walking in the Welsh Hills. Graham was never to return, his body was found by a stream eleven weeks later by another hiker. His faithful companion Ruswarp had remained at his master’s side all that time.

Ruswarp was cared for by an RSPCA vet and lived long enough to attend Graham’s funeral but died soon after. A bronze statue of the loyal collie was erected in 2009, a tribute to the many people….and one wonderful dog, who fought to keep the Settle – Carlisle Line open.

After googling Ruswarp and Graham’s story, I felt quite emotional, I can tell you. I for one am very glad that the beautiful rail route survives. I enjoyed my one and a half hour train journey from Skipton and was very happy to see my other half plus faithful companion, waiting for me at Langwathby station. ☺️

Statue of Max The Miracle Dog in Hope Park, Keswick.

Ruswarp was not the only dog statue I saw last weekend. On Sunday we happened to be in Keswick, where we came across Max, a popular Springer Spaniel. His handsome bronze statue had only been unveiled the day before in the town’s Hope Park. You can read here about Max The Miracle Dog and his amazing fund raising efforts. I have loved following Max’s walks, along with Paddy & Harry and their owners Kerry ( and Angela behind the scenes) on Facebook, especially through the lockdowns.

Hugo on Max’s bench.

Have you been for Afternoon Tea recently?

Have you travelled on the Settle-Carlisle Line?

Do you know of any other monuments to inspirational dogs?

X

The Centre Of Britain. πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§

If you were to ever visit the Northumberland town of Haltwhistle and didn’t already know of it’s proud claim to be ‘ the centre of Britain ‘ you would no doubt very soon find out. For this quirky market town has a Centre Of Britain Sweet shop, a Centre of Britain launderette, a Centre of Britain Army Surplus store and a Centre of Britain Hotel, to name but a few of the local businesses. Strolling down the high street here , we definitely felt like we were in the middle of the kingdom! However , coming from a little further South in Lancashire, I know that the true centre of Britain lies 71 miles away near the Trough Of Bowland village of Dunsop Bridge. πŸ˜€

Haltwhistle certainly knows how to advertise it’s central position , much more so than our understated Dunsop. To really confuse matters though, there are also several other places that like to call themselves ‘ In the middle’ and you can read about them all here. https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/newsroom/blog/where-is-the-centre-of-great-britain-2 Such a controversial topic. πŸ˜‰

Our visit to the town coincided with rumbling tummies, we found the perfect pit stop in the cobbled market square. Brew Bar is definitely the place to go for coffee, brunch and people watching. It looks like a cracking little night time venue too.

Hopefully we will be back to explore Haltwhistle further. The area is rooted in Hadrian’s Wall country, there are several Roman forts to visit and the town is ideally located for finding them.

For now though, here are some photos of our gentle amble alongside Haltwhistle Burn which is a well signposted waterside walk through Burn Gauge , packed full of wildlife and signs of the town’s industrial heritage. The path that runs aside the beck was once a narrow gauge steam railway.

Dipper.
Wood Cranes – Bill.

The path eventually opens out onto a limestone meadow, before heading onwards towards Hadrian’s Wall, which I am sure we will add onto a future walk.

A species of Marsh Orchid.
Mother of Thyme.
Yellow poppies.
Orange Poppies.
Columbine.

Have you ever visited one of Britain’s Centres of the kingdom?

Kirkby Lonsdale.

With staycations high on the agenda this year, Wil put the gift cards he received for his 50th birthday towards a couple of nights away in the pretty South Lakeland town of Kirkby Lonsdale . Luckily he invited Hugo and I along too. πŸ˜‰

Kirkby Lonsdale lies at the edge of the Lake District , retains a Carnforth postcode from its former Lancashire days and is minutes away from the Yorkshire Dales National Park too. An excellent base for lots of exploring then!

The town itself is incredibly picturesque with plenty of old inns, fantastic eateries and quirky independent shops. It’s also very dog friendly, which is great when your holidaying with a certain lovable labrador. 🐾

The Royal Hotel on Main Street.
Room 2.
The Bath πŸ›€.

We stayed in the very accomodating Royal Hotel opposite the Market Square. This elegant Georgian townhouse has tastefully furnished rooms and friendly approachable staff. We couldn’t fault it!

Though to be fair all the local businesses in Kirkby Lonsdale are super friendly and very happy to be recieving visitors once again. πŸ™‚

After arriving and checking in at The Royal on Friday evening we took Hugo for a walk through town and headed straight out for a couple of drinks. Fortunately we managed to find seats without booking ( hurrah!) , everywhere was buzzing but not rammed. We especially liked the warm local feel of The Orange Tree and those good vibes in The King’s Arms .

Orange 🍊 Tree Refreshments.
Belated Birthday πŸŽ‰ the King’s Arms.

I took a couple of Summer evening photographs of the town between pubs.

St Mary’s Church and The Sun Inn.
Ruskin’s View. A painting of this vista by Turner was much admired by Ruskin, who described it as ‘ One of the loveliest views in England’.
St Mary’s churchyard is a haven for wildlife.

Saturday promised to be a scorcher of a day . After a tasty breakfast at the hotel we went for a wander before the shops opened and then took Hugo for a walk along the river Lune.

Royal Hotel Breakfast.
Devil’s Bridge.
Hugo living his best life. 🀣

The nearby River Lune is spanned by the three arched Devils Bridge and is an attractive riverside amble from the town. The bridge is a popular spot with motorcyclists and there is a long established butty & brew van that always does a roaring trade. We also saw two guys being egged on by friends to dive off the bridge…and they did! It’s a well known dare spot for such jumps, but probably shouldn’t be encouraged. πŸ™

Beautiful listed building ‘ The Old Manor House’.
I love the street names in Kirkby Lonsdale. Salt Pie Lane named after the hot salted mutton pies on sale here in former days.
Jingling Lane. πŸ€—
There are plenty of cute shops in town , such as Abraham’s Store.
Bath goodies shop.
And Parma Violet, to name but a few…

In the afternoon we decided to drive to nearby Sizegh Castle . The National Trust property was pretty busy, but the estate is so large, it is quite easy to avoid people. Dogs are unfortunately not allowed in the gardens but are permitted in the cafe and within the grounds. We ended up walking a good eight miles or so around the estate. Phew!

I did have a peek in the garden.
Vivid blue irises were in bloom in the garden.
Buttercups.
Small Heath πŸ¦‹.
Views across to the sea from the estate.

Once back in Kirkby Lonsdale we needed an ice cream to cool down. A long queue was forming outside The Milking Parlour on Jingling Lane. Although this new ice cream shop has very positive reviews, we were keen to jump the queues. Chocolat on New Road is a delightful little chocolatier that also sells deliciously decadent ice cream. They were so good!

Ice Cream Waffle Cones in Chocolat. Oh yes. 😊

After all the walking and the ice cream treats we headed back to the hotel for a while. We reemerged later for another night out , having booked a table at a lovely restaurant called Plato’s . The food here was excellent and the staff made a big fuss of Hugo. We also had a couple of drinks in local brewery tap house The Royal Barn ~ my favourite tipple was the rhubarb flavoured Rosie Pig Cider. 🐷

The Royal Barn.
Plato’s.
A savoury custart tart in Plato’s. Yummy. πŸ™‚

On Sunday morning it was time to check out of our hotel after breakfast. We had such an enjoyable stay, stopping in the Royal had been a great experience. The whole town is loving recieving visitors once again. πŸ’—

Before heading home we drove thirty minutes to the coast for a walk along the foreshore at Hest Bank near Morecambe. It felt good to take in the sea air and enjoy the vast views of Morecambe Bay.

Wading bird sculpture by the car park at Hest Bank.
Along the foreshore to nearby Bolton Le Sands.
Windswept trees.
Praying Seashell at Red Bank Farm, Bolton Le Sands. The sculpture looks over the mudflats where 21 Chinese cockle pickers lost their lives in 2004, they were caught by the incoming tide. 😦
Rocks at Bolton Le Sands.
Yellow Flag Iris. Spot the snail.
The Shore Cafe, Hest Bank.

There is free shoreside car parking over the level crossing at Hest Bank and a couple of cafe options on route between there and Bolton Le Sands. Lots more in Morecambe.

Have you any weekends away planned?