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.
This June is definitely not very similar to last year’s hot and dry ( almost flaming!) one. We’ve had rain here in the North West on most days this month. It does make enjoying wild moments that bit more challenging !
At the weekend we took Hugo for a walk round Salthill Quarry Nature Reserve in Clitheroe. As its name suggests, Salthill is a former quarry, now reclaimed by nature. As well as being geologically fascinating ( fossilised crinoids or Sea Lillie’s can be found here), the reserve is a haven for wildflowers and butterflies. The rain kept the insects away but lots of flowering plants to see including vibrant blue milkwort, ground spreading wild thyme and clusters of yellow rattle. I even got to sample a wild strawberry ( there are lots right now) , a tiny burst of flavour on my tongue. 🍓
On Sunday we travelled to Cumbria to visit family. On the way I couldn’t fail to notice all the many Ox -Eye Daisies blooming on the roadsides. I actually know them as Dog Daisies. They have many other names too including Moon Daisy, Midsummer Daisy, Bull Daisy and Marguerite. Daisy originates from ‘ Days Eye’ as their flowers open up to the sun. Apparently ‘That’s a Daisy’ was used as a phrase describing something good in the 1800s. Over the years that changed to ‘ That’s a Doozy’ .🌼
Monday was a rare sunny day and Hugo and I had an enjoyable walk. The rain has made everything so green! After spotting some open dandelions in the morning, I returned later to collect them ( after finding a recipe for Lemon & Dandelion biscuits on Pinterest) , only to find they had all turned into fluffy seed clocks by mid afternoon. Perhaps a blessing in disguise! 🍋
I treated myself to some Nature inspired reading this week. I remember my Gran having this book when I was growing up. ‘ The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady’ is just that, a beautifully illustrated chronicle of the flora and fauna that Edith Holden spotted when out and about ( often on her bicycle) in Warwickshire in 1906. An entry for June reads ~ Cycled through Widney : The Yellow Irises are out in the marsh there now, and at the edge of the stream I found the large blue Water For-get-me-not. While I was stooping to gather some, a beautiful Demoiselle Dragonfly came skimming across the water and lighted on a bunch of roses, the next moment it was away again. This book is really lovely to dip in and out of, I will be doing that alot I think. 🙂
Meanwhile in the back yard, my washing up views take in a succession of birds feeding their young. Sorry for the bad photo ( taken with my phone camera) of some coal tits and blue tits. They are loving the fat balls. So too is the jackdaw, who now brings a friend and knocks alot of crumbs to the ground. Luckily I have a fledgling blackbird visitor, who is enjoying the spoils.
Every year in May, a small village in The Yorkshire Dales is transformed into a cartoon themed animal trail ! From The Teletubbies to The Wind In The Willows, The Gruffalo to Sponge Bob Square Pants,lovely Malham has become a menagerie of colourful fun for all the family. As a big kid, I was happy to join my god daughter and her Mum, Dad and Gran on this super safari. 🙂 Prepare for a picture heavy post !
Well you can certainly see we had plenty of fun, and I haven’t managed to photograph half of what you can see there. The trail includes a quiz , where entrants have to find various cartoon characters and count mini televisions. Other activities included live music, magic shows, pond dipping, face painting, archery, birds of prey and a duck race. Malham is a very pretty village anyway and the Safari can be combined with a walk up to Malham Cove and Janet’s Foss Waterfall.
No need to dust down the old leaky tent for the first camping trip of the year ! Happily WeWil had bought a nice new one a few weeks previously . This tent was meant to be the same model as our original. But it seems a whole lot bigger. Erm it’s practically a marquee !
Anyway we didn’t venture to far from home. We chose Fell View Park near the pretty village of Scorton. Perched on the edge of the Forest Of Bowland AONB , Fell View is adjacent to the owners farm and is surrounded by meadows full of bleating lambs and nesting lapwings.
The campsite has plenty of EHU points, good hot showers, an undercover washing up area and a small fishing lake , which is home to lots of ducks and geese. We stayed in the non electric tent field and had it all to ourselves for the first night. The hedges were heavy with the scent of hawthorn blossom and the resident Greylag Geese were happily honking away.
There’s a little Local Information Room on site with maps of nearby walks , so we took a leaflet for a Circular Route taking in ‘Nicky Nook’. The fell top is a relatively easy walk ~ about 215m to the top.
As you can see ‘ The Forest Of Bowland’ is not actually a forest in the traditional sense. The name Forest was given to Royal Hunting grounds in ancient times. Bowland is made up of ruggedly beautiful moorland and gentle lowlands. The AONB actually covers 312 square miles of rural Lancashire and neighboring Yorkshire.
After descending ‘Nicky Nook’ we found ourselves on a country lane and followed the signs to the Apple Store Cafe in Wyresdale Park. The cafe set in a sheltered walled garden in the grounds of Wyresdale Hall, is the perfect place to drop by for a brew and a cake. 🙂 We sat outside , though it did look lovely inside, the glass house interior felt a little stuffy even on quite a drizzley day. The lovely waitress served our refreshments on mismatched vintage crockery, and even brought out a sausage for Hugo!
After tea and cake we explored the grounds a bit ( I never saw the estate peacocks 😦 ) and then decided to deviate from our route and headed into Scorton itself for a wander. On the way we spied this cute cottage with it’s quirky garden signage.
To get to Scorton we had to cross the M6. Who knew that such a tranquil place is so close to the motorway. The pretty village has a Bar Restaurant, spa shop and a cafe/gift shop. We had a couple of drinks in the lovely and dog friendly Priory Stout Bar.
After a drink or two we continued on our way. We headed back through Wyresdale Park, across the fields and onwards to the campsite. It was a beautiful walk. 🙂
Fell View is definitely a campsite we will return to I think ,as there is so much nearby countryside to explore and the area is indeed one of Outstanding natural beauty. 🙂
Last weekend Wil and I and my sister and her hubby enjoyed a mini break away at a luxury hotel in Warwickshire. Coombe Abbey Hotel near Coventry is a historic grade I listed building which was founded as a monastery in the 12th Century. Over the years the abbey has been added to ,with a West Wing designed by Captain William Winde , who also designed Buckingham Palace. And gardens and a lake constructed by Capability Brown. The hotel is set in a 500 acre public Country Park where an arboretum features a collection of 100 year old trees and a heronry is apparently host to over 60 breeding pairs. Sounds great right. 🙂
Here are a few pics from the interior including the room which Wil and I stayed in with its four poster bed ( very romantic!) and there’s my decoupaged vintage suitcase on its first ever trip away, despite me buying it over two years ago!
The weekend threw all sorts of weather at us including rain,snow,hail and bursts of sunshine. On the Saturday we had a bit of a walk round the park. We didn’t see the whole of it but if you’re ever in the Coventry area, it is well worth a visit. 🙂 Enjoy the pictures below.
Butterfly carvings in a tree stump. 🙂
After our Saturday walk Wil and I had an Afternoon Tea to go to. I can tell you’re not surprised! Coombe Abbey’s Afternoon tea is served in the lovely Garden Room Restaurant and I must say I think this one might just be the tastiest of all the many many Afternoon Teas that I have tried.
We decided on the Knight’s Afternoon Tea which comes served on a miniature picnic bench and features an assortment of goodies that included a warm shepherd’s pie served in a bucket, a very tasty homemade sausage roll,kilner jars of piccalilli and sweet pickled onions, a slice of the most scrumptious cheese & onion quiche and a yummy beef & horseradish roll.
Don’t forget the sweet treats too. There’s a large glass of creamy tiramisu, a slice of Lemon Meringue Pie and a delicious light and buttery scone served with strawberry jam and clotted cream. The Knight’s Afternoon Tea also comes with as many tea or coffee refills as you require and a halfpint of Coombe Ale. 🙂
Have you ever visited Coombe Abbey or Coombe Country Park? If you ever feel the need to treat yourself…or just simply explore some beautiful parkland, this is the place to go.x
Yesterday I took my camera down the fields in the hope of capturing one of the Barn Owls I frequently see when I’m walking the hound. Yes I know, I am one lucky girl! But the enchanting creatures, who I often see hunting in daylight ( I didn’t know they did that!) proved elusive this time. Just knowing they are around ( possibly due to ground being disturbed because of new housing estates being built in the area ) gives me hope that I will get my shot one day. 🙂
The birds I can depend on not to be too camera shy are the various garden types that feed in a gateway to the campsite near the river. Some kind soul puts food out for them every day. These birdies know how to Brunch. 🙂
I hung around for a while, until my feet started getting a wee bit cold. If I tell you I also saw two Jays but couldn’t get a picture, you will know how disappointed I was. 😦 But the fact that wildlife is thriving down by the river does make me happy. I frequently see Kingfishers, Herons, Dippers and Goosander. Two walkers told me recently that they have spied Otters! And of course the camera shy Barn Owl(s) are possibly the most beautiful and graceful birds I have ever seen in the wild. 🙂
And despite the cold weather it does appear that Spring is just round the corner. 🙂
I’ve currently been tucked up in bed at nights with the wind howling outside ( Storm Imogen I believe 😉 ) and a good book , one that I have become thoroughly engrossed in. The Book Of The Bothy by Phoebe Smith is a celebration of these humble ‘stone tents’ that offer a basic shelter and roof over the head of weary walkers in the remotest parts of the UK. Phoebe , a renowned travel journalist and serial ‘Bothy bagger’, has chosen 26 of her favourite MBA ( Mountain Bothies Association) bothies to hike to,spend the night in and write about. On the back of the book Phoebe explains ‘ I believe, if you wanted to, you could spend a whole summer staying in bothies, travelling from place to place,taking in one spectacular landscape after another with nothing but your rucksack, map and thirst for adventure. And the best thing? It wouldn’t cost you a penny….‘
It’s true, bothies are Free! Free places to stay for anyone and everyone. They are often abandoned farmsteads or cottages, sometimes with only one room and sometimes larger. They are incredibly basic inside with no running water, electricity or bathroom facilities. They are always a good hike away from civilisation of any kind and are left unlocked so wandering walkers can bed down in them for the night. The MBA looks after 100 bothies around Britain. Most of them are found in the wilds of Scotland but there are a few in Northern England and rural Wales which are mentioned in the book.
The Book of the Bothy is set out for an easy and informative read. There’s a map in the front with the locations of the bothies dotted in red. Phoebe’s introduction covers the history of bothies, their pro’s ( space to sleep, escape from midges etc) and cons ( Mice, spider’s, loud snorers! ) ,what to take, bothy etiquette ( leaving it tidy etc) and safety.
She also mentions Bothy traditions such as walker’s sharing a sip of whisky or two from a sigg bottle and of course filling in the Bothy Book. Every bothy has a kind of visitor’s book in which walkers can record their stays adventures and experiences. Seems like a useful tradition. 🙂
The rest of this handy guide concentrates on each individual bothy and Phoebe tells the reader the routes she followed ( there’s always a handy map reference), what to look out for ( wildlife,landmarks etc), essential information ( water sources, facilities etc) and she also writes her own Bothy Book entry for each property. 🙂
I’m really enjoying reading about Phoebe’s Bothy bagging and even though I usually hyperventilate at the thought of hiking anywhere…….this book is almost inspiring me to seek out a bothy. I think I would have to persuade Wil too, mind. What about you? Would you stay in a bothy??
I’m really pleased that this summer I managed to go to one of our local agricultural shows. Malham Show in the Yorkshire Dales has been going for over 100 years. Set against the scenic backdrop of Malham Cove it featured a varied timetable of events including Heavy Horses, Gundog display, Vintage tractor parade and a Fell Race. I know I have published a few photos in my previous posts but I have plenty more to share with you. 🙂
What I like about these country shows is that they are still so similar to the ones I attended as a young girl with my Mum,Dad and siblings. Traditions are upheld. Despite all the hardships farming life continues. I love that. 🙂
Have you been to any country shows this year? There is still time as many events are held in September. 🙂
Day 22 ~ After taking my Ladybird Nature book ‘ What to look for in Summer’ with me on my walk last week , I remembered we have another ‘Tunnicliffe’ illustrated book in the bookshelf. His bird art publication ‘Sketches of Birdlife’ is packed full of drawings of various birds of the British Isles. The illustrations are really beautiful and cover birds in all aspects of their life including flying, courtship and display,feeding etc. So this evening I had a browse through the book and gazed in awe at his incredible talent.
Day 23 ~ This evening I went for a walk in one of Clitheroes two Nature Reserves. ‘Salthill Quarry’ is a limestone and grassland area renowned for its geology and also rare Bee Orchids. It seemed to be to early in the season for the orchids but here are a few of the flowers I came across.
Day 24 ~ Relaxing in the park with Hugo. Sometimes its just nice to lay back and take in your surroundings. 🙂
I also went back to the park when Hugo was having a snooze. He’s not the best companion to have when looking for wildlife. He tries to catch birds and he chases squirrels up trees. I was thrilled to get a picture of a Goldfinch. 🙂
Day 25 ~ I haven’t seen many butterflies here in the North West yet but yesterday and today I saw lots of these speckled browns in the park. I love the gorgeous patterns on their wings. Could I have a dress in the same design!
Only a few more days to go of the challenge. I’m afraid on the 26th my day was such a rush that I didn’t take any photos. My outside time consisted of watching Hugo and his doggy pals chase around the Castle field. See you soon for my final update. X
Day6 ~ Barefoot in the grass. On the way to Slaidburn in the car to visit a friend , we parked up on ‘ Waddington Fell’ for lunch.It was the ideal place, I thought, to kick off my shoes and wriggle my toes in the grass.Aside from some funny looks from some passers by and it being very breezy up there, I quite enjoyed it.:)
Day7~ Hill Walk. Today we took our black lab Hugo for a good walk up ‘Pendle Hill’. The breezy conditions meant we saw people flying kites, model aeroplanes and paragliding. Wildlife was out in force too.Spied two kestrels, many a tuneful sky lark and hundreds of white cotton bud grasses blowing in the wind.
Day8 ~ Dandelion Folklore. If it takes only one blow to scatter all the seeds of a fluffy dandelion seed head, your true love will love you forever. Hmmm it took me about eight! I could maybe have used it as a clock instead. The number of puffs to disperse the seeds is meant to tell you what time it is. It was 1pm. The fluffy seed heads are also said to be accurate barometers. If the seed heads remain open the sun will shine all day. 🙂
Day9 ~ Coffee alfresco.
Today was a sad day as it was my Uncle Tommys funeral.It was also a happy day as the family got together to celebrate his life.Uncle Tommy had a wild life! Up until recently he went out into the countryside on his bicycle every day.For his 90th birthday he rode a zipwire at Go Ape! Today I travelled and remenised so there wasn’t much time for nature. I did manage to drink an alfresco brew in my Mum’s garden mind you.Does that count….
Day10 ~ A patch of wilderness. Theres a tiny piece of overgrown wasteland behind an old disused outbuilding, that I pass most days when I’m out with the dog. Today I thought I would take a closer look.
The usual suspects grew over the walls, Herb robert and Grandma’s bonnet. Nettles seemed to thrive there unfortunately. Yes you’ve guessed it, I got stung. Luckily where there are nettles, there are usually dock leaves. 🙂