Our last visit to Aira Force Waterfall near Ullswater in the Lake District was not very successful photo wise….as it was both tipping it down with rain and howling a gale! Happily on our return yesterday, the weather was a lot kinder. We decided to park in the lake shore village of Glenridding and take the steamer the short 20 minute journey to the newly erected Aira Force Pier. The steamers themselves have been pleasure cruising along and around Ullswater for 150 years, and weather permitting , operate 363 days of the year.
We bought return tickets from Glenridding Pier House for £8 each and sat and waited with a nice warming brew. There is a coffee shop and gift shop in the pier house as well as lots of local information. Presently our steamer, The Lady Dorothy , arrived to take us to Aira Force.
We sat out on deck and admired the passing scenery. Ullswater is the Lake District’s second largest lake and the daffodils that grow on the bank at Glencoyne Bay are said to have inspired Wordsworth’s poem ‘Daffodils’. The mighty Helvellyn mountain range provided a magnificent backdrop and the waters were tranquil and deep.
Aira Force Waterfall tumbles a lengthy 65ft and can be reached via a stroll through pretty woodland. There are wooden walkways, gravel footpaths and ornate stone bridges. We looked out for the many different trees on the tree trail and Hugo enjoyed dipping in and out of the babbling brook. 🙂
The name Aira comes from the Old Norse ‘ river at the gravel bank’ and Force is a derivation of the Old Norse word ‘ fors’ meaning Waterfall. So Aira Force is apparently a waterfall on the gravel-bank river. Head further into the woodland to discover the less dramatic High Force.
There is a National Trust shop and tea room on site. We had a spot of lunch and another walk before heading back to catch the steamer. 🙂
Rydal in the Lake District is forever linked with poet William Wordsworth and the stunning scenery here , including Rydal Lake and his impressive residence Rydal Mount. Also worth a visit is nearby 17th Century Rydal Hall and Estate. 40 acres of park and woodland, free for all to explore. Here you can find an interesting Sculpture trail amongst the Woodland, pretty gardens with ornate statues, ancient trees and a fairytale Waterfall. Take a look around with me. 🙂
The Sculpture Path weaves its way through the Woods and starts at ‘The Old School Room Tea Shop’. Apparently it is the first permanent outdoor exhibition of textile sculpture in Britain.
The art on the trail is made from recycled and sustainable materials and each season brings changes to the sculpture’s , as they interact with nature and the elements.
There were lots more textile sculptures including the above ‘Jubilee Figures’ made from chain links. They are meant to highlight the effects of third world debt.
After we had walked round the woodland and spied some Shepherd’s Huts through the trees…
we went to the Tea Room for a brew, as it was quite a cold January day. The Old School Room Tea Shop is open all year round and welcomes Dogs and Muddy Boots. Perfect!
After warming up we headed out to explore the grounds. You can pick up a little map from the cafe which will give you an idea of what to look for. Or you can just stumble upon some hidden delights. 🙂
Look out for this old gnarled Sweet Chestnut Tree which at 400 plus years old, is one of the oldest in Cumbria. I would love to see this abundant with Chestnuts in the Autumn.
The beautiful Grot and Waterfall can be found via a path leading from The ‘Quiet Garden’. Built in 1668, the Grot is one of the earliest examples of a viewing station. It’s window perfectly frames a vista of the lower Rydal waterfalls tumbling into a serene pool.
As you walk round the grounds you will come across plenty more beautiful things to see.
In the ‘Quiet Garden’ there were some lovely bird spheres including a ‘Barn Owl’ and lots of signs of Spring.
Head towards the Formal Gardens and you will find impressive views, follies and fountains.
Our time at Rydal Hall was only brief as it was a stop-off point , on our way to a holiday cottage in Keswick. However I think we will definitely return at some point as it would be lovely to see the place in full bloom. There are various walks in the area including an old footpath called ‘The Coffin Route’ which passes through the estate between Grasmere and Ambleside. You can also stay at Rydal hall. For more information go to rydalhall.org
We also found a great dog-friendly pub very nearby. The Badger Bar at The Glen Rothay Inn has cosy fires, real ales and great food.
Llamas are very sociable animals. Llamas can live until their early thirties. Llamas hum when they are happy. 🙂 These are a few of the things we learned about these very interesting, gentle ( and friendly) creatures on a Llama Trek in The Lake District. Lakeland Llama Treks near Penrith in the scenic Eden Valley is a family business, with our hosts Mary and Graham running the trekking side, and other family members looking after the colourful and quirky Llama Karma Kafe. As Llama trekking has been on my Bucket List for a while now, I decided to commandeer the rest of my family in joining me for a’ countryside trail’ in the glorious sunshine on Sunday. 🙂
Seven of us ( 5 adults,2 kids) assembled at the Llama Karma Kafe at 11am. We were joined by another family of three, so there would be ten of us on the trek altogether. Five llamas were loaded into a specially adapted horsebox and we followed Mary and Graham a few minutes down the A66 , parking on a small carpark just off a country lane, where we would start our trek. We were then given a little talk about the llamas and put into pairs. Each pair was then introduced to their llama companion for the walk.
I paired up with my five year old niece imogen and our llama was this little chap called ‘Cuba’. As you can see we are leading Cuba with a double lead, one of us at either side of him.
Llamas come in all shapes and sizes. Cuba was definitely the shortest of our llama friends that day. He suited Imogen and I , being that we are shorties ourselves. 🙂 The funny thing was, he really liked to lower himself down to our level. When I asked Wil to have a hold for a minute, Cuba stretched himself up as tall as he could!
We walked through the fields and along the river, stopping to admire a secluded 17th century church. There were plenty of photo opportunities.
Mary and Graham and our other guide ( I totally forgot to ask her name! ) were very knowledgeable about the llamas and the local history of the area too. When I had told friends, that I was going on a llama trek, their reactions ranged from ‘What your riding llamas ?’ to ‘Be careful of them spitting at you!’ but our guides explained these common misconceptions. Firstly, you can’t really ride llamas. Llamas are strong enough to carry all sorts of things. Originally from South America these placid creatures have been domesticated and used as pack animals by native peoples for centuries. They have longer backs than horses , so weight has to be evenly distributed. Overloaded llamas will just sit down on the ground. A human’s weight all in one spot, would not a happy llama make.
And yes llamas do spit. But only when feeling threatened. If they are used to people like these guys then they will rarely spit at a human being. However they may possibly spit at each other . Females will spit at a male who is making advances she doesn’t want and llama’s may spit at each other when in competition over food. For this reason ( and just the excitement of being together) the llamas are usually sent on treks in single sex groups. We had the company of the lads. Happily the only noise they made was a gentle happy humming as we ambled along through the gorgeous Eden Valley scenery. Llamas don’t spook easily either. As we walked back single file through a meadow several young pheasants flew up out of the grass. Apart from an inquisitive glance beforehand , the llamas didn’t bat an eyelid.
Our countryside trail trek lasted about an hour and a half and included refreshments at the end in the cafe. Situated at the side of the A66 the Llama Karma Kafe can get quite busy with passers by. We managed to get a seat outside the back where there is a mini menagerie of animals including a giant rabbit, a parrot and a couple of tiny cute marmoset.
The cafe itself is bright and quirky with a peruvian influence. There is also a gift shop so we were sure to buy some souvenirs of our trip. 🙂 We each got a certificate for participating too.
I would definitely recommend Lakeland Llama Treks as a fun experience for all the family, or as a birthday treat or even for a Hen Party. Our guides were friendly and informative and the llamas were incredibly sweet, inquisitive and and a little bit mischievous. Most of all, I think they liked us as much as we liked them. 🙂
The Countryside Llama Trek is £35 per person and includes an easy walking off road trail, beautiful scenery, interesting knowledgeable guides, refreshments at the kafe ( drinks and cakes) and a fun certificate. Suitable for all ages and walking abilities.
As we were staying at the Haweswater Hotel recently, we decided to spend a day exploring the surrounding countryside. There are various walks and footpaths in the area including one round Haweswater Reservoir ( some sections are currently closed after the bad weather earlier in the year) and others that go up into the hills. After looking at a map we decided to head up to a small tarn called appropriately enough Small Water. 🙂 There is a little car park at the far end of Haweswater where we parked. First things first though, Hugo had to take a dip in the lake.
Haweswater is actually a reservoir and was built in the thirties. Controversially the valley, existing lake and the village of Mardale Green were flooded to create it. Haweswater supplies water to the city of Manchester, to this day. It is situated in the North East of the Lake District.
About an hours walk up the path and Small Water Tarn emerges from over a rocky crag. What a rewarding scene! We didn’t see a single person and had it all to ourselves. 🙂
The path continues up onto ‘High Street’, yes that is the name of a mountain fell. 🙂 Another tarn called Blea Water is somewhere over those crags too. But we decided to head back toward Haweswater and follow some of the path round the lake.
From the car park we followed the signpost saying Eagle Viewing Point. Here’s a sad story actually. Until very recently ( only a few months ago in fact) Haweswater and Riggindale , was the home to England’s only Golden Eagle. Alone here since 2004, he had been displaying every Spring in order to attract a mate. Not this Spring though. Maybe he has passed away. Or maybe he has finally given up and flown North. What I can’t understand though, is why the RSPB never tried introducing another female eagle into the area. It’s a shame….
Although the eagle is no longer in residence here there are chances to see plenty of wildlife including Peregrines, Ring Ouzels, Red Deer, Goosander, Flycatchers and Dippers.And the countryside, I’m sure you will agree is just stunning. 🙂
Have you ever walked to a secluded tarn? Have you ever been to Haweswater?
Have you ever happened upon a hidden gem? At the weekend we stumbled across one. The remote and romantic looking Haweswater Hotel commands views over one of the lesser known lakes in The Lake District. It’s a beautiful country house hotel that looks down on Haweswater Reservoir. Haweswater began it’s life as a natural lake until in the 1930’s the surrounding valley ( and villages of Measand and Mardale Green) were flooded to create the larger reservoir it is today. Manchester Corporation built the lakeside road and the hotel replaced the flooded ‘Dun Bull Inn’. Haweswater supplies much of the North West’s H20. Of course it was raining buckets as we arrived!
Easter Sunday happened to be a cold, rainy and blustery day so it was with relief that we headed indoors into the bar/restaurant area , which has a huge double slate fireplace and is decorated in a fabulous art deco style. I loved all the retro prints adorning the walls and the little decorative touches such as the vintage luggage and fresh flowers. 🙂 The hotel apparently has many original art deco features from when it was built in the Thirties and the bar has recently been sympathetically refurbished to embrace its history. I am wondering whether it may have opened in 1937 perhaps?!
Even though we hadn’t made a booking and just arrived hoping to warm up and shelter from the weather, we couldn’t have been made more welcome by the lovely bar staff.’ The Haweswater’ advertises itself as a haven for walkers which is perfect as the area is a hiker’s and nature lover’s paradise. It’s also pet friendly and you can even holiday here with your dog. 🙂 I’m very tempted!
We enjoyed some hearty pub grub for our lunch. Wil had the Venison stew and I settled for the haddock and chips which were both very good. And I definitely recommend the Courgette and lime cake that we shared for dessert. Very zesty and sublime. 🙂
I must admit I was easily distracted whilst eating mine as we had a wonderful view of the lake. And on the sun terrace outside there was many a charming visitor. I spied Great Tits, Bluetits,Chaffinches,Nuthatches and to my delight a couple of the area’s native red squirrels. It looks as though the terrace and gardens attract plentiful wildlife.
Just a couple more miles down the remote country road past the hotel is the southern tip of the lake. There is a little car park there and signage for various walking routes. With Hugo being on light exercise only at present we couldn’t really take him very far though.The Eagle Viewpoint sign certainly looks very intriguing! In fact the Haweswater area is home to England’s only Golden Eagle. The male eagle chose this scenic valley as his home many years ago and the RSPB man the viewing area. We will return!
After taking a couple of photo’s of the lake we decided to head back along the country roads and past our elegant yet friendly lunch host toward the village of Shap. On the way I made Wil stop off at Shap Abbey as it is somewhere we have seen signs for, but never visited. My pictures look deceptively calm as the ancient ruins were actually engulfed in blowy winds ,rain and sleet. Another gem we will have to revisit in nicer weather. 🙂
What hidden gems have you discovered on your travels?
Janey’s and Louisa’s#photoanhour challenge on Instagram is a photo challenge I do enjoy getting involved in every now and again. It really is quite difficult snapping something you’re doing or seeing on the hour, every hour, for a whole day. The good thing about participating along with others on Instagram though, is you can see what everyone else is getting up to as well. And for someone nosy like me, that is great fun.:) It was Janey’s turn to choose the day and she picked Easter Sunday. Be prepared for the random and the mundane…….
8am. A black coffee to start the day.
9am. Car journey to visit family in the Lakes. I routed out a couple of cds for the trip.
10am. It’s a bit of a grey day travelling up the M6. But we do keep seeing old Vintage Buses for some reason.Aaaah Bisto Bus ,where are you heading?
11am. Landed at Mums and admired her potted geraniums in the window.
Noon. Headed out to find somewhere for lunch. We found a lovely ( and pet friendly) lakeside hotel looking over Haweswater.Built in the 1930s The Haweswater Hotel has a real art deco feel about it.Enjoyed a brew first to warm up then some grub.
1pm. Sharing some cake, but my picture is of Hugo watching us share some cake.We are meanies I know!
2pm. We have driven down to the end of the lake You can just make out snow on the fells there. As Hugo is still on light exercise we couldn’t take him on much of a walk,poor pup. 😦
3pm. Not far from Haweswater are the remains of Shap Abbey which we had a quick look round. It actually started hailing and the temperature was a pretty bracing 2 degrees. So didn’t linger long! I am going to write a more detailed post about the area soon.
4pm. On the way home now and we pass an Iconic M6 landmark.It’s the Forton Services near Lancaster! I must stop someday.
5pm.And home sweet home! And another brew! I think I had quite a few today.
6pm. We put Hugo’s cone back on. He has been wearing it for a week but being Easter Sunday, I thought it would be good for him to have a couple of hours off. Poor guy was neutered and after his stitches were taken out, the wound opened up again. More stitches are in there now. 😦 We have been trying to keep him calm but he is too bouncy for his own good. I know it’s probably the right thing to do, but I am quite regretting getting him done.
7pm. Cake! Sorry no Easter egg piccies. This is yummy Yorkshire Parkin given to me by this month’s Foodie Pen pal. 🙂
8pm. And we will end with a piccie of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ which is always on in the background. 🙂
I am lucky in that I have family who live in the Lake District, so I never need an excuse to visit. 🙂 My Mum’s home is in the picturesque village of Askham , not far from Penrith in the North of the lakes. We’ve travelled up twice over the Festive period. That dratted rain never stopped!
Like lots of places across the UK , Cumbria has had it especially bad weather wise with homes,shops and businesses literally swept away in those deceptively friendly of name but merciless in nature, torrential storms.
Those that survive face an uncertain few months, as visitors stay away. Some roads are still impassable and a few old bridges which provide access, such as the one in Pooley Bridge and the one in Eamont Bridge , both near Askham,have been condemned or crumbled away.
So eager to support local attractions, we decided to bob into the Rheged Centre to buy Mum a gift before our recent visit. Rheged is a great place to take the kids as there are indoor and outdoor play areas, pottery painting, a 3D Cinema, a wonderful toy shop and various family inspired events throughout the year. Several cafes, a small selection of lovely shops, art exhibitions, theatre and spa facilities complete the venues attributes. It can be found just off Junction 40 of the M6 motorway.
After a spot of shopping we headed to Askham. Usually we would drive through Eamont and over it’s bridge, but due to the floods we had to head back down the motorway and get off again at Shap ( Junction 39) to continue the short journey to Mum’s. After a lovely lunch ( Thanks Mum!) a few of us headed to a hidden gem in the village called The Little Bird Gallery opposite the green.
This pottery studio/gallery/gift shop displays and sells many beautiful pieces of art, ceramics , jewellery and unusual quirky gifts and is a must if you are in the area. Some of the artists live very locally, one of the owner’s creates beautiful pottery in his studio here. I spent my Christmas money from Mum on a snug and colourful crocheted bobble hat , handmade by someone in the village. I’m sure it will appear in future posts. 🙂
The bad weather and bridge closure at Eamont has really affected local businesses here. In some cases footfall is down by 80% which is such a shame as there are quite often alternative routes to those places. I guess what I am saying is, please don’t stay away from areas that have been affected, whether they are local to you, or day trips out. We are already planning a day out in Keswick this month. Watch this space!
ps the pubs in Eamont Bridge are still open and both serve food. We recently had a yummy sunday roast at the very welcoming Beehive Inn with our dog Hugo.
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