My weekend was a cornocopia of fungi finds. In rainbow colours!
A lovely lady in Melmerby showed me the ones that have sprung up on the village green. If you have ever been to this Eden Valley village, you will know that the green is huge. It’s also home to lots of gorgeous wild flowers in the spring and summer. The green is managed like an old fashioned hay meadow. It’s a real haven for wildlife.
Hope these identifications are right. I used the I naturalist app on my phone to double check. I am clueless when it comes to fungi.
Definitely feel blessed to have been shown these. My favourite has to be the ‘ Ballerina ‘.
Later on Saturday Wil and I took a walk from Garrigill to Ashgill Force. To my delight we spotted these beauties by the brook.
And last but not least, spotted these at home in Clitheroe.
Just a quick and hopefully cute post for you today, featuring some very laid back longhorns. I’ve had a fair few hair raising run ins with coos this year, there have been some frisky heifers and bullish young bulls on summer walks, I can tell you. But these guys, well they are just in full on relaxed mode. Though maybe a little curious about why I’m peering at them from behind a big tree…..
Luckily on my second attempt at capturing this native cattle breed on camera, I got slightly better photos. My first attempt a few weeks earlier was on my camera phone. I quite like that you can see lovely Lowther Castle on these ones though. 😊
The English Longhorns roam freely on the Lowther Castle estate near Penrith in Cumbria. They are a new introduction at the castle, and another introduction may well be on its way. Back in January the Lowther estate was given the go ahead to reintroduce beavers to the river Lowther. Due to coronavirus this has been put on hold at the moment though.
I was quite happy to see these snoozy beasts anyway. English Longhorns are a hardy breed , they will be able to stay outdoors during the cold winter months. I am looking forward to seeing more of them through the seasons. 🐮
Sunday saw us getting up bright and early ( ok, definitely less bright than early!) in the hope of catching the sunrise from the top of Hallin Fell. One of the more diminutive Wainwright climbs at 388 metres, Hallin makes up for it’s stature with impressive views of Ullswater lake and it’s surrounding peaks.
We arrived at the little car park by St Peters Church in Martindale very early. In fact it was pitch dark. And the car park was almost full! There were a few overnighting camper vans and other cars possibly belonging to people wild camping out on the fell.
It takes about 40 minutes to walk to the trig point on a clearly defined path. At 5-30am in the morning it looked like we were the first folk heading up there. The views were totally worth the early get up. But unfortunately the sun deemed to stay behind a cloud.
We enjoyed a flask of coffee and croissants at the top of Hallin Fell, drinking in the stunning vistas. It was calm and still with only a very gentle breeze. This was my 6th Wainwright fell and Hugo’s sixth too, on his 6th Birthday weekend.
Before heading back to the caravan we had a little look in the churchyard of St Peters at the bottom of the fell. There is still a monthly service there apparently. Noticed this grave stone adorned with an anchor.
As we left a few other folk were awake, drinking morning brews and maybe contemplating an early walk to the top.
Kirkoswald and Raven Beck Wander.
It was still early morning so after a chill at the caravan we drove the short distance to the Eden valley village of Kirkoswald. The village is named after the church of St Oswald. Oswald was a King of Northumbria in the 7th century. We took Hugo for a walk along Raven Beck, bought supplies from Raven Bridge Stores and I generally kept an eye out for ravens , though I didn’t see any. 😚
By Noon we were ready for a relaxing afternoon at the caravan. It had been a really enjoyable morning.
Forget Whitby’s Count Dracula connections. Cumbria’s own Eden Valley has had its share of batty experiences. Two villages in particular have suffered attacks by supernatural beings……..
First let’s visit Croglin , a pretty fell side settlement, about ten miles south of Carlisle. Here the houses are rosy stoned and few. There is a pub called The Robin Hood and a little church.
The Vampie Of Croglin Grange is a retelling of a story told at a dinner party to a collector of horror stories, a Victorian writer called ‘Dr Augustus Hare’.
The story goes that two brothers and a sister rented the property called Croglin Grange in the village. One hot summers night the siblings retired to bed. Unable to sleep, the sister Amelia watched the moonlit night from her bedroom window, noticing a couple of moving lights heading from the nearby church yard, towards the house.
Suddenly Amelia found herself frozen to the spot. A wizened gnarled figure with long boney fingers was scratching at the lead around the window. Before long the glass window fell through and the terrifying figure flung itself onto Amelia, biting her neck. Her petrified screams awoke her brothers who came to her aid, one of whom chased the creature , losing sight of it in the church grounds.
Amelia’s brothers took her to Switzerland to recover. Being a non superstitious trio the three returned to the grange ( I think I would have stayed away 🙄) to carry on with their tenancy. Unfortunately Amelia was not to be left in peace. Her persistent attacker returned!
This time the brothers managed to shoot the figure , tracking it down to a vault in the cemetery. They waited until daylight to surprise the ‘vampire’ who they found resting in a coffin, a fresh bullet wound in its leg. They then dragged the creature outdoors into the churchyard and burned it. 🦇
So is The Vampire Of Croglin Grange a true story? There does not appear to be a building called Croglin Grange in Croglin. However is it coincidence that another Eden valley village, not to far from Croglin, has a peculiar legend too…..
Renwick is a red sandstone built small settlement, formerly known as Ravenwick, there is a Raven Beck running through the village.
In the early 1600s residents of Renwick suffered the appearance of the Renwick Cockatrice. The extraordinary tale is mentioned in William Hutchinson’s ‘ The History Of The County Of Cumberland’ , published many years later in 1794.
Workmen were dismantling the old village church in order to build a new one on the site we see today. Suddenly a vicious winged creature flew up from the vaults and started attacking the villagers. It apparently resembled half cockerel/half lizard, known in legend as a ‘ cockatrice’. As a bite or even a glare from a cockatrice was said to be deadly, people ran for cover.
Only one villager was brave enough to fight off the beast. John Tallantire of nearby Scale houses slayed it with a Rowan branch. His reward was that he and his family were let off paying rents for years and years after.
The cockatrice has also become known as ‘The Renwick Bat’ …and apparently last made an appearance in the 1950s!
Is it possible that the Renwick Cockatrice was simply an oversized bat disturbed by the demolition of the church? We shall never know, as like the Croglin Vampire, the villagers burned the evidence..
I feel like it’s been a while since I posted. We recently had a week away at the caravan, which for my other half was a much needed break , having worked continuously through lockdown. A holiday we booked in Northumberland was cancelled , so I think this year we will try to make the most of our own holiday home. I know we are very lucky to have it !
Here is a quick round-up of what we got up to. We are based in the beautiful Eden Valley, which is a rather undiscovered part of Cumbria. I love where we are as there is so much to explore nearby.
Chilling At The Van. Of course we made a bit of time for relaxing as well. We are fortunate to have a large decking area ( probably three or four times bigger than our little yard at home) ,so it was always nice to sit out and enjoy the sunshine with a glass of wine…..or two. 😁
Langwathby Riverside Walk. An Eden Valley walk we often enjoy with Hugo is The Ladies Walk from Langwathby, through Edenhall village & back. The circular route is 3 miles long and takes in lots of gorgeous wildflowers, a couple of sculptures, a Celtic cross and pretty cornfields, as well as the lovely river Eden of course. We even enjoyed coffees and flapjacks on the green at the end from Saddleback’s cafe , a converted horsebox.
Eycott Hill Nature Reserve. Oh my goodness, I was in my element here! Eycott Hill near Penrith is run by the Cumbrian Wildlife Trust..and it is such a beautiful place. Sadly I forgot my actual camera, and only had my phone camera to hand, so trying to take photos of all the wonderful wildlife proved impossible. But I did see lots of beautiful wildflowers including Grass of Parnassus, Bog Asphodel & Marsh Cinqefoil, as well as various butterflies and moths. There are Belted Galloway cattle grazing here and views of the surrounding Lakeland mountains. Dogs are welcome on leads.
Marmalade March. Having just looked up Marmalade March online, apparently it’s a track by the psychedelic porn crumpets. Who knew! It is also an alternative name for the Dalemain Loop, an extension of The Ullswater Way, which is a twenty mile walkable route round Ullswater. I’m not quite up to that yet, so the five mile Marmalade March was undertaken instead. Dalemain ( an Eden Valley country house famed for its annual marmalade festival) was an excellent rest stop mid way, and we made sure to check on the gnarly stone Dacre churchyard bears as well. 🐻
Cow Green Reservoir & Cauldron Snout. The caravan is on a site at the foot of the steep Hartside Pass, which resides in the North Pennines AONB. Over that hill lies more beautiful rugged terrain to explore, as Cumbria eventually turns into County Durham. The border between the two counties runs straight through the centre of the Cow Green Reservoir and the area is home to rare wildlife, such as Golden Plover. A track takes visitors past the dam and to the top of Cauldron Snout, which is apparently England’s highest waterfall. Even on a bleak day, there was much wild beauty to take in.
Skiddaw Summit. Oh my, did my poor legs suffer after walking ( or should I say crawling) up Skiddaw. This was my 5th Wainwright, and by far the highest at 900 plus metres. Unfortunately we picked the worse day to do it, as a dense fog obscured any views. We ended up dripping wet from the fog and Hugo almost turned white. 😮 Was still worth it though!
Allonby on the Cumbrian Coast. It isn’t a holiday without going to the seaside, I say. A sunny Saturday meant a trip to the coast. 😊We chose Allonby, as it has a great beach for dog walking and we were looking forward to fish & chips. The Cod father didn’t disappoint.
So there you have it. Can’t wait to go back to the van in September for a week, and there will hopefully be a couple of weekends before then too.
On Saturday we were finally allowed to travel to our caravan and more excitingly, stop overnight! I must admit I was a little worried about our drive to the Lake District. Would we be stuck in traffic for hours? Would everyone in England be heading away for the weekend? It turns out we hardly saw a soul and the roads were not overly busy. There again the weather was not the best and we definitely needed our waterproofs.
Our destination was just under two hours away, so on route we stopped off near Kirkby Lonsdale to take Hugo for a riverside walk. The Lune was nearly bursting it’s banks, there had been so much rain.
Once we got to the caravan site we checked over the van , had some lunch then headed up into the fells for a walk. It’s the first time we have done this route, probably because of my general reluctance to drag myself up hill. It was of course worth it! We found a patch of woodland, a clear water beck and lots of foxgloves.
Once back in the village I couldn’t resist looking round the Green. Melmerby Village Green is an 11 acre green that used to be grazed by livestock. It is managed for wildlife and there are lots of lovely wildflowers on display.
In the evening we left the pub to the locals and had tapas and wine in the van. Wil fried these padron peppers in olive oil and tossed them in sea salt. Delicious!
On Sunday morning we headed to Pooley Bridge which is near Ullswater. The lake was lively!
It felt good to be able to stay overnight at the caravan and it was nice enjoying a coffee in the Crown pub. We are ready for our proper week long break away. Not long now!
For me 2019 has been very much about experiencing wildlife with others. It’s the first year I have watched badgers go about their business from a guided RSPB badger hide and the first time I have been on a bat walk run by the Rivers Trust. I’ve also looked for ring ouzels in the Slaidburn fells with the RSPB and done this year’s bird and butterfly counts with my nephew, niece and sister. Family has joined me in all the above and it has been a joy watching wildlife with them. 🙂
Sometimes I can be out and about with Wil and the dog and we will spy something special. Recently we saw a red squirrel at NT Acorn Bank, I have been hoping to see one since buying our caravan in Cumbria this year.
There have been a few rare moments when I’ve been completely alone and immersed myself in nature. Just spending three hours in the woodland near my Mum’s in Askham back in May was such a treat, I saw jays, woodpeckers, buzzards, a weasel and wildflowers galore.
In 2019 I witnessed my first badgers ( I’m definitely not counting the squashed ones I’ve seen on the roadside), my first humming bird hawk moth, my first Crossbill, my first ring ouzels and my first slow worm!
I am not always able to get photos though, so it was very special when I managed to snap the barn owl that visits my sister’s croft, be it through a pane of glass. Below are some of the wildlife I have captured on camera..
What have been your own favourite wildlife moments of 2019?
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…