Saturday dawned grey and drizzley. Time for a woodland walk, somewhere with adequate shelter under a canopy of softly falling leaves. We headed to Armathwaite in Cumbria’s Eden Valley, Coombs Wood with its Riverside path, covered in crunchy copper beech leaves, was our destination.
There are lots of Woodland Walks like this, following the wide River Eden. We came across one of ten Eden Benchmark Sculptures , this one we have seen before, ‘ Vista’ by Graeme Micheson . It depicts a solitary walker who abandons his clothes on a rock , for a dip in the water below.
The Woodland in Autumn is ablaze with colour. I have yet to visit in the Spring when Bluebells, Wild Garlic and Yellow Star of Bethlehem cover the forest floor. Now is a good time to find fungi, see blazing gold bracken and patches of blooming Gorse.
Leaving Coombs Wood our route took us through the little hamlet of Longdales and along an old bridleway with Pennine Fell views, on a clearer day.
And then we headed back along the road to the village of Armathwaite, which had two choices for a pub lunch, a hostelry at each side of a bridge that spans the River Eden.
The Fox 🦊 & Pheasant beckoned, it’s the kind of pub that lights a welcoming fire and has some good real ales on tap. The locals hang their hats on a stuffed foxes head. We enjoyed sandwiches with chips on the side.
Believe it or not, there were as many showers as rays of sunshine 🌞 on Saturday. Somehow we managed to dodge the rain quite expertly though, as you can see by my photos. You’ll just have to imagine the speedy dashes to the car , to get out of the sudden downpours.
A trial Pumpkin Patch at Kirkoswald was the mornings destination. It was so close by ( to the caravan) that I just had to drag Wil and Hugo for a wander round a field of giant ( and teeny) pumpkins. The Patch belongs to Eden Valley farmer and writer Hannah Jackson aka The Red Shepherdess . I hadn’t heard of her until very recently , apparently she is quite the celebrity in Cumbria. Anyway if your in the area over the upcoming school holidays Red’s Pumpkin Patch is opening again, until all the Gourds are gone. Just take your wellies!
Later on Saturday we visited family in Askham, first we took Hugo for a walk on the Lowther Estate. Not for us today , the impressive Castle Ruins & Garden , we made the most of the footpaths that fan the parkland instead. The sun shone inbetween showers, a bracing breeze whipped up swirling leaves and buzzards soared in the sky.
The heavens opened on our way to visit Mum . After a lovely tea we headed back to the caravan. There’s no cosier evening than one feeling snug and toasty, whilst rain pitter patters on a tin can roof. 😊
Sunday stayed dry and on our way home we called in at Kirkby Lonsdale in South Cumbria. It was warm enough for ice cream at The Milking Parlour on Jingling Lane. I visited my favourite shops and bought a new bobble hat. Happy days. 🍦
Thanks for dropping by. Are you feeling Autumnal yet? 🍁
At the weekend we returned to the village of Shap in the Eden Valley of Cumbria, to complete a walk we took back in June. At the time we ended up fleeing from a feisty herd of cows ( and a bull! ) , so didn’t finish our hike properly. This time we opted to do the final part of the walk first, ending at Shap Abbey and then retraced our steps back.
Keld was actually a slight detour for us. It is a pretty little place and from which a ‘temporary road’ known as The Concrete Road was built in the 1930s for the construction of the Haweswater Reservoir. Cars are not permitted as the cement track is full of pot-holes, though walkers and cyclists may use it apparently. Another time we will explore!
We turned round and found a footpath sign for Shap Abbey just before the hamlet. Scroll down for a surprise little face, peering at
us from a tree. 🤗
On the way back to Shap we passed more late summer flowers and some curious cows. Luckily they were safely tucked away behind those lovely dry stone walls.
Back in the village and just in time for lunch. I love the little cafe there , which is named after the abbey. Ploughman’s for Wil and homemade quiche for me. A happy morning indeed. 🙂
Just to confuse you ( and myself ! ) this post includes photos from two separate visits to Alston and The South Tynedale Railway. We were there in the Spring ( I included a brief update in my April Round-Up) and also more recently in July. The weather was actually better in April! Anyway I’ve mixed the best photos together , so you get an idea of what the area is like. 😊
The top of this North Pennines town is 350 metres above sea level, making it England’s highest Market Town. However I haven’t actually stumbled upon a market happening yet !
There are plentiful old buildings in Alston, many have been recently renovated by the Alston Townscape Heritage Scheme. The olde worldy look of the town has been used in the past to its advantage. It was transformed into a Victorian fishing village for a 1999 BBC adaptation of Oliver Twist.
Once upon a time Alston was connected to the Northumberland town of Haltwhistle by rail. The 13 mile track was closed in the seventies , but part of it has been preserved as a Narrow Gauge Heritage Railway. On both our visits we headed to the railway for walks along the adjoining railway footpath.
There’s a fantastic cafe at the Station called Hickins@thecrossing’scafe which is the perfect pitstop for a lovely lunch. It’s so welcoming , I wouldn’t have a problem waiting there a while. 😚 Also at Alston Station is a museum, toilets , shop and ticket office.
Walking the South Tyne Trail ,which runs adjacent to the railway 🚂 is a pleasure. There are bridges, views and wildlife along the way. Springtime saw Lapwings nesting in the fields, undisturbed by passing walkers and trains. Summer blooms such as Orchids and Melencoly Thistles adorn the trackside from June. In April we walked to Kirkhaugh Station and caught the train back and in July we continued on to Slaggyford ( 5 miles ) , which is currently the end of the line.
There are both Steam and Diesel Locomotives in operation and the railway is run by a friendly group of volunteers.
Between Alston and Slaggyford you can hop on and off at both Kirkhaugh and Lintley. Various local Walks leaflets are available from Alston Station.
On our second visit we arrived at Slaggyford Station in perfect time to catch the train back, after a quick brew at the buffet car. Dogs aren’t allowed inside the buffet car, but the pretty waiting room is open to all, including four legged friends.
We didn’t get time to explore the Northumberland village of Slaggyford on this occasion. It’s unusual name possibly derives from the Old English for dirty muddy ford, referencing a fast moving part of the River Tyne that dredged up river mud.
The journey back from Slaggyford takes about 30 minutes on the train. The carriages are more spacious than that of The Ratty Narrow Gauge Railway at Ravenglass & Eskdale.
We ended both our excursions with a pint at the Turks Head Pub in Alston. I had first thought the pub was named after an actual Turkish Man’s bonce, but a Turks Head is actually a decorative knot !
When I haven’t been to the caravan for a couple of weeks, I’m always amazed at the changes in the garden. Not being a gardener at all, I struggled to identify this latest blossoming shrub. Any ideas?
My poor pansy pot has been used by a moth to lay their eggs in the flowers. The culprit is below. I think it’s an Angle Shades Moth. Oh well! It’s good to give back to nature. 😃
Saturday morning in Melmerby and the church was all decorated for a wedding with pretty white wildflowers.
And there’s always something to see on little walks round about the village.
In the afternoon we went to Honister Slate Mine where Wil would be going to Infinity and Beyond! His Birthday present from me this year was an Infinity Bridge Experience at Honister. Rather him than me! Scroll down for Wils photo of the bridge. Meanwhile Hugo and I explored around the site. There are some cool slate sculptures. 😚
Wil was buzzing after the Infinity Bridge.
I had noticed several people heading up the fells from the Honister Car Park. Has anyone done a Wainwright from there?
We then went for tea at Mary Mount Hotel near Keswick. The terrace has wonderful views. 🥰
Bank Holiday Weekend ( also platyjubes of course! ) , we escaped the celebrations for a while, choosing a less obvious Lakeland area for a countryside walk.
Shap is a long grey stoned settlement in the North Eden District. It has a couple of pubs, a shop, cafe, chippy and an open air swimming pool, the highest heated outdoor pool in England. The steady A6 is the main road that meanders through the village, it used to be the principal thoroughfare for the Lake District & Scotland.
Not far away is the busy M6 , but to the West of Shap it is picturesque and remote. I had downloaded this Walk from the Eden’s River Trust. Part of the route is on the Coast To Coast footpath , though we didn’t see one other human being out walking. It was so peaceful.
Things then got a bit scary , a family of cattle that we hadn’t noticed at first started to take a bit too much interest in us as we tried to cross the field. They had a Bull with them and youngsters, but it was the cows themselves that started kicking up a fuss , fairly galloping towards us. We managed to scare them away , though not before Wil got knocked off his feet and Hugo got butted. I’m not sure how but we legged it into a solitary farmhouse garden with the cattle at our heels. Definitely a hair raising encounter, we were a bit shuck up!
To make matters worse we would have to sneek past the herd again to continue with our walk. We waited until they had calmed down and ambled away, an unconcerned resident of the farmhouse didn’t seem to care that we had hotfooted into their garden or that the cows had chased us there…
The Preminstratensian Order of Monks from France settled in Shap in the 13th Century and built beautiful Shap Abbey from local stone. The monks became known as The White Cannons because they wore robes made from undyed sheep fleeces.
Here was a lovely place to stop for a while by the river Lowther again. I must admit we had lost our thirst for continuing the planned route , which would take us through the hamlet of Keld and on past another large standing stone called The Goggleby Stone. Instead we made our way back to Shap through a couple of cow free fields and along a country lane.
We ended up having a delicious cheese scone and a cup of coffee each at the Abbey Kitchens cafe in Shap, the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by. I’m so glad Wil and Hugo were non the worse for our ordeal. We will definitely be keeping our distance from any cows in the future. Although apparently there are some handsome looking Highland Cattle in Swindale………..
Whats the best way to get around the lovely Lowther Castle Estate? By Bike, you say! Well yes, but how about hiring an E Bike…….
Arragons Cycles are a bicycle shop and hire company that are based in Penrith and also rent bikes at Lowther Castle in Cumbria’s beautiful Eden Valley. Amazingly a few weeks ago Wil and I actually won half a days E Bike Hire in a raffle , so at the weekend off we went for our first ever cycling adventure together. 😀 Let’s just say we are not very well matched when it comes to bike riding. But get me on an E Bike and it’s a bit of a game changer!
There are several cycling trails around the Lowther Estate. We were handed a map by the helpful lady at the Cycle Hire and she gave us a quick tutorial. They also provide bike helmets though Wil brought his own and I borrowed his spare. The bikes we hired were Royal Dutch Gazelles which are all terrain E Bikes, unfortunately despite having my saddle lowered, my bike felt too big for me. Getting on it took me forever and as for dismounting, well basically I couldn’t stop without falling off. So all the photos I took for this post were taken after I had fallen off my bike, sometimes on purpose, and sometimes not. 😝
Apart from my stopping and starting challenges the actual cycling was alot of fun and it did truly feel wonderful whizzing up hills with ease. After practicing on the trails around the Castle and River Lowther, we headed through the nearby village of Askham and up Askham Fell.
There are a criss cross of walking and cycling trails around Askham Fell. One option is to head up and over to the lakeside village of Pooley Bridge. Maybe next time! We wheeled it to Whale via Helton instead, where I hoped the Lowther Estates Long Horn Cattle would be hanging out.
The fell was abuzz with the sound of Skylarks, it’s simply wonderful up there on a sunny day. 🙂
We had a short refreshment stop on the Green in the village of Helton. A nice soft grass landing anyway! If you do fancy finding somewhere for a brew, there are cafes and pubs in both Pooley Bridge and Askham , Lowther Castle of course and Lowther itself has a walled Garden Tea Room at the Bird of Prey Centre.
Before the hamlet of Whale we followed the trail signposts back to Lowther Castle, passing, to my delight, a very placid herd of Long Horn Cattle. Some had gorgeous calves too.
Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos as we cycled through woodland, stunning bluebells & wild garlic galore. Spring might just be the prettiest time to hire a bicycle at Lowther Castle.
I’m not used to riding a bike so I wasn’t sure whether I would become accustomed to all the different Speeds etc, but I did, it was fun and I would definitely consider hiring an E Bike again. Even Wil ( who is a bit of a middle aged man in lycra, he has a couple of road bikes ) enjoyed the advantages of power assisted cycling!
E Bike Hire at Lowther Castle costs £35 for 3 hours cycling, including helmet hire and a small tutorial.
My Tips ~ Take a rucksack with plenty of water.
~ Wear padded cycling shorts!
~ Cycle in the morning when the trails aren’t as busy.
Today’s walk is one from the weekend. A gentle saunter starting at NT Acorn Bank and taking in the pretty village of Temple Sowerby in the Eden Valley district of Cumbria. The route can be found on the Acorn Bank Website. Because we are members of the National Trust we parked on the car park at Acorn Bank. Non members may have to adapt the walk a little.
We passed through a small village called Newbiggin , one of several Newbiggins in Cumbria. I love the rosie coloured sandstone that the buildings are made of. Here it was taken from Crowdundle Beck.
Temple Sowerby is an attractive village , once known as the Queen Of Westmorland villages. It was named after the Knights Templar who briefly owned the settlement and nearby Acorn Bank. Temple Sowerby was once a tanning village and other industries in the area included the mini ng of gypsum. There is still a gypsum plant at Kirkby Thore.
After a look in the second hand book shop at Acorn Bank it was time to head home. What a lovely walk. 😘
Over the Easter Weekend we spent quite a bit of time walking the dog around Melmerby. We are still discovering new footpaths there, it’s a lovely place for a wander, especially at this time of year.
I still love my original What To Look For In The Seasons Ladybird Nature Books , which were first published in the fifties and sixties. Ladybird brought out a new set last year, they are also quite charming. The Spring book accompanied me on my recent walks.
Melmerby is the kind of village , where I often find myself doing double-takes! This Easter I have seen 2 children walking their pet ferrets, a Grandmother taking the little ones bare back riding on a sturdy horse, a man whizzing round a field in a pony and trap and several llamas being led along the Village Green.
Here are a few photos from Melmerby in the Spring.
Today I am blogging about our second home, our bolt hole ~ The village of Melmerby in Cumbria’s Eden Valley.
You may be forgiven for thinking that the sleepy Eden Valley village of Melmerby doesn’t have that much to do for the discerning Holiday Maker. But times, they are a changing. 2022 is looking good as established businesses are back on their feet and welcoming visitors once again. I have found ten things you can experience whilst stopping in Melmerby, without starting up your car. So relax and Enjoy. 🥰
Head To The Local. A Village doesn’t feel like a village unless it has a local pub. Luckily Melmerby does have a lovely local , which also serves pretty decent food too. The Shepherds Inn usually has at least three Real Ales on tap and theres a good selection of gins. My favourite spot in the pub is on the sofa by the wood burning stove. Find us there with a tipple, a tapas board and a Labrador by our feet.
Explore The Village Green. My favourite part of Melmerby is it’s huge Village Green. Much of it is kept by the locals as a Wildflower Meadow, which proves popular with a variety of insects and butterflies. In March Daffodils dance in the breeze and in late Summer/ Autumn ,colourful waxcaps appear in the grass. Theres a small pitch for a game of football and a Swing from which to admire the view. Look out for an Andy Goldsworthy Sheepfold sculpture by the beck.
Walk To A Nearby Pub. If you fancy a Pub Walk, then a nice idea ( one that we have yet to try! ) would be to walk to the nearby village of Ousby and enjoy a pint at The Fox 🦊 Inn , which is opposite the Caravan Park there. Hopefully I will get around to doing this in 2022!
Get Up Close and Personal withAdorable Llamas. Happy days for Melmerby visitors! Lakeland Llama Treks have relocated to the village and it is an adorable sight seeing these beautiful pack animals being exercised on the green. I have been on two Llama treks with them in the past and I would love to walk with llamas again. A mini Llama Trek lasts an hour and is £25 per person.
Animal Encounters. Lakeland Llama Treks are also offering Animal Encounters at their new home ‘ Ravenstone Country Manor’ in Melmerby . I am dying to get here for a nosy. 😋 I am not entirely sure which animals are involved but the website does mention rabbits, llamas and Shetland ponies. £15 per person.
Book The Indoor Swimming Pool. Hurrah, Melmerbys own private Indoor Swimming Pool has reopened its doors once again for 2022. The Tower House Pool looks perfect for small groups to hire ( no more than 8) at a charge of £30 for an hour and a further £5 to book the sauna too.
Get Your Walking Boots On. Yes Melmerby literally sits at the foot of Melmerby Fell, one of a range of North Pennine Summits you can bag on a walk from the village. Well worth the hike for views of the better known Lake District Fells and a chance to walk part of The Maiden Way, an old Roman Road. For lower level walks, there is also a pretty bridle way from Melmerby to the hamlet of Unthank.
Breakfast And Retail Therapy. We often pop to The Old Village Bakery for breakfast. It’s lovely inside and has a pleasant outdoor seating area too. Serving breakfast, lunch and a scrumptious selection of home baked cakes, the bakery also has an alcohol liscence, so is a good day time alternative to the Shepherds Inn. Upstairs you will find boutique clothing and accessories, whilst alongside the cafe are homewares, greeting cards and foodie gifts. Happy Shopping.
Relaxing Spa Day. I think I could quite happily relax in the hot tub above with a glass of wine , whilst gazing out at the lovable llamas in the next field. Ravenstone Country Manor in Melmerby offers four hour private spa sessions for small groups that include a treatment and Afternoon Tea in the Orangerie. Ooh La La.
Wanderlust Horse & Cart Day. Melmerby has a long association with the travellers who stop off here ( at the Village Green) every year on route to Appleby’s famous Horse Fair. Along the Bridle Path to nearby Gamblesby and Unthank, it is not uncommon to see one particular Romany Wagon all year round. Wanderlust Gipsy Caravans specialize in horsedrawn holidays , stopping over at peaceful camping spots along the way. They also offer Horse & Cart Days ~ £200 for 4 people, for the day.
Northeast Allie is a blog that reflects influences from the Philadelphia area and the regions around it. It explores perspectives on life, encouragement, travel, wellness, and local living so that you can really enjoy this unique community!