Is it really time for my first Round Up Post of 2021! Before I put this blog together , I had actually forgotten that I have seen quite a selection of wildlife this year. The ending of travel restrictions at home meant holidays in different parts of the UK , therefore different wildlife too. It was so good to spend a week on the Norfolk Coast, where there are an abundance of sea birds such as Avocet and Brent Geese. And of course Seals galore, which are always fun to see ( and hear! ), they do make some funny noises. 😁
Spent quite a bit of time at the caravan too, which has has been a great base for exploring Cumbria and even further North. It was a pleasure to be taken to see a rare Bird’s-eye Primrose by a botany loving lady in Melmerby and to catch a glimpse of Red Squirrels in woodland at Killhope Mining Museum , County Durham.
The best wildlife moments are often those that completely sneek up on you. Like coming across a Sika Deer Stag whilst on a local walk. What an honour…. My personal favourite sighting though might just be that of a Blood Vein Moth. This strange insect was discovered by my niece and nephew in the grass ,whilst we walked in fields near Downham. To see the photo keep scrolling down. Enjoy. ♥️
My vow for next year, is to actually take my Camera out more. Like most people I seem to be relying more on my phone camera, which of course is not good enough to capture that elusive Kingfisher or that cackling Jay.
What wildlife have you been lucky enough to see in 2021? 🤗
It’s that time of year when we sadly close our caravan for the Winter. The site it is on doesn’t actually shut down over the colder months, but being two hours away from home in a village that is prone to getting heavy snow, we figure it’s for the best really.
On Friday Eve we made sure we got stuck into the last couple of bottles of wine in the wine rack. 🙂
On Saturday the weather was grey, but the drizzle didn’t dampen our spirits. I had booked us lunch over at Bassenthwaite Lake Station , in a French Steam Engine no less. The disused train station was bought in 2019 by Simon and Diana Parums, who have been busy renovating the buildings. A permanent fixture on the track is the beautiful Steam Train , which is in fact not a real train at all…. . It is actually a replica made especially for the 2017 film version of Murder On The Orient Express , starring Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer,Dame Judi Dench and Johnny Depp. These days the film set is a lovely cafe/restaurant and being slightly wider than a ‘ real train ‘ lends itself to its new life perfectly.
We chose the Brunch Bowls for lunch, followed by cake of course! Delicious. 😁 There’s lots of choice on the menu and a good selection of drinks too. Food is a little more expensive than most cafes in the area. However the setting and the friendly service justifies the price.
It was great that Hugo was made very welcome on the train, even though he did have a habit of lying across the aisle. The staff brought him dog treats and made a real fuss of him. Perhaps the Station dog, a pretty black Labrador called Poppy , had something to do with that. 🤗
After lunch we had a quick look around the rest of the train. Our dining car had been bustling and busy , though a posher salon at the back was empty. Perhaps this is used for special occasions. For a finer day there is also outside seating and the Station building itself with Waiting Room is also part of the cafe.
I really love what the new owners are doing here. Breathing life into what only a couple of years ago, was an abandoned unused space. Hopefully we will visit again next year. I would also like to explore Dubwath Silver Meadows Nature Reserve opposite and of course go for a wander by the lake. 😁
Later in the afternoon we visited my Mum and Brother who live on a farm in The Eden Valley. The farm cats Tibby and Sooty have been used to spending time in the house recently, but weren’t too impressed that a certain Labrador was in residence.
Back at the caravan and Sunday dawned cold and bright, a lovely day for our last one there this year. We enjoyed a walk up the old bridleway from Melmerby to Unthank, I will miss those uninterrupted views toward the Lakeland fells.
After tidying and closing down the van we headed to the nearby village of Langwathby for a sausage butty lunch on the green.
Here’s to a few local adventures closer to home over Winter. Hope you can join me. X
The village of Wetheral near Carlisle was our destination at the weekend, after our planned walk up Hartside was scuppered by mist and drizzle. A mizzley start to our Saturday did have its benefits though. Wetheral has woodland and riverside walks……and not a hill in sight. 🙂 Never mind Wil, you can drag me up the fells next time.
Wetheral has red sandstone dwellings and an attractive village green, so typical of settlements in Cumbria’s Eden Valley. Notable buildings include the Holy Trinity church with its octagonal tower and the 15th Century Priory Gatehouse ; all that remains of a small Benedictine monastery.
By the River Eden footpaths through ancient woodland lead down stone steps to man-made caves, cut into the red rock. The caves were used by the monks to hide during times of border warfare. Etched into the stone are years of signatures.
The caves are named after a St Constantine, who may or may not have inhabited them before the monks saught refuge there. It is possible to explore inside and peer through the slit windows into the river below.
On the other side of the river sits Corby Castle , the ancestral home of the Howard family. It’s Neo-classical facade can be glimpsed from a little beach, along with terraced gardens and folly’s.
My own personal favourite discovery was a wonderful winged bench! Flight Of Fancy is one of ten contemporary stone sculptures to be found along the length of the River Eden. They are called The Eden Benchmarks and here are Some more we found earlier. 🙂
From the benchmarks vantage point we had a clear view of Wetherals 5 Arch Viaduct, known as Corby Bridge. Trains still travel overhead , bound for Newcastle and Glasgow.
After our potter around Wetheral it was time for a spot of lunch. The village store and Post Office is also a cafe called The Posting Pot. We sat at one of the outside tables and people watched. My cream of tomato soup and savoury cheese scone were divine. 🍅
And on the way home I got Wil to pull up at a roadside farm selling one of my most favourite Autumn blooms, the Chinese Lantern. Those flame coloured flowers certainly brought a hint of colour to the caravan decking.
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.
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.
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. 🙂 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. 🙂
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!
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.
How are you keeping cool? It’s a bit of a heatwave were having!
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. 💗
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. 🙂
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 £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 !
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.
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.
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. 💗 🐾
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. ☺️
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.
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?
A lovely lady from the village offered to show me the whereabouts of a quite rare species of primrose at the weekend. Leaving Wil to chill at the caravan , I met Linda by the pub and we headed along my favourite bridleway ,which connects the Eden Valley settlements of Melmerby, Gamblesby and Unthank. The flowers are growing on private land but luckily my guide knows the land owner.
I’m glad the weather has been dry recently because we ended up walking over quite a bit of soggy ground. In the adjoining field some young bulls were having fun chasing a group of ponies , then a hare. They also showed an interest in two crazy women cautiously navigating a bog. 🤣
Not to be put off by the curious cattle Linda forged ahead and we soon came upon an abundance of wild flowers. Now some of my photos turned out pretty blurry. I blame the bulls, the bog and the bright sunshine!
What we came to see of course were the Birds – Eye Primroses. And they did not disappoint. Linda was happy to see that the pretty pink flowers had spread their territory a little further….over the brook and into the bull field. Happily we remained where we were. 😊
Favouring both bog and limestone, the conditions here seems to be perfect for these rare members of the primrose family. The Birds-Eye Primrose tends to be found in the North and flowers in June & July. What beauties. So glad they are thriving in a tiny corner of The Eden Valley. 💗
Hi there, I have been stopping at the caravan with friends and we were using it as a base to visit some places in Cumbria and the Lakes! I thought I would update this blog everyday diary style and post at the end of our stay. 🥰
Day One. We arrived here last night , so today we nipped to nearby Penrith for supplies, had lunch, did some shopping, went for a few drinks and explored the red ruins of Penrith Castle. The girls had their nails done at a great little nail bar in town and we bought some pretty bits and bobs from a lovely clothes/gift shop called Adlib.
Day Two. An epic start to the day with an informative & interesting Whiskey/Vodka/Gin tasting tour, booked in at The Lakes Distillery near Keswick. Well Somebody had to take the morning slot. 😀
After the tour we headed to The Lake District Wildlife Park nearby. Lots of lovely animals & birdlife to learn about and admire, including Otter, Red Panda, Scottish Wildcat, Flamingo and Zebra. 🦓
An impromptu row on Derwent Water rounded up Sundays adventures. 🚣♀️ Look out for the rowing boats for hire next to the Keswick Launch & Jetty.
Day Three. A scorcher of a day! We are happily having untypically warm Bank Holiday sunshine. Our first destination was gorgeous Grasmere, the home of poet William Wordsworth and yummy traditional Gingerbread.
Grasmere Gingerbread Shop is definitely a must when you visit the village. Although the store is tiny it brims with character and the scrumptious aroma of baking gingerbread is impossible to resist. Yet more sweet treats were purchased at the Grasmere Chocolate Cottage. A short walk was needed to burn off those soon to be consumed calories.
After walking to Grasmere lake we called in at Faeryland Tea Garden which has an enviable position overlooking the water, and pretty pastille coloured rowing boats are available for hire. 🧚♀️
Although I have been to a Cat Cafe before, none of us have ever visited a Cat Bar….until now. Kittchen in Hawkshead is home to seven adorable rescue cats and serves yummy food and alcoholic beverages. Because the weather was so hot most of the furry felines were asleep, but the sunshine did mean we had the cats all to ourselves. A purrfect end to the day. 🐱
Day Four. Another hot day. Our anticipated llama trek was put back to late afternoon, so it wouldn’t be too hot for the above cute camelids, Warrior and Jester. We booked an hour mini trek with Lakeland Llama Treks based in Brougham and Melmerby. It was great fun to groom, learn about and walk with both boys to Brougham Castle ,with our lovely guide Caroline. 🦙
Day Five. The girls went on a little roadtrip to find a beach, spending a couple of hours relaxing on the sands in Maryport. Meanwhile I met up with family at my Mum’s in Askham and we enjoyed a saunter up the fell.
Day Six. Alot cooler today so we chilled at the caravan, watching films etc. It was Arwen and Tammy’s last full day with me at the van.
Day Seven. After a tasty lunch at The Old Village Bakery in Melmerby, the girls have made it home. I am presently waiting for my other half to arrive. It’s been great spending time here with friends, a treat and a bit of normality all at the same time. 😊
I think we can safely say that our caravan in Melmerby is fast becoming our second home. Now that England is coming out of lockdown restrictions, we are hoping to spend more time there, hopefully at least two weekends a month. There’s still so much of the Eden Valley to be explored, not least from our own doorstep. Never one to suggest a hike up a hill, I left it to Wil to persuade me that a fell walk from Melmerby on a clear Spring day was a good idea. 🙂
After breakfast at the van, we set off from the village, following a well defined track up through woodland and into the hills. And there are plenty of hills! Melmerby sits at the foot of the mighty North Pennines.
Eventually after a lot of lagging behind I caught Wil and Hugo up. The views are extraordinary , with the Lake District fells and even the sea in sight on a clear day.
Now there are several summits in the fells above Melmerby. And Melmerby Fell is certainly one of the bigger ones at 709 metres ( not that much shorter than two of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, and higher than Pen Y Ghent ) but sorting which cairn or trig belongs to which fell is a bit tricky.
Up on the tops the weather had turned from t shirt weather to something a bit more wild and cold. It even tried to snow! We soldiered on along the Maiden Way, a Roman road later used as a Drovers route.
We made our descent by following an old tramway , now almost given back to nature. It leads down to a large lime kiln by Ardale Beck. I think the kiln looks like a miniature castle. And then on to Townhead, Ousby.
The final part of our walk took us along pretty country lanes from Ousby back to Melmerby.
In the end I was glad that Wil persuaded me to join him on this hike up Melmerby fell. 🙂
It’s not often that Wil and I have a week off work together and don’t book at least a few days away. . So recently it’s actually been quite nice for us to spend some time at home pottering, doing a few jobs and erm ….eating cheese!
We started our week with a ginormous order of cheese from Tipsy Cows in Great Harwood. Their amazing cheese bags are £35 and include a pie, pate, smoked sausage, crackers, bread, a bottle of wine, chutney, grapes and of course a shed load of cheese. Still getting through it now..
From Monday we were allowed to meet up with friends & family for outdoor walks again. We met up with my sister and the kids and walked further into the Dunsop Valley. A truelly beautiful place.
On Wednesday we decided to go up to our caravan in Cumbria, mostly to check that it was still in one piece. Luckily it was! And everywhere we went there were daffodillions of daffodils. On the way we stopped in Kirkby Lonsdale for a walk.
We turned the water back on at the caravan and gave it a quick spring clean. The weather was really warm.
Back in Clitheroe, the new Nature Reserve has opened at last. As we live nearby it has definitely become our go to place for a stroll with Hugo. One morning we bought breakfast from Marks Artisan Bakery on Whalley road after our walk. Sooo good! I am making a note of the wildlife I have spotted at the reserve, which includes Little Egret, Mallards, Teal, Grey Heron and Canada Geese. I will get working on a post soon.
On Good Friday we met some friends for a walk from Worston to Downham and back. We are so lucky to live in the lovely Ribble Valley and have definitely discovered lots of new local walks and rediscovered old favourites during the numerous lock downs.
There have also been less energetic pursuits. On Saturday I met some friends for a Hip flask walk. We didn’t get very far. From one bench to another in the local park..😀
We had planned to stay home on Easter Sunday and enjoy our new fire pit. 🔥
But after checking the weather forecast we realised we would have to head back up to the caravan again and drain it down. Forcasted minus 7 temperatures meant we had obviously been too previous in opening the van up for Spring. So here are some more lovely Easter views from Melmerby where the van is based.
We also called in at my Mum’s in Askham and had a brew in the garden. Got introduced to these cuties. ❤️
Today ( Easter Monday) the sky outside is deceptively blue. It is freezing out there! There was even a smattering of snow this morning.
Hi all I am daring to bare my travel plans on the blog. It sort of feels like we are nearing the light at the end of the tunnel and my first holiday of the year is almost within my grasp. Let’s do this!
North Norfolk Coast.
First up in May we have the North Norfolk Coast. Wil, Hugo and I stayed in an air BnB in the pretty seaside town of Hunstanton 3 years ago and we can’t wait to go back. This time we have rented a cottage near Cley Next The Sea and I’m looking forward to getting my binoculars out , the area is famed for vast beaches, saltmarsh birds and seals. There’s also plenty of seafood which Wil loves and colourful beach huts at Wells for me to gaze longingly at. 🙂
Wil is using some birthday gift vouchers to treat us to a weekend away in the picturesque market town of Kirkby Lonsdale in June. Hurrah! We know the town quite well , even so this informative post by Pack The Suitcase has inspired me to really make the most of it. Kirkby Lonsdale is on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, close to the Forest of Bowland and within the county of Cumbria.
Ravenglass & Eskdale.
It has become a yearly tradition to stop with friends in a holiday cottage in lovely Ravenglass on the Cumbrian coast. The cottage belongs in the family of friends of ours and is right by the beach. In the village a narrow steam gorge railway can transport visitors into the beautiful Eskdale Valley. Last Summer we found the perfect wild swimming spot in a secluded waterfall pool and enjoyed barbeques and sunsets from the cottage balcony. Mostly it will be fab to spend some quality time with chums. 🙂
Our Caravan in the Eden Valley.
It will be two years this year since we bought a static caravan halfway between Alston and Penrith in Cumbria. The area is part of the Eden Valley, a lesser visited, but still beautiful neighbor of the Lake District. Due to the pandemic we haven’t yet stopped at the van during April, May or June ,so we are eager to get up there when restrictions are lifted, fingers crossed. I’m looking forward to country walks and country pubs!
Belfast & the Giants Causeway.
Not that long ago The Carlisle Lake District Airport reopened and had started flying to Northern Ireland. I’m not the best flyer but if I were to travel to Belfast, a small local airport not that far from our caravan, would be an ideal starting point. I would love to discover this vibrant city with its Titanic connections and book a trip to the natural wonder that is The Giants Causeway. 🍀
A Castle in Ayrshire.
My sister has arranged a family holiday for us all in 2022 and she has booked a Scottish Castle! As there will be six adults, two children and a dog, there will be plenty of room for us all at Knock Old Castle near Largs. Doesn’t it look like it’s straight out of a fairytale. Bagsy me my own turret! My siblings and I recall happy memories of our yearly holidays to Scotland as kids, so definitely looking forward to this one. 🙂
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