Tag Archives: eden valley

A Cumbrian weekend of wanderings and wildlife.

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Chimney Sweeper Moth.

The recent weekend was spent gathered with family at Mums. She didn’t want a big celebration, just time spent together with children and grandchildren on her 70th Birthday. Country walks, playing games, visiting some lovely gardens, and a Birthday Cake. It was a happy couple of days!

Mum lives at the foot of Askham Fell near Penrith in Cumbria. Its a comparitively little explored part of The Lake District, but well worth a visit. On Saturday morning before my sister and niece and nephew arrived, Wil and I armed ourselves with a Askham Fell Marsh Kelpie Tale Trail Map, and headed for a walk up the fell.

There are various Tale Trail maps of different places in The Lake District, aimed at younger walkers ….and the young at heart. ๐Ÿ˜ The Marsh Kelpie is a fictional character that lives on the fell. We didn’t find him of course, but we did see lots of wildlife and a stone circle.

Skylark, Askham Fell.
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Small Heath Butterfly.
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A herd of ‘Wild’ Fell Ponies live on the Fell. This one with Wil is not very wild and shaped like a barrel. ๐Ÿ™‚
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Cockpit Stone Circle ~ once used by villagers for cock fighting.
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Linnet. ๐Ÿ™‚
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Pied Wagtail.
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Common Bistort on the road side. Mum knows this as ‘Sweaty Feet’ and if you smell it…..it does whiff a bit. : b

Its a good job my family are all wildlife lovers , as we also spent a lot of the weekend pouring over Mum’s Bird book, trying to identify the birds we saw. ๐Ÿ™‚ My sister and I forgot our phone chargers ( there’s not much of a signal or wifi anyway) , so it was nice to Id what we saw , the old-fashioned way.

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Siskin on Mum’s Bird feeders.
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Greater Spotted Woodpecker.
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Wil’s photo of a rather dapper Dipper on the River Lowther.

On Saturday afternoon we took Mum to Holehird Gardens near Windermere. She loves gardens and this one which is run by volunteers, is home to the Lakeland Horticultural Society. June is a good time to visit for the rhododendrons and blue Himalayan poppies.

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Blue Himalayan Poppies and Alliums.

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I’m not very well up on my garden flowers, but as you can see the beds were abundant with colour. ๐Ÿ™‚

On Sunday we visited somewhere closer to Askham. Acorn Bank gardens and Water Mill at nearby Temple Sowerby. The National Trust looks after the property and the manor house dates back to 1228, its first owners were the Knights Templar.

There is plenty to see at Acorn Bank. We walked along a forest trail to the working water mill, looked for frogs in the lily pond, found fairy doors, enjoyed the gardens, had a lovely brew and cake, browsed the second hand book shop and found Newtopia. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Fairy Door.
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A freaky green spider on Bistort…or Sweaty feet. Is this a Cucumber Spider?
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Imogen and Woody Woodpecker.
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Acorn Bank.
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Impressive Coat of Arms.
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Hop It !
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Looking for Newts!

There’s a pond full of Great Crested Newts in the Sunken Garden at Acorn Bank. We had plenty of fun trying to spot them!

Thanks for joining me on a fun family weekend…with lots of wildlife thrown in for good measure. x

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Searching for signs of Spring.

On Saturday we braved The Mini Beast Of The East and headed to Cumbria to visit family. We also packed in two short walks with our labrador Hugo. I kept my camera handy to record any burgeoning signs that Spring might just be making an appearance. ๐Ÿ™‚

First stop , Kirkby Lonsdale. This small market town on the edge of the Lake District sits on the banks of the River Lune. An easy stroll from the free car park at Devil’s Bridge takes you along the waterside and up into the town centre.

Devil’s Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale.
Male Goosander.
Pussy Willow.

The only climb is the ’86’ Radical Steps that lead up to ‘Ruskin’s View’ , a beautiful vista painted by Turner and described by John Ruskin as ” the loveliest view in England”. The steep stone steps also take you to St Mary’s Churchyard, which was adorned with a delightful carpet of crocuses when we visited.

St Marys Churchyard.
Ruskin’s View takes in the river Lune.
Male Blackbird.
Such a bonnie house. I think I take a picture of it every time I visit.

The cold weather has meant that the snowdrops here in the North are still in good form! Whilst they continue to bloom, Winter has stubbornly decided to hang on I think. As we headed further up the M6 , the countryside turned whiter and the world got windier.

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Snow near Shap.
Dacre Bear.

Our second walk was later in the afternoon and started off in the pretty village of Dacre, about two miles north of Pooley Bridge. Four stone bears can be seen amongst the gravestones in St Andrews graveyard ( they are not very bear like now! ) and it is claimed that they once rested on the four corners of Dacre’s 14th Century Castle keep.

Could this be the Mini Beast From The East??

The only daffodil in flower that we saw was one solitary yellow trumpet in Dacre. Looking back to this time last year, the nearby village of Askham where my Mum lives was positively trumpeting. Not so in 2018…yet ! We continued on our way amongst snow flurries, bitter cold winds and odd spells of bright sunshine, along the estate path towards Dalemain Mansion. I wrote a post last year about our visit to the gardens here.

Deer park, Dalemain.

Although its a nice dog walk from Dacre to Dalemain, the estate does not allow four-legged friends to accompany you into the house, gardens or cafรฉ. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ So we tried to warm up outside with a steaming hot coffee and a delicious slab of ginger cake spread with marmalade. Dalemain is famous for its annual Marmalade Awards and Festival, and it was actually near to the end of the first day of this years festival, when we arrived. If your in the area today, the weekend of marmalade tasting continues. I bought a small jar of Jane’s Marmalade. Jane is the Lady Marmalade of the house apparently.

Crocus and Aconites.
Fallow Deer.
Heading back to Dacre. The 14th century Castle is just ahead.

These two short walks added up to six miles and it was lovely to see some small signs of Spring what has been an unusually cold March.

Walking in Clitheroe this morning.

Of course things are back to the norm, back home in Lancashire today. Yet more snow!

What signs of Spring have you seen in your neck of the woods?

I am linking up with Jo’s Monday Walks so do pop by her lovely blog. X

Two Eden Valley Houses in Autumn.

Once you have scaled the heights of Wainwright’s fells and completed The Ullswater Way, there are gentler pursuits to enjoy in Cumbria’s ‘Eden Valley’.  Only minutes drive from the historic market town of Penrith stands a 15th century fortified manor , with an unusual sanctuary door knocker  and a  fine stately home famed for its annual Marmalade Festival.

Last Sunday I took a few photographs of both Brougham Hall and Dalemain House. It was a perfect sunny Autumn day, and though our visits to both were brief, I hope my pictures inspire you to look them up when you are next in the area.

Brougham Hall 

The historic remains of the home of the Brougham family date back to Tudor times . The Hall and several other buildings lie inside the thick fortified walls in the small parish of Brougham. Sir Winston Churchill commandeered the site for secret military research during WWII.   Renovations here are a work in progress, so do not expect a grand old house. Instead delight in the area’s history, enjoy a stroll round the grounds and browse the array of arts and crafts workshops in the courtyard. There is a small friendly cafe too. Entry to the Hall is free though donations are of course welcome. As are anyone who cares to visit, including four legged guests. ๐Ÿ™‚  www.broughamhall.co.uk

 

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Free car parking on this side of the Hall.
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The Brougham Door Knocker is actually a replica of the original, but impressive all the same.
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The 1520 door and gatehouse entrance.

 

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Behind the black doors are artist’s studios and craft workshops.
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Plenty of room outdoors for the kids to run around.

 

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Gwen Bainbridge Ceramics are unusual and beautiful.
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Wil and I just had to share a scone in Bettyann’s Tea Parlour. ๐Ÿ™‚
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View from the cobbled ramp under the Gatehouse.
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Brougham Hall and Durham Cathedral both have replica’s of these ‘Beastly Bronze Door Knockers’. They are called Sanctuary Door Knockers and by tradition, anyone  who was running from the law and dared to grip the handle and knock, could claim sanctuary within the walls.

Dalemain House  

Unlike Brougham Hall, Dalemain is an impressive Country House that is still resided in by the Hasell family, who have been in residence since the 1600’s.  The imposing Georgian facade certainly makes the visitor curious, as to what the rooms are like inside. Of course we rocked up here an hour before the house and gardens closed for the day!  So we chose to venture round the gardens. We did not have Hugo with us but that is probably a good thing, as dogs are sadly not allowed at Dalemain.  Car parking is free and there is a Tea Room in the Medieval Hall. Because we only had an hour to explore, we were charged a discounted price of ยฃ3 each to view the gardens. www.dalemain.com

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The impressive rose tinted Georgian Facade.

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Lady Marmalade Rose.

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We came across a giant topiary Dragon!
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Relax and enjoy the view.
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Even at the end of October there was a wide array of flowers at Dalemain.
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Above the house there is a Deer Park.
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And to our delight, a large herd of Fallow Deer. ๐Ÿ™‚

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We didn’t even have time for a brew in the Medieval Hall. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
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Dalemain holds The World’s Original Marmalade Awards every year in March, along with a festival of all things Marmalade. Next years Festival will take place 17th & 18th March 2018. Will Paddington Bear be there, that’s what I want to know!

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I hope you enjoyed my super quick tours of two Eden Valley delights.  I am determined to visit both of them again in the future. I especially need to frequent the Marmalade Festival. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you are thinking of exploring this beautiful area of the Lake District, you might also want to read my blogs about  Lowther Castle  and  Ullswater & Aira Force.  

Which historic houses do you like to visit in Cumbria?

Llama Trekking in the Lakes. :)

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llama Trekkers. Photo Y Allison.

Llamas are very sociable animals. Llamas can live until their early thirties. Llamas hum when they are happy. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

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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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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!

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We walked through the fields and along the river, stopping to admire a secluded 17th century church. There were plenty of photo opportunities.

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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. ๐Ÿ™‚ We each got a certificate for participating too.

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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. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Countryside Llama Trek is ยฃ35 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.