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…
An early birthday treat from my other half was a night away in the secluded Haweswater Hotel, located on the banks of one of The Lake Districts lesser known lakes. We had stayed here previously a couple of years earlier and since then a few more rooms have been refurbished in a 1930s art deco style, in keeping with the hotels history having being built by The Manchester Water Corporation in 1937. Back then the Haweswater Reservoir had been created by flooding the Mardale Valley, it’s villages and farms forever condemned to a watery grave. A picture of the former Dun Bull Inn has pride of place above the fire place in the reception/entrance hall.
It was about 3pm when we rocked up to our home for the night, enough time to take Hugo for a short walk along the lake side road. It felt bitterly cold, there was a smattering of snow on the fells. We couldn’t wait to get toasty inside.
Bad news greeted us. The heating wasn’t working! Thank goodness all the fires were lit downstairs and the hotel had raided the local B &Q in Penrith for plug in heaters for the bedrooms. We would have to make the best of it…
Fortunately our room ( Wainwright) seemed to warm up ok with the plug in heater provided. And there was still hot water. Phew! Our room was actually a lake view suite with a cosy sitting area. Quite bijou but totally fine for us and the dog. I certainly loved the decor. 🙂
The thought of a roaring fire enticed us back downstairs. The guest lounge with its huge sofas and twinkly lights was certainly very inviting.
Dogs are allowed to accompany guests into the lounge and bar but not the formal dining room, so we took our evening meal in the bar and enjoyed breakfast there the following morning. The food and service was excellent. My sticky toffee pudding was to die for. 🙂 Hugo was given some treats by the friendly staff.
My only disappointment was not catching a glimpse of the native red squirrels that visit the garden and bird feeders outside. Squirrel food can be obtained at the bar and on our previous visit we were lucky enough to see one of the little fellas.
Despite the heating problems we enjoyed a lovely stay at The Haweswater Hotel. The staff are so friendly and accommodating. I would definitely visit again in the future.
It’s that spoooooky time of year when ghosties and goblins come out to play. I joined in with some Halloween fun at the weekend. Ullswater Steamers put on a Ghostly Galleon and myself , Wil, our friend Jo and God daughter Lydia enjoyed a cruise on the lake with a marvelous magic show and dressing up masks . Definitely aimed at children , but we adults had fun too. 🎃🦇
After our spooky boat trip we spent an hour or so at the Rheghed centre near Penrith, where Lydia found a Halloween treasure hunt and an outdoor adventure playground, before heading into town for the annual Winter Drovers Festival.
The Penrith Winter Droving started eight years ago and is a celebration of all things rural. There’s a Drovers Cup with team events such as Hay Bale Racing, Egg Throwing, Tug O War and Sausage eating. Throughout the day various musicians and street performers entertain the crowds and a huge Cumbrian Food Market fills the streets. As dusk descends a fantastic torch lit procesion takes place around the town. The animal lanterns look so effective , all lit up against the darkening sky. Later back at the caravan, out came the monopoly. It had been a long but enjoyable day. 🙂
So one of the best things about owning a static caravan is being able to invite friends for a weekend away. Our caravan is in the village of Melmerby in the Eden Valley in Cumbria, close enough in driving distance to the beautiful Lake District, but in a less busy touristy area. On Friday five of us drove up to the van for a girls getaway. We spent an enjoyable and chilled couple of days there. Here are a few photos from our trip.
It was fantastic to spend maybe our last sunny & warm weekend of the Summer with my friends at the caravan. Happy Days. 😁
Thanks to Arwen & Marian for some of these photographs. 🙂
I haven’t done a Sunday Sevens for a while, so maybe it’s time to recap my week with 7 ( or more) pics from the last 7 days.
Last Sunday we were up at the caravan and because it was sunny I managed to persuade Wil that it was the perfect day to drive to the seaside . We are about an hour away from Allonby on the Solway Coast. What a lovely little place! I must admit the trip was partly inspired by fellow blogger Eunice’s very informative post about the village, which she visited over the Summer. I love that Allonby and it’s surroundings have inspired so many artists over the years and writers Charles Dickens & Wilkie Collins stopped here on their tour of Cumberland. For us it was just the perfect place for a stroll on the beach with Hugo. 🙂
I’ve managed to cross a couple of items off my 40 Things To Do Before I’m 50 Bucket List this week. Well kind of! One is to go to the remote farm in Yorkshire where Amanda Owen ( the Yorkshire Shepherdess) lives. She makes cream teas for the walkers that pass through. However she was actually doing a talk in nearby Longridge on Wed eve, so I got to see her there. She’s very down to earth , very funny and pretty awe inspiring. I got my book signed. I’m very chuffed!
Also on my bucket list is Eat Dutch Pancakes in Amsterdam. Well at the moment we are in Amsterdam! Having a bit of chill time so I thought I would upload some photos.
It’s my first time in the Dutch capital and I love it. 😀
Observations ~ Everyone rides bicycles, sometimes wearing flipflops or high heals, often carrying baskets of shopping, boxes, dogs, babies, etc
~ It’s a miracle that I didn’t get run over by a bicycle.
~The canals are full of noisy coots. These are small black water birds with white bills that build nests in boats and under canal bridges.
~The local drink is Jenever , a liqueur made from Dutch juniper berries. The term ‘Dutch Courage’ comes from soldiers taking a flask of this to war, for courage. I didn’t like it!
~ The outdoor markets are amazing. So many cheeses, mushrooms, stunning cut flowers etc
~ The Red Light District actually has a church in it ( The Oude Kerk) and the architecture there does make it an attractive place to visit.
~The rooftop on the Science Museum is a fantastic outside space with a free exhibition called Energetica .
~ There are lots of crooked houses….even if your not stoned. 😉
So on Saturday we decided to see what the Eden valley village of Shap has to offer. To be completely honest I have never been the biggest fan of Shap. Partly because it’s one of those places that you mostly just pass through, a road of grey houses on the way North… and partly because I actually stopped there for a night once with an ex in the deathrows of our relationship. These reasons and the fact that it usually rains in Shap ( in my experience!) haven’t exactly endeared the area to me. But I am being unfair. A little bright sunshine and some friendly hospitality has happily changed my mind. We arrived mid morning with a destination in mind, Shap Abbey. Little is left of this twelfth century abbey except the imposing tower which looks striking against both stormy and sunny skies. Information boards scattered around the site give a you a good idea of what was where. The building was one of several used by the Premonstratensian Order of Canons before the disolvation of the monestries by King Henry VIII. The canons were known as ‘The White Canons’ because of their unusual white woollen habits. They were apparently given good pensions when their home was destroyed , some of the abbeys stones were used to build the adjoining farm house. I can’t help but wonder if those canons still walk the grounds of a moonlit night…..
Wandering round the abbey gave us a good appetite. Shap is home to an award winning Fish & Chip shop. We headed there for lunch. Situated in the heart of the village, Shap Chippy is incredibly fresh and clean looking inside & out. The decor has a homely nautical vibe and we recieved a cheery welcome. You can eat in too, and we were pleasantly surprised that dogs are very welcome. Most importantly the fish & chips are excellent. Well recommended!
After that tasty treat we needed a good route to walk off those calories. Nearby Wet Sleddale Reservoir has a 4 mile public footpath & quiet road that circles the water. Set in the Shap Fells this triangular reservoir was built in the sixties, the water like many Lakeland reservoirs is used to supply Manchester. For this walk I recommend wearing wellies! I guess the clue is in the name. Wet Sleddale is indeed quite wet & boggy, even on a dry September day. We parked on the car park near the dam.
The countryside is lovely here and so peaceful. We only saw a couple of other walkers, so its definitely away from the Lake District crowds. Ling Heather, Scabious and Bog Asphodel grow in abundance and buzzards soar in the sky. The area also has connections with the cult ( and rather batty!) movie Withnail and I. Film locations include the stone bridge where Withnail attempts to shoot fish in the brook below and Sleddale Hall where him and his friend try holidaying in the Lake District. I took a sneak peek at the remote Hall, where outdoor screenings of Withnail and I are shown annually in the yard.
At the end of our wander round Wet Sleddale we sat and admired the gushing dam which is 21 metres high.
Have you ever visited Shap or the surrounding area?
Penrith is a bustling Cumbrian Market Town on the edge of the Lake District. Ullswater is about 20 minutes drive away. At the weekend we parked on the very outskirts and walked in. What immediately strikes a visitor are the many attractive red sandstone houses built from the local sandstone, these give Penrith it’s nick name of ‘Old Red Town’.
We looked for somewhere to have lunch, away from the general hustle and bustle. I can recommend the church Square which is just off the centre and has several little cafes looking out over St Andrews churchyard. St Andrews church itself is an impressive looking building ,it’s tower dating back to the 12th century. And in the churchyard resides a Giants Grave…..
The Giants Grave consists of six tombstones, two ancient crosses standing upright and four lower hogback stones. But who is buried there? One legend has it that it is an ancient Cumbrian King ‘ Owen’ , though it could also be the grave of a great boar hunter ‘ Sir Owen Caesarius’ with the hogback stones representing four large boars. I’m liking the second option! Also in the churchyard is another impressive monument, a Norse Wheel cross known as the Giants Thumb, which until the 19th century was used as a whipping post for punishing local criminals. Very Christian behaviour…..
We had lunch sat outside the Eden Gallery tea rooms, which inside are an eclectic mix of teapots, second hand books & a piano. There is an adorable resident Old English Sheep Dog called Scrumpy and they do a great tuna & cheese panini. 😄
After wandering round the town we headed to Penrith Castle, which can be found up from the centre near the train station. In fact if you arrive in Penrith by train , the red sandstone ruins of this medieval castle are your first view of the town. The once proud fortress helped to defend England from Scottish marauder’s and even became the residence of King Richard III. Today the site is looked after by English Heritage and is part of a public park.
On the way back to the car we stopped for cake at a cafe bar called Xavier’s. We sat outside , though the cafe like quite a few in Penrith is dog friendly. Good to know for future visits!
Have you ever visited Penrith? What are your impressions?
A short drive from our caravan in the Eden Valley is an ancient stone circle called LongMeg & Her Daughters. It is in fact the second largest stone circle in the country. Legend has it that Meg and her daughter’s were turned to stone as they danced on the Sabbath. Meg is the tallest stone and stands tall and proud. A magic spell prevents you from counting the correct number of stones in the circle apparently. The morning we visited we had Megs family all to ourselves, apart from the herd of cows grazing amongst them.
We parked up near the circle and walked into the nearby village of Little Salkeld. Here we enjoyed a morning brew outside the pink watermill, where we would return later for lunch. Next on our agenda though was a walk to Lacy’s Caves. We admired the red sandstone cottages ( most houses in the area are built using the local rosy coloured stone) which we passed en route.
We followed a farm track passing the buildings of Townend farm and past golden fields of barley on one side and the Settle Carlisle Railway on the other.
Presently we saw a signpost for Ravendale Bridge and so followed the arrow into the woods, walking along the old Long Meg Mine tramline.
Lacy’s Caves were commissioned by Colonel Lacy of Salkeld Hall. They were built into the red sandstone cliffs by the river Eden in the 18th century. It was the fashion in those days to build follies and grottos to entertain guests in, Colonel Lacy even employed a villager to live in his caves as a hermit. A must have for gentry back then apparently! Apart from building the caves, Colonel Lacy was also famous for trying to blow up Long Meg and her daughters. The mystical circle was saved by a very convenient thunderstorm.
The hermit would have had a picturesque riverside vista anyway.
We then retraced our steps back into Little Salkeld, counting numerous butterflies on the way. 🙂 The menu at the mill had looked so tasty, we decided to stop there for lunch. Little Selkeld Watermill is an 18th Century working organic flour mill which has a shop and cafe serving good vegetarian food. I really enjoyed my Homitey Pie. 🙂 There are mill tours , but we just settled on a bench outside to enjoy our dinner.
After lunch we headed back to the van and Wil assembled our hammock! It’s very relaxing , once you figure how to get in and out. 🙂
At the weekend we drove over to Ullswater ( about 20 minutes from our caravan in the Northern Lakes) and then on to the pretty lakeside village of Glenridding. Here we hopped onto one of the beautiful Ullswater Steamersfor a trip around the lake. Coincidentally the steamer service was celebrating its 160th Birthday! Colourful Bunting adorned these historic vessels and a grey morning turned into a lovely sunny day.
The steamers offer a hop on/ hop off service so we decided to dismount at Pooley Bridge for lunch. The newly painted Pooley Bridge Inn reminds me of a Swiss chalet. Ullswater itself flanked by Some of Britain’s highest mountains has been compared to the stunning lakes and mountains of Switzerland.
After a pootle about the village and Hugo’s obligatory paddle in the lake, we set back sail for Glenridding from Pooley Bridge Pier. The Steamers fleet has five vessels. It was our pleasure to travel back in M.Y Raven, she too was celebrating a Birthday, having been first launched on the 16th July 1889.
All the steamers have indoor and outdoor seating, toilets, serve coffee, teas and light refreshments and have fully licensed bars. Dogs are welcome onboard for a small charge.
I loved all the gorgeous wildflowers by the beck and the lake at Glenridding. Highlights were the swathes of vivid blue Vipers Bugloss and the sunshine yellow Monkey flowers.
Our lazy day on Ullswater finished with refreshments , sat outside The Glenridding Hotel which has a coffee shop called Let it Brew. I wasn’t really expecting such decadence when I ordered a milkshake. 😋
Thanks for bobbing by. Have you been messing about on boats lately?
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