Tag Archives: penrith

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. 😁 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. 🙂
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Cockpit Stone Circle ~ once used by villagers for cock fighting.
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Linnet. 🙂
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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. 🙂 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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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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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Lowther Castle & Gardens.

Last weekend I found myself visiting the romantic ruins of Lowther Castle near Penrith in The Lake District. The Castle stands in what was once a medieval Deer Park and both the grounds and the castle are an ongoing restoration project by the Lowther family. The last Lowther resident was the Yellow Earl,5th Earl of Lonsdale. Like his name suggests, he had a fondness for the colour yellow and he was actually a founder and first president of the AA (Automobile Association) ,who adopted the colour. Unfortunately his penchant for the Good life meant he could not keep up with the expenses of living in a castle, so the historic building was left a derelict shell for many years.

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Happily today the Castle and gardens are being lovingly restored and are open to the public. Since my last visit 3 years ago, I can see the improvements that have been made, especially to the courtyard and gardens. Lowther castle is family friendly with lots of grounds and woodland to walk around and play in. Children should check out the new Lost Castle Adventure Playground in the woods , where all the family are encouraged to join in the fun and there is wheel chair access. The courtyard has a cafe and a gift shop. Dogs are welcome everywhere ( except in the Lost Castle) , including  the shop and tea room.:)

As you can see I visited with Wil and Hugo the dog, as well as my brother, sister, my niece and nephew. We all enjoyed exploring Lowther. It was a fun afternoon out for all the family.:)

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. 🙂 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. 🙂

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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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. 🙂

The Countryside Llama Trek is £35 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.

 

 

Cumbria is Open ~ Rheged Centre and Little Bird Gallery.

I am lucky in that I have family who live in the Lake District, so I never need an excuse to visit. 🙂 My Mum’s home is in the picturesque village of Askham , not far from Penrith in the North of the lakes. We’ve travelled up twice over the Festive period. That dratted rain never stopped!

Like lots of places across the UK , Cumbria has had it especially bad weather wise with homes,shops and businesses literally swept away in those deceptively friendly of name but merciless in nature, torrential storms.

Those that survive face an uncertain few months, as visitors stay away. Some roads are still impassable and a few old bridges which provide access, such as the one in Pooley Bridge and the one in Eamont Bridge , both near Askham,have been condemned or crumbled away.

So eager to support local attractions, we decided to bob into the Rheged Centre to buy Mum a gift before our recent visit. Rheged  is a great place to take the kids as there are indoor and outdoor play areas, pottery painting, a 3D Cinema, a wonderful toy shop and various family inspired events throughout the year. Several cafes, a small selection of lovely shops, art exhibitions, theatre and spa facilities complete the venues attributes. It can be found just off Junction 40 of the M6 motorway.

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After a spot of shopping we headed to Askham. Usually we would drive through Eamont and over it’s bridge, but due to the floods we had to head back down the motorway and get off again at Shap ( Junction 39) to continue the short journey to Mum’s.  After a lovely lunch ( Thanks Mum!) a few of us headed to a hidden gem  in the village called The Little Bird  Gallery   opposite the green.

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This pottery studio/gallery/gift shop displays and sells many beautiful pieces of art, ceramics , jewellery and unusual quirky gifts and is a must if you are in the area. Some of the artists live very locally, one of the owner’s creates beautiful pottery in his studio here.  I spent my Christmas money from Mum on a snug and colourful crocheted bobble hat , handmade by someone in the village. I’m sure it will appear in future posts. 🙂

The bad weather and bridge closure at Eamont has really affected local businesses here. In some cases footfall is down by 80% which is such a shame as there are quite often alternative routes to those places. I guess what I am saying is, please don’t stay away from areas that have been affected, whether they are local to you, or day trips out. We are already planning a day out in Keswick this month. Watch this space!

ps the pubs in Eamont Bridge are still open and both serve food. We recently had a yummy sunday roast at the very welcoming  Beehive Inn  with our dog Hugo.

 

Rheged.

Last weekend we bobbed into the Rheged centre near Penrith to buy a gift. It was a flying visit so I can’t tell you a huge amount. But from what I did see there~ it certainly looks like an interesting place to spend some time.

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It combines art galleries, shops, cafe, spa, craft work shops and even a 3D Cinema all inside a grass covered exhibition centre.

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It looks a great place to take the kids as we noticed an outdoor play area near the entrance called Turrets and Tunnels. Inside there is a pottery painting workshop and a childrens soft play area. Around Rheghed there were various giant paper lantern like animals. 🙂

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We had a quick look in a couple of the shops. The other half liked the Outdoor store with its branded walking gear. I must admit I would like one of these Fjallraven bags. Only for the cute fox!

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We noticed a toy shop, a sweet shop and a food hall too. But I was mostly drawn to Splash Out which as the name suggests made me want to splash out.  🙂

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Splash Out sells lovely clothes from brands including Joules, Seasalt and French Connection. Also lots of pretty paper, cards, stationary and books. The perfect place to browse. 🙂 I treated myself to the Nordic Bakery Cookbook.

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Also had a speedy look round one of the free exhibitions. Cumbrian Alchemy explores the links between the areas industry such as nuclear energy and mining with archaeology, monuments and traditions of the region.

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So if your ever in the area take a look around. Hopefully next time I will have a little more chance to explore. 🙂

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Orton Farmers Market.

Today on the way to visit family near Penrith we spied a sign saying ‘Farmers Market, Orton’. Of course we love tasting  local produce so decided to take a little detour.:-D.
It turns out the market is held every Saturday in this pretty Cumbrian Village. There were a scattering of stalls in the village centre and some indoors too.

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A couple of folk singers perform from their wagon.

We purchased some tasty treats including a soft scottish cheese rolled in oats and black pepper, Bessy Beck smoked trout pate and a decadent chocolate covered meringue.
I also noticed a sign saying Bric A Brac and an arrow pointing to the church so dragged a rather reluctant boyfriend inside.

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All Saints Church

I am always on the look out for a pretty vintage teacup or two but I didn’t uncover any at the Church sale.:-/ I did buy this rather fine brooch for £1 !

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And when I saw Mum later I discovered she had found me 15 Teacups! I am now all set to make lots of gorgeous teacup candles for my first craft fair of the year next wknd in Whalley.Thanks Mum 😀

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Also in Orton there is a rather nice Chocolate Shop called Kennedys.They already have an  enviable Easter Egg display.

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The Tasty treats we purchased today.

Can’t wait to tuck into the goodies !