Lake District grounds and gardens

This is my final post on the Lake District houses we visited in March / April. I showed the interiors of the houses a few weeks ago, and now it’s the turn of the gardens, grounds and views.

Sizergh Castle

Sizergh had the best display of daffodils we saw all week! I’m not so keen on the topiary, but I liked the rock garden.

Allan Bank

There was a lovely woodland trail at Allan Bank, leading to a spectacular viewing seat.

Wray Castle

Wray Castle lies on the shores of Windermere and has no fewer than four boathouses. St Margaret’s Church was built for the original owners in 1856, but is not now open to the public.

Blackwell

Blackwell’s grounds would also have run down to Windermere originally, but no longer. You still get the view though – spectacular!

Holehird Gardens

We also visited Holehird Gardens, just outside the town of Windermere, which belong to the Lakeland Horticultural Society. Splendid – until I slipped in the mud round the pond. Oh well, it was our last day. It didn’t matter too much that I had run out of clean trousers.

A to Z Road Trip

A family bereavement meant I had to pull over on my A to Z Road Trip. I hope to be back en route soon.

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Lake District walks: Elterwater circle

Britannia Inn, Elterwater
Britannia Inn, Elterwater

We had one completely dry day on our recent Lake District holiday and we used it to do a beautiful circular walk starting in Elterwater village. First, we walked alongside Elterwater itself, with views across it to the Langdale Pikes.

Elterwater
Elterwater

The route then took us through fields and woodlands via two beautiful waterfalls, Skelwith Force –

– and Colwith Force.

Next to Colwith is this wishing tree, studded with small coins. Is this a peculiarly British practice? I know I’ve seen it before, but can’t remember if it was at home or abroad.

Coin wishing tree
Coin wishing tree

Continuing through more fields, our next discovery was the oasis that is High Park Farm. We were not expecting to come across a tea garden on our walk, but we were glad to enjoy a delicious lunch overlooking Little Langdale and the company of fellow hikers – and some beautiful Dutch Bantams. The farm is also a B&B and right on the Cumbria Way for anyone (not me!) considering a long-distance footpath.

After lunch, the walk descended past the spoil heaps of the disused Little Langdale Quarry. A pair of tunnels allows you to access part of it – Cathedral Cavern.

On the final part of the walk, we crossed the River Brathay by the 17th century pack-horse bridge – Slater Bridge – before climbing up the other side of  Little Langdale from where we took a bridle path back down into Elterwater.

The walk is 7.8 miles with about 1200 feet of ascent – the route is on the excellent WalkLakes site – and I’m linking it to Jo’s Monday Walks. Why not pop along there to see where everyone else has been walking this week?

Lake District walks: Silver How

Looking back from Silver How
Easdale from Silver How

Silver How (325m) is another walk we can do straight from our Grasmere hotel, and have done several times. It’s a steep, grassy climb but looking back at the views over Easdale (above) is a good excuse to stop for a rest. Then it’s on with the slog to the top –

– where your heroes were rewarded with magnificent views. In the panorama, there are four lakes – Grasmere is on the left with Rydal Water behind it. In the distance you can just see Windermere, and Elterwater is on the right.

We continued along the ridge from the summit, descending to Loughrigg Terrace at the opposite end of Grasmere from where we started.

From there, we walked on to Rydal where we knew the Badger Bar would provide a warming lunch and a good beer. It didn’t fail us. The bar also makes a feature of its “rockin’ loos” – go on, take a peek! You know you want to….

What did fail us was the weather. Our walk back to Grasmere took us via the old Coffin Road (so called as it was the route used to take the dead of Rydal to the church in Grasmere for burial), but we got so drenched that we didn’t stop to take any pictures. Another time.

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walks.

Lake District interiors

Last week, I showed the exteriors of five Lakeland houses and asked who lived there. This week, I’m taking a peek into their interiors. The first two have very fine woodwork, but consequently are dark and not very photogenic so the best is saved to last. (Click on the title links if you want to see the outside.)

Sizergh Castle

Townend

Allan Bank

Allan Bank is unrestored and allows all sorts of creative activities (we were particularly taken by the dragon) as well as having a large board for visitors to write their suggestions. I hadn’t visited anywhere quite like it – until we went to Wray Castle a couple of days later.

Wray Castle

Unrestored, like Allan Bank, with opportunities to write on walls! The ship’s wheel remains from the house’s time as a naval college and the Peter Rabbit room for children is a nod towards Beatrix Potter who was once a holiday tenant.

Blackwell

As I said – the best is saved to last. Blackwell is an Arts and Crafts house which reminds me so much of Mackintosh’s work.

Which house would you rather live in?

This week on the Road Trip

I’ve met a few new (to me) bloggers on the A to Z Road Trip this week. So far so good. My featured choice is Eunice at A tent, a caravan, 4 wheels and me. Eunice is from Bolton in Lancashire and solo-camps with her two dogs. Although I’m fairly sure I’ll never go camping again, I enjoy reading about her experiences and the photos of her recent Welsh trips are lovely.

Lake District walks: Easdale Tarn

Easdale Tarn
Easdale Tarn
We do this walk every time we visit the Lake District, and have therefore seen Easdale Tarn in all weathers – and this was not the best: late March, cold and wet. The big advantage is that we can more or less fall out of bed and straight onto the trail from Lancrigg, our favoured Grasmere hotel (and what a bed we had this time!)

The path winds uphill alongside Easdale Beck, with views of Helm Crag to the right and Sourmilk Ghyll ahead.

From the Ghyll, the views back down to Easdale are very pretty.

After climbing 650 feet, the tarn appears, as pictured at the top of this post. From here, there are options. Normally, we cross the beck and go back down the other side, but there had been so much rain that the stepping stones were well under water. In the past we’ve climbed high above the tarn and returned by another route. Rather than tamely go back the way we came, we thought we’d give it a go again and set off along this path:

Before long, the weather took a turn for the worse – horizontal sleet and hail – and we decided to call it a day, turned around and went back the way we came after all. This is what we should have seen – taken in 2010, not much later in the year but in much better conditions:

Never mind! We passed the rest of the afternoon sampling the very good beer in the Lamb in Grasmere before wending our way back to Lancrigg for dinner.

I’m linking this post to Jo’s Monday Walks. Visit her blog to see where she’s taking us this week, and a selection from other walkers too.

Five Photos, Five Stories: Day 5

I’ve been invited to take part in the “Five Photos, Five Stories” challenge by Jude of Travel Words. The challenge is quite simply to “post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

My five photos are from our recent Lake District holiday. The weather wasn’t very good so we visited a lot of houses. I’ve taken them in chronological order and asked “Who lived there?”

Blackwell – who lived there?

Blackwell

Blackwell is a beautiful Arts and Crafts house which was completed in 1901 as a holiday home for Sir Edward Holt, a wealthy brewer who was twice Lord Mayor of Manchester, his wife Elizabeth, and their five children. (No doubt it would not be much of a holiday home for the six or seven servants required to look after them!) After their eldest son died in the First World War, the Holts used Blackwell less and less and, like some of the other properties I’ve written about, it has had a variety of uses – for example, during the Second World War it became a school. It’s the only one of my five houses not to be owned by the National Trust – it was bought by the Lakeland Arts Trust in 1999 and opened to the public two years later. I’ve been here several times (the great café is an added attraction) and it reminds me very much of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh. Perhaps I’ll give you a peek at the interiors another time….

So that’s the last of my Lake District houses – Sizergh, Townend, Allan Bank, Wray and now Blackwell. Which is my favourite? Aesthetically, it has to be Blackwell, but to get a real sense of the people who lived there I would vote for the modest little farmhouse, Townend. Which would you like to visit?

For the final day I’m featuring Helen of Travels With Benches who has recently started blogging to document her walk along the Pennine Way. I so admire that! And of course, last but not least, Jude herself who nominated me for this challenge. Her link has been at the top of every post so you might already have investigated Travel Words – but she has another blog of beautiful flowers and gardens The Earth Laughs in Flowers. Jude also runs a monthly Bench Challenge which, given Helen’s title, she might be interested in. On that note of blogging matchmaking I end my Five Photos, Five Stories challenge! Many thanks, Jude, I’ve enjoyed it.

Five Photos, Five Stories: Day 4

I’ve been invited to take part in the “Five Photos, Five Stories” challenge by Jude of Travel Words. The challenge is quite simply to “post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

My five photos are from our recent Lake District holiday. The weather wasn’t very good so we visited a lot of houses. I’m taking them in chronological order and asking “Who lived there?”

Wray Castle – who lived there?

Wray Castle

This neo-Gothic pile, believe it or not, was built in the 1830s as a retirement home for just two people, James and Margaret Dawson, a wealthy couple from Liverpool – and their army of servants, of course. Although very different from Allan Bank, Wray Castle has several things in common with it – famous tenants (after the Dawsons died it became a holiday let and was rented by Beatrix Potter’s family); acquisition by the National Trust (1929) followed by a chequered pattern of use; and being opened to the public without contents or period decoration. My favourite part was the old servants’ quarters where I learned that the laurel hedge outside was built to screen the formal lawns so that James and Margaret and their guests could not be seen by mere servants, and the windows in the maidservants’ bedrooms were originally only 3 or 4 inches wide for the same reason. I don’t think I’d have liked James and Margaret very much.

As before, if you’d like to do 5 Photos 5 Stories let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an “official” nomination.

I’m continuing to feature other British-based bloggers instead of nominations: two today, both newish and both writing about Scotland. Paul at Through the Lens seems to visit the same places that I do. One of these days, we’ll walk past each other. Maybe we already have! The same goes for Scott at Great Glasgow Architecture – if I ever do another A-Z Challenge on Glasgow his posts will be a source of inspiration.

Last day tomorrow!

Five Photos, Five Stories: Day 3

I’ve been invited to take part in the “Five Photos, Five Stories” challenge by Jude of Travel Words. The challenge is to “post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph, and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

My five photos are from our recent Lake District holiday. The weather wasn’t very good so we visited a lot of houses. I’m taking them in chronological order and asking “Who lived there?”

Allan Bank – who lived there?

Allan Bank, Grasmere

Allan Bank in Grasmere was built in 1805/6 by John Gregory Crump. In 1808, he let it out to some very famous tenants – William Wordsworth and his family who lived there until 1811. This was despite William having referred to it as “a temple of abomination” during construction! The house was bought by Thomas Dawson in 1834 and then by Canon Rawnsley, founder of the National Trust in 1915. He died in 1920 and left it to the Trust with a lifelong interest for his wife, Eleanor, who lived until 1959. After that, there were more tenants (including a 1970s commune) until 2011 when a fire damaged part of the house. It has now been partially restored and opened to the public in 2012. It hasn’t been decorated yet, and there is no original furniture, which makes it a very relaxed place to visit – you can sit anywhere with a cup of tea and read something from the library, create a painting in the art room, or just watch the world go round and admire the view. I loved it.

As before, I’m not making a specific nomination, but if you’d like to do 5 Photos 5 Stories let me know in the comments.

Today’s featured blogger is Jessica at Diverting Journeys. She’s an American living in London who loves visiting museums – and reports on them in, well, a highly diverting way. I love her irreverent style. Her latest is Montacute House – head over to her blog for the low-down on that.

Five Photos, Five Stories: Day 2

I’ve been invited to take part in the “Five Photos, Five Stories” challenge by Jude of Travel Words. The challenge is to “post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph, and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

My five photos are from our recent Lake District holiday. The weather wasn’t very good so we visited a lot of houses. I’m taking them in chronological order and asking “Who lived there?”

Townend – who lived there?

Townend, Troutbeck

Townend in Troutbeck has two things in common with yesterday’s house – it’s owned by the National Trust and it was home to the same family for centuries. But unlike the Stricklands of Sizergh, the Brownes, who lived here from the seventeenth century till 1948, were an ordinary family of farmers. I find the stories of every day people much more appealing than those of aristocrats, and Townend teems with characters. For example, Elizabeth Birkett married Ben Browne in 1703 and kept a commonplace book of recipes which still exists. I bought a little booklet of extracts and might try her bean cakes or apricot paste – but perhaps not some of her remedies such as “to stop bleeding at the nose: take the blood of the patient and therewith write on his brow the words consummatum est.” Another interesting inhabitant was George Browne who lived at Townend in Victorian times. By the time he owned the estate the family had made enough money for him to retire from farming at the age of 40. He turned his attention to his hobbies which included gardening, local history and wood carving. Much of the (quite quirky) furniture in the house was made or added to by George. I love all these details – so much so that I’ve now visited the house three times.

As yesterday, I’m not making any specific nominations, but if you’d like to do 5 Photos 5 Stories let me know in the comments and I’ll make it “official”. I’m also continuing to feature other bloggers who write about Britain. (These features are not nominations unless the recipients wish them to be.) Today it’s Joy Loves Travel. Her recent posts have made me wonder why I haven’t been to Wales for over 20 years, and why I’ve never been to Northern Ireland. However, at the moment Joy is exploring Hampton Court’s Gorgeous Gardens and Grounds. Well worth a visit!

Five Photos, Five Stories: Day 1

I’ve been invited to take part in the “Five Photos, Five Stories” challenge by Jude of Travel Words. The challenge is to “post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph, and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

My five photos are from our recent Lake District holiday. The weather wasn’t very good so we visited a lot of houses. I’m going to take them in chronological order and ask “Who lived there?”

Sizergh Castle – who lived there?

Sizergh Castle

In Sizergh‘s case, the question should be – who lives there? The estate belonged to the Strickland family from the 13th century until 1950 when they handed it over to the National Trust, but the castle is still their home. There was a gap after 1688 when, as Catholic Royalists, the Stricklands went into exile in France with the court of James II, but other than that they have been there all the time. I find it hard to imagine what it must be like to have such a clear and continuous view of one’s family history – do you?

I always feel a little shy passing these challenges on and I’ve noticed some other people do too. I’ve spotted two ways of dealing with this recently – and I’m going to copy both! First, the open challenge to every reader. If you’d like to do 5 Photos 5 Stories  let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an “official” nomination.

Second, a shout-out to blogs that I enjoy. I’m guessing that if you’re reading this you might also be interested in other British-based travel bloggers, so I’ve selected a few of them. First up, Restless Jo. I’m including her today because she runs a regular theme, Jo’s Monday Walk. Click on the link to see where she’s taking us this week. Thanks also to Richard at A Bit of Culture whose latest post is on part of the South West Coast Path and who first alerted me to Jo’s walks by taking part in one. I recommend them both.