Buckstones Jump

Buckstones Jump

When we were walking by the stream in the Elan valley, and S was itching for a swim, I made a solemn promise: “If the sun shines, I’ll take you to a pool I know which is perfect for a swim.”

This wasn’t entirely honest. But – “If the sun shines, I’ll take you to a pool which I’ve seen on the telly and looked up on the internet, and often examined on the map and which I suspect is probably at least okay for a swim.” – doesn’t have the same authoritative tone, nor the desirable implication that I, the grizzled hill veteran, have an encyclopaedic first-hand knowledge of all the Lake District has to offer.

So – the main feature of the day would be a wild-swim. But first we had to get there. We made an attempt last summer which was foiled by full car-parks, so I’d bustled B and S out of the house reasonably early and we stuck the car in an almost empty Pelter Bridge car-park at about nine thirty. (I’d had in mind my friend CJ’s maxim about Lake District car parks being empty before ten and over-flowing almost immediately after – it’s an excellent rule-of-thumb.)

Rydal Hall 

Whilst we were all very much focused on the prospects of a swim, and to be honest, slightly concerned by the chilly air-temperature, the walk held several other delights in store for us. In fact, for a day out with two relatively small boys, this proved to be almost a perfect route.

First of all, they were very taken by the formal gardens of Rydal Hall. These days the Hall is a Christian Conference Centre, but visitors seem to be positively encouraged to wander at will around the gardens and the grounds. So we did. The boys enjoyed hunting out the various sculptures which dot the gardens. Then we went to have a gander at The Grot…

The Grot 

A summer house built to enable early tourists to view the Lower Falls on Rydal Beck through the security of an intervening window.

Low Falls 

There was an awful lot less water coming over the falls than there had been on my last visit.

In the woods behind the hall, this curious structure…..

The Game Larder 

….is a game larder apparently. With the addition of some sculptures it looked like a shrine you might expect to come across deep in a jungle somewhere Eastern and exotic.

Tree trunk art 

We were all enchanted by the sculptures which are dotted around the woods. The work, for the most part I think, of the designer Dianne Standen, they had me day-dreaming about stig-of-the-dump types living in harmony with the woods and leaving subtle traces with the things they had made. In the end, I only managed to drag the boys away by promising we would have another more extensive look on our way down.

We followed Rydal Beck for a while (cross the footbridge and take the path on the right bank) to a bridge which has a fall beneath it…..

Rydal Beck waterfall 

…slightly odd photo I know. It’s taken from the bridge, looking down on the stream and the waterfall. I’ve included it because I was intrigued by the metal ladder on the left-hand side. It brought back old memories of pot-holes with fixed ladders (couldn’t tell you where, because I don’t remember). Why is it there, do you think?

If you want to follow our route (and why wouldn’t you?), cross the bridge and look for a gate in the wall. Go through that and turn right on the track – that will take you to a stile above Buckstones Jump.

We left the track however, to get back to the beck. In the trees near the stream we heard an insistent, but thin piping which I thought might be nestlings calling for food. I was wrong. We scanned the trees and ….there: a pair of redstarts! I’ve never seen them before. I think my excitement communicated itself to the boys, or at least to S, who was hopping about, jumping into my legs and pulling on my shirt, none of which particularly assisted my attempts to get a photo.

Redstart 

The light wasn’t great either. So, it’s a pretty appalling picture….but – look at the colour of the thing! I had to pinch myself just to be sure that I wasn’t back in those Eastern jungles again. It just seems too exotic for a British hillside.

Now that we knew what to listen for, we heard several more redstarts as we followed the stream. My bird-book gives the call as ‘a soft, whistled upslurred huit’. I hope I will know it if I hear it again.

S is not entirely sold on walking as yet, and Buckstones Jump didn’t come any too soon for either of us. I was slightly surprised to find we had it to ourselves, although a heap of plastic bottles were gently smouldering over the blackened remnants of a fire.

Buckstones Jump II 

We had a bit of a swim. Then explored a little downstream, then had one more swim before eating our lunch. The pool is very deep, and cold, and the boys struggled a bit with the temperature of the water. In the case of S, this was despite the fact that he was wearing a wet-suit.

Another larger, family party arrived shortly after we did and, as we finished our lunch, two more parties arrived. One group of four changed into swimming costumes, swam once across the pool, then got out and changed again. They must have been in the water for less than a minute. I suppose it was pretty cold.

Buckstones Jump from above 

Buckstones Jump from above.

The natural 'dam' 

The rocks behind the left-hand side of the pool act almost like a natural dam: the stream turns and runs along behind the wall of rock, before slipping into a narrow cascade…

The cascade 

The sunshine we’d had earlier had rather deserted us, and at times the sky had looked a little threatening, but now gaps began to appear again in the clouds, and golden patches of sunlight on the hillsides.

Rydal Beck 

By the time we set-off down the track, the sun was shining on us again.

View down to Windermere 

View down to Windermere.

Our route down provided us with many diversions fascinating to small boys. Boulders to clamber on….

Bouldering 

Bluebells to admire….

More bluebells 

Fallen trees…..

Ooh - did you break it...? 

With tiny, interesting….what?…inside.

Eggs? Spider eggs? 

There was a spider nearby. Maybe these were spider’s eggs. Anyone have any idea?

And whilst we doing a nature quiz, a digression: the boys dug this out of one of our flower-beds and we’d all like to know what it is…..

A...grub? 

Anyway, back to our walk. We stopped a while to admire High Falls…

High Falls 

And some more, smaller falls below those. Medium falls?….

Falls below High Falls - Medium Falls? 

There’s a heavenly looking campsite tucked away in the woods here, with yurts and a playground which nobody was using. Well, not until we arrived anyway. A large oak by the playground had a small garden growing in its crook: ferns, a small rhododendron, and a not insubstantial rowan tree.

More art 

The boys got their leisurely look at the sculptures in the woods.

Still more art 

I particularly approved of these bookcases and hanging books….

Woodland bookshelves 

Sapling helix 

There’s a cafe in the Hall gardens and we stopped there for a drink. Although it was now really quite warm by local standards, S insisted that he was still chilled from his swim, and polished off a huge hot chocolate with all the trimmings – marshmallows, cream and a flake.

Hot chocolate face

Chocolate moustache.

I settled for tea and B wanted a cold drink.

P6090087

There was more art to be admired….

Art in the formal garden 

….in the formal gardens…

Rydal Hall and garden

…which were designed by Thomas Mawson, a Lancaster architect whose gardens I think I might start to ‘bag’. Now does anybody produce a list? a logbook? Hmmm.

Back at Pelter Bridge, a strategically placed ice-cream van relieved me of the last few pennies in my wallet. Well, it would have been rude not to.

A resounding success. We’ll do that again!

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Buckstones Jump

17 thoughts on “Buckstones Jump

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Thanks Stewart.
      I thought it might be a leatherjacket, but when I used a well known tax-shy search engine to try to confirm I only came up with images of revolting white grubs and thought I might be wrong.

  1. walking girl says:

    I can definitely recommend the campsite having stayed there earlier this month. Will have o go find the pool.

  2. Cracking day that and a stonking looking swimming hole that clearly I need to try. Was the gill below worthy of scrambling sport?
    I recognise that as a leather jacket as well. When the daddy long legs emerge from the ground they tend to do it en-masse and it ‘s really rather creepy!

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      The boys enjoyed exploring the gill below the large pool. The water seemed a little bit warmer where it was less deep. There are a lot of falls in the stream, not sure what kind of scrambling potential it offers.

  3. I saw Buckstones Jump on a wild swimming programme a while ago. Thought it looked a good place to visit sometime. Nice pics of the rocks around the pool – very glaciated if I’m not mistaken. It looks like you had a thoroughly splendid day.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      We did have a splendid day thanks. B was very impressed with the numerous hummocks of planed rock – I can only think that it is an indication of glaciation.

      Would that program be the sort-of homage to Roger Deakin on BBC4 presented by Alice Roberts? Buckstones Jump was where she tried skinny-dipping – an odd choice ‘cos it’s quite a busy spot. That would be ‘Alice May Roberts BSc, MB BCh, PhD an English anatomist, osteoarchaeologist, anthropologist, paleopathologist’. You see – it’s all those qualifications and scientific interests which prompted the BBC to choose her to front a program about swimming. Nothing to do with the fact that she’s young and attractive. Oh no.

  4. When I was young we always seemed to be out on summer days swimming in rivers in the Dales. Wasn’t called Wild Swimming then though – it was just called going for a swim in a river…….
    Great memories, but would be too cold for me now!

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      When you’re young you can’t really resist the temptation to get in the water can you? I can remember paddling in Grindsbrook one very balmy bank holiday weekend. I can also remember swimming in the Grand Union Canal and in the Avon in Stratford – both of which misadventures led to bouts d and v. Ah – those were the days.

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