When the Herefordshire Holidaymakers had to cancel their planned summer trip to Lake Garda, due to Covid restrictions and uncertainties, and us with no plans of our own, for the same reasons, the obvious thing to do seemed to be to invite them to join us in Sunny Silverdale instead. Happily, they agreed. We drove home from Towyn to tidy up a bit and inflate some airbeds, whilst they had the more onerous task of returning home, getting all of their washing done and hoping back into their cars for the long drive north.
In the early part of the week, we even had some half-decent weather, and, I think fairly soon after they had arrived, we had a wander up to the Pepper Pot and then down to The Cove.
TBH insisted that we should have a wander on the sands, which turned out to be quite wet and very sticky. Andy was in new shoes. It seems to me that it’s the destiny of walking shoes to eventually get muddy, but Andy was mortified that his pristine trainers were sullied by Morecambe Bay sludge and complained bitterly at every opportunity for the rest of the week.
We finished the week (I think) with another short climb up to the Pepper Pot. It was a lovely week, as always when the Herefordshire Hearties visit. We had a number of trips out too, so more posts to follow.
It remained hot. The kids, well A and B anyway, were joining friends for swims in the Bay at high tide. I’ve always regarded such behaviour as a sure sign of insanity, as the sea is not all that inviting here, being full of silt and murky brown and almost certainly full of unsavoury pollutants too, but finally I cracked and TBH and I cycled down to a spot near Jenny Brown’s Point a couple of times for a dip.
And……it was very pleasant. Hopefully, we’ll get the right weather and do it again next summer.
And then we went for our annual, marvellous, camping trip with old friends to Towyn Farm on the Llyn Peninsula. I remember that I did a lot of snorkelling in the first part of the week. The water was a lot colder than it had been in the Bay, but it was clear and there was lots to see as ever. Later in the week, the winds picked up and we switched to body surfing. Lots of games of Kubb and Molkky too. Beach cricket, frisbee throwing. All the usual fun.
Lots of walking happened too, but with B still suffering with his knee we generally opted to stay at the campsite/beach and keep him company, the only exception being the obligatory ascent of ‘Birthday Hill’ or Caryn Fadryn.
I apparently took no photos at all, apart from the rather poor one above of some of the Naughty Nine on Carn Fadryn’s summit.
Inexplicable. I did take lots of pictures in the garden after we returned home though! So here’s one of those:
Edit – TBH to the rescue – I did take more photos at Towyn, but using TBH’s phone – I think mine had no charge. So here’s a selection of photos, some of which I took and some of which are TBH’s work:
Obviously the travel restrictions over the last two years have been a pain in the neck, but if I’m allowed to go to Wales for a week every summer, I reckon I can get by; with a little help from my friends anyway.
The day after our swim in Gurnal Dubs. This time I was on my own. It was very hot. I got comprehensively sun-burned.
I thought I would string together some of the blue bits on the map. I parked in the lay-by north of Grasmere, called in at the village to supplement my liquid supplies in the village shop, then walked up Easedale to the base of the steeper, scrambling section of Sourmilk Gill. It’s easy, grade 1 stuff, which is probably all I’m up to these days, but I had it to myself and it was very entertaining.
I might have been tempted by an earlier than planned dip in this plunge pool, but a couple were just getting into the water as I came past, so I decided to leave them to it, and continued up the rocks.
There were a fair few people picnicking on the shores of Easedale Tarn, and quite a few more paddling at the edge of the water, but very few swimming out away from the shore. Still, it wasn’t hard to find a quietish spot to change and make a brew.
I can never drink tea when it’s just brewed, so once it was done I swam well out into the lake – roughly level with the boulder you can see in the photo above – then back again to drink the tea and eat some lunch. Then I repeated the swim.
Since I was carrying trunks, a towel and water-shoes, I’d opted to leave my camera at home – which turned out to be frustrating since there were lots of colourful dragonflies about, Keeled Skimmers and Golden-ringed Dragonflies predominantly.
After my second swim, I continued to the base of my second scramble of the day, another pleasant but easy route up Easedale Gill.
In the past, I’ve followed those two scrambles with a slightly harder route on Belles Knott, but I’d decided in advance that I would steer clear of that and, in the event, I felt pretty exhausted anyway by the time I reached the end of the scrambling in Easedale Gill. I’m not sure whether my tiredness was due to lockdown rustiness, the heat, the unfamiliar exercise of scrambling and swimming or a combination of all three.
Fortunately, only a little ascent remained to get me to Codale Tarn….
Which I had all to myself.
Again, I made a brew, swam, drank the tea then swam again. Each swim took me across the tarn to the rocky patch you can see slightly right of centre in the photo above, then back again. I think this might narrowly pip the other places I swam this summer for favourite swimming spot.
All that remained was to wind my weary way back to Grasmere.
And then it was hot. We had what passes for a heat wave in this neck of the woods – that is, a few days of what would probably pass for mild temperatures in many parts of the world. Not being used to extremes, we naturally over-react and do everything we can to get out of the heat. TBH and I had a swim in the Lune near to Bull Beck. It was quite pleasant, although not very deep. We were surprised to see two quite large parties camping in the field there by the river.
On this occasion, I suspect we’d already dropped B off for work at Brockholes. A was probably working too, but Little S joined us. We parked near Hundhowe and walked up past Ghyll Pool and Potter Tarn and, after our swim, back down the same way.
I’ve been wanting to come back and swim in Gurnal Dubs since witnessing a family swim here four years ago; it was great to be back and confirm that it really is a terrific place for a dip. (Incidentally, the photo at the top of that post is possibly my favourite of the seventy odd thousand I have on flickr)
I’d recently picked up some full-face snorkelling masks from Aldi, so we’d brought one with us to try it out. I’m pretty sure there are fish here, but I didn’t see any with the mask on.
After a fairly lengthy swim, we set-off back towards the car…
…with great views ahead.
It’s a great place for a swim, and relatively accessible from home. We were back, with friends, not long after, and I’m sure we’ll swim there again.
A tune. I was going to use Buddy Miles’ ‘Down By The River’, which seemed appropriate for our swim in the Lune, but I’ve gone with ‘Them Changes’ from the same album because it’s such an irresistible riff.
Back to July. The Madley Massive were in town, collecting the Professor at the end of his term. Andy had the excellent idea of meeting for a walk at Glasson, seeing that the forecast wasn’t great, so that a coastal walk seemed like a sensible alternative to a soaking in the hills. I carried an umbrella, but it wasn’t needed and the weather brightened during the walk, so that we eventually had some sunshine.
There’s something very enticing about the paraphernalia of shipping and trawling: nets, lobster pots, anchors and such like. Is this big rusty ball a former buoy? I suppose that if metal ships can keep afloat then so can metal buoys?
By coincidence, TBH and I had occasion to walk a short part of the Lancashire Coastal Way a couple of days ago and I was thinking how nice it would be to walk it all, or at least the part which goes around Morecambe Bay.
Funny what perspective can do – I assumed that Plover Scar lighthouse was quite small, but I’ve since read that it is 8m tall. Now I’m thinking that I’d like to have a wander out, at low tide, to take a closer look. Lighthouses too are fascinating in some way. This was one of a pair which used to guide ships into the Lune Estuary. It was damaged in 2016 when it was hit by a commercial ship which was on its way into the docks at Glasson. Must be a bit embarrassing to run into a lighthouse.
In his post about this walk, Andy had this to say:
I’m sure when Mark gets around to posting about this walk (sometime in 2027 I think) I’m sure he’ll tell you more about it.
So: around 1180 a hermitage was built here, which soon became a hospital, then a priory and finally an abbey. It belonged, in the first instance, to Leicester Abbey, which seems quite odd, given that Leicester is quite a long way from here. When it was built, this area was marshland, so the location is a bit odd in that respect too.
The intact building is the Chapter House, where meetings would have taken place, which was restored and refurbished and used as a mausoleum, from 1750 to 1861 by the Dalton family of nearby Thurnham Hall. The actual abbey was much more extensive than this small building would suggest. Here’s the Historic England listing.
This track took us to a minor lane which ought to have been quiet, it being a dead-end road, but in fact there was quite a lot of traffic, presumably due to the caravan park at the end of the road.
During the summer, B got a job at the Lake District Visitors’ Centre at Brockholes on the shore of Windermere. It was well-paid, but quite a long way from home. Although he could get there by bus, we often found ourselves giving him lifts – so, when we could, we took advantage of the fact that we were in the lakes and tried to squeeze a walk in too.
This posts covers two such, quite similar, walks, which were about six weeks apart. The first, in early July, was on a day which started wet and got progressively wetter as it went on, and so is only represented by that first photo of A and TBH and their brollies.
In August, TBH and I had a much more promising day.
Although there were some dark clouds about too.
The views hereabouts are dominated by Windermere, and are an excellent reminder that you don’t need to climb the high fells to get great views.
We climbed a little above Robin Lane to sit by this pillar, make and enjoy a brew and soak in the views.
Just a couple of hours each, but both memorable and enjoyable outings.
And, for the first time in an age, here’s a tune:
I’ve listened to this song, and to Jonathon Richman and the Modern Lovers in general, a lot over the last two years. Hope you enjoy it.
And our time is right now, now we can do anything we really want to. Our time is now, here in the morning of our lives.
Another section of the Moecambe Bay Cycleway. B deigned to join TBH and I. We caught the train to Barrow, planning to cycle back towards home, possibly as far as Grange – which turned out to be more than a bit optimistic. We were lucky with the train – at Grange we saw other cyclists being turned away, which must have been very frustrating if you had already bought a ticket. The top photo shows TBH and B at the northern terminus of the MBC, on the western coast of Walney Island – so although this is ‘the start’ we had already cycled here from Barrow Station.
I’d been a little worried that the route through Barrow might be a bit hard to find, but I needn’t have been concerned, since it was well sign-posted.
The Pacific Grebe, seen here, is a nuclear fuel carrier, perhaps not so surprising given the proximity of Sellafield power station to Barrow.
It was a gloomy day, but the views were fine and, at this point, the cycling was both off-road and flat and so nice and easy.
We’ve often driven past ‘The Needle’ before, usually on our way to Roa Island and/or Piel Island (where they’re currently on the lookout for a new ‘King and Queen’ or, more prosaically, tenants for the local pub – if you’re interested). The Needle is the only surviving leading light of 13 built in the Barrow area in 1875 to guide shipping.
B was, as ever, ‘starving’ – he is a growing lad after all – and was very pleased to spot this little kiosk. TBH and I had cups of tea, whilst he tucked into half a dozen freshly fried doughnuts.
Shortly after this stop, we turned inland and followed an undulating route through a series of tiny villages. Once again, I ought to have taken more photos than I did – of the large duck pond in the middle of Leece for example, or of Gleaston Watermill: not to worry, it just means I shall have to go back, perhaps when the sun is shining. I did feel compelled to stop to photograph Gleaston Castle:
Built in the 12th Century and possibly never finished, the castle is not open to the public and is in a parlous state apparently.
We called in at Conishead Priory, now a Buddhist meditation centre, hoping to buy lunch, but settled for drinks since, bizarrely, TBH couldn’t get anything vegan. Well, B did have some sandwiches, but he is a growing lad after all. MapMyWalk tells me that there were roughly 300m of ascent on this route, which doesn’t seem like that much, but I found it exhausting. When B declared that his knee was playing him up, I was only too pleased to magnanimously concede that we could cut our route short and catch the train home if he insisted.
We haven’t as yet attempted the next section of the MBC, between Ulverston and Grange. On the map, it looks far hillier than any of the parts we have done to date. One for next summer – but perhaps we shall have to build up to it.
Exactly what it says on the tin – TBH and I ticking off a bit more of the Morecambe Bay Cycleway by pedalling to Grange-Over-Sands and back again.
This is our longest outing in the saddle to date and yet I didn’t take all that many photos. The one above was the first I took, on a section which runs parallel to the busy A590. By that point, we’d already cut a corner across to Milnthorpe, since we had cycled route 700 through Arnside on a previous occasion; cycled the marvellously flat leg between Milnthorpe and Levens Hall, which has fabulous views; stopped at Levens Hall hoping to buy lunch, but, finding it very busy, had to content ourselves with cups of tea; and finally managed to get some lunch at the Gilpin Bridge Inn – standard pub fare but most welcome at that point, as were the couple of pints which accompanied it.
I can see why cyclists are fond of helmet-mounted video cameras: it’s a faff stopping every time you want to take a photo. However, I can’t see myself buying such a camera, or for that matter a helmet to fix it to, any time soon.
I did find time to stop in the vicinity of Ulpha, where I was very struck by the views of Arnside Knott from an angle which we aren’t used to seeing.
Most of the route was quite flat, as you might expect skirting around the edge of estuarine mud-flats, but both Levens and Meathop had some significant climbs.
In Grange we found another cafe and indulged in more refreshments. It had been a warm day and I bought both tea and coke and had my water bottle refilled to boot.
Having not started very early (no surprise there!) and stopped several times on our outward journey, we were running quite late to get back and cook the kids tea. On our way back then, by contrast, we hardly stopped at all. Somewhere close to Storth my phone ran out of charge and I ran out of steam. Not so TBH who continued to fly along at a good pace. The straight line between Storth and Park Lane on the second map below is entirely fictitious. I suspect the actual total distance was a little over 60km or a little under 40 miles, which is probably just a warm-up for a keen cyclist, but was quite enough for me.
The year is almost up and the blog is stuck in June. So….better get a shift on.
First off, some shots from an evening to Foulshaw Moss when A was dancing.
Next door neighbour and all-round good-egg BB was interested in our ebikes; I suggested he borrow one and join me for a trip. We cycled to Morecambe. As you can see, the weather was fantastic, but there was a strong wind blowing, unusually, from the South, so that cycling along the Prom was an uphill struggle. The compensation was that on our way back again we felt like we had wings. Sadly, I didn’t take any photos of our memorable refreshment stops, at the Hest Bank for a pint on our outward trip and at The Royal in Bolton-le-Sands for a lovely meal and a couple more ales in their sunny beer garden.
Old friend X-Ray visited to catch up. It was very grey day, but we dragged him out for our usual wander around Jenny Brown’s Point anyway.
Another taxi-Dad trip to Foulshaw Moss. Things have moved on since then – A has passed her driving test and doesn’t need any more lifts to Milnthorpe. I shall need a new excuse to visit Foulshaw Moss.
Finally, a shorter bike ride with TBH which took us to Holme and back via some very quiet lanes. It almost went horribly wrong when I made the mistake of leaving TBH a little behind (she having chosen not to use an ebike) and she, inexplicably, took a left turn, even though I’d mentioned the fact that we would go through Yealand Redmayne. It all worked okay in the end, after a few puzzling moments and a bit of cycling back and forth looking for each other.
A couple more June bike rides to follow… eventually.