Woolsthorpe Manor House


During October half-term we visited my parents in Lincolnshire and whilst there had a day out at Woolsthorpe Manor House, the birthplace, in 1642, of Isaac Newton.


In 1666, Cambridge University closed due to the plague and Newton returned to Woolsthorpe and conducted a number of important experiments on optics. Maybe there’s a modern day Newton, stuck at home right know, about to revolutionise science with an idea germinated in isolation?

Inside the house, a seventeenth century farmhouse, there were fascinating exhibits on optics and also a room dedicated to the Apollo 11 moon landing, with it being the 30 year anniversary.

In the garden, there’s an apple tree…


…which is not the actual one from which a falling apple reputedly inspired Newton to conceive his theory of gravitation, but which is descended from it. Presumably from a cutting, which would mean that it is genetically identical to the original tree*.

The National Trust had clearly made an effort to make the most of quite a small space and there were exhibits in another building and various other attractions, including garden Jenga…


A had just demolished the tower here, much to everyone else’s amusement.

And a Lego moon lander…



There’s also a small cafe at Woolsthorpe, but they didn’t have anything to offer the vegan members of our party, so we drove to another National Trust property nearby, Belton House and had a very late lunch there. We were too late to have a look around the house, but Belton has an impressive playground within its substantial grounds and the boys, and maybe one or two other members of the family, are not too old to appreciate that sort of thing. We looked around Belton House years ago, so long ago, in fact, that it was pre-blog so there are no photos here that I can share. We’ll have to go back.

I didn’t mind the fact that lunch was late, since I’d had a very substantial breakfast….


…I’m usually too intent on eating to remember to photograph my meals, but I took a picture this time so that I could remind my mum (hello Mum!), not to be so stingy with the tomatoes next time she makes me breakfast (thank you!).

* I’m a bit geeky about apples. They have a fascinating history. Most apple varieties don’t produce seed unless they are cross-pollinated with another kind of apple. The resulting trees have very unpredictable qualities, since apples seem to produce a great deal of mutations. So to retain the properties of the fruit produced by a tree it’s necessary to take a cutting. Which means that all apples of any particular variety are genetically identical. I think!

Woolsthorpe Manor House

Whitbarrow with JS.

Mill Side – Whitbarrow Scar – Fell Edge – Cowmire Hall – St. Anthony’s Cartmel Fell – Pool Bank – Park Wood – Witherslack Hall – Beck Head – Mill Side.


This is my friend JS, stood by the summit cairn on Whitbarrow Scar. He’s appeared on the blog a few times before, most recently two years ago, when B and I joined him for an ascent of Haystacks, the last top in his round of the Wainwrights. Thinking about it now, he has to be my oldest friend, I can’t think of anyone else who I’ve kept in touch with since we were knee-high to a grasshopper and started school together.

JS was back in the Lakes for a week’s holiday and, since another parent had kindly offered to pick up B from his rugby camp, I was able to join him for a walk. He was keen to try something new and, after a long drive the day before, wanted something relatively straightforward to ease him into the holiday. A walk on Whitbarrow and through the wonderful Winster valley seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

The weather was a bit mixed, even when I took this photo…


Fell Edge, looking across the Winster Valley to Cartmell Fell.

…with a bit of blue sky in it, it was actually still raining on us. This was after, rather embarrassingly, we’d wandered around on the plateau looking for one or other of the descent routes, my ‘local knowledge’ proving to be a bit less impressive than I had hoped.


Cowmire Hall, a late Sixteenth Century Tower House. Yet another of the Winster valley’s listed buildings.

I didn’t take many photos, partly, perhaps, because of the weather, but mainly because I was much too busy catching up with JS. We talked about family, finance, mutual friends, board games, introversion – and the book on that subject ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain which JS had read and was very eloquently recommending – wild-camping, our respective ailments, walking, facebook and it’s pros and cons, the tremendous fungi we kept spotting and almost certainly a whole host of other things, whilst also, no doubt, revisiting some shared memories of days long past.


I didn’t even take any photos of St. Anthony’s Church, where we huddled in the porch for a late lunch. (You can see pictures from a visit this spring here.)

I’m happy to report, after the gloomy news from my last visit, that ‘The Hiker’s Rest’ self-service cafe near Beck Head is once again open for business. I had my stove with me, but was very happy to stop for a comfortable brew. Even more so when we discovered that the previous entry in the visitor’s book was by members of Fleckney Walking Club, Fleckney being a village almost two hundred miles from Beck Head, but only a couple down the road from Kibworth where JS and I grew up.


Screenshot 2018-12-02 at 21.16.10Screenshot 2018-12-02 at 21.18.35

Whitbarrow with JS.

Doddington Hall -Wagons, a Pyramid and a Pond


After touring the gardens, we wandered a little farther afield and had a poke around in the grounds. Like last time, I was taken with a collection of old wagons, which was housed in a characterful shed…



An arrow straight path runs through the gardens to a ha-ha wall, giving uninterrupted views of the fields beyond. A fainter path continues to a distant focal point…


This pyramidal folly has been added since our previous visit.


We felt we’d like to have a look at it, both outside and in.


But not climb on it obviously.


True to form, the DBs were better at clambering on the pyramid than at reading, or complying with, the stern notice.


Looking back to the Hall.


And a zoomed view from the same spot.


Small White on Common Knapweed.


Bird’s-foot Trefoil.


Deep in conversation.


This is a sculpture which I omitted from the previous post. I took a few photos of it whilst we were in the gardens, but there always seemed to be people close by spoiling the view somewhat, so I tried again as we approached the house on the way back from the pyramid.


My Mum and Dad with their granddaughter. I realised today that, taking their initials in order that they are sat on the bench, they are T, E and A. TEA!


A pond with an elegant bridge in the grounds of the Hall.


Little Grebe or Dabchick.


The bridge again.


Assessing the depth of the pond.

These two benches don’t really belong in this post, but I’ve tacked them on anyway.


I took the photos the day after or visit to Doddington Hall, during a damp walk around the village where my Mum and Dad live.


Cleverly done, I thought.

Doddington Hall -Wagons, a Pyramid and a Pond

Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens


Many moons ago, we toured Doddington Hall with my Mum and Dad. It’s not too far from where they live. On the second day of our trip to Lincolnshire this summer, TBH and I were eager to go again. For some reason, Dad wasn’t so keen, and kept turning up alternatives which he thought might appeal to the kids. He balked however, at the idea of accompanying them on a treetop trek, so in the end Doddington Hall won out.


There was a wedding in the hall that day, so we were restricted to the gardens, but that kept us well occupied beyond the advertised closing time, so it wasn’t really a problem.

Be warned, if you’re planning a visit: there are signs near the entrance forbidding picnics in the gardens. There’s a lot of green space at the back of the carpark though, which was a halfway decent alternative, but a bit rough on my Mum and Dad who prefer not to sit on the ground these days (or prefer not to have to get up again, anyway).


There is a cafe in one of the many estate buildings, which looked to be doing a roaring trade. I’m told that the cakes that some of the party sampled there later in the day were very good. The wasps certainly liked them.

Just by where we picnicked, there was a small pond…


And so some potential for flora and fauna…


Common Darter (I think).


Tachina Fera on Mayweed – both very tentative identifications.


Tachina Fera again.

This photo shows the strong black stripe on an orange abdomen which makes me think that this fly is Tachina Fera. The larvae of this fly parasitise caterpillars.

The plant is Gipsywort…


“Rogues masquerading as itinerant fortune-tellers and magicians used in past centuries to daub their bodies with a strong black dye produced from gipsywort, in order to pass themselves off as Egyptians and Africans. Swarthy looks were supposed to lend greater credibility to these vagabonds when they told fortunes; it was this use that gave the plant its names of gipsywort and Egyptian’s herb.”

Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain

Moving into the gardens…


Little S was particularly impressed with the huge…


…squashes, pumpkins? I’m not sure which.

He won’t really remember our last visit, since he was barely a year old at the time.


Small Tortoiseshell.


Large White.





Another Tortoiseshell.


This bee was absolutely coated in golden pollen, having just emerged…


…from a courgette flower.


Something that really stuck in my memory from our previous visit were these gnarly old Sweet Chestnut Trees.


They predate the hall, making them very, very old indeed.






One more Tortoiseshell.


The gatehouse.


Unicorn topiary.


The Hall is Elizabethan and was built, between 1595 and 1600, by Robert Smythson, who was the master stonemason when Longleat was built and who also designed the highly impressive Hardwick Hall, among others. Apparently, it has never been sold, which must be highly unusual. These days it seems to be the centre of a thriving industry, with several shops in the grounds, as well as the cafe and weddings. Not to mention the biennial sculpture exhibition in the gardens….of which, more to follow…

Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens

Conishead Priory

Conishead Priory

There is no house in England like Conishead. The priory has long gone. What we see today is a fantasy originally created by Colonel Thomas Richmond-Gale-Braddyll to a Gothick design by the little known Philip Wyatt in 1821. The house is an exercise in pure show, set in a splendid park on the Furness peninsular.

More stained glass 

The house changed hands many times. In the 1880s it became a luxurious ‘hydropathic hotel’ with resident orchestra and thousand-volume library. In the 1920s it was converted into a miners’ convalescent home. By the 1970s it faced demolition.

Salvation came in the unusual form of a Mahayana Buddhist community from Tibet, who bought the building in 1976.

Conishead Priory II 

The quotes are from Simon Jenkins’ ‘England’s Thousand Best Houses’, which along with its companion volume on Churches make an indispensible reference guide to where to go and what to see.

Conishead Priory III 

It’s a bizarre gothic confection of a building, a crazy hotch-potch of styles and materials.

Wyatt designed, apparently at random, a chaotic series of gables, turrets and facades, some in brick, some in render.

Conishead Priory IV 

The Buddhist community welcome visitors. They even have a cafe and a shop. We were on a flying visit, an appetiser for an afternoon expedition to Roa Island (of which, more to follow!) and shall have to return for a wander around the grounds and a walk down to the beach.

Temple of World Peace

We did find time, however, to have a look inside the Kadampa Temple for World Peace, which houses the largest bronze statue of Buddha cast in the West.

Conishead Priory