At the end of August, my Mum and Dad came to stay for a few days. It was the first time we’d seen them for quite some time, so it was great to have them with us, and also very handy that we had some pretty good weather for their visit.
I think we sat out on our patio quite a bit, but we also managed to get out for a number of walks.
I think Mum and Dad were particularly impressed with our walk on Heysham headlands.
B likes to come to Heysham headlands with his friends to watch the sunset and to swim when the tide is in, and I can see why.
I should mention that we had lunch at Tracy’s Homemade Pies and Cakes cafe, which was amazing value and very tasty. Highly recommended.
We had a day out in Kirkby Lonsdale too, although I don’t seem to have taken any photos. I was shocked by how busy it was; we did well to find car-parking spaces. I knew that it was touristy, but hadn’t expected it to be so thronged.
Looking forward to some more blue sky days, and for infection rates to settle down so Mum and Dad can visit for a few more walks and a postponed Christmas dinner.
Early in May, we met up with our old friends for a walk, and to celebrate Andy’s birthday. We had the least far to travel, since we were meeting at the Littledale carpark on the edge of the Forest of Bowland, not too far from Lancaster. So, naturally, never knowingly on time for anything, we were the last to arrive. I think the last of Andy’s bacon butties had yet to be washed down with a mug of tea at that point, so we may not have delayed things too much.
Leaving the cars, we started with an easy ascent of Baines Cragg, which, despite many previous visits to this area, I’ve never climbed before – it turned out to be an excellent viewpoint. It’s a shame the skies were so grey – I shall have to go back and have another look when the weather is more clement.
Apparently the Thirlmere Aqueduct, which transports water from the Lake District to Manchester, is the longest gravity-fed aqueduct in Britain (source).
The track which crosses Ottergear Bridge was presumably constructed as part of the engineering work related to the aqueduct. It took us to the path which climbs Clougha Pike from the Rigg Lane car park.
When we lived on The Row, we used to see Slow Worms in our garden quite often. They seemed to like our compost heaps. B did once find one in our current garden, but that was years ago.
They are thought to be the longest-lived of all lizards; the remarkable age of 54 years has been reliably recorded.
from ‘Fauna Britannica’ by Stefan Buczacki
Below the sculptures we found a sheltered spot, out of the wind, for our second cake/brew/lunch stop. For me, this was a highlight of the day. The heathery slope was comfortable, the view to the north, if somewhat hazy and grey, was still extensive and, above all else, the company was excellent.
Andy had been keen to tick-off Ward’s Stone, but the weather wasn’t great, so we decided to follow this track which looped around Grit Fell and then come back over the top of Grit Fell.
It was along here somewhere that ‘the trouser incident’ occurred. J has a pair of waterproof overtrousers, apparently designed for cross-country skiing, with zips down both the inside and the outside of both legs – making it possible, in theory, to put them on whilst wearing skis. However, with all 4 zips undone, and in a strong wind with driving rain, the trousers had 4 long flapping pieces and even without the encumbrance of skis, try as she might, J couldn’t get them on. It didn’t help that she got the giggles, which turned out to be infectious and soon, whilst TBF and TBH tried to help, the rest of us were doubled-up laughing and making entirely unhelpful suggestions. Eventually, the trousers were tamed, just about in time for the fierce shower to come to an end.
Andy’s account, with a better map, better photos etc is here.
Proper Fell walks have been few and far between for me, since the various lockdown restrictions began. This walk, from back in September, was a notable exception. To be honest, I don’t remember what the rules were at the time, and I was probably a bit vague about them even then, since the rules have always lacked clarity. I didn’t see any other walkers all day, just two mountain bikers in the afternoon, which makes me think that I must, at the very least, have been pushing the envelope a bit.
Anyway, it was a windy, overcast day. Cool with a few flecks of rain in the wind from time to time. But despite that, I enjoyed myself enormously.
I’d been perusing the map for quite some time the night before, always a dangerous occupation, and had hit upon the idea of combining two cherished ambitions – one was too explore the valley of Artle Beck and the other to have a walk along Hornby Road, a Roman Road which traverses the Bowland Hills
The first part of the walk took me firmly into the territory of my ‘Lune Catchment’ project. Sweet Beck, Udale Beck, Foxdale Beck, Artle Beck, Ragill Beck, Closegill Beck (streams tautologically named both gill and beck seem to be a speciality of the area), Bladder Stone Beck, Mallow Gill, the River Roeburn and Salter Clough Beck (again – aren’t clough and beck synonyms?) were all ticked off on my nominal list of tributaries of the River Lune.
I was quite surprised by Littledale Hall. It’s a Grade II listed building, dating to 1849 and possibly designed by Lancaster architects Paley and Austin. These days, it’s a residential centre for the treatment of addiction. I guess that it’s remote location makes it ideal for that purpose. It looked to me like a Victorian railway station marooned without a railway line.
A fallen tree in Melling Wood, on a slope much steeper than the photo suggests, was quite awkward to navigate. It seems odd that nothing has been done about it, given how much care has been taken with the path nearby…
Given that I’d set off with fairly ambitious plans, I hadn’t started very early. I think I dropped off one or other of the boys, somewhere or other, before starting the walk. Anyway, I soon realised that I was quite short of time. I’d originally intended to stick with Hornby Road until I could take the path onto Wolfhole Crag, partly because I don’t think I’ve ever been up there. But that will have to wait for another day, since I decided instead to take the track from Alderstone Bank down to the River Roeburn and then back up via Mallowdale Fell. You can see the track on the photo below…
From Ward’s Stone the walk was on more familiar territory – over Grit Fell, past the Andy Goldsworthy sculptures and back to the Littledale Road, where my car was parked, via a stalker’s path and back to Sweet Beck.
I even had some occasional moments of sunshine, and the light out over Morecambe Bay was absolutely superb. My photos don’t really do it justice, but it was lovely to keep getting views of it as I descended.
The route was around 17 miles, with a fair bit of up and down. I wish I could provide a map, but although MapMyWalk worked on the day, it subsequently lost the data. I’ve since uninstalled and reinstalled the app, which, touch wood, seems to have had the desired affect.
A great leg-stretcher, on a mostly gloomy day, which has left me with a number of ideas for further routes.
My mum and dad spent a week at Thurnham Hall, on the other side of Lancaster. Very generously, they booked us a few nights there too. Little did we realise then that it would be the last time we would see them this year.
How nice then, to get to spend some time together. Most days we managed a bit of a walk, aiming for somewhere without contours, by the Lune Estuary near Glasson, across the Lots at home, or along the prom at Morecambe for example.
We did embark on one overly ambitious walk, from Thurnham Hall to Wallings Ice-Cream Parlour on the other side of Cockerham. The long-grass in the fields and the surprisingly sodden tracks which followed were energy sapping for all concerned. Fortunately, once we’d sampled the ice-creams, we arranged a taxi for a couple of drivers to collect our cars and then return for the rest of the party.
We played ‘Ticket to Ride’ and no doubt other games, and ate out a few times, now that ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ was in full swing. After a curry in Lancaster I had a brainwave about walking back to Thurnham Hall, basing my intended route on a hazy memory of the map. It was much further than I had thought, and it was pitch black by the time I reached Galgate. Fortunately, TBH was happy to come out and pick me up.
Now, though we won’t see them over Christmas as we usually would, with the vaccines being rolled out, we have the real prospect of safely meeting with my mum and dad again to look forward to. Bring it on!
This was the day after our wander around Lübeck. In retrospect, I wonder how we got away with another sight-seeing tour in consecutive days. Not usually the DBs kind of thing.
Somehow in my many visits to northern Germany, I’d never been to Schwerin. Of course, when I was young it was over the border in the DDR and so off-limits, but with hindsight it seems slightly odd that I haven’t visited since given that it’s relatively close to Ratzeburg.
This time we were a smaller party, with just my Aunt J joining us for the day.
The castle sits on an island in the lake, but is easily accessed by bridges. The current building is nineteenth century, but this spot has featured a castle for many centuries. Nowadays, it houses both the local parliament building and a museum. We opted to wander around the gardens, which had the massive advantage of being free.
Hercules and the Cretan Bull?
A theatre and an art gallery, I think.
The facade at the front of the castle was wreathed in scaffolding, but that had been rather cleverly covered with a photograph of the building.
It had been very overcast when we arrived, and while we picnicked by the lake shore, but it really brightened up as we toured the gardens.
We also had a brief wander into the town, but not too far – J was taking us for Kaffee und Kuchen, which I’ve always regarded as a national obsession in Germany, although my view may be coloured by the preferences of my aunt and uncle and their friends.
I thought my aunt told us that this was her favourite cafe, but the kids assure me that she actually said that it is one of her favourites. They suspect that she has many favourites. It was certainly very nice.
Replete, we emerged to discover that the weather had completely changed.
Dark skies prevailed and pretty soon rain was hammering down.
We were completely unprepared for this eventuality, and sheltered in various shop doorways, occasionally running for another canopy when we thought we’d overstayed our welcome.
The DB’s seemed to find the whole affair highly amusing – particularly when they took cover underneath this sculpture…
Near to the Rijksmuseum, there’s a much smaller gallery called Moco.
They had, and still have I think, a substantial exhibition dedicated to the work of Banksy. I found it immensely enjoyable. I think this Mickey Mouse swallowing constrictor was my favourite, but it was a close run thing.
There was another exhibition – which sadly looked more interesting on their web page than it did in reality.
They also had artworks from their permanent collection which I think had been selected as being precursors of Banksy or in some way relevant to his work. I seem to remember works by Warhol, Koons, and Lichtenstein amongst others.
I was more impressed by these paintings by Keith Haring…
…by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Little S, meanwhile, not always a lover of art galleries, was very taken by this sculpture in the small garden outside…
One reason, possibly, why I’ve fallen so far behind with the blog, is that I’ve struggled to know what to say about Amsterdam. TBH and I have wanted to visit Amsterdam for a very long time, but when we got there is was extremely busy and much, much too hot. I didn’t want to go to the Anne Frank house, the kids weren’t really struck with the idea of the Rijksmuseum, and we couldn’t book a boat to tour the canals despite all of TBH’s efforts.
I took lots of photographs of massed bicycles, and impressive architecture and canals and such like, but looking at them now – they’re a bit rubbish to be honest. My heart can’t have been in it. So – just a couple of photos. The first, taken by a waitress, is from a little road side cafe where we had a superb lunch. Decent vegan food even! The boys had burgers, which became a bit of a theme for a while, although in Germany they discovered the delights of Schnitzel, which became their new favourite. I had a delicious salad and really enjoyed the cafe’s soundtrack of 70’s reggae and 80’s rap. I even managed to smile for a photo, which is virtually unheard of.
We did walk ‘through’ the Rijksmuseum – there’s an archway/tunnel which walkers and cyclists can use – and were all impressed by the giant spider sculptures in the gardens…
These are the work of Louise Bourgeois apparently – you can find out more here.
We were on our way to another, much smaller gallery, of which more to follow…
Oh, I haven’t done that for a while: this post ought to have preceded my last one. Not to worry.
This was another, short, half-term wander. One of our cars was booked in for a warranty service at a garage on the White Lund industrial estate between Lancaster and Morecambe. At the last minute, the offer of a courtesy car was withdrawn. Since we had other things to do later in the day, that left us with some logistical difficulties. We decided to try to make something of the morning, so TBH followed me to the garage and then we continued south to the small village of Sunderland Point.
The causeway road which is the only one in and out of Sunderland Point.
It’s a crazy thing that I’ve never been to Sunderland Point before, even though I’ve lived in the area for nearly 30 years. Twice a day, the tide rises over the access road and the village is cut off from its neighbours.
It was an overcast and windy day and we were pushed for time, so we kept our walk short and I didn’t take as many photos as I might have done. I noticed a lot of seashore plants – these Sea-beet, some Horned Poppies, Sea Campion for example – and was thinking that I must return some time to have a more leisurely look around.
I was keen to see this…
Horizon Line Chamber by artist Chris Drury.
Which is just a little way around the coast from the village. It’s a camera obscura, with a small lens in the wall which projects an inverted image onto the opposite wall.
Image inside the chamber.
There’s more about the project on the artist’s website here. Including this delightful film…
Visiting on a gloomy day probably wasn’t a great choice, so I intend to come to have another look when the sun is shining.
The chamber is close to…
A relic of Lancaster’s history as one of the ports engaged in the transatlantic slave trade. Sambo was a former cabin boy who came to Sunderland Point in 1736 and, having died of a fever, was not buried in consecrated ground. This plaque…
…dated 1796, features a poem written by Reverend James Watson.
Sculpture by Ray Schofield, who lived in the house opposite where the sculpture is now sited.
A weekend of absolutely glorious weather – blue skies and beautiful sunshine – but a very busy one for me, so another opportunity to make the most of whatever spare scraps of time were available. B was away with school, on a rugby tour, playing a game in Essex somewhere on the Friday and then at Twickenham watching England squeak past Japan in one of the Autumn Internationals on the Saturday. TBH was also away, I think on Guiding training, which left me as chief cook, bottle-washer and taxi-driver.
I think that these are Muscovy Ducks. They aren’t native to the UK, but there were half a dozen on the canal that day, presumably feral birds.
Little S had BJJ in Lancaster on the Saturday morning and then a birthday party with a new friend (he’s moved up to ‘big school’) in the afternoon. I drove him in for BJJ and then took him for lunch afterwards and kept him company before his party.
I needed somewhere to leave the car; there’s not much in the way of free parking in Lancaster, but there are some spots on Aldcliffe Road, by the Lancaster Canal, which had the added advantage of leaving me with a bit of a walk to meet Little S after his grappling.
Owl sculpture in a community garden sandwiched between Aldcliffe Road and the canal.
Having passed through the town centre, my route to meet Little S took me along St. Leonard’s Gate. I wondered how properties which get listed are chosen and others are not. This building is fairly old, and the City Council have deemed it interesting enough to warrant one of their Green Plaques, but it isn’t listed.
The Grand Theatre, just across the road is listed, but I didn’t photograph it, because it was in heavy shade. Another time.
Some of the properties in this area are looking a bit rundown to say the least….
I walked past this building again recently and noticed that there was a pigeon stuck inside which was flying repeatedly into one of the few remaining panes of glass in a window.
…is St. Leonard’s House, which is listed. It was built 1881-2 and was a furniture factory, for the Lancaster firm Gillow and Company. It too was looking a tad dishevelled, but has been hidden behind scaffolding for quite some time now and is clearly being tarted up for some purpose.
There’s been a fair bit of building work in Lancaster over recent years. This…
…is part of Caton Court, which will provide student accommodation when it’s finished.
Little S was in no doubt about what he wanted for lunch – there’s a street market in Lancaster On Wednesdays and Saturdays and one of the stalls does a hog roast. Very nice it was too. After that we still had some time to kill, so I took S to the Music Room cafe and finally got to see the interior. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise at first that there’s seating upstairs which is presumably where we needed to go in order to see the ‘very richly decorated plasterwork walls and ceiling of c1730’. I would have known that if I’d thought to check the Historic England listing in advance. Oh well: next time!
Having dropped Little S at his party I went scooting home, hoping to get out again around the village whilst the weather was so benign.
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.
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.