Last week we decided to have a short break. So, on Saturday, we had a look through what would be available from the following Monday and booked ourselves four days in a small self catering cottage (mind you the email confirmation didn’t arrive until Tuesday when we were halfway through our break).
So, we set off in bright sunshine on Monday morning, up the M6 towards Keswick and the Lake District.
We stopped off at Sizergh National Trust property for a cup of coffee (well you have to make full use of your membership) and a wander around the garden. It was then we realised that the floods in December had had a significant impact even that far south as the guide told us that the gardens were still recovering from the damaged caused by the flooding. Anyway, it was a lovely wander around and I guess their stumpery will look wonderful when its complete.
From there we continued to our cottage just north of Keswick arriving at about 5:00pm.
The following day we decided to go to Aira Force and to wander from there down into Glenridding. Aira Force was a lovely view with the waterfalls and streams. It was relatively quiet (a Tuesday in April isn’t probably going to be too busy) but there were enough people about that the only wildlife we saw at this time was a Grey Wagtail bobbing at the water’s edge). On the way to Glenridding, it began to sink in even further just how much water there had been. It was difficult to judge exactly how high the water had come up, but there was a tide-mark of dead vegetation something like six feet above the level of Ullswater as we walked around. Our assumption was that this represented the high water level, but if that was across the whole of Ullswater, it must have been quite frightening.
In Glenridding, there was lots of work ongoing, the hotel and restaurant were still closed but there was a nice little cafe by where the tourist information centre had been (and would be again). It was obvious from the boulders that were being shifted about that the water had come down the hillside. Look at these pictures to give an idea of the work that still needs to be completed. As we sat in the cafe, the heavens opened with hail and snow blowing horizontally. We’d timed it just right.
After the weather had improved and we’d finished our tea, we set off back towards Aira Force. On the way, we saw a Red Squirrel (not seen one of those for many years). This picture is of the tree where we saw it, by the time I’d got my camera out and focussed, it had vanished.
The weather got worse again as we wandered back to the car and by the time we’d got there it was time to head back. We went via Keswick and had another cup of tea and a wander around. Keswick didn’t seem to have been affected by the floods in the same way.
The next day we went to Cockermouth to look at Wordsworth’s house. Now, to be honest, I’m not sure what the fuss is about. My guess is that, had it not been the place where Wordsworth spent his early youth, the place would have been demolished years ago and, despite whatever is said in the blurb, if you have to pay to visit, I would find somewhere else to go. Again Cockermouth is recovering from the floods and the head gardener was working hard to improve the garden after the floods (which apparently weren’t as bad as the floods in 2009).
Finally, we drove out towards the coast near Allonby and had a walk along. Here we saw more wildlife than we’d managed before, Oyster Catchers, Curlews and Ringed Plover. It wasn’t until we were looking at the pictures later that we realised we’d also seen Dunlins in the background of the pictures I’d taken of the Plovers. Provided they kept still, they were all but invisible.
So look carefully at the pictures.
Thursday we decided to go and look at Hadrian’s Wall and went to the fort at Birdoswald. Its strange to realise that, had the locals not robbed out the stone of this impressive defensive structure, history would possibly have been different. At 14 feet tall or so, it would have created a barrier through which it would have been difficult to travel. The fact that it stood for three or four hundred years is testament to the organisation of the Romans. It lasted longer than the British Empire and when you think how much the world has changed in the last three to four hundred years, you realise how different the world might have been.
Anyway, at this point the weather closed in and we got snow, rain and hail and so decided to go back to out cottage, passing Herwdick and other sheep on the way all sheltering from the weather with their lambs. Overnight on Thursday, the weather got worse and we woke on Friday morning to an inch of snow. However, when we set off back home, whilst the snow was still around at our cottage at 700+ feet, we only had to descend a few feet to get below the snow and (eventually) into the sun and better weather.
When we got home I was pleased to see that all my tomatoes had survived (both inside and in the greenhouse) but disappointed to find the mice had eaten all my sweetcorn so I’ve had to sow some more. Mousetraps and poison?
Anyway, we’re back, the sun is shining although the weather is still cold for this time of year.