Saturday, 12 October 2013

Yarn, hills and lakes

First of all, to set the scene. For those of you who don't know, the Lake District is an area in the north west of England, just below Scotland. Now that we all know where this little story is set, we can begin.

A long, long time ago, this part of the world was cold, frigid in fact. Covered in ice, glaciers flowing to the seas. Grinding away at the earth beneath with their massive weight, creating long narrow valleys which have filled with water once these cold slinky monsters melted. These are now the lakes and tarns of this area. Here endeth the lesson.

So, some vacation was due and as there was a yarn show in the area, SWIMBO decided (with a little input from me) that we should visit the Lake District. OK, so that's not the entire truth of how we decided to go there, but it works for me. 

We drove up on a Friday morning, up the highways and had the usual nightmarish experiences going past Birmingham and Manchester, but eventually arrived at the self-catering cottage just outside of Kendal. It was a building with walls about 3 or 4 feet thick, converted from old farm outbuildings into a pair of cottages.  A pleasant night's sleep found us back on the road, heading back Southwards to Skipton where the Yarndale show was being held. There was quite a traffic jam getting into the show, which ought to have warned us as to what we should have expected. A quick cup of coffee and a sandwich and then we entered the show, which was held in the Skipton Agricultural auction market. The entrance was a riot of colour, with all the bunting having been crocheted.

The colours inside the show just continued to be quite amazing too.

There were a few of the providers of the raw materials on show too. This was one of several in a pen, just quietly chewing the cud.

As always with these shows there were plenty of stuff on show/for sale and some of them were a little more photogenic than others. I liked the "booties in a box".

The show was pretty good, as these things go, but incredibly crowded and very soon we began to feel like this: 

The following day we headed off west into the Yorkshire Dales to the Masham show. Here they had an Aussie doing travelling sheep shearing exhibition.  How unusual! It was entertaining.

In the streets we were regaled by what turned out to be a blend of belly dancing and Morris dancing, among others.  

We felt we needed to get to see the area around where we were staying and found some delightful scenes. I even got this one, with an interested local.

Then we began our real Lake District experience, by driving through the valleys and around lakes. What a setting this is to live in!

We almost accidentally found this dam, actually Blea Tarn, to walk around. Great big hills all around, trees lower down and a nice civilised path to walk along. This helps when one is having troubles with hips etc. It allows you to get out and enjoy it all, without the hassle of trying to negotiate more difficult up and down terrain, so was very appealing.

The path (visible to the right, below) took us around the tarn and as we went through a gate in a fence we heard the distinctive twang of Seffrican accents. We had a little chat to fellow travellers, then having done the civilised path trick quite succesfully, decided we could clamber up to the top of the hill above. This is the view back to the tarn.

The rocks were all covered with different lichens and mosses. This one has barely any rock face on show, but is covered with different coloured lichens.

From the top of the hill, the view to the other side was amazing. A long valley (Lang Dale) stretched to the right and on the left was hemmed in by some enormous hills before curling off to the side. 

This is another shot, closer in, looking down into Lang Dale from the hill above.

To someone who enjoys wood craft, there are some lovely little touches on display. This is the side panel of a bench that has been carved to indicate that the wildlife depend on plants, butterflies, fungi and the roots below to obtain water and nourishment.

In Wensleydale (famous for it's cheeses), flows the river Ure. 

This river takes a number of plunges in a series of 3 falls in a one-mile stretch. Known as Aysgarth Falls (as they are at the village of that name) they are quite beautiful. This is the Middle Falls.

We drove some spectacular roads in the Lake District. Lots of single track, twisty-turny-windy roads on some rather steep inclines at time. This is near the top of the Wrynose Pass, looking down the Duddon river valley. 

England's highest point, Scafell Pike, can be seen in the distance. In the foreground is one of those strange beasts, a budding photographer, in it's blue phase.

From the village of Ambleside (which boasts the best sticky toffee apple cake ever), a short walk takes you out to yet another gully and river. Exceedingly pretty and a lovely walk.

With delightful little pools along the way.

Leading up to Stock Ghyll waterfalls. It was a delightful and very pleasant walk, with a wonderful reward at the end. 

Again we found ourselves at the top of a pass. This is Kirkstone Pass. As you look, the valley disappears into a series of twists and turns with the hills along the sides all the way. Superb!

Coniston Water, as with a lot of the lakes, has a number of little islands (isles?) and this one took my fancy. 

We ate lunch in Coniston, then walked along the edge of the lake, at times in amongst the trees - pine, beech, oak.

There are steamboats still powering up and down as ferries or pleasure boats.

I have come across a number of photographs taken of jetties in Coniston Water, so when I found one that I had access to, I could not resist and tried my hand at it too.  

A wonderful break, a delightful introduction to the delights offered by the Lake District and we will most certainly be heading back there at some point. There are more passes to drive, more hills to climb.....