Walking up Robinson

What do you do when you live in the Lake District and you dog-sit a 15 month old Border Collie?

You take her up the hills and mountains, known locally as the fells. Especially when the weather is not too hot and not too cold.  (Not too wet makes it even better.)

Above Buttermere

While enjoyable, walking around our local loop is insufficient exercise for a young Border Collie. These dogs were bred to work sheep all day, and this particular collie comes from a local farm whose sheep range far across the surrounding fells.

She is athletic with a huge amount of energy.  Smart, too.

I (Herdy Girl) am not fit enough (yet!) to walk up a big fell, and I’m a big scared baby when it comes to heights. So, Best Beloved took to the hills and reported back:

I parked along the road just above Buttermere, near St. James church.  The walk up High Snockrigg (not Snotrigg!) is quite steep. It will test your cardiovascular fitness. The next bit is boggy, Buttermere Moss. The weather is pretty dry at the moment, but I was up to almost the top of my boots in sogginess a couple of times.

Persevere, though. The views ahead are worth it!

From High Snockrigg: across Rannerdale Knotts, toward Crummock Water and Melbreak. Buttermere Village in the bottom left corner.

Looking down from High Snockrigg and Robinson, you really understand why this is called the Lake District.  Buttermere to the left, Crummock Water to the right with Loweswater in the distance beyond. And, in the other direction, you can see  distant Derwent Water.

Overlooking Newlands Valley toward Keswick.  Newlands is one of three local mountain passes.

The weather started to turn, so we retraced our steps down Robinson, across Buttermere Moss, and then down steep High Snockrigg.

Altogether it was about a seven mile journey with roughly 2700 feet of climb. An all round good walk.

I’m exhausted, but the collie is just about warmed up!

Where to next? View from the top of Robinson toward Honister Pass.

My enduring thanks to BB for taking our canine guest out for a good, tiring run.  She’s currently snuggled up behind his chair, napping.

I suspect BB will be nodding off any minute now!

Peace,

Herdy Girl

An Afternoon Stroll

Sun-heightened Midsummer views tempt me from my work all day.

Hard to resist, so I promised myself a leisurely loop through Rannerdale when Best Beloved arrived home.

This Herdy lamb wasn’t letting us out of his sight.

There’s been plenty of sunshine, perfect for getting out and enjoying both wide vistas and beguiling details.

Bracken fern continues it’s summer growth.  It’s tall enough that the sheep can hide in it.

Can you spot her? Someone’s having a cooling dip.

Rannerdale Beck provides the background music for this walk, splashing and gurgling along much of the way.

I could gladly sit down and watch the water tumble by for an hour or so…

Must catch up!

Others aren’t so distracted, fitness requires movement and getting the old heart rate up.  Drat!

BB waiting patiently.

Not giving in to my clumsy tendency, I watch my step through the slightly rocky bit.  (I’ve a No Injury policy for the remainder of 2017.)

My companions are waiting at our walk’s midpoint, the footbridge over Rannerdale Beck. BB on the bridge, and t’other one is splashing about in the water flowing under it.

Further up into the dale. Not to be explored today.

Rannerdale Beck is on the left as we start the gentle descent back toward Crummock Water.

I prefer to walk the loop in a counter-clockwise manner. That way you can enjoy facing the tumbling beck on the way up, and then be thrilled by the expanding view of the lake on the way back around and down.

Glorious, especially if you can catch the sunset over Melbreak.

We’ve been spotted by a Herdy sentry!

No matter the weather or time of day, I’ve yet to be disappointed by the view. And it’s an easy walk for those of us who lack Fell Fitness or worry about falling over an edge.

The entire loop is under two miles – just enough for a quick injection of Lakeland Beauty.

Glowering and shimmering; Melbreak looms over Crummock Water.

Though the path up from Hause Point at Rannerdale Knotts can be a little narrow and rocky in spots, the walk along the southern foot of Grasmoor is along a wider track.

If you’re leery of fell walking, you could come up and return that way for the views. (The National Trust car park at Cinderdale is convenient for doing so.)

Other Herdy Girls enjoying the warm afternoon.

Full loop or hairpin walk, either way, you’ll want waterproof shoes.

To add to the enjoyment of this walk, you get to splash through a couple of small streams that come off of Grasmoor.  They’re clear and cold, unless it’s a rainy winter when they are turbulent and turbid.

Why is falling water so enticing? Surely, I’m not alone in this.

Since this June weather has been warm and sunny, the watercourses are quieter, but still lovely.

Playing fetch in the shadowy light – it’s about 8:45 PM.

The long summer days of northern latitudes are a real joy.  Plenty of time to enjoy the day once work is finished. It puts us in mind of the long, languid days of childhood summers.

Top of the hedgerow against the darkening sky.

The hedgerows are sprouting growth up and out, and narrowing the country lanes.

A little Red-tailed bumblebee. Bombus lapidaries, my chart tells me.

They are also filled with the buzzing of insects. I’m glad to see the bees pollinating the blackberries. I look forward to picking them, and making an apple and brambleberry crumble.

What silent communication is going on between these two?

And so we return home. Glad to have looped the loop.

There’s just time for a drink and a nibble before bed.

Peace,

Herdy Girl

Saturday Scene for 17 June 2017

Capturing snippets of Saturdays… going to call it Saturday Scenes. Could be all sorts.  This is a good start.

Midmorning Walk with this girl. Beautiful weather. Hardly a soul about.

Mind you, she’s looking at me as if to say, ‘Good grief woman, can we get this photo stuff over with and get back to the serious business of fetching the stick?’

Onward and upward!

Keswick Mountain Festival

If you are able to travel to the Keswick Mountain Festival next year – Do it!

The Keswick Mountain Festival (KMF) is the UK’s largest Mountain Festival – a heady mix of sport, music, food and fun held on the shore of Derwent Water, in what must be one of the most beautiful festival spots in all of England.

Note the setting – doesn’t get much better that this!

Sporty and On-the-way-to-sporty types will have lots to enjoy – taster events and challenging races on foot, bike and water are available to adults and young ‘uns.  There are also exhibitors, food stalls, a roster of impressive speakers, a mix of live music, and the chance to enjoy the surrounding countryside.

This was my first KMT, my Best Beloved’s second. (He’s Sporty; I’m just beginning the journey to rediscover my sportiness.)  We went as a sort-of-a date. So it was primarily dinner and a concert for us – we’ve a fondness for fiddle, whistle and pipes, and the setting is perfect for such.

Among the offerings, we chose to share a pizza from Woody’s Rustic Pizza. What a fun lot of people, and they make delicious flame-kissed, thin crusted pizza pies!

And they kindly let me get a close up of their mobile wood-fired oven in action.

One apology, though.  We practically inhaled our Marguerita pizza – so no photos of it.

Our second share was a Chakalaka Chicken Wrap from Safari, specializing in South African fare. Why?  Equal parts food description and how much fun we had saying ‘Chakalaka Chicken’.

And then we needed a drink. BB went the Taylor’s tent for a beer, I opted for a Yorkshire Tea from the fun folks at Oatopia.

We just had enough time for dessert before the Peatbog Faeries arrived onstage. With the sent of deep-fried dough in the air, it was inevitable…

Churromania!!!!

These convivial folk were entertaining and served up some seriously tasty churros.

From the happy FryMaster…
To she who applied sweetness in the form of cinnamon sugar and melted Belgian chocolate. 🙂

Oh. My. Word.  These were so good.

I wish this photo was scratch-n-sniff. Delicioso!

At that point, we two stuffed people were joined by three lovely family/friends and a jolly lab named Poppy.

Poppy tugged her person up the top of the hill when the band came on, but the remaining four of us joined the jolly crowd to soak in some celtic-infused music and maybe dance a wee jig or two.

Headed toward the stage. That setting!
Quick close-up of the Peatbog Faeries starting off…

Our quick dip into the KMF was much enjoyed by both of us, and we hope to enjoy a bit more of what’s on offer next year.  They’ve not announced the dates for 2018, but I’ll give a shout out when they do.

Peace,

Herdy Girl

What the heck’s a Herdy?

Hello! Glad you asked!

Two Herdwick hoggs or hoggets, at least a year old and before their first shearing.

Herdies, better known as Herdwick Sheep are the native breed of the Lake District and West Cumbria.  Their name is said to derive from the ancient Norse word herdvyck, meaning sheep pasture, and it is speculated that the ancestors of today’s Herdwick flocks were brought over during 10th and 11th century Viking invaders.

What historians do know is that 12th century documents highlight the importance of the breed to the area and its people.

Purebred Herdies are born black and are just as bouncy and cute as any lambs can be.
Like many of us, Herdies go through an awkward stage, during which their heads and legs turn white and their fleece a warm dark brown.

At a year old they are called hoggs or hoggets, and their distinctive ‘friendly’ face really glows against their dark wool.  They are the unofficial mascots of the beautiful Lake District.

Somehow they know we love them; they’ll even pose for the camera.

After their first shearing, their fleece is slatey-grey and it lightens as they age.  (Kind of like – ahem – my hair… )

Windswept ewe by Crummock Water

I think they are lovely at all stages of Herdiness.  They make me smile with their docile faces and stubborn, tough natures. I love that they wear their age and experience for all to see.

This mature ewe in Wasdale was quiet friendly.

Herdwick wool is coarse and tough, and was once much valued for the making of carpets.  Modern fibres put paid to that, and in recent times the wool has been so low in value that farmers sometimes were forced to burn countless unsold fleeces.  Times are again changing.  New uses for strong Herdwick wool are being thought up by creative people who love the breed and value their fleece. (More on this in future posts!)

Lovely Herdwick Tup (breeding male) catching 40 winks at Woolfest 2016 in Cockermouth.

Why did I choose Herdy Girl as my moniker?

Herdies are one of the few breeds that heft or heaf.  Becoming hefted means that each generation is taught a sense of belonging to a particular home in the fells.  Herdies are able to return to their hefted home even after being moved about during lambing, shearing or flood.

As a military brat who never truly felt a sense of home in any one place, I greatly admire this ability.  As a person of faith, I’ve felt a yearning toward something better, somewhere more. So, I’m working at becoming hefted to good things – beauty (so easy to find in the Lake District), gratitude, kindness, pure unadulterated laughter, attaining wisdom and knowledge, nurturing true relationships… You know, the good stuff.

Good Stuff. Like sitting in a field of wildflowers and soaking up birdsong.

Also, my hair is curly and has grey speed-stripes, and my Taller Half says I’m cute.  Charming Herdwick sheep are cute.  Herdy Girl.  I’ll go with that!

Peace,

Herdy Girl

Scattered Roots (My first blog post ever.)

Looking forward to seeing what’s around the bend.

 

So… Mel Robbins’ Five Second Rule keeps showing up in my feed.  Has to be for a reason.

I can take a hint… Time to leap into the unknown.

Here it bloomin’ goes.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1:

Tiny me.

See that four-year old little girl?  That’s me.  By that age, we’d moved several times and were back in my father’s home state of South Carolina.  Dad had joined the United States Air Force straight out of high school, and he met my mother when he was stationed in England.  They married and out I popped just before my folks were sent to a base in Germany.

We moved a lot; we managed.  I was shy. A lovely sister joined us when I was seven. She was not shy. We moved within the US. The moving slowed down, we moved to England.  Suffolk, to be exact. I was a little less shy. Dad retired in 1984 and we moved stateside. I’ve always love both England and America (especially the South), their cultures and landscape and people. Hopefully, I have inherited some of the best traits of both!

In all that moving, my juvenile roots didn’t go deep. I never really knew either my paternal or maternal families very well. Friends came and went. (In gardening terms, my roots were just spinning around my little container, pot-bound.)

So much life ahead of us…

In quick order followed HS Graduation (30 years and one day ago), move to University and subsequent graduation, Marriage exactly one week later, two moves and Parenthood, five moves later…

Our unit of three, a container garden if you will, stayed in one place long enough to break out and entangle our roots with those around us.  We were watered by southern hospitality, and fed by several loving communities of faith and by friendships.

When our only child graduated from university, my Best Beloved and I found ourselves looking at the next phase and feeling a pull towards England. An opportunity to move there presented itself, so we sold up the farm (literally) and moved across the Atlantic Ocean.  We are now living in a part of the UK far from any of our previous homes.

One of my favourite views

We’ve lived in our rented accommodation for eighteen months. It’s a lovely home in an amazing setting.  I’ve grown to love it, and to find it both a balm and an inspiration.  Tentative roots have gone into the garden, the community and the entire region.

I’d like to share my journey in this beautiful place.  Please join me as I explore Cumbria and the Lake District.  I’ll welcome you into my kitchen and garden (even if those locations change, sadly).  We’ll become rooted in a new way in this (sometimes scary, sometimes heartwarming) place called the internet.

Peace,

Herdy Girl