Over the Hause

Having eaten a delicious dinner, and cake for dessert, Best Beloved and I thought that walking a couple of miles might be a good idea. Especially since the evening was a lovely one.

We headed up the road toward Buttermere, with Crummock Water to our right and the petite valley called Rannerdale to our left.  Where the narrow road meets the rocky face of the fell, we climb up, up, up Rannerdale Hause.

‘A Dictionary of Lake District Place Names’ by Diana Whaley says that, “Hause comes from Old Norse hals meaning ‘a neck of land.”  And so it is, as Rannerdale Hause stretches forth toward Crummock Water from knobbly Rannerdale Knotts.

Walking up Rannerdale Hause takes you not-quite-halfway to the peak of Rannerdale Knotts.  (Can you spot the Herdwick in the photo?)

It still amazes me that we get to live here.

I was so busy enjoying the views that I didn’t realize that BB had moved ahead!

Once you get to the top of the Hause, the walk is easy.  Not what I would call ‘accessible’, though.

Even in the height of summer, evenings are fairly quiet. Keep your eyes peeled for the occasional herdy friend.

And don’t forget to turn around once in a while.  You wouldn’t want to miss something like the sun skimming the top of Melbreak.

Which meant its light travelled right along Crummock Water toward Buttermere.  It was lovely and warm, and the midges weren’t too bad.

We made it down to the road.

I enjoyed the contrast between the dark trunks of these tall pines and the sun-kissed field in front of Wood House.

BB had found a spot to sit and think.

I found my own spot to do just the same.

Then I put away my phone camera and spent the walk back home holding hands with BB and soaking in the evening.

Time to just ‘be’ for a while.

Peace,

Herdy Girl

Birthplace of a Poet

The Wordsworth House and Garden, a National Trust property near the centre of Cockermouth, is one of my favourite spots to while away a couple of hours.

The National Trust presents the house as it was in about 1770, when William Wordsworth was born there as the second of five children.

William Wordsworth is best known for I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, a poem often memorized in classrooms across the world:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

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I had garden and house almost to myself on Tuesday morning.

It’s an impressive Georgian house that stands aloof from the busy main street, all sash windows, formal garden, and solid portico.

The dining room was designed and decorated to impress. As it does, even now.

Beautiful, especially with sunlight streaming in those large windows.

There’s an approachable elegance to this house.

Jane Austen was a contemporary of Wordsworth. Can you envision her characters in these rooms?

Even as a modern day visitor, the kitchen’s crackling open fire draws you into the heart of the home. The scent is inviting too: warm spices and fresh herbs, woodsmoke and baked goods.

On every visit, there’s a tasty treat to sample. Often you’ll be offered gingerbread, oatcakes, or rum butter. Delicious.

The family’s bedrooms, though less ornamented, still enjoy the good proportions and natural light that fills this house.

Viewed through the windows along the back of the house, the enticing garden promises to be special.

And it delivers.  Such a magical feel on this summer’s day.

This garden is a lesson in restrained abundance, its carefully laid out beds filled with fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.  New plants, like the Verbena bonariensis above (introduced in 1726), began flooding into Europe during this time period. Exciting stuff!

I could totally bore you with photos of this garden, but I will restrain myself.

You do need to see the view toward the house from the terrace above the River Cocker, though.

Today, this stately Georgian house is peopled by knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff and volunteers. In the kitchen, in the garden, at the harpsichord, in the shop and in the café – these folk bring a moment in history back to life and welcome you to enjoy it.

Their sense of humour is also appreciated.

A delightful place to visit.

Peace,

Herdy Girl

Ragnarok in a Cumbrian churchyard

‘The Doom of the gods’ is not something you expect when you visit a village church. St. Mary’s in Gosforth has many of the normal requisites: church bells, stained glass, tombstones, and more.

It also has some very unusual and rather special things.

Chief among these is a fourteen and a half foot tall ancient cross. This slender sandstone wonder has been standing here since between 920 and 950 AD. That makes it the oldest and tallest Viking cross in England.

Amazing, isn’t it? That it is still standing in this small churchyard, that you can still see the carvings on the weathered stone, that it isn’t in a museum somewhere.

You can touch it, feel the grains of blushing sand and wonder who carved it, and what stories it could tell.

Nearby is the base of what was, presumably, another similar cross. Remnants within the church, and old records, tell that there may have been as many as four such crosses of a similar style and size.

The cross starts off with a cylindrical stylized tree base thought to represent Yggdrasil, ancient Scandinavia’s mythical ‘Tree of Life’.  It is carved with dragons, Loki, Thor, beasts and monsters. Oh my.

Yet it is undeniably a cross, and it also carries carvings of Christ’s crucifixion.

We can only wonder and surmise what this and the other bits and pieces mean. The Vikings quickly converted to Christianity as they settled the west coast of Cumbria.

Could the cross(es) have been used to explain the story of Christ in terms that the new inhabitants understood?

There has been some sort of Christian place of worship on this site since the 8th century.  That’s near enough to 1,300 years!

The current church building is late Victorian, 1897 AD, if the front edifice is correct.

The Victorians are known for preserving ancient sites or buildings; they destroyed quite a bit with their ‘improvements’ up and down the country.  They did preserve some of the ancient stonework from the previous Norman (12th century) church, most notably the sandstone arches throughout.

You might think it unremarkable, and not explore further.

Don’t make that mistake. There are other treasures.

There are two splendid ‘hogback’ stones. Unique to northern Britain and thought to be shaped like Viking boat-shaped houses. Historians and archaeologists generally agree that hogback stones served as grave markers.

There are further smaller treasures dotted throughout St. Mary’s.  You’ll have to visit yourself to see them.

There’s so much to see, learn, enjoy in Cumbria. Hope you enjoyed this Viking history teasel, I mean teaser.  (I’m a silly Herdy Girl, sometimes.)

Peace,

Herdy Girl

 

 

Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside…

A sunny, warm day off. What’s a soul to do?

Gather the family and head to the coast.  As we’d not been there in a while, we headed down to Seascale via the scenic Cold Fell route.

We arrived to this view from the car park.

Standing on the path, I looked to my left.

And then to the right.

Best Beloved and the dogs wasted no time at all; they put feet to sand first.  As usual, I lag behind, admiring wildflowers and snapping photographs.

There’s a dip in the ‘pier’.  When the tide is high, the paler portion is under water.

Walking south along the beach, you can see Black Combe in the distance.

BB and the dogs have been playing a joyous game of fetch on the packed sand. (And through the rock pools.)

A very happy spaniel.  Is it just me, or is she smiling?

And this fella, this westie, he is in his element.

What a backdrop for this beach walk.  Zoom in on the photo below and you’ll see the Scafel Pike, the highest mountain in England at 3,209 feet / 978m.

On a much smaller scale, a factoid: in the south-west of England, rocks covered with seaweed are called ore-stones. I wonder if there is a Cumbrian term for them?

The tide began to turn, and the dog’s were due for a drink. Time to walk back to Seascale.

We indulge in an ice cream cone from Mawson’s Ice Cream Parlour.

Happily, they’ve placed a bowl of fresh water outside for the dogs .  BB and I take turns going inside for our treats.

Mawson’s always have imaginative flavours. Among the Snickers, Honeycomb Crunch, and Strawberry Cheesecake, we find Unicorn.  Thank you, Internet.

I chose Panacotta & Forest Fruits. It was a good choice – gentle dairy sweetness balanced with sharp berries. BB had a double scoop, both the Panacotta & Forest Fruits and some Strawberry Cheesecake.

My cone crumbled a bit, but it was delicious.

Song filled drive to the coast – check. Relaxing sound of waves and fresh coastal breezes – check. Sandy and wet game of fetch – check.  Ice cream eaten on a bench in the sunshine – check.

Memories made.

Goals met, we jumped into the car and started the journey home.

What are your favourite beach memories?

Peace,

Herdy Girl

 

Friars Crag

Anyone needing a preview of the beauty and the activities available in the Lake District need look no further than Keswick. Even on an overcast day, it is a charming town.

We had time this weekend to gallivant and share some views with new visitors to our neck of the woods.  We took them over Honister Pass, through Borrowdale and along the River Derwent and Derwent Water to Keswick.  After a quick trip up the main street, we headed toward the water.  En route, we took the requisite Hope Park photo.

The tightly clipped hedging, the venerable Victorian rooftops, and the towering bulk of Blencathra.  Who could resist?

Nor could I not try to capture a photo of the buzzing Bumblebees on a patch of one of my favourite perennials, Japanese anemone. All sorts of insects were having what looked to be a fantastic time, a veritable Pollinator Party.

I’m surprised that there are no Japanese anemones growing in our garden.  They are so pretty and easy to grow.  Must remedy that!

From the field at the head of Derwent Water (site of the Keswick Mountain Festival), the view along the length of the lake is one to share with family and friends who haven’t seen it before.

To the left of the photo, you can see the jetties where boats can be rented from the National Trust. To the right, further into the lake, is Derwent Island. It is the only inhabited island in the entire Lake District National Park. Both island and house are open to a limited number of visitors five times a year.

Accessible only by water, it’s on my list of places to go.

If you find yourself in Keswick, please take the easy and accessible walk down to Friar’s Crag.  The path is maintained, and there are plenty of seats along the short route.

Friar’s Crag was one of John Ruskin’s favourite views and the place of his earliest memory.  Ruskin was a writer, a poet, an artist, an art critic, and a philanthropist. Though plagued by scandal in his love life, he is considered one of the great figures of Victorian social revolution and one of the first proponents of environmentalism.  He was a great thinker.  Due to his close associations with Keswick, you’ll find a slate memorial dedicated to John Ruskin on the crag.

If the bench at the tip of the crag isn’t already occupied, you can sit and do some contemplating yourself.

It was a quick visit for us.  It needn’t be for you.

Peace,

Herdy Girl

Playing in the Garden

In between the weeding, pruning, planting, and cups of tea in the garden, I take the occasional random photo.

The climates of our homes in South Carolina and this one in the Lake District could not be more different.

It was too hot in SC for us to successfully grow Fuchsia, yet we’ve two shrubby trees of it here. The largest is underplanted with Astilbe, Crocosmia, Heuchera, and Alchemilla .

There were roses here already, but we planted Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ last autumn. Best Beloved and I have had one of these in all but one of our gardens together.

In addition to being a beautiful rose, it is very fragrant.

I also have enjoyed this single rose that was already here. It leans over one of our paths. Simple is good, too.

This spring we planted floral fireworks, better known as Alliums.

I’ve discovered Astrantias. How did I not know about these? Must grow more.

We also enjoy the odd butterfly fluttering by.

One of my favourite spots in the garden is a formal box circle. There was nothing on the centre plinth when we moved in. It was overgrown and a bit sad.

I think we’ve done it proud.

We’re growing more herbs on the sunny southern side of the house. There were a few here, but no where near enough. I’ve a bit of a thing for herbs and have planted a couple of dozen different ones. Most are in pots, but some are planted in the stone wall.

Sweet peas also call this area home. The rabbits ate all the peas, sweet peas and beans that we planted elsewhere. Cheeky bunnies.

Even the shed doesn’t look too bad when the window reflects the evening sky.

Right, well, I’m going to head out into the sunshine.  There’s more work to do in the garden!

Peace,

Herdy Girl

 

Rubby Banks Cottage (NGS)

With the generosity of garden owners, the hundreds of volunteers, and the willing participation of those who visit the gardens, the National Garden Scheme (NGS) are able to donate record amounts to nursing and caring charities throughout England and Wales.

Best Beloved and I travelled to the banks of the River Cocker for the final of six gardens on their NGS open day in Cockermouth.

Rubby Banks Cottage didn’t allow vehicle access, so we parked and walked along the narrow, paved track that topped the steep west bank of the river.

At the end of the lane a left turn takes you through an iron gate and down toward the river.

We recognized the effects of flood on this garden, having experienced the same ourselves. It takes time to recover from the loss of soil and the silting of paths. Rubby Bank Cottage is well on its way to recovery.

This half of the garden sits on the site of an old water mill. The owners say it was torn down in the mid-1970’s.  Evidence of the site’s industrial use is most evident in the remains of the rubble-filled mill race canal.

Back at the entrance to the garden, you’ll note the only standing portion of the former mill building. Vine-covered, it now functions as an outbuilding.

Through the gate and, again, to the left lies a more formal garden.

Rubby Bank Cottage’s garden rooms are separated by a series of arches. The owners must spend a lot of time tending to their pruning. Their hard work gives lovely bones to the garden.

Interestingly, two of their metal arches are not clad in vines, but are used as forms for espaliered apple trees.

The area between them is edged with mixed herbaceous borders.

The end of the path led to a small wildflower meadow, currently home to what I think are some common spotted orchids.

The threatening sky finally started to produce some drizzle, so we finished admiring the fruitfulness of the gardeners’ labours at Rubby Bank Cottage.

We are thankful to the NGS, to it’s volunteers, and to the owners of the six lovely Cockermouth Gardens.  Many happy and successful returns.

Peace,

Herdy Girl

 

 

 

Sunscales House (NGS)

You know those gardens that catch your eye? That offer intriguing glimpses when you’re passing by? The ones you would like to explore, but they belong to someone else – someone you don’t know?

This was one of those gardens for me. I feel such a lucky Herdy Girl!

Thanks to the National Garden Scheme (NGS), these kinds of private gardens are made accessible in order to raise funds for charity.  Of the six Cockermouth Gardens open on 9th July this year, Sunscales House would be the fifth for us. (You can pay your £4.50 pp at any of the gardens, and tour them in any order you please.)

It lies on the road between our home and the Cockermouth shops, and the main road toward West Cumbria.

The front garden is visible from the road, and it looks a Right Proper Gardeners’ Garden.

The NGS notes call this a medium sized garden, and so it is.  A very well-appointed medium sized garden.

It has the feel of two gardens, and I wonder if this is a ‘his and hers’ situation, or if the gardeners’ tastes are changing. It may well have been a simple choice, as the layout and micro-climates lend themselves to their current use.

Entering from the drive, there are plenty of hard surfaces, strong lines, and the ‘vibe’ is Asian with a touch of the Mediterranean on their large patio.

Someone clearly enjoys their bonsai. A lovely collection filled the area between the patio and the green house.

Then you pass a wildlife pond, and step down into their vegetable and fruit growing area.  The strong lines are still there, but the edges of the garden are softening.

Note again, the walls and hedges enclosing and protecting the garden. And we turn down a beautifully placed pergola.

Covered in lovely vines.

At the end of which we meet the path to the front door. This area is packed with bulb, shrubs, perennials, many kept in bounds by ‘step-over’ espaliered apple trees.

A well-struck balance between orderly structure and exuberant plant growth.  Much thought and planning and skill has gone into this garden.

The garden at Sunscales House was a case of thoroughly met (high) expectations.

Clouds were beginning to gather for the forecasted ‘light rain’ and we knew it was time to move along.  The owners kindly told us the best place to park for our sixth and final garden visit of the day.

Onward to Rubby Banks Cottage.

Peace,

Herdy Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At High Moor (NGS)

In the National Garden Scheme’s (NGS) first year, 1927, six hundred private gardens opened to raise charitable funds for district nurses.

In 2017, an astounding 3,800 private gardens are opening their gates to visitors across England and Wales, all to provide financial support to nursing and caring charities.

Not a bad way for the NGS to celebrate its 90th Anniversary, eh?

This past Sunday, Best Beloved and I spent a few relaxed hours touring six Cockermouth Gardens as part of an NGS open day. The fourth garden we visited was High Moor.

The official description notes that High Moor covers around 3/4 acre, which gave it a wide-open feeling.  When you first enter the property, you are greeted with a lawn that beckons you to wear wide-brimmed hats and play croquet.

That’s not to say that High Moor doesn’t offer intimate spaces as well.  It certainly does.  In fact, look how well a potentially forgotten in-between space is utilized as an inviting seating area below.

We enjoyed walking around their well-appointed vegetable and fruit garden.

Who wouldn’t want to dry their clothes in a strawberry patch?  Well done, High Moor owners, well done!

Or pick garden peas supported by recycled agricultural fencing? (I suffered a moment of extreme pea envy here… sigh.)

Although High Moor’s vegetable garden is overlooked, it feels a friendly space and doesn’t suffer from the nearness of others.

What lucky neighbours they have, with such a view out their back windows.

The space is also shared by hives of bees and a flock of chickens. No chicken photos, sadly, as they were penned away for the open garden. We did get to watch, from a distance,  as the bees busily buzzed to and fro from their shelter.

As with the White House garden, plenty of walls and hedges mitigate the effects of Cumbrian winds. High Moor also offered a pergola. It was a heavier affair of brick and timber, along which ran a water feature.

At its end, the owners took advantage of a warm sun-trap by adding a built-in barbeque grill and seating.

Alongside that area, greenhouses sheltered grapevines, figs and more. It was properly reminiscent of times when such luxury was a lot harder to find – no supermarkets when this property was built.

And in a hidden nook around the corner, a sheltered seat to rest weary bones and quietly contemplate.

A gregarious group were enjoying light refreshments alongside the house, but we had two more of the six gardens to visit and decided to keep going.

The next two properties were a bit further away, but closer to our route home.  We hopped in the car and tootled over to the Lorton Road.

Peace,

Herdy Girl

The White House Garden (NGS)

As we headed up the hill from the garden on Holmewood Avenue, smiling people were walking in both directions.  Every one of the happy walkers was wearing a yellow National Garden Scheme (NGS) sticker. They were chatting about plants, pets, and the weather. All quite civilized.

After all, the NGS has been raising charitable funds for ninety years.  Through the public opening of some of the loveliest private gardens in England and Wales, the NGS is the most significant charitable funder of nursing charities in the country. Civilized indeed.

Crenelated garage en route. Made me quietly giggle.

So, it was with genteel anticipation that we walked up the lane toward the third garden on our Cockermouth Gardens  tour.

The White House stands on a hill. The house and garden are protected from the Cumbrian wind by a series of walls and hedges.

Upon entry to the garden, refreshments beckoned. Tea, coffee, and a fine selection of homemade cakes. Best Beloved chose a slice of Victoria Sponge Cake, and I decided upon a piece of Lemon Drizzle Cake with my tea. We relaxed in an arboured seat for a moment with neither camera nor agenda.

It was a good moment in a good afternoon.

A long, vine-covered pergola crosses the garden.

It separates several garden ‘rooms’ filled with borders and beds, provides visual interest, and gives further protection from the prevailing southwesterly wind.

The Edwardian house itself is set in what were once the Victorian gardens of Holmewood, now a residential care home on the other side of the garden wall. Remnants of that layout can be seen in the terraces, and in some of the hard features.

An adjoining stable block is incorporated into the garden.  The owners have future plans for this area, to take advantage of it’s sunny warmth.

This is the roomiest of the gardens thus far.

En route to the vegetable garden and petite orchard, an ethereal scent drew us toward a lovely old fashioned ‘Blush Noisette’ climbing rose.

My goodness, it is an astoundingly gorgeous thing!

Having finished visiting the third of six gardens, BB and I were half way through our NGS tour.  We’d had refreshments, and were ready to walk to the next property.

Peace,

Herdy Girl