Scarborough Castle

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Scarborough Castle is an impressive medieval fortress in a stunning location overlooking the town from high up on the cliffs. Given it’s setting, it rather reminded me of Chinon Castle in the Loire region of France.

We walked across the town from the museum and climbed up the hill to enter through the fortified gatehouse. The castle is under the stewardship of English Heritage so we were able to enter without paying the entrance fee on the day.

There’s evidence of human habitation on the promentry from pre-historic times and the Romans were here – they built a signal station on the cliffs. The first castle on the site was built in the 12th Century. It becam a Crown property during the reign of Henry II and over time was expanded to become a major fortress. It was beseiged, and badly damaged, during the Civil War, although, due to it’s strategic position on the coast, a garrison was kept here until the 19th century. Although a ruin today, there are substantial remains to explore and it’s location presents good views over the coast and town.

The remains of the fortifications are along the south of the headland, facing the old town. During medieval times the cliffs to the north would have been pretty much impregnable.

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A view over the Barbican towards the south bay

We walked past the Inner Bailey and bought a coffee from the kiosk next to the Master Gunner’s House – a later building. We then decided to walk along the top of the cliffsto take in the views before exploring the walls from the east side.

About half way along the cliffs there’s the site of a Roman signal station, one of a chain of structures built along the north east coast. There’s little in the way of physical remains of the Roman structure. A chapel was built on the site near a “holy” well, in about 1000 AD which was extended over the next few centuries and the visible stonework are the remains of this building.

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The well
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At the end of the headland we reached the eastern end of the castle walls. They’re still quite substantial.

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There’s remains of several towers and rooms incorporated with the curtain walls and ruins of other structures inside the Outer Bailey.

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We made our way to the Inner Bailey with it’s rectangular keep known as the Great Tower.

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There’s a viewing platform here that provides god views over the town, harbour and south bay.

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A view from the castle walls over the harbour
The Great Tower – it was badly damaged when beseiged during the Civil War
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Inside the Great Tower
View over the Inner Bailey from the viewing platform
The curtain walls seen from the viewing platform
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Looking back towards the castle on our way back to the car after our visit

A day in Scarborough

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The Thursday of our holiday we drove over to Scarborough. As far as I can remember I’d never been there before (although I’d been to Filey and Bridlington, a little further down the course, in the distant past). But Scarborough is the largest resort on the North Yorkshire coast. It’s been a popular destination since the 17th Century, originally as a Spa resort, but it really took off after the opening of the Scarborough–York railway in 1845, which brought in workers from the Yorkshire mill towns. The town goes back much further, though, as demonstrated by the impressive remains of a medieval castle on the hill overlooking the town. The Romans were certainly here and it’s likely that the town was founded by the Vikings. It’s built around two bays, separated by the hill that’s topped by the castle. The Marine Drive now goes round the end of the cliffs, linking the 2 bays, but this hasn’t always been the case.

There’s plenty of parking – not free, mind – and we parked up on the Marine Drive on the north bay. We walked round to the south bay, the site of the original medieval old town, and the attractive harbour.

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The Belle

After exploring the harbour we walked along hte prom on the south bay which is typical of a British seaside resort with the usual tacky amusment arcades and shops selling trinkets, with the odours of fish and chips, greasy fry ups and do-nuts constantly present. We carried on, climbing up through the gardens before the Grand Hotel, to the top road where there was a good view over the bay to the castle.

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The Grand Hotel was opened in 1867, when it was the largest hotel and the largest brick structure in Europe. It’s a Grade II* listed building. Today it’s owned by Britannia Hotels and so, like all their other hotels, it’s best avoided.

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The Grand Hotel – historic, but not so grand these days

We’d decided to visit the small museum so made our way past the Grand Hotel

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Pedestrian high level walkway

walking the short distance to the Georgian Rotunda building where it’s located.

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The mseum has small, but interesting, collection – mainly concentrating on fassils and the geology of the area.

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rather a lot of ammonites!
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The exhibits in the drum of the building are displayed in a way that probably hasn’t changed much since it was founded.

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Some of the exhibits displayed in glass cabinets lining the walls of the drum
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The old spiral staicase leading to the, now inaccessible, upper level in the dome.
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Some more exhibits
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The dome is very impressive – but it’s impossible to capture that in a photograph.
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A frieze around the base of the dome shows the geology of the north Yorkshire coast. I zoomed in on the section showing the Whitby area

We spent about an hour in the museum and then headed across the town towards the castle – and that deserves a post of it’s own. We also wanted to visit a celebrity in the old churchyard – you’ll have to wait to see whao that is (or perhaps you can make a guess!).

There was more to see in Scarborough, but our time there was limited. I’d have liked to have walked round to the old Spa building and the funicular railway and also spent some time walking along the norrth bay. It’s certainly worth another visit if we’re over that way again.

A walk along the cliffs

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The forecast for Tuesday predicted that after a reasonable start it would be a wet and windy afternoon. I was up early (as usual!) and decided to get out for a bracing walk along the cliffs to the south of Whitby before the weather changed. I managed to persuade my son to acompany me, be he soon lost his enthusiasm and turned back half way through the walk.

We crossed over to the East Cliff and climbed up the 199 Steps circumnavigating the graveyard with views over the sea and towards the Abbey ruins.

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We joined the coastal path, which is part of the Cleveland Way route, and which would take us along the cliffs

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Passing the Abbey
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There were other people walking along the path, probably making their way to Robin Hood’s Bay. That wasn’t my plan. I’d walked from Robin Hood’s Bay back to Whitby last time we stayed here. I could have carried on walking the route in reverse this time but I’d decided to turn around at the lighthouse, which is about a third of the way to Robin Hood’s Bay and retrace my steps and get back to Whitby before the rain came in. I actually think the best views are gained walking towards Whitby.

Here’s some photos I shot from the top of the cliffs – some taken going out and some coming back.

Looking back towards the Abbey and the harbour
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The cliffs are very friable and are being rapidly eroded by the North Sea. I could see several diversions of the path inland since my last walk along here.
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Approaching the lighthouse. It’s been converted into a couple of holiday cottages – a dramatic place to stay.
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Just south of the lighthouse is a foghorn
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I don’t know whether it’s still operational but I wouldn’t want to be staying in one of the lighthouse cottages if it was.

I turned around just after the lighthouse and headed back along the path towards Whitby. On the way I decided to divert down the cliffs to Saltwick bay. The tide was receding revealling a good stretch of fine sand.

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The last time we holidayed in Whitby we’d been fossiling here and without making any real effort I picked up a couple of pieces of ammonite and could see fragments of fossils in some of the larger rocks.

Returning to the cliff top path, with the tide going out remains of a wrecked boat were revealed

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It didn’t take me long to get back to Whitby. I called into the bookshop (I just couldn’t help myself) and made a purchase and stopped off at a couple of shops to purchase some supplies. The cloud had been coming in during my walk and it started to rain quite heavily, but fortunately I wasn’t far from the cottage.

I spent the afternoon taking it easy and catching up on some reading, drinking tea and eating cake! But in the evening we’d booked a table in the Magpie cafe on the harbour which is renowned for it’s fish and chips and other seafood. Last time we were here it was closed as there had been a fire, but it had been renovated since then. It’s very popular and although we’d booked a few days in advance could only get a table fairly late in the evening.

We had a very enjoyable meal.

I started with a plate of oysters
My main course – hake wrapped in parma ham served with muscles
I’m afraid I couldn’t resist the banana bread and butter pudding with custard – several shots of insulin required!

After eating the rain had eased off so we walked along the harbour, climbed up to the Whale bone arch and made our way back to our cottage

Whitby east side

Monday morning during our holiday in Whitby was rather gloomy. But after breakfast, while everyone else was taking it easy in the cottage, I decided to go out for a wander over to the east side of the harbour.

After crossing the bridge I turned down Church Street and where I found myself irresistibly drawn into the rather good independent bookshop, The Whitby Bookshop. After a good browse I carried on down Church Street before turning down Henrietta Street which leads to the harbour piers. I passed the smokehouse, but decided against purchasing any kippers. I’m very fond of the smoked herring but didn’t want to stink out the cottage!

I reached the harbour and walked onto the walls

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Taking care to avoid being blown off the wall by the strong wind, I snapped a few photos of the town under the moody sky.

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I set off back towards the cottage,

Picking up a few supplies on the way.

After dinner, it had brightened up so leaving our daughter behind to catch up on some work for her course, the rest of us decided to walk over to the east side of the town to have a mooch in the shops and take a few photos under a sunnier sky

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Whitby Abbey

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After the walk with my son along to Sandsend and back, during the afternoon all four of us headed through Whitby, over to the East Cliff and then up the 199 steps to visit the ruins of the Abbey. Perched on top of the cliffs above the town and next to the old Parish Church, even on a fine day it has rather a “spooky” atmosphere, especially when viewed across the graveyard as in the picture above! No wonder Bram Stoker used this as a location for the early part of Dracula.

We’d all been into the abbey during our previous visit to Whitby, but it was certainly worth another visit – although you can much of the structure from outside the walls without paying the entry fee, we’re all either members of English Heritage or Cadw (the Welsh equivalent) so we got free entry and were able to get a closer view.

The current Abbey wasn’t the first one on the site. The original Anglo Saxon builing was founded St Hild when Whitby was part of the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, way back in the 7th Century when the the town was known as Streaneshalch and is the liklely location of an important gathering of the clergy, known as the Synod of Whitby, which established the dominance of the Roman Church over the Celtic tradition in the kingdom of Northumbria. The Anglo Saxon building was destroyed following the Viking raids in the 9th Century. The site was then deserted for a couple of hundred years until after the Norman invasion when a new Romanesque Benedictine Abbey was founded in 1078. This wasreplaced by the current Gothic structure constructed over a protracted period between the 13th and 15th Centuries. The Abbey was closed by Henry VIII in 1540 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and it gradually fell into ruin – no doubt used as a “quarry” by the locals.

Here’s a few shots I took during our visit.

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A walk to Sandsend

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There’s a long stretch of sandy beach to the north of Whitby. At the other end, nestling underneath the cliffs, is the small village appropriatly named Sandsend. It was originally a fishing village, then a home for workers in the alum extraction industry. Today it’s a tourist resort and, apparently, the most expensive place to buy a property on this stretch of the coast!

On the Sunday morning of our holiday in Whitby, as the tide was going out, I set out with my son to walk the 3 miles to the village. It was a fine morning and although there was a bank of cloud hovering over Whitby, we were in the sunshine as we headed north.

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Looking down to the beach where the tide was receding, from the cliffs near Whitby Pavilion
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Although it was early, there were quite a few people taking some exercise on the beach and / or walking their dogs!
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Passing the colourful beach huts
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There were a few surfers out
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A rocky stretch
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Approaching Sandsend. We didn’t stop to look around the village as we’d planned to visit the Abbey that afternoon and time was getting on.

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Halfway back to Whitby, we took a path that climbed halfway up the cliff to get a different perspective
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We were walking towards the cloud now, but it was clearing and we were in the sunshine most of the way back to Whitby

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Looking down on the beach huts and towards the harbour
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We took the path up to the top of the cliffs a short distance before the Pavillion and passed one of the heritage statues celebrating thealleged invention of the “Crow’s Nest” by local man, William Scoresby

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And a second one, of Skipper Dora Walker (1890-1980), the first female fishing boat skipper on the North East coast.

A little further on we turned off the cliff top path back down towards Skinner Street and our holiday cottage.

A week in Whitby

We’re just back from an enjoyable family holiday in the historic seaside town of Whitby. This was our second visit having had a holiday there in July 2017.

The town developed following the establishment of an Anglo Saxon monastery high up on the East Cliff in 656 by Oswy, the Christian king of Northumbria. It’s in a narrow valley at the mouth of the River Esk, flanked by tall cliffs. The original settlement was at the bottom of the cliffs on the east side of the river, eventually spreading over to the west bank. It’s location means that it’s a maze of steep, narrow streets and ginnels – not the easiest of places to drive around!

Until relatively recently it was very much an industrial town with alum quarries on nearby cliffs and shipbuilding was a major industry – it’s hard to believe that in the 18th century it was the third largest shipbuilding port in England. Not surprisingly it was a fishing port and in the mid 18th century it also became a centre for whaling. Whitby developed as a spa town in Georgian times and tourism really took off in the mid 19th Century with the arrival of the railway, leading to the development on top of the West Cliff.

Bram Stoker stayed in Whitby and it inspired him to write his novel, Dracula, which started with the Dementer, the ship carrying Dracula running aground, its crew missing, its dead skipper lashed to the wheel was wrecked on Tate Hill Sands, below the East Cliff (his inspiration for this was the beaching of a Russian ship, the Dmitry, on the sands in 1885).  One of the novel’s characters, and Dracula’s victim, Lucy Westenra, was attacked by the Count in St Mary’s Churchyard, the Parish Church that stands in the shadow of the Abbey.

We had a relatively easy week, spending our time wandering around the streets, cliffs and beaches with only one trip out to Scarborough. We didn’t spot any vampires, fortunately!

Here’s a few snaps that I took around the town during our stay, starting with a few views of the East Cliff from the harbour and West Cliff

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This is the beach where the Dmitry ran aground – the inspiration for the start of Bram Stoker’s novel.
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Some of the shops in the “main street” of the East Cliff
Looking up the 199 Steps that lead up to the Parish Church and the ruins of the Abbey.
In bram stoker’s novel, Dracula, in the guise of a black hound, ran up these steps up to the top of the East Cliff after the shipwreck.
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Looking down to the harbour from part way up the 199 steps
Looking over the graveyard to the Abbey
The Abbey ruins
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This modern bridge linking the east pier and the east pier extension of the harbour walls. An addition since our last visit.
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Looking down over the harbour to the West Cliff from the top of the East Cliff
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Another view over to the West Cliff settlement
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The monument to James Cook, who, as an apprentice seafarer, was based in the town

There’s a fine beach to the west of the town stretching a couple of miles to the small hamlet of Sandsend

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A replica of Cook’s Endeavour
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Another change since out holiday in 2017 – there were a number of these wire statues of former residents of the town illustrating it’s heritage.
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A fellow photographer!

Yewdale, Holme Fell and Tarn Hows

The second day of my mini break in Coniston I’d decided on a lower level walk. I checked out of the hostel at about 9 and walked the short distance to Shepherd’s Bridge to set off down Yewdale. It was a gey start to the day, with low cloud up on the high fells, but the weather forecast looked promising for later in the day.

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Holly How YHA

The walk down this very scenic valley is one of my favourite low level walks taking me through pleasant fields and woodland with good views over to the fells to the north.

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The Yewdale fells over the fields to the left
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Holme Fell ahead
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through the woods
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Holme Fell
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Cloud over Wetherlam
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I turned down towards Yew Tree Farm. Owned by the national Trust the farm featured in the film Miss Potter about Beatrix Potter starring Renée Zellweger. In the film it stood in for Hill Cottage where the author lived, but, although she owned the farm, she never actually lived there. The current tennants sell their Herdwick Hogget (young sheep between 1-2 years old) and Belted Galloway beef. They’ve been on TV a few times recently (including Countryfile on the BBC) – a good advert for their business I bet! We’ve bought their meat several times via the internet and I have to saya that we all think that their “Beltie Burgers” are the best burgers we’ve ever eaten.

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Yew Tree farm – a very picturesque setting

Here’s some of their Herdies!

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I took the path behind the farm and began the climb up Holme Fell

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a couple of curious Herdies!

It’s not one of the bigger fells – just over 1000 feet – but it was a sharp, steep ascent.

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but there are great views from the top. It was still grey and overcast but there were still 360 degree views

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There was some peeking out over Wetherlam

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Holme Fell is probably one of the best viewpoints for looking over Coniston Water

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I stopped for a while, taking in the view and trating myself to a snack and then I started to make my way down the other side of the fell. This is the second time I’ve been up here but I still haven’t worked out the best way down. The path I took metered out and whichever way down I’ve taken inevitably results in some bog hopping.

This used to be slate quarrying country and there was plenty of evidence of the industry between the fell and Little Langdale.

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My route followed a track that eventually headed east, over High Oxen fell (which isn’t very high!) back towards the Ambleside to Coniston road. The views over to the fells from this road was outstanding, especially as the cloud was clearing and the sun beginning to appear.

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Reaching the main road I crossed over and took the track following the Cumbria Way towards Tarn Hows

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Looking across to Holme Fell

I had considered walking over to Black Fell – another small fell that’s a great viewpoint – but decided against it for two reasons. My knee was starting to give me a bit of trouble and I was also keeping my eye on time as I had to catch the bus from Coniston back to Windermere at 4:30 to make sure I connected with my train back home. So I carried on following the Cumbria Way to Tarn Hows where I stopped for a bite to eat.

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I deviated from the Cumbria Way following the western side of the tarn with the extensive views over to the Coniston Fells

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At the end of the Tarn I followed the metaled track back towards Yewdale. The weather had really changed now with plenty of sunshine, and it was getting warm.

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Making my way back down Yewdale I passed through a field on unusual Dutch spotted sheep

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Carrying on down Yewdale Coniston Water came into view

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Reaching Shepherd’s Bridge on the edge of Coniston, I had a couple of hours before my bus was due so I decided to walk over to the lake

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Looking across to the fells from the path to the lake

On a sunny afternoon there were a lot of people enjoying themselves out on the lake

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Time for a brew and a slice of cake in the lakeside cafe!

After enjoying people watching for a while by the lake, I headed back towards the village

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had a mooch around and then joined the group of people waiting for the bus back to Windermere. It was running late but I had a chat with a couple of liverpudlians who were heading back to Bowness via Ambleside.

I arrived back in Windermere an hour before my train was due (I’d bought an advance ticket for the last direct train) so bought a few supplies from Booth’s supermarket and then sat and ate my purchases on the platform. The direct train ended up not being so direct. It was due to terminate at Manchester Airport but signalling problems (had somebody been nicking the copper cable again?) meant it would now terminate at Preston. Luckily it was only a short wait there before I was able to find a connection which got me back to Wigan only 15 minutes later than originally scheduled.

I’d had a good couple of days in Coniston and despite the slight delay on my way home using public transport was a welcome change from sitting in traffic. I’d have liked to stay another night given the fine weather, but I had a meeting the next day. September’s going to be busy, but I have a family holiday to look forward to at the end of the month

https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/10078471/Yewdale-Holme-Fell-Tarn-Hows

The shore at Seaburn

Last weekend we were up in Sunderland for a family wedding. We hadn’t been up to the North East for about 4 years, visits delayed due to lockdowns and travel bans, so it was good to have an opportunity to catch up properly with family, rather than relying on posts on Facebook and Instagram.

We drove up on Friday, the day before, and stayed in the new Seaburn Inn hotel on the sea front. Although it’s very much an industrial town, Sunderland has a fantastic beach and coastline stretching from Roker through Seaburn and then on to Whitburn. We had paid a little extra for a room on the front with a balcony, hoping to enjoy the views over to the sea. The weather was rather dull when we arrived and it rained on Saturday (but, I’m glad to say, this did’t spoil the wedding), but it brightened up for the next couple of days. I’m always up early and was out for a walk along the Prom each morning irrespective of the weather.

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A dull morning, but it’s still enjoyable to walk along the Prom

And on Sunday afternoon, after a family gathering in the morning, we were able to enjoy a walk along the beach in the sunshine, from our hotel as far as the start of the cliffs at the boundary with Whitburn.

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We then spent a little time on the balcony reading and enjoying the view before an earlyish tea in the hotel bar. After that we enjoyed an evening walk along the shore towards Roker and back, finishing off with a drink on the balcony.

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A break in the Lakes

Earlier this year I decided to book a few days in the Youth Hostel in Borrowdale in the Lake District to try and do some walking among the higher fells. I was taking a chance as I had no idea what the weather would be like, but I struck lucky.

We’d had a wet and miserable few weeks, but the forecast was optimistic for some good weather. I drove up via the M6 on the Monday morning, through some heavy rain, but by the time I’d got past Penrith the cloud was clearing and the sun was peeking through.

I had some time to kill before I could check in at the hostel so I stopped off in Keswick to have a mooch around and to pick up a few bits and bobs from the outdoor shops. It was market day and the streets were busy, but it wasn’t too difficult to maintain some social distancing. After I’d made my purchases I popped into Jav coffee shop for an ice coffee – it was becoming hot and sunny. They had some seating out on the pavement, but it was all taken, but I I had no trouble finding a seat indoors.

Then it was back to my car for the start of the drive down Borrowdale. I stopped off at the National Trust car park at Great Wood taking advantage of the free parking which is one of the benefits of my NT membership. A short walk through the woods and I was on the lake shore taking in the views across Derwent Water to the fells beyond. It was cloudy and the light was very flat so not so good for taking photographs, but I snapped a few anyway!

Calf Close Bay is probably my favourite spot on teh east shore of the lake.

I always make a bee line for the sculpture by Peter Randall-Page. The Hundred Year Stone was commissioned to celbrate the centenary of the National Trust.

It’s carved from a glacial boulder from Borrowdale. Positioned close to the water I’ve seen it in vary stages of “drowning” as the lake level rises and falls. Despite the recent rain it was a few feet from the water during this visit.

The Hundred Year Stone by Peter Randall Page

I chatted a while with a couple of amateur photographers and then made my way back to the car for the drive down to the hostel. It didn’t take long so after driving nervously down the narrow lane lined on both sides with dry stone walls I had a short wait before I could check in.

I dumped my stuff in my room and had a bite to eat and then decided that I’d walk along the river to Rossthwaite, the nearby village.

The attractive cottages would once have been the abodes of workers from the nearby quarries and mines up on the fells. Today tman of them are holiday lets or B and B’s and as well as being pretty would cost a pretty penny to purchase.

Looking down the valley I was tempted by the profile of Castle Crag – a small fell guarding the entrance to the valley – which wasn’t so far away and as I had a couple of hours before darkness started to draw in, I decided to head over there.

I made my way up the path

Reaching the top, which required a short, steep climb up a slope of slate waste (there was a quarry here at one time) there were good views all around. To the north

Skiddaw looming over Derwent Water

the south, up Borrowdale towards the high fells

and towards Stonethwaite and Langstrath

and over to the fells to the east

The sun was beginning to dip behind the fells and the light was starting to fail, so I made my way back to Rossthwaite and then through the fields to the hostel. After a drink of diet pepsi to quench my thirst (they were out of low alcohol beer, sadly) it was time to turn in.