Cartmel Priory

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It was a rather grim day as we left Portiscale at the end of our holiday, but rather than drive straight home we decided to extent our break stopping off at Blackwell to take a look at the latest exhibition showing there and then driving down to Cartmel. I’d been there during a recent walk, but wanted to have a proper look around.

Cartmel is a small, attractive village on the Furness peninsula which is something of a “honeypot” with a number of touristy shops (although good quality ones) a Michelin 2 star restaurant, three pubs and is also renowned for sticky toffee pudding. Despite the weather, it was very busy with visitors.

We parked up at the Racecourse and made our way towards the centre of the village. We wanted to take a look around the old Priory church which dominates the village which was originally part of a monastery. Like many old churches it evolved over many years and although mainly Gothic in style there are some Norman / Romanesque features.

The tower is particularly interesting – the top half having been constructed diagonally across the original tower.  There’s not another one like this in the UK.

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(I took this photo during my previous visit when it was hot and sunny and the light was much better for photography)

The priory was founded in 1190 with extensive work curing the next couple of centuries. The oldest parts of the building are the chancel, transepts, the south doorway, and part of the north wall of the nave.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536 the church survived as it was used as the village Parish church. Little else of the monastery remains other than the gatehouse in the village square which is now owned by the National Trust.

We entered via the south door which is inside a much later porch

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The semi-circular arch with its decorations is very typical of Norman/Romanesque architecture.

Looking down the Choir from the nave. Classic Gothic pointed arches

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in the north aisle

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and supporting that eccentric tower

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but round Norman style arches with dog-tooth decoration in the Choir

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The choir stalls look like they could be Elizabethan or Jacobean

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The old font, dating from 1640

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A monument to the “Cartmel martyrs” who resisted the destruction of the church during the Dissolution of the monasteries.

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Monuments by the sculptor Josefina de Vasconcellos, an English sculptor with a Brazilian father and British mother, who lived in Cumbria much of her working life.

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The Cavendish memorial. The tomb of Lord Frederick Cavendish, son of the 7th Duke of Devonshire, who was Chief Secretary to Ireland in Gladstone’s government, and who was assassinated by Fenians in Phoenix Park in Dublin in 1882.

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The Cavendishes, a branch of the Duke of Devonshire’s family, are the local big wigs. Nearby Holker Hall is their ancestral home and they own property around Cartmel including the racecourse.

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Browsing on the web after the visit, I came across this interesting clip on the BBC website where Nicholas Pevsner visits the Priory and discusses its architecture.

 

Walla Crag and Ashness Bridge

Thursday was the last day of our holiday and we decided that although rain showers were forecast we’d get out for a walk. We managed to persuade our son to come out with us so we decided on a route that wouldn’t be too challenging.

We drove over to the National Trust Car Park at Great Wood on the east side of the lake and set off up through the woods, heading for Walla Crag.

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The path climbed up through the woods, eventually reaching a path where we turned right towards Castlerigg farm. Views opened up of Derwent Water and the fells to the west of the lake

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and to Skidaw

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and Blencathra

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Passing the farm we had a short sharp climb up the fell, but with great views

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It’s a relatively short climb up to the top of the crag, although it is classified as a Wainwright as the grumpy author of the classic guidebooks to the Lakeland fells gives it it’s own entry due to it’s popularity. It’s certainly a great viewpoint.

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The dark clouds threatening rain made it very atmospheric.

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Bleaberry Fell, only a mile away, looked inviting

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but son wasn’t so keen on extending the walk, so we continued on our pre-planned route taking the path descending gradually down the hill towards Ashness Bridge.

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Looking back over Derwent Water

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It didn’t take us too long to reach Ashness Bridge, a traditional stone-built bridge on the single-track road to Watendlath. It’s a very popular tourist spot as it’s easily accessible and is allegedly the most photographed packhorse bridge in the Lake District, so I had to stop to take a few snaps.

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Rather than take the path through the woods from Ashness Bridge back to Great Wood car park we decided to follow the road down to the lake and walk along the shore to Calfclose Bay to have another look at the Millennium stones monument.
I’m not sure that this was a great idea because for a good stretch of the way back the path we’d walked along on Saturday was flooded as the Lake level had risen due to the on and off rain since Sunday.

Reaching the sculpture, this is what greeted us

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So far, despite rain clearly visible falling over the fells, especially up Borrowdale and in Newlands Valley across Derwent Water, we’d avoided the showers. But now it started to rain – very heavily. It was only a short walk back to the car, but it was time to get the waterproofs out of the rucksack!

Reaching the car we changed out of our boots and chucked the wet coats into the boot of the car and then drove back to Portinscale. Another good walk.

A night at the Theatre by the Lake

After looking round the museum in Keswick, browsing in the shops and a stroll in the parks we headed over to Morrel’s Restaurant where we had a table booked for an early evening pre-theatre meal. Like some other diners we had tickets for that evening’s performance at the Theatre by the Lake.

The Theatre “does exactly what it says on the tin” – it’s a repertory theatre situated close to the northern lake shore of Derwent Water. It opened in 1999 with funding from an Arts Council Lottery Fund Grant. It has a main auditorium and a Studio theatre. From May to November every year a resident company of up to 14 actors perform a Summer Season of six plays in repertory.

We’d decided it would be good to take in a play during our stay in Keswick so I’d booked tickets the week before. The play running that week was an adaption of Jane Austen’s tale of manners, matrimony and social standing – Sense and Sensibility. Now I’m not a fan of Austen’s work and had hesitated when looking at the programme but decided to go anyway. I’m glad I did.

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The play was a light-hearted adaption of the novel featuring the entire company, some in multiple roles. It was funny and well acted with some excellent performances. I though Lydea Perkins’ did a convincing job portraying the young Margaret Dashwood. Sarah Kempton and Alice Imelda as her older sister, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood were also very good. Christine Entwisle was also excellent in the contrasting parts of the cold and cruel Fanny Dashwood and the main comic turn, Mrs Jennings.

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The male leads Oliver Mott as at Willoughby and Thomas Richardson as Colonel Brandon both did a good job in portraying characters of whom the audience’s opinion and sympathies changed during the course of the play.

So, despite my initial reservations, this was an enjoyable evening and I’m glad I decided to overcome my prejudice and go ahead an buy the tickets. Sometimes taking a chance leads to a nice surprise!

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Keswick Museums

The Tuesday morning of our holiday we went out on the lake. The offspring and Moss in a canoe, while I followed up on my Anglesey adventure by hiring a kayak – a “sit on” one this time as no “sit in” types were available. Photographs were difficult as we didn’t want to get our phones and cameras wet, but Mitch did manage to get a snap of Moss.

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After an enjoyable hour paddling on the water, we went back to the apartment to dry off, change and have a bite to eat. After that I went with J into Keswick for the afternoon. After looking around the shops for a while we headed over to the Keswick museum. It’s quite small, occupying only three rooms (not counting the reception / gift shop, but worth a visit. There’s a permanent collection – local fossils, geological samples, natural history, social and industrial history exhibits and objects reflecting life in Keswick and the Lake District. Old fashioned, but in a good way!

UntitledMy favourite exhibit was the large lithophone (a xylophone made of slate) which visitors could have a go at playing.

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There were also two temporary exhibitions – one devoted to female mountaineering in the Lake District and the other to the famous mountaineer, Chris Bonnington, who lives locally.

The other museum in Keswick is devoted to a product that used to be a mainstay of the local economy – the pencil.  We visited on the Wednesday, which had the worst weather of the holiday – it rained most of the day.

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Graphite was discovered down Borrowdale, near Seathwaite, way back in the 1500’s and a cottage industry of pencil making began in the area and this then evolved over time to with the UK’s first pencil factory being founded in Keswick in 1832. The Cumberland Pencil Factory was set up in 1916 and would have been a major employer in the town until it was relocated to more modern premises near Workington in 2008. The pencil museum is located on the site of the former factory, having moved there when the original site in the centre of the town was damaged during the devastating floods in December 2015. It reopened only last year at the new location.

It may seem a little odd having a museum dedicated to such an ordinary object, but we found it interesting and spent over an hour looking round. The entry “ticket” is an actual Cumberland pencil.

Exhibits cover the history of the industry and the manufacturing process, starting with the mining of the graphite itself. There’s also displays of the different products produced by the company over the years, as well as various objects related to the manufacture, promotion and use of pencils, including one of the largest colour pencils in the world measuring almost 8 metres

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and miniature pencil sculptures.

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During WW2 the factory were commissioned by British Intelligence to create a special pencil with a hidden compass and maps. It was given to bomber pilots and sent to prisoners of war, the idea being that they could use them if shot down or trying to escape.

There were tables set out with the range of products manufactures by the company which visitors could use and try out. They specialise these days in high end products for artists with graphite products making up only a small proportion of their range. There was, of course, a shop where the products were on sale!

Definitely worth a visit for an hour or so on a rainy day in Keswick.

Catbells, Maiden Moor and High Spy

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The Monday of our holiday I set off for a more ambitious solo walk along the ridge of fells on the west side of Derwent Water and a little further along Borrowdale. The promised heavy rain arrived a little later than forecast on Sunday and continued into Monday morning so I hung around for a while, took the dog for “walkies” and set off around midday.

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I took the path to Hawes End and then started the steep climb up to the first, lower, summit of Catbells. It’s a relatively small fell (shaped like a mountain but not high enough to be counted as one) which dominates the skyline on the west shore of Derwent Water. It’s a popular climb and one extolled by Alfred Wainwright for the variety of the climb and the views. In his guide to the North Western Fells he tells us

Catbells is one of the great favourites, a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved. It’s popularity is well deserved: it’s shapely topknot attracts the eye, offering a steep but obviously simple scramble to the small summit.

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Looking over the Newlands valley as I climbed

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and back down over Derwent Water

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Given it’s proximity to Keswick (it can be reached easily by taking the launch to Hawse End) there’s always plenty of people making the way to the top and today was no different. This was the third time I’d climbed it myself. It’s a mile to the main summit and although it’s quite steep and there are a couple of sections where there’s a short scramble up bare rock it’s not too difficult.

Looking over to Hyndscarth and Robinson at the head of the Newlands Valley

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It was crowded at the summit when I reached it. Most people would be making there way back down but my plan was to carry on along the ridge as far as High Spy. I stopped for a bite to eat, taking in the views and people watching before continuing on, dipping down to the Hause and then climbing up to the next fell, Maiden Moor. It’s an easier climb than Catbells, the path being a little more gradual and less scrambling. It’s a broad moor rather than a rocky peak and there’s no clearly defined summit.

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On the way up I was surprised to see a JCB working on path improvement. The operator told me that they’d driven it up the hill! Took 3 days, apparently!

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Looking down over Borrowdale

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I carried on along the ridge passing Blea Cragg making my way to the summit of High Spy. On the way I was caught by a fellow walker a couple of times. In both cases they slowed down to match my pace for a while for a chat before speeding back on along the ridge. They were both quite a bit younger than me! One of them was from Kashmir – he was studying for a PhD – and as he’s grown up in the foothills of the Himalayas it was interesting to hear his view of our modest mountains.

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I reached the summit of High Spy and stopped to take in the view and grab another bite to eat.

A couple of views from the summit

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I had a decision to make now. The ridge forms part of a horseshow with Dale Head at (as the name implies) the head of the Newlands valley with two other ridges – Hyndscarth and Robinson – across to the west. I could have continued round and made my way back along either fell, descending into the Newlands Valley. But I’d set out late and supplies were low (being diabetic I have to keep topping up with carbohydrates during walks) so I decided to save that for another, longer day and turned round to retrace my steps.

I diverted to Blea Cragg. This isn’t counted as a “proper” fell in it’s own right, but part of High Spy. But it’s a great viewpoint with vistas back towards Derwent Water and along the Borrowdale valley and the high peaks.

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Returning to the main path I followed the ridge along Maiden Moor and descended down to the hause.

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Rather than carry on back over Catbells, I took the path that descended into the Newlands Valley and then traversed along the bottom of the ridge back to Hawse End.

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The views to the east

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and west

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There were great views across the valley to the high fells including Causey Pike, although Grisedale Pike was hidden under a blanket of cloud.

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Looking back to the head of the valley

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and down the valley with Bassenthwaite Lake in the distance

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Reaching the bottom of the climb up Catbells, I retraced my steps from the morning back to Portiscale, making a short diversion to watch the launch pulling in at Nichol End.

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Arriving back at the apartment it was time for a brew. I think I’d earned it!

Lingholm

The weather forecast for the Sunday of our holiday in the Lakes was for heavy rain all day. It didn’t quite turn out like that. We had a lazy morning and a late cooked breakfast (a holiday treat) but in the afternoon I had itchy feet. The skies were grey but it wasn’t raining, so some of us decided to go out for a short walk to have a look at the Lingholm Estate.

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After the Lake District had become a popular holiday destination, particularly after the arrival of the railways made travel there much easier, many wealthy Victorian businessmen (many from Northern England) had holiday homes built on, or close to, the shores of the various lakes. Lingholm, on the north west shores of Derwent Water is one of these. It’s a large house built in 1873 and designed by the prominent Victorian Architect Alfred Waterhouse (who designed many notable buildings including Liverpool University Victoria Building, Manchester Town Hall, Strangeways Prison, the Natural History Museum in London and Wigan Library)for Lt Col. James Fenton Greenall of the brewing family. Financial problems meant that he had to sell it and it in 1900 it ended up owned by the family of George Kemp, 1st Baron Rochdale.

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Beatrix Potter spent her summer holidays at Lingholm between 1885 and 1907, and she wrote some of her best-known stories while she was staying here.

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Today the house has been converted to holiday accommodation with several apartments to rent, but there’s also a garden and café that’s open to the public. It wasn’t possible to get round to have a proper look at the house so I was only able to get some snaps from the back.

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The octagonal garden is only a few years old, but sits on the same spot as the old Lingholm kitchen gardens which Beatrix Potter credited as her original inspiration for Mr McGregor’s garden in The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

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The garden contains a mix of vegetables for the kitchen and ornamental plants

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There’s a path down to the lake where there’s a jetty where it’s normally possible to catch the launch over to Keswick and other locations around the Lake. It’s closed at the moment due to the construction of a new boathouse, but it was still possible to access the lake shore.

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The estate also own a herd of alpacas and you can hire one out to take for a walk if you feel so inclined!

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After a coffee and an ice cream we walked back towards Portinscale. I decided to have a wander through the meadow to the lake side where I stopped for a while to watch competitors participating in the second day of the swim-run coming ashore.

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There was only a relatively short run for them to the finish line.

I had a chat with one of the race officials and he told me that the race had started in Buttermere and they’d swum in the lake there, run over the pass, along Derwent Water before another swim. Crazy!

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A walk round Derwent Water

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Saturday, the first full day of our holiday in the Lake District, we set out on a sunny morning to walk around Derwent Water.  A full circuit of the Lake was about 9 miles in total, but being largely flat, it was a relatively easy walk.

After a short walk along the road from our accommodation and through woodland past the jetty at Nichol End and the Lingholm Estate, we emerged in a meadow with views ahead of Cat Bells

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and, over to the west, Causey Pike

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Passing the Hawes End we started to follow the path along the waterside.

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At Brandlehow we passed the “Bear in the Window”

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surrounded by postcards and letters  sent by walkers (children and adults) who, like us, stumbled on him as they passed

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Approaching the top of the lake, there were views across to the neck of Borrowdale. Cloud was gathering in the distance

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During the walk along the west shore we kept being passed by pairs of runners participating in a Breca swim-run

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Reaching the head of the lake, there were great views over to Skiddaw

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We crossed the bridge over the River Derwent

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and stopped for a while we had a bite to eat and admire the view

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We now continued along the east shore. Initially walking along a short stretch of road by the Lodore Hotel and then a path through the woods before joining the path along the shore of the lake.

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Raven Crag looming over the lake

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One of the launches that carry passengers around the lake stopping off at a number of jetties.

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Looking over the lake to the hills and mountains to the west

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We reached Calfclose Bay where there’s a monument, the MIllenium Stones by Peter Randall-Page, marking the centenary of the National Trust which owns much of the land around the Lake

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We carried on along the lake towards Keswick

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Reaching the jetty near the “Theatre by the Lake”

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We carried on into the town, stopping off for some refreshment in the Wainwright pub before setting back to our apartment in Portiscale.