Acorn Bank

The second full day of our holiday we decided to visit Acorn Bank, a property owned by the National Trust, near the village of Temple Sowerby, just a few miles up the A66 from Appleby. It’s main attractions are the woodlands, gardens and the restored mill rather than the house itself, where only a few ground floor rooms are open – including one used for a second hand bookshop.

It was a decent day, so after parking, we booted up and set out for a pleasant walk through the woods towards the water mill, which was restored by a group of National Trust volunteers. There’s been a mill on the site since at least 1744, initially used for grinding oats and later for producing wheat flour and as a power source for nearby gypsum mines. At one time there were three individual water wheels running in series on the mill race.

Following the Covid pandemic the Acorn Bank Watermill Trust was set up by the mill volunteers to continue to maintain and run the mill and keep it open for visitors to Acorn Bank. It’s open to visit on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, so we were able to see it in operation, grinding wheat to produce flour. Bags of flour were available to purchase so we bought one to take home as a present for our daughter who enjoys baking.

The mill wheel is a pitchback wheel, an adaptation of the overshot type – the water falls on to the back of the top of the wheel at a position of about 11 o’clock.

We carried on through the woods, following the path beside the river, and made our up towards the house.

The National Trust website tells us that

Acorn Bank has a long history that dates back to the 13th century. The first owners were the Knights Templar in 1228, from whom the nearby village of Temple Sowerby got its name.

Parts of the house date from the 16th century, but the main block was rebuilt in the mid-17th century. The whole house was then given a new façade in the 1690s, with Georgian sash windows added in the 1740s.

Only a few rooms on the ground floor are accessible, and one of them is used for the second hand bookshop.

In the former drawing room there was a display of over a hundred varieties of apple from the site’s orchards.

The website tells us

There are 175 varieties of apple here, including rare, local varieties such as the ‘Lady’s Finger of Lancaster’, ‘Keswick Codlin’ and ‘Forty Shilling’.

Outside in the courtyards there were baskets of apples where you could fill a large paper bag for £2. We took advantage of this, of course! We hadn’t heard of most of the types of apple on display, never mind tasted them – supermarkets have such a limited range, these days – but staff were also running an apple tasting of some of the unusual varieties. But there was one of the varieties J had heard off. She is a fan of the author, Tracey Chevalier, and has read her book At the edge of the orchard, which features the Pitmaston Pineapple. She was made up when it was included in the tasting (it really does have a pineapple like taste) and pick some up from the table for our £2 bag!

Before that, though, we’d had a look around the gardens – both ornamental and kitchen

the orchards

and the extensive herb garden

They even had an apiary

We also went for a walk through the woods where we came across the remains of a former drift mine.

The Boazman family, who owned the house in the 19th Century, started to mine gypsum – calcium sulfate dihydrate, a mineral which is the main constituent in many forms of plaster – on the estate during the 1880s. Extraction continued until the late1930’s when it closed as a small scale operation couldn’t compete with larger mines overseas.

At the ends of the woods there were good views on a clear day towards the Pennine Hills, including Cross Fell (the largest English hill outside the Lake District)

and Great Dunn Fell, topped with its distinctive “golf ball”, part of an air traffic control radar station.

We returned to the hall and enjoyed a rather nice coffee in the courtyard before filling our bag of apples and returning to the car.

Chipping Campden

On the way back to our holiday accommodation from Snowshill, our route took us close to the small Cotswold town of Chipping Campden. As it was only mid afternoon, we decided to make a short diversion and stop to have a look. This holiday was out first experience of the Cotswolds which is famous for it’s pretty villages with buildings constructed from the golden-Cotswold stone, a type of oolitic Jurassic limestone. Chipping Camden certainly had plenty of them.

The town’s website tells us that its

an ancient wool town, jewel of the Cotswolds, centre of the Arts and Crafts movement, a beautiful place to visit, live or work

but there didn’t seem to be anything about its history. There is, however, plenty of information of the Chipping Campden History Society website.

There were settlements in the vicinity going back a long way, but the town really started to grow between the 13th and 15th centuries due to the wool trade. Apparently many of the buildings in the town date from this period. By the 17th Century the wool trade had declined, but it continues to grow and prosper as a Market Town.

We didn’t spend very long in the town – one of us wanted to get back to the accommodation – so we only had time to take a brief wander along the main street.

Looking closely, the buildings may have been built with the same type of stone but there were different styles, reflecting the different periods when they were erected. The buildings in the High Street are apparently mainly from the 14th century to the 17th century. There were many good examples of vernacular buildings

but we also spotted a number of Georgian style properties, probably built as the town expanded as it became more prosperous.

“Campden” originates from the Saxon ‘campa’ ‘denu’ -meaning ‘a valley with cultivated fields ringed by unfenced hill pastures’. The “Chipping” part of the town’s name, added later during it’s history, is from Old English cēping, meaning ‘market’, ‘market-place’. There are several other towns in the area with the same element in the name, and only a few weeks ago I was in the old Lancashire Chipping on the edge of the Forest of Bowland. So, not surprisingly, the town has an old market square and it was here that we found the old market hall.

Funded by a wealthy benefactor, Sir Baptist Hicks, It was built in 1627 to provide shelter for traders in goods such as cheese, butter and poultry. Not surprisingly it’s a Grade 1 Listed Building.

Like just about every other building on the High Street it’s built of the local creamy limestone. It has a stone slate roof, and each of the slates is secured by a single wooden peg through a hole resting on the wooden cross strut.

The old cobbled stone floor was very uneven! It’s believed that this is the original floor.

Today it’s owned by the National Trust and their website tells us that

In the 1940s it was almost sold to an American, but local people heroically raised the money to buy it first. They gave it to the National Trust

The market hall is the start, or end, point of the 102 mile long Cotswold Way. Now that’s given me an idea!

Snowshill

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The day after our trip to Hidcote we decided to drive back over to the north Cotswolds to visit another National Trust property – Snowshill Manor. We’d read that it had another Arts and Crafts style garden but that there was also a manor house to visit. We didn’t know quite what to expect.

There’s been house on this site since Tudor times but at the beginning of the 20th Century it had been used as a farmhouse and was surrounded by muddy fields. Then in 1919 it was bought by Charles Wade who’d heard was up for sale while he was serving in the trenches. Wade wrote that

the whole property was in a most deplorable state of ruin and neglect, but it had not been spoilt…in spite of the gloom of the day…I could visualize it as a delightful home…’

Charles Padget Wade came from a wealthy family who had made their money from sugar plantations in the Carribean. Of course, that would had meant that originally they would have been slave owners (who were very comprehensively compensated when the slavery was banned in the British Empire by the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833). When his father died Wade inherited a share in his father’s business, including property on the island of Saint Kitts. He’d originally trained as an architect, but his inheritance allowed him to devote his time to other pursuits, in particular his passion for collecting, and Snowshill manor became a home not for himself, but his growing collection of diverse objects and curiosities. He also decided to create a garden from the farmyard and messy fields behind the house, designed by the Arts and Crafts architect Hugh Baillie Scott – who amongst other creations design our favourite Blackwell in the Lake District.

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After a 30 minute drive we arrived at the property. As the house isn’t very large they operate a timed entry ticket policy and we had about 40 minutes to wait for our turn. There was a lengthy walk along the drive to reach the house and gardens – it was another fine day so we were quite happy to start to explore the gardens before our turn.

At the back of the house there’s another smaller building Wade named the “Priest’s House” – said to be haunted by ghosts including a monk. Wade spent most of his time elsewhere but when he was at Snowshill this is where he lived – the main house was exclusively the home of his collection. We were able to look inside

This was his kitchen – notice the candles, there was no electricity. Cooking wasn’t allowed and he had his meals brought in by his housekeeper who lived in a nearby cottage. He did, however have a spirit stove that he used to boil water for his brew and to cook boiled eggs.

This was his living room with his favourite chair

and this was his bedroom with it’s Tudor box-bed and spooky religious statue and decor..

Yes, a real eccentric character.

We had a quick look around the garden, but then it was time for our turn to enter the house.

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It was a “self-guided” tour through a series of rooms that were packed to the rafters with an amazing collection of all sorts of objects. Nothing was labelled but there were the usual NT room guides who were extremely well informed.

Wade’s obsession for collecting was inspired by his “Grannie’s cabinet”. When he was seven years old he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother in Great Yarmouth. She was a strict woman, apparently, but on treat she allowed him was to explore her “cabinet of curiosities

Every Sunday she would allow Charles to open the cabinet with its ‘magic key’ and to marvel at its collections, hidden within drawers and recesses. The cabinet contained old ‘family treasures’, like a little wax angel with golden wings, musical boxes, shells, compasses, butterflies and silver spoons. 

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There were literally thousands of diverse objects in the house, which is effectively a giant “cabinet of curiosities”, and it was difficult to take everything in. By the end of the tour we were mentally exhausted!

Mechanical scorpion
A n “Armada chest” – which were used ti store and safeguard valuables – showing it’s elaborate locking mechanism.
the actual 18th-century black lacquer cabinet, known as Grannie’s cabinet, that inspired Charles Wade to start collecting
Samurai armour made in about 1830 in the Japanese province of Kaga
A collection of theatre masks and other objects from Indonesia
More samurai suits of armour dating from the 17th and 19th centuries – there are a total of 39 examples in the collection!
Part of the collection of musical instruments
Civil war armour
A hand loom
Lots of old bikes
Three penny farthings suspended from the ceiling
One of a sizeable collection of model wains showing the traditional styles from different counties
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Wade married late – in his 60’s – and had no heirs so before he died, approached the National Trust and arranged to leave Snowshill to them to safeguard the future of his collection.

Having spent a good hour in the house we emerged into daylight to explore the garden. But this pot has been long enough. I think the garden deserves its own!

Bodnant Garden

Returning home from my break in North wales I decided to stop off at Bodnant Garden, a National Trust site in the Conwy Valley. It’s known for it’s extensive gardens spanning 80 acres of hillside and includes formal Italianate terraces, informal shrub borders, ornamental ponds, lakes and riverside walks, with plants from all over the world.

The site was gifted to the National Trust in 1949 by  Henry McLaren, Lord Aberconway. However, the family still own the estate and Michael McLaren inherited the estate in 2003 on his father’s death and plays an active role as garden director. The house is “out of bounds” as it’s occupied by the family and the large shop/Garden Centre is owned and run by the estate and not the Trust. Personally, I’m never comfortable with these arrangements, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the gardens.

View from the terrace over to the Carneddau

Most National Trust properties have a reasonably priced guide which will explain the history of the site. This wasn’t the case at Bodnant where the guide was a hardback costing, if I remember rightly, £30. Being rather stingy I decided against purchasing a copy, so was going to do some research online after my visit. However, Eunice posted an excellent detailed account on her blog just a short while after my return so she’s saved me some work!

I spent a couple of hours wandering round the gardens and more or less following the riverside paths in “The Dell” down to, and round, the Skating Pond, before making my way back through the Glades and Yew Garden to the house.

Pwll Trochi – (The Bath)
The Pin Mill – brought from Woodchester in Gloucestershire to Bodnant in 1939
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Looking down to Hen Felin (the Old Mill)
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The canyon
The skating pond
The small boathouse on the Skating Pond
Y ‘Poem’ – the family Mausoleum
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Pont y Rhaeadr (Waterfall Bridge)
Stepping stones
“Pwll Trochi”

Returning to the house I visited the Craft centre and bought a rather attractive small porcelain hanging sculpture decorated with impressions of local flowers by Charlotte Bellis an artist who studied in Cumbria but who had grown up in Snowdonia.

Checking the pedometer app on my phone I found that I’d walked just over 2 miles exploring and wandering around the grounds. There were long queues in the two cafes on the site so I decided to give them a miss before returning to the car. The drive home along the M56 and M6 was not fun, but then it rarely is! I was surprised how busy the motorways were as it was only early afternoon and the roadworks “upgrading” the M6 to a so called “Smart Motorway”. didn’t help. Still, it would have been worse later in the afternoon.

I’d had an enjoyable solo stay in North Wales and was pleased that I’d managed to get up on to the Cardennau. I’d also been surprised on just how nice the coast was here and how my enjoyment hadn’t been affected by the proximity of the Expressway, which I hardly noticed at all. Arriving home I decided I needed to return to this stretch of coast, the mountains and the Conwy valley before too long.

Sizergh Castle. A walk, a meal and a concert.

A few weeks ago we had tickets for a concert in Kendal by This is the Kit. Rather than just drive up in the late afternoon for the evening performance we decided to make a day of it. We had thought of visiting Blackwell as we hadn’t been there for a while, but found that they were installing a new exhibition that would open a couple of days later so it wasn’t the best time to go. We’ll get up there soon though, Something in Common tells the story of England’s countryside and the peoples’ fight for Common Land, a theme right up my street, so to speak. So, instead we decided on visiting Sizergh Castle, a National Trust property, as we hadn’t been there for quite some time.

The National Trust website describes the property as a “beautiful medieval house with rich gardens and estate“, and I think that pretty much sums it up. The house isn’t owned by the Trust though – this is one of those sites where the owners couldn’t afford to pay for the upkeep of the house and estate so made a deal with the Trust. The castle with its garden and estate is in the care of the National Trust but the house is still owned by Hornyold-Strickland family – a type of arrangement I’m not comfortable with. Most of the house is open to the public, but there’s a private residential wing and I expect the family use the hall for entertaining outside he NT’s opening hours. I’m not sure whether they live there full time, mind.

We parked up and after a coffee went for our self-guided tour of the hall and gardens.

The oldest part of the house, the defensive tower, was built in the mid 14th century. It used to be thought that it was a pele tower, built as a defence from marauding Scots, but these days is considered to be a “solar tower” as it contained private living space for the owners, for their “sole” use – hence the name. A true pele tower was a defensive structure that could be used by the local population when being harassed by the reivers.

The most impressive features of the house for me were the oak panelling and fireplace surrounds.

Some of the panelling had been sold to the V&A in the 1890’s. However it was returned in 1999 on a long-term loan.

As usual with these “stately homes” there was a large collection of paintings, particularly portraits, and we spotted a couple by the local lad George Romney. The Strickland family were Catholics and strong supporters of the Stuart monarchy and one room is full of portraits of the monarchs from that dynasty.

The gardens are particularly impressive. Our previous visit had been during the autumn so the colours were much fresher and greener in early summer. However, I reckon they would look good whatever the season.

The limestone rock garden, which was created in the 1920s, is the largest of it’s type under the National Trust’s stewardship.

I always like a good vegetable garden!

After looking round the garden we returned to the cafe for a light meal before setting out for a walk around the grounds. A misunderstanding on my part meant we ended up following the longer set route which was more than J intended. I blame my poor colour vision for misreading the map!

After walking through some fields and meadows the route took us into the woods of Brigsteer Park

and then on to Park End where a short diversion down a boardwalk took us to a hide overlooking a recreated wet land.

Park End Moss, which is on the edge of the Lyth Valley, was once an area of degraded farmland that’s been “rewilded” by the National Trust into a wetland haven for wildlife. It’s probably how much of the valley would have looked before it was drained to create agricultural land.

Looking back as we climbed the hill up towards the nearby farm we had a good view over the wetland with Whitbarrow dominating the far side of the valley (I must get up there one of these days).

We then had a steep climb for a while to take us to the top of a ridge overlooking the valley (I was getting in trouble now for misinterpreting the map).

A short diversion along the ridge as far as St John’s church

allowed a view over the valley right across to the Lake District Fells. Worth the climb (at least I thought so).

We then followed the route back down through woods and field to Sizergh (down hill more or less all the way), passing some typical Cumbrian farmhouses (I think they’re rented out now as holiday cottages by the Trust).

The cafe was closing up as we reached the hall complex so there wasn’t time for a final brew, so we returned to the car and drove over to Kendal which only took about 15 minutes . We had a mooch around the town centre, including the obligatory visit to Waterstones where, as frequently happens, books were purchased. We then picked up some supplies from Booths supermarket followed by a tour around the one way system so that we could park up before we made our way to the Brewery Arts Centre. There were no spaces left in their car park so another trip around the one way system was needed to find a space on an alternative convenient car park – free after 6 pm – near Abbot Hall (which has been closed for the past few years as it’s being renovated. Hopefully it will be reopening soon – fingers crossed)

We’d decided to eat in the Arts Centre restaurant. Having never been there before I was surprised just how large it was and there seemed to be plenty of customers, many taking advantage of an early evening pizza deal. We were too late to take advantage of that but, in any case, I was very pleased with my choice of a rather tasty pie with sweet potato fries, followed by

a pudding to mark the state of our nation i.e. an Eton Mess.

I rather liked this tapestry representing different aspects of Kendal, that wa son the wall of the restaurant.

We finished in good time for a pre concert drink and then on to the gig.

I’ve known of This is the Kit for a number of years – they’re played regularly on Radio 6 Music – and enjoy their work, and I wasn’t disappointed with the concert. I was impressed with the venue. It was larger than expected but with the main seating area quite steeply banked there was a good view of the stage from most seats. I think it’s likely we’ll be returning in the future as we can combine a concert with a day out in the southern Lakes and a nice meal in the restaurant! I’ll be keeping an eye on their “What’s on” page on their website.

After the concert we headed back to the car passing the Leyland Motors Clock that once stood on Shap summit but in 1973 was relocated to stand outside the Brewery Arts Centre.

So, all in all, a good day out.

The Hardmans’ House

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A couple of weeks ago, the last Saturday in May, we drove over to Liverpool. One of the things we wanted to do was to visit a National Trust property in Rodney Street, close to the centre of Liverpool. Rodney Street, a street of mainly Georgian period houses, is often referred to as the “Harley Street of Liverpool” as many of the buildings are occupied by private medical services. Gladstone, the Victorian Liberal Prime MInister was born in the street at No. 62, However, we were visiting the house at No. 59 that used to be the home of  E. Chambré Hardman and his wife Margaret who were both photographers and ran a successful photography studio and business here.

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Hardman was quite eccentric and after his wife died in 1979 from cancer he continued to live and work in the house, living as a virtual recluse until he died in 1988. He hardly left the house and was a hoarder, never throwing anything away, including foodstuffs! When he died he left behind an archive of more than 200,000 images. Realising the importance of the collection of photographs, the property was acquired by the National Trust in 2003. As it’s a small property, the Trust run guided tours of the house which, with the contents accumulated by the Hardmans, is a “timecapsule” of life in mid twentieth century Liverpool.

Chambré Hardman was Irish, and had been a regular soldier in India in the 1920’s where he developed an interest in photography. Returning to Britain, he set up in business with a partner, Kenneth Burrell a fellow officer in India. Although Burrell left the business within five years, but the two remained friends and Hardman continued to include his friend’s name in that of the business

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Chambré Hardman first met Margaret when she cam to work with him as an assistant. Although she was much younger than him there was a mutual attraction and they eventually married. She was also a talented photographer in her own right and was very much the commercial brain which helped the business to be successful. 

We’d visited some years ago but decided we’d like to take another look, so I rang and booked a tour for the Saturday afternoon. The visit started with a short talk and a video providing some background information about the Hardmans and their business followed by the guided tour of the studio, waiting rooms, darkrooms, other work rooms (the business employed a number of staff who worked here) and the Hardmans’ private living quarters. There were also examples of the Hardmans’ photographs on display.

The bread and butter of the business was taking studio portraits and clients would visit the house to have their photographs taken. The business also specialised in taking photographs of children and pets. Chambré Hardman was also employed by the Liverpool Playhouse theatre to take portraits of actors, including some relatively well known faces such as Ivor Novello and Patricia Routledge (a local girl!). The Hardmans’ passion, though, was landscape photography and they spent weekends and holidays travelling and taking photographs for their own interest. Hardman also took many photographs around and about Liverpool. There’s plenty of examples of their work on the National Trust Website

Unlike the last time we visited, photographs were allowed, but, as is usually the case, only without flash. I took some snaps, but they are generally a little dark.

The majority of the rooms in the house were devoted to the business and the Hardmans’ hobby. Although it’s clear from the outside that it’s a Georgian building, the Hardmans’ modernised and adapted the house for their business, so few original interior features remain. But the interest is in seeing how they lived and worked

This is the studio where the portraits were taken

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the Hardmans’ personal dark room

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The room where the commercial photographs were finished and packaged and sent to clients. It also acted as an office

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And a few pictures from the Hardmans’ living quarters

Their living room

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The kitchen

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the kitchen store cupboard with items going back to WW2

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Old boxes from his time in India in the cellar

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Chambré Hardman died in 1988, and so was living here when I was at Liverpool University in the late 1970’s. I must have walked past more than a few times so it was particularly interesting to see what it was like inside.

On to Anglesey

When I woke up and looked out of the window of the youth Hostel at Idwal Cottage it was chucking it down. The hills were shrouded in cloud and the weather forecast was that it would stay like that for most of the day – not good for getting out on the hills. While I was sorting out and eating breakfast, other residents in the hostel were busy changing their plans. I was spending the weekend on Anglesey and the forecast for there was that the weather would improve late morning, so after I’d packed up and checked out of the hostel I decided to drive straight over there.

I thought I’d go and have a look at the National Trust Property, Plas Newyyd, which is just over the Britannia bridge and near Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch.  From the NT website I could see that the property didn’t open until 11 o’clock so, as I had a good hour to kill, I decided to turn right once I’d crossed the bridge and head over to Beaumaris on the south east corner of the island.  I parked up and had a wander round the small town which is dominated by the castle built by Edward I as part of his “iron ring” to keep the newly conquered Welsh under control.

It’s a pleasant little seaside resort

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The castle with it’s symmetrical concentric ‘walls within walls’ design was “state of the art” for it’s time with four lines of fortifications. It was, however, never finished as the money ran out and Edward’s attention was diverted to fighting the Scots. It still looks impressive, though!

I spent about an hour in Beaumaris before setting off again and driving to Plas Newyyd.

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The house dates from 1470, although there have been substantial modifications since then, and, until it was handed over to the National Trust, it was the seat of the Marquesses of Anglesey. However, they must have made a “sweetheart” deal with the NT as the current Marquess’ son and his wife live there in private apartments.

The house is in a stunning location on the banks of the Menai Straights with, on a clear day, views over to Snowdonia.

The National Trust website tells us that

Plas Newydd belongs to the early 19th century and the ‘cult of styles’, cheerfully mixing Neo-classical and picturesque Gothick……. the interior is mainly Neo-classical with very good examples of late 18th-century Gothick work in the hall and music room

The most interesting room was the dining room where one wall is covered by a large mural created by the artist Rex Whistler in the 1930’s.

The mural is a trompe-l’oeil seascape painting of an imagined scene of Snowdonian mountains, Italianate churches, castles, and a harbour. There are many tricks of perspective which result in various elements of the painting appearing to change when seen from different parts of the room.

It was impossible to get a photograph of the whole of the mural, so here’s one from Wikipedia

Rex Whistler - Dining Room Mural - Capriccio - Plas Newydd.jpg

After looking round the house and having a bite to eat in the cafe, I had a wander round the grounds – a lengthy walk through the woodland of the Rhododendron Gardens which extended along the Menai Straight

and then the formal Italianate Terrace

Finally I had a look along the terrace in front of the house, along the Menai Straights

I spotted some sea kayakers – a reminder of what I’d be doing for the next couple of days

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The cloud was beginning to disperse and the sun come out. It was time to move on. I’d planned to drive over tot he south west of the island take a walk on the beach

An evening stroll along Carding Mill Valley

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Late morning on the Tuesday the rain started to come in, so we spent the afternoon taking it easy in our comfortable apartment, reading and listening to some music. By about 6 o’clock it had stopped raining so we decided to go for a short walk along Carding Mill Valley and take a look at the reservoir up New Pool Hollow. The small reservoir was constructed in 1902 to supply water to the Carding Mill. It didn’t have to fulfil it’s intended purpose for long; the old mill was demolished in 1912 and the factory turned into an hotel and café. Today the reservoir is an attractive feature at the end of a short steep sided valley and is frequented by “wild swimmers”.

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It was only a short walk up Carding MIll Valley and it’s short side shoot, New Pool Hollow (named after the new reservoir – what was it called before 1902?). We stopped for a short while to take in the view.

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The sun was starting to break through the cloud and it looked like it might develop into a pleasant evening, so we extended the walk by taking the high level path back along the valley before walking further up the main valley.

This is the view of the reservoir’s dam, looking back from the high level path.

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and looking down towards Church Stretton from further along the path.

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Rejoining the main valley

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One of the locals taking a look at us!

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A little before the intersection with Lightspout Hollow we turned round and headed back – it was getting close to tea time.

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Passing the old factory building which has been converted into flats,

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and then the National Trust shop and café in the Swiss Chalet.

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After a short while we arrived back at Arden House

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We chose the right time to go out – an hour after we got back it was raining heavily again.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

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A couple of miles to the east of Keswick town centre – all uphill – we came to the Castlerigg Neolithic stone circle..Four and a half thousand years old, with 38 stones (some claim more!) laid in a flattened circle in the middle of a field surrounded by some of England’s highest mountains with Skiddaw and Blencathra to the north and Helvelyn to the south east. The high peaks were shrouded in low cloud, but that only made it more atmospheric

It is not just its location that makes this one of the most important British stone circles; considered to have been constructed about 3000 bc, it is potentially one of the earliest in the country. Taken into guardianship in 1883, it was also one of the first monuments in the country to be recommended for preservation by the state.(English Heritage)

The land is owned by the National Trust and the monument itself is managed by English Heritage.

Being outside the holiday season, and a grey day, there were relatively few visitors, so it was a good opportunity to take a few photos.

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A walk along the Edges

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The last day of our short break in the Peak District we decided to go for a walk along the gritstone edges to the east of Baslow. We drove a few miles up to Curbar gap and parked up on the National Trust car park. It isn’t very large, so we were fortunate to find a space.

The plan was to walk along White Edge and then return along Froggat Edge and Curbar Edge. We ended up extending the walk by a few miles through the Longshaw Estate.

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Leaving the car park we took the path up to White Edge.

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After a short climb we were on top of the ridge where views opened up over desolate moorland – a lonely rugged landscape even though it’s only a few miles to Sheffield.

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The path was a bit boggy in places.

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Out on the wild and windy moor!

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Looking north over Froggat Edge we could see the Hope Valley ridge and Kinder Scout in the distance

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White Edge is an undulating ridge with a few gentle ups and downs, but relatively easy walking. On one of the “summits” we spotted this stone. Looking closely we could see that there were words carved into it. Being weathered, it was a little difficult to read at first but we soon worked out that it was a poem.

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There was a web address carved on the stone too and as the reception on my phone was quite good I had a quick look to find out more. It transpired that this is one of a series of “companion stones”

“Companion stones are a set of twelve matching stones. Designed by local poets and artists and created by sculptors and masons of the Peak, are a similar stature, volume and material as their compeers. Like the guide stoops, each bears an inscription pointing, not to market towns, but towards the future. In doing so, they draw attention to the moors, an indicator of the trick environmental terrain we have yet to navigate” http://www.companionstones.org.uk/

The project was inspired by the Guide Stoops which were erected in the early 18th century to help travellers across treacherous moors, each stoop providing directions to the nearest market town.  This stone had a poem by Mark Goodwin and was designed by Jo Dacombe

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(Poem by Mark Goodwin)

We carried on along the ridge, deciding to carry on towards Longshaw rather than cutting down to the Grouse Inn. We crossed the main road and set out along the path towards Longshaw Lodge

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The Longshaw Estate was once the Duke of Rutland’s shooting estate but was bought by the people of Sheffield in 1928, being passed on to the National Trust in1931. Today it’s a pleasant Country Park which seems to be well used by people from Sheffield and the vicinity as well as visitors like ourselves.

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We passed below a gritstone outcrop but couldn’t resist climbing up for the view. A rainbow could be seen to the north east.

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After a while the path went through some woodland

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before we arrived at Longshaw Lodge where there was a busy little café, so we stopped for a brew.

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The lodge was built about 1827 to provide a retreat for the Duke of Rutland’s shooting parties. I believe that it has now been converted into flats.

It was a clear day and there were good views towards  Higger Tor

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and Stannage Edge, the other side of Hathersage.

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Setting out again we walked through woodland and moorland back towards Froggat Edge. We spotted another Companion Stone, this one designed by Kate Genever

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with a poem by Ann Atkinson.

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Looking back

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we left the Estate and then walked a short distance along the road to the Grouse Inn. It looked quite busy and we didn’t need any refreshments so carried on cutting across the fields and through the NT carpark

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crossing the road and joining the path that climbed up to Froggat Edge, initially passing through pleasant woodland

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Looking back

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There’s a small ancient stone circle just off the footpath. It’s not exactly Stonehenge, but interesting none the less.

 

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Reaching the top of the ridge there were good views over the steep gritstone cliffs on the north side of the Edge

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Along with Curbar Edge tot he south, it’s a favourite spot for climbers.

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We carried along the ridge heading towards Curbar Edge

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Looking east we had a good view of White Edge that we’d walked along a few hours earlier

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We carried on along the ridge

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and descended down back to the car park. There was a rather upmarket mobile snack bar which was tempting,

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but we had decided to call in at the Chatsworth Farm Shop before heading home and it was getting close to closing time, so changed out of our boots and set off.

It had been a good walk. A lot easier than some we have done lately, but interesting nevertheless, with great views and a little culture too!