Mini Meander Part 3 Cumbria
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Buzzbee made it to the west coast, travelling through the beautiful scenery of the Trough of Bowland! We had a night at Gibraltar Farm site on Morecambe Bay, with Fish and chips from the excellent Arnside chippy, watching the sunset towards the Lake District. This site is perfect for an early morning visit to Leighton Moss rspb reserve, and that meant we were treated with lovely views of Bearded reedlings! What a treat!
Then we drove north and headed to the South West corner of Cumbria for a walk around rugged Walney Island nature reserve, with it's great view of Piel island (currently looking for a tenant who gets the title Monarch of the island!). We also visited the imposing ruins of Furness Abbey, once the second largest in England. This beautiful 700 year old ring, and Bishop's silver crosier were found just a few years ago during restoration work. The monks regularly took shortcuts from here across treacherous Morecambe bay. Lots didn't make it when the tide roared in.
Our meander to find new places is going well! We have also decided to explore the fringes of the Lake District to avoid the busy spots in the centre.
Next day we really enjoyed the Lakeland Motor Museum near Ulverston. It featured lots of vehicles, including pedal cars and cycles, and a wealth of other memorabilia, well displayed and labelled. These tiny ones are a 1959 Scootacar, and a Messerchmitt. There are two special exhibitions. One about the IOM TT races, and the other about Malcolm and Donald Campbell's land and water speed records and they even have some of the original Bluebird vehicles. They also have Malcolm's personal Bentley... painted bluebird blue of course!
We would recommend the excellent Low Hall Farm Caravan and Motorhome certificated site in SW Cumbria, near Kirby in Furness. Level pitches, stunning views, ehu, and super warm shower rooms. All for £18 pn in October. Fabulous.
After a good nights sleep, we were woken early by some very grumpy sounding cows. The farmer apologised and told us that they know it is nearly time for them to be brought indoors for the winter. The farmer had walked past, on his way to check on his sheep, and they had all rushed to the gate, complaining loudly that they needed to be in the warm! She explained to us that as the season progresses, the grass has less nutrients, and becomes more bitter, and they don't like that either!
Leaving here, we followed the Cumbria coast road to the NE Lake District. Autumn is beginning to take hold, but despite 2 grey days we found some interesting places that were new to us. The grey skies made our walk around isolated Ennerdale seem even more mysterious than usual. Despite all the campsites being full, we saw just one other person!
St. Bees Church is 900 years old, and in 1981, a 700 year old knight was found, complete but mummified in his lead coffin. Quite a shock for the archaeologists who expected a few bones!
Maryport Senhouse roman museum explains the large roman town and Fort that were here, an extension of Hadrian’s Wall, and its Western port. It fitted in well with our Hadrian's Wall walk this summer! Our base for this was the Maryport harbour site, so the clinking of masts and halyards meant Chris could pretend he was on the boat!
Aira Force waterfall walk, next to Ullswater, was beautiful, and for £10 campervans can stay the night in a NT trial scheme.
Stunningly located neolithic Castlerigg stone circle, 5000 years old and predating Stonehenge is worth a visit, and the views towards Helvellyn are magnificent. Lodore Falls near Borrowdale is a lush, verdant valley and waterfall, and finally we walked to the impressive Bowder Stone, which has been attracting visitors since 1797. Mary Thompson really had an eye for marketing when she owned it in 1858. Lots of fascinating, less well known places, all involving short walks of between a few metres to 3 miles.
What a difference a day makes! The sun came out! We grabbed our chance and did 2 walks, one around Buttermere, and one around Tarn Hows. The views and reflections were stunning. We paid for it though! As the sky cleared during the night, the temperature dropped to 2°C!
Sunshine is so good for lifting the mood. Everyone was smiling today!
After the amazing sunshine, and reflections photos, we awoke next morning to Lake District rain, and a temperature of below freezing overnight! We had moved to a small site at Torver near Coniston, Church House camping. Chris was very excited next morning because we went on the beautifully restored steam gondola on Lake Coniston, run by the National Trust. The mist made it rather mystical, and we passed lots of sites connected to the Bluebird speed records, and the eventual tragic ending. More cheerily, there were locations from the Swallows and Amazon's stories. Arthur Ransome lived on the lakeside, and Captain Flint's houseboat was based on this very gondola!
Then we drove to Ambleside, where there is easy car parking for motorhomes of all sizes, and had an excellent lunch in the Copper Pot in Ambleside, next to the fire!
Wild Boar burger, and loaded nachos, before catching the bus to Rydal Mount!
This was Wordsworth's home in later life, and he designed and landscaped the garden. The house has many artefacts from his time there. These gorgeous flowers still blooming in the lovely gardens really cheered us up. And of course there are daffodils in Spring because he wrote the poem, 'I wandered lonely as a cloud' here!
In Buzzbee, our 6 metre campervan, we have been able to drive around the Lake District easily. Car parks are busy but we have always found a space so far. National Trust Membership has saved us a lot in car park fees - probably at least £30.
Buzzbee's last 36 hours in the Lake District were....wet! Undaunted, we found lots to do, and enjoyed the autumn colours beginning to emerge. We found ourselves following this motorhome into a cow jam, and loved the numberplate! We even tracked down the owner on a motorhome facebook page!
On Sunday I had spotted that Stott Park Bobbin Mill (EH) was having a Steam Up weekend. There were once over 90 mills like this in the Lake District, making millions of bobbins for the cotton mills. As demand for these diminished, they switched to cotton reels and Naval dufflecoat toggles! There were live demonstrations, and of course the lovely steam engine was running. Really worth a visit but check opening hours. Steam up events are the best!
Next we drove to pretty Hawkshead, with the Beatrix Potter gallery (NT) showcasing her exquisite drawings, and a good lunch at the Queen's Head pub, followed by the best ice cream ever at the Little Ice Cream Shop!
On to Beatrix Potter's evocative home, Hill Top (NT), where she resisted all mod cons like electricity or an indoor bathroom! It was an idyllic spot, even in the rain. The house oozed atmosphere, and it was so interesting seeing where she wrote her famous books, and learning about her role as a hands on, and well respected famer. The house is surrounded by local Herdwick sheep which she championed. She was also instrumental in the founding of the National Trust.
Close by is Claife Viewing station (NT), a Victorian folly built for parties, picnics and views of Windermere, and once quite a social venue!
Our last day saw us take a ride behind the Princess engine on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway at Ulverston, which can be combined with the Steamer boat to Bowness, or Ambleside. So much to do and see. We must head south now, but have had a super time. Our memberships of National Trust, English Heritage and the Art Fund have saved us so much money this year.
See my blog page on ideas to save money!