West Cumbria Coast To Coast Cycleway

Just Do It

I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equaled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning wheel we must all earn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair.

That which made me succeed with the bicycle was precisely what had gained me a measure of success in life — it was the hardihood of spirit that led me to begin, the persistence of will that held me to my task, and the patience that was willing to begin again when the last stroke had failed.

And so I found high moral uses in the bicycle and can commend it as a teacher without pulpit or creed. She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.

Frances E. Willard, ‘How I Learned To Ride The Bicycle’, 1895
West Cumbria Coast To Coast Cycleway
West Cumbria Coast To Coast Cycleway
Rosebay Willowherb

Rosebay Willowherb

Rosebay Willowherb, or Fireweed, is abundant on local verges at this time of the year. I love the stuff. The vibrant colours from this wild flower brighten all parts of West Cumbria.

The tall flower spikes can often be seen crowding together in thick stands in open spaces, such as woodland clearings, roadside verges, grassland and waste ground. It is a native perennial weed which spreads by seed and rhizomes (underground stems) and is unsuitable in a small garden.

The flower grows to a height of 1.5m (5ft), from June to September. When ripe the long seed capsules split open to reveal numerous fluffy seeds. It is able to colonise new areas because of its specially adapted seeds – fitted with tiny, cottony ‘parachutes’ they are able to disperse across long distances on the slightest breeze. Each plant can produce up to 80,000 seeds and the heat from fires and bonfires can help to germinate them, hence another common name of ‘Fireweed’.

In Britain the plant was considered a rare species in the 18th century, and one confined to a few locations with damp, gravelly soils. The plant’s rise from local rarity to widespread abundance seems to have occurred at the same time as the expansion of the railway network and the associated soil disturbance. The plant also became known as bombweed due to its rapid colonization of bomb craters in the second world war.

Willowherb
Rosebay Willowherb
Newlands Valley

Newlands Valley #2

A few days ago, I shared with you a photo of Newlands Valley, from the east end, looking west. This time, I thought I’d share a photo of the same valley, but in the opposite direction.

Driving along the road is a real pleasure, but hazardous at the same time as one struggles to keep one’s eyes pointed straight ahead as there is so much to see, and take in. Luckily my wife was with me, reminding me to keep my eyes “on the road”.

The Newlands Valley is well known for its links with Beatrix Potter. The tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle uses the Newlands Valley as its backdrop. The star of the book was based upon the vicar’s daughter – Lucie Carr.

The Newlands Valley is an excellent choice as a base for a walking holiday and provides a huge variety of walking routes from your doorstep including low level valley walks, ridge walks and fell walks such as Causey Pike, Barrow, Robinson, Hindscarth, Catbells, Maiden Moor and Dale Head.

Newlands Valley is also home to the Goldscope Mine. It is on the lower slopes of Hindscarth near Low Snab Farm and was in use from the 1500’s until the end of the 1800’s. It yielded such large quantities of lead and copper that it was called ‘Gottesgab’ (God’s Gift) by the German miners who were brought over to develop it.

Newlands Valley
Newlands Valley
Crummock Water

Dramatic Crummock Water

Crummock Water is located between Loweswater and Buttermere. The lake is 2 ½ miles long, ¾ mile wide and 140 feet deep and is a clear, rocky bottomed lake flanked by steep fells.

The lake is fed by numerous streams including the beck from Scale Force, which with a drop of 170 feet is Lakeland’s tallest waterfall. The waterfall is set back in a gorge part way up Scale Fell, and there are several paths that lead up to the waterfall. The River Cocker starts from here, flowing towards Cockermouth where it joins the River Derwent.

Visiting Crummock Water gives you a chance to see the ‘secret valley’ of Rannerdale where a fabled battle took place. It is said that local settlers and Norsemen resisted invasion from the Normans: they lured them into the valley and slaughtered them all. Come April-May, the valley is covered in bluebells and local legend has it that this is because of the blood spilt.

Crummock Water is owned by the National Trust.

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Crummock Water
Crummock Water
Newlands Valley

Newlands Valley

The Newlands Valley is a picturesque and quiet valley in the Lake District National Park. The name “Newlands” describes the usable new land which had been created at the foot of the valley between Portinscale and Braithwaite by the draining of a large swampy and marshy area during the 13th century.

The earliest signs of human settlement in the valley have been found at Ullock, where evidence of a Bronze Age burial site has been found. The remains of a Celtic workshop were also found at Portinscale. Viking herdsmen arrived in Cumbria after 800 AD. Many of the present day place names in the Newlands valley have their origins from these early Norse settlers. The valley area was originally called Rogersat or Rogersyde which was derived from the Old Norse “Roger-Saetr”, which translates as Summer pasture belonging to Roger. The present day Newlands valley settlements of Keskadale, Skelgill, Birk Rigg, High Snab and Uzzicar all have their name origins from the early Viking settlers.

The scenery of the Newlands valley consists of farmland in the valley bottom and soaring fells above. Fells that have their foot in the valley include Barrow, Causey Pike, Catbells, Ard Crags, Knott Rigg, Maiden Moor, High Spy, Dale Head, Hindscarth and Robinson. The quality of the fell walking is very good; the Newlands horseshoe is a 9-mile walk, starting and finishing at Little Town, with over 1,000 metres of ascent, taking in most of the 2,000-foot peaks at the head of the valley.

On the steep slopes of Ard Crags above Keskadale farm is Keskadale Oakwood, which is an ancient oak and alder woodland, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. It has an area of 50 hectares and has been fenced off for an initial period of 15 years to encourage natural regeneration and keep out grazing animals.

Newlands Valley
Newlands Valley
Parton

Week In Focus #36

This is picture #36 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. The idea behind the challenge is to get myself outside into the Cumbrian countryside, at least once a week.

  • This week’s photo was taken above Parton, on the west coast of Cumbria.

Parton is a village and civil parish on the Cumbrian coast, overlooking the Solway Firth, 1¼ miles (2 km) north of the town of Whitehaven. Formerly a port and a mining centre, it is now purely residential, benefiting from its location between the A595 trunk road and the Cumbrian Coast railway line.

The sheltered anchorage in Parton Bay was used by the Romans, who had a fort on the high ground to the north of the present village, adjacent to St Bridget’s Church. Later, the bay was used by the inhabitants of Low Moresby, the hamlet which grew up to the east of the old fort in the Middle Ages. In Elizabethan times a number of small merchant vessels were based in the bay, trading as far as Chester; by this time there was probably also a salt-pan in operation. The port was developed in the early 17th century to cater for Moresby’s coal trade, but fell into decline after two generations of the Lowther family turned the hamlet of Whitehaven into a major port.

Parton
Parton
St Bridget's Church, Moresby

St Bridget’s Church, Moresby

St Bridget’s Church church is located 1 ½ miles north of Whitehaven just to the seaward side of the main A595 road. It is a distinctive landmark and can be seen easily from the road (especially from the north).

  • The church is a Grade II listed building.

Proximity to a known Roman settlement gives the church added significance. The simple 13th century chancel arch next to the church marks the continuity of occupation and worship on this site too. The church was built in 1823 by G Crauford, architect, and the chancel was added in 1885 in a remarkably convincing Georgian style. The rest of the interior (including a western gallery) is of 1885 too, but an octagonal medieval font still survives in the building. All the glass appears to be early 20th century.

Exterior: Ashlar on moulded plinth with corner pilasters, eaves band, and cornice; sill band to chancel. Blocking course to graduated slate roofs; stone copings and kneelers. The tower has a parapet with obelisk finials to corners. 4-bay nave with integral 3-stage west tower; 2-bay chancel. Symmetrical west front with central plank door and semicircular fanlight on ground floor of tower; vestry to left, baptistry to right. 2 rows of windows to nave, all round-headed. Chancel has 2 tall windows to either side and Venetian window to east end. Dragons to rainwater heads; decorative downpipes.

Interior: Porch with stairs up to 1885 western gallery which is supported on cast-iron columns with Gothic traceried spandrels. Semicircular chancel arch carried on Ionic responds; text board to either side. Late C19/early C20 stained glass to lower windows by Heaton, Butler, & Bayne (London). 1902 panelled reredos. 1885 square wooden pulpit by Simpson & Rich; decoratively carved with painted panels. Late C19 octagonal marble font in baptistry; font from medieval church (stone, with octagonal bowl) outside vestry. Pedimented marble memorial slab in baptistry, 1843 for Mary Ann Steward.

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St Bridget's Church, Moresby
St Bridget’s Church, Moresby

St. Bridget’s Chancel Arch

The parish church of Moresby, St Bridget’s, occupies a unique location, sited on a former Roman camp, known as Gabrosentum – there isn’t much of the camp that remains. The church dates from 1822, but there is evidence of a much earlier place of worship, as far back as the 13th century. An ancient chancel arch still stands in the churchyard as testament.

Gabrosentum occupied a classic fort site formed by a low promontory overlooking the sea to the west. Regiments from Thrace (modern Bulgaria) and northern France were stationed there. The ramparts are still visible in the field to the west of the church. This former fort and adjoining settlement was built during Emperor Hadrian’s reign and was in use until the late 4th century AD. Excavations have revealed official buildings including the commanding officers house, as well as numerous civilian buildings, a fort and a small natural harbour.

St. Bridget’s Church is in West Cumbria between the the villages of Parton and Lowca, just north of Whitehaven, off the A595. It is a dramatic location, overlooking the Solway Firth with stunning views of the Scottish coast and Isle of Man.

The chancel arch of an earlier church is in the churchyard of St Bridget’s Church, to the south of the church. It is in stone, and consists of a slightly pointed arch. On the south side is a brass plate recording burials, and tombstones are attached to the arch.

The chancel arch is a Grade II listed building.

St. Bridget's 13th Century Chancel Arch
St. Bridget’s 13th Century Chancel Arch

Brown Thumbed

The opposite of green fingered, is brown thumbed. Where plants are concerned, I haven’t had much luck at all. Whatever I plant has a tendency to die. Maybe I should water them. Perhaps artificial would be better?

Seriously though, I have never been very interested in flowers. Hell – I live in a home without a garden. I didn’t want the hassle of weeding, digging, and whatever else goes into making green things grow.

But. In recent weeks, I’ve been thinking of what I can do to brighten up the front of my house. My first investment was a large pot. That has now got two lovely flowery things growing in it. My neighbour says that they will get too big – she’s probably right. How was I to know that Hydrangeas can grow to a substantial size? lol

The past week, I’ve been tending to some Trailing Wave Petunias that I’m planning on adding to a couple of troughs that I’ll attach to my fence. The flowers haven’t died yet, so I must be doing something right.

Petunias – Do I space them close together, or wide apart? They’re dainty little things at the moment – I’m worried I’m being lulled into a false sense of security. I don’t want to be caught out by what might be aggressive growers. Help! What do I do? 😂

Trailing Wave Petunias
Trailing Wave Petunias