For years, I’ve driven past an old farmhouse near the village of Pica in West Cumbria and always thought to myself that I’d love to grab a photograph. Yesterday, I finally achieved that goal.
The old building is currently used for storing silage. It would make a lovely home if someone out there had the money, time and patience. Mind you, the farmer might not sell – I wouldn’t if I had property in such a location.
Farewell To The Farm
The coach is at the door at last; The eager children, mounting fast And kissing hands, in chorus sing: Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!
To house and garden, field and lawn, The meadow-gates we swang upon, To pump and stable, tree and swing, Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!
And fare you well for evermore, O ladder at the hayloft door, O hayloft where the cobwebs cling, Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!
Crack goes the whip, and off we go; The trees and houses smaller grow; Last, round the woody turn we sing: Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!
A few yards from the summit of Crag Fell, Ennerdale, in West Cumbria, wild Heather grows in abundance on the moorland, many miles away from human activity. It’s truly a sight to behold when vibrant purple flowers carpet the landscape.
The word heather is derived from the word hather which is middle english and means an open land covered with heather and or moss. This land can be hilly and rocky which is exactly where heather is happiest.
Heathland and moorland are the most extensive areas of semi-natural vegetation in the British Isles. The eastern British moorlands are similar to heaths but are differentiated by having a covering of peat. On western moors the peat layer may be several metres thick. Scottish “muirs” are generally heather moors, but also have extensive covering of grass, cotton-grass, mosses, bracken and under-shrubs such as crowberry, with the wetter moorland having sphagnum moss merging into bog-land.
Calluna vulgaris (known as common heather, ling, or simply heather) is a low-growing perennial shrub growing to 20 to 50 centimetres (7.9 to 19.7 in) tall, or rarely to 1 metre (39 in) and taller, and is found widely in Europe and Asia Minor on acidic soils in open sunny situations and in moderate shade. It is the dominant plant in most heathland and moorland in Europe, and in some bog vegetation and acidic pine and oak woodland. It is tolerant of grazing and regenerates following occasional burning, and is often managed in nature reserves and grouse moors by sheep or cattle grazing, and also by light burning.
Heather is an important food source for various sheep and deer which can graze the tips of the plants when snow covers low-growing vegetation. Willow grouse and red grouse feed on the young shoots and seeds of the plant. Formerly heather was used to dye wool yellow and to tan leather. With malt, heather is an ingredient in Gruit, a mixture of flavourings used in the brewing of heather-beer during the Middle Ages.
You might have gathered by now, that I love Ennerdale Water in West Cumbria. The lake and surrounding area is devoid of tourists and shops selling cheap memorabilia. Quite simply, it is how the Lake District should be. Tourism has so many negative impacts on the county: From damage to the environment to pollution; congestion and expensive homes for locals.
In 1724 Daniel Defoe described the area as “the wildest, most barren and frightful of any that I have passed over in England”.
I wish the Lake District had stayed as Defoe had described it. Sadly, tourism in the Lake District began in the late eighteenth century when a number of guide books had been published, along with the railway finally reaching these parts in the mid 1800’s.
Thankfully, Wild Ennerdale has been left relatively untouched by man and his destructive touch. Long may that continue.
The Candlestick Chimney, at Whitehaven in West Cumbria is a remaining ventilation shaft for the former Wellington Pit. The chimney was built in 1850 by Sydney Smirke. It is ornate and Gothic in style.
When Harrington No. 10 Pit closed in 1968 a programme of shaft and adit filling was implemented to prevent gas migrating through the interconnected No. 10, William and Wellington Pits and reaching Haig.
After Wellington and Haig were isolated from each other, No. 3 shaft was left open to allow gas to vent. The decision was made not to erect pipe above the shaft but to utilise the old boiler flue and chimney of the Candlestick by laying a pipe from beneath the shaft cap to the base of the chimney to vent gas this way. Wellington Pit was the site of Whitehaven’s largest mining disaster when 136 miners lost their lives in 1910.
Wednesday 11th May 1910, still represents the blackest day in the history of the coal mining industry of Whitehaven. One hundred and Forty Two men and boys descended the mine for that evening shift at Wellington Pit and only six came out again to tell their story. Rescuers battled through the night and well into the following day to try to get through to the trapped miners but eventually the regional mines inspector ordered them to pull out.
He felt it was unlikely that anyone would have survived the explosion and fire and, despite strong opposition from some of the miners involved in the rescue operation, he ordered that the area should be sealed off to starve the fire of oxygen. Several months later the mine was re-opened to allow for the gruesome task of recovering and identifying the badly decomposed bodies.
The Edward Medal is awarded to people who have shown exceptional bravery in industrial rescues. 64 were awarded after the Wellington Pit disaster which is the most ever awarded in a single incident.
A short walk along the cliff top from Haig Colliery in Whitehaven, West Cumbria, a small stone cairn marks the site of King Pit. The mine was sunk in 1750 by Sir Carlisle Spedding, which by 1793 reached a depth of 296 metres – then the deepest coal mine in the world.
An interesting feature of Whitehaven and surrounding areas is that there is a large expanse of grass land along the top of the cliffs, with the houses being set well back. The main reason for this is that at one time all the mines, railways and inclines were along the cliff tops, these have now gone to leave the open space.
King Pit appears to have remained an important winding pit until around 1800. It is labelled as “Kingpit Yard” on the 1st-3rd Ordnance Survey editions; on the 1st edition it still had waggonway access, implying industrial use.
The site is marked by a beehive shaft capping and plaque; given the extensive landscaping of this area after the closure of Haig Colliery, the survival of below-ground deposits is uncertain. The opening of a rock-cut adit also survives, just above high-tide level in the base of the cliff to the west; this was probably a ‘pumpway’, for discharging water pumped up the King Pit shaft.
This is picture #12 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. Today’s photo is from outside my home. Overnight we experienced sub zero temperatures, and were then treated to a lovely sunrise with a fiery red sky early this morning.
This photo was taken with my mobile phone and edited in Snapseed.
Red sky at night, shepherds delight.
Red sky in morning, sheperds warning.
The concept of the above first appeared in the Bible, in the book of Matthew. It is an old weather saying often used at sunrise and sunset to signify the changing sky and originally known to help the shepherds prepare for the next day’s weather.
In the Bible, (Matthew XVI: 2-3,) Jesus said, “When in evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: For the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today; for the sky is red and lowering.”
A red sunrise can mean that a high pressure system (good weather) has already passed, thus indicating that a storm system (low pressure) may be moving to the east. A morning sky that is a deep, fiery red can indicate that there is high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain could be on its way.