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.
This is picture #25 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 weeks photo was taken from the cliff-tops at Saltom Bay, in Whitehaven, looking south towards St Bees head, and its lighthouse which you might just be able to make out.
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.
On the western edge of the Lake District National Park, Ennerdale runs east to west from the high central fells to the rolling hills and moorland of West Cumbria and the Irish Sea coastal plain. Perhaps key to the very special feel of the place is the fact that it’s the only major Lake District valley to have no public road along it. Ennerdale Water, quiet and solitary, is one of the least developed of the English lakes. The water of the lake is extremely pure, and has been used as a source of drinking water for around 150 years.
In the 1920s, the Forestry Commission purchased Ennerdale and created a blanket of commercial conifer forest. This had an effect on the tradition of farming Herdwick sheep. Up until then, Ennerdale held a vital place in the Herdwick story, but 2,000 sheep had to be removed from Gillerthwaite and Ennerdale Dale when the valley was forested. However, there are still 16 farms with fell-grazing livestock in the wider Ennerdale valley.
Originally known as Broadwater, Ennerdale measures two and a half miles long, three quarters of a mile wide and 45 metres (150 feet) deep. Ennerdale’s western end is mountainous and panoramic and is dominated by the rocky bulk of Pillar (892 metres), Haycock (797m), Steeple ( 819m) and Great Scoat Fell (802m). Its eastern end is set in a flatter landscape which looks out over the West Cumbrian plain towards Whitehaven and Workington.
The first mention of Whitehaven as a harbour comes from 1172, but the foundation for the first quay was laid in 1633 by Sir Christopher Lowther for construction of the Old Quay to export salt and coal.
The Bulwark Quay was completed in 1711 making Whitehaven the third largest trading port in England during the eighteenth century and the most important rum port in the UK. Construction of The West Pier Lighthouse, West Pier and North Pier surrounding the Outer harbour began in 1832 and finally the Queen’s Dock was built in 1876.
Over 1,000 ships are documented as being built in the port of Whitehaven. The most famous shipyard was that established by Daniel Brocklebank which eventually became part of the Cunard Line.
Since 1990, £20 million of grant funding has been invested in and around the harbour improving public access. The harbour no longer sees the amount of trade vessels it used to. However, the harbour still has an active fishing industry with vessels bringing in a large variety of fish including sole, skate and prawns.
The sea locks themselves not only let the inner harbour stay water-filled at all times, the massive gates also act as flood defences. For centuries, the town was flooded by fierce storms, but with the help of the Environment Agency, the sea lock now helps to keep the town dry.
Now, the tourist industry is of growing importance to town’s economy.
Monks Bridge, in West Cumbria, is the oldest packhorse bridge in the county. The bridge crosses Friar Gill – a narrow chasm etched into the landscape by the flowing waters of the River Calder. The water is also very cold, as my feet can testify. Brr!
The river, old as time itself, flows through a timeline from prehistoric settlements on the high fell through the old abbey and then on to a modern day nuclear plant and into the sea.
The bridge is said to be medieval and associated with Calder Abbey, but probably rebuilt C17 or C18. The bridge is constructed from sandstone blocks, with thick sandstone slabs forming a pathway. The pointed arch spans 18 ft, and is 3 ft. wide. Monk’s Bridge is a Grade II Listed Building.
Stone began to be used instead of timber in the 12th century and became increasingly common in the 14th and 15th centuries. Many medieval bridges were repaired, modified or extensively rebuilt in the post- medieval period. During the medieval period the construction and maintenance of bridges was frequently carried out by large estates and the Church, especially monastic institutions which developed long distance packhorse routes between their landholdings.
Monks Bridge is a narrow and beautifully formed stone arch bridge. It has no parapet, handrail or side stones so there would be no obstructions for a horse or pony crossing the bridge with wool, farm produce, or even mead.
Some stone built medieval bridges still survive. These can be classified into three main types based on the profile of the arch which is typically pointed, semi-circular or flattened. A common medieval feature is the presence of stone ashlar ribs underneath the arch. The bridge abutments and revetting of the river banks also form part of the bridge. Where medieval bridges have been altered in later centuries, original features are sometimes concealed behind later stonework, including remains of earlier timber bridges.
Bridges were common and important features of medieval towns and the countryside and allowed easy access along a well developed road and trackway system. However, only around 16 largely unaltered medieval single span bridges have so far been recognised to survive in England. All these are considered to be of national importance.
‘ve been for a walk alongside the River Calder, at Calderbridge in West Cumbria. It has been a really pleasant spring day, which helped make the visit most enjoyable. The walk culminated in a visit to the historic Calder Abbey.
This was a short walk, beginning and ending at St Bridget’s Church, in Calderbridge. The church was built between 1840 and 1842 to a design by the Lancaster architect Edmund Sharpe. It was paid for by a Thomas Irwin of Calder Abbey.
To access the riverside, pass through an iron gate, located to the left of the church, and follow the well established path.
The River Calder rises at Lankrigg Moss and flows southwards for 10 miles (16 km) through an ancient landscape, flowing under Monks Bridge (a packhorse bridge) and by the site of Calder Abbey. It also runs past and (indirectly) gives its name to Calder Hall, site of the world’s first commercial nuclear reactor.
This is picture #15 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. Today’s photo is of the brilliant beach, at St Bees.
St Bees is a coastal village on the west coast of Cumbria, on the Irish sea. St Bees is a popular holiday destination due to the coastline and proximity to the Western Lake District. In the village there is the Norman era St Bees Priory, and St Bees School founded in 1583. The Wainwright Coast to Coast Walk starts from the north end of St Bees Bay. The village is served by the Cumbrian Coast Railway.
The beach at low tide offers up a vast expanse of red sand studded with rock pools. The sand is accessible at all times except for 2 or 3 hours on either side of high tide, when only the shingle is clear of the water.
The red sandstone cliffs of St Bees Head are one of the the most dramatic features of the Cumbrian coast. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has owned most of the cliffs since 1973. The cliff-top path from St Bees makes a pleasant if strenuous walk at any time of year if the weather is kind, but for the naturalist, spring and summer are the most rewarding seasons. The cliffs are composed of a red Permian and Triassic sandstone about 200 Million years old. St Bees sandstone was created by water borne sand and has a very small grain size, making it a very workable stone still much in demand for building. The mica in the stone gives it a sparkling effect. St Bees sandstone occurs as far north as Brampton, but it is named after its most prominent outcrop here at St Bees.
Here is the only colony of cliff-nesting seabirds in Northwest England, to which thousands of birds return each spring to lay their eggs and hatch their chicks before returning to the seas where they spend three-quarters of their lives. For those who know what to expect from a seabird colony, all the usual species are here, plus a few extras peculiar to the location on the edge of the Lake District. Most numerous are the guillemots, the northern equivalent of the penguin; over 5,000 crowd on to the open ledges where they jostle for the best position to lay their single egg. Their close relative the razorbill is represented by only a few hundred birds, preferring the privacy of nooks and crannies in the cliffs. This is the only place in England where black guillemots. In summer they are easily identified by the big white wing patch on the otherwise black body, and close views reveal their bright crimson legs and gapes.
Moss Dub is a natural pool (tarn) in the Ennerdale Valley, located south of the River Liza in the Ennerdale Forest. Moss Dub is surrounded by rhododendrons and coniferous woodland, it is a small, shallow tarn. The tarn is thought to be a remnant of a former great lake. Access to the tarn is from the head of Ennerdale Water via forest trails.
Due to the tightly packed woodland around the tarn, clear views are difficult. The best angle is from the west, looking along the outflow which takes in a few interesting twists and turns.
If you visit the tarn, watch out for the docile Galloway cattle which are allowed to roam free in the valley – please keep all dogs on leads in the vicinity of the cattle.
If you’re lucky, you might see Roe deer which inhabit the forest – the best time to spot them is either at dawn and dusk. Red Squirrels may also be sighted, especially around the Gillerthwaite area.
The forest is also home to a variety of birds including Peregrine falcon, Raven, Buzzard, Kestrel and Heron.