Keswick: Ashness Bridge, Walla Crag and Castlerigg Stone Circle.

After realising last night that we were, in fact, not leaving Keswick on the following day, we decided on a plan. We were going to catch the lake ferry to Ashness Bridge and walk back to town via Walla Crag, a walk none of us had done and which seemed reasonably straightforward.

The walk from our apartment to the landing was short and we bought tickets (a steal at £2.70 each) and I took some snaps of the very photogenic row boats.

The boat ride was short but scenic.

We alighted at the first landing and walked the step road climb to Ashness Bridge. I’ve been there twice before, also on overcast days, so if my photos look very familiar that’s why. Or you’ve seen this bridge on the cover of a box of Derwent pencils.

There were a few people around but these girls had decided to have their meal break right in front of the bridge and get in the way of everyone’s photos, which was kind of annoying.

Still, the time of day and light was much better this time. Here’s my very shady photo from 2018.

We were a bit less organised today and Mark, who said he wasn’t in charge, had the route marked out on his phone. We decided to take the path that didn’t look very steep.

Through this harmless-looking, and therefore misleading, gate.

But then it got STEEP!

It’s really hard to capture steepness in a photo, but I had to use my hands on the rocks, the surface was loose gravel and there were blackberry canes, nettles and roses everywhere, which made it all a bit challenging. Mark and Sue leapt to the top like mountain goats while everyone else got caught up behind me. To be honest, if I’d been on my own I probably wouldn’t have done it but, after a couple of uncertain moments, we got up higher where the path levelled out.

Maybe, instead of anaesthetic, in hospitals they could save money and just show people photos of amazing views because it seems to make me immediately forget all the suffering I’ve endured.

Onwards and upwards..

Feeling the serenity. We did actually manage to hear a cuckoo today too!
From up high we could see the fell we walked yesterday.
We saw a bird of prey and our eyes could see more detail than this terrible image shows. We think it might have been a honey buzzard.

More dramatic views.
Negotiating a rare bit of mud.
Me in a group photo. Thanks Mark!
An unusual stile design to get to Lady’s Rake above Walla Crag.
Stunning views!

Lea loves it when I take photos of her unawares.
Cotton grass.

The back of Walla Crag is a wide moor space that is very open and covered in heather. My favourite sort of landscape, it sweeps up to some higher fells and I was dying a little inside knowing that it will have wait until next time but I guess it’ll always be there.

After a while admiring the view we headed down again.

Past a field with some fell ponies and down a long hill.

Over a bridge…
Past some sheep…

Beneath a magnificent oak…

Past more sheep…
Down a lane lined with flowers…
To the stone circle!
What a day!
Weather this good calls for one thing.

After a bit of a sit at the stone circle (which I have also photographed before… by now you may be wondering why I’m even bothering to rephotograph all these places.

When we got to the bus stop Mark and Sue decided to walk back the 30 minutes while the rest of us waited for the bus. Which, in the manner of buses everywhere, failed to arrive.

Oh well, Luke messaged Mark and they were at the pub along the way so we joined them at the…

It means ‘two dogs’.

After a drink and toilet stop we walked back to the apartment for a late lunch bite and rest before dinner.

Mark was the taxi for the evening and, as there were six of us, had to take us in two shifts to a pub in the village of Braithwaite. The pub was Mark and Sue’s recommendation.

Always nice to see the pour over the line.
Cheese sauce with garlic mushrooms on garlic bread – I’m including this photo to remind me to make this at home.

Pork belly, or ‘belly pork’ according to the waiter.

Unfortunately our lovely dinner was ruined by Luke and I sharing the news that we don’t separate coloured and white items in our laundry and I’m not sure the conversation really recovered.

Tomorrow we check out at 10 and have three hours to fill before we can check in at our Buttermere accommodation. The next place we are staying is much more remote than any of the previous so we need to pick up supplies, with cheese and wine at the top of the list!

A Day In Coniston

The guidebook I bought for the Lake District years ago did not have nice things to say about Coniston. It basically implied it was a tiny mining village with little to offer. Times must have changed if property prices are any to go by.

One of the main intersections in Coniston.

Actually Coniston has a number of historic pubs, beautiful views, a useful range of shops and most of the accommodation, if is anything to go by, isn’t cheap. A lot of the houses in the village are built of stone and have that dark, brooding gravitas that slate lends to a place. I really like it.

I decided, on my one full day here, to go for a boat ride around the lake then go and look at Brantwood, the home of John Ruskin. The only other person staying at the pub is an American fellow who is an historian with an interest in John Ruskin so he told me a little at breakfast and then I ended up seeing him at Brantwood later in the day.

I walked down the hill to the lake and did a little Facebook live video while I waited for the boat and went for a walk. Being a teacher, I’m perfectly happy to drone on at length about nothing in particular, although I did find myself talking about socks and wondering if anyone was still listening. When I listened back to it I realised the wind noise was unbearable but lesson learned, I will do them indoors or on still days from now on.

I had meant to go on the steam boat but this was the only one there when I got to the dock.

I was the only passenger on the boat so I had a private tour and enjoyed asking lots of questions and getting a more personal insight into the area. We motored past the island that features in Swallows and Amazons, which is a series of children’s books and two movies and is apparently a big deal even though I hadn’t heard of it until I read my guide book. I have downloaded the first book though and will read it next.

The boat dropped me off at Brantwood, which is almost directly opposite Coniston on the other side of the lake. It’s a group of buildings where John Ruskin spent the last few decades of his life. He was a great thinker, writer, artist, poet… basically a Victorian renaissance man. He went mad in his later years and it sounded a lot like bi-polar to me. The video introduction, that the man at the front desk insisted we watch, was a bit odd. Apart from having weirdly dramatic synth music playing over the top, it completely neglected to mention any female or non-famous person’s presence in JR’s life. I came away wondering if he’d ever married, which of course was a tip-off that his relationship was scandalous and not entirely happy. The gift shop had lots of books on his wife and her achievements but I didn’t investigate. Really, I was here for the gardens and wallpaper.

He designed this wallpaper himself and JR was a big supporter of my favourite art movement, the Pre Raphaelites.

The inside of the house was lovely although insanely creaky. No creeping up on anyone here!

The views from from the windows were stunning in every direction. Forest on one side, lake on the other.

The grounds were supposed to have areas with distinct themes but mainly they were semi-wild with a few bluebells and ferns. From the dock to the buildings was better maintained but I dare say it’s one of those National Trust places where the income doesn’t really cover the upkeep of everything.

John Ruskin’s chair. Surprisingly comfortable in angle but I can only assume he took a cushion or two.

Several people had touted the cafe and it was indeed very nice. I had a carrot and honey soup. After the oversized breakfast at the hotel, soup seemed like a good choice on a cold and relatively sedate day.

All in all a very pleasant day where I learned, looked and listened. My feet and shoulders enjoyed the break and by evening I felt almost ready to tear myself away from the cloud-like comfort of my bed at The Sun. Onwards and upwards tomorrow!