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This time last year...

... we had a wonderful week in the English Lake District, normally the wettest spot in England!

[ click the picture for my Lake District photoblog ]

This time this year...

7°C... 45°F...
Rain, rain, go away...

"The Great Marquess" 61994 Heads South by Ian Charters

Ian is well worth visiting if you like the outdoors - don't miss his beautiful photos of the English Lake District, Scotland and the Canadian Rockies

(Original post: May 18th, 2011)

Views of the Scottish Highlands and the English Lake District by John Parminter

If you like this...

[My recent photoblog of a visit to the English Lake District]

English Lake District - April 29th, 2011

This April we spent 5 days in the English Lake District - for our 40th Wedding Anniversary! The weather (for this place and this time of year) was astonishing - almost unbroken sunshine, high 60's and then well into the 70's. Recent summers have been dreadful, and April has become a good time to visit (although in the Lake District, you have a whole lot of microclimates and nothing is guaranteed!).

Holehird Gardens, just north of Ambleside. Quiet, beautiful and free to visit (donations accepted!)

[Lake District visit continues in Part 2]

[Lake District visit continued from Part 1]

Start of a walk along and past Elterwater, west of Ambleside and south of Grasmere

All the Lakeland becks are clear as crystal

Ridge between Silver Howe (left) and Loughrigg Fell (right), I think.... (looking north)

Slate spoil heap, a sign that the old industries are still going...

Shortly before I took this, a loud blast (like an extra-loud bird scarer) from over the low rise above us proved the point!

Approaching "Wainwright's Inn" at Chapel Stile - very pleasant

It was that time of year...

[Lake District visit continues in Part 3]

[Lake District visit continued from Part 2]

From the web site:

"Rydal Mount, in the heart of the Lake District, lies between Ambleside and Grasmere and commands glorious views of Lake Windermere, Rydal Water and the surrounding fells.

"This was Wordsworth's best loved family home for the greater part of his life from 1813 to his death in 1850 at the age of 80. It was here that he wrote many of his poems, revised and improved much of his earlier works and published the final version of his most famous poem 'Daffodils'."

Rydal Water, a short distance north of Windermere and east of Grasmere, seen from Wordsworth's garden

Rydal Water

Bluebells... I'm sure they were very early this year (for the Lake District)

Loughrigg from Wordsworth's garden, looking south

A feature of the garden

The mound

View from the Norse Mound

This little girl looked so cute, couldn't resist taking a photo

Wordsworth's house is perched on the hillside above Rydal Water

A lovely place to have a greenhouse

View from inside the house. Unlike many historic homes that you visit, photography is allowed if you don't use a flash.

Wordsworth's drawing room... and you can sit on most of the seats and sofas in this house, except for delicate ones specially marked. It's a very homely place and if you want sit and read a book for half an hour, no problem! (HDR photo)

...and his study up in the attic, from which you can see all the way to Windermere

[Lake District visit continues in Part 4]

[Lake District visit continued from Part 3]

Start of another walk, starting where the water from Grasmere is about to flow into Rydal Water

Looking back on Rydal Water, Wordsworth's house is on the other side of the lake in the distance

Heading across Loughrigg Terrace, a path that runs under Loughrigg with Grasmere down to the right

Nab Scar, to the north east of Grasmere... and one of many awesome stone walls running up to the top of the fell


Grasmere, where the river runs out on its way to Rydal Water... this is APRIL in the Lake District!! (Apparently the real Lake District April now happens in June, July and August, according to the locals). Just out of the top of the photo people are swimming... words fail me. The sun is hot and it's in the mid 70's...

Grasmere, from the path descending from Loughrigg Terrace

The path descends gently with occasional hairpin bends

Just after taking this picture, we heard the first cuckoo of Spring, loud and clear... 20th April...

Outfall from Grasmere (with my too-fast small digital camera the water over the rocks looked static, so I added a slight motion-blur layer in Photoshop)

Looking back on Loughrigg

...nearly back at the car park., looking back the way we have come

Back at the hotel, at supper... a frequent visitor outside the doors... doors of a restaurant... wide open at 7:30 PM in mid April... still can't get over it!

From the page:

The first time i visited the Lake District, I stayed at the Brothers Water Inn and immediately fell in love with the place.

It has great views looking down Dovedale towards the slightly foreboding Dove Crag.

So it was from here that I decided to venture up Dove Drag to the Priesthole, a small cave situated on the north-eastern side which offers impressive views of Dovedale and beyond...


(Original post: February 17th, 2009)

Steve Carter's photography and music web site (and his photography) just seem to get better and better. Yes, there are great photographs, but there's a whole lot more to enjoy on this site.

This is his new 2009 photograph gallery. If your mouse has a thumb wheel, just roll it (or use the slider or arrow keys) and the carousel of thumbnails spins around so that you can choose one - really neat!

From the English Lake District...

"5 a.m. in Borrowdale"

From his Hebrides album...

The two pictures above (which really need to be seen full size in order to be fully appreciated) were taken on South Harris (see map and this article).

Steve tells me that "this is a stunning place in good weather - bloody awful in the rain (nothing to do)"!

And from the Western Highlands...

The Torridon hills early on a November morning (the Torridon link is to a collection of pages by Steve, well worth following) - also click the picture for many more beautiful pictures of this area

If you like this...

[Another example of Steve Carter's English Lake District photography]
[My photoblog of a trip to the English Lake District, September 2008]

Julia Bradbury (the daughter of a steel-industry father from Derbyshire and a Greek mother, and a right nice lass) has become one of my favourite people after I watched BBC Four's series Wainwright Walks, set in the English Lake District - now available on DVD.

I love the Lakeland Fells and Alfred Wainwright's superb hand-drawn and hand-written guides to them, and Julia clearly does too.

The two series of half-hour programmes take you on ten of Wainwright's best fell walks, through some of the most beautiful wild scenery in the world. The names of the fells convey something of their unique character: Haystacks (where Wainwright's ashes are scattered), Blencathra, Castle Crag, Scafell Pike, Helvellyn, and in the second series Catbells, Crinkle Crags & Bowfell, Helm Crag, High Street and Pillar.

Each programme includes a short sequence of superb aerial photography, taken from a helicopter, providing (literally) an overview of the route to be followed. This footage is a wonderful supplement to Wainwright's guides, and is almost worth the price of the DVDs by itself (and is taken on clear days, even when the actual walks encounter Lakeland's famously changeable weather).

The ground-based photography of the actual walks ("walk" being a term that occasionally includes serious scrambling, but excludes rock climbing needing a rope) is equally superb - the next best thing to being there. Even though you know that camera-men are present, the sense of solitude that Wainwright valued so highly is beautifully conveyed.

Along the way Julia meets various locals, some of whom knew Wainwright personally, all of whom add greatly to the interest of the walks. On some sections she is (very sensibly) accompanied by an expert guide.

Whether you are planning a trip to the Lakeland Fells or would just like to experience them from your armchair, I can't recommend these DVDs enough. They will give you five hours of real pleasure.

[My photoblog of a trip to the English Lakes, September 2008]

(Original post: September 28th, 2008)

English Lake District: Askham to the Cockpit Stone Circle

Earlier this month my wife and I spent a week in the English Lake District. This beautiful part of England has the highest annual rainfall in the UK, added to by the remnants of Hurricane Gustav. It didn't rain all the time, though...

We chose a nice day for a gentle walk that starts at the village of Askham, heading for the Cockpit stone circle on the fells above Ullswater.

Climbing through Askham

A nice barn conversion!

On the way to Heughscar Hill

The locals (a particularly tough lot)

Brown Rigg and High Street (the ancient Roman road that eventually crosses the fell of the same name) - the Cockpit stone circle is just visible on the left edge of the picture, a tiny light-green area from which a track runs to the right

Ullswater below Brown Rigg

The view from Heughscar Hill

Ullswater from Heughscar Hill

On the way to the Cockpit

The Cockpit stone circle, taken from the ground...

...and from the air.

The last photo was taken by Simon Ledingham, who takes many aerial photos using a gyrocopter (or autogyro). A gyrocopter looks superficially like a small helicopter, but its rotor is an unpowered rotating wing, and is much safer than a helicopter if its engine fails. (You probably remember the gyrocopter "Little Nellie" that James Bond flew in the movie "You Only Live Twice", which was actually designed and flown in the movie by Ken Wallis.)

[Lake District visit continues below]
(Original post: September 28th, 2008)

[Lake District visit continued from above]

This is a view of Sawrey, between Windermere and Esthwaite Water, as painted by Beatrix Potter. The fact that so much of the Lake District is unspoilt is due in no small part to her using the proceeds of her famous children's books to acquire large areas of working farmland, in order to preserve them in their original use.

"Hill Top" near Sawrey was bought by Beatrix as her personal retreat. Even after marrying William Heelis this was her private place for herself alone, and in her will she instructed the National Trust to keep it exactly as she left it - it was to have no other personal use.

Hill Top Farm, not open to visitors, adjacent to Hill Top

The entrance to...

...the world's most famous vegetable patch!

Inside the house, apart from Beatrix's own work, the rooms have many paintings and illustrations that Beatrix acquired from other people, including a couple of illustrations by Randolph Caldecott (1846-86) illustrating the nursery rhyme "Sing A Song Of Sixpence". This one is "The Fowler's Snare".

Another painting hanging in Hill Top is "Two Girls On A Jetty" by George Dunlop Leslie (1835-1921)

"Apple Dumplings" by George Dunlop Leslie - this one isn't hanging in Hill Top but I'm sure that Beatrix would have liked it!

[Location of Hill Top on my England Map]

[Lake District visit continues below]

(Original post: September 28th, 2008)

[Lake District visit continued from above]

If you were lucky enough, as I was, to have read the Swallows and Amazons series of books by Arthur Ransome when you were a child, then they have probably stayed with you all your life. Written between 1930 and 1947, their realistic and vivid descriptions of children's adventures in wonderful parts of the world still enthral children and adults alike.

Five of the books: Swallows and Amazons, Swallowdale, Winter Holiday, Pigeon Post, and The Picts and the Martyrs, were set in the Lake District (and I was interested in tracking down some of the real locations that he used).

Four of the books: Coot Club, We Didn't Mean to go to Sea, Secret Water and The Big Six, were based in the Norfolk Broads and on the East Coast of England. We Didn't Mean to go to Sea is (IMO) one of the finest adventure stories about children ever written, for children and adults alike.

Two of the books: Peter Duck and Missee Lee, set in more exotic locations, were written as romances that the children make up for themselves about themselves - a story within a story, as it were. Arthur Ransome's knowledge of boats, the sea and the wide world make these books every bit as realistic as the others. Peter Duck ranks alongside or surpasses "Treasure Island", and is still one of my personal favourites.

The last book: Great Northern? is set in the Hebrides, where a holiday in a borrowed Norwegian pilot cutter turns into a campaign to preserve a rare bird from an unscrupulous egg-collector.

Having taken several of the books with me on holiday, I worked out that the lake loved by the children is actually a composite of two lakes, Windermere and Coniston Water. The east bank of the children's lake, the islands shown on the maps, and the north end of the lake, all seemed to correspond to Windermere (the children obviously know Bowness as a real place, but call it "Rio" amongst themselves). The west bank of the children's lake, and the fells behind it, seemed to belong to Coniston Water.

When I got home I found out that I was mostly right - if you click the picture to the left you will find more information on the real locations - and check here as well.


The previous two pictures show both sides of the real island on Windermere that is positioned where "Wild Cat Island" is positioned on the children's fictional lake, and looks very similar - but the source for Wild Cat Island was apparently Peel Island on Coniston water (maybe he combined the two?).

This is Coniston Water and a spur of Coniston Old Man (known to the children by its real name, but referred to by them as Kanchenjunga) that could well be Ling Scar in the book Pigeon Post.

In the book they explore the old mine workings around and beneath the spur, discovering in the process that disused workings can be a dangerous place.

This is the beautifully restored Victorian Steam Yacht Gondola on Coniston Water, a great way to view the lake and its surroundings.

The steam engine (now running eco-friendly on reconstituted wood logs) is incredibly quiet and vibration-free - in most parts of the Gondola you can hardly hear it at all when the craft is moving. It's so much nicer than the noisy excursion boats on Windermere - and it makes me wonder why more craft aren't powered this way. Why not?

I didn't realise when riding on it that it gave Arthur Ransome the idea for Captain Flint's houseboat in "Swallows and Amazons" - more information here.

Behind the Gondola in the picture is the east bank of Coniston Water, replaced by Arthur Ransome for the children's lake by the east bank of Windermere.

[Lake District visit continues below]

[Lake District visit continued from above]

Blackwell, "an architectural jewel in the heart of the Lake District", was designed by M H Baillie Scott (1865-1945) as a holiday home for a wealthy Manchester brewery owner, and is "one of the country's most important examples of Arts and Crafts architecture".

Blackwell is one of the most beautiful houses that I have ever visited, and is also one of the most frustrating to describe properly to someone who has not been there. Photography is forbidden indoors, and neither the official web site nor any other site that I have found shows photographs that come anywhere near conveying the beautiful atmosphere of the real place.

However if you would like a really good written review of the place (not mine), go here.

Blackwell (top of picture) seen from Windermere

The view from Blackwell across Windermere. Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's retreat, is on the other side of Windermere, somewhere off to the right. In the distance are the fells behind Coniston Water.

One of the many nice things about Blackwell is that it has alcoves with window seats and cushions that visitors are allowed to sit in. This view is one of several that can be enjoyed from such a seat in the beautiful White Drawing Room - I must have spent over 20 minutes doing just that.

[Location of Blackwell on my England Map]
[The Arts and Crafts Movement (Overview)]
[The Arts and Crafts Movement (Wikipedia)]
[The Arts and Crafts Home - A Design Resource for Home Decoration]
[Places to enjoy life... in England]

(Original post: August 27th, 2008)

One of many wonderful photos of the English Lake District (and other places) by Steve Carter

Steve (a very nice bloke) told me: "The photo was taken about 200 yards from the Kirkstile Inn by Loweswater in Cumbria, looking towards Crummock Water. Red Pike is the big(ish) hill in the backgound."

The hill in the right foreground is (I am almost certain) Haystacks.

I will soon be returning to the Lake District after an absence of many years, and am really looking forward to it. If the weather is like this then I will be delighted - but all that green beauty comes from the highest annual rainfall in the UK...

[Location of the Kirkstile Inn on my England Map]
[My full England Map]
[Walk Area: Buttermere Valley, Lake District]
[Lake District Walks (or see the previous post below)]
[Places to enjoy life... in England]

This excellent site provides guided tours of a very large number of walks in the English Lake District (and some other places too). Each tour takes the form of a photoblog and excellent notes, accompanied by annotated large scale maps.

This is a great site for anyone who likes walking - a real work of love by Andrew Leaney. Even if you can't get to the English Lakes, this site is a real treat for the armchair traveller!

For more on the English Lake District...

[Places to enjoy life... in England]