Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lake District - Day 2

As expected, woke up to a rather miserable morning, so didn’t rush out. After breakfast I headed over to the southern end of Derwentwater, to the boardwalk that traverses the marshy perimeter of that part of the lake, with a view to have a bit of a walk and take a few snaps. My ever present friend, the howling wind, accompanied me on my travels and did its very best to blow me from the boardwalk into the brackish water below. But it did not succeed, and I held strong in the face of such gusty disorder.

The sun began to make a few tentative appearances as I approached the western shoreline, so I stopped and pitched my tripod to enable some shots of the foreground lake with Catbells, one of the most popular fells around Derwentwater, rising grandly behind. I ended up staying there for quite a while waiting for the light to be compliant enough for me to get what I wanted, which was to be a recurring theme for quite a lot of the week.

Despite a wobbling tripod I managed to get an image with the sun dappling across the fells

After setting off again, I was drawn back to the shore by the appearance of Otter Island, which is so named because of the otters that live there, possibly. Don’t know about that if I’m honest, but if there are otters about, and I believe there are, then this is just the sort of island where they would love to live, it’s got otter written all over it.

Spent a little while there waiting for the sun to illuminate the island like a mighty bouquet, and also the brooding fells of Castlerigg behind, whilst also waiting for the wind to drop so there would be at least some kind of reflection of the island on the lake surface. When it’s windy the surface is very rippled and obliterates any chance of a reflection. As you can image, there was a lot of waiting around for all these things to occur simultaneously.

Unfortunately the reflection of the island was never going to be great due to the strong winds
Parts of the lake shore are fenced off to encourage wildlife and vegetation re-growth,
and the perimeter fences that dip into the lake can look quite pleasing. 
Once I’d had my fill of the impudent game these clouds were playing on me, I packed up and carried on round the western shore where I bumped into one of the jettys that strut into the water at various intervals, and provide landing stages for the boats that ferry people around. This one was Brandlehow Jetty, either lower or upper, I can never remember, and to be honest, now days it doesn’t really matter, as they have all recently been rebuilt after suffering storm damage over the years, so now they all look the same and have no individual character.

But lack of character has never stopped me, so I didn’t see any reason why the jetty should be disadvantaged either, especially as it was being nicely illuminated beneath the dark, billowy sky, with the light smudged fells adding a nice touch behind. The jetty takes its name from the Brandelhow Estate, which originally covered 108 acres of pasture and woodland at the foot of Catbells. When it came up for sale in 1902, it was, largely thanks to the fund raising of Canon Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust and vicar of Crosthwaite near Keswick, actually the National Trust’s first ever purchase.

Brandelhow Jetty with the combination of sunlight and stormy clouds
After walking back to the car, I hightailed it south to Buttermere to get some much needed luncheon, to the place where I had gone the day before, and as before I had very decent coffee and an almost decent Panini. They brought me the wrong one so I sent it back and then when the correct one came, I wished I’d kept the first offering, but as before, I stoically munched my way through it to the bitter end. Actually it wasn’t that bad, just sounded better than it tasted.

Took this as I was leaving the boardwalk area. In two days time all this would be under water.
Then it was a quick motor down to Grasemere, which Wordsworth, who lived there for 14 years, described as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”, and could well be true but I didn’t stop to find out. Before thundering through Rydel Water, which takes its name from the Old English words ‘ryge’ and ‘dæl’ and means 'the valley where rye is grown’, to finally end up at Blea Tarn.

Located in the valley of Little Langdale, Blea Tarn was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1989 because of its importance for palaeo-environmental studies relating to the Devensian and Flandrian times. Pollen analysis from Blea Tarn shows evidence for elm branches being collected as fodder from 3300 BC and forest clearances occurring from around 3000 to 2000 BC corresponding with the dates of the Great Langdale axe factory.

Meanwhile in modern times, the clouds had parted to reveal the afternoon sun in all its iridescent glory, which unfortunately meant that the tarn was looking pretty flat under its bright glare. But I had made the trip up there and I was damned if the resplendent weather was going to ruin things for me, so I scrambled down to the waters edge, and as the rays gently warmed my back and I cursed furiously under my breath, I got a few pictures despite Mother Nature’s wickedness.

The weather may not have been amazing, but I do like the three clouds perched atop
the three peaks in the background
Next up was a trip to Tarn Hows, which has always been a popular destination for visitors. By 1899 it was already an important beauty spot. H.S. Cowper mentions "Tarn Hows, beloved by skaters in winter and picnic parties in summer. Here comes every day at least one charabanc load of sightseers from Ambleside or Windermere". Although Wordsworth's Guide ‘Through the District of the Lakes’ (1835 edition) recommends walkers to come this way but passes the tarns without mention, so I’m guessing he wasn’t as impressed.

In 1930 the Marshall family sold 4,000 acres of their land to Beatrix Heelis of Sawrey (better known as Beatrix Potter) for £15000. She then sold the half of this land containing the tarn to the National Trust and bequeathed the other half to them in her will. It is still run by the National Trust today.

The, as I mention in a moment, lovely view of Tarn Hows
The view from the hill overlooking the tarn was quite lovely and it was a pleasure to stand there, camera at hand. Well it would have been if that pesky wind wasn’t vigorously attempting to strip the skin from my delicate, exposed cheeks, on my face that is.

So after I’d called it a day I made my way back to Keswick, stopping at Derwentwater to get a picture of the rowing boats lined up on the shore, as they bathed luxuriously in the dying embers of the setting sun. 

I got there just as the sun was disappearing behind the fells and I only had a few minutes to get any shots
The light really brings out the warmth of the wooden boats
After that it was a quick sojourn to the Pheasant Inn where I had some good honest fayre, including a slab of gammon with a couple of fried eggs on top, cracking.

Takes me back to those family outings, where as a treat, we would stop at Happy Eater, with its chirpy little logo that looked perpetually delighted at the prospect of self induced vomiting, for a slap up meal. How easily pleased we were back then. Although thinking about it, that was always gammon with a pineapple ring on top. Never mind, gammon with anything on top was always a winner, and so it continues to be.

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