Blea Tarn and Brothers Water.

I was almost deterred from swimming in Blea Tarn and Brothers Water as they have been designated SSSI’s or Sites of Special Scientific Interest. However with both having been on my ‘to do’ list since the very beginning, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Blea Tarn:

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Blea Tarn and the Langdales

David and I drove to Blea Tarn at the start of our few days away to the Lake District. As we came from the direction of the Great Langdale valley the tarn looked rather uninspiring. Undeterred we parked up at the National Trust Blea Tarn car park, and paid the rather steep charge of £5.50 for 4 hours. Parking is right across the road from the tarn with an accessible walk to the waters edge and stunning views. I was surprised the area wasn’t more busy, we only saw a handful of people!

We followed the National Trust trail and took a gentle meandering walk past the tarn, gazed at towering Scots Pines before heading out towards the fells and then the ultimate viewpoint over Great Langdale, which was stunning!

During our walk we saw common spotted orchids, golden ringed dragonflies (to fast for us this time, though we would see them again during our walk over Beda Fell), and a beautiful summer visitor, a pied flycatcher.

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Blea Tarn

We returned to the shingle beach of Blea Tarn where we set up base and I stripped to my new tankini. Terence the turtle registered a balmy 18°C but with the wind I soon cooled quickly. Here’s some pictures and video of my very enjoyable swim, the best of the weekend! The entrance into the water was easy underfoot. No scrambling over rocks is always a plus in my book!

Brothers Water: 

We got to the shores of Brothers Water after a five hour hike around Beda Fell. At 3.30pm there were only a few dog walkers around, I had the entire lake to myself! Tired and with aching feet we stumbled along the shingle shore towards the waters edge. From there I struggled into a new swimsuit and waded out ungracefully into the shallow and reedy waters. I did not stray too far from the shore, though in hindsight I think maybe I should have ventured out further. I was afraid of fronds catching at my ankles, much like Loweswater. However the waters were silky against my tired limbs and the views were soul nourishing. Pictures of Brothers Water to me, always looked like a mini Wast Water but once there the lake was reminiscent of Buttermere. The water was a warm 17°C but the swarm of flies that hovered about the surface of the water, and then me, was slightly off putting. I think with being exhausted from a mentally challenging walk, I didn’t enjoy swimming at Brothers Water as I should have. The real stars were the small fish that swam in shoals in the shallows. If anyone can ID them for me that would be great! Here’s a small selection of pictures and video of my swim.

Have you visited this tarn/water? What are your memories of them?

Where do you think I should swim next?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

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Aira Force and Ullswater

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Ullswater

Before journeying home, I planned to stay a little bit longer in the Lake District. Even though the day dawned grey and showery, we stuck with the itinerary and headed towards Aira Force and Ullswater. Neither we had visited before, so we were in new charted territory!

We parked the car at High Cascades car park. I thought it was reasonably priced for the day at £6.50, other car parks in the area charged a lot more!

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Aira Falls

The path took us along well designed paths that lead towards the viewing platform and steps to Aira Force. The whole area felt like a Victorian park, and after some online research I found that the area was indeed landscaped, though earlier than expected, by the Howard family in the 1780’s.

The woodland walk was pleasant and the area seemed very popular with other tourists.

We spent a good hour walking the meandering paths, following bubbling streams and watching fast flowing rapids.

Above the shade of trees the clouds broke and an unseasonably hot sun glared down.

After visiting Aira Force, a walk along the Gowbarrow trail was planned. We took the route anti clockwise. I don’t know whether this was a good thing or not, though come our descent we were faced with very steep steps, so going up would have been a struggle!

We walked a narrow path, with wonderful views of Ullswater below. The destination for lunch was the Memorial Seat and cairn.

After a well earned rest, where we were either too hot or too cold, we continued on an exhausting two hour hike around Gowbarrow. At 481m it was 100m taller than Walla Crag, and boy did it feel it! We kept walking and walking. The map I had didn’t correlate to anything in front of us. There were times when I thought we were lost, and then the weather turned and the cloud came rolling in!

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Gowbarrow Summit

However we managed to find the summit of Gowbarrow and though we stumbled on our descent, we could see the car park and David’s shiny red car awaiting us in the distance. It was a welcome sight!

I have never felt so utterly spent after a walk as I did after Gowbarrow. Perhaps is was due to the fact that I hadn’t rested after a hectic day around Derwentwater, the day before. Whatever it was, when we found free parking alongside a grey Ullswater, I was in two minds as to whether to embark on my final swim or leave the total for 2016 at 9! All along the walk to Gowbarrow I had been imagining the swim in Ullswater. I felt apprehensive. The swims in Bassenthwaite and Loweswater had made me worry about how cold the water would be and would I enjoy the experience. I know I hadn’t enjoyed Loweswater!

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Ullswater

Though my mind debated and my body felt tired, I knew in my heart that if I didn’t take a dip in Ullswater, (a new lake to add to the tally), then I would feel I had cheated myself. I had come this far, a few minutes of discomfort would be worth the exhilaration afterwards! So David and I headed towards the shore. The choice of entrance was not the greatest. I had intended on swimming from Glencoyne Bay but we had parked a little further up the road and the entrance was rocky and very shallow. It took me a while to waddle into water deep enough for me to submerge my body.

Though the water was cold, it did not feel as icy as Derwentwater. Indeed after a few strokes I felt warm. I began to enjoy myself. I took Wilson (waterproof camera) with me and snapped a few shots. I was later astonished to find that I had shared my swim with hundreds of little fish. I had not felt them swimming through my fingers like I had at Easedale.

What happened next was due to my own laziness at not wanting to stumble across bricks and rocks to hand Wilson back to David on shore. I have discovered that I can’t breaststroke while holding the camera, so I placed Wilson on a stone that protruded above the water. The water was relatively calm, so I left Wilson while I continued to swim back and forth along the shore. On the other side of the lake a ferry chugged along.

Before I knew it, David was shouting ‘wave,’ in alarm and I was buffeted by a huge swell churned up from the ferry. I watched in horror as Wilson was knocked off his rock and I kicked stones and bruised my legs scrambling towards shore to find him. David directed me as to which direction he thought Wilson had been swept in. I waded in panic, shivering in the cold. I was about to give up when I saw Wilson bobbing in the shallows. I was so relieved. I did not want to lose my new camera. It was a lesson well learned!

The event had upset me almost to tears. Cold to the bone, I cut short my swim and returned, mightily relieved to the shore. David and I were thankful I had not lost my new camera. David joked that it reminded him of the film Castaway, hence the name Wilson.

Up until the incident, I had been enjoying my swim in Ullswater. It makes me determined to return in the future. I will just have to find a way of fixing Wilson to my body so I can swim unhindered.

I hope you have enjoyed my short, but full excursion to the Lake District? Have you been to Aira Force, walked Gowbarrow or around Ullswater? Let me know what lakes/walks you think I should visit next.

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

Amongst the Ferns!

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After all the upheaval last week, with working on the house. It was nice to have the chance to get away from it all, even if it was for only a few hours.

We got up at 5am. (It seems customary now that if we go walking we head out early). I noticed that the sun hadn’t risen, already the shorter days are on their way! It took us two hours driving on the M6 to get to Grasmere in the Lake District. We planned to walk from Stock Lane car park to Easedale Tarn. The sun was out, yet there was a crisp chill in the air. There was little sign of the warmer weather the Met Office had reported, although it did warm up a little as the day progressed.

The walk to the tarn took just over an hour. Pretty good going, what with my stumpy legs and a well defined but rocky path. The gradient took us up past the beautiful though unfortunately named Sourmilk Ghyll. We stopped off at the waterfall and I pondered whether to take a dip in the plunge pool, though the force of the waterfall seemed fierce. I decided against it and we carried on towards Easedale Tarn.

There were already a number of people at the tarn when we arrived. A group had set up tents on a headland, and looked like they had camped the night, while others were stripping off wet-suits. We walked around the tarn looking for a good entry point. We walked a further hour slipping into mud, (well I was), dodging marshy moss and fighting through Jurassic ferns. At one stage I was ready to give up but David said we should push on. His doggedness paid off and we found ourselves on the other side of the tarn on a shingle beach where a lone sheep looked bewildered by our presence.

By this time a bank of thick cloud had drifted over the fells, blanketing any of the suns warmth. David sat wrapped up in his waterproof shaking his head. ‘You’re crazy!’ he remarked as I folded up my clothes. I stood in my swimsuit at the edge of the tarn. The water to the touch was cold. When I submerged my body, it was the coldest I had swam in! I knew being a tarn, Easedale would be colder than the lakes I had already dipped in, but I was not prepared for how cold. I gasped as I made my first strokes but I soon grew accustomed.

I swam back and forth along the lake-side for about 10 minutes. I felt the cold more as time progressed and what felt like fronds catching at my fingers. ‘It’s starting to rain,’ David said as concentric rings appeared on the water. However it didn’t rain, we realised then that I was not alone in the water! There were little silver fish swimming about. That was what I had felt touching my fingers!!

I got out of the water and shivered while I ate my packed lunch and drank a hot coffee. I only became warm once we headed back along the track to Grasmere and the sun decided to pop out from the clouds.

All in all, we were out walking, swimming, slipping and sliding for around five hours. The car park which has a recognition number-plate camera cost us only £5.80 for that period. I felt enlivened from my dip and the country air. We passed Rydal Water on our journey which looks a lovely lake. Perhaps before the summer’s out I can bag another swim?

Where do you think I should swim next?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

‘Our Day Out!’ by Christine Lucas.

[The bedroom of number 49. Early morning sun lights the bedroom. The strain of music from Classic FM stream into the chill morning from the radio. The sunlight highlights a woman sitting at her dressing table, applying foundation to her face. A mobile phone beeps.]

Christine: Who is that?

David [lying in bed.] It’s Keith, he will be with us in ten minutes.

Christine: What time is it?

David: Just gone eight.

Christine: He said he’d be here at eight thirty. I am not ready! I will be ready for eight thirty, but not eight fifteen!

David [climbing out of bed]: I’ll tell them they can come in or wait.

 

[Outside, in the road, before a Citroen DS3. Keith and David pack lunch bags and a silver foiled package into the boot of the car. Christine welcome’s Bilgen and Gary. Bilgen holds the door as they all climb into the car. Christine, David (in the middle) and Gary all sit in the back seat. Keith is at the wheel.]

David: Is everyone ready?

Keith: The only postcode for the Angel I could find began with NE?

Christine: I couldn’t find one either. [The satnav calculates the route.]

Keith: It say’s we’ll be there at 11am!

Christine: Only takes two and a half hours from Liverpool.

 

[They set off on their journey. The M62 from Liverpool, then the M60 (around Manchester) then back onto the M62. Bilgen falls asleep. Gary tries to take her picture. Christine cheers when they get to the highest point of any UK motorway, some 372m! The roads are pleasantly quiet. David jokes to Bilgen that it is because after a certain point in England, like the film ’28 Days Later,’ parts of the North are barricaded as a hoard of zombies roam the northern wilds. They leave the M62 and join the A1 (M). Christine looks out of the window and gets excited. They are drawing near to their first destination.]

Keith: We should be getting close now.

Christine [looking at her phone]: It says after the Washington Service Station continue on the A1 (M) until the main roundabout and take the A167 turn off. The Angel site is on your left and parking available nearby. [Looking up] There she is!

 

[They pull into the parking bay beside the A167 and excitedly get out of the car. Christine leaves her jacket in the boot of the car, though there are rain clouds overhead. They all have cameras and mobile phones in hand as they walk the short path towards, Sir Antony Gormely’s ‘The Angel of the North.’]

Christine [taking a different path from the others.] Isn’t it wonderful! [David follows after her.]

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[After a quick bite to eat in the car at the Angel car park. The five-some travel on towards Middlesbrough to visit friends Paul and Gemma. On arrival at their house, Christine hands Paul the silver foiled package.]

Christine: You asked for bread?

Paul: Thank you!

 

[Some four hours of chatting goes by and many pictures taken of Paul and Gemma’s King Charles Spaniels, Kash and Ruby]

Kash

Christine [to David]: What time is it?

David: Half five.

Christine: We can’t stay here all evening, it’s not fair on Paul and Gemma!

Bilgen: I’m getting hungry.

Christine: We have to go home and have dinner.

[They say their goodbyes.]

Paul: Thanks for coming.

Christine: It was nice to meet you!

Gemma: Have a safe journey home.

 

[In the car, they seat belt up.]

David: So what do we do next?

Christine [deflatedly]: Go home. [Cheerful.] Or go to Whitby like Gemma suggested.

Keith: We could go to Maggies?

Christine [corrects]: Magpies in Whitby. [She looks at her phone and finds the postcode for Magpies.] YO21 [Keith programmes the satnav.]

David: What happen’s if it is busy like Gemma said it would be? It being a Saturday and all!

Christine: Then we look for food elsewhere, or go hungry!

 

[They travel for 40 minutes, mainly in silence. Everyone is hungry and tired. Christine looks out of the window at the heathland around them.]

Bilgen [to Gary]: Do you have pain killers? I will have a headache if we do not eat soon!

David [to Christine]: What time is it?

Christine: Six o clock.

David [to Keith]: Put Classic FM on, Saturday Night at the Movies. 

 

[Music from the film The Prestige plays. As they near Whitby they see the ruined Abbey on the headland. Christine think’s Anne Bronte is buried in St Mary’s Church, but [looking at her phone] finds it is in St Mary’s of Scarborough. They look for the Magpie Cafe and have to turn back as they travel too far. They end up parked in a makeshift car park by the harbour. Keith and Gary go to the paying machine and an Asian man hands them a ticket. They return to the car as a rain shower beings.]

Keith: The Indian man gave me a ticket. It looks like he paid for 24 hours not 4!

Christine: Did you give him any money for it?

Keith: No, he didn’t want it!

 

[They leave the car and walk down the main street of Whitby. They look at the harbour arched in a rainbow. They pass many groups of rowdy men and women dressed in 1950’s clothes. They take pictures of the town and on finding the Magpie Cafe. They look at the menu.]

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David: Do you want to eat in our get a takeaway? It looks busy.

Christine [resigned]: I don’t mind.

David: Shall I look for the takeaway menu?

Christine [sighing to David]: I don’t mind want we do. [David and Keith walk further up the road. Christine turns to Bilgen and Gary]. He never takes me out to restaurants. I would like to go to a restaurant once in a while.

Bilgen [to Christine]: I want to go and get a table inside. I want to eat a proper meal. [Christine shrugs. David and Keith come back.]

Keith: The takeaway menu is on the other side.

Christine: I’ll do whatever you all want to do.

Bilgen: I want to go inside.

David [To Christine]: We’ll do whatever you want?

Christine [To Bilgen]: Go inside and ask if there is a table for five.

Bilgen: Come with me! [They all walk up the steps to the entrance.] 

Maître d’: A table for two?

Bilgen: No five.

Maître d’: The table in the corner over there is available. [Bilgen looks around at Christine and they share a smile.]

Bilgen: A nice table. [The view is over the harbour and towards the abbey. The waitress Joanne comes and takes their order.]

Bilgen: I’ll have grilled Salmon and vegetables.

Gary: The same but no vegetables.

Keith: The Cod and Chips.

David: Grilled Salmon and chips please.

Christine: I’ll have the poached Lemon Sole and vegetables, lots of them! [They order drinks. Christine orders two small glasses of the pinot grigio, for herself and Bilgen. Gary tries to order Bilgen a lemonade. Christine corrects him and laughs with the waitress and the others.]

Christine: I’ve not ordered two glasses for myself. I’m not that bad!

 

[As dusk descends on the fishing village and they tuck into their food. They laugh and enjoy each other’s company.]

 

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[After 9 pm thoroughly fuelled they head from Whitby back along the A1 (m), and M62 to Liverpool in pouring rain. The journey takes just over 2 hours. Christine enjoys listening to the 80’s songs on the radio and watches the cats eyes light their way. She marvels at the cities they pass sparkling with lights. 

On disembarking Keith’s car. Christine thanks them for inviting her, she had had a nice time and gives Bilgen a hug and another silver foiled gift.]

Christine: For Jeanette. [and Christine and David wave them on their journey home!]

 

Christine Lucas © 2014 

Fish and Flowers.

I bought a UK farmed Trout the other day and thought I would try a ‘take two’ with the mustard.

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I smeared only a little this time on the Trout who we called Charles and boiled some Charlotte potatoes and tossed some onion in a bowl with baby leaf salad. The result was pleasant and not eye watering as the first take was. I was very pleased with the outcome. 🙂

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Earlier that day I had been taking some pictures of the late spring flowers in my garden. Pictures taken were Azalea, Aquilegia which decided to seed itself in a piece of soil in the alleyway and roses and carnations which I bought from the supermarket.

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Tomorrow is my date at the Liverpool Echo Arena to see Walking With Dinosaurs! Like a child I can’t wait!

Tears Over Dinner…

I was looking for a fish to use up my jar of mustard. I had the idea that I could smoother the fish with mustard and cook it for 10 minutes in the oven. In Asda they were selling Sea Bream for £2, so I got one and named him Pericles as the fish was farmed in Greece. David filleted it for me. I cooked the fish and boiled some pearl potatoes and tossed some red onion in a bowl with salad.

After serving the meal, mum and I sat down at the dining table and tucked into Pericles… however after a mouthful of the mustard we both sat with tears streaming down our face. The Sea Bream was nice, I will definitely be buying it again, but perhaps not drown it in so much mustard next time. 😀

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