Sykehouse Cottage

A beautiful C17th Holiday Cottage in the Lake District


Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway

RavenglassA great day out from Sykehouse Cottage – especially if you have children – is the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. It’s a 30 minute drive up to A595 and we sometimes include Muncaster Castle for a very full day out.

Built in 1875, it is the Lake District’s oldest and longest narrow gauge steam railway and known locally as La’al Ratty or The Ratty.  Its original purpose was to ferry iron ore from workings at Boot down the valley to Whitehaven Iron Mines Ltd. The narrow gauge railway provides a lovely 7 mile journey, through some of the Lakes prettiest scenery, from the coast up into the Fells.  There are good, easy walks from many of the stops and, at Ravenglass, there is  a small railway museum and café.  They often have special events for holiday weekends.  For more information click here for their website.


In Praise of Kendal Mint Cake

Kendal mint Cake

‘We sat on the snow and looked at the country far below us … we nibbled Kendal Mint Cake.’  The famous quotation on the Romney’s bar linking Edmund Hillary’s successful ascent of Everest with eating a toe curling mixture of sugar, glucose and peppermint oil must be one of the most famous and successful celebrity endorsements of all time.  We always have a bar or two in a rucksack when we are walking – only when we are walking.  It is too sweet to be eating sitting down.  However it is very useful when junior members of the tribe are flagging and a pick-me-up is needed.  This may also include the who-can-keep-a-piece-in-their-mouth-the-longest competition for added distracting interest.

The Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry has just opened an exhibition all about this famous local delicacy: Kendal Mint Cake: On Top of the World running from 19 July right through until 21 December.  On 31 August, the Museum is holding Mint Cake Eating contest and an auction of the world’s biggest bar of Kendal Mint Cake which will be broken up and sold in aid of MacMillan Cancer. Further details of the exhibition and how to enter the competition can be found following this link.


Norman Nicholson : The Fierce South Lakes Poet

norman nicholsonThe sun has set / Behind Black Combe and the lower hills, / But northward to the fells / Like gilded galleons on a sea of shadow / Float sunlit yet. (South Cumberland, 16 May 1943)

Norman Nicholson was born in 1914 and so I hope there will be many celebrations of his poetry and writing coming up. Apart from the two year bed rest he spent in a sanatorium, Norman lived his whole life in Millom, writing poems both about the fells and the ironworks.

His poems have a honesty and a sometimes shy, sometimes defiant, open handedness about them which makes them very appealing.

His obituary in The Times described Norman as “provincial”.  He fought against this term as a put down and defended the label as a valuable, compassionate and humane perspective on life which we all respond to.  In his most famous poem, “The Pot Geranium”,  he describes the little plant thus: ” “A pot geranium flies its bright balloon … My ways are circumscribed, confined as a limpet / To one small radius of rock; yet / I eat the equator, breathe the sky, and carry / The great white sun in the dirt of my finger nails.”  Wow.

© The Trustees of the Estate of Norman Nicholson, by permission of David Higham Associates Limited