Sykehouse Cottage

A beautiful C17th Holiday Cottage in the Lake District


The wall walks the fell …

dry stone wall “A dry stone wall

Is a wall and a wall,

Leaning together

(Cumberland and Westmorland

Champion wrestlers)”

so says Norman Nicholson.

What a wonderful image!  For the walls here are often made up of two separate walls enclosing a centre filled with small stones called “heartings”.  The construction has long “through” stones to tie the two outer walls together and is finished off with a final top course of thinner slab-like stones on top of which the “cams” or coping stones were placed.

And Cumberland Wrestling is a traditional sport you can often still see at the Summer Shows including our own Broughton & Millom Show.  cumberlandThe origin of this style of wrestling is a matter of debate, with some describing it as having evolved from Norse wrestling; others associate it with a Celtic tradition.  It’s great fun to watch and as they start, gripping each other around the backs, it is easy to see why it reminded Nicholson of the Lake District walls which are some of the most distinctive and most loved features of the fells.

“The wall walks the fell –

Grey millipede on slow

Stone hooves;”

Quotations taken from Norman Nicholson’s “Wall” in his 1981 collection “Sea to the West”.  © The Trustees of the Estate of Norman Nicholson, by permission of David Higham Associates Limited.


Sails at Windermere Jetty

sail

Just discovered this lovely blog post by Windermere Jetty about preserving and conserving the old sails in their collection.   Their oldest sail (pictured here) belongs to 1934 17ft Windermere yacht, Dawn.

If you want to read more about their work click here.

The museum is committed to conserving, saving and sharing the internationally important Windermere boat collection and their focus is on telling the stories behind these boats and they want to actively involve visitors in the crafts and tradition that built them.

Windermere Jetty, designed by Carmody Groarke architects, is due to re-open in 2017.  In the meantime the museum is ‘Just Visiting’ Brockhole, the Lake District Visitor Centre.


Smoots, Boles and Squeeze Stiles

The dry stone walls of the Lake District are such beautiful things.  Walking alongside and over them on our ramblings across the South Lakes we have become quite adept spotting various holes and ledges in these field enclosures.

Merchant-and-Makers-Dry-Stone-Walls-32-Water-smootThere’s a SMOOT which, I think, is any small hole generally ground level in the wall.  I have come across two types: a Water Smoot for drainage and a Rabbit Smoot.  I was curious as to why a farmer would take the trouble to build a rabbit tunnel until I came across this on the Ruskin Museum’s website :

 “Smoots allowed rabbits and hares to pass from the fell into the intakes (fields). Sometimes stone-lined pits were dug below the smoots having a wooden trough, above which was a counter- weighted trap door. The rabbit would fall into the pit and this could be used to supplement a countryman’s diet.”

beatrix potterOccasionally in walls beside farms, we have also come across a small recess with a slate base.  This is a BEE BOLE.  The farmer would put his straw bee hive or skep on this to protect it from rain and wind.  A Bee Bole usually faced South to South East so that the morning sun would warm up the hive.    You can see a Bole at Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top though it is filled with a more modern hive.  Click here for more about Hill Top.

If you are interested in discovering more about Bee Boles there’s a delightful website run by the International Bee Research Association called the Bee Bole Register.  (What else?)   Click here for the link.

lake districtAnd a SQUEEZE STILE is just as you would imagine … instead of steps built into the wall, you must squeeze through the small gap.  Unfortunately, overweight dogs of the Team Rigg party need to be lifted over the obstacle.


Windermere Jetty

windermereIf you read many of our posts, you will realise we are fascinated by all things industrial in the history of the Lake District and so we are thrilled about The Lakeland Arts’ new development, Windermere Jetty.  This is the new name for the Windermere Steamboat Museum and will house a unique collection of historic vessels with a working and possibly viewable (yes, please) conservation workshop.  Scanning through the publicity, it looks as though “the Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories” will be a fun and inspiring experience and a great addition to a visitors’ itinerary.

windermereThe opening of Windermere Jetty is scheduled for completion in 2016 and, in the meantime, Lakeland Arts are “Just Visiting” at Brockhole, the Lake District Visitor Centre, where you can find more information this exciting project.  Click this link through to the Lakeland Arts main website.  And this link will take you to their informative WordPress blog.


Townend: A Quiet Jewel

townendTownend : A Quiet Jewel.

East of Windermere is an historical treasure that we have a special interest in – for it was built around about the same time as Sykehouse Cottage.  It’s attached to no famous name and therefore doesn’t attract the crowds – like that other farm on the west of the Lake, Hill Top, does – but for a delightful insight into 400 years of Lakeland life, Townsend is perfect.  The Browne family was an ordinary farming family but their home at Troutbeck is a beautiful evocation of a past life and well worth a detour to visit.  The place is crammed full of quirky household objects from c17th onwards.  There are excellent, informative guided tours and often they put on an afternoon of cooking where they recreate some of the recipes from the Brownes’ family recipe books.

Townend is a National Trust property and is open from March to October.  It’s about 20 miles from the Cottage and for further details on opening times and prices, follow this link.


Jo McGrath : Tails of Cumbria

jo mcgrath guineapigLocal Broughton artist, McGrath, is having her first solo exhibition at Brantwood starting 11 January and going on until  9 March 2014.  Focusing on farm animals, her lively and affectionate style really brings out the character of her subjects and it is wonderful that she has landed this exhibition which hopefully will bring her wider recognition.

For guests at Sykehouse Cottage, her work can also be seen, and is for sale, at the Broughton Village Bakery.  (Look out for team Riggs’ favourite sketch of a Guinea Pig.)

For further information about Jo’s work. Please click on the link to her website or the Brantwood exhibition go to their website here.


Herdwick Wool Rugs

herdwick sheepThe distinctive look of Lake District fells, ribbons of stone walls and treeless slopes, has largely been created by Herdwick sheep.  The animal has been part of the landscape for centuries and there are now many products you can take home with you to celebrate this hardy breed and to remember your stay at our cottage.herdwick wool

herdwick throw If you pop into Melville’s in Broughton-in-Furness, you can pick up one of our favourite local products: a beautiful Original Cumbrian Wool throw.  These are woven from undyed Duddon valley fleeces and would be a unique memento of your holiday

A link to the Original Cumbrian Wool website is here if you would like further details of their products.