Sykehouse Cottage

A beautiful C17th Holiday Cottage in the Lake District


Enchanted Eskdale

We spent a glorious Easter Saturday last year walking around Eskdale, one of the most picturesque valleys in Britain.  eskdaleStarting at the car park by Trough House Bridge, we strolled along the banks of the River Esk then climbed up to the impressive falls of Stanley Ghyll Force.   On the way we popped in to visit the beautiful little church of St Catherine’s.   eskdaleThe building was much restored in c19th but still retains its simple charm.  This beautiful valley is about half an hour’s drive from Sykehouse Cottage and you can find more information from the local website if you click here.


Where history and nature meet

cumbria natureHow marvellous!  Here at Sykehouse Cottage we just love the cabinet of curiosities that is Kendal Museum.  The place houses the Kendal and Westmorland Galleries, the World Wildlife Exhibition, The Lake District Natural History Gallery and The Hamer Mineral Collection.

The late John Hamer was a potholer and mineral collector. He collected one of the most superb and extensive mineral collections in the North of England.  This collection exceeds 2000 pieces and includes specimens from disused mines in the Lake District, where mineral collecting is now banned, and other regions of northern England. This invaluable collection is available for research and enjoyment by both geologists and those who are just fascinated by beautiful minerals.

geology cumbriaA spectacular display from the collection together with a complete catalogue, original note books, display charts and a map locating mine sites are featured as a new permanent display at Kendal Museum.

If you would like to know about opening times and current exhibitions, click on a click to their website HERE.


A little Goldsworthy.

Andy Goldsworthy

Slits Cut into Frozen Snow, Stormy … Blencathra, Cumbria, 12 February.

I notice that Abbot Hall Art Gallery’s talk next Monday 2 February, 2pm,  is on their series of Andy Goldsworthy photographs.  Goldsworthy’s pastoral style of land art has fallen rather out of fashion lately though I still hold his Sheepfolds and Grizedale Forest’s Taking a Wall  for a Walk in great affection: they sit quietly, playfully, in the Cumbrian landscape, making me appreciate the art of stone walling.  On our picnic walks from Sykehouse Cottage, we still enjoy making a little “Goldsworthy” every now and again.  Usually “fallen stars” of sticks, sometimes flags of leaves and twigs, occasionally balanced stones on river beaches.  Little Goldsworthys appeal to the scavenger, the creative and the mark maker in us all.

lake district art

Taking a Wall for a Walk – Grizedale Forest

The Gallery holds talks about works in their collection every Monday exc Bank Holidays which are included in the admission price.  Abbot Hall is well worth a visit if you are in the Kendal area.  For further details of their events and opening times, please click on this link to take you to their website.


Swimming in Coniston Water

With the long stretch of fine weather this Summer, the tribe judged it perfect conditions for a dip in Coniston Water – without wetsuits.  Hurrah!  So we soughconiston mapt out our favourite beach on the east side of the Water and loaded up the car with picnic boxes, blankets and dogs.  It was a fabulous afternoon and the water was warm enough for the most hesitant of our party.  Some of us swam out far enough to greet passing canoeists whilst others were content to paddle at the shore line.  Wild swimming is so much more fun than a chlorinated swimming pool with little fish nibbling at your toes and fronds of weed stroking your legs.  If sea water swimming is all citrus sparkle and salt dust on skin, fresh water swimming is as soft and silky as strawberries and cream …

Coniston Water


Birk’s Bridge to the Newfield Inn

Hard Knott We started at the NT car park just above the beautiful Hobbit-like Birk’s Bridge and headed into the forestry land, marked on the OS map as Dunnerdale Forest and by the Forestry Signs as Hardknott Forest.  Much of the wood that was described by Wainwright as “young plantations” has now been cleared and neatly stacked up making for a rather beautiful, if working, landscape.  The Commission is now replanting the forest as a mixed deciduous rather than the stark fir crop to reflect the changing purposes of these fells. 

We used the level forestry roads rather than the narrower public footpaths as they are lovely for chatting whilst walking.  IMG_8561Good progress was made across the forest to Grassguards Farm with its little concreted ford.  Here we picked up the Grassguards Gill bridleway down into the beautiful gnarled trees and river walks around Wallowbarrow.   Here, we took the opportunity to lob some rather large stones in the river before retiring to the Newfield for half pints of CatNap and something-and-chips. WallowBarrow

The walk took one hour 40 minutes and we were helped by another member of the family was waiting to provide a lift to retrieve cars rather than having to walk back after a rather heavy meal!


Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides: “all the little trees on this map”.

IMG_8255The charm of these guides undoubtedly lies in Wainwright’s personal touch with painstakingly detailed heather bound fells and minute contour lines; carefully annotated compass view points; and multiple approaches to each summit.  But amongst all this obsessive detail, Wainwright does relax every so often and the hard work is leavened by a joke or two such as: “TAKE CARE DO NOT START FIRE and so waste the effort spent in drawing all the little trees on this map.  The Forestry Commission, too, will be annoyed.”

Wainwright’s sketch of the Summit of Coniston Old Man includes details and descriptions of  “Tourists looking for Blackpool Tower”, a regimented line of Boy Scouts and “a Solitary fell walker, bless him, looking north to the hills.”

We hope you will find your own favourite vignettes whilst planning your walks!

For further information about Alfred Wainwright, please follow this link to the Wainwright Society.


Wainwright’s Fourth Volume: “Heaven fallen upon the earth”

IMG_8252In the Personal Notes at the end of his Fourth Volume on the Southern Fells, Wainwright noted that “there had been a clamour for Book Four ever since the first in the series appeared” because these fells “just happen to be a bit of heaven fallen upon the earth.”

This orange striped volume is the one we use the most and it is dedicated to: “the hardiest of all fell walkers, The Sheep of Lakeland, the truest lovers of the mountains, their natural homes and providers of their food and shelter” … and, sheep like, the chapters scramble up and down the thirty fells of the Southern Lakes from Scafell Pike to Holme Fell.  He includes the direct route to Coniston Old Man: “this is the way the crowds go”; plus the one via Boo Tarn: “a climb for … the discerning walker” and one ascent from Torver with its view of Dow Crag, “one of the grandest rock-faces in the district”.

We hope you enjoy planning your walks!

For further information about Alfred Wainwright, please follow this link to the Wainwright Society.