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. Good 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.
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!
Why not stay at Sykehouse Cottage in early October and sample the wonderful selection of beer on offer at the same time? The Lake District has many small independent breweries and every October there’s a beer festival centring on Broughton town mini buses taking people further afield. There are usually over 90 real ales available during the event and the pubs will be open all day. Cumberland sausage tends to feature quite heavily in the festival as well.
Broughton’s Festival of Beer runs from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 October 2013 and includes:
The Manor Arms in Broughton’s town square which always has a great selection of local beer
The Prince of Wales, Foxfield : a pub with its own brewery
The High Cross Inn : there’ll be live music on Saturday night
and up the Duddon Valley at Seathwaite, The Newfield Inn.
More details can be found on the local website here.
Cat Nap is a favourite local ale of mine. From Barngates Brewery, Ambleside. They describe it as: “A straw coloured hoppy beer with a hint of grapefruit. Well balanced bitterness leads to a long dry finish. A fruity, zesty character.”
There is something deliciously exciting about being somewhere you are not normally allowed – especially at night. Here in the South Lakes there are some fun things to do over the 16 – 18th May as part of the national Museums at Night Festival.
‘a greeting of good ale’ 16 May 7.30-9.00 £4 Dove Cottage. Wordsworth is famously known as the “simple water-drinking bard”, but the archives tell a different story. Discover more about the history of Dove Cottage, formerly the Dove and Olive-Bough Inn, and enjoy a free beer and food tasting. Further details at The Wordsworth Trust website here.
Arts & Crime, Murder at Blackwell 16 May at 5.30, 6.30, 7.30, 8.30. Free but limited to 15 so booking essential. You’ve mistakenly entered the end of a dinner party in the 1920s: what has happened and is someone still ‘at large’? Let the theatre company, Bear Necessities, lead you through Blackwell in search of the culprit. Further details at the Blackwell website here.
Dozing at Dove Cottage 17 May & Secret Sleepover 18 – 19 May Dove Cottage Dozing at Dove Cottage, for 14+, will be an eventful evening of activities exploring the cottage, a bite to eat, and a movie marathon followed by the sleepover. Listen to some ghostly tales on the torch-lit trail and enjoy twilight arts & crafts activities before setting up camp in the museum for the night! The Secret Sleepover is for children aged 7 – 13 years old, but adults will enjoy it too – a minimum of 1 adult for every 5 children. £10 pp includes breakfast, accommodation and materials for activities. Further details at The Wordsworth Trust website here.
Cranium Sculptorades at Abbot Hall 18 May From 6.00pm, games start after 7 until 10. Free event, just turn up on the night! Why stay in and play board games when the Lakeland Arts Trust team is challenging teams of visitors to a giant game of Cranium Sculptorades? Further details at the Abbot Hall website here.
At Easter, we tramped through the snow around Wallowbarrow. This is one of our very favourite walks: a beautiful, quiet river and woodland walk along the Duddon in National Trust land. It can be as long or as short as you want and has the added bonus of starting/ending at the wonderful Newfield Inn.
In the Summer, we often picnic on a river beach and sometimes even take a dip at Watersmeet where the Tarn Beck meets the river Duddon. But today we were just grateful that someone had been around before us to tamp down the snow – which in places was higher than our wellies!
We wandered about for an hour and finished with lunch at the Newfield. Run by Paul, this c17th inn at Seathwaite has great, hearty food for walkers, a log fire and a fine selection of local beer. This lunchtime we ate their famous steak pie and Cumberland sausage and sampled Barngates’ Catnap and Cumberland’s Corby Ale. Click here for their website.
Rather than going up, how about going along for a change? Sometimes the South Lakes is so dominated by the Fells, we forget about the Estuary and looking out to sea. The Duddon Mosses is a lowland raised peatbog just south of Broughton in Furness near the village of Foxfield. It is one of the most important example of this type of peatbog in Britain. Accessed via a series of boardwalks and clearly signposted, a stroll across the Mosses is a lovely contrast to climbing up and then scrambling down. (Again.)
There are information panels in Broughton Square and at Foxfield Station giving detail about the Mosses and describing a circular walk.
Here are bog plants such as Sphagnum moss, cotton grasses, bog rosemary, cranberry and the spookily carnivorous sundew. In late spring and early summer, the fluffy heads of cotton grasses and yellow bog asphodel provide a delightful show. There are plenty of insects and you may spot butterflies and moths as well as crickets, damselflies and dragonflies. The Mosses are a haven for deer, adders, lizards and frogs. Barn owls hunt over the Mosses at dusk and the temporary pools created as a result of restoration works are frequented by water birds such as teal and heron.
Steve Benn, the local Natural England officer, would like me to remind people to keep all dogs on a short lead between 1st March and 31st July when walking on the Duddon Mosses to protect the ground nesting birds during the breeding season.
And, of course, after all that fresh air, you could always stop by at the Prince of Wales in Foxfield, renowned for its selection of real ale, on your way home …
For a more detailed walking guide and map follow this link to the Natural England website.
In February half term we took advantage of a bright, cold day to walk up Copper Mines Valley through the snow line to Levers Water behind Coniston. As the valley has been worked for centuries, it’s an easy walk up well defined roads, including this beautiful Miners Bridge (left). Past Irish Row and the Mine Captain’s House to the remains of the wheel house at Red Dell (right, slate tower on the right of the beck) where we stopped for Kendal Mint cake and to make a scary snow man. Then more of a sheep track through the snow up to Levers Water (right).
Then back down again with a lovely view of Coniston Water at the end of the valley. We stopped for chips at the very welcoming Sun Inn – barman provided free bread and butter when we mentioned chip butties! The “One in the Waistcoat” had a pint of Bluebird (Coniston Brewing Co.) whilst I had half a Loweswater Gold (Cumbrian Legendary Ales).
The walk took 2 hours including stops with 3 children and a dog. Remember to take a map!