Nancy Merrill Photography asks us this week to show a photo with a single subject.. Here are a few I like from the archives.
Nancy Merrill Photography posts a weekly challenge. This week is Out in the Country.
For your perusal, photos from the Lake District and the Peak District, both favourite areas of the UK.
While in the UK in September, we took the car out on the road for a few day trips. Blackpool was one, you can read about that here. Another was to the Peak District National Park, which covers the north-central part of the midlands of England. It is one of my favourite parts of England (of the areas that I’ve been to so far!) with rolling hills, the Pennine mountains, and plenty of interesting places to visit. There are, as in most areas, some nice country pubs, too! I’ve visited a few different places in the area before, including Chatsworth House, Eyam, Glossop, Buxton, just to name a few. The Peak District mostly contained in the county of Derbyshire, with the edges bleeding over the north, east and west borders. The Pennines dip down into the northern part of the area. There are lots of very scenic drives with excellent views from the higher roads.
We decided to go down into the heart of the Peaks into the Derwent Valley, heading in a southwest direction from Manchester. One route I had never been over is the Snake Pass which starts just outside Glossop and the views were supposed to be pretty great. The road trip started and ended in heavy traffic and it took us ages to get through Glossop but once out of that, we were straight onto the Snake Pass and climbed up into the hills on the narrow, winding road that had amazing views across the valleys surrounded by hills covered in purple heather. I believe they do close it at times in the winter. They’d get snow up this high sometimes even if it’s raining in Manchester. The weather today is perfect.
The road traverses the hills and eventually you descend into the Derwent River valley, where there are some large reservoirs. The biggest one is the Lady Bower reservoir which you can see from the main road and it’s joined to the Derwent and Howden reservoirs in a T shape. The Derwent and Howden dams bracket a reservoir that occupies a spot where there used to be a village. The residents were relocated and the village flooded.
By the time we got there, we were ready for lunch and found a really nice pub on the shore of the Lady Bower reservoir, called the Yorkshire Bridge Inn. It’s quite large inside with various rooms and an outside beer garden by the water. We had a really nice meal in there with a very helpful barmaid who drew us a little map to the other dams in the area.
We drove through that area after lunch, stopping in a parking space so I could take photos and then at the visitor center for some more pictures and an ice cream break. This area is also known for being a training area for the Lancaster bombers in World War II and there are information posters and boards up at the visitor centre. We walked a little through the trails to the back of the first damn but it wasn’t letting out an overflow like I’d seen in a photo. I know nothing about dams and thought we’d see the water being passed through it. I suppose that only happens if the water is particularly high which it wasn’t today.
We drove down the very narrow road along the reservoirs, stopping by the dams for more photos. It was quiet, with trees along the road and the sun shining on the water. There were hikers and people on bikes occasionally, along with a car passing now and then. You had to pull over carefully, there’s only barely just enough room for two cars to pass. The road doesn’t come out so we had to turn around and come back out the same way. It really was a pretty drive along the water. Water always makes the scenery that much nicer, don’t you think?
We didn’t want to come back to Manchester through the Snake Pass so we pulled up a map on the GPS and decided on a route, plotted it and took off, wondering where the GPS was going to take us to get to the other road, a bit further north, the A628 I think, which would cross back over the Pennines and the lower Yorkshire moors. It’s always a bit interesting and a bit disconcerting when the GPS (or “Satnav” they call it here) leads you down some narrow roads and lanes to get where you want to go. It’s taken us in circles in the past so we never know for sure if it’s right! Usually it is, mind you and we’ve seen some nice scenery following its lead.
The road back across had a lot more traffic and several times through small towns we were slowed down to a crawl. I think we also passed some more reservoirs as well. Closer to Manchester the roads got wider and busier. We had a really nice day out, driving and enjoying the scenery. There are some really nice rural areas in the north of England, the Peak District, the Lake District and the Yorkshire moors and dales. Some of it is a bit bleak looking but even that has its own beauty.
While I was in the UK recently, my husband and I and his best friend went on a three day road trip to the northeast area of Northumberland. Our friend, Mal, had been there before but neither of us had been and there are quite a lot of interesting historical things to see. It was Mal’s suggestion and we thought it was a fine one. I knew, after doing some high level research, that we’d only make a bare glimpse at what the area has to offer but a little taste is better than nothing. Now, what can we put on the “To Do” list?
One place I’d always wanted to see was Hadrian’s Wall. The Roman occupying forces built it, all 73 miles of it, just below what is now the border between England and Scotland, a narrow “neck” of the island of Great Britain. It stretches from present day Carlisle in the northwest to Corbridge in the northeast, which is not far from the city of Newcastle. Emperor Hadrian came to Britian in 122 A.D. and the construction began shortly after. The plans were to build a guarded gate, or Milecastle, at every mile with observation towers between. In all 14 forts were built. There were large ditches on the sides of the walls, which were built of stone and sometimes turf. The plans changed with the addition of a handful of forts for extra protection and it took about 6 years to complete. There’s a pretty good overall history of the wall On the English Heritage website.
The wall was manned and staffed for the next few hundred years until the Roman Empire started to fall. Mainly, the wall and forts were abandoned, with the stone removed for local building over the centuries. What was left was the subject of a campaign of protection by historians and archeologists from the Victorian era forward. There are a number of sites remaining, some of which have been restored and preserved. We looked at the guide books and websites and decided on the Housesteads Fort as the one we wanted to visit. A number of them are situated off the road and a bit of a hike into the hills. In many areas, you can see the turf rising. There isn’t a lot of actual stone wall left but there are sites where you can see it and Housesteads is one of those, having quite a lot of the foundations of the fort and settlement along with a good stretch of the actual wall. Chesters Roman Fort is another very good site as is Birdoswald.
Housesteads it is, then. It was a few hours’ drive from Manchester after picking up Mal. We arrived around lunchtime on a cool day. It had been raining a bit all morning but had stopped just before we got there. We had brought a picnic though it wasn’t a great day for it. Never mind. We had our sandwiches and bought our entry tickets for the site. Remember I said a lot of the sites are a hike up into the hills? This is one of them. We went round the back of the visitor centre to face a path that climbed up for what we were told was a half mile uphill all the way. It might not have been a half mile (just under 1 KM) but it was bloody close. I’m definitely not one of the agile, and most definitely not fit but I was determined. I made the men go on ahead without me and took my time walking up the hill, 50 steps at a time, stop, rest the legs, take a few pictures, continue, 50 steps, repeat. Finally, I got to the top!
There are plenty of information boards around to tell you what you’re looking at and there’s a small interpretive museum and a gift shop just outside the ruins as well. The fort sits on the top of a hill with a ditch plummeting down behind the back wall. The views over the rolling hills are amazing, even under dark and threatening skies. The sheep certainly don’t mind. The wall appears to have been built to keep the incoming “barbarians” from what is now Scotland out, traditionally because they couldn’t be conquered. That probably isn’t exactly the case. They probably just decided that was the far border of the empire as they saw it.
To the left inside the garrison walls are the barracks. There’s the remains of the commander’s quarters, the headquarters building, what is probably a hospital and a granary, with the foundations of what would have been a raised floor to keep the damp from the grain. On the front left corner there is what they say is the remains of a latrine, too. We had a walk through the site and stood looking out north over the beautiful landscape, imagining the hordes of angry Scots/Pictish warrior storming the ramparts. My husband quipped that the Romans were probably standing there in their leather skirts, knees knocking in fear and in the cold north winds. He commented that the Scots were way “harder” than the Italians, after all. A nearby couple overheard him and chuckled to themselves.
We spent some time there then looked into the museum but really didn’t get a good look. It was crowded with a group of school kids and was too small for that many people. We left them to it. I had a quick browse through the gift shop and I wished I had bought a fridge magnet there because the visitor centre back down at the parking area didn’t have any nice ones. We partook of the facilities and headed back on the road, northeast to the little town of Seahouses on the coast, our base for the next two nights.
More about Hadrian’s Wall here.
More of my photos here.
When last we spoke, I described a nice road trip out for a day in the Lake District. We were last seen heading back towards Manchester in the general direction of Kendal where we could pick up the motorway nearby but went past a sign for the Lakeland Motor Museum. What a better way to end a road trip than to see a museum of classic British cars! We were very glad we decided to stop!
What an excellent exhibit they have there! Dozens of classic British cars from right back to very early vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, a fire engine, an enormous Cadillac limousine, so many different kinds of vehicles. One area had a display of classic Vincent motorcycles from the 1950s and another had a dozen or more pennyfarthing bicycles with the huge front wheels.
They had some mock shop fronts with fashion and items from different eras, a mock up of a 1950s era café, an example of what a garage from the 20s might look like, crowded with tools and parts. There is a display of child sized pedal cars. They als had some newer model vehicles but still considered classic or unique such as a TVR red race car, a DeLorean with the gullwing doors and several cars from the 1980s that Graham remembered driving or being driven in. That made him feel old! There are models and toys and more gas station and auto parts and product signs all over the museum. There are really odd looking vehicles and some classics. There’s a good vantage point upstairs where you can look down over the lower floor.
I absolutely love old cars and I couldn’t get enough of these! They really need more space. There are smaller vehicles squeezed in between and behind the larger ones and in other rooms they are mounted on walls and shelves and doubled up. Most of them have signs and many have information as well.
In another building they, too, have a display about Donald Campbell and his father, Sir Malcom, with examples of a few of their vehicles, cars and boats, full size, not just models. There are information boards and video to tell the stories. The vehicles were all named Blue Bird or Bluebird and that came from Malcom Campbell’s early racing days when his efforts were not very successful. He saw a play in London called the Blue Birds and as it was making money he changed the name of his vehicles and started winning. He designed a logo and painted the vehicles bright blue. Thus, in this part of the Lake District you do see a lot of references to Bluebirds (cafes, beer etc.)
There’s also a café there on the site though we didn’t partake as it was still quite a drive back to Manchester. We didn’t really get lucky with the sunshine though it didn’t rain at all. It was a little cool but pleasant. It’s always a nice drive up through the Lake District. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, though, avoid the Easter holidays and steer clear of Windemere and Ambleside as they’re the busiest spots. Grasmere is pretty though can also be busy. Keswick is a nice town, nearer the north part of the Lake area and there are lots of little villages and towns off the beaten track. It’s a popular area for water sports and walking and hiking the hills and countryside as well.
The two weeks in Manchester is done now. Over the two weeks, we’ve seen some interesting museums, lovely scenery and even seen the sun a lot more than I usually do while here in Manchester. It’s been nice catching up with friends, too. Tomorrow we’re up early and off to The Big Smoke for my last couple of days in the U.K.
I haven’t had the chance to get back to this and blog the rest of my travels. It’s been a hectic second week away and getting back home, there’s been a lot to sort out. Getting back to work takes up the rest of the time! Here’s another installment, the first half of another nice day out.
We love the Lake District with its spectacular scenery. It’s not a long way from our base in Manchester so we have driven up through this gorgeous area a few times over the years when I’ve visited England. We decided to do another trip and, luckily, the weather cooperated. This time we chose an area we’ve not been before, Coniston, which is less touristy than Windemere and the towns along that famed lake. That was the anticipation, at least.
We started up the motorway and turned off, heading west towards the southern lakes. We found ourselves on some pretty country roads, narrow and twisty but no lakes in sight. Yet. We soon came to the lower part of Lake Windemere and the GPS sent us down a narrow road to a queue of cars waiting to board a ferry across the lake! The signs indicated it could be a 30 or 40 minute wait. That didn’t appeal (the GPS was set to send us the “fastest” route. a 40 minute wait kind of contradicts that). We decided to head further north alongside Lake Windemere and in doing so, we had to navigate the narrow streets of the town of Windemere itself, made worse by the crowds of Easter holiday tourists.
We forged onward to Ambleside, suffering another bottleneck of traffic. This isn’t boding well but at least we could see some of the lake. I knew we could get to Coniston by driving through part of Ambleside and over the top of Windemere and that’s what we did, finally arriving in Coniston about noon. We had intended on going down to the lake, having lunch in the Bluebird Café and maybe taking a boat ride but we couldn’t find a parking spot at all! Even in the village itself, parking spots were scarce and there were a lot of people wandering around. So much for this being less touristy although it was less so than Windemere.
We finally found a place to park behind a pub that dates back to the 16th century when it was a coaching Inn. It’s called the Black Bull and we went in there for our lunch since the sign at the parking lot warned us it was for patrons only. Lunch was excellent and we each had a pint of Bluebird Ale, brewed just behind the pub in Coniston Brewery. My piece of battered haddock was so large we joked it was a piece of whale! G. had a wild boar burger and was very happy with that, too.
From there, we walked along the main street past the shops, picking up some Kendal Mint Cake in one, basically that’s a block of minty sugar, some of it coated in chocolate or a brown sugar crust. We found the John Ruskin Museum which tells some of the story of Coniston. It was founded by W.G. Collinwood who was secretary to artist John Ruskin who died in 1900 (the museum opened in 1901 as a memorial to him as well as depicting the surrounding area of Coniston). There are interactive displays and lots of information signs.
The museum has some nice displays of linen and lace, geology and social history, mining and farming and a section honouring World War veterans including a local man who was awarded the Victoria Cross in WWI. His motorbike is there on display. There’s a miniature stone version of the village out behind the building. There’s a larger gallery that focuses on John Ruskin himself, including artifacts, books, letters, photographs and many of his paintings and drawings. He was an important man in the art world in the 1800s, being a strong defender of J.M.W.Turner and a strong influence to the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Most of his paintings are water colours and are nature-related or architectural features. Ruskin’s house, Brantwood, is on the opposite side of the lake and can also be visited.
Another newer gallery that was there told the story of Donald Campbell. I had never heard of him but he and his father both endeavored to break speed records on land and on water with various types of vehicles and boats. Donald Campbell died in 1967 while attempting to break his own speed record on water in his Bluebird K7 speed boat on Lake Coniston. The boat flipped and crashed on the water and his body was not found until 2001. They had photos and models of his boats and his father’s cars and they had pieces of the wreckage including a boiler suit that his remains were found in. Kind of creepy! Graham remembers when the crash happened, it was big news here in the U.K. It might have been in Canada too but I was only 8 at the time. I don’t think I’ve ever heard about it.
We walked through the village and stopped into St. Andrew’s church. It’s a pretty little church but there isn’t anything unusual or overly interesting in it. There’s a nice font in one nook at the back and the graveyard is nice. The grave of the soldier who won the Victoria Cross is here but Donald Campbell was buried elsewhere in the village.
We decided to drive on and see if we could actually see a bit of the lake itself. A short way out of the village we found a stopping point where we could look over the lake and take a few photos. We drove on and though the scenery was still nice, we really didn’t see much more of that or any other lake. The drive long Ullswater that we’d taken a few years ago was much prettier as far as water views go.
We drove along the rest of the road, intending on picking up the motorway near Kendal but ended up taking an unexpected stop. More on that later.
Following on my previous post as we head deeper into the Peak District National Park, we arrived at Chatsworth House, nestled against the River Derwent, about noon. They’re about 10 minutes or so from the town of Bakewell. Chatsworth is the seat of the Cavendish family, the Dukes of Devonshire. The current Duke is the 12th in the line. There’s quite a lot of history about the family and the house, both on Wikipedia and on the website for Chatsworth itself so I won’t go into it a whole lot.
The estate as a whole covers over 100 acres and there is actually quite a lot to visit if you were to spend the whole day here. You can walk around the extensive gardens and trails where you will see various out buildings, statues and fountains. You can visit their working farm and see some animals, mainly geared towards children. The old stables buildings have a restaurant and shops in them and there’s a little shuttle that will take you up the little hill to it if you want but it’s not far and not steep.
The house, of course, is the jewel in the crown. There are various prices for entry, depending on what you are going to see. The house alone without the farm or charity gift donation is 18 pounds for an adult which is not that expensive compared to other similar attractions. It’s 12 pounds to just visit the gardens and 6 to just visit the farmyard. They also let you take photos for your own use.
We arrived at midday, as I said, and the parking lot was very full so we had to park quite a bit away from the house. Never mind, we walked over to the house, passed through a pretty courtyard and entered to the ticket area. That done, we went up a few steps and turned into the Painted Hall, the very impressive entry area. It really is impressive, with every inch of the ceilings and much of the walls covered in murals and paintings. The floor is black and white checked tiles and the hall is ringed with antique furniture, sculpture and artifacts. You could probably spend a half hour just looking at everything there.
There’s a route you follow through the public rooms, about 25 or 30 out of a couple hundred, most of which are the private rooms for the family.
Another highlight on the ground floor is the elaborate chapel with a high white carved altar piece. The ceiling in here is painted as well. We come back around to the Painted Hall then go up the big staircase to a landing, also with painted ceilings and also some more lovely statues and artwork. There are also come cases with old swords and pistols here. It’s a good vantage point for photos into the Painted Hall as well. Up some more stairs to the upper floor of the house.
Here you have the state rooms, including an elaborate Baroque music room and a state bedroom with a tall canopied bed and walls lined with paintings. The music room is filled with silver and gold pieces and very fancy marble tables. At the very back, behind a slightly opened door, is another well known sight. It looks as if there’s a violin hanging on the wall behind the door, but in fact, it’s fake. It’s a tromp d’oeil painting. There are portraits of various members of the generations of Cavendishes scattered around the rooms and hallways and there’s another smaller room lined with Old Masters paintings and sketches including a large portrait painted by Rembrandt.
The house is filled with art and sculpture and antiques. There’s a model of the house in a glass case in the Oak Room, next to (I think) the chapel, so called because it’s lined in oak panelling and carving. Also in here, bracing the fireplace, are two long narwhal tusks which is one of the more unusual finds in the house. In one room there was a portrait of Henry VIII, which we didn’t expect! There’s so much to look at and the guides or curators in most of the rooms are really good. They know their stuff, about the family and the house and volunteer information if they see you curious about something and very willingly answer any questions you have. There are little information cards in most of the rooms but the guides are even better and filling in details.
Even the corridors are lined with things to look at or have good views out over the gardens and courtyards. There are some rooms you can’t go right into and can only look from the end or they are partly roped off, such as the bedrooms and the library which looks like it would be a fascinating place to delve into if you could get in there. I would imagine the priceless rare books make that impossible. The light in the library is also kept low but there are lamps lit on the tables. There’s an ante-library as well because one of the dukes, the 6th I believe, was such a book collector that he overflowed his library. There are apparently over 17,000 books. Just past the library and ante-library is the state dining room with it’s long table set with china, and lots and lots of silver!
The last room you go through on the route is the sculpture gallery and that leads to the inevitable gift shop, housed in what was the orangery. There used to be a huge glass conservatory in the gardens but that was torn down in the early 20th century as it was too difficult and costly to maintain. Another interesting fact was that the house was used as a girls’ school during World War II and there were several displays about that on as well.
We took well over an hour to walk through the house looking at everything and taking photos. After, we got a drink at an outdoor take out stand and sat in the sun for a rest. We didn’t feel up to traipsing around too much of the garden but walked down past the end of the house and up near the Cascade fountain to have a look. We decided not to go up to the Stables since we’d already had a cuppa and thought, as we were getting hungry, we might as well head off. We had a country pub to go to and a beautiful big late lunch to enjoy.
The Royal Oak is an award winning pub between Buxton and Bakewell and not too far from Chatsworth. They have some rooms and camping facilities and though are a little off the beaten track, it is well worth making the drive. The atmosphere is very friendly. There are several small rooms, with open fires and copper artifacts on the stone walls. They have a very good beer selection including a really tasty Bakewell best Bitter and a cloudy cider on tap called Rosie the Pig!
Their menu has lots to pick from and includes traditional pub grub and excellent up to day items as well. The special we were offered was guinea fowl with savoy cabbage and leek mashed potatoes with red wine gravy. Too tempting to pass up for me though G. decided on a mixed grill which came on a large platter filled with various types of meat and lovely homemade chips. The food was hot and absolutely mouth watering. Well deserved for the awards they’ve won and I told them, too!
Full and satisfied, we finally headed back to Salford after a long and very enjoyable day.
Off to the UK on Friday night and I’m not looking forward to the flight. I do love to travel but the process of getting there is not a lot of fun. There’s small, cramped seats. I can’t afford to go business class and these days, what you get there is a little individual “pod” which doesn’t really look that comfortable, either, except it can recline and there’s nobody squashed up beside you. The width of them doesn’t look all that much wider than a standard seat. Before these came out, business class seats were like big comfy lazy-boy chairs!
And I’m getting a cold. I have the sniffly stuffed up nose stage at the moment. If the travel gods are with me, it might not get worse than that, but I doubt I’ll be that lucky. Flying with a head cold will be awful and I figure I’ll end up spreading the germs and making a number of other passengers ill too, even though I try to keep it to myself. All that recycled air, though, isn’t condusive to health.
The other reason is that my plans have changed. We have had to cancel Paris. My partner’s father is very ill and we really can’t be out of the country. We don’t know how much longer we’ll have him so every day counts. We might get to London on Easter weekend depending on how things go but as I’m due to fly back out of London, I will have to go. If he comes with me, at least he can be back in Manchester by train in a couple of hours if need be. That’s easier than trying to get home from Paris.
Again, though, that still depends on the situation. I may need to change my ticket and extend my time in Manchester. I did get cancellation and interruption on my flight to the UK so any costs incurred in changing should be covered by that, at least. I didn’t get insurance on anything else because I’ve been burned on the “pre-existing condition” clause before and even though his dad seemed to be stable when I booked the France part of the trip, he did have a “condition” and I more or less figured a doctor could cite that when filling out a form.
That’s what happened to me the last time I tried to recover the cost of a cancelled flight. The doctor said the patient (my father) was not stable at the time I booked the ticket. That was news to me! While he was recovering from major surgery, we all thought it was just a matter of time. Turns out it was, but not what we thought. Looking back, the doctor was right, and looking back, we can see it but at the time, we didn’t know any different. We thought he was just longer recovering than expected. So after that, I’ve been reluctant to trust buying the insurance. I did this time because everything seemed like things would be ok to get to the UK and back. And this time, if I have to use the insurance, it will only be about changing the return date and those costs associated.
Having said that, I did or will get 3/4 of the money back for the pre-paid hotel in Paris and that will cover the cost of the flight and Eurostar which were also prepaid. That’s a break-even there. There are a few other things that got cancelled that were non-refundable but they won’t add up to a lot. Extending the rental car in Manchester an extra week didn’t cost me double, either, which was a nice surprise, it’s only costing another 50% and that wasn’t prepaid.
This will be a vacation from work, and we’ll be spending our two weeks together which is important when you live 3000 miles apart for the moment. I hope we’ll be able to get out for a day trip or two just for a drive somewhere. We’ll need that to recharge our batteries.
It’s the way life is. We help each other, support each other, and get through it. Paris can wait.
For WordPress’s weekly challenge: Inside, I have chosen photos from shops and through shop windows taken on my travels: