Cuckoo Way: Chesterfield Canal, Day 2

IMG_20190505_120614272

Could I get up this morning after a gruelling 26-mile canal walk? Well, with the help of plasters (three) over blisters on my left foot and a bandage over another foot (the blister was too big for a plaster), it was possible to gingerly climb down the stairs to the breakfast room of our b&b.

It was a bank holiday so, even though Worksop isn’t generally seen as a holiday destination, there were quite a few guests having breakfast at Acorn Lodge. 

After our filling cereal and full English breakfast, we got ready, paid up and headed back to the canal. Acorn Lodge was a good stopping off point for a rest but it was time to move on.

Simon got a text from his dad saying if we wanted a lift back this morning to give him a ring. Tempting (that’s how tired I was) but no, we would continue. 17 miles today, Simon said.

My trusty pole came in handy!

Our walk started off sometime between 9.30 and 10am, later than yesterday.

En route to the canal we came across a fascinating church/former priory, I would have liked to have explored but my legs were determined to conserve as much energy as possible. Simon looked in and took this photo of a very unusual yew door.

Another treat was in store before we left Worksop. We expected the canal to be in a much more urban setting than previous. What was not expected was the sight of a kingfisher (my second sighting in a fortnight!) It was standing on a ledge on top of the canal, before swooping in and grabbing a fish breakfast.

IMG_20190505_101100951

After this great start, we moved onwards. Only once did we nearly get lost when thankfully a resident gardening noticed us ambling along and pointed us in the right direction, over the bridge and across the canal.

An elderly man on an old-fashioned bike told us ‘not too long to get there’, of course, he told us this before he heard where we were going.

IMG_20190505_101537847

We passed Shireoaks Marina, where many boats were moored, stopping off at the village for painkillers for my feet. The marina was actually built on the site of the colliery basin, used to load boats until 1947. It is surprising how many scenic places have an industrial past.

DSC_2232

We reached Turnerwood, a pleasant little hamlet which looked like it might have a cafe…. But no time for a cup of tea, alas.

Past Turnerwood and we arrive at an engineering fan or canal lover’s dream – the land of double and triple locks. It is also a very scenic, wooded section, on the other side of the tow path is Old Spring Wood and Hawks Wood. 

DSC_2241

The Thorpe flight of locks includes two treble and two double staircases within its 15 locks.

Along with the Turnerwood flight (seven locks), the canal passes through 22 locks in just over a mile. The canal also flows over ‘a three arched aqueduct above the River Ryton which passes from Yorkshire to Nottinghamshire’ (The Chesterfield Canal Guidebook, Chesterfield Canal Trust).

We passed by the site of the wharf where the stone for the Houses of Parliament was loaded. Yes, did you know that the stone used for the famous political arena was transported from Chesterfield Canal all the way to London (via the Trent, Humber, North Sea and Thames)?

While we walked, we decided that, depending on how we would feel after another couple of miles, we might take Simon’s parents up on their offer of a lift back – but not until we reached Norwood Tunnel at the very least.

DSC_2247

Time was ticking on, and although normally we could walk three miles in an hour, possibly more, at this rate we were slowly ambling along at two miles an hour. We might end up getting to the end of the canal in Chesterfield at midnight at this rate!

At Kiveton Park, we carried on to the portal of Norwood Tunnel, where the canal seemingly ends. From here, via Kiveton Waters (the site of the old Kiveton Colliery) we continued above the Norwood Tunnel, going under the M1 at one point. The tunnel was once the equal longest tunnel in England, 12 feet high and 9 feet 3 inches wide. Because of mining subsidence, one part collapsed in the 1800s and closed in 1907.

A couple of stretches of the canal reappears, at one point partly overgrown with plantation. And then it disappears – and we realised that the fenced-in gardens were actually built on the line of the canal.

DSC_2255

From Killamarsh it is possible to walk to the end of the canal – but with a four mile or so non-canal detour. (The Canal Trust is working on restoration).

Earlier we had made the decision to go back once we reached Killamarsh so, at 4pm and 12 miles on, we got a lift back from The Crown pub in Killamarsh.

I didn’t feel as disappointed as I thought I would. Yes, we cut our walk short by about eight miles but we did walk about 12 miles today and 26 yesterday so 38 altogether. Much of the trek was achieved. We also hiked along the most attractive section. Had we continued, we would have trudged another four miles just to get back to the canal at Staveley Town Basin – and then another four or so miles from there to Chesterfield. As Simon said, we walked the full length of the existing canal from West Stockwith to Killamarsh.

DSC_2235

We saw many sights, some of the wildlife I forgot to mention earlier included the migrant chiff chaff, house martin, swallow and goldfinches. We also heard a chaffinch and reed warbler.

It took four days for my legs to get back to normal but I felt happy with my achievement – my first marathon really! And I felt impressed with myself for walking 38 miles in two days.

Here’s to the next challenge…

Facts of the Day

1. Work on the Chesterfield Canal started in 1771 and was completed in 1777.

2. The main trade was coal but stone, iron, corn, timber, lime and lead were also carried.

3. The final commercial cargo was carried in 1956. The canal could have closed if it hadn’t have been for campaigning by the Retford and Worksop Boat Club.

Thanks to their members,  Chesterfield Canal Trust and other volunteers and campaigners, we were able to walk along this beautiful part of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. 

Advertisements

Cuckoo Way: Chesterfield Canal Day 1

DSC_2185
The start of our Cuckoo Way walk at West Stockwith

Day One

9am. We started off at West Stockwith, where the picturesque canal basin connects with the River Trent. It was once a boat building centre where the Chesterfield Canal narrow boats – nicknamed cuckoos – were built.

I had a sense of high optimism about today’s journey, yes, it would be about 20 miles (actually it was 26!) but it was on the flat. No hills, no mountains. I could walk for ages on the flat, yes?

Hmm, let’s see.

We passed boats and dog walkers and attractive housing overlooking the canal. Our first locks – upper and lower –  were at Misterton. Both bridges and locks had numbers which, when I got tired, I counted to keep my morale up. There were also milestones too but some seemed to be absent.

The time we embarked on our journey coincided with Duckling Season. We came across many mallards, one had 10 youngsters close by while another sadly only had one. I told myself the others were hiding.

DSC_2197

We passed a former brickyard and wharfs, quiet farmland, Gringley-on-the-Hill – probably the only hill we saw on our walk, and Drakeholes tunnel, pictured below, (unfortunately the nearby 1700s pub, The White Swan, closed some time ago, despite its ideal location. Hopefully it will reopen one day). We also passed an ornamental bridge – with an age-worn face on either side – at Wiseton estate.

Clayworth was our first rest stop, it appeared to be a haven for moored boats on either side. Sitting at an outside bench, our cheese sandwiches and water tasted good.

DSC_2205

Alas, time ticked on. It was after noon and we were behind schedule – the plan was to stop off at Retford for lunch but at this rate it would be 2pm.

Keep striding ahead, don’t think too much of the time, as long as we get to Worksop before it dark…

My previous ‘dilly-dallying’ became more purposeful, although I kept feeling as if I had a blister on my foot. Our scenery was delightfully quiet and rural and we passed a quirky-named lock called Whitsunday Pie Lock. A strange and slightly eerie sight from across the water greeted us – of what seemed like tombstones dotted around…

We spoke of Eddie Izzard, a British celebrity, he ran 26 marathons in 26 days!! (How is that even possible?!) Well, if he can do that, I can surely walk 26 miles along a canal in one day…

… And 20 miles the next day.

Retford was supposed to be our half way point but it turned out it was actually two-thirds of the way. This cheered me up at the time but little did I know how weary my legs would feel after leaving this stop. That, although we had walked 15 miles to reach this point, the next 10 miles would feel even more of an endurance.

DSC_2216

For time and tiredness reasons, we opted to just get a drink in the nearest pub or cafe to the canal rather than venture into town. This turned out to be The Packet Inn (the inn was named after the passenger boats arriving on market days). The landlord of this down-to-earth pub was surprised to be asked for a cup of tea and two lemonades.

‘A cup of tea?!’

‘Lemonade?!’

But he served those drinks and very reasonably priced they were too. It was just what was needed. The lemonade was heavenly.

Back on track, we checked my feet, no apparent blisters could be seen.

DSC_2208

We saw swathes of hawthorn, a few swan nests along the way and a highlight was a kestrel swooping down into a nearby field for his/her dinner.

IMG_20190505_120922985_HDR

The terrain varied, I had concerns that this would be a unvaried walk, one that may possibly bore Simon but we were spoilt with different scenery, woodland, farmland, industrial…

Our next main village was Ranby, it must only have been about five or so miles on from Retford but my legs said differently. My feet, once again, insisted they were covered in blisters.

I was tempted to enter a village pub and order a taxi straight to the B&B. But there was no village pub within easy reach of the canal even though we could see the A1.

We carried on.

DSC_2211

At Osberton, we walked past several fields with horses, an equestrian centre or some kind.

We reached another bridge. I had been counting the numbers of bridges, locks and milestones but had long stopped. I was merely focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.

But this bridge was different. An elderly man, out for a walk with his dog,  was looking over it. We hadn’t come across many fellow travellers in the last few miles.

Simon raced ahead to ask this gentleman a very important question, ‘how far is it to Worksop?’

‘A mile and a half’, he replied. It was music to my ears.

True, it felt longer as we trudged on into an ever-increasing urban environment. Even when I saw the big b&q store or warehouse (never, did I think I would be happy to see such ugly industrial and retail buildings!) Worksop did not seem much nearer.

DSC_2216

Eventually we reached the right bridge, it took us to a main road, on which was a restaurant Simon had mentioned as being ‘not too far from the guesthouse’. I think it took us 20 minutes from the canal to the accommodation.

We finally arrived at 7.30pm. Such a relief to lie down on a bed! We ordered a pizza takeaway, my legs were now officially on strike. Oh, and the blisters – all four of them – had developed on my feet.

The pizza tasted stodgy. The garlic bread had no flavour, no garlic. Baywatch will never win an Oscar, but to lie down eating and watching TV was simply blissful.

The only question is: would I be able to walk tomorrow?

Coming on Saturday: Cuckoo Way – Day Two

 

The Cuckoo Way

DSC_2234

One evening in January, while having an evening meal in a pleasant pub along Lancaster Canal, Simon and I discussed having a semi-long distance canal walking adventure.

Canal walking sounded good to me, a challenge with no hills could be relatively easy in comparison to some of our more difficult hill-walking hikes.

So I thought…

Lancaster Canal, in Lancashire, turned out to be 57 miles in length. Chesterfield Canal, Nottinghamshire, was a ‘mere’ 46 miles in comparison.

Maybe a slightly easier walk then. I liked the idea of an ‘easier’ challenge!

A three-day hike, I said.

Two days at most, Simon replied.

Err, okay, right.

DSC_2211

So, at the start of May, Simon and I embarked on a 46-mile walk along the Chesterfield Canal.

In two days.

I had done some walking (mostly six-mile or less with a few intermittent longer treks of 9 or 8 miles) and two Zumba classes in the last two months.

But was it really enough for a 46-mile trek (in two days!)?

But it would be flat so, I mean, it must be quite easy, right?

We will see…

This walk, from West Stockwith to Chesterfield (or vice versa), is one of wildlife, history, beautiful scenery, geography and industry. It’s called The Cuckoo Way because that was what the old horse-drawn boats were called. No-one knows for certain why.

IMG_20190516_203643
A map of the canal (from Chesterfield Canal Visitor Guide 2019)

It starts in the River Rother, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, and ends at West Stockwith, Nottinghamshire. Or vice versa, which was the way we did it.

Simon got a cheap Ordnance Survey map early March and the B&B in Worksop was booked on March 19.

On Saturday, May 4, we would get a lift to the start of the walk from Simon’s parents and our adventure would begin….

Coming soon: Cuckoo Way – Day One

https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2019/07/10/cuckoo-way-chesterfield-canal-day-1/

https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2019/07/13/cuckoo-way-chesterfield-canal-day-2/

A trip back in time – Beamish

DSC_2037

Beam me up Scotty – or should it be beam me back?

Fancy being beamed back in time? Well, Beamish is the way to go…

My mum and I went on a weekend trip to Durham and Beamish in March this year.

Technically I suppose Beamish is a museum, but it’s no old-fashioned establishment, with glass cases and labels, it is more like taking a trip back into time.

DSC_2043

When I was little, my favourite museum was Wigan Pier (the title may appear familiar because it is a title of a famous George Orwell book). Unfortunately it has since closed down, but back in the 1980s, and to my young eyes, it brought the past to life. It was both interactive and realistic and it felt like stepping back in time. The 1800s classroom with its realistic Victorian lesson was my favourite although I was a little intimidated by the strict teacher and the cane! (Don’t worry, it was never used!) 

Beamish is an open air museum, its title is The Living Museum of the North. Divided into four main sections on a 350-acre site, it’s possible to walk around the whole site or catch a free old-fashioned tram or bus. It is a circular site, well signposted and near impossible to get lost.

Our first visit was to the 1900s colliery, it’s amazing to think how mining and its subsequent landscape and culture was dominant in a lot of Britain not all that long ago. In fact, the site of Beamish was actually part of Durham’s coalfield.

DSC_2026

Mining provided jobs but it was also very dangerous and, according to my Beamish Guidebook, in 1913, a miner was killed or injured every five minutes on average. In that year, more than 1,000 miners died.

We didn’t go down the mahogany drift mine, which was open to visitors, but the site is an authentic view of what a colliery may have been like in those days, with its lamp cabin (and its collection of safety lamps), winding engine house, engine shed, waggons, railway and powder house.

DSC_2027

No spitting allowed in the lamp cabin!

Next to the colliery is the 1900s pit village, with its pit pony stables, chapel, silver band hall, fried fish shop, school and terraced houses.

DSC_2030

The 1940s Farm is near by, showing life in the North East during the Second World War – farms were important during that time as there were fears imported supplies could be cut off because of the war. So here we have the cottages, tractors and machines and animals. Of course, I loved to see the free range chickens wandering about!

DSC_2022

We realised that time was ticking on and there was still much to see. Luckily a tram was waiting at a tram stop, so on it we went, heading for the 1900s town which shows shops, businesses and houses of that era.

Stores include a drapery, grocery and co-op. The printer, stationery and newspaper branch office is also prominent on the main street, as is The Sun Inn.

DSC_2040

The town stables can be visited – horses were still the main form of transport in the early 1900s. Curiously, the Beamish Motor & Cycle Works is also in the 1900s town. This must have been an interesting time to live, with both horse and motor transport. Of course, later on, the car took over from the horse. My guide book says the motor ‘industry was still in its infancy, with little standardisation of car design, components and manufacture’. How different to today’s world where we take cars for granted.

DSC_2035

We had a very quick visit to the 1820s, with the late Georgian landscape reflecting the changing face of industrialisation. According to my trusty guidebook, in those days, fields were ploughed into ‘ridges and furrows, before mechanised farm machinery’, there would be traditional breeds of animal such as the Durham Shorthand cattle and the horse-powered whim gin was used to raise coal and men out of mines in the 1700s and early 1800s. Examples are seen at Beamish, as is an 1820s waggonway. Back in the day, it would have taken coal to the River Tyne or Wear.

A more creepy sight is the gibbet!

DSC_2020

Alas, we didn’t have time to visit 1820s Pockerley Old Hall or see much of Rowley Railway Station in the 1900s Town. And there was so much else to see in the 1900s town centre which we missed but I think that shows how Beamish is absolutely jam-packed with fascinating history. And they are also planning to reconstruct a 1950s town!

We spent four hours there, but eight hours could easily be spent.

Well, I guess we will just have to ask Beamish to ‘beam us back in time again’!

 

 

 

 

Delightful Durham and its magnificent cathedral

DSC_2001

Durham is a lovely old city that I have never visited. That changed this year when Mum and I went on a weekend away in March.

We were only actually in Durham itself for a few hours so I can’t give a full description but my first impression was, if I had to live in a city, this is one I could happily live in!

DSC_2009

It reminded me of a smaller, less busy York. The castle was closed the day we were there but no matter, we did not have enough time to explore everything. We did visit the cathedral though. I had heard great things about this medieval venue. There were links with Harry Potter (it’s been featured as a film location for Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), and is the final resting place of both The Venerable Bede and St Cuthbert.

DSC_2006

It’s a UNESCO world heritage site and American writer Bill Bryson has even called it ‘the best cathedral on planet earth’.

So it has rather a lot going for it!

Building the cathedral was started in 1093 to house St Cuthbert’s relics, which were brought from Lindisfarne (Holy Island). Cuthbert, who was born about 634, lived first at the monastery at Melrose, then Lindisfarne, where he became Bishop. When he died, a shrine was set up to honour him (he was renowned for his holiness during his lifetime) but Viking raids drove the community – and the relics – away to seek a safe haven.

Eventually they reached Durham, where they built a church – then a cathedral. Today the shrine lies in the cathedral, the saint being buried beneath a stone slab. When we were there, there was a procession taking part to the shrine.

Curiously, when St Cuthbert’s body was disinterred 11 years after his death, it was found to be undecayed.

DSC_2004

The tomb of ‘the father of English History’, the Venerable Bede, is also at Durham, in the Norman-style Galilee Chapel (which also hosts medieval wall paintings). A tomb-chest contains the bones of the Venerable Bede.

He was a monk and a scholar, born in about 673, who wrote about the church in that era. I actually have a book of some of his writings (A History of the English Church and its People) hoping, one day, I might get to read them!

DSC_1990

DSC_1989

In the city, was this sculpture, pictured below, of monks taking the remains of St Cuthbert on its long journey, before reaching Durham.

Whatever your faith, or lack of, the cathedral is a truly beautiful building and Durham is a city worth visiting.

Mill workers’ protest

DSC_1815

I wonder how many shoppers and visitors walk past this modern statue in Preston, in the North West of England, thinking about catching a bus or train, meeting friends and family for lunch or rushing to buy the latest bargains. We so often take for granted familiar sights but this particular sculpture tells a disturbing story.

DSC_1813

Back in the 1840s, poverty was widespread in Britain. Preston, a cotton mill town, was one of those places affected by a depression in the country. To make matters worse for over-worked and under-paid workers, the mill owners decided to reduce wages.

DSC_1814

As you can imagine, mill employees weren’t happy. On August 13, 1842, cotton workers went on a protest march in the town centre. This was part of the General Strike, which took place across the country. Unfortunately, the military were waiting for them. They met the protesters at a location called Lune Street and, while attempting to break up the crowd, the soldiers shot – and killed – four men.

DSC_1810

This happened at the spot where the monument now stands. The 1842 Memorial Statue, built in 1992 by Gordon Young, marked the 150th year of the Lune Street protest.

DSC_1812

DSC_1811

As I said earlier, we become accustomed to familiar sights in our familiar towns and cities but delve a little closer and it’s possible to step back into time and find out about the people of yesterday and their lives.

For a more detailed account, read: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.lep.co.uk/lifestyle/nostalgia/lune-street-the-land-that-time-has-forgot-1-4834634/amp

May 2014 – Tales of Kells

This comes from my earlier blog, written back in 2014 during a six-month sabbatical from work. It was a break which was needed and came at the right time for me. I didn’t write about all my experiences but some I did, and it’s quite nice for me to look back on those memories. I thought I would reblog some of these earlier little adventures. 🙂

clarejk's blog

Photo0185Trudging up the highest hill of County Meath, we knew it would be worth it once we got to the top. It was tougher for my dad, who is in his 70s, than me ( I had once climbed Snowdon). But reaching the Loughcrew Cairns, an ancient burial site located at the top, was worth it. On our way down we encountered a coachload of passengers plodding up the hill. Some were of elder years. I would imagine that, although County Meath is no Snowdonia, they would still have found it hard going. But sometimes a steep difficult journey is worth the reward at the end. Our trip to Ireland started two days earlier. I was chief driver, a Hyundai i10 and ferry was our means of transport, and dad was navigator. Kells was our destination. I have an ambiguous view of Ireland’s roads. The country tracks are riddled with potholes…

View original post 204 more words

Major Oak and the Legendary Sherwood Forest

DSC_1954

I may not have met Robin Hood but I did encounter another famous citizen of Nottinghamshire’s Sherwood Forest a few weeks ago – the Major Oak. This elderly and magnificent tree is at least 1,000 years old, has a 10m trunk and a canopy of 28m. It is so large, old and, unfortunately, vulnerable, that it has to be propped up and fenced in. But it is a truly grand sight indeed.

The Major Oak may be King of the Forest, but there are more than 1,000 ancient oaks in this woodland, making them ideal habitats for wildlife. To my eyes, they so looked like works of natural art!

DSC_1925

DSC_1933

We saw many hollow oaks, the heartwood is decayed by fungi such as beefsteak fungus and chicken of the woods. These hollow oaks are excellent habitat for wildlife, including insects.

DSC_1945

To age a tree, one needs to count its annual rings. For the old trees of the forests, the Rspb, which manages the nature reserve in a partnership, looks at tree girth or diameter at breast height so the oaks don’t need to be felled. The above tree was over 100 years old, a mere youngster in these environs.

DSC_1926

DSC_1941

As for Robin Hood, the most famous man of Nottinghamshire? It is believed he lived in around 1200 – at least, this is when the stories start – at a time when the forest covered 100,000 acres. He is seen as a heroic outlaw, avoiding the clutches of the Sheriff of Nottingham and robbing from the rich to give the poor. It is hard to tell whether he really existed, whether the character is based on a real man or if there is no basis in fact. Whatever the case, Sherwood Forest definitely exists, even if it feels as if it belongs in a beautiful legend. And the ‘Merry Men (and ladies) are its stunning oaks and accompanying wildlife.

DSC_1943

Lawrence and The Freemasons

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0002.JPG

DSC_1678

Does luxury and East Lancashire go together? Well, in the case of The Lawrence, it does. On the outside, it looks like a normal large house, sitting on a corner of an ordinary looking street.

A guesthouse or B&B maybe. Attractive Grade II listed building, certainly (it’s actually 200 years old), but it doesn’t necessarily look like a fancy spa or boutique hotel.

However, the minute you enter the hall – adorned by quirky animal wallpaper – you know you’re somewhere special.

High class.

Along the hall, to the left, is a small reception where we met Hannah, she was very friendly and helpful. The hotel prides itself on providing a bespoke experience for its guests. After filling in a short questionnaire asking what we would like to have for our breakfast in the morning, she took us on a short tour, showing the breakfast room, unmanned bar (it has an honesty box) and sitting area. There are also function and conference rooms and an outside courtyard.

Upstairs was the Tolkien suite – luxurious, elegant and extravagant.

 

There was an enormous television (which we discovered had Netflix, neither of us has this subscription channel but we took full advantage by watching The Outlaw King, about Robert the Bruce, and Alliances, a spy thriller starring Brad Pitt). A luxurious dark blue velvet settee faced the TV, with a massive bed behind – actually the room was huge, much bigger than what I am used to in hotels and B&Bs. Elegant wallpaper adorned the wall, there was a sweets jar, biscuits, bottles of water, tea, coffee, kettle… On the side of the bed was a pile of Tolkien books, a nice touch.

DSC_1722

Am I missing something? The bathroom, ah, the bathroom.

Normally, the bathroom is a much overlooked although necessary component of a hotel room. Toilet, tick. Shower, tick. Sink, tick. But this was different.

DSC_1687

For a start, it was upstairs. Yes, this guest suite sits across two floors. A floating bathroom atop a mezzanine balcony. There was a separate shower and toilet cubicle, while the sink and roll top bath was in a more open plan setting.

DSC_1685

The whole vibe was contemporary luxury, unlike many chain hotels though, The Lawrence oozes character. It is no surprise to learn that the 14-room boutique hotel was been renovated last year. It now has one suite, three signature rooms, three superior rooms and seven snugs.

The luxury doesn’t end there. Relaxation treatments are also available if booked in advance and afternoon tea is served on a weekend. Again this requires booking.

We went for a short walk in Padiham, a small attractive town, located next to the River Calder. In the 1900s its industries were coal-mining and weaving and by 1906, there were 20 cotton mills. Of course, all this is gone now.

Eating at Freemasons at Wiswell, in the rural Ribble Valley, was a gastronomical treat. It’s a venue full of refined rustic charm, a combination of country pub and shooting lodge.

We sampled many dishes on the Taste of Freemason menu, which highlights chef Steven Smith’s work. Many of these, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t personally have chosen but was happily surprised. The dishes were just the right size, none were too filling.  At the end, we were both full but not unpleasantly bloated.

Our wine was a Painted Wolf chenin blanc 2017, which was very nice. Our 30-year-old dessert wine at the end of the evening was sweet and delightful. Booking a taxi there and back turned out to be a good choice so we could both sample the wines!

DSC_1703

Where to start? I’m a cheese lover and I found the Lancashire cheese and beetroot tartlet very creamy and moreish. The salmon scallops and pine nut sauce was scrumpish, as was the brioche cooked in goose fat and rosemary.

The duck liver was neatly presented on toast, cooked Yakitori-style (Japanese type of skewered chicken), sitting upon a bed of Wiswell Moor brambles, alongside smoked eel.

Simon didn’t think the taste of the brambles would go with the rest of the dish, but it did and he was very impressed.

 

The native lobster dish offered Butter poached Tail, tempura claw, crispy chicken wing and sweetcorn among lobster sauce infused with Thai Flavours.

Now normally, I wouldn’t choose lobster or duck liver or smoked eel, but on this occasion I tried them and I liked them.

The menu also offers a Winter Blues Menu, a la Carte, Vegetarian and a Sunday Family lunch.

 

The following morning we had cereal and our cooked breakfast in a very pleasant room adjacent to the garden room. We met the hotel’s dog, Hetti, who was very charming indeed!

It would have been delightful to have stayed another evening, but alas, we were only here for one night. So after packing, we left for witch country, aka Barley and the Pendle Hill area, which isn’t far from here.

DSC_0419

I’ve been to Barley a few times, twice last year when walking up Pendle Hill. I opted for what seemed a never-ending bowl of potato and leek soup (no complaints though, it was very tasty) in the popular cafe at the car park (only £1 to park!) Rather than hike up the steep hill, we had a pleasant meander to the reservoir and back.

DSC_0449

Barrowford, a short distance away, and its Pendle Heritage Centre was the next stop. The last time we came here, we did not have enough time to look around so we took full advantage today. The centre is a Grade II listed farm building known as Park Hill, restored using traditional building skills. It actually dates from the 1400s and the museum takes us on a journey of the evolution of the building, from the medieval farmhouse to today’s museum. I found the 1600s hearth display particularly fascinating. We also learn about the families who lived in the house – the Bannisters and the Swinglehursts. According to the museum, the famed runner Sir Roger Bannister is a descendant.

And of course the fascinating but disturbing story of the Pendle Witches, who came from surrounding parts and were executed in 1612, is explored here.

The fine Walled Garden, which dates from the 1700s, wasn’t looking its best as it was November but it promises an array of plants to wander amongst in the spring and summer. And Cruck Frame Barn is an example of early building construction.

Before my visit, I never thought of Padiham as a place to stay but apart from The Lawrence being a splendid venue, just perfect if you’re celebrating a special occasion or looking for a romantic retreat, the town is ideal for a convenient stop-over for East Lancashire. Explore the beauty of Pendle Hill, visit Clitheroe and its ancient castle, learn about the witches in the heritage centre in Barrowford or wander around the historic Gawthorpe Hall, there’s so much to do in this often over-looked area.

The Lawrence Hotel

http://www.thelawrencehotel.co.uk

26-28 Church Street, Padiham.

07921 684742

Freemasons

http://www.freemasonsatwiswell.com

8 Vicarage Fold, Wiswell, Clitheroe

01254 822218

My previous Pendle post can be found here:

https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/trek-diary-part-3-february-march-pendle-hill/

 

Yoga-hiking

DSC_1516
Loughrigg Tarn

I hadn’t done any yoga for a few years. I sprained my ankle two weeks prior. My fitness levels had dropped alarmingly (and because of said ankle, I couldn’t get back to fitness again) and I was going on my own for an activity weekend with a group of people who I had never met before.

Hmmm, was this Yoga-hiking weekend a good idea?

Originally, I had the idea of walking up Ben Nevis in September this year, this was to mark a ‘special’ birthday, but I did Scafell Pike instead and, through one reason or another, Ben Nevis fell through. But I still wanted a fitness challenge to aim for and I came across Yoga Hikes.

DSC_1521
Thomas De Quincey’s Cottage, overlooking Rydal Water

I enjoy hiking and keep meaning to go back to yoga so this seemed like ideal motivation and the fact I would be staying at Victoria ‘opium poet’ Thomas De Quincey’s 1700s cottage, overlooking Rydal Water, a heavenly place if ever there was one… Yes, I decided, four months beforehand, I would go for it.

The cottage and its location was as old, cosy and idyllic as I hoped for. A main road separated the cottage from the Lake, but otherwise, it was perfectly located, half way between Ambleside and Grasmere.

DSC_1503

DSC_1474

My single bedroom was snug, the floor a little creaky but that’s what you would expect from a historic building.

When I first arrived, I had a moment of panic thinking I was the only one arriving on my own, especially as it sounded as if most people had come with others. Would I be seen as ‘Miss No-Mates’ (high school emotions coming to the fore!)?

But this feeling of insecurity was quickly allayed when the guests started arriving.

Four of us were on our own. The others had come with friends, family or a partner. In any case, it didn’t matter, no one was cliquey and the general friendliness meant there was always someone to chat to on walks.

Guests started arriving from 4pm onwards and we enjoyed tea and homemade cake in the sitting room. (This was a healthy balanced yoga break, lots of healthy activities but cake was definitely allowed, and so it should be!)

DSC_1499

Yoga was on at 6pm in the evenings. We had five sessions altogether, two in the mornings at 7.30am (such a healthy start to the day made me feel very good!), one on the evening we arrived and two after our walks. There were breathing techniques and physical yoga, sometimes using props.

Despite my sprained ankle (which was nearly better at this point), the yoga techniques were flexible enough that there was a posture for all abilities. Sun salutation, cat, cow… We could go as far as we could. Yen, the yoga teacher, was sensitive to guests and didn’t push anyone beyond their limits.

All food was vegetarian/vegan. One evening there was a vegetarian buffet of peppers, falafel, pitta bread, hummus and so on. The second meal was stuffed mushroom. We were pleased that dessert was still on the menu on this yoga retreat! Breakfast, which was straight after yoga, was a choice of cereal or porridge, toast, egg, beans. On the Sunday we had the option of an enjoyable veggie burger with our breakfast.

DSC_1496

Our walk on Saturday took us from the cottage to Easedale Tarn via Loughrigg Terrace and Grasmere. We hiked upwards beside a tumbling stream to our breathtaking spot for lunch (which was provided by Yoga Hikes), Easedale Tarn.

Our 10-mile (or so) ramble back took us to the gingerbread shop in Grasmere (established in the 1600s) where we had a 15-minute stop in case anyone wanted to buy the famous gingerbread. Also on the way was poet William Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage.

DSC_1516
Loughrigg Tarn

Sunday’s walk took us to Loughrigg Tarn. Another moderate but hilly walk of about 10 miles. This time we went the other direction away from Grasmere. Our picnic break was again at a picturesque area, this time Loughrigg Tarn.

DSC_1509

DSC_1521
Thomas De Quincey’s Cottage, overlooking Rydal Water

Our weekend was so packed with walks and yoga that there wasn’t much spare time, but for a couple of hours after Saturday’s walk, we were left to our own devices. I had a rest in my room, reading a book I had brought, but some people took advantage of the hot tub available.

There was a variety of abilities. One lady found the first walk to Easedale Tarn difficult and the next day went on a more gentle stroll to Ambleside with another guest who also opted out because of tiredness.

If anyone found the yoga or walks too difficult, there was the opt-out option and no one would judge you.

By the time came to say our goodbyes, I found that I had really enjoyed the weekend, despite my initial misgivings about going on my own. Now all I have to do is start practising yoga again!

http://www.yogahikes.co.uk