As I have plenty to say about my adventures in Ireland in my (soon to be) next post, I thought I would combine my other adventures over the last two months into one blog post rather than accidentally writing almost a whole novel for September alone! It just so happens that bar from Ireland, August and September have also been pretty quiet months for me, but I have been able to focus a lot on my goals mentioned in my July post, which is good!
At the beginning of August we visited Kirkby Stephen. We had first visited around 2014, when I had just properly began documenting my walks with my phone camera so I had wanted to visit again for awhile - especially with my DSLR camera! There is so much to see and explore in a tiny place that it really is just lovely! We decided to visit a few castles on the way - Pendragon and Lammerside - which are just south of Kirkby Stephen and around the Cumbria/Yorkshire border nestled amongst the hills. The weather predicted for that day wasn't expected in August, but as it was meant to be dry we set off on our way, and the low hanging cloud created a wonderful ambience as drove along the motorway and long stretches of roads nestled between farmland. After a slight detour as the road we were looking for had a different name to google maps, we finally weaved our way between the hills before descending down to Pendragon. Pendragon Castle is magnificent but derelict at the same time - it still has the grandeur and looming walls and former turrets that is expected of an old castle, but as you walk through the field towards it you can see large sections of the walls and infrastructure slowly becoming buried under years of grass and other natural vegetation. Majority of the the outer walls still standing strong, and you could see distinct window/door frames in amongst the debris - if you enjoy visiting ruins and appreciating a little slice of history, then I definitely recommend you pop in for a quick visit if you are in the area! We had tried looking out for Lammerside Castle in the fields as we were driving, but unfortunately we could not see it from the road, but after a little google we discovered it was in tucked away in a field and incorporated into what sounds like a lovely walk, something which we will do another day!
After the Castle, we managed to find a spot in Kirkby Stephen's public park park just off the main street, and made our way towards Franks Bridge down by the river Eden. where there are several paths taking you all over the surrounding hills and woodland. We followed the river along the bottom of a small field and followed the footpath along to the Millennium Bridge, finding a geocache or two along the way. The Railway line was previously the old South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway, and since its disbandment it has been made into a lovely, flat woodland walk that is accessible to many with fantastic views and scenery every step of the way which also has a few old rail huts with information boards about the railway/footpath. The footpath takes you directly across the Podgill Viaduct which has fantastic views of the fells forming the Eden valley - by this point the weather had transformed from the grey into a magnificent blue so we were really able to appreciate the stunning nature around (and below!) us as we looked over what seemed like miles of green trees and fields. You can also follow a small footpath that takes you below one of the eleven stone arches forming the infrastructure (perfect for a brew break!), it is truly a magnificent piece of architecture and I think it is wonderful that people are given this opportunity to appreciate places like this!
At the end of September, it was my birthday so I booked the following Saturday off and kept my fingers crossed that the weather would continue its sunny streak as it had every day I had been at work! I wanted to go somewhere with some variation in what to visit, so I settled on Ambleside for the day, in particular the Stock Ghyll Waterfalls which I had not visited before. We started our Ambleside adventures at Hayes Garden Centre so that I could use my birthday as an excuse to buy even more cacti and carnivorous plants before parking up on one of the side streets and making our way through the village. The ascent up towards the waterfalls is just from one of the main roads in Ambleside but there isn't too much road walking until you're led to beside the waters flow and up towards the falls. The area is shaded by tall, thick trunked trees that stretch upwards to the clouds only divided by the river which levels out at the bottom of the waterfall or the few distinct paths made by the years of footprints leaving their mark in the soil. We detoured slightly off the path near the bottom of the water to stop for a quick brew as well as to allow the few people behind us continue up the waterfall paths (and therefore, not be in my photos!). As it was the initial turn from summer to autumn, the leaves were starting to slowly turn and crunch underneath our feet and we could spot several different types of fungi resting on fallen down tree trunks or peeking out from between the foliage. There are several viewpoints located on either side of the waterfall, and they allow for magnificent views of the steep drop that is Stockghyll Waterfalls - I imagine that as autumn starts to hit the lakes, the flow of water down here will be amazing to see!
After the waterfalls, we wandered down into the centre of Ambleside, popping in and out of the shops as the sun shone brightly through the gaps in the cloud before ending up on the shore of Lake Windermere with fantastic views of the southern fells around us and Wray Castle resting within the trees across the water. I had driven past the grassy patches and open parkland which ran along the edge of the A590 countless times, but this was the first time I had actually wandered through them! It was clear these areas were respected by both locals and tourists as they were kept clean from litter, foliage and trees were left to grow naturally and the benches - placed to allow for phenomenal views of the lake and the fells - were free from graffiti (I've unfortunately seen many beautiful places in the Lakes which haven't been treated with respect!). One of these areas included an old roman settlement, argued to be that of either Galava or Clanoventa, where after all these years the foundations and outlines of the buildings are still to been seen just metres from the lake. I had known there was a settlement in Ambleside, but I never realised just how central and detailed it is, and would have loved to have visited when I was younger as I had a strong interest in history then (and still do!). Ambleside is well and truly a beautiful place, with so much to do condensed down into such a small area, I can see why it is such a favourite with locals and tourists alike!
As mentioned in the beginning of this post, I visited Northern Ireland in September! It really was a fantastic weekend and I'm glad I've managed to visit a tiny part of the beautiful Emerald Isle. We managed to cram quite a bit into the weekend, but also managed to spend quality time in these areas to truly appreciate our new surroundings! So please check out my September blog post when it's up - my images from the weekend are now available in my gallery! Next month I finally have my first weeks holiday off work and I'm planning to spend a couple of nights at my Grandparents house in Coniston - I used to spend a week each summer holiday at their house and we'd go on walks with the dogs or bike rides around the area so it really is a place close to my heart!
Roll on Autumn, the season of crunching leaves, starry nights and snuggling in scarves!