I think October could be one of my favourite months of the year as I always see it as the official arrival of autumn! I just love the common things like the leaves changing colours and plants which have been dormant all summer are now in full bloom but also the crisp, cold mornings accompanied by thick scarves and the stars twinkling above my head as I walk to and from work (and of course, Halloween is an added perk for a horror movie buff like myself!). I always feel that there is just a general ambiance of peace felt within October, from humans to nature, it is a time for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation before the hustle and bustle of Christmas and the winter weather rapidly approaches us with seemingly little warning! As I prefer wandering off the 'beaten track' I can be restricted by the weather in my ability to explore, so I always try to take advantage of the tranquil sunshine October has to offer!
I really noticed the dramatic changes within the natural landscape from just looking out my front window to the woods down the lane, but it was in abundance on the few walks I did this month around the Helsington and Sizergh area! With being National Trust members, we quite often park at Sizergh Castle, wander around their gardens before heading off on one of the many footpaths that all meet at the car park. The small pond/lake in the castles grounds always looks stunning this time of year with the amber trees surrounding it, especially with the building itself reflecting off the water! It's also nice to see a focus upon autumnal flowers, especially in the rock garden where there are vibrant reds and pinks that even on a gloomy day they can't help but make you smile. The walks such as Helsington, Brigsteer and Sizergh Fell allow for views across Kendal and the surrounding areas with contrasting hues between the hills, fields and sprinklings of trees along the vista. I love coming to this small part of my local area as you can see for miles across the main body of the lakeland fells, along the Kent estuary at Arnside as it meets the sea at Heysham and the curves of the Howgills marking the borders for the county of Yorkshire (if you're lucky and the weather is on your side, Blackpool tower can sometimes appear faintly too!). Walks up here just emphasize how lucky we are to have such a variety of natural beauty on our doorsteps and I am truly proud to call this stunning part of the country my home.
At the beginning of the month I had a quick visit to my favourite spot in the Lakes, Coniston, before I spent a few days there a few weeks later. It was a very rainy day when we set off to visit my Grandad, and I spent a lot of my time climbing the neighbours wall whilst juggling both my camera and umbrella at the same time as despite the rain the views were fantastic! I absolutely love the fells whatever the weather (well, probably not if I was up at the top of them!) but especially when there is low hanging cloud in among them! The journey back home was under much better weather that we decided to stop off at Yew Tree Tarn as the sun began to break from under the clouds, and there was even a rainbow or two lurking between the trees! Yew Tree Tarn has always been one of my favourite landmarks on the way to my grandparents, though it is not often that I have walked around it - more often than not it'd be a parking spot for a walk to Tarn Hows via Tom Gill waterfalls - but often I know people underestimate this little tarn! It was honestly stunning wandering between the trees whilst watching a slight ripple make its way along the waters edge following a path which was less-trodden than most of those in the Lake District. It's only small, but Yew Tree Tarn well and truly captures the phenomenal ambiance and tranquility that is the Lake District!
My main adventure of October was when I spent a few nights at my grandparents house in Coniston - I hadn't had a week off work since March so I really needed some downtime! When I was younger I used to stay for a few nights at their house almost every summer so I have really fond memories there, and I was looking forward to making many more! My main intention was to revisit some of my childhood favourites, this time armed with my camera and a stronger sense of adventure! Their house sits on the ascent towards Walna Scar and the Old Man Of Coniston, with fantastic views over the village, the lake, and Grizedale Forest so come rain or shine, you are constantly surrounded by a magnificent vista. After a wet start to October, I was lucky to have relatively dry weather for my stay, but what clouds were lingering in the sky really complimented the autumn shades all around me, particularly over Coppermine Valley!
On my first evening in Coniston, we wandered over to Greenodd for a walk along the estuary before we grabbed a Chinese take-away from Ulverston. This is one of the walks I have fond memories of when I used to visit as a child; my favourite being one summer when the weather was warm and bright, and I ran around for what seemed like forever with my grandparents dogs. We managed to tick off a few geocaches in the area as we wandered along from the waters edge onto the grassy fields surrounding it, past some beautiful countryside cottages and through a little woodland which was still full of green leaves that shaded the sunshine streaming above us. We made our way to the old railway bridge before heading to the small farm overlooking The Hoad in Ulverston and began making our way over the rocky outcrops back to the car, and more importantly the chinese!
Given that I was visiting in October, I had mentioned previously to my family that I didn't mind if the weather was poor during my visit, as long as I saw some cloud inversions during my stay! Monday morning certainly didn't disappoint, and without bothering to change out of my pyjamas, I ran outside with my camera, climbed up my grandparents garden wall and took a thousand pictures! (Sorry to any holiday makers on the street who had to witness that!) It was truly magical to watch it moved across the lake, over the village and towards the fells surrounding Coniston whilst there was a tiny hum of the hustle and bustle of the village below me singing in tune with the birds flying above my head and it really brought back the feeling of falling in love with the lake district all over again! I would have loved to have wandered down to the lake this visit, but due to the bad weather recently the fields where the footpaths lie are rather waterlogged, so I figured it was best to stick to dry/higher ground. After the low cloud had faded away into the atmosphere, I got myself dressed and sorted ready for a little wander around the village. I followed the little side roads which followed the rocky outface of Coppermine Valley before following the twists and turns of the little stream as it made its way to the main village and western end of the lake. It was lovely wandering around the village, linking places from different memories from over the years when I was younger!
After heading back to my Grandad's home to prepare our tea for later, I decided my next wander would be within the secluded nature that starts in their back garden. I wandered along the edge of the small woodland leading up along the Banks and Walna Scar Road before ducking through overgrown shrubs onto a well-worn but discrete path that weaves between trees and across tiny streams falling into the crags below. The main road is extremely steep, but it's a gradual incline via the woodland, and the pathway ends near some old huts and the bottom of a small 'waterfall' within the main trickle of the stream. Here there is a small entrance to an old quarry hidden away in the rocks - this always fascinated me as a child, and I love wandering up here as an adult and just sitting, staring into the mouth of the cave whilst I take in the sounds of birds chirping, the leaves whispering in the wind and losing myself within the moment. Afterwards, I made my way down the steep hill and onto the end of the old railway line, which used to run in the village but has now been made a discreetly tucked away public footpath. This footpath is surrounded by trees either side, with steep farmland and horse pastures for the riding school on one side and the other tranquil views of the lake and Grizedale forest. I only passed one lady and her dog as I made it to the end of the line before it connected with the footpaths along the main road and looped back upon myself, so it was lovely to take my time taking photographs and getting lost in my own thoughts.
The weather forecast was due to turn rather wet and windy on my last evening in Coniston, so my Grandad and I decided to get a walk in before we had the Lasagna I made earlier! We decided to wander along the public footpath which rests between the Coppermine valley and the road towards Tilberthwaite as there are several geocaches along here. I also wanted to go along this track as one of my fond childhood memories is when my brother and I were running ahead and suddenly started shouting that we'd seen a snake - to which my mum and grandmother informed us was a slow worm after running to catch up to us in panic! The lower leaves were catching the sprinkling of sun which fell down from the higher branches which highlighted the twists and turns of the path, some of which dropped down to meet one of the many streams running from the fells. We barely saw a soul as we wandered along, chatting about other places that we can visit and finding the odd geocache here and there when we remembered to look at the app. We turned back ourselves just before entering the village, and made our way back along the same path to the van - some people may find doing this repetetive, but a different perspective can bring out all sorts of beauty, and this path was no different!
We were fortunate to have good weather throughout my stay, and it was perfectly timed as on the day I was going home the rain was falling thick and fast! I was content spending the morning watching the rain fall across the village and the lake, and counting how long it would take before the cloud and fog consumed Grizedale forest, leaving no hint of autumn to be seen. I'm looking forward to coming back to Coniston again in a few months to spend some quality time with my grandad and to explore more of this beautiful little village!
In the essense of Autumn, now that I've completed this I'm going to grab a blanket and a hot drink, and get nice and cosy! I suggest you all do the same!