June: Staying Safe!

Considering it's only been a month since slowly society has began to turn back to normal, these last few weeks have certainly flown by in the blink of an eye! I'm lucky to have been unfurloughed from work, so I'm glad to have a bit of routine back into life, although I will miss the freedom in going out for walks during the day! However, I've still tried to stay away from the more popular walking routes as I'm 'exposed' more with back at work, and I have elderly relatives and a parent who works within the care industry so I would hate to pass the virus onto them! Still, it has been nice this month to be able to explore further afield as I had began being a little bored of my local walks!

One day I decided to go for a wander down the river in Staveley as I realised it had been nearly three years since I'd last walked it - in fact, it was my last adventure out with my Sony DLSR before it got waterlogged the next day! Back then, the bridge along the river near Bowston was still yet to be replaced after Storm Desmond, but now it has been rebuilt so I had plenty of options route wise to ensure I would be social distancing whilst out! I made my way down the western side of the river, through farmland and open pastures until the river began to widen and more nature such as trees or bushes clung to the riverbank. This side of the walk takes you through a little woodland, or rather a patch of trees, but it is extremely quaint here, especially when the sunlight broke through the leaves above and made the ground glow. The light from the sun also made the river seem welcoming, I imagined it would be extremely soothing to dip your feet in the water on a warm day! We were going to rest by the river, but there were quite a few people dotted up and down the path loaded with picnic equipment so we decided to find somewhere a little more peaceful to rest, probably on the other side of the river. We came across several people near the newly built bridge, so we decided to take the road less travelled and crossed over, making our walk form a figure of eight.

It was much more enjoyable walking without others around and we were able to walk at our own pace without fear of accidentally catching up to walkers in front of us. We slowly wandered across several fields, with wooden styles built crossing the aged stonework of the walls and livestock hiding in the shaded areas from the large trees dappled along the route. Thankfully these trees also provided much needed shelter for us also as the temperature was exceeding what was predicted on the weather forecast! A benefit of the current lockdown meant that when we had to wander alongside the golf course, there was no one currently playing there so we didn't have rush or dodge any stray balls that may cross our path! After quickly nipping over the bridge and through part of the small village of Bowston we were soon back along the river, this time we seemingly had the path to ourselves. To continue the figure of eight, we crossed back over the bridge and entered through the gate leading into Beckleming Woods, which was as stunning as I recalled from our visit three years ago! The foliage was thick on the trees and the ground was covered in wild garlic yet to reveal its scent and stretches of bluebells as far as the eye can see. I couldn't resist carefully wandering off the path to get some bluebell shots where there was old sections of tree trunks covered in moss or rocks which had somehow strayed away from the riverbank. This woods is really pleasant to walk through as plenty of paths for you to take in all the scenery of the woodland the river, and these paths were handy for avoiding fellow walkers!

With the easing of lockdown, we felt more comfortable travelling further afield for walks and one Sunday we wanted a change of scenery and to be able to get a decent walk in at the same time so we headed over to Walney Island. We followed the main road on the island towards the coast and parked up for a beach walk, heading towards the northern part of the island. We spent a while meandering along the rocky coastline, keeping an eye out for anything interesting which may have washed upon the shore and marvelling at the cabbage-like plants which appeared in certain parts of the shore in abundance. Black Combe stood proud on the horizon, making all other hills and the buildings along the coastline look tiny in comparison. We wandered along here for a short while, before deciding to find a quieter part of the island to explore. After driving, we found ourselves on the Southern end of the island close to the nature reserve. After parking up, we had a little wander and found a place to sit and eat lunch. From here we could see Piel Island, and the castle which lies upon it, clear as day and we discussed visiting there once lockdown has properly eased (and we can figure out the tide times/ferry times!). It was interesting looking at the coast of the mainland as at first it took us a second to orientate ourselves until we realised Heysham power station was much closer than we realised! It's strange that we live closer to there than we currently were located, but the powerstation always looked so small from many of our previous walks! The weather began to spit slightly, despite the sun shining, so we decided to head back towards home, hoping to stop off somewhere that caught our eye on the way back.

As we had hoped, the light rain did not last long and the sun was back out in full force. We drove along the backroads from Barrow which gave us hilltop views of the coast, and I managed to spot Blackpool tower in the distance at one point. After connecting back up to the main coast road, we managed to grab a parking spot at the beach at Bardsea so we could stretch our legs. It was quite busy here, but the sand is so vast that majority of people seemed to be little dots on the horizon. After picking a direction that seemed less populated, we slowly wandered along the sand, dodging the cracks that fill with water when the tide returns before reaching a rockier part of the shore. There was a large section of rock that jutted out of the main coastal wall so we climbed up there and perched on the edge with our legs dangling down. Although the sun was hot on our skin, we could see the rain making its way across the other side of the estuary, most likely to meet us back home in Kendal. I could watch the rain cutting the blue sky for hours, given that I am on the dry side! To end the outing on a high, we managed to grab an ice cream from the small parlour just before the queues started and we watched all the people on the beach going about their day as we ate them.

Now, I know we had some pretty miserable weekends this month, and I think you have myself, my mum and grandad to blame for it! It seems that whenever we decide to walk the Old Man (as I want a picture of my Grandad, My Old Man of Coniston at the top) the clouds suddenly release all the rain and/or hail it's been collecting up all at once. With lockdown we had been taking my grandad's shopping to him, and with the easing of restrictions we thought we would be able to go on a socially-distanced walk with him as obviously we couldn't spend much time with him before now. These weren't wasted journeys however as we did manage to stop off at Yew Tree Tarn on the way back for a stretch of our legs somewhere quiet. One of the mornings it was a lovely sunny morning despite the forecast deeming it to be a miserable weekend, so unfortunately we had all made individual plans for that afternoon. But as to not waste the weather and the trip, on the way home via the Western end of the lake we pulled up and had a wander along the shore. I think with the craziness of the last few months and lockdown, we both needed a bit of quiet time in beautiful surroundings, even if only for half an hour!

Another weekend in Coniston, my mum and I had decided to go on a wander up to Goats Water after dropping off my Grandad's shopping as although the weather was miserable, it was bearable. We made our way up behind my Grandparents house on an old footpath I remember using a child, and given the overgrowth I don't think it had been frequented much since my last visit. After coming out at an old quarry, we cut up between two fields on a narrow footpath, which was lined with trees on either side, towards the Coniston Fells and Walna Scar Road. The ground was wet underneath our feet and we had to dodge parts where water had collected between the rocks and tree routes. As the hills gradient began to level out, The Old Man of Coniston (well, the cloud covering where the top of The Old Man should be) and the surrounding fells slowly came into view. The view of fells distracted us from the view on our right - black, black rain clouds! Given the weather, we decided to give Goats Water a miss and to loop round towards the end of the old Railway line. Once this had grabbed our attention, we watched the clouds approach Coniston Water and eventually engulf it in a grey mist; it was raining where we were but luckily the lake was taking the brunt of it for us. It wasn't too long until we reached our adjoining footpath to take us away from the fells and back towards the railway line. When we finally began to descend, we followed one of the many becks which fall down from the Coniston Fells, crossing it occasionally on stepping stones which were just visible in the beck after all the recent rainfall. It was generally a bit of a soggy walk, but it was refreshing to get out for a walk regardless!

I think now that certain elements of life is heading back to normal, I appreciate the daily walks of the main lockdown even more as it motivated me to get out on those days where myself or the weather wasn't quite right that day... but that might because it keeps on raining on my days off and nice when I've got to work! I guess it's highlighted that we shouldn't take life for granted, and we should take advantage of our surroundings where possible! The lockdown may have restricted our movement but it hasn't been able to dim my enjoyment of my beautiful surroundings one bit!

Here's hoping we all have a safe but sunny summer ahead of us!