March: Springtime Comforts!

Just like last month, it's been quite a difficult time during March but I've found solitude in getting outside within the lockdown restrictions. It was also another month of exploring new places, and revisiting old favourites. It feels like the last few weeks have flown by, but when I reflect on what I've done I'm not really surprised, especially when you take the sporadic weather into consideration!

The beginning of the month saw me heading over the border into Lancashire for appointments and whatnot, so in between these errands I couldn't resist a wander along the coast at Heysham. I hadn't been here for about 5 years, in fact it was one of my first photography walks when I considered setting up my work under the name Veelight Photography! My first stop was into the churchyard of St Peter's church, as I've mentioned previously I can't resist a graveyard, where there is some really interesting carvings into the stonework as well as stunning views across Morecambe Bay. It was quiet despite the sunny weather, so I had the place to myself and when I wandered up to the Viking ruins this was still the case as those few people wandering past seemed indifferent to the ruins. Although a small area, I love the detailing which is still left in the structures, and there are the outlines of the Viking graves carved into the rock still after all these years. The arch in the main wall is the perfect framing to the view of the sea and the rocky coastline resting below the ruins. After the Viking ruins, I continued along the grass shore with the occasional dip into the rocky outcrops by the sea to see if there was anything interesting down here. I love the contrast of the rocks against the soft blue sea, and I took several moments to lose my thoughts into the gentle sway of the waves as they hit against the rocks. Eventually I made my way just off the beach and wandered through a small nature reserve with a few trees dotted around and came out the other side of the ferry port and powerplant. I wandered along the concrete sea wall, watching the groups of seagulls and cormorants diving between the rocks off the shoreline until I reached the lighthouse. When I reached the lighthouse, a ferry was leaving the port so I watched that fade off into the horizon before turning back on myself and making my way back towards the ruins.

One morning I had plans to head out on a walk with my mum, and typically the weather was extremely overcast with thick fog lurking around some corners. However, as we were planning on visiting the Cathedral Cave we thought this would add to the mood, and preserved with our walk. Not fancying the thin country lanes in the fog when we weren't quite sure of where to park, we decided to park at Hodge Close and head to the Cathedral caves from there as we knew majority of the route. There wasn't much to see in front due to the weather, but it was eerie yet beautiful to have the tree branches suddenly appear so sharply against the grey backdrop. We realised too far on that we had taken the wrong footpath at one point so we were heading towards Little Langdale, not the direct route that we wanted but one which led us to the Cave nonetheless, and it was a pleasant surprise when I spotted a sign pointing towards the infamous Slaters Bridge, causing us to take yet another detour. It was mesmerising to see the bridge slowly form amongst the fog as we meandered along the grassy field down towards the beck. There was no fells to be seen in the background that day, so the brickwork and curvature of the bridge could really be seen.

The weather was beginning to clear slightly as we reached the cave, in fact as I wandered through the carved entrance I could see a singular beam of sunshine managing to creep through the opening to the cave. I really don't think I can adequately describe the phenomenal magic and beauty felt in this place so I do advise you to look at my Phonography photos (I knew we wouldn't have it to ourselves for long so I didn't want to waste time setting up my camera for light etc and I didn't have my tripod with me) or google 'Cathedral Cave Lake District' - or even better, visit there in person! The cavern is extremely high, with a singular central pillar in the middle, dividing a rock fall from a pool of water. You can walk around majority of here, with the unsafe bits cornered off. There is also a large 'window' looking into the cave above this area with foliage falling down the rockface, which is where I headed after giving the cave a good explore. Wandering up the hill forming the outside of the cave, we found several peepholes into other parts of the cavern before descending down a path so that we could look into the window. This path was a bit precarious in places due to the recent weather, but with care we managed to make into the main part of this area. More caverns could seen, alongside tunnels leading to the main cavern (into the water I believe!) and you could stand on the edge of the window and look down into the cave. This view was also mesmerising, with everything looking even bigger from this angle. A truly magical place that I can't wait to visit again!

After dropping off a food delivery in Coniston, I ended up on another one of my impromptu walks this month after spotting a layby beside the footpath to Orrest Head was unusually empty, so I took it as a sign to walk here - especially as I hadn't been up there since 2014! My route took me gradually up across a couple of fields, with both the town and water of Windermere occasionally coming into view over the walls or through gates before I began wandering through a small part of woodland. I meandered through the woodland without bumping into another person, but as I got closer to the top I could hear voices carrying in the wind as the trees began to thin out. With the lack of trees surrounding me, the horizon was soon replaced with a classic Lakeland scene of rolling fells contrasting against the clouds. Each twist or turn in the path that coincided with a view of Lake Windermere emphasised the magnitude of both the water and the fells surrounding it. The view at the top gave you a complete view of Lake Windermere's splendour, with one end reaching towards the faint view of the sea in the distance, and its head resting in a valley of snow-capped fells. After spending a bit of time on the top, I took a different path towards where I climbed up from, but veered to the left into a field to explore around the area. The snow-topped fells contrasted beautifully against the green grass, and as I curved around the principle fell top, lake Windermere came back into view as glorious as ever. Regrettably, I didn't have my camera on me just my phone so I couldn't capture the snowy Langdales and Wetherlam reflecting into the water but it meant I could enjoy this moment without too many distractions. The rain held off until the glorious views were hidden behind trees or sloping farm pastures, and in tandem to my footpath declining back down to the town. This is a place I'd love to visit at each season because if it was beautiful on this miserable day, it would be phenomenal in sunnier weather!

With the sad passing of my Grandma last month, our trips to Coniston have continued as the family deal with this big change in our lives and walking has once again been a welcome break from it all. The weather didn't always play ball for us, but honestly it felt quite refreshing being out in rain/wind/fog/general pants Cumbrian weather! One of these rainy day walks was up to Tarn Hows, from from car park at the bottom of Tom Ghyll Waterfalls. My mum and I hadn't been to Tarn Hows since 2016 (we usually avoid it with it being such a popular walking destination) but we both have childhood memories around this area with my Grandma (my mum's mum) so we decided to visit again and have a good reminiscence over happy memories. Luckily the path from the bottom car park is through woodland, following the path of the waterfall, so it was only our feet that got slightly damp from brushing against bracken or the occasional puddle collecting on the path. It was nice to see the falls full of water, the gentle crashing as it hit the rocks in the riverbed was the perfect accompaniment to the birdsong and pitter patter of our footsteps, and I'd forgotten how diverse each section of the waterfall was. The rainfall meant there was plenty of water in the stream and its course could be seen through the damp leaves still clinging to the tree branches.

Upon arriving at the top of the waterfall where it meets the tarn, two belted Galloway cows moo'd to greet us from the hillside, and loving these creatures we wandered closer to the fence to see them. After a few more moo's and some inquisitive sniffing from the cows, we began our walk around the tarn as the rain seemed to get heavier. We were lucky though as there are plenty of trees and sheltered areas around the tarn so we didn't get too wet, and the terrible weather seemed to be keeping everyone else away from the tarn as we couldn't see a soul as we wandered around! At one point we were watching Herons flying across the tarn, and we even spotted their nest in amongst the tree tops! The moody fog contrasted beautifully with many of the evergreen trees around the tarn, and sometimes when the rain eased the faint outline of the surrounding fells could just be made out. Being distracted by the stunning views, time seemed to slip by and before we knew it we were near the start of the waterfall again, where there were now people beginning to explore the tarn. We were so lucky to have this stunning place to ourselves, and I really enjoyed the moody ambience of the rain and fog, it made it all that much more unique of an experience! We made our way back down the waterfall, this time the water looked flat as we descended but occasionally around the corners it would suddenly spring to life and the crashing water echoed amongst the trees. Upon reaching the car, the rain had started again but that didn't matter as we were heading to my Grandad's where we could warm up with a nice cuppa, and I could have lots of cuddles with his cat!

I've wandered past the Tilberthwaite area when on walks in the Little Langdale or Hodge Close area, but I'd never actually ventured up the road off the route towards Coniston where there is a tiny collection of houses nestled against the climbing mountain ranges. I had however heard of Tilberthwaite Ghyll, and after exploring a couple of quarry areas over the last month or so, I thought it would be good to continue the trend and finally explore those parts of Tilberthwaite that have previously passed me by. After managing to park up at the bottom of the Hodge Close road, I made my way onto the road that went alongside the mountains and dropped down into Tilberthwaite. From Hodge Close, this road has always appeared steep for both cars and people, but I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong on this assumption, and the walk was gentle on the legs and was enhanced by stunning views; rugged mountain terrain to the left and a steep drop down to a crystal clear beck and sprinkling of evergreen trees. Just before the hamlet there is remnants of the mining quarries resting on the roadside, with a few walls and windows still in tact within the structure. I do enjoy visiting old sites, particularly those with ruins so it was interesting to explore the area, see how these parts have prevailed overtime, such as underground passages still being clear and the mouth of a tunnel where they used to bring slate through was tucked away behind the buildings.

After exploring the ruins, we continued along to our destination of Tilberthwaite Ghyll, but before our climb into the quarried area we couldn't resist taking a peek at the river and at the new bridge that had been built; my family can recall a beautiful iron bridge previously crossing the river and said it was regularly featured on postcards - needless to say the new concrete bridge didn't have quite the same impact! We then turned back on ourselves and headed up the slate stairs towards the several levels of Tilberthwaite Ghyll, with large piles of slate forming walls around us. In between these walls were a few old remnants of the mining buildings, which stood rigid compared to the softer piles of slate surrounding them. There were some rock climbers in the bottom two caverns, but there were nobody in the other ones so we got to explore them, and sat on the very top platform to eat our lunch, taking in the stunning views that were perfectly framed by the higher walls of the Ghyll. After eating lunch, we took our original path along the Ghyll higher up into the fell land, before reaching a split in the path, and not fancying a walk up Wetherlam today, we took the lower path. This path dipped down into a valley which was full of evergreen trees - some of their tips seemed to reach higher than the fells surrounding it - and they only got bigger as we stepped further and further down. At the bottom there was a stream, and a stunning little bridge was built there so that you could cross the water. There wasn't much water in it that day so we could see a lot of the rocky riverbed as we crossed the bridge and began to climb the other side of the valley which was once again hidden by the evergreens. This path brought us back down to the bridge in Tilberthwaite village, and feeling content with our day we headed back along the road and back to our car.

As I am a member of the National Trust, I decided to take advantage of the parking at Wray Castle on a moody day for a wander around Blelham tarn. When I walked up Wansfell Pike a couple of years ago, I could see the tarn clear as day, yet I'd never noticed it before when I've been around the area of Wray Castle before so I was intrigued to visit! I wandered up the long driveway to Wray Castle before joining the main road, which I had to wander down slightly before I reached the footpath running parallel to the road in a farmers field. It was here where I had the option to wander to Blelham Tarn, which was across the fields and through a small cluster of trees. At the other side of these trees was a cute little bridge crossing one of the streams that fed the tarn, hinting that I was getting closer to the waters edge. And that was certainly the case as I wandered up the path that led up a slight hill in the farmland, and as I reached the top I could see faint blue emerging amongst the browns and greens of early spring. I sat just off the path overlooking the tarn to eat my lunch, I could see the main Lakeland fells to one side of me, and I could see one of the outlying fells, Latterbarrow, directly across from me. Not one person passed me as I sat near the tarn, I could see Egret's sitting on the floating buoy in the centre of the tarn, and once they flew off into the trees I set off again on my walk, slowly climbing higher towards the road below Latterbarrow. The footpath took me through farmland with stunning views of the tarn before taking me back onto narrow country lanes and footpaths cutting alongside several gardens before I arrived back at Wray Castle. Not quite ready to go home yet, I decided to have a small wander along the shore of Windermere, stopping at little coves and taking the time to reflect on the last couple of months.

When my mum was younger, there wasn't a footpath directly along the lake shore between Coniston and Torver; in fact you had to walk quite a lot of it on the road which has all sizes of vehicles travelling along it. But as usually happens with time, now there is a footpath the whole way so my mum wanted to explore it. We started from Coniston Hall, wandering through the campsite that had a magnificent view of The Old Man Of Coniston and its surrounding fells, before we began to approach the lake. A quaint little bridge crossing a stream separated the campsite from the public areas of the water, this part had quite a large part of shoreline to walk along despite the recent rain, and when you went to the waters edge you could see right down the water towards Blawith Common where the water ends. After sitting here for a while, we wandered along the shore which began to have larger collection of trees surrounding the path. Eventually these trees formed into a woodland, but with large evergreen trees which reminded me of Forests instead of the more delicate trees usually associated with woodlands. Finally we reached Torver Jetty, and we did consider wandering further along to Sunny Bank Jetty, but we didn't fancy having to repeat that distance on the way back so we sat on the jetty and had lunch. A robin came to see us, and without much convincing he managed to get some of our bread from our sandwiches as a snack. After sitting there for a while, we decided to wander back to the car and try to find somewhere else to stop on the way home. This place ended up being Blawith Common, where we spotted a small footpath weaving between bulrushes and long strands of grass and we followed it to the lake shore. There were a couple of people swimming in the water, with their clothing marking their spots on some of the small coves along the water but we managed to find a rocky outcrop which looked up the length of the lake for us to rest on before finally heading home.

After an extremely busy time, I think I will need plenty of rest before lockdown begins to ease next month!