June: Positive Times Ahead!

June has certainly been an exciting month, both photography wise and in my personal life! It's obvious that your personal life impacts your hobbies, but I could really see a massive difference in the level of enjoyment walking brought me after the events of this month! Bring it on I say!

The personal news is that I've made some big changes in my life this month that I am sure will benefit my general well-being and mental health for the better. Sometimes you get stuck in a rut or negative situation without realising how much that it is managing to impact other elements of your life! I really don't have time for negative influences in my life or people that just ooze negativity out of other people through their actions. These changes also mean I properly have time to myself and to do things that I enjoy without the dark clouds from aspects of my life infiltrating parts which should be filled with blue skies only! It's amazing how one little change can impact you in such a positive way when previously it was so bitter!

The start of the month gave us temperamental weather with bouts of both sunshine and rain, but this meant that all the foliage and flowers came into full bloom pretty quickly! My mum's friend has a beautiful garden full of lots of colour and different types of flowers and foliage, so I couldn't resist taking my camera over to their house for a little photography session! My chances for Macro photography are pretty slim in the winter, and although the start of spring brings the floral colours these aren't quite as prevalent in some of the places I walk, such as the fells, so I was glad of the opportunity to get lots of different types of flowers in one session. This garden is also perfect for photography as the plants are left to grow where they want naturally, so each flower bed was full of colour and variety.

As always, on my trips to Coniston I've had many wanderings around Yew Tree Tarn. The water level is still low like I'd mentioned last month, but there has definitely been more water reduction, judging by the dried out land on the tarns edge. The main seasonal difference I have noticed is the thick canopy of leaves above your head as you wander around, it is a welcome break from the hot sunshine and even the bench halfway round is sheltered from the heat. The large rhododendron bushes were full of colour, each displaying a different shade of pink from hot to peach, forming a gradient as you walked past. Herons could also be seen swooping across the bare water's edge looking for food, before flying up to their nest in the evergreen trees. I do hope the water levels increase soon so that the birds and other wildlife won't have to look for food elsewhere, although I am grateful for being able to walk where the water previously lay to be able to capture some fantastic panoramic shots of the tarn and the fells in the distance!

One afternoon I didn't have anything in particular planned, but as it was a quiet but lovely day with blue skies and fluffy clouds I decided to have a wander up to Kendal Castle. It is a short and pleasant enough walk from my house, and I have the option of walking through the beautiful Fletcher Park, or the quaint Parkside Cemetery, both places full of summer colour and tall trees to please your eyes, before making my way upwards towards the castle and the green lawn it rests upon. Despite the lovely weather, there were only a couple of people taking advantage of the sun trap that is the castle grounds, although quite a few people came into the grounds to do a quick lap around before continuing on their way. Whilst there were people exploring the larger section of building left standing, I perched on part of the remnants of the outer wall which had a view over part of the town but also out towards the estuary and into Morecambe Bay, with fields, fells and woodland filling all the space in between. That didn’t matter though, as there is a lower level to the ‘window’ which you can explore, as well as another small structure that you can either go inside, although even for my height the door is a bit too small and I’ve hit my head many a times coming out of here, or up the steps for a view over the castle - which is what I chose to do today. As well as the views over the castle, you get a lovely view of the surrounding fells - so a combination of two things I really enjoy! After wandering around here and perching on different sections of the wall, I eventually headed home via the cemetery after a peaceful afternoon.

In the theme of visiting places I hadn’t been to for 5 years, my mum and I wanted to go back to Egglestone Abbey in County Durham as this place was an unexpected delight that we discovered on our last visit to Barnard Castle. We parked near the river in Barnard Castle before taking the 2 miles or so walk down the river and across the fields to where the Abbey lies. It was quiet as we wandered along the fields and our only company were what seemed to be hundreds of tiny baby hares running along the edge of the hedgerow. Our solitude continued as we arrived at the Abbey to have the place to ourselves. From a photography stand point, I was really happy about this as last time there were quite a few people at the abbey, and although I managed to get plenty of photos then it did mean we didn’t have time to properly study all the small details in the structure. We certainly made up for it this time, slowly walking around the 4 sections of the ruin, reading each information section in detail and sat occasionally to enjoy the June sunshine. My favourite part of the abbey to explore is the largest part of the building, where the majority of the features have kept their detail over several levels. The outer walls here are still standing proud, and I couldn’t see any worrying cracks in these walls either - one section of the ruin looks like it may break apart and this upsets me, but I am glad to have the opportunity to visit whilst it looks like this!

After spending an hour or so at the Abbey, we decided to head back into Barnard Castle to have a look at a few of the shops there as well as having a wander around the Castle in which the town is named after. We decided to walk on the other side of the river to the one we came in on after noticing a footpath following the course of the river back into town. This side was peaceful, the path was higher than the river at places so you could look down onto the water, and at times the magnificent ruins of the Abbey could be seen peeking between the trees - we had timed our visit well as we could see several people on the higher parts of the ruins as we viewed the building from across the water. Eventually we ended up back at Barnard Castle, and as well as having a walk around the outer edges so that I could get some pictures of it, we also walked in open land across the river from Barnard Castle so that we could admire it from a distance, and of course take some pictures! Not having enough of exploring historical ruins for that day, we decided to head back home and stop at Brough Castle once we got back into our home county of Cumbria, same as we did 5 years ago!

Soon enough on our journey back from Barnard Castle, the ruins of Brough Castle appeared on its small hill behind the village it sits beside. We managed to park up and wandered up to the castle. I was disappointed to see that since our last visit there has been new fences put up, so you are unfortunately unable to walk around the outside of the building as we did last time. I’m not sure whether this is due to land or footpath boundaries changing, or due to the infrastructure of the building as there is some large chunks of brickwork resting on the ground. Nevertheless, we explored the innards of the Castle, where in sections you can clearly see a lot of rooms and there are plenty of features such as doorways or windows still to be spotted after all these years. You are able to go inside the Keep, and there is a viewing platform to look across the full courtyard of the castle from, or looking the other way you can see through the large gap in the wall where it has eroded over the years onto the surrounding fields rolling across the valley. We didn’t spend long here as we could see the poorer weather was heading our way, and we wanted to at least attempt getting home in the dry.

This month I also managed to tick off a Wainwright I’ve been wanting to do for a while, Loughrigg Fell, and I was eager to do it before summer properly kick-started as I know this Fell is a popular one! After finding a parking spot just outside of Skelwith, I took one of the quieter paths towards Loughrigg Fell, rising up onto the fell tops between Ivy Crag and Todd Crag before meandering along the tops. This part of the walk felt like it had stunning views at every turn, from the Langdales emerging between the fells and above felltops to my right to Lake Windermere rapidly increasing in size as it came into view on the left. The terrain up here is a photographers dream as it was a mix of vibrant green ferns with splashes of foxglove pink nestled in between, dusty brown paths zigzagging across the land and rocky outcrops providing viewpoints for the walkers - there was something that caught my eye at every step! As I wandered onto the higher points of Loughrigg Terrace, I had 360ᐤ of beautiful landscape to enjoy, in particular the low cloud hanging over the fells in the distance, as I wandered across the top. I could make a long list of each water that I could see but it just wouldn’t do it justice in all honesty, but from here it is a prime example of how stunning the Lake District is as you see a variety of the bodies of water, farmland, the fell tops that seem to reach to the sky and green carpets of forests.

As I wandered along I couldn’t help but sit occasionally to take in the view; one of my favourite spots was overlooking the end of Windermere, Loughrigg Tarn and Elterwater, as well as the Langdale Pikes standing with pride. I sat overlooking Grasmere to have my lunch, watching a line of people move along the paths below me like ants. It was lovely watching the clouds roll over dunmail rise and I could see something moving along the water of Grasmere, breaking its mirror-like appearance. I also made a quick visit to the trig point - as have you actually walked a Wainwright if you don’t touch any available cairns/trigs - but it was quite busy up here so I took a quiet path down towards Loughrigg Tarn. As I descended I had a stunning view of the valley over Elterwater, everything seemed to be coloured in warm shades of green and it contrasted beautifully with the pale blue sky above. There were quite a few people down at the tarn, but I managed to find a quiet spot by the shore in the shade of a tree just to rest my legs before heading back. I could feel the difference in temperature here compared to the fell top, and I enjoyed letting the cool breeze run against my skin and relax my muscles. Once the area I found began to fill up with people, I meandered back down to where the car was, eager to get home and look through all my photos from the day.

After not visiting the area for 5 years, I made my second visit within a couple of months to Heysham! My mum had a friend who had never been before who would love it there, and I got invited along to join them for the afternoon as they planned to just spend a couple of hours taking in the views. It was certainly quieter this day than our last visit, and it was surprising as the weather was beautiful and the sunshine was out in force. I took advantage of this to get plenty of photographs as well as film some videos for tiktok. I really love this area, particularly for the simplicity of the building but how powerful the historical meanings are, especially the old viking graves that sit on the cliff. It does sadden me that many people come here without realising the significance of the area, but alas I am glad to see people getting out and enjoying the area regardless. For our lunch we brought with us a picnic and found a spot in the grassy tops of part of the cliff to eat whilst watching the waves slowly rolling in. I would love to come back here one day to watch the sunset, especially if it aligned with the archway of the viking ruins!

It's safe to say I’ve made the most of the first month of summer, let's hope the good weather continues!