I'm a lifestyle blogger – blogging on health, writing, books, travel, photography, gardening, nature and simple musings on life. I just so happen to be the recipient of a heart and double transplant and an avid campaigner for organ donation.
Before we reach the end of May, the month of bluebells, here’s some more bluebell pictures…
Stepping into what’s known as this secret valley at Rannerdale when the bluebells are in bloom, is like stepping into the Garden of Eden or a Secret Garden. On a sunny day with the bluebells at their fullest, it’s a feast for all the senses – stunning views, heavenly scent and neverending sweeps and swathes of blue across the fells.
It’s a different scene to the one we would normally conjure up when thinking of bluebells – no shady woodlands or trees about to burst into leaf, just acres of English bluebells growing in profusion across the open valley and fells.
The bluebells have a story, according to local folklore, the bluebells are said to have sprung from the spilt blood of slain Norman warriors. The valley was a location where after the Norman invasion of 1066, Britons ambushed and defeated the Norman army at the Battle of Rannerdale. It’s difficult to imagine war raging in such a peaceful, beautiful and tranquil place.
Rannerdale Knotts is a stunning location, with bluebells aside, there are far reaching views over Crummock Water and towards Buttermere and Loweswater.
With all my health problems this winter it had meant we hadn’t been able to visit the Lake District for a good few months and we’d had to cancel some visits in autumn and over Christmas. When we visited at long last the other week, when we arrived near Milnthorpe and drove past the River Bela, as always I looked over the dry stone walls to see how high the river was.
It was extemely high, reaching the tops of the river bank and spilling over. The following morning there were actually warnings locally not to venture out on the estuary footpaths or down by the coastal path at Arnside, as tidal surges were expected to cause more high waters and flooding. Our neighbour told us, the river and estuary area had been flooded at least three times since we’d last visited.
The Rivers Bela and Kent estuaries meet and join the sea in Morecambe Bay. The last big flood in Milnthorpe was after Storm Desmond in 2015, when houses near the river and the football and cricket ground were flooded. People near the river were preparing for the worst again piling up the sand bags to protect their properties and moving furniture upstairs.
The river and estuary landscapes look so different in flood. The River Bela had lost all its boundaries as it merged with the sea and River Kent. The estuary itself looked like another huge Lake District lake, especially with the Lake District mountains in the back drop. There are usually big pools of water and stretches of sand and sand banks with flocks of interesting birds feeding: on this day just stretches of neverending and unsettled waters.
A drive further around the coast to Sandside was almost inaccessible with sea water lashing and blowing across the main road in the blustery and wild wind. Then the following day, the river had calmed down and you could distinguish it from the estuary once more. Overnight and at low tide, the water in the estuary had receded back to safer levels and there were only sand deposits on the road marking the hazards of the day before.
When I’m out and about in the countryside, there always seems to be something that takes me by surprise. I’ve learned from past experience and now that’s why I always try and remember to take my camera or my phone with me. There’s nothing as annoying as seeing something extra special just before your eyes and not being able to capture the moment forever.
We were out walking by the river Bela on Dallham Tower Estate in Cumbria, when we suddenly saw a pair of ears popping out above the river bank. Who was this hiding down there? Suddenly a pair of young fallow deer appeared, nimbly climbing over the steep banking and happily feeding away and munching on the grass.
We were stopped very quietly in our tracks and lucky to be so near. Rob just happened to have his camera at the ready, so was able to snap a few shots while the deer fed and wandered along by the riverside.
It was one of those captivating and special moments…
Early February and another gorgeous day, so we decided to take a look around Sizergh, a National Trust Estate in Cumbria. We visit here often and in all seasons. It always looks so different during each season and varying weather.
Today we were pleasantly rewarded with the sight of first snowdrops and aconites enjoying the winter sunshine and bursting into bloom. There’s always something special about seeing clusters of snowdrops when we’re still in winter time: there’s a sudden brightness after all the cold, dark and dull days. The bright yellow of the aconites look like they reflect the sun in the sky too: they almost sing out that we’re approaching warmer, longer days. That spring is nearing.
The grounds looked beautiful as we approached the castle this morning. We had a walk through the fields belonging to the estate.
On our way around we spotted the first snowdrops, basking in the sunshine, in full bloom.
Much to our delight, we came across a snowdrop walk in the woodlands… and we found aconites on the woody slopes too!
Then out of the woodlands and down by the pond, we spotted a few more things…
Beautiful views towards the castle, dark winter trees and water silhouetted against the bright blue skies.
Willows bursting into bloom: another sign that spring is near and this scene will look so much different on our next visit.
And then the swans, busy feeding hungrily in the freezing cold waters, which had been coated in layers of thin ice earlier.
The pathway led us back into the lovely countryside again and then of course, we had to finish off with the obligatory hot drinks at the cafe to warm ourselves up again.
It’s been a fabulous start to February with the most glorious sunny weather in the Lake District. Perfect for a day visiting favourite places, walking the dog and taking photos. Perfect for enjoying nature, sunshine and healthy fresh air.
A walk with Ted in Cartmel followed by coffee in the village…
Then a drive and picnic on the west side of Coniston Water followed by another walk with Ted. The lake was as still as a mill pond, the sunshine bathing down on the lake.
Perfect for a swim – well for cocker spaniels, swans, ducks and geese anyway!
The ‘Old Man Coniston’ even had a lovely dusting of snow.
Next up, we couldn’t drive this far without a sneaky peak up to Tarn Hows. This was so still and quiet today, stunning as always and like a picture post card.
Finally, we were just in time to catch the sunset at Sandside – always so beautiful to see.
All in all a stunning Lake District day, a perfect one for me.
Have you ever wanted to revisit those memories of your childhood?
I’ve been visiting Cumbria the whole of my life, Rob and I spend a lot of our spare time there. We’ve visited so many places in the vicinity both touristy ones and those that are more out on the beaten track – the places to go are endless and there’s always somewhere new where we haven’t ever explored.
On a recent visit, I kept on thinking about a beach my family used to visit when I was a young girl. We’d had a few caravan holidays there – one had been during a glorious summer – you know one of those we often remember when we think of summer holidays in our younger days. We’d spent hours playing on that beach and paddling and splashing around in the sea.
We’d stayed again the following year – that time it rained and didn’t ever stop, so much so that in the end my parents packed all the bags up and we came home early.
The stay during the glorious summer is the one I recall. I decided to go in search of this lovely sandy beach at Sandscale Haws just for old times sake. I was totally delighted to find that it belongs to the National Trust and is designated as an outstanding dune habitat, which supports a wealth of wildlife including Natterjack Toads, rare plants and a wealth of bird life.
The beautiful sandy beach has far reaching views across the Lake District and overlooks the stunning Duddon Estuary – we often explore around this estuary and the River Duddon, an area of the Western Lakes that is relatively quiet and unspoilt.
It was a pleasure to rediscover it all over again.
Continuing on the nostalgic theme, I had an overwhelming urge to have a drive through the Blackpool Illuminations – again it was something we always did as a family when I was young and again with my own children when they were little.
When we arrived at Blackpool, I couldn’t quite understand why it was so quiet. I was remembering heaving traffic jams on the seafront, but on this visit we were the only car driving down by the promenade and there were hundreds of parking spaces.
It was as though we were experiencing our very own personal Illuminations display. We found out later that the light display had finished over a week ago and that they had put the Illuminations back on just for that evening because Strictly Come Dancing was being held in the Blackpool Tower. We had just got lucky!
It was lovely to take a few trips back to those memories of childhood and make more new ones.