A week in Cumbria – Part two

It’s been a while since I wrote about our visit to Cumbria but at long last, here I go with Part Two of the story!

A circular walk from our ‘The Old Dairy’, our Airbnb.

It’s the fourth day of our holiday and it was time to do some more exploring of the local area. There are so many walks around where we were staying it was hard to choose, however the maps in the Old Dairy gave us some options. This was our second fairly short, circular walk from our Airbnb and this time we were hoping to arrive back in the dry.

I love the stone bridges here and the white-washed houses and the stunning countryside. The hamlet of Millthrop is just down the road and is a pretty village. There’s a splendid row of cottages with a gentle curve of the frontages. This garden was so stunning although I wouldn’t have wanted to water all those pots!

What a beautiful garden!

After lunch and with the sun shining (at last), we decided to drive over to the market town of Hawes, stopping on the way to see ‘Cotter Force’ which is a secluded waterfall. The joy of this waterfall is that it’s easily accessible. You walk across a narrow bridge, along a stile-free public right of way which is suitable for buggies and wheelchairs and the short path leads from here to the waterfall. As you can see, it was well worth going to check it out.

Cotter Force waterfall.

The town of Hawes is a bustling market town in the Yorkshire Dales. Yes we had driven out of Cumbria, into a different county … but only just. The National Park Centre and the Dales Countryside Museum are both found there but Hawes is also famous for its Wensleydale cheese. The Creamery has a large shop and you can also go on tours to see the cheese being made. We did visit the shop which was packed full of people (it’s a popular tourist place), so we treated ourselves to some cheese and then headed back into the Main Street.

It’s a wide street, bustling on that afternoon with life – probably the good weather had brought people out. After looking in a few local shops we had a choice of at least three pubs along the street. We chose one and spent a pleasant time sat in the sun enjoying an excellent pint of beer and watching the world go by.

We rounded off a very pleasant day with an excellent Italian meal in Sedbergh at Al Forno. Warm, friendly service and delicious fresh pastas and pizza.

Dent village with Dent Station (Main picture).

I should explain that neither my man nor I are steam train enthusiasts but the next day we decided to drive to Dent and then go by train to walk to the famous Ribble Valley Viaduct to watch a steam train going across. This doesn’t happen every day!

The drive from Sedbergh was interesting as the road winds through a narrow valley called Dentdale, which is on the western slopes of the Pennines. Dent village has lots of history and boasts a Museum and Heritage Centre, a few shops, a fine Grade One listed church and pubs which are also B&B’s. There’s stunning landscape all around and many walkers come to the area as The Dales Way cuts through the village. It was a superb day when we were there but I can imagine life is tough in the winter and was even tougher over the centuries.

If you are expecting to catch a train from the village of Dent …forget it. Anyone expecting to walk to the station would have quite a job. The road is steep and narrow and even in the car it felt further than the four miles.The station is perched high up on the hillside and is on the Settle to Carlisle line and is the highest operational station on the National Rail network in England.

The station house itself is now a private house and as there was no means to buy a ticket we had a free ride to the Ribblehead Railway Station There was more life here and thankfully the station master, who was manning a small shop had a key to the loo. Feeling relieved (quite literally!), off we set down the path towards the Ribblehead Viaduct.

Ribblehead Viaduct

The viaduct is very impressive and what a lovely day it was to sit around waiting for the train to go across. I’m rather proud of the picture below even though it’s quite a distant shot. Of course no sooner had we spotted the train coming it was over the viaduct in next to no time but it had been a great sight and we felt it had definitely been worth coming up here.

Steam locomotive 34046 Braunton built in 1946.

We didn’t get a free train journey on the way back and felt the price to go just a few miles and only one stop was expensive but as we had only paid for one way, we had no grounds to complain! Had another hearty meal that night at The Dalesman pub in Sedbergh, our second visit. Excellent reasonably priced pub food and good wine and beer.

View from the train heading from Ribblehead station to Dent station.

For our last day in Cumbria we decided to drive to Ullswater, after all we were staying near ‘The Lakes’. It’s true to say that roads in this part of the world mean the journey takes quite a while irrespective of what is says on the map. Being on holiday we weren’t in a hurry but I imagine some of the locals get a little frustrated with tourists clogging up the narrow country roads.

Stopping en route to buy yet another excellent baguette for lunch from the friendly Spar shop in Sedburgh we headed off towards Ullswater, 35miles. We noticed lots of signs alerting us to red squirrels in the area, unfortunately the only ones we saw were on the signs. Our first stop was the car park for the National Trust’s wood and waterfall known as Aira Force. It’s a popular place and finding a space to park wasn’t easy but we managed it. The woods are lovely with lots of very interesting trees, mostly evergreen, loved by red squirrels but they weren’t coming out that day.

The river is so clear and although the path in places is a little tricky we thoroughly enjoyed the circular walk going across the river and down the other side. Before that we stopped to take pictures of the waterfall including from the viewing platform which at present is closed due to a fallen tree.

Aira Force waterfall and a rare picture of me!
Clear water cutting through the granite rock.

Leaving the woods and feeling ready for lunch we found a pleasant spot at the side of Ullswater. Our friend who knows the area well said we were lucky to find anywhere during the summer months!

Beautiful Ullswater.

We could have stayed there for the rest of the afternoon but decided to go over to Ambleside. It’s a narrow, twisty road up and over the Kirkstone Pass beginning in Patterdale and ending in Ambleside. With its 1 in 4 gradient, stunning views all round, it’s a great drive and is the highest pass in the Lake District.

Kirkstone Pass (r.h. picture features Lake Windemere).

As you can see it’s quite some road and probably not one to tackle in the ice and snow. I’m not going to say too much about Ambleside other than it seemed very crowded after all the other places we’d been to. The weather was starting to close in and was getting quite chilly so we decided to have a hot drink …a good idea you would think. Unfortunately both the tea and the coffee at this lake-side cafe were terrible so we left after a short while and headed back to the tranquility of Sedbergh and ‘The Old Dairy’.

The ‘poshest’ place in the town to eat is The Black Bull and as it was the last night of our holiday we booked a table. We weren’t disappointed; the food was delicious and the restaurant had a great atmosphere. It was the perfect choice for our ‘final’ meal of the holiday.

I hope this account of our holiday in Cumbria might inspire you to visit this area. We only saw a couple of the lakes and just explored a small part of this beautiful county but it was enough to whet our appetite for The Lake District and I know we’ll be back.

A week away in Cumbria

Usually by early summer we would have been on our way to France but of course this year has been different. The option to travel abroad wasn’t easy so we got out travel books for the UK, discounted some areas, made a list of possibles, whittled it down and decided on Cumbria. What a good choice!

Next step was to find an Airbnb for our week’s stay. Once again we made a good decision. The Green is just outside the market town of Sedbergh It’s an interesting town with good local shops, pubs, restaurants and the best fish & chips you’ll find anywhere. We were very happy in ‘The Old Dairy at The Green’ which was quiet, being the end ‘outbuilding’ of what used to be a working farm. There were lovely views all around and inside had everything we needed. Viv and Ernie were excellent hosts – on hand if we needed anything but otherwise left us to enjoy our time there.

‘The Green’ near Sedbergh, just in the county of Cumbria.

I should mention that our first stop before arriving at our Airbnb was at Kendal for something to eat. It’s just six miles off the M6 motorway and only twelve miles to Sedbergh. Kendal is a bustling town which we instantly liked. A pot of tea at one of the many cafes and a thick slab of delicious toasted fruit bread set us up for the afternoon.

After settling ourselves into the cosy ‘Old Dairy we drove into Sedbergh. We could have walked in but we had had quite a long journey. It’s easy to park just near the High Street and walk through the town. We would thoroughly recommend ‘The Dalesman’ a 16th century coaching inn where we had an excellent meal and a good pint of beer.

One of the many interesting ‘snickets’ off the main road in Sedbergh, (top picture) and the stunning countryside all around the town.

Our second day and time to walk off our meal from the night before. (Meals are very ‘hearty’ in this part of the world)! We took one of the recommended walks from the information cards in the airbnb and what an interesting walk it was.

First of all we walked down the lane to the village of Millthrop then crossed the river Rawthey and into Akay Woods. There used to be a Georgian manor house there which eventually after years of neglect was bought by Sedbergh School and demolished in the 1930’s. There’s very little left but one archway stands proudly almost taken over by nature.

One of the last remnants of the Manor House built around 1824. Nearby is this landmark, appropriately-named, ‘The Pepperpot’.

Coming out of the woods the first thing you see on the horizon is ‘The Pepperpot’. It’s a well known landmark and sits just feet away from the Dales Way path. The building is believed to be around 100 years old and is commonly thought to have been built as an isolation house for the daughter who lived at the Manor House who had Tuberculosis. In spring 2015 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded Sedbergh School Foundation a grant to rebuild ‘The Pepperpot’.

We then walked across the fields admiring the stunning scenery. There was a short tunnel underneath the disused railway line with surprisingly, a horse standing above us, minding its own business. We carried on after having a few words with him and crossed another field to Brigflatts.

On the left is an old stone step stile. As for the horse …we didn’t expect to see him standing on the disused railway line!

There are just a few houses here including one very historic Grade 1 listed building. The Friends’ Meeting House was built in 1675 and is the second oldest of its kind in the country. We would have gone inside but the Quakers had a meeting and were sat in the garden absorbed with their thoughts. We retraced our steps up the lane and then a short distance along the A683 before taking the Dales Way path alongside the river.

Brigflatts Meeting House c1675.

It was a beautiful walk along the river even though it started rain and boy did it rain! We were thankful to get back to The Old Dairy to dry out.

Start of the path following the river. (Top picture). Bottom right is where we were staying with the Winder Hill behind.
It’s absolutely pouring down!

We more or less dried out after lunch which was just as well as we were going to visit friends who live in Silverdale. I went to Uni with them. It’s always lovely when we meet up and great to see their two girls. One is a star baker and had made a delicious chocolate cake with fruit on top. After tea, cake and much talking we decided to risk the weather and go fishing for minnows.

Those minnows just didn’t want to be caught!

Having spent a lovely afternoon with our friends we drove back in the pouring rain stopping at Kirkby Lonsdale to look at the 14th century ‘Devil’s Bridge’ (I also liked the other bridge which spans the river there) and to have a pub meal. They certainly go in for big portions at The Orange Tree however the food was hale and hearty and perfect for a very wet, dull evening. Good beer too.

Cumbria was certainly living up to its reputation for rain but then we hadn’t come here for the weather. We were hoping that it wouldn’t rain all week …

The more modern road bridge just up river from the c14th Devil’s Bridge.

The third day of our holiday and it was time to do some more serious walking. The obvious hill to climb is Winder which dominates the skyline but it’s a big hill and my man didn’t feel his knees were up to it. Actually, I don’t think I could have climbed up there either. So we chose to walk up to the waterfall called appropriately Cautley Spout – great name. It’s England’s highest waterfall and cascades down the eastern side of the Howgill Fells at the head of a glacial valley.  There are several walks you can do but we took the easier option of parking on the road and walking up from there.

Our walk to Cautley Spout and a wonderful view down the valley.

You can probably tell from the pictures that it was an overcast day and by the time we got close to the waterfall it was pouring down and getting quite slippery. Amazing view though down the valley so it was all worth it.

Cautley Spout – England’s highest waterfall.

What we needed now was a warm meal and a hot drink. The beauty of this walk is that just by where you park is a four hundred year-old pub, The Cross Keys Inn. It’s a temperance pub, owned by the National Trust and run by a lovely couple serving delicious homemade food. It was once possible to buy alcohol at the Cross Keys but the then landlord was drowned when trying to help a customer home from the Inn. ‚ÄčThe next owner, Mrs. Edith Bunney removed the licence in 1902. She left the property to the National Trust who now let it to Alan and Christine Clowes. We didn’t sit on any of the chairs in either rooms as we were soaked and instead sat in the conservatory enjoying watching all the birds flying down onto the terrace and the view up towards the waterfall. This is a place truly set in a different time and the good news is that when you have an evening meal there you’re welcome to take your own alcoholic beverages. 

Inside the Cross Keys Inn.

You’ll have to believe me as I didn’t take a picture but in the afternoon the sun came out so we sat in the field alongside ‘The Old Dairy’ enjoying the weather and a good book. In the evening we had an excellent meal at ‘Al Forno’, the Italian restaurant in Sedbergh. It had just re-opened after having to close temporarily as a member of staff had had to self-isolate. (These are unusual times …). Good to see that every table was full.

We’re almost half-way through our holiday and a good place to end this part of the Blog. It will continue … Thanks for reading it. Don’t be put off with all the rain I’ve mentioned; this really is a lovely part of England and well worth exploring.