Monday, October 01, 2012


And so to Cartmel.  South of the Lake District, between the Furness peninsula and the M6, is the Cartmel peninsula.  This was at once very familiar and totally unknown to me, because for about twenty years my elder sister and her family farmed there.  So I would call in for tea as I drove North to stay with my parents in West Cumbria, but never spent any time exploring the immediate area.  This seems incomprehensible now, but it is so.  After all, I would have driven three hundred miles from Essex by that point, so sightseeing was not on my mind.

Now, though, we took a little holiday cottage in order to explore the southern lakes.  In fact, we spent the whole week in the peninsula itself.

Cartmel has an absolutely glorious priory dating from 1289.  The original founder fortuitously inserted a clause about it being really a parish church, so it was spared the ruination it might have had in the sixteenth century.  The first view of the great window certainly induces awe. 

Around the priory the village has the full complement of teashops, excellent restaurants and a shop specialising in the sticky toffee pudding.  What more can one ask?

We took walks out along the coast, where stretches of salt-marsh lead to Morecambe Bay.  Over Humphrey Head we realised that we were walking on limestone pavement, and that the flora was that special kind only seen on this terrain.

As we sat eating lunch my husband spotted egrets and a heron.  We saw peregrines feeding.

Passing through Flookburgh, we stopped to buy shrimp and flooks (a flat fish, like plaice) from the home of a fishing family who take their tractor out into the bay and cast their nets.  Everywhere there was a sense of a more ancient way of life still being lived. 

Another day we visited Holker Hall, a charming property still lived in by the Cavendish family.  Very interesting to see somewhere presented without the somewhat uniform manner of the National Trust, much as we love that organisation.  Holker burned down in the late Victorian period and was rebuilt within four years.  Everywhere there is evidence of the woodworking skills of the Simpsons of Kendal.

The gardens are magical, with many eye-catching features such as this fountain.

Another perfect day started with a trip on a steam railway.

From there we walked to Stott Park Bobbin Mill where we learned about the once thriving industry producing cotton spools for the textile indusry, using locally coppiced wood and water power.  It was fascinating to see the original techniques demonstrated, and to see how those wooden cotton reels were turned.

  From there we took a hike up Gummer's How, at the end of Windermere, where the views and the ascent are breath-taking.  Very evident here are the autumn colours of the bracken.

We were sorry to leave.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It all looks wonderful - I shall have add it to my-places-to-visit list!