Lanercost Priory

On our way up to Scotland in June we travelled via The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle and Lanercost Priory. At The Bowes we looked at the latest exhibition Shoes : Pleasure and Pain; saw the famous automaton Swan in limited action and enjoyed a lovely selection of portraits of English women: English Rose – Feminine Beauty from Van Dyck to Sargent. Our Art Fund cards gave us free admission to everything and the Museum – a French Chateau plonked down in the Yorkshire Dales – has a good cafe and well-stocked shop.

Bowes Museum

The Bowes Museum

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Armathwaite Signal Box and Local FoSCL Walk

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John at The Signal Box

Saturday 7 May : Armathwaite Signal Box visit & short walk, 7 miles Moderate
Visit the restored signal box and optional short circular walk. Coombs Wood – Longdales – Ainstable – Armathwaite. Alight (11.15 connects with 08.49 train from Leeds) & return Armathwaite (16.32 train to Leeds). (For signal box visit only return on 14.40 train). (J&TJ) [John and Tracey Johnson]

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Coop House in Cumbria before Christmas

we are here

The tree is decorated, the presents have been bought and the cards have been written and posted. But there’s still shopping and cooking to be done and there are gifts to be wrapped so what better time could there be to take off for a 2 night pre-Christmas break, literally away-from-it-all, at a Landmark at Netherby in Cumbria – Coop House? Continue reading

The Leeds Library Summer Day Out In The Lake District

How can you tell you’re on a summer day trip to the Lake District? Yes, it teems with rain all day long. Still, we were not deterred as we waited for our coach to pick us up at Bramhope Church bus stop. We hoped the rain would cease but unfortunately it didn’t. Never mind our main aims were not to climb  the peaks nor to stride out across the fells but to make indoor visits to The Armitt Library in Ambleside in the morning and to Blackwell near Bowness in the afternoon.

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How true! How true!

Armitt

The Armitt Library was founded by the will of Mary Louise Armitt and the wishes of her two sisters, “to create a collection of books of scientific, literary and antiquarian value” for the “student and book-lover”, and eventually a small museum. It was opened in 1912, and embodied the old 1828 Ambleside Book Society, of which William Wordsworth had been a member, and the Ambleside Ruskin Library, founded by Hardiwcke Rawnsley in 1882 with the active support of John Ruskin. The Library is now in a purpose-built home just north of Ambleside on the Rydal Road.

In 1934 Beatrix Potter gave many of her watercolours and drawings of fungi, mosses and fossils to the  Armitt Library some of which are on display. She had become a member on her marriage to William Heelis in 1913 who was the Library’s solictor since 1912.”

Potter's work

Admiring Potter’s drawings and watercolours

The Armitt Museum houses so much more than just the original core book collection. Alongside the story of Beatrix Potter and the Lake District is a large collection of her exquisite drawings, the library of The Fell and Rock Climbing Club and a gallery devoted to the work of German artist Kurt Schwitters.

Edith Thomas

Portrait of Edith Thomas by Kurt Schwitters

Born in Hanover in 1887, he studied art at Dresden, but it was not until the Dada movement of 1916 that he finally liberated himself from conventional art. Schwitters took from Dada the freedom to use what materials he wanted to in his pictorial compositions … In 1937 for a variety of compelling reasons Schwitters left Hanover for Norway, never to return to his home again. The Norwegian experience was mixed … and in 1940 Schwitters and his son fled to Britain where they were both interned on the Isle of Man. Afterwards Schwitters lived in London until the end of the war in 1945, when he moved to Ambleside where he remained until his death in poverty and obscurity in 1948. Schwitters never received the recognition in Britain he had enjoyed in Europe, and his art did not sell. However, in 1947 he was fortunate enough to start his third Merzbau in a barn in Elterwater. Regrettably only a fragment was completed before his death, and this small monument to his genius can now be seen in the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle.” [Armitt Museum website]

Fell and Rock Collection

Books on an Alpine theme

After lunch in Windermere we continued to Blackwell the Arts and Crafts House overlooking Lake Windermere. This was my second visit to the house, my first being in 2002 which was not long after the house was opened to the public.

Blackwell

When the architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott (1865 – 1945) built a holiday home overlooking Windermere for his client Sir Edward Holt, a brewer from Manchester, he created Blackwell, a masterpiece of twentieth-century design; a perfect example of the Arts & Crafts Movement.

Enjoy a lovingly crafted day out at one of the most enchanting historic houses in the Lake District. When you visit you are invited to relax and immerse yourself in all the beauty and craftsmanship of Blackwell. We encourage you to sit and soak up the atmosphere in Blackwell’s fireplace inglenooks, which have fine examples of tiles by Arts & Crafts designer William de Morgan. The inviting window seats offer stunning views of the surrounding Lake District scenery. You can appreciate the house as it was originally intended, without roped-off areas.

Window 1

Stained glass window

Window 2

Another stained glass window

Window seat

Window Seat

Blackwell retains many of its original decorative features, including a rare hessian wall-hanging in the Dining Room, leaf-shaped door handles, curious window catches, spectacular plasterwork, stained glass and carved wooden panelling by Simpsons of Kendal. The rooms contain furniture and objects by many of the leading Arts & Crafts designers and studios – metalwork by WAS Benson, ceramics by Pilkingtons and Ruskin Pottery and furniture by Morris & Co., Stanley Webb Davies, Ernest Gimson and Baillie Scott himself.”

Fireplace 1

Fireplace

Fireplace 2

Another Fireplace (My Favourite)

For more and better pictures of Blackwell see here a fellow Blog Poster’s visit to the House earlier this year.

Windermere

 

Farewell to Armitt, Blackwell and Windermere, but not, alas, to rain … it followed us home.

 

Kirkby Stephen and Eden Viaducts Classic … And More Ruins!

Kirkby Stephen and Eden Viaducts Classic – 7mi Medium

Kirkby Stephen station – Tommy Road – Lammerside Castle – Nateby – Eden Viaducts – Kirkby Stephen. Alight (11.22) and return Kirkby Stephen. Connects with 09.47 train from Leeds. Return on vintage bus from Kirkby Stephen Town to Station or visit the Classic Vehicle Rally at Brough by vintage bus after the walk. (JD/DW)

Assembling for the walk

Leaders and walkers (and dogs) assemble at Kirkby Stephen Station

This was my plan for Easter Saturday to join the walk organised and led by volunteers of The Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line. Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria is, so far, the furthest that I have travelled up the line for a day out walking.

KS Station

Kirkby Stephen Station

 As at Dent Station it is possible to stay at Kirkby Stephen Station and you have a choice of accommodations :

Station cottages to let

Platform Cottage or Booking Office Cottage

Station Master's House to let

Or at The Station Master’s House at Ribblehead Station

The whole day was well worthwhile despite the delayed return home. The train journey alone up the Pennine Chain is incredibly beautiful and the emptiness and remoteness of the landscape never ceases to amaze.

Mallerstang

Mallerstang Common from near Tommy Road

Wild Boar Fell

Wild Boar Fell from our path near Tommy Road

Under the Settle Carlisle Line

Our path under the railway line

Turning off Tommy Road (before you ask, no-one seems to know why it is called Tommy Road) we headed under the Settle-Carlisle Railway line and on to our picnic lunch spot Lammerside Castle.

Lammerside Castle 1

Lammerside Castle with Mallerstang behind

The ruined castle is on private land by the public footpath/bridleway passes alongside. The website [below] also shows an interesting aerial photograph of the site.

Lammerside Castle 2

Lammerside Castle is a 12th century building which was rebuilt and strengthened in the 14th century as a Pele tower, to provide protection against Scots raiders. It is situated on the bridle path between Pendragon Castle and Wharton Hall.
The ruins include the upstanding remains of a C14 tower or wing which originally formed part of the building’s central core, together with the earthwork remains of buildings to the north and south of the tower and a barmkin wall which enclosed a yard to the west of the tower.

Lammerside Castle 3
The castle was occupied by a branch of the Wharton family, but is thought to have been abandoned in C17, when the family moved to the fortified manor house, Wharton Hall, near Kirkby Stephen.
The tower is constructed of coursed, squared rubble, measures 14m by 11m, with a barrel-vaulted ground floor, and survives to two storeys high.” [Website]

From the Castle ruins after lunch our route took us past Wharton Hall itself described here on the Visit Cumbria website.

Wharton House

Wharton Hall

Part of Wharton House

[Wharton Hall] is a very impressive 14th century tower house with a gatehouse, internal courtyard and out buildings dating up to the 17th century. The gatehouse, although ruined is very solid, and together with the curtain wall, completely surrounds the medieval courtyard.

Crossing the River Eden and passing close by the village of Nateby we later arrived at our next point of interest – The Eden Viaducts.

Eden Viaducts track

The Northern Viaduct Trust acquired part of the old Stainmore Railway track and several walks have been developed in the area connecting with the trackbed of the former railway.

Just above and to the south of Kirkby Stephen ran the long forgotten and scenically majestic Stainmore Railway. For a 100 years it linked Darlington with Tebay and Penrith, a 60-mile steam- worked railway across some spectacularly engineered viaducts.” [From Leaflet]

Platelayers Hut info

Abandoned Platelayers’ Hut now provides Information

Information boards are provided in the Platelayers’ Huts along the former track and there is some overlap with a Poetry Path around Kirkby Stephen town. Read here also about Thomas Bouch the engineer responsible for this dramatic railway and his ill-fated Tay Railway Bridge.

Poetry stone

Poetry Stone on the Poetry Path

Poetry close up

Poetry Stone close-up

Signal box remains

Today’s Ruins of a Signal Box and the Box in better days

Merrygill Viaduct

Merrygill Viaduct

Leaving the Viaducts behind us we joined the Coast-to-Coast Long Distance Footpath for the final leg of the walk into Kirkby Stephen where everyone was having a fun time at the street stalls, fairground rides and viewing and riding on the vintage vehicles.

Approaching KS

Approaching Kirkby Stephen along the Coast-to-Coast path

Coast to Coast at KS

Coast-to-Coast Path Sign at Frank’s Bridge, Kirkby Stephen

KS

Kirkby Stephen on Easter Saturday

Our walk officially ended in Kirkby Stephen but there were plenty of free vintage buses to take us the final one and a half miles up to the railway station. I caught the number 134 Routemaster London Double-Decker (diverted from it’s Highgate Route). Unfortunately at the station I had a very long wait – I had just missed the 15.22, the 16.39 was cancelled and the 17.14 was running over an hour late. But it was such an interesting walk and the train had brought us so high up that we could enjoy wonderful extensive views with very little climbing effort. Even the delays in getting home didn’t take the shine off the day.

Vintage 134 Routemaster London Bus

My Vintage Red London Bus at Kirkby Stephen Station

A Founder of British Geology and The Terrible Knitters of Dent

Leeds Station sign

“Sat 22 Mar – Dentdale Explorer – 7mi Moderate

Dent Station – Cowgill – Dales Way – Whernside Manor – Deepdale – Coventree – Dent Village. Alight (12.12) and return Dent. Connects with 10.49 train from Leeds. (JD/DW) Please ring to book your place on the return minibus from Dent Village to Dent Station. [About 5 miles]”

Ribblehead Station

That was the description of the guided walk organised by the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line on Saturday. Leaving Leeds in bright sunshine and with a cloudless blue sky we arrived at Dent Station to a rain shower closely followed by a hail storm which turned into blinding snow. By the time we (five of us) reached Cowgill and the Dee valley bottom all weathers had cleared temporarily but we were beset by rain showers (some heavy) and cold winds for most of the walk.

Cowgill signpost

Signpost at Cowgill – formerly in the West Riding of Yorkshire and complete with OS Grid Reference

Much of our route followed the Dales Way long distance path that crosses the country from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness on the shores of Lake Windermere. I’m familiar with and have walked most of  it between Ilkley and Yockenthwaite so it was interesting to fill in a section with which I was not familiar. As we left Cowgill we were able to pick out across the river the 150 year old church of St John, Cowgill. My Dales Way Companion by Paul Hannon tells me that “Outside are the unmarked graves  of smallpox victims from railway construction days.”

Cowgill Church

Cowgill Church

With variations in the weather tracks took us across fields, through former pinewoods, along quiet country lanes past waterfalls at full spate, ancient farm buildings and a deserted chapel.

View from lunch spot

View from our lunch spot

Former pine woods now cleared

Former Pine Woods now cleared

Waterfalls

Chapel

The deserted chapel near Whernside Manor

Ancient building

Ancient Farm Building

Arriving Dent

First View of Dent

Finally and quite suddenly we arrived at the quiet backwater village of Dent. At some point we must have crossed the border between North Yorkshire and Cumbria for, although within the boundary of The Yorkshire Dales National Park, Dent is in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria. On Saturday afternoon the village was very quiet. The cobbled streets were practically deserted. We had about an hour to explore before catching the bus back up the valley to the rather mis-named Dent station nearly 5 miles away.

Dent Village

The Main Streets in Dent

Our leader Duncan first explained some of the history of Dent. One notable son was Adam Sedgwick one of the founders of British Geology. Sedgwick was born in Dent in 1785 the son of the local vicar.

Sedgwick Birthplace

The Old Vicarage – Adam Sedgwick’s Birthplace

Memorial stone

Granite Memorial to Adam Sedgwick in Dent Main Street

He was educated at nearby Sedbergh School and went up to Cambridge University where he became a Fellow in 1810 and by 1818 he was Woodwardian Professor of Geology. Read more about Sedgwick and his geological studies here. The Cambridge University Earth Sciences Museum is called The Sedgwick Museum.

We then learnt about the Terrible Knitters of Dent and the unusual knitting method they employed. The last of the knitters, Elizabeth Hartley and Elizabeth Middleton died in 2007 aged 93 and 91 years respectively.

3 storey house

Typical 3-storey house in Dent

There are two pubs and two tea shops in Dent but before heading for one of the cosy tea shops we had a look round the church.

The church of St. Andrew is a Norman foundation, though largely rebuilt in 1417 and restored in 1590. The top storey of the 1614 three-decker Jacobean pulpit is still in use. The chancel is paved with fossil-rich marble, quarried in Dentdale. The box pews were removed in 1889, much of the wood being used to panel the walls of village cottages. On the south side of the aisle are the famous pews of the 24 sidesmen. Originally yeomen farmers, today landowners of Dent, they have shared with the Bishop (now of Bradford) the patronage of the living since 1429.” [Source]

Pulpit

The Remainder of the Jacobean Pulpit

Marble Floor

Fossil-Rich Marble floor

The Western Dales Bus left Dent promptly at 17.05 and brought us back along the valley to Dent Station comfortably in time to catch the 17.32 train back to Leeds where I noted it had also been raining.

Self Catering at Dent Station

You can stay at Dent Railway Station!

Come and Stay

Bloomsbury and Beyond : The Radev Collection in Cumbria

Abbot Hall Gallery

The Abbot Hall Gallery, Kendal

Today I went on a Yorkshire Branch of The Art Fund trip over to Cumbria. Our main intention was to view The Radev Collection at Kendal’s Abbot Hall Art Gallery. We travelled to Kendal by coach from Leeds picking up in Ilkley and Gargrave on the way. The first stop was for lunch at the Strickland Arms just by the gates to Sizergh Castle. We arrived way ahead of schedule so some members went to view the exterior of the Castle (it doesn’t open until 1pm) but I remembered the nearby Low Sizergh Farm Shop and took my companion for a brisk walk and some retail therapy in the well-stocked deli.

At Low Sizergh Farm Shop

Welcome to The Farm Shop

After the soup and sandwich lunch we headed off for nearby Abbot Hall where the curator was ready and waiting to tell us about the Radev Collection and point out some of the highlights.

Inside Strickland Arms

Inside The Strickland Arms

The Radev Collection

The collection takes it name from Mattei Radev, a native of Bulagria who arrived in Britain in the 1950s as a stowaway on a cargo ship after fleeing from communism.

Radev went on to build a new life in England, becoming a leading picture framer for the London Galleries and mixing in the influential Bloomsbury circle which included writers, philosophers and artists, such as Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster.

He inherited most of the works from his friend the artist-dealer Eardley Knollys, who had in turn inherited them from music critic Eddy Sackville-West, following his death in 1965.

The impressive collection includes works by an array of notable artists including Duncan Grant, Alfred Wallis, Ivon Hitchens, Ben Nicholson, Keith Vaughan, Graham Sutherland, Pablo Picasso, Lucien Pissarro and Vanessa Bell.” [Source]

Photography was not allowed in the exhibition but the complete collection can be seen on the Radev Collection website of which 60 were selected for this touring exhibition. I had to be content with a photo from the gallery window.

River Kent from Abbot Hall

The Abbot Hall has an interesting permanent collection which includes a room of works by Kendal-born George Romney including the huge Gower Family in rooms furnished with a collection by local furniture-makers Gillows.

Gower Family

Romney’s The Gower Family

There’s also The Great Picture a magnificent tryptich of Lady Anne Clifford which used to hang in Appleby Castle. Read all about it here.

AH-Great-Picture-Header

The Great Picture

Our entry ticket to the Gallery also allowed us to visit The Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry where I’d remembered seeing years ago the display of Arthur Ransome memorabilia, books and prints and his desk. It’s still there.

Ransome's desk

We didn’t have time to inspect all the displays and it was soon time to return to the coach for journey back to Leeds.

Museum of Lakeland life

The Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry

The Pinecone : a Visit to St Mary’s Church, Wreay in Cumbria

Earlier this year I read Jenny Uglow’s latest book “The Pinecone : the story of Sarah Losh, forgotten Romantic heroine – antiquarian, architect and visionary”. I had heard Jenny speaking about the book at the 2012 Ilkley Literature Festival. Sarah Losh’s life and her work are almost totally unknown.

Pinecone book

The village of Wreay lies five miles south of Carlisle. Four country roads meet at the village green, shaded by trees, and across the way is the church. It looks like a small Romanesque chapel from northern Italy. What is it doing in this northern village, with the mountains of the Lake District to the west and the Pennines to the east?”

St Mary's Wreay

This is the premise for the book [on the back cover] and it’s a fascinating tale.  Jenny Uglow first sets the scene by telling the story of Sarah Losh’s antecedents who made money in Newcastle from alkali works and later from iron works and the railways. Sarah was born in 1786 and her sister Katharine, with whom she was especially close, in 1788. Their parents died in 1799 [their mother] and 1814 [their father]. The sisters were brought up in the countryside south of Carlisle but as adults they made several tours on the Continent including to Italy. This must be where Sarah received her inspiration. For women at the time they were very highly educated.

Mortuary Chapel

The Mortuary Chapel Across the Field from the Church

Following the death of their father and their travels on the Continent the Losh sisters returned home and began to make improvements to their home and estate and to the village of Wreay itself including the building of a school. But Katherine fell ill and died in 1835 and Sarah was inconsolable. She then directed her efforts to building a Mortuary Chapel modelled on one she had seen at St Piran in Cornwall.

Peep inside the church

Then Sarah began work on the new church 1835. It was completed in 1845. She declared that it was to be “Not in the Gothick style” but based on a Romanesque design and it is a masterpiece and very obviously the work of one person – the untrained architect and designer – Sarah Losh.

Sarah Losh portrait

Sarah Losh

I can’t go into all the details of both the interior and exterior decoration of the building. It’s a perfect gem – earning four stars in Simon Jenkins’ England’s Thousand Best Churches “This is one of the most eccentric small churches in England … unlike almost all the works in this book, Wreay appears to have been the creation of a single original mind … The Arts and Crafts Movement took half a century to catch up with her.”

Mausoleum

The Mausoleum

Katherine

Dedicated to Katherine Losh

There is a Mausoleum dedicated to her sister and an exact replica of the Bewcastle Cross (the original of which stands by Hadrian’s Wall) alongside the church. The Loshes, including Sarah and Katherine, are buried in a grave enclosure nearby.

Bewcastle Cross

The Bewcastle Cross

Mausoleum and cross and school

The Mausoleum and Cross with the School across the road

Losh sisters' grave

“IN VITA DIVISAE, IN MORTE CONJUNCTAE” – Parted in life, in death united”

I’m lucky to have a friend who lives not far from Wreay. I visited her in Carlisle last year. So last Thursday I took to the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle Line again to visit Wreay Church with June and her husband, David. We were lucky to arrive whilst a group were being shown round and had the good fortune to have access along with them to the small Mausoleum dedicated to Katherine.

Church door

The Ornate Church Door

East end with apse

The East End, with Apse

Altar

The Altar

Alabaster font

The Alabaster Font – Carved by Sarah

A pinecone

One of Many Pinecones

So, why the Pinecone? Because it is an ancient symbol of regeneration, fertility and inner enlightenment. It is a promise of rebirth.