Coniston Water and Brantwood

After visiting Grasmere we drove on to Coniston Water on the way to our next overnight stop in Derbyshire. It was a lovely day and thankfully Coniston Water wasn’t nearly as busy as other places in the Lake District – such as Ambleside which always seems to be heaving.

We were making our way to Brantwood which is the lovely house that the writer, art critic, philosopher, philanthropist and environmentalist John Ruskin bought, it is situated high above Coniston Water and these photos were taken from the grounds at the front of the house.

Coniston Water

Coniston Water

Coniston Water

You can see in the photo below that there are lots of wee boats and yachts in the lake. This lake inspired Arthur Ransome to write his Swallows and Amazons series.
Coniston Water

And below is a photo of Brantwood, it has marvelous views of the lake. Ruskin bought this house unseen as he had often holidayed at Coniston and at a time when he was ill he thought that if only he could lie down in the water at Coniston he would get better. It must have worked as he lived here for many years.

Brantwood, Coniston

I suspect that the one thing that everyone knows about John Ruskin is that his wife had to go to court to get an annulment for non-consummation of the marriage. That harmed his reputation for a long time but that was just a small part of a long life which included many interests. He was interested in educating ordinary working people, at this time education in England was in a very poor state compared with in Scotland. He was involved with progressive schools for girls, and he also set up workshops that trained and employed people who would probably otherwise be unemployed and destitute.

I’ll show you some photos of the inside of the house soon.

Grasmere, Lake District

Grasmere is very touristy, click the link to see some lovely photos and read about the area. The first time we went there though I was quite surprised that the lake isn’t lapping the houses though. It’s a fair wee walk from the centre of the small town to the lake if you aren’t used to much walking.

Grasmere

If you go to Grasmere you really have to buy some Grasmere gingerbread, it is very tasty and is unlike any other gingerberad I’ve had. It isn’t soft for one thing, but I thought it was different from the last batch we sampled a few years ago. Possibly it’s one of those things that’s never the same twice and depends on how many clouds are in the sky! Or is that just a chemist’s excuse?

Grasmere

As lakes go it’s nice enough but not a patch on Coniston which has links with Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons books. But more about that later.

The aerial photo below is from the Visit Cumbria site.
grasmere

Around Grasmere, Lake District

The photos below are of the view we had from the window of our hotel room just outside Grasmere in the Lake District. I took these ones in the morning, but I was so annoyed when I looked out of it because when we arrived the night before it had been full of unusual grey fleeced sheep, and I didn’t take a photo of them as I thought the light wasn’t good enough.

farmland, outside Grasmere
I’m not great at getting to sleep when I’m away from home and I wasn’t helped by the sound of an owl hoo-oo-ooting. It must have been sitting on the roof directly above our bed, but it sounded like it was sitting on the bedhead, and it was one of those spooky sounding owls. It went on for quite a while only stopping now and again when I imagine it must have flown off on a hunting expedition, before alighting above us again. It was definitely a different experience.
farmland, Grasmere

Very early in the morning I had been woken up by some dogs barking outside and I did think in a woolly way that they must have been sheep dogs and my brain just didn’t click to the fact that they were rounding the sheep up, taking them to new pastures – I hope.

The view of across the road from the hotel is really quite different as you can see.
hills outside Grasmere
It’s much more mountainous although maybe I should say craggy as by Scottish standards these are really just hills. I love the stone built farm buildings they have in this area.
scenery outside Grasmere
The Lake District does seem a bit like a mini Scotland – with loads more tourists. It’s not really that far from the ‘debatable lands’ of the Scottish Borders which were always being fought over.
hills outside Grasmere

I took some photos of the types of houses that are in Grasmere. The one below is so wonderfully craggy and solid looking and I’ve never seen chimney stacks like that before. This house is close to Dove Cottage.
House + chimneys

In complete contrast whitewashed houses like the one below always seem quite fragile to me and remind me of iced cakes. I’ll be completely un-pc and say that as I often think of houses as having characters then the top craggy one is definitely male whilst the whitewashed one is veering towards femininity!

typical Lake District house

The burn/stream below edges the graveyard that the Wordsworths are buried in. I did take a photo of the lovely wee bridge over it but sadly it came out all blurred.
Burn, Grasmere

If you want to see more images of the village of Grasmere have a look here.

The Japanese Garden at Cowden

I haven’t managed to sort through the Lake District photos yet so I thought I would do a post on the Japanese Garden that we visited a couple of weeks ago. It’s at Cowden Castle, between the small village of Dunning and Yetts o’ Muckhart. Yes that is a place, ‘yett’ just means gate.

The garden isn’t finished yet, it has undergone a lot of refurbishment as it has lain neglected for many years and has only recently been opened to the public again after being closed for years. It was originally created in 1908 but was closed to the public in 1955. It has taken three years of work to get it to this stage but there’s still some work to do on it.

Acer at Japanese Garden, Cowden

In 1925 this garden was described by Profesor Jijo Suzuki as the most important Japanese garden in the western world.

pond and bridge

There’s a Zen garden, not my favourite kind but still intersting. Obviously there are a lot of cherry trees that have been newly planted so I’ll have to go back there around next May to see what they look like.

dry garden /Zen garden

Stepping stones are a big feature of the gardens and you can even walk across the pond/loch using them – if you have good balance!

acer

apond and bridge

We visited the gardens the day after Storm Ali which caused mayhem in some places with lots of trees keeling over as they were still in full leaf, but these gardens are set in a sort of wee glen so they’re quite sheltered, only one tree seemed to have been blown over.
looking back to pond

Pond and Bridge

There’s twenty acres of woodland to walk in if you have the time and energy. Before going here we had a look online to see what people said about the place. Some comments were less than complimentary, but we had a lovely time, the staff were welcoming and the soup in the cafe was very tasty – what more can you ask?!

Cove, Scottish Borders

Cove harbour

One day last month we went to visit Eric and his family and that always means a lovely walk to the wee harbour at nearby Cove. The water was so tranquil, but there were no scuba divers around.

cottages at Cove

The cottages are still standing despite no doubt being pounded by storms at times, these are the only ones left of what was once quite a large fishing community.

harbour and headland

harbour and headland

This wee harbour is almost like a secret, you really need to know someone who knows the place as you have to walk through a dark tunnel which was created by digging through a hillside. It’s still quite easy to imagine how it must have been when it was home to lots of families though. If you’re interested you can read more about the history of Cove here.

Random photos

I must have walked past this window in St Andrews hundreds of times but I only noticed it recently. The buildings are generally very old but this is obviously an Art Nouveau/Arts and Crafts window, somebody did a bit of refurbishment over the years.

Art Nouveau Glass Window

Across the road I noticed the stone owls sitting on the edge of the portico. I think that like many buildings in St Andrews this one is owned by the university, so presumably the owls are symbolic of wisdom and learning.

Owls

It’s rare to see an empty street nowadays, they’re usually full of parked cars on both sides of the street, but on their Open Arts Festival in Cellardyke, a coastal village in Fife, the place was deserted of cars for once. The clutch of red balloons being the only evidence of modernity, denoting where an artist was exhibiting work.
Cellardyke

I took the photo below in the fair city of Perth, the hanging baskets and window boxes were looking so lovely. I think the rather grand looking building was a bank originally – remember them?!
hanging baskets

I have visited the small town of Dunkeld hundreds of times as it’s one of my favourite places, but I had only ever been into the cathedral ruins there. The photo below is of the newer cathedral which is obviously still in use as a place of worship.
Dunkeld Cathedral Stained Glass

The photo below is the view of Dunkeld that you get as you drive over the bridge.
Dunkeld From Bridge over the River Tay

After visiting the cathedral I walked over the bridge to get a photo of the River Tay. I’ve never seen it so low before, there were actually people walking out to the ‘islands’.
River Tay From Bridge at Dunkeld

I bet it was still cold though!

Cellardyke

A couple of weeks ago we visited the Bowhouse craft and food/drink fair near St Monans in the east neuk of Fife. They are a fairly regular occurrence, no-doubt a product of farmers having to diversify nowadays as the venue is a group of barns. Anyway, we had a nice time there and bought a few things. It’s a fair trek from where we live though so as it was a lovely afternoon we decided to drive on a couple of miles along to through the coastal fishing villages and ended up at Cellardyke. Below is a photo of the Firth of Forth with the Isle of May in the distance. It’s a haven for birdlife of course.

Isle of May

There are some really old houses, some of them are quite pretty I think and they seem to stand up to the icy blast of the North Sea well, but I wouldn’t want to live in one.

Old House

I’ve been told that the ground floor of these houses used to be used just to store the fishing gear, which would make sense as I suspect the sea comes in to visit them now and again, so I would much rather have my living quarters upstairs.

Old House

If you walk along to the end of the village and go up to the war memorial you are high enough to get a good view of the rooftops and sea.

Houses and Sea, Cellardyke

The houses on the left hand of this street back onto the sea, this photo was taken on an earlier visit, when we went there to see the local art exhibition. The red balloons in the distance mean that that house has artworks on view and for sale.

Cellardyke

And below is the view from behind those houses. The big pole is one of only a couple that are left now, they were for hanging the fishing nets on in the olden days, so they are historic really. I find them quite obtrusive but people seem to like them.
Cellardyke
But the place to hang your washing/laundry is at the harbour as you can see from the photo below. These washing lines are well used by the locals although if it blows too hard your washing is likely to end up in Norway!
washing

Lastly a close up of Isle of May. We had intended taking a boat trip to this island, mainly to see the puffins, but so far we haven’t made it. It takes a couple of hours to get there. Last year we really didn’t fancy being stuck out on a boat in what seemed to be endless rain last so-called summer. This year we didn’t fancy getting roasted by the sun on the trip, not that I’m complaining.

Isle of May

Backhouse Rossie Estate Gardens, Fife, Scotland

The day after we inadvertently visited the lovely wee village of Collessie we managed to find Backhouse Rossie Estate. It was a gloriously sunny day, but dare I say it – too hot! The gardens are wonderful, the only downside being that we were there just after the climbing roses had finished, I must remember to go earlier next year. The estate is actually on the road to the small town of Auchtermuchty – yes that IS a real place name.
a Backhouse Rossie Estate,entrance + planters

As you can see, there’s woodland beyond the walled garden. We did go for a walk there, mainly to get into some shade.
flowers , Backhouse Rossie Estate

flowers , Backhouse Rossie, Estate, Fife

flowers,  Backhouse Rossie Estate

flowers , Backhouse Rossie Estate, Fife

This fountain is one of the more traditional water features.
fountain, Backhouse Rossie Estate, Fife
There’s a rill leading to a pond.
rill and pond

You can’t really see it in the photo below but the rill is filled by the water which bubbles up from this stylish sculpture.
rill source

The photo below is of the East Lomond hill, a view over the garden fence, not a bad setting for an estate.
East Lomond and fields from estate

I took lots of photos so there’ll probably be a couple more blogposts about this lovely estate garden.

A Woodland Walk in Balbirnie, Fife

Let’s pretend that we’re going on a wee walk through the local woodlands in Fife. I took these photos on May 20th just when we were grabbing every good day – just in case it was the last of the summer.
Bluebells

It was such a late spring that a week or so before these photos were taken there was hardly any sign of green at all, but suddenly everything just exploded when our seemingly never ending winter lost its grip. There’s a wee wooden bridge in the distance – it’s perfect for playing Poohsticks, but I usually just hang over it nowadays looking for fish, and sometimes I see one or two.
Burn

Burn

The burn is fairly silent until it reaches a tumble of stones and old displaced cobbles, evidence of what had been a ford until the rushing water took its toll.
Burn

woodland path

Here and there there are groves of these ferns, so elegant looking as they unfurl, I think they might be Shuttlecock ferns but there are so many different kinds, I’m not sure. I’ve just noticed that there are hogweeds beginning to grow on the edges, I hope they don’t eventually crowd the ferns out.

Ferns
Ferns
This woodland was part of a Victorian private estate but is now freely open to the public.
Ferns

It’s not all green!
Trees

We’ve now reached the rhododendrons, these ones were obviously planted here because they’re directly opposite the front windows of the ‘big hoose’ which is now a hotel. I just noticed a couple of days ago that those posts with wire fencing on them to the far right of the photo below have small padlocks attached to them, so that fad which started in Paris must still be ongoing, crazy, but no doubt the padlock manufacturers are happy about it. I think the ‘fence’ looks completely out of place though.
Rhoddies

Rhoddies

I hope that that stretched your legs a bit and maybe cooled you down if you’re still stuck in intense heat. The rain arrived here today, I’m not complaining about it as it’s badly needed, I just wish that we could arrange for it just to rain overnight!

Scotland – from the Guardian

the Guardian

Yesterday’s’s Travel section of the Guardian is a Scotland special, so if you want to see some lovely photos of Scotland have a look here for sailing.

here for hiking’walking

and here for eight of the best beaches.