| Maggie B Dickinson Cards, Writing & Photography
Railroads and Ghostly Runways
�gie B Dickinson
The ᮫y쩮e opened for business in 1846, on part of what is now the UK֩rgin West Coast Line. Linking Lancaster with Carlisle, near the Scottish border, this section takes in some of the wildest, loneliest and most magnificent scenery in the north of England.
A couple of miles off the route at Kendal the inhabitants campaigned for an extension to their town and beyond, to the Lake District settlement of Windermere (almost three miles uphill from its lake). The eight-mile branch opened in 1847 as the Kendal & Windermere Railway. It leaves the West Coast Lineation at Oxenholme and became known in its entirety as the Windermere Branch Line.
Along the way, three paper mills in the vicinity of Burneside and Cowan Head ed by the Cropper family - were served in 1879 by a narrow-gauge tramway connecting with the Kendal and Windermere line for the transportation of raw materials and finished goods. This was replaced in 1927 by a standard gauge branch line, the rails for which had been pilfered from the Turks in World War 1. The branch to Cowan Head was closed in 1965, although the siding at Burneside was used for coal until a year or two later.
A petrol engine named Rachel originally worked the Kendal and Windermere line but this was succeeded by a diesel called Rushton in 1951. This loco leads a privileged life now, on the 3�e stretch of the preserved Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, itself once a branch line of the Furness Railway, which closed in the 1960s.
It is believed that the original plan had been to extend the railway from Windermere as far as Keswick. William Wordsworth, Poet Laureate, was against any line encroaching on his beloved landscape per se because of the hordes of visitors it would encourage, thus spoiling the beauty and peace they had come to savour, and he began a literary campaign with letters and poems. In 1844 he wrote a sonnet on the subject, which was published in the Morning Post.
Wordsworth࣡mpaign was successful in part, in that the railway terminates at Windermere. It seemed fitting, therefore, that when I took my twin grandsons on a hike in the Lake District we should take in a tour of the great poetਯme at Rydal Mount at daffodil time.
The trip was a great success, enhanced by perfect weather for eating our food out of doors on the modest hill called Orrest Head. The panorama from there was stunning and afterwards, down by the lake, the yellow daffodils were dizzily fluttering in the breeze.
Finally, and in a relaxed mood, we climbed aboard the train at Windermere for the ten mile journey to Oxenholme and our connection back to Lancaster.
Not many minutes later we pulled into the small village of Burneside where one of the Cropper factories was still in operation, producing specialist paper. The village is a low-key settlement with a small mediaeval fortification at Burneside Hall, just the one pub, and a few hundred souls.
A lone hiker sat on the opposite platform and through the windows we watched a herd of cows lazily munching the grass. We were there for such an eternity, and the atmosphere was so utterly relaxing, that I began to wonder if the driver had fallen asleep.
And then it happened. The announcement. 堨ave now arrived at Manchester Airport,㡩d the electronic voice. To make matters worse, the words moving across the panel on the carriage wall were confirming what the disembodied voice had said.
As one of the largest international airports in the world, with a passenger throughput in excess of 22 million a year, Manchester airport and Burneside are an unlikely match. In any case the topography round Burneside doesnଥnd itself to runways.
We were still laughing and wiping away the tears of mirth when the train suddenly lurched away from the buttercups and daisies and headed at full speed for Kendal.
No doubt William Wordsworth could have recorded the delicious moment in prose for posterity.
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Greece & Her Islands
Pefki, South Crete. 19th October 1995
�gie B Dickinson
Six of us set off by hire car to the mountain village of Pefki. Mick, Vanessa, their twin three-year old sons Jack and Jim, my husband Arthur and me. We two had tried the journey without success the previous year - having been told that we could reach Pefki by car. Unfortunately its only approach was by shanks' pony, motorbike, or four-wheel drive as the road stopped short, at a bend which gave a tantalising view of its merits from afar. This included the village; a mixture of very old cottages and newer squarish dwellings creeping down the slopes of a mountain valley. The whole was dominated from high above by the church of Panagia Sta Perivolia which defied gravity from itࠬimestone pinnacle, and appeared to be accessible only by using a rock climberಯpe.
Since this visit, and thanks to the campaigning of Michael Michaelides of Analipsi on the coast, the road had been been completed and now linked the backwater with the outside world. This posed the question of how isolated some of the older villagers would have been over the years with their dependence on somewhat chauffeuring them to the coast in a 4WD. The recognised footpath didnযllow the course of the road but went via a rough route through a gorge on the west side of the village, making the round trip particularly arduous in the Cretan climate.
In 1995 we arrived in the village about 11 am without seeing another vehicle along the way and it was noted just before we got there that an unsurfaced dusty track led to the east. It was signposted "Lithines" and we presumed this was an even more isolated settlement.
Pefki was silent; silent as the grave, with only an odd villager in sight and a glorious peace that was punctuated by the call of a buzzard hovering above. We wandered up a narrow alleyway to the main village church, with its quaint red pantile roof. Originally dedicated to Agios Konstantinos and Agia Eleni it was later enlarged to incorporate a second aisle dedicating this Greek Orthodox church to the Three Fathers - St Basil, St Gregory the Theologian and St John Chrisostom. Their joint name day is 3rd January and in Greek history they are said to protect the schools.
The door to the church was locked. Jim suggested using the car key. Instead we wandered into the village burial ground, a beautifully-kept place with an abundance of flowers on the graves and framed pictures of the dead. Everything was in immaculate order.
A small water conduit passed the village houses, along narrow twisty ways that shot off at tangents and along which there were the droppings of hens, goats and donkeys. The houses bore only numbers and the alleys were without names.
Richly-coloured flowers graced the frontages. Tubs of striking geraniums with large blooms of red, white and mauve, were complemented with yellow and pink yellow roses reaching for the bedroom windows and jasmine bursting forth in huge highly-scented sprays. Here and there, contrasting strongly with the white walls, the showy cerise of bougainvillea splashed in all directions. More pungent that the rest was the aroma of herbs, growing out of cracks in the dry rocks and flags, mainly Oregano which is called Rigani in Greece.
A man on a donkey, which was draped with branches of greenery and hung with bags of vegetables, stopped on white-edged steps and held out his arms for Jack and Jim to have a ride. On a balcony above us, a lady in dark blue frock and matching headscarf laughed and called down to us "Thithimay.ɴ is the Greek word for twins and Vanessa and I, who fortunately had thought to wear long skirts to cover our legs, called back with a smattering of Greek pleasantries.
We found our way to a lone taverna, run by Eleni Stavrakakis. Outside was the most beautiful tree imaginable. Its bright green leaves and graceful branches were not dissimilar in form to the locust or even the mimosa tree. We understood later that this is an unusual tree on Crete and that while its official name is unknown the villagers call it a pepper tree. Under its spreading branches was a large circular object that served as a table. In its former life it had held massive electricity cabling but now, empty of cable it had been turned on its side and accommodated about half a dozen folk. A village elder who beckoned us to share the facility with him. We spread out Michael's book on the village, simply called "Pefki - Home of the Gods," and together we enjoyed looking at the images and playing charades in an effort to understand each other.
I noticed that the chairs had carved initials GK, which were those of her parents. Eleni explained in Greek that she was also a twin and stroked Jack and Jim档es, for the Greeks genuinely love children - especially twins.
Later, when we talked to Michael back in Analipsi, he told us about Christmas in Pefki. Of how the villagers put lights in every window, even the unoccupied houses. Then the old men play their accordians and bouzoukis, with the children all gathered round singing carols. When they are done everyone congregates at Eleni's taverna for a meal.
With a combination of mime and our limited Greek we explained that the church was locked. Eleni got the key and, along with several villagers, led us back. And as we snaked our way along the narrow ways she stopped every so often to point at the lovely flowers 硲dening being a serious pastime for the ladies of the village.
It was a beautifully simple church with rich and historical icons. We bought and lit a candle and then by example they encouraged us to kiss the icon of the Three Fathers. As we bid goodbye and made to leave Pefki the man with the donkey presented us with a gift ᠢag of pomegranates.
The trip to Pefki was a real pleasure, in which we shared an hour with genuinely friendly and hospitable people who had the precious commodity of time. Their welcome was warm and we felt privileged to have very briefly sampled a way of life that was fast disappearing.
The Tanner ༢r>�gie B Dickinson
Published by Dalesman several years ago as
Four Weddings and Lots of Funerals
In the fifties the Saturday night fame of the Wheatsheaf Inn at Ingleton reached parts of the north of England that other pubs never reached. It wasn't so much the beer that lured hordes of cyclists, potholers, and climbers from far and away; it was more the atmosphere created by the fervent singalong of the clientele as the pianist rattled the ivories through the gamut of a new inception - the latest pop charts. "Answer Me," "Stranger in Paradise," "Little Things Mean a Lot," and a load of other tuneful ditties from his very long repertoire.
If the Wheatsheaf burst at the seams with the outdoor fraternity equally so did the Village Literary Institute across the road. Half way up a long flight of stairs was a green baize card table with a pudding basin into which we dutifully dropped our sixpences (tanners) for the Tanner 'op and switched from the crooning, in one easy bop, to tripping the light fantastic: except that it sounded like the Charge of the Heavy Brigade, our feet being encased in boots or cycling shoes, with metal plates screwed to the soles (for gripping the pedals).
Those who were aiming to snooze in Beesley's Barn or doss on the fells had their backpacks with them, festooned with ropes and ironmongery, and tin cups which dangled from the straps. Some even wore their paraphernalia whilst dancing. The clanging of their metal was similar to that of amplified Tibetan goat bells and enhanced the live music being played for our dancing no end.
This was provided by Two Men and a Little Lady who, between them, performed on drums, piano and accordion. Their sound is imprinted on my memory for all time. It is like nothing I have heard before or since as they all played half a note behind each other. And I love them yet. It was a cross between Scott Joplin gone mad and The Stripper out of hand. That Ingleton trio had more talent in their little fingers than Kenton, Brubeck and Ellington rolled into one.
It was after one of these Tanner 'ops that I crawled through the drying room window of the Youth Hostile at 1 a.m. to be confronted by the hostile Warden. The general rule was double cocoa and lights out at 10.00 p.m - another rule of those days being that you had to have got there by boat, boot, or bike (true). Suitcases and cars were dirty words. I was banned from Greta Youth Hostel, Ingleton for life.
The following day we all pursued our own interest and it was during these wanderings that I discovered the roads which dissected the Three Peaks of Ingleborough, Whernside and Penyghent, and another which plunges into Dentdale and hugs the sparkling River Dee to the diminutive Dent Town and beyond.
I have a photograph taken with my Brownie box camera during one of those trips. It is of my Hetchins bike propped under the lychgate of the tiny church of Chapel-le-Dale and it carries far more meaning now than it did then. I thought I had discovered Ingleton of my own accord; that the choice had been entirely mine. All I knew of my forbears at that time was that they had hailed from Lancaster and arrived in East Lancashire from Lancaster Workhouse. But ten years later I learned that for five hundred years my ancestors had been baptised, united, and laid to rest in the churchyard of St Leonard, Chapel-le-Dale.
They had farmed the slopes of all Three Peaks. My third great grandfather, Thomas Moore had played fiddle for dancing in the Wheatsheaf and he had been a cobbler in Ingleton too. Thomas had lived previously in Dent and with his wife Dorothy had owned the Sun Inn, later kept by their eldest son Peter.
In May 1990 an incident occurred that made me wonder once again about the theory of ancestral or genetic memory. My husband and I were spending a long weekend at Grange-over-Sands where we saw an advertisement for a car boot sale at Flookburgh. It was a large affair and we decided to look for a mobile calor gas heater. There were several on offer and after examining them all we made our choice.
"We can't take it today," I told the vendor, "because the car is full. We'll come back for it next weekend". "I don't live near here." she said. "Have you heard of Dent?" I hadn't been there for a while so we agreed to collect it from her home the following weekend.
I found it a very strange coincidence that they happened to live in Holme Cottage, where Thomas and Dorothy had lived, on the road from Dent to Gawthrop.
After we'd collected the fire I went to their grave in Dent churchyard and sat on the grass amongst the daisies with a very large question mark looming above. I wondered, for the umpteeth time, about the theory of coincidence versus the secret corners of the mind.
And once again I drew a complete blank.
A ficticious story that came to mind whilst visiting St Peter전alby-cum-Skewsby, North Yorkshire
�gie B Dickinson
For Judy the best part of not working was her redundancy from setting the alarm clock five nights a week. Bliss. In future the irksome clock would only be programmed for important occasions and she would revel in the luxury of wakening up naturally, whatever the hour. But tonight she would use the alarm because she and her friend Tina were making an early start to North Yorkshire, to a cottage nestling under the escarpment of Sutton Bank, near the White Horse.
Wisteria Cottage was handy for Byland Abbey and not a million miles from Ampleforth. More importantly, over the hill was the delightful small market town of Helmsley with the serene Rievaulx Abbey nearby. The stately Duncombe Hall, an awesome ruined castle at its hub and the castle௲iginal walled garden a caf頡nd plant centre ᤤed to the charm. The town and the areaඥrnacular architecture of mellow stone and red pantile roofs always reminded Judy of Normandy.
Judy and Tina never went anywhere directly, preferring instead to sidetrack from their route by visiting interesting churches, abbeys, garden centres, pubs, charity shops, and caf鳠with outdoor seating from which they could people-watch. Part of their mission was to visit whatever wasn੮ the guide books for all to see and share so that they missed the crowds and savoured quiet aspects of the countryside through which they passed mostly unhindered.
On a previous visit they had discovered the remote church of St Peter, a tiny place on a side road that leads off a lonely lane and is accessed only by regular parishioners and those in possession of a 1:50,000-scale ordnance survey map.
To find it they had travelled some distance east from Brandsby, along a ridge and past the unique historical Troy Maze. In accordance with the map Judy suddenly turned sharp right through what appeared to be a hole in the hedgerow and came to rest at the end of an unsurfaced track under a couple of arched willows that almost hid the car.
It was a warm day, which they had all to themselves as they wandered round to the front of St Peter젷hose ancient masonry clung to a leafy hillside. On its west was an attractive large rectory and on the other a sizeable hall. The view south was as pastoral as it gets and they looked over the newly-moan grass and weathered headstones to a gap in the trees through which was the Vale of York down below.
The altar was within an ancient squat tower, a structure considerably older than the nave. On the outside of this the builders had utilised a couple of gravestones from the days when people were unable to read. At that time the stonemasons would create a headstone made up of the tools of the trade of the deceased and in these stones make an interesting study.
Looking towards the tower from the aisle gave Judy and Tina the impression that the whole of the tower was leaning towards York but on closer examination it was merely the entrance archway that had developed a mind of its own.
The simple interior of the church appeared to have been whitewashed long ago. The walls, now a mucky shade of white, revealed part of a mediaeval scripture where the paint had crumbled away. There were a couple of stained glass windows, a memorial to a boy by the name of Lumley who had lived at the hall next door, who had accidentally shot himself. Another tablet honoured the men who had fought in two world wars. Not only did it record the dead, but unusually it listed those who had survived too.
Tina and Judy put a modest donation in the box next to the door, wrote suitable text in the visitors⯯k, and made to leave the church. But the door wouldn௰en.
䒳 not working,饬led Judy, 襠handle wonവrn.䩮a almost elbowed her out of the way in her panic and tugged at the huge iron ring.
As she continued to assault the handle Judy went over to a pile of parish magazines which sat next to the visitors⯯k in which she had written - rather ironically as it happened - 謠the peace and silence. Itडngerously near perfectionࠓuddenly, waving one of the magazines in the air, Judy yelled out in horror, 䠳ays the vicarயt working any more. Heಥtired and some other guy comes once a month, first Sunday.ԩna snatched the booklet from her friend and after reading the dreadful report burst into tears. 崠it௮ly the 10th today,㨥 wailed.
നink we should pray said JudyࠓSod that,䩮a retorted, kicking the door in temper and frustration, 咬l just have to ring the vergerவmber on the front of the parish magazine.Ⲿ
And they would have, except that they were in deepest Yorkshire and were both using Virgin as an ISP provider for their mobiles. Sadly they were out of signal and their phones were not working.
Shropshire & Herefordshire
�gie B Dickinson
All Stretton, Church Stretton and Little Stretton run parallel with the A49 around 12 miles south of Shrewsbury. It is my opinion that the most sylvan of the three was All Stretton. When I was last there, a few years back, I dined at the Yew Tree Inn which had good food and a very comfortable and olde worlde charm, with lots of nice prints on the walls. Nearby was a charming village store that sold a wide range of goods. Elongated, it comprised well-designed properties under the slopes of the Long Mynd with others creeping up the steeply-wooded rocky hill. Each seemed to afford privacy from within established and well-planned gardens.
A short distance to the south the market town of Church Stretton had a good choice of shops and a supermarket. There were black and white half timbered buildings, a small square and an air of affluence about the place. With a lovely background of hills on either hand 㡥r Caradoc, Ragleth and the Long Mynd, the small town was a delightful place of spacious streets, and excellent communications via the A49 or the mainline railway which serves the town. Almost all of its pretty half-timbered houses were of Victorian origin but the Early English church had a Norman nave and a rare 襥la na gig帴ernally above the north doorway. The Jacobean woodwork kept company with sixteenth and seventeeth century Flemish glass.
Nearby, and under the care of the National Trust, was a lane leading to the Cardingmill Valley. Beyond its car park was an area of outstanding natural beauty, with plenty of scope for hill walking, especially on the Long Mynd. Almost connecting with Church Stretton was Little Stretton where the valley narrowed and I once stopped at the very quaint Ragleth Inn for a decent bar snack. Further down the road was the Green Dragon, a village store, and an ever-narrowing valley. As the road joined the A49 once more there was a transport caf頣alled the Lazy Trout.
In regard to the stone-carved Celtic sheela na gigs, I have said are rare since there are only around 101 in Ireland and 45 in the whole of the UK. However, there is actually a choice in Shropshire and Herefordshire for there is another at Holdgate, two at Tugford and a particularly well preserved and explicit one further south at the outstanding church of SS Mary and David at Kilpeck in Herefordshire. But they are not the ancient fertility figures I was once led to believe. Whilst they are ancient and weathered some consider them vulgar in their depiction of lust.
The Silverdale/Arnside Peninsula
�gie B Dickinson
North of Lancaster, flanked on the west by Morecambe Bay, the A6 on the east, Milnthorpe to the north, and Carnforth to the south, this is one of the prettiest corners of Lancashire. It is riddled with a maze of lanes which are edged by woodlands (known locally as lots) and pastures. At every turn there are footpaths or places of interest but overriding it all, in summer, is the greenery.
The first recommended pitstop is Carnforth Station Heritage Centre where there is a reconstruction of the refreshment room featured in the 1945 film Brief Encounter, starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard. This provides refreshments which include serious cakes and scones. Housed in the remainder of the building are plenty of railway artefacts, and displays about Carnforth station৬orious past. There is also a shop to delight all railway enthusiasts with many related goods on sale, plus lots of memorabilia to be had regarding the classic weepie, which is played on a loop. Outside the clock featured in the film, and created by Joyce of Whitchurch in the 19th century, has had a chequered career and a life of its own. It now proudly watches over film buffs from all over the world who seek out this slice of nostalgia.
Turning left out of the station the road soon leads to Warton where the church of St Oswald has connections with the family of George Washington, first president of the United States. His ancestor Lawrence may have helped to build the church and this ancient building is certainly worth a visit for its display of information on the Washington connection. On the 4th of July every year the American flag is hung from the exterior flagpole. To drive home the point even further the George Washington pub is a stoneനrow away.
Nearby, and open to the public, Leighton Hall has an important collection of Waring and Gillow furniture, interesting well stocked gardens, and displays from birds of prey every afternoon during the season.
West of here is the RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve, on Storrs Lane. As the north-westଡrgest rare breed habitat it is a great attraction to visitors. There are hides, trails, lagoons and a tea room.
A short distance to the coast leads visitors to Wolf Gallery, which is near Jenny BrownЯint, whoever she might have been. It is in an enviable location, overlooking the ocean, and is a good place for coffee. There are interesting crafts 鮣luding paintings and hand-thrown pottery ᬬ very smart and expensive, housed in a series of old buildings and a welcome feature in good weather is the outdoor seating for refreshments. Over the road is Lindeth Tower where the writer Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell, an expert on the Bronte family, wrote her books in seclusion.
The bay is dangerous. In the past travellers who wanted to cut short their journey by crossing the bay instead of using circuitous roads often ended their own lives in the terrible sinking sands which still play havoc with the unwary or cavalier. Only this week (March 2012) a family were rescued in the nick of time through straying too far from the shore at Arnside. Imagine the horror of it all, with their legs firmly sucked into the sand and the tide coming in.
The village of Silverdale has a couple of pubs and a small clutch of shops. A road leads down to the shore where cars are able to park; otherwise there is a pleasant walk over the fields to a small bay. Beyond here road passes Holgateୡin caravan site, where their caf頩s open to the public, and heads for Far Arnside where their second site is located in an enviable position up against the Knott. There is a public footpath through the site which leads eventually to Arnside.
Dominating the area of Far Arnside is Arnside Pele Tower, a defence against marauding Scots during border raids and also from attacks via the sea. It is an impressive structure possibly dating from the 13th century and one of four in the area that I know of. Nearby footpaths lead uphill through the woods to the Knott, a nature conservation, from which is a panoramic view.
Arnside itself is larger than Silverdale, with more facilities, and has long been popular as a holiday destination. The station is served by the Furness line which travels between Barrow-in-Furness and Lancaster. West of Arnside the line crosses the Kent estuary via a 50-span viaduct.
The village of Beetham lies in an easterly direction. It has a church, pub, and post office. On the banks of the River Bela is the ancient Heron Corn Mill that௰en to visitors. Across the A6 in the direction of Milnthorpe the first turn leads to Beetham Nurseries, at which thereࡠcaf頷ith outdoor seating.
Otherwise after turning left from the pub, and passing the church and post office, there is a footpath striking off left just after the last property. It leads uphill through the woods, where there are deer, to arrive at a viewpoint overlooking Morecambe Bay. In the limestone rocks is a narrow defile with natural steps known as the Fairy Steps. Legend has it that if you can pass either up or down the cleft without touching the sides the fairies will grant your wish. Unfortunately only those built like a fairy could succeed. This is also part of a corpse way along which they would hoist coffins for burial at Beethamࣨurch of St Michael and All Angels. There is still evidence in the rock of the rings through which ropes were pulled to hoist the coffin in this difficult manoeuvre.
Down below is Hazelslack where there is another pele tower, as there was at Dallam Tower, an estate to the north of Sandside. The fourth local pele tower is still much in evidence less than a mile down the A6 south of Beetham, at a farmstead just before Hale.
Rutter Falls 㯵th of Eden
�gie B Dickinson
I first discovered my idyll in Cumbria whilst escaping the Lancashire mill towns on a bicycle back in the early 1950s It lies in southern Eden, part of a vast tract of land to the east of the major arteries that ply between Kendal and Carlisle in Cumbria. Hereabouts, travellers mainly head west for the honeypots of the English Lake District, without a backward glance. This is one reason Eden has escaped visitor pressure and remained such a delicious secret, with more sheep than people and one of the lowest headcounts in the UK.
From its source the River Eden gushes through Hell Gill in the Mallerstang valley to follow a 90-mile course en route to the Solway Firth. In its youth it passes the eerie ruins of Pendragon, one of six fortifications owned by the formidable and emancipated Lady Anne Clifford, High Sheriff of Westmorland, who rode this way in the 17th century.
Near another of her castles at Brough the Eden slinks past St Theobaldࣨurch at Great Musgrave in a setting hard to beat for quiet picnics and spotting the occasional otter. Heading west I pass an ancient clapper bridge and blossomy hedgerows to arrive at the land of big skies. It is a Bank Holiday weekend but the roads are almost devoid of traffic. Climbing out of the car near Sunbiggin Tarn the warm sun and utter silence unite to lift my spirits. The quietness is punctured by the odd bleat of a fat lamb and a skylarkࣲy and for a good half hour I have it all to myself before heading to the prettiest of villages, Mauldͥaburn.
Other quaint settlements abound off the beaten track, like Crosby Garrett. Their silent unlocked tiny churches giving solitude and time to reflect. From its lofty perch is a long-distance view of the Pennines on one hand and Shap Fells on the other.
Appleby is the jewel in the crown. It is served by the historic Settle/Carlisle railway that was miraculously saved from extinction. Dominated by Lady Anne࣡stle the gracious wide and hilly main street is edged by trees, attractive shops, and old hostelries. Since 1685 the town has hosted the annual Appleby Fair ﮥ of the most important Romany gatherings in the world. In early June the banks of the Eden accommodate crowds of visitors from far and wide to witness the washing, displaying and trading of horses.
But if I were to choose just one icon to represent southern Eden, it would be the idyll I mentioned at the beginning - a waterfall with attitude in an impossibly beautiful setting. Rutter Falls: complete with wooden bridge, ford and graceful trees. Three miles from Appleby it hides on a leafy stretch of river bank off a series of country lanes. Best visited after heavy rain the water tumbles past an old stone mill, with its back-shot waterwheel and pretty cottages. Iࢥ hard pressed to find anywhere else that makes my trigger finger so eager to press the shutter. The mill and one of the cottages are let for holidays. Not recommended for those with weak bladders.
Bloomsbury ember 2010
�gie B Dickinson
The area around Cartwright Gardens is extremely pleasant with its large leafy private park that includes tennis courts. Access is available to guests staying in the adjacent hotels which are attractive Grade II-listed Georgian properties built in the early 19th century in the shape of a crescent. The Guild of Skinners owns the garden square and one or more of the hotels.
In the gardens is a statue to Major John Cartwright who lived in the Crescent for four years and was a radical campaigner for the abolition of slavery. He also supported womenffrage and votes by ballot. Other notable residents were Sir Rowland Hill who brought out the penny postage system, the social reformer Edwin Chadwick whose campaigning forced the water authorities to give London clean water and Sidney Smith who supported the causes of Roman Catholics.
I used a hotel which I wouldnಥcommend. Indeed the Crescentਯtels have fluctuating reports online so it would be best to check immediately before booking one as to the current state of play. I would certainly stay in the Crescent again but, basing my opinion on the hotel I used, I would book neither a ground floor nor basement room in any of these hotels on account of the night-time noise I experienced of the underground system. This included Eurostar which I could hear through the plug holes in the en-suite, although it went quiet from about midnight until around 5 am.
The upside of this location is its convenience. Thereനe pleasant aspect of the park and its greenery in central London for one thing and the closeness of many other features. It is only ten minutes硬k to the Charles Dickens͵seum in Doughty Street and very handy for the British Library and the trio of mainline stations 㴠Pancras, Kingòoss, Euston and the aforementioned Eurostar. A five minute walk away is the main thoroughfare of buses.
Round the corner in the other direction is Marchmont Street with a good mix of shops and eateries and the modern Brunswick Centre, a shopping complex spread around a large courtyard. This has a Waitrose supermarket and several interesting shops selling clothes, footwear, household/kitchen ware, and many eating establishments. The Giraffe was particularly pleasant for a coffee with unusual background music, and Carluccios good for lunch. Marchmont leads to Russell Square and the British Museum. There is a caf頷hich has good outdoor seating in Russell Square Gardens and nearby is one of the historic cab drivers粥en shelters that warrants taking images.
Itயt far from here to Tottenham Court Road, over which is Charlotte Street in the heart of Bloomsbury where grandson Jim (who is studying at UCL) and I had lunch at the Fitzroy Tavern, a pub of social importance long ago when it was the haunt of characters such as the famous artist Augustus John and many literary heavyweights. Nearby in Gordon Square, lived the 쯯msbury㥴 which included Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey.
I parted company with Jim at this point and headed for the British Museum in which I spent brief time but realised a whole day could pass by amongst such treasures. We met up at 8pm at China House, on Marchmont, a low-key restaurant that was unbelievably cheap but good on food.
The following morning I went to Kingòoss station and got a bus map and then, being flexible enough with my bus pass, climbed on the first one to arrive. It was heading for Trafalgar Square. Alighting outside Charing Cross station I photographed the Victorian replacement Eleanor Cross. Its predecessor had been one of twelve erected by Edward 1 on the route along which the coffin of his wife Eleanor of Castile had rested overnight as it travelled to Westminster in 1290 from where she had died at Harby in Nottinghamshire. The original 12 had been wooden but were replaced by stone structures. Only three survive intact, these being at Waltham Cross, Hardingstone, Northamptonshire and Geddington.
Iࡠquick browse round Trafalgar Square before setting off down Whitehall, with plenty of activity going on around Downing Street. There was a wealth of interesting statues to study along the way and the famous Cenotaph. It was heaving with folk in the area of Parliament Square and Big Ben and a couple of parades of objectors came by.
I met Jim in Whitehall and we travelled on the tube from Charing Cross to Covent Garden where we had lunch at the Kafeneon caf鬠with good food at decent prices. Being a Sunday Covent Garden was really busy and there were many street entertainers and people dining both inside and outdoors.
From here we moved on by tube to Bond Street and walked up to Manchester Square and the Wallace Collection at Hertford House, a remarkable property full of original works of art, including Franz Hal̡ughing Cavalier. Admission was free.
On the Monday it was raining yet again. We had lunch at Carluccio੮ the Brunswick Centre after which I caught a bus to Selfridges. Oxford Street was beautifully decorated for Christmas, and so was the store. I donനink I have ever felt so scruffy and out of place. I was wearing a mulberry-coloured Craghopper waterproof, seeing it was raining, but the rest of the shoppers had virtually stepped off a catwalk. The preening and mirror-viewing was beyond belief. And the prices of goods 客elievable, like several hundred pounds for a pair of shoes. I queued for ages at the Yellow Caf頯n the lower ground floor where I had a cup of tea and cake which came to almost t it was well worth the opportunity to sit, relax and take in the surroundings.
Selfridges really is smart, with many goods I hadnen before and which Iਡve loved to buy given the coin. The Christmas decorations were magnificent, with huge silver balls suspended on chains on which they moved slowly up and down the great height of the building in the long drop between the escalators.
Four days in London just isn८ough.