Monday, 2 December 2019

English Lake District. Rooking to Hartsop Walk. Patterdale Gallery.

                                             ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
Ullswater, above. After my early morning walk doing part of the Ullswater Way in the English Lake District on my own I fancied some company so I popped back to the hut to see if Graeme was still around as he was busy in the morning that day and had said he would not be free until lunch time. The weather had also improved as, although it was fine and dry for walking in reality, a light haze meant photography of the autumn colours looked 'milky' and I knew they would get clearer/better later on in the day with more sunshine, stronger light and shade around.
This proved to be the case and Graeme was quite happy to see me and go on a walk a few miles up the dale/valley. There is only one low level walk up the length of Patterdale but luckily, it is a five star classic outing. This was something that was made apparent to me when I picked it as a gentler way off the mountain range I was doing with Alex the last time in the Lakes. It was a long, end to end traverse over all the high peaks from St Raven's Edge to Place Fell, a classic one direction only switchback, but by Rampsgill Head my dodgy knees were crunching badly so I peeled off early at Hayeswater down to Hartsop. And was then delighted I did- as I discovered this excellent and varied walk. I can still do mountains on occasion, but these days I have to pick and choose them carefully as hammering them week by week through a list, dull ones included, effects my ability to get up the good ones.
Luckily my inclination, as a photographer, is also to mix it up a bit. Beaches, woods, city life, night time shots, anything that takes my fancy. Graeme did mention something about doing a lower hill range somewhere, as like most hill-walkers, that's his main obsession, but I can be quite persuasive when I want to be- and I knew he'd like this walk. I also played my... "I've walked endless miles already!!!!".... card, which did the trick.
Another view of Patterdale Hall in better light, on my second walk of the day. It is now a youth activity centre for groups.
The high mountains above Patterdale were still in cloud but it was improving and the sun was starting to make an appearance, bringing the colours out more. Patterdale is a fairly narrow dale/valley, hence just one low level path up it.
But it's a scenic gem of great delight. Rooking here, near our starting point.
Looking back towards Glenridding over grass paths and farm tracks to where we started. One mystery to me, (if the Lake District is so busy) is why so many lovely grass paths like this one still exist here and are still largely unscathed. It was the same down in Yorkshire. They get similar rainfall to Scotland I'd imagine yet many of the Scottish hill paths are now completely trashed and muddy, even in the city parks, sometimes a real eyesore in places like Skye- increasingly popular in the last ten years yet the Lake District has been busy for centuries... and it still has grass paths and beautiful walking scenery without any mud. A lesson to be learned there somewhere.
Open sheep meadows.
Glenridding area.
Even the sheep are special down here. Supermodels for a beautified rural landscape.

Golden bubble sheep. Picked for cuteness. Beatrix Potter loved this breed of sheep and used some of her book money to buy local farms and preserve this unusual breed, then in danger of being neglected but now very much an integral part of the Lake District Landscape. Herdwicks.
You can easily see why. Scottish sheep always look dejected, even in sunshine, head down, continually munching tasteless fodder, resigned to their miserable dripping, cold, fate. Largely uninterested in you apart from a brief glance upwards. Lakeland sheep, for some reason and in spite of the footfall traffic seem to take a much keener interest in travellers and they seem more intelligent- happier even. I suppose the perpetual 'stuffed toy' smile helps, along with a variety of bewildering colour changes as they get older   but even that does not explain it fully. Like supermodels- they do not appear to require the same food intake as ordinary mortals/Scottish sheep, and spend much more time in hedonistic activities like gratuitous sunbathing on south facing slopes, lazy sleeping, and people watching. In short... having fun and hanging out.

Not something, 'Bah Humbug', Calvin following, Scottish sheep can ever be accused of..." We get born, we eat grass, we die... what else do we need to know?  We never smile. What is there to smile about!? Go away hill-walkers and leave us to get on with it. Death is the only certain joy in our life. "
Cut stalks in a cottage garden. I think these are Gunnera Manicata fronds, a plant sometimes called Giant Rhubarb, but which is poisonous to eat. Grown as a garden variety for its enormous wide spreading leaves it can be an invasive species sometimes if growing conditions suit it. Ireland with its mild wet climate has a problem with it spreading into the wild as it can't handle severe cold or frosts very well- originally native to Brazil. Invasive species are a major menace worldwide and on any UK walk you are never far from Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam, Butterfly Bush or Giant Hogweed plantations- originally planted in gardens but now spreading and dominating in the wild. In the early 1950s John Wyndham wrote the excellent and prophetic novel 'The Day of The Triffids, largely inspired by Giant Hogweed plants and their toxic, burning sap. A novel I'm reading again after a 30 year gap as I bought a Best of British Classic Si Fi Stories in a charity shop recently. Along with Issac Asimov's- I Robot, penned in the 1950s and read in my 1960s teens but coming increasingly true today they both highlight  how far ahead they really were at intelligent predictions of our future- and still a surprisingly cracking read today. Two of my all time favourite authors.
A dog walker in Patterdale.
Further up the valley you start to climb higher towards the mountains. Good tracks most of the way.
Lost toy at the big waterfall. Same eyes and amused smile as the Herdwick sheep. Mmmmm. I still think they were stuffed toys originally- a bored wizard brought them to life in his back garden for his children to play with- and they later escaped into the wild... the end.
Part of the walk travels through an old oak wood with red squirrels dancing above so it's very varied in character.
A view through the trees towards the upper end of Patterdale.
Which brings us gently up to the small hamlet of Hartsop, nestled in a hollow between higher mountains. A Shangri-la of a place, approached from this end.
As is this entire walk.

We returned the same way but this was not a hardship as different views appeared on the journey back.
And I think Graeme enjoyed it- while still secretly wishing he should have been up a hill. The baggers lament.

And a link to one of the best and most unexpected wildlife videos you will ever see. Best Watched full screen. Honest. Tip.  Just ignore the comments section in here- I always do :)


Rosemary said...

Did you see that lovely programme yesterday on BBC 4 - The Lake District: A Wild Year - if you missed it you could catch it on Iplayer. I am sure that you would enjoy it as much as I did.
Having seen your lovely photos of the Lake District, I have made up my mind that I too must return again during 2020.

Carol said...

Patterdale's one of my favourite Lakeland walking bases as I love the mountains around there (especially the 3 'Dodds', Middle, High Hartsop and Hartsop). But I have to say that, unlike a lot of the Lakes, there isn't a great deal to do if the weather is too bad for the hills...

Linda W. said...

How beautiful! Someplace I'd love to visit. Looks like fall is a great time to go.

Anabel Marsh said...

Absolutely gorgeous (and I particularly enjoyed your treatise on sheep)!

Ian Johnston said...

Ah, lovely Bob! I did much of my early hillwalking in the Lakes and it's an area I've kept a real fondness for, even if it's very crowded these days. Something in the couthy, compact nature of the place with farming close by the fells gives it a special atmosphere.

Herdies...cute?! They take a "keen interest" for purely predatory reasons in my experience - I remember having to physically drag one away from my 5 year old son when it charged in for his sandwiches....he's in his thirties and still remembers that incident!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
I did see that. Two other UK TV crackers you would definitely like are BBC Scotland's- Born to be Wild series about the Scottish SPCA's Wildlife Rescue Centre, a real TV gem and available on i-player. That's a truly fantastic watch. (MAY BE ONLY AVAILABLE NEXT 23 DAYS SO CATCH IT WHILE YOU CAN GET IT.)
Also The Mighty Shannon- Ireland's Wild River where a man into kayaking, camping and bird watching spends a year on this beautiful complex river that runs through most of Ireland. Both as good as D. Attenborough's latest series in their own special way. Great programmes.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
yes, you're right but luckily the weather was good on that Saturday for lower level walks. I also like Glenridding as it's quieter than some of the other areas but still has a great pub.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Anabel, Who doesn't love a Herdwick!

blueskyscotland said...

Opps! out of sequence. Sorry.
Hi Linda W, It is a great area you would really enjoy. Great mountains packed into a small area.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Ian,
maybe that explains that happy attentive smile for walkers and the youngster's bandit face masks. I've had problems with mallard ducks stealing my grub down there from the tent but not sheep, except for one time we camped in a farmer's field for a fiver then did not get a wink of sleep as he'd just separated the lambs from the ewes for market and both sets wailed all night long. Can say I blame them but 'Silence of the Lambs' it was not.

Kay G. said...

Interesting about the sheep! I looked up the Herdwick sheep. They are born with black fleece but within one year, the wool on their heads grows out, revealing the fluffy white hair underneath! And YAY for Beatrix Potter, one of my great heroes!
That 5th photo? That should be a post card!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
Yes, all the animals down here are pretty special. Beatrix Potter also has a Scottish connection as she spent happy childhood holidays in Birnam/Dunkeld in the Central Highlands which explains some of her book characters having Scottish roots.