Lakes 2021 via Langar and Nottingham

LANGAR and Harby


By chance we got an air bnb in the next village, as LangAr didn’t have dog rooms for us, a delightful place as it transpired, an inspiring cabin built in their garden. He was a cabin builder and had built Agnews at Langar a few years back. To welcome us was a fresh warm loaf of bread, and a man who gave brilliantly clear directions, for our evening walk down hill to the canal that once flowed now a Reed habitat. The most delicious food at nags head . All pork

Up some steep stairs I am, Bobbi below with Michael who watches a 60s horror.  I am feeling low, uninspired, un-creative with no purpose. Constrained. In this I look for Kali, now often confused he returned by smell to the air bnb. Bobbi found and lured him back for night walk around church. 

I sat with Louise in her garden, bees sucking the autumn sweet juice our of her glorious abundant garden, we enjoyed a roll up, she spoke some home truths to me, and we walked into the field below where she was planning to plant a woodland. Although alone we did not enjoy enough time with each other. It had been far too long, and I had not tended our friendship. I miss her. Leela had just returned from Sweden, so the next day she was absorbed with this.

Sara and J arrived, our dogs cavorted, and we dined that night with a tasting menu. Starting at 6, ending too late for us all, and as the room became fuller, Michael could not hear and we were unable to shout for long. But the food was delicious, can I remember anything but the icecream with balsamic vinegar?

Nottingham Forest en route for Lakes, with Sara and Jeremy and 3 dogs

The joy of being with others whose eyes also look out, gave the words, here is a community, said J. Sara read from her blog on Staverton Thicks, in which she also found this sense of Community among the old veteran oaks. How right they are, this is exactly the feeling here.

We were searching out the Major Oak is the biggest oak tree in Britain, weighing an estimated 23 tonnes, girth of 10 meters, and canopy of 28 meters. It is thought to be between 800 and 1,000 years old. Standing well supported these days with various ages and stages of wire, and pillar. We wonder how stand without. Its girth and canopy are impressive, although we cannot get close to it (fenced off to protect) ice cream van near by for the guaranteed passing trade. Thought to be the hid out of Robin Hood, M can recall how all the caste in a film climbed into it for a photo shoot.

Many oaks, veteran, catch our attention, finding words to describe them, like slow motion water, a liquid aspect, bark like bulbous rolling fat, layering. Some the bark lesioned, revealing the light skin of dead heartwood underneath.
Why are there no acorns I asked to no one in particular, assuming that this being a bad acorn year, but none on any of these oaks, as Sara said, was surely not possible. I asked a passer by, who said knowingly, ‘It’s too early, they don’t come until the end of October’. Later here than Suffolk then, I think or had I been mistaken there? After the wet May earlier this year, coming with the start of flowering the wind pollination was hampered, so no mast year unlike last.

We found ourselves passing under Silk Button Galls decorating the underside of oak leaves. Later we read up their story, which is not easy to graps. The Wasp (Neuroterus numismalis) lays her eggs on the underside of oak leaves in the summer. The wasp has both bisexual and agamic (parthenogenetic) generations and forms two distinct galls on oak leaves, the silk button gall and blister gall. The egg releases chemicals which forces the oak plant to make these structures. Leaf and gall fall to the ground in Autumn. After having overwintered on the ground the females emerge from the silk button gall in early spring. The cycle repeats. They lay their unfertilised eggs in expanding oak leaf buds, forming the so-called ‘blister gall.’ The blister galls produce the males and females of the bisexual generation in mid-summer and the fertilised eggs result in the silk button gall generation. Got it?

Here they are


We arrived at dusk, in time for a meander to introduce Sara and J to the landscape, and the dogs – who had already enjoyed a good chase in Sherwood – to their new homes. Sara cooked easy pasta delicious salad, and J opened a bottle of Hermitage wine. Heaven.

Coniston Lake swim & Old Man climb

We said, lets grasp the day, the sun shines. We swam in Coniston lake that morning, and made it to the summit of the old man. Our swim in the black water of Coniston through the reeds with a mist rising from the still water, was magical and exhilarating, outside my usual comfort zone, indeed something I would not have done were I not with Sara and J, sea coast dwellers and daily swimmers. We did not venture far nor stay in long, but long enough to awake the day with a joy.

The ascent to the Old Man was neither steep nor involving scrambling but tough going. Sara lead a good pace, J with Freya on a lead, (many sheep), I brought up the rear, my lungs grateful for their unaccostomed yoga. After a false start we found Church Beck, and from a builders discards I found Sara and I sticks – we kicked ourselves for not taking M’s – and although neither perfect, they were essential up and down levers. Evidence of industrial copper mines were most of the way, a central operations base half way up: massive twisted wires, old railway tracks, slate walls of buildings, support timbers angled, ‘Saddlestone 1690 to 1960’ a sign declared, although the hay day was 1870s – boy, they were tough then. Below us the Youth Hostel (oh to live a life again and stay there) is based in the old manager’s building. On the way up and down we met a friendly lot of people, most fit, no one over weight, local voice: A man dressed in drag as a stag about to get married, an outdoor pursuit leader and his gang who talked and joked all the way up, a man carrying a 3 week baby ‘His first fell adventure’, he explained, and some enviably young girls, in their lycra, the future mountain goats. Both Sara and I struggled with our lack of fitness, our bit of extra weight, our age and in my case a blister (!). We rested at the tarn, which Sara found irresistible, and paddled into, dogs cooled down in, and we gathered our strength for the final hike up. Near the top I saw late Kali lost the plot, using his nose he found the scent down, my shout did not effect, until I shouted to the outdoor pursuit gang to encourage him up, ‘He’s deaf and blind’ I said. They did and we made all made it to the summit of the Old Man of Coniston, where sheltered from a wind, we ate apple, biscotti and almond chocolate.

Although I’d let go of the idea of taking a circuitous way back down the other side, I wanted to see it’s beginning, and looking down across a saddle, found a man on his way up to ask about what seemed like a gentler way down. Indeed it is, he said. After another said this was the way he would take ‘because I can’, we followed. It was a gentle down to the saddle before a more challenging descent to Goat’s water. The wind behind us, we made the final down to Walna Scar Road, an old pack horse track with views South over Morecambe Bay. We met a man walking up with an ice cream. ‘Five minutes and you will have this pleasure’ he assured us. Indeed there the ice cream van, hot tea and a 99, as we walked back into civilisation down the steep road we met at the mis start of our venture that day.

With J’s iniative, we all drank a glass of champagne when we returned to Nibthwait, before he cooked us steak and chips and stilton for afters, washed down with a delicious Hermitage wine. Early bed!

It wasn’t until the next day and even more the day after that our muscles began to shout – to descend the stairs was excruciating. Boy we are unfit.

We chilled the next day, catching up on report writing (Waveney AGM), Hebrew lessons, family discussions. J reminded me of my foggy knowledge of Hebrew, that its manifestation today is a revival and modernising of the ancient language, thanks to some linguists determination turn of the century. In Sara’s parents book of Wainwright, her mother has marked each summit reached, with a tick beside it’s name, and above the walk itself, a single sentence, like date, and if they made the top. Such bare bones. They came up here 1980s/1990, her father a trustee of Dove Cottage, and stayed at a regular boarding house near there, walking Wainwright, well into her fathers 70’s. Her response when I asked her if she was interested to revisit this place, was a surprising no. There was so much residue of her successful father, and she felt wanting beside, as well as a need to mark her own path, rather than return to his.

Some portaits of the beloved Kali – as Heather said, Old Dog on Old Man. The three dogs together around our Nibthwait.

Nibthwait to Brantwood

It was a morning walk which merged into let’s do it and walk to Brantwood. The first minor obstacle was I couldn’t not raise Michael, who I hoped would collect us at the other end. Then I hoped was ok. Then I dreaded had fallen. It was at this point, with imagination flying into various directions, that I realised Bobji was not with us. By this time we’d gone over the moor, passed the House in the Clouds out of which a friendly visitor emerged and asked Are you the shepherdess?, and I was delighted to be so mistaken. I had noted a way down to the road here, and it was at this stage I began to try to get hold of Michael. We entered forestly commission woodland, fir trees ether side of a narrow path and it was along here I noticed no Bobji. I stopped. It was so still, no wind, no birdsong, no crows. Then it became menacing. Had someone hijacked her? Had she fallen and knocked herself out? I called, stopped listened. Walked on then walked back, calling whistling, stopping listening.

To loose two people you love from one minute to the next felt enormous. I needed to phone a friend. I called Joanna and asked if she could raise a neighbour to see if Michael had fallen. He called within 10 minutes. He had not heard the phone, simple. I could not talk, as still missing Bobji. Then I heard a bark i knew, quite a distance away. I think what must have happened is I walked through the gate in to Forestry Commission woodland distracted by missing Michael, I did not note that Bobji was not in front as she usually is. I reckon she was behind the gate, and somehow with my calling, Kali barking, had got the guts to jump or find a way over. She came running.

We did make it to Brantwood, where M was waiting on the cafe. We hugged each other. Out on the terrace, the most delicious Earl Grey Tea and Ginger Tiffin, feeling quite emotional.

Skelghyll wood and garden – posted here

Langdale pikes

Michael recommended. I was dubious. Classed as ‘difficult’ but then Coniston was and I managed it, and now 3 days fitter. It was a glorious day, the last we were told, grasp it. The start is delightful, parking easy at the NT cafe – which provided me with a cake for the top, and Michael a place for lunch after his adventure.

The ascent was a slog up well formed steps. ‘It’s a motorway now, unlike the 70’s’ a man with a sheep dog told us. It is unrelenting. A couple of scramble parts, nothing difficult, just unrelenting. But oh the tarn when we arrived. Stunning with the pikes dominating.

After a walker pointed out the various options to me – straight up the face or round the back, we investigated the back but even that was a scramble, and I knew Kali, now could not do it. We took to the fell. It was glorious, bouncy peaty earth, sheeps around corners, juniper clinging to rock, unusual moss and litchen. At the top we ate our pork pie (half to dogs) and delicious frangipani cake, lay a while in the sun, before making our descent. Step by step, oh i was not more the mountain goat, but a nervous older woman nearly 64 years. Gone those glorious bendy knees that I saw coming up and going down of others. Found myself thinking of Michaels latest story for Kath – based on the question what material thing has been the most important for you. M’s answer was his car. Mine would be my walking boots. Although these ones are struggling, or did I forget to cut my toe nails again?

Michael meanwhile taking a nap in the car, had found the Cumbrian way, and enjoyed a good lunch. We celebrated with a cream tea, before rising up the Wrynose Pass (stallion’s ridge) – always such a pleasure for me to drive, encouraging the automatic up the hill.

Dinner with Jenny, Virgina, Meg – an the pleasure of Halesworth women

Rendez vous with Heather and

2 thoughts on “Lakes 2021 via Langar and Nottingham”

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