Today my blog by necessity be a little different. Partly this is due to my writing this on a little iPod but equally because I am at the beginning of a weeks holiday in the Lake District.
The Lakes are in the large county of Cumbria 325 miles northwest of London. It is a haven for hikers, campers and lovers of outdoor sports as well as those who just want to get away from it all this being the area with large forests, lakes and the highest mountains in England though not Britain as a whole.
There are more tourists than locals and more sheep than tourists. Many come here and are inspired by the scenery be they artists or writers. I came here as it is everything London is not.
Yesterday we went for a drive and visited a folly. Follys were usually built by aristocrats or wealthy industrialists either to make their land more quaint or ancient or merely to just show off their wealth. These are more common than you might think in GB and can come in the shape of caves, fake castles or ruined Roman temples or simply tall brick towers like this one near Egremont.
We then drove on to the tiny village of Calderbridge and parked up the car next to the old church. Taking a public footpath we went through some woods along Calder river and came across a privately owned but clearly run-down country home hidden in a valley surrounded by wooded cliffs.
Behind the house and largely hidden away from the public was an ancient monastery built by the Normans in the 11thC which lasted until King Henry VIII enacted his policy of closing monasteries throughout his realm.
The abbey was then deliberately ruined and much of the stone used to build the house, it’s owners keeping the ruin as their own folly.
We had a picnic under a giant oak watching the river flow by and entranced by the beauty of the valley and abbey and the mystery of the house.
With much more to see we headed back to the car knowing we could have stayed all day. We went to Seascale and enjoyed an ice-cream, a spot of kit flying and a dip in the sea on this deserted beach.
Amidst all this beauty was a memorial to the dozen people murdered in a shooting spree here and in neighbouring villages by a gunman in 2010.
Finally we drove on to the village of Ravenglass, a picturesque fishing village by the sea.
Fishing still goes on here and nets still get attached to the walls of the house as well as fish and lobsters caught by boats.
A short walk from the sea front takes us to a heritage steam railway which journeys 7 miles through the mountains.
Walking on another few hundred yards takes us to the old Roman bath houses. There aren’t many places in Britain where Roman buildings still exist above just a few feet high but here are some.
Originally there was a Roman castle here but over the 2000 years this had disappeared.
Like the Romans that was as far as we went for one day at least. We drove back to where we are staying through blissfully empty lanes exhausted but thinking of all we had seen and especially the abbey.