River Wenning, Bentham

Just a short post today. The Dog and I found the footpath from Low Bentham and High Bentham that runs alongside the River Wenning. A beautiful stretch of waterway, with sheep and their lambs across the field and views across to Ingleborough.

It’s a really pretty river that gurgles across rocks and boulders, with some deep pools of water so The Dog can either have a paddle or swim after a stick. She thoroughly enjoyed herself for over an hour jumping into the water.

By the weir, we saw this chappie fishing for his tea. We thought he might fly off and he thought about it, as he bent down as if he was going to take off. But the lure of a fish supper saw him stay, so I got my photo. He stayed quite close by considering I was throwing a stick into the water and The Dog was barking impatiently at me to throw back it in almost immediately. He seemed to be quite successful as every time I looked at him, he was glugging a fish in his mouth.

I also cursed as I missed two fantastic photos. A railway line runs close to the footpath and I heard a train coming. Looking up, there was smoke, so I galloped up the riverbank to catch the sight of a beautiful dark green steam locomotive pulling a single carriage along the track. Fumbling for my phone camera, by the time I got it to camera mode, I had missed a golden opportunity.

Then half an hour later, there was a low rumble. Again I looked up and a huge military transport plane was banking and flying extremely low. I was fascinated as it lumbered across the sky. Then I realised I needed a photo of this. My fingers were hopelessly useless at stabbing at the correct buttons and all I got was it’s rear end on the horizon. As my family would say – fail.

Apparently the train and military aircraft are regular visitors to this area, so I will keep my eyes peeled and try and get a picture. Enjoy.

Soapbox Corner

This is one of my Room 101 subjects. Bad parking.

I went to park the car and found the parking area full. So I exited and did another circle. This is when I realised that some people cannot park their vehicles if their lives depended on it just because there are no white lines drawn for them.

There had been white lines painted on the ground, signifying a neat and spacious rectangle to leave your vehicle within while you perused the local shops, but over the years, the paint had parted company with the tarmac and now parking was a bit of a free for all. But it is despairing when someone who’s a little bit precious about their box of metal, parks about six foot or more from the car next door (though sometimes that’s a bonus – I have numerous dints from carelessly flung opened doors on my car’s bodywork). Then successive motorists follow suit so you end up with gaps that aren’t quite big enough to get your car in. So you end up cussing these inconsiderate parkers noting that if they all shifted up left, you could get another 10 cars in the car park. It’s just one of my bugbears in life. You just feel that you want to leave a large note on the windscreen, telling them how bad their parking is. (My trouble is, that I constantly fail to stock the car with a ream of A4 paper and numerous felt tip pens for such an event).

On the other hand, you then get the opposite parker, who parks so close that you need a flipping can opener to get into your own car……….

Roundhay Park, Leeds

The Dog needed a walk and the weather was foul. Overcast and rainy for most of the day so I bit the bullet and dragged her out.

We headed to Roundhay Park, one of the biggest municipal parks in Europe. The Dog watched me patiently as I donned wellies, hat, scarf, waterproof coat. She gives me a look of “hurry up you stupid human. I need my walk. Why do you need so much clothing?” I look back at her and sigh in agreement. Roll on springtime when the outdoor clothing gets stashed away though I feel the wellies need to be on standby.

We walked through woodland to let my squirrel obsessed dog to pointlessly run around and get pent up energy out of her system. I discovered a patch of hardy miniature daffodils and felt impelled to take a photo to brighten up my day. It was quite cold too. Spring is just around the corner, but reluctant to make a full blown appearance.

We followed the path, slipping and sliding through muddy paths. The beck below is in full flow, high from melt waters and today’s rain.

How do these trees cling onto such steep slopes and not slip down. It’s looks so precarious.

Just love this natural artwork. It looks like the tree has caught something in its spiny gnarled fingers and now devouring it. It’s so beautiful and what wonderful stories you could tell to scare children with!

Just love this – one of those pointless buildings that rich Victorians build, because they can. A castle folly overlooking Waterloo Lake at Roundhay. Waterloo Lake itself is a disused quarry and disguised by the owner at the time.

Walking through the woodland, on this dismal, wet, dank, dark morning, the bright vivid green of the moss on the dry stone wall caught my eye. A bit of colour in the brown landscape.

In many Leeds parks, you find relics from their industrial past or the former residences and outbuildings. This huge slab is most likely a stone gatepost, now lying forlornly on its side.

Oh for a beautiful sunny day for photography today, but hey, we’re stuck with it. It gives a spooky resonance to this photo of the fallen tree, lying half submerged in Waterloo Lake. Look closely and try and spot the vulture, I mean, the crow sitting on the end of the branch. Reminds me of the Jungle Book and the vultures shrugging their shoulders and saying to each other “what are we going to do now?”.

Just a selection of other photos I took throughout the park. Leeds City Council bought the estate in 1871 for the princely sum of £139,000 for the people of Leeds. It would never happen today.

One day, I will get to grips with the intricacies of my new blog and present it a lot better. Sorry!

The little absurdities of life…..

I kid you not…….

I believe this is one of our council workers in Breary Marsh, which is a small woodland. He has a leaf blower and he’s using it to blow leaves off the footpath in the middle of the wood. I could get it if it was late autumn and we were knee deep in leaves and they posed a “health and safety risk” (We like a bit of health and safety, us Brits) but it’s spring and I can categorically testify that there were no leaves (or one or two rogue ones at least) on the path. So why was he there………?

Answers on a postcard please.

Fewston Reservoir

Well, I’m back in Yorkshire (phew) after a few days in deepest Essex and glad to be back!

A couple of critics, namely my own family, have said they’re not sure of the walk information at the beginning of the blog, so I’m missing it out and waiting for the outcry!

Spring has decided to stay – these last couple of days have been warm and sunny. So wanting to stretch my legs after too many cuppas and too many hours on relative’s sofas, The Dog and I headed to Fewston Reservoir.

The gorse is out which is great to see!

It’s right next to Swinsty Reservoir that I walked around a few weeks back, with just a road atop of the dam splitting the two. I think it’s slightly longer and there’s too many places for The Dog to swim after sticks, so I lose track of time!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fewston_Reservoir

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/wood/10036/fewston-reservoirs/

We came across the dry stone wall partially collapsed onto the path. Hopefully it will be repaired before any more damage is done. These walls can stand for centuries and without any cement to hold them together. Many years ago I had a go at building one (well, all two foot of it – it takes hours). Very interesting. Basically it’s an A shape, so thickest at the bottom and build up both sides and infill the gap with smaller stones. Then at the top, just cap it with stones. The structure is self supporting and it lets wind blow through the gaps, so it doesn’t get blown over! Just a brilliant design.

A bit of useful information! Shows you the route The Dog and I did today. We park in the Swinsty car park which is marked with a P in bottom right hand corner which serves both reservoirs. Toilets are available and the ice cream van was parked there today as well.

The Dog with stick in mouth running along the path. It’s very flat and accessible to everyone, though in parts there were some big puddles to negotiate. The Dog was in heaven as I was chucking said stick in the reservoir and she was happily swimming. By now it had got a little overcast, but still pleasant.

At the far end of the reservoir where you turn around and make the journey back, on the other side, is this little church poking its nose up over the hill. It’s St Andrews at Blubberhouses (isn’t that just a great name for a village?). Really pretty and can be seen from the busy A59 Harrogate to Skipton Road.

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/analysis/village-focus-blubberhouses-north-yorkshire-1-8539808

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blubberhouses

Saw these trees and the trunk and bark were of a lovely brown and greens that really caught my eye. But the photo was a real disappointment and despite fiddling with the colour (sorry been photoshopping) I just can’t replicate what I saw.

This is a nice gentle walk of about 2 hours though I do dilly dally, play with The Dog and get distracted with all sorts, so don’t go by me. But about 2/2.5 hours should do it. Take a picnic as there are a few places to stop and eat and take in the view. Enjoy!

Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, Essex Wildlife Park

Today, we decided to check out the Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, which is part of the Essex Wildlife Trust. It is located on the north bank of the River Thames, south of the town of Stanford Le Hope.

http://www.essexwt.org.uk/reserves/thurrock-thameside

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thurrock_Thameside_Nature_Park

This area, sandwiched between Tilbury and its docks and Corringham and a huge deep sea wharf, is a little gem of nature, surrounded by industry. It is mainly marshland, ideal for ground nesting birds and it’s being developed to stretch along the Thames estuary. I believe it could be an old landfill site.

We parked up in the generous car park, after following country lanes and our noses. It was a beautiful spring day and the first day of significant warmth. I was itching to investigate the whole area, but was scuppered by an elderly relative, so we kept around the visitor centre.

We soon discovered that apart from having a cafe, you can walk up to the roof by walking around the sloping walkway that encircles the outside of the building. From here, there are 360 degrees views across the Thames to Kent, the vast and dominating cranes of the deep sea wharf, views upstream towards Tilbury and beyond and looking north, the swathe of marshland and the town of Stanhope and other communities.

The morning was quite hazy until the sun won, but here you can see the huge deep sea wharf cranes. Originally it was known as Shell Haven and was a huge oil refinery. I remember seeing the huge chimney with flames from the top of it, as the they burned off the waste from the refining. Now it’s all changed and massive development is afoot.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_Haven

http://investessex.co.uk/studies/place-studies/london-gateway-port/

Looking towards Kent across the Thames. Here little boats lie on their side, waiting for the tide. The river bed is very muddy and full of channels. Ideal for wading birds – apparently every square metre of mud is the equivalent to calorific amount of a Mars Bar in bird terms.

The more I looked, the more I realised how much history and interest this area is. I grew up around here, and for years just thought it was an industrialised wasteland. But returning as a visitor, it dawned on me how amazing this place is, that industrialisation on a massive scale can live next door to nature and I could be, in fact, in the middle of nowhere. Industry has always been part of this area for many many years and will never go away, but I was pleased that this little pocket would be too.

Looking inland.

The tide was out, exposing the mudflats of the Thames. However, it was on its way in and surreptitiously crept in within an hour.

We wandered down to the bird hide near the rivers edge and watched a few birds on the feeders and the lorries heading into the deep sea wharf. The sun had come out and it was very pleasant. A very interesting place.

I have a Wildlife Conservationist in my family and the day before she had spotted a peregrine falcon at Tilbury Fort. So we went back to check that out.

Tilbury Fort is steeped in history and overlooks Gravesend on the Kent side. Again, it is surrounded by industry and towns. It abuts Tilbury Docks, which has seen a massive transformation over the years. A busy and major port in the early 20th Century with a cruise liner terminal, it seemed to decline. But now, huge warehouses like Amazon are popping up, the roads are full of articulated lorries and cruise liners still dock at the terminal. New roads have been built to service the warehouses and new homes are being built.

The entrance to Tilbury Fort. It’s part of English Heritage so there’s an entrance fee. We didn’t have time to investigate further unfortunately, so just snitched a few photos.

It has several examples of cannons from its earlier history inside the grounds, but on the banking outside there are several gun turrets which were part of the defences in World War 2, together with Coalhouse Fort further down the river.

It’s certainly got a chequered history.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/tilbury-fort/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilbury_Fort

And then crazily, right next to it, is a huge Power Station and mankind’s massive mucky handprint. The Power Station has been decommissioned and in the process of demolition, but we think that the peregrine falcon could be making it his home, which would stop any work. The large crane on the ship has been docked there for months apparently and I couldn’t find out what it is for.

There is a river side path, that runs along the rivers edge which we followed for a little way and I think you can get much closer to the power station, but we had to consider our elderly relative. But iagain felt there was so much more here, once you dig beneath the surface and looked beyond the ugliness.

Looking west towards Tilbury Docks. The jetty in the foreground is for the ferry service to Gravesend which has chugged across the river for many years. The two little boats that ply the service aren’t in the best condition, but saves you driving all the way up to the Dartford Crossing and £5 toll. Beyond that is the top of the cruise terminal – many a time I’ve watched huge cruise liners docked there and wondered which exotic destination they were heading.

https://www.thurrock.gov.uk/ferry-services/tilbury-to-gravesend-ferry-service

I just love those beautiful wind turbines. I find them graceful and elegant. They are a bit like Marmite – you either love them or hate them. I love Marmite too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_of_Tilbury

https://www.cruiseandmaritime.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=282%3Alondon-tilbury-port-information&catid=32%3Aports&Itemid=160

I have only scratched the surface of this area. First impressions are not good, either way you come in. Busy, littered, noisy, not the most beautiful and scenic place in Essex and not really inviting you to linger. But do linger and investigate – walk along the banks, look at the docks, cross the marshlands and look at the history of it all. It’s all there, just needs finding. A fascinating place. Enjoy.

Long Melford Church, Suffolk

Walk: A gentle stroll around this stunning church.

Parking: on street.

After our lunch, we drove the short way up to the church. This part of Long Melford is equally charming and full of English chocolate box houses. A gentle incline takes you up to the church entrance.

Be warned – I went a bit beserk with my camera and took lots of photos. I love churches and the beautiful architecture inside.

The imposing Long Melford church. The family have members buried here and unbelievably in unmarked graves. We went to look and was impossible to find. There were headstones with definite burial mounds and then just grass with a small bump, so you were horrified whether or not you were actually standing on a grave. We retreated to the path rather quickly.

The impressive aisle leading up to the alter. The photo doesn’t do it justice.

Just love the beautiful wood carvings in this pew and there were quite a few of them. How intricate. There’s a church in North Yorkshire where the carver carved out mice into the wood and they’re hidden all over the place. Fun to try and find them.

I can stare at stained glass windows all day. How they create such detailed pictures like this is beyond me.

Inlaid into the floor and an obvious burial within the church itself.

And if you were really somebody of note, you got this!

This church was absolutely stuffed with carvings and other art work. This was created without the benefit of today’s technology and laser printers etc. There were certainly some very talented master craftsmen.

Now this guy got half a book stuck on the wall detailing his family tree. How much writing and information is on this!!!

It just got better. This is amazing too and very elaborate. I don’t think I will get this treatment when I go – probably I’ll get put out with the weekly rubbish for the dustmen to collect!

I think there were brass plaques in the floor and they have been taken away, leaving these indentations all along the aisle………

Looking back towards the entrance from where the choir would stand and sing.

The organ and its pipes. It was enclosed so I was unable to see the organ in all its glory. The church wouldn’t want any riff raff touching it and belting out a tune, but it’s still looks magnificent.

There was this little side room at the back of the church which was a little chapel if people wanted to be more quiet. It was elaborately decorated and the walls had faded painting and writings, almost like ghost signs. It was very intricate.

We came out of the church and wandered down to the footpath, across the fields towards Kentwell Hall. There is an avenue of trees leading from the main road to the front of the house. The blobs in the branches are not crows nests, but mistletoe growing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentwell_Hall

http://www.kentwell.co.uk/

Looking back towards Long Melford Church.

And a lovely picture of the typical thatched roofed cottage of the area, with the painted lime plaster frontage. North Essex and Suffolk are full of this type of buildings and many local towns are like travelling back in time. Haven’t changed in centuries except now they have lorries and cars thundering past.

I hadn’t visited this area for many years and it was lovely to see it again. There seems to be a lot of new housing going up and that I find a great shame. It is very pretty here, but will it be spoilt by over development? I hope not. Let’s enjoy it while we can.

Long Melford, Suffolk

Walk: A stroll around the delightful village of Long Melford.

Parking: On High Street. Free and unlimited.

We decided to cross the border today and dip a toe into Suffolk. We drove through pretty rolling countryside, but it was still quite drab and misty. We went through the pretty little towns of Halstead and Sudbury, before arriving in Long Melford and parked on the High Street.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Melford

We wandered the Main Street with its mixture of different houses which are very typical of this area. It’s very quaint and very picturesque.

Just love this. They are raising funds to fight a proposed housing development. They’ve left a load of books out with an honesty box. How British is that?

Just couldn’t resist a photo of this fantastic building. Railway Passengers Assurance! All carved in stone. It’s so ornate. Today they can’t even be bothered to put chimneys on buildings!

Robin Row Ltd is the current insurance broker, but see the links below for the Railway Passenger Assurance and National Provident Institution.

https://heritage.aviva.com/our-history/companies/r/railway-passengers-assurance-company-ltd/

https://www.londonremembers.com/subjects/national-provident-institution

The old granary/mill. Bags of grain would be hauled up to the little wooden structure and then milled inside with the grain/flour falling between the floors and the milling machines.

This was outside the Manse, the home of the local clergy. There were two balloons on either side of the front door as well as other decorations. It was so unusual and very quirky which us Brits can do very well.

We stopped for lunch in one of the many cafes, but this one had the waitresses dressed in black dresses, white pinafores and frilly white hats like something from the 1920’s. It was certainly very different, but the food was lovely.

We left the High Street and drove up the road to Long Melford Church and Kentwell House.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentwell_Hall

http://www.kentwell.co.uk/

Enjoy Long Melford, while I go and write another blog on Long Melford Church……..

Heybridge, Essex.

Walk: Walk along the River Blackwater

Difficulty: Easy, but can be muddy.

Accessibility: Flat footpath running alongside the River.

Parking: Heybridge Basin. Grid reference 870069.

Okay, I can hear you cry. This is not North West England! And you’re right – it’s South East England, in the county of Essex. I did warn you that I would go further afield occasionally and this week I’m visiting relatives.

I am based in the county town of Braintree today and headed out to Heybridge, an estuary town on the River Blackwater for a wander.

http://www.itsaboutmaldon.co.uk/basin/

http://www.visitmaldon.co.uk/heybridge-basin/

It was a dreadfully murky day, with a big grey blanket of cloud hanging over us and gloomy too. So taking photos was a bit of a challenge. We parked up and as it was lunchtime, had a pleasant lunch at the Jolly Sailor pub. (What a brilliant name). Afterwards, we got onto the sea wall and followed the path – we went one way first, but quickly turned back as it looked quite unexciting. We followed the path with the Blackwater to our left and the marshes on our right.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Blackwater,_Essex

The weather was so dull, misty and damp that any long distance photos would be, well dull and boring and very grey. This part of Essex is quite flat and a lot of it is reclaimed from the sea. There’s miles of marshes and the River Blackwater, when the tide is out, reveals its muddy bottom and sticky gloop. Deep navigation channels cut deep through the mud and less fortunate craft lie forlornly on their sides, slowly dying and rusting away, never to return to the sea again. It’s one of those places that at first glance, looks very uninteresting, but dig only slightly under its surface and there’s a wealth of history, nature and hidden treasures to found. A truly fascinating place to discover.

The raised path giving us views across the mud flats (tide was out) and the reeds and marshes on the other side.

At the beginning of the walk, we came across this little lock and canal area.

And it’s little information board.

There seemed to be a lot of abandoned boats sliding into disrepair and demanding more than a little TLC.

And this is my kind of boat…………

The marshlands around this area are full of all sorts of birds – waders, gulls, geese and many more. The weather was very overcast and dull, but springtime in the bird’s world was in full swing as they did their crazy courting dances, wooing their prospective partners with a cacophony of chirping and calling. The seagulls had gathered on a reed infested island and squawking very loudly with each other, the noise quite piercing.

We followed the path in a loop and on the opposite bank was the town of Maldon.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maldon,_Essex

Initially we thought it might a be a linear walk – there and back, but my walking buddy thought it might be a circular walk. Thank God for Google Maps on phones as we ascertained that there was indeed a loop. We veered off the path through a modern housing estate (and I could practise my second favourite hobby of staring into people’s houses) and we came across a bridge that linked us to another path. Think this is the canal that leads to the lock in the photo above.

A whole line of boats moored along the edge – barges, narrow boats, little cruisers, smart boats, knackered boats. A real eclectic mix.

My parents and parents in law always managed to hire the most knackered holiday rental going – be it a caravan, cottage or boat. I’m sure I’ve holidayed on this type of sagging vessel in previous trips……

Interesting read. This area of Essex is steeped in history. There are stories of the heavy salt industry in this area, where salt was farmed from the sea water by a laborious method of boiling the sea water and scooping the salt off the surface. People were paid in salt and that’s where the word salary comes from – the Latin word for salt. Full of useless information, me.

https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/salary

We returned back to where we had parked the car and celebrated by enjoying a hot warm cuppa and a toasted teacake in a little cafe overlooking the river. This photo took my fancy.

The cafe turned out to be associated with the Tiptree company who seem to dominate the world with their little glass jars of jams and preserves. The waitress asked if I wanted jam with my teacake and then preceded to list a staggering choice of preserves that she had to pause to gather breath. I was exhausted and with my mental capacity stretched, I feebly ordered apricot, thinking it’s like being in America with too many choices. I only wanted a snack. Usually you just get the teacake, a little wrapped blob of butter and a mini jar of strawberry jam regardless. Its standard. No questions asked. That’s what you’re getting. Period. I was quite bamboozled.

And here’s the offending little glass jar of apricot jam……

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilkin_%26_Sons

A couple of pictures of our walk we abandoned – this building caught my eye as it looked like a refurnished oast house, though I don’t think it is. Can’t find any history on it, but maybe something to do with the salt industry. Answers on a postcard please.

These buildings on the other side of the tidal estuary, built out into the river on stilts. Not sure if they’re homes or holidays lets, but been there for a while. Love to know why they were built and their purpose. Possibly fisherman huts?

So, full of toasted teacake, we wandered back to the car and drove back to Braintree. Despite the weather and our intention of doing a little stroll, it turned out to be very interesting and unusual. My first visit of this area and very enjoyable, which would be even better with a bit of warm sunshine. Enjoy.

Another bit of the Lancaster Canal

Walk: Towpath walk from Carpernway to Carnforth.

Difficulty: Easy

Accessibility: a short gravel path soon turns into a grassy track which in turn, will turn muddy in bad weather.

Parking: outside the New England Caravan Park, on the road. Grid reference 529529.

It was quite cold this morning with a cool wind blowing hard, but as the day progressed, the sun fought its way out behind heavy cloud and the day warmed and brightened.

I was struggling to think where to take The Dog on her daily walk, not really wanting to go far, but not wanting to trudge through mud and adorn wellies. I found this spot a couple of months ago, tripping over it when I was diverted by roadworks. That time I walked from where I parked, up to Tewitfield and Longlands Hotel. This time I went in the opposite direction towards Carnforth.

It’s in the middle of nowhere, a few farmhouses and a couple of caravan parks across the fields. There’s a tea shop here, but I’ve yet to try it out – firstly it was at the beginning of a walk and straight after lunch. Pah!

It’s not a particularly spectacular walk, but it stretches your legs and blows the cobwebs away. The Dog was dredging sticks again and was happy. We walked towards Carnforth with the railway on the right. Soon we came across the busy M6 motorway and we walked parallel with it. So weird to have fields on one side and then lorries thundering past and concrete tunnels.

We spotted these flowers in the sun – a lovely splash of colour!

Isn’t that so British to have a railway signal in your front garden? I just love people who collect old memorabilia like the red telephone boxes and railway signs and hang them up in their gardens. Just fantastic.

We soon reach the outskirts of Carnforth. We are walking past houses and their gardens which butt up to the towpath, but all I can hear is the noise from the motorway. It’s quite invasive considering it’s behind a hill and probably half a mile away. I peer into the gardens to see garden furniture and wonder how you can sit out with that racket. But perhaps they just don’t hear it anymore. I use to live very near to an airport and yet barely heard the planes landing and taking off, unless someone pointed it out. Weird.

This caught my eye and I wondered what the 10 stood for? 10 miles to the nearest pub? Or was it a point of interest and this was number 10? I don’t know what it was, but it was very elaborate and someone had spent time carving it.

We walked to the marina in Carnforth and looked into a canal side pub to check out if they did afternoon teas. Alas, starters, mains, desserts and a selection of sandwiches. Didn’t float my boat, but time it right for lunch and it could work. The Dog and I lurked a bit, I chatted to the local dog walkers and The Dog sniffed their four legged friends. Then we wandered back to the car and home for a well earned cuppa.