Sizergh 2017 II Wed 9 August-Sat 12 August

Note: continued from part 1.

Wednesday, 9 August

On Wednesday, indolence was the watchword. Well, it would have been had we not been too languid to come up with one. Well, it was a holiday after all. I said that to myself a lot.

As we approached midday, however, Aurora was getting restless so Mum and I took Aurora off for a little walk in the sunshine. A took a look at the map and spotted a pleasant looking route, and we set off across the fields.

Pasture and sheep soon gave way to fields of barley.

After strolling through the fields, the path entered a narrow strip of woodland and started to head uphill as we ascended the ridgeline.

A very pleasant stroll through sun-dappled woodland.

Leaving the woodland we passed the grade II listed buildings of Holeslack Farm and onward and upward along a narrow lane which levelled off into another stretch of pleasant woodland walking along the top of the ridge.

After a surprisingly steep, but mercifully brief, ascent we’d reached the top of the ridge.

After we emerged from the woodland we veered off the track and started to descend down a grassy path on the other side of the before spending a few minutes enjoying the sun and admiring the view, however.

Admiring the view

After woodland lower down the slope we reached a steep and shaded rocky path downward. It looked a little threacherous, but was very short so we made our way carefully down to find a wonderful vista of the Lyth Valley.

A steep and slippery little descent—much care was taken!
The view of the Lyth Valley was worth the trouble.

The wetland you can see in the picture is actually a fairly new creation, after drainage of the area was stopped to allow it to return to its natural marshy state. This is great for wildlife, decision apparently wasn’t universally popular among local residents.

Continuing down the slope we crossed the road and veered across the hillside to the entrance of Brigsteer Park Wood, a wooded hillside crisscrossed with well laid paths. The walking here was easy, but Aurora was starting to flag a little—however, a little water and chocolate worked wonders and soon Aurora the Explorer was taking the lead once more.

Wordsworth’s famed daffs nod their heads to countless Lake District visitors beside Ullswater. Far more secret are the woods above the tiny village of Brigsteer, nestled amid limestone hills above the Lyth Valley and Morecambe Bay. Here, wild Lenten lilies (an old English name for a native wild daffodil) stud the wooded slopes of Brigsteer Park, succeeded by ramsons and bluebells in a profusion of spring colours.
A walk in the woods with Aurora the Explorer.

After we’d made our way upwards through the trees, we came out of the woods at the same spot that Aurora and I had passed on our walk earlier in the week. We followed the now familiar Ashbank Lane back to the cottage for some well earned lunch.

Contrasting approaches to enjoying the countryside.

Thursday, 10 August

Thursday dawned bright and sunny, and we decided to head out to the Lakeland Maze, which we’d seen signed. This turned out to be the Lakeland Maze Farm Park, a name which suggested they’d tried to cram as many attractions into one venue as possible—and funnily enough that’s more or less what it turned out to be.

We pulled into the car park and were met with a view of the fairly sprawling site.

The Lakeland Maze maize maze is on the left. Amazing.

We plunged into the smaller of two maize mazes, and it took around a half hour to locate all the droids in it (and by “droids” of course I mean pictures of droids on sticks). I didn’t take any photos because it all looked a bit samey—that’s rather the point of mazes, I suppose.

Upon learning that the larger maze could easily take three times as long, we decided we’d look around a bit more first. First stop for Aurora was, as per usual, the playground.

Aurora, the playground connoisseur, reviews another contender. Thoroughly.

We eventually persuaded her to come with us and help feed the alpaca and llama in the adjacent field, all while endeavouring to not draw her attention to an amorous young male alpaca’s persistent but ultimately futile attempts to become better acquainted with one of the females.

Llama lunchtime

We then headed inside for lunch and while we waited Aurora tired herself out on the adjoining soft play area. We then passed the rest of the day exploring what else there was to do, although invariably Aurora just wanted to return to the playground every time so Mum and I watched her while Jackie and Michelle visited more of the farm animals.

The maze looks more daunting from the air...

Eventually it was time to head home, Aurora being placated with ice-cream on the way out (and it would have been rude for the rest of us not to join her). It had been a lovely sunny day, I just wish I’d managed to take more pictures!

Sizergh Rock Garden

Later in the evening the weather was still delightful, so Mum and I took advantage of the deserted gardens for a quiet evening stroll.

The courtyard of the house was closed when the family were in residence.

Before exploring the rock garden proper, we took a stroll around the stumpery. If you don’t know what a stumpery is you’re not alone—my iPad keeps wanting to correct the spelling of it as well. I’ll leave an explanation to the experts...

A stumpery is an intentional arrangement of woody material like trunks and root wads. A root wad is a length of downed tree that includes a portion of the trunk and, most importantly, the root mass or ball. The goal of a stumpery is the creation of habitat especially for ferns; secondarily comes the sense of accomplishment from arrangements that display the arresting architecture of the roots.

Then it was on to the rock garden itself, which was a picturesque creation of limestone boulders covered with shrubs and flowers of all kinds. Winding gravel paths spread through the garden, crossing gurgling brooks with stepping stones here and there.

The rock garden, which was constructed in the 1920s, is the largest limestone rock garden belonging to the National Trust. It includes part of the National Collection of hardy ferns.

Paths squeezed their way between an abundance of flora on all sides, and the whole area felt very secluded.

The limestone rocks were a beautiful and rugged feature on their own, and complimented the foliage around them perfectly.

The water features completed the calming scene, filling the air with the gentle sound of running water.

After some time meandering among the plants and chatting, the sun was beginning to near the horizon, so Mum and I headed through the formal gardens on the way back to the cottage.

The lake as viewed from the house.

Friday 11 August

On Friday we were lucky enough to enjoy some authentic Lakeland weather. All day. We enjoyed it so much we relaxed in the cottage all day.


Saturday 12 August

On Saturday Michelle wanted to perform some sort of complicated hair procedure, so Mum and I took Aurora out for the day. We were originally headed for the village of Hawkshead, but after some transport difficulties we changed plans and stopped in at Brockhole instead. This is the National Park Visitor Centre, a not-for-profit attraction run by the Lake District National Park Authority.

When we arrived it was quite close to lunchtime, so the first stop was the house, part of which had been converted into a restaurant. The house was built in 1897 as a summer house for a wealthy Manchester silk merchant and so it and the gardens were a very pleasant venue for a sunny day.

Thomas Mawson designed the gardens, working closely with Dan Gibson who designed the house. Mawson is internationally known as a key influence in the design of gardens during the Arts and Crafts movement.
Step one: lunch. Step two: playground. Guess which step was Aurora's idea.

Next stop, at Aurora's repeated request, was the adventure playground. As Mum wondered off to find somewhere to sit down, Aurora immediately gravitated towards the highest structure in the playground.

The view of the playground.

Unfortunately between her and the large slide she had her eye on was a log, suspended a good fifteen feet above the ground. It was surrounded by cargo nets, but that was a scant consolation and she became quite upset. In the end, however, I persuaded her to make her way across and, despite her continual cries of "Daddy, I don't think I'm going to make it!", she eventually did. Once she'd done it once, of course, she was hopping across happily in no time.

Despite her protestations, Aurora conquered her fear quite readily.

Aurora loved the playground and certainly made the most of everything that was there. She spent almost an hour flitting around until we decided it was probably time to head on.

Aurora's tour of the adventure playground.

Once we finally persuaded Aurora to move on, with the promise of future treats to sweeten the deal, we headed down towards the shores of Windermere to admire the view of Wray Castle on the opposite bank.

Lake Windermere sparkles in the sunshine.

Unfortunately we didn't really have time to take a boat trip around the lake, so we headed on and soon found a way marked stroll through the woodland for Aurora the Explorer to practice her skills.

The forested shore of the lake was a very pleasant place for a stroll.
The woodland of Brockhole.

As we continued on around the estate, we then came across a café which meant we had to make good on those earlier promises to Aurora of a treat. Of course, it would have been rude not to join in.

Ice cream by the lake.

After that there was just time for one more look at the view before it was time to head homeward.

The lake was fairly busy, which wasn't a surprise given the weather.

When we got back we had another relaxing evening whilst we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

Created By
Andy Pearce

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