England

Jo’s Monday walk : Whitburn through the Looking Glass

Are you wondering at my title this week?  The village of Whitburn in north east England has a Lewis Carroll connection.  It’s generally accepted that he wrote “The Walrus and the Carpenter” while staying at his cousin’s home in Whitburn.

Charles Dodgson, whose pen name was Carroll, of “Alice in Wonderland” fame, regularly visited his cousin Margaret Wilcox, the wife of a Customs officer in Sunderland.  For entertainment on an evening they would make up verses.  ‘Twas brillig and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe’ started life here, and was published as ‘Jabberwocky’ in 1872.   I had no such rhymes in my head on the seafront at Seaburn.  The sun was shining warmly and I planned to head up the coast.

Looking good, don’t you think, and I’m not surprised that Carroll enjoyed strolling on this stretch of cliff top that leads north to Souter Lighthouse. I’m easily distracted sometimes and a wooden sculpture by the edge of the road beckoned me to take a closer look.

Welcome to Whitburn, the sign said.  Well, why not?  A path led invitingly past a swathe of vibrant wildflowers and I found myself in Cornthwaite Park.  There I found the legend writ large, ‘Whitburn through the Looking Glass’.

I love the reputation of this peaceful, rural location as a haven for shipwreckers. Following the attack of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the defeated Spanish fleet fled up the north east coast of England.  Two galleons ran aground in rough seas on Whitburn Rocks and the locals were not slow to utilise wreckage.  Two oak beams in the village smithy were said to have come from the wreck, and a bell used to call the Spanish crews to prayer was mounted in the parish church.

Leaving the park, imposing gates and a double letter box drew my eye to the most stylish and sumptuous of buildings.

Whitburn Hall originally belonged to the Carr family, but was bought in 1719 by the Williamsons, who remained in residence for 200 years.  During that time, Sir Hedworth Williamson trained racehorses on Whitburn Sands, producing a couple of famous Derby winners.  Horses are still a common sight, exercising on the beach.

Lewis Carroll would have been a regular visitor to the Hall.  Lady Hedworth Williamson was second cousin to Alice Liddell, to whom the ‘Alice’ books are dedicated.  Remember my Llandudno post?

Church Lane leads to Whitburn Church, and beyond that an expansive village green.  Set back from the road, a row of cottages with an idyllic location.  An elderly gentleman passed the time of day and acknowledged his good fortune at living there.

The cottages look up to strikingly decorative Whitburn House.  Thomas Barnes, the owner of a brickworks, tried to fence off the common ground in front of it, but in 1873 the courts decided that ‘the Bank’ and the village green should remain free for the use of all villagers.

Did you notice the Tradesman’s entrance?  ‘Know your place!’, as it was in those days.  A window cleaner was tackling the vast frontage and I didn’t envy him.  From Whitburn House I turned right off Front Street into Sandy Chare.  I vaguely remembered a village pond from a previous visit.

Serene as it looks, it has a bit of a tumultuous history.  Formerly known as the Horse Pool, the pond was used to wash coaches and the white building behind once housed stables.  In 1824 the first village school was built, beside the pond.  When a larger school was built in Sandy Chare, in 1852, the building became the Infant School.  In seriously wet weather the pool was prone to overflowing, and one villager recalls having to sit on his desk amidst rising water.  The headmaster gives a graphic account of the situation after the great storm of 1900. (you can read it if you magnify the panel above)

The sea was calling me back, and a return to the rough headland of the Bents.  My husband had food in mind, though we paused to admire the antics of a family of cormorants out on the rocks. ‘Latimers’ of Whitburn does a mean plate of food, with a sea view to boot.

On Front St. I had noticed a sign for Bede’s Heritage Trail and, looking it up when I got home, discovered that Whitburn is part of a 12 mile walk dedicated to the saint.  On June 29th each year there is an annual pilgrimage.  More food for thought, and certainly an outing for another day.  Here is the map.  I had unwittingly completed parts of section 4 and 5.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Many thanks to all of you for wandering with me, and for this wonderful selection of walks.  I hope you’ll find time to put the kettle on and sit back for a good read.  Join me if you can.  The details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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Not quite a Beatles classic, Drake gives us Scandinavia with a smile this week :

Southern Norwegian mood

While Debbie does an easy snippet of the Fife Coastal path :

Inverkeithing to North Queensferry

And Lady Lee, a fierce-looking castle in Malta :

Traces of the Past- Citadel/Cittadella

Jackie is on hand with coffee and cake :

Smell the coffee

Which Tish could do with, after a hard day’s gardening.  A privilege for me to have her here :

Butterflies in the Buddleia, Bees in the Teasels and all’s well at the allotment

Join Vanessa and family in a gentle introduction to walking in Japan.  If you have the stamina you can climb Mount Fuji too :

Fujiyoshida/ Hiking the Tokai Nature Trail through rural Japan

Meantime, Meg goes bouldering, with due care and diligence :

Granite country

Got your parasols ready for twirling?  Rosemay has a lovely summery walk for us :

Promenade by the lake

And by contrast, Lynn flirts with an avalanche.  I kid you not!

A little snow on the mountain

Woolly explores the sad loss of Newfoundlanders on the Western Front :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk29_Beaumont-Hamel-Pt-1

Last September it was surely warmer and sunnier than now.  Or was it just having Jude’s lovely company?

Garden Portrait : Edinburgh Botanic Garden

Meanwhile Denzil’s pulled out all the stops to impress with his canal boats :

GR121 Stage 3 : Nivelles to Braines-le-Comte

Something for everybody, I’m sure you’ll agree.  It’s a miserable wet Monday here in the north east.  Maybe I’ll stop at home and do a little research. Have a great week everybody!

 

 

Six word Saturday

Could you entertain yourselves today, please?

I shall be busy helping my son to move home, so I thought I could leave you with a bit of fun from the Brass Band Festival in Durham last weekend. The atmosphere was great and we had a smashing time, despite drizzly, miserable weather.  It’s not the same as being there but I have videos of my favourite two bands, Back Chat Brass and Xaral’s Dixie (all the way from Portugal- small world!)

Sharing six words with Debbie will keep you out of mischief.  Go on- you know you want to!  Happy weekend!

Jo’s Monday walk : Mallyan Spout revisited

The village of Goathland, in North Yorkshire, has any number of attractions, just one of which is the waterfall, Mallyan Spout.  At the bottom of a ravine, with a 70 foot drop, in full spate it is a beautiful sight.

The start point of my walk is beside the hotel of the same name, highly rated on Trip Advisor, for those of you who pay attention to such things.  I pass through the gate adjoining the coffee shop with scarcely a glance, eager to set eyes on the waterfall.  Almost immediately the path starts to drop downwards, and down some more, and then down again.  I’m not even thinking about the inevitable climb back up when my eyes alight on a perfect cluster of palest pink, wild orchids.

I listen hard for the telltale chuckle of water as I descend still further.  Finally I can hear it and, a few moments later, there it is.

Now I can’t pretend to anybody that this is an easy walk but, in not too damp conditions, it is perfectly possible to negotiate the stepped path down to the waterfall.  Turning left at the bottom, you need only follow the beck for a matter of yards to be within sight and sound.  It’s up to you how close you want to go.  To get a good look, a bit of scrambling over rocks will be needed, but there were families with quite young children making the trip.  Watch out for the ‘coin’ trees, shown above, set deep into the rocks.

How can you not love being in this leafy dell?  When you have gazed your fill, you have a choice to make.  You can retrace your steps to the bottom of the path that led downwards, and then continue to the right, alongside the beck.  This will take you on a 3 mile circular walk, via Beck Hole, as detailed in the link at the start.  Or you can be a bit more adventurous.

The walk I was following crosses the waterfall and continues along a ‘sometimes difficult’ footpath, and over two footbridges, according to my guidebook.  Sound challenging?  It only had a medium level of difficulty.  I thought that passing the waterfall might prove tricky, but the rocks weren’t too slippy and with the help of a steadying hand I managed it.  Balance is not my strong point.

There was a sense that the valley bottom had shifted, leaving behind the pedestal on which the first footbridge rested.  The second had a gentle curve, the pedestal still loosely attached.  Tree roots and boulders didn’t make for an easy walk, but it was the dampness underfoot that was my undoing.  Just beyond the footbridges a sign pointed upwards to Goathland, half a mile away, up a stepped incline.  It didn’t seem too bad an idea to me, but my companion was scathing.  Half a mile?  That’s not a walk!

A further sign, pointing out that erosion had affected the footpath ahead, did nothing to reassure.  A deep breath and on we went, slithering a bit in muddy patches and clambering around rocks and endless tree roots.  I was grateful for any handhold I could get and clung fiercely to ferns, roots, boulders, anything that would give me purchase.  Inevitably it happened. Stepping forward onto ‘firm’ ground, suddenly my foot had slid from beneath me and I dangled over the edge, in a less than comfortable version of the sideways splits.

I hauled myself up, with a little help, and stood there shaking for a minute or two.  The way back was just as fraught as the way ahead might be.  We looked at each other, recognising the folly of our situation.  As I limped forward, I was astounded to hear the sound of voices behind us.  Another foolhardy couple had disregarded the warning.  How reassuring, their presence. We exchanged a few words together, and then we carried on, leaving them resting beside the water.

The way ahead was no easier, sometimes promising to climb back out of the valley, only to drop you back down to the water’s edge.  I decided that the other couple must have turned back as there was no further sight nor sound of them.  My legs were growing weary when finally we stepped out of the undergrowth, and onto a narrow road.  An old stone bridge spanned the stream and we slumped against it.  A few minutes later, who should emerge from the woods but our couple, grinning triumphantly.

I have few photos of that latter part of the walk.  I was too busy hanging on, and hoping.  We stood chatting companionably to our fellow walkers for quite some time, relief in our laughter. They were from Dorset, on a first visit to Yorkshire, and traveling in a campervan.  We discussed good places to visit, and consulted each of our maps before agreeing to take slightly different routes back to Goathland.  Theirs appeared longer and we joked that whoever was back first should buy the beers.

Our route climbed gently through a forest of ferns, until at last we crested the hill.  Just the faintest hint of sunshine lit the rolling expanse ahead. Still we had to toil upwards, and upwards some more, but it no longer mattered.  We were free of the canyon.

Up above the woods it looked a long way down to the valley floor.  At the top of the stepped incline we had chosen not to climb, there was a map.  If you look closely you will see that there are two paths marked.  The one we followed, beside the beck, and an alternative ‘permissive’ path, a little higher up.  With hindsight….

Almost back to the village, something a little unusual caught our eye, through a gap in the stone wall.  Can you see what they are?

Alpaca!  I was prepared for moorland sheep, but this was a bit of a surprise.  The sheep were busy munching, and kept themselves to themselves.

Arriving at the long village green, we spotted, far ahead of us, our couple who had taken the ‘longer’ route.  No hurry to catch them up.  St. Mary’s Church was open, inviting a quick look inside.  Simple, but beautiful.  The stained glass, beacons of light.

I was wrong, of course.  There was a hurry!  We arrived at the pub at 2.40pm, only to find that they stopped serving food at 2.30pm.  The menu, tantalising, but out of bounds.  If you’re thinking that this walk was a disaster, start to finish, well, I might be tempted to agree with you. But that wouldn’t be true.  It was taxing, no doubt, but it gave me a perspective that I wouldn’t otherwise have enjoyed.

You know, from the title of this post, that I’ve been here a time or two before.  For a look at Goathland itself, and details of the Rail Trail, take a look back at Steam’s up in North Yorkshire. I think I’ve earned a week off now, don’t you?

I’m away to the Algarve on Thursday, so that gives me plenty of time to catch up with everybody before I go.  I won’t be posting a walk next Monday, because I don’t have Wifi in Tavira.  I suspect it will be too warm to think about walking far.  I’ll be back the following week, though, and more than happy to have your company.  Details, as always, on my Jo’s Monday walk page. Many thanks to all of you who follow along so loyally, and to my lovely contributors, who make this all possible.  And now, enough of me- let’s put the kettle on!

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We start with sunny September memories from Jude.  A swathe of beauty, fit for a queen :

Garden Portrait : Glamis Castle Walled Garden

And a walk to improve your photographic skills, with lovely Debbie :

A walk around quirky Bordeaux

Swirling mists in the Pyrenees, accompany Drake :

Like an upstair jungle

What mischief is Jackie up to, back in Toronto?

Hot Plate

Lady Lee makes Malta look irresistible again!

Our Malta experience 2

More beautiful memories from Becky!  She knows all too well that I love this place :

An evening stroll in Mertola

Agness hails originally from Poland, but she likes to keep on the move!

Mapping Melbourne- a Walking Tour around the City Sights

Cheryl conquers her fear of heights for some magnificent views.  Braver than me!

Hiking Inwangsan in Summer

And Woolly?  He’s lingering with the war graves :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk26

I couldn’t choose a better traveling companion than Gilly.  Let her show you her home turf :

Views of Dartmouth

And for a jaunty Irish stroll, wouldn’t you just like to be beside Ann Christine?

Early Morning Kilkenny 

Let’s finish with another garden.  A classic beauty from Cady Luck Leedy :

Jo’s Monday walk : A Visit to Sissinghurst

That’s it for a little while.  Enjoy Summer, if you’re here in the UK.  I’ll be eating strawberries and trying to keep up with Wimbledon.  Take good care, all of you!  I’ll try to bring back some cake.

 

Six word Saturday

Her Mum can’t paint for toffee!

Following my Thursday’s Special post I had many requests for more of Lisa’s artwork.  I cannot do justice to her lovely home but this is a small sample of it’s beauty.  Alternative six words- Is it any wonder I’m proud?  Take your pick!

I won’t be here next Saturday.  Poor me, I’ll be languishing in the Algarve heat.  Take good care of yourselves, and don’t forget to keep the six words going.  Debbie’s relying on you.

Goldfinch


I spy, with my eye,

A goldfinch, sweetly gilded.

Pure labour of love

Hand-painted, on my daughter’s living room wall.  He seems to be looking Over his shoulder, rather wisely, I think.  Join Paula in this week’s Thursday’s Special for a totally incredible look at the moon.

Jo’s Monday walk : Rufford Abbey and Country Park

Rufford Abbey in Nottinghamshire looks very inviting on a warm Summer’s day.  Nestled on the edge of Sherwood Forest, in Robin Hood territory, the abbey dates back to 12th July, 1147. Founded by Gilbert de Gant, it was populated with Cistercian monks from Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, a place that I know well.  They were known as ‘white monks’ because their habits were made from undyed wool, and they lived an austere life of prayer and hard work.

When my daughter suggested that I would love these abbey ruins, now part of a large country estate, I was more than happy to accompany her. She always makes excellent company.  Why don’t you come with us?

Did any of you ever hear of a heliochronometer?  That’s what Lisa was studying in the rose garden.  According to a complicated explanation in Wikipedia, it is a precision sundial first devised by Philip Hahn around 1763.  We struggled to set it, rather unsuccesfully.

Only the west wing of the abbey remains.  The rest was demolished in the 1670s, following the Abolition of the Monasteries.  The pink-tinged stone has a delicacy I love.  A country house replaced the abbey, alleged to be haunted, most appropriately by a skull-bearing monk.

The formal gardens have a lovely hint of playfulness, entrancing to children large and small. Had it not been so hot we could have navigated the fortune maze for much longer.  Spinning the wheel to choose our destiny.  The metal gates and sculptures were intricate and beautiful.

Shade was a valuable commodity, with Lisa fluttering her fan and wishing she’d brought the delightfully dilapidated parasol I’d managed to poke another hole in the previous day. Accidentally, of course.

The Oil Patch Warrior, a sculpture by Jay O’Meilia, a Navy artist in World War II, commemorates American oil workers who drilled over 3 million barrels of oil in the heart of Nottinghamshire, between 1943 and 1945.  He is one of many varied and interesting pieces throughout the grounds.

Hidden in the depths of leafy shade we find an immense ice house.  Sadly, the ice is long departed.  Hoping to catch a breeze over by the lake, or maybe even an icecream, we saunter down through the trees.

There’s a small cafe, but it’s melting hot inside, so we opt for that icecream- tangy lemon for Lisa, pistachio and almond for me.  Lovely!  The path winds on around the lake and we follow it back to the start.

Time to twirl that imaginary parasol homewards.  All good things come to an end, and it was beautiful while it lasted.  I hope you enjoyed it too.  Rufford Abbey is now managed by English Heritage, and full details of how to get there are on their website.

That’s my couple of days in Nottingham accounted for.  Thank you for your company, and for the many and varied walks I’ve received this week.  Join me any time.  You’ll be most welcome. Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Time to put the kettle on now and settle in for a good read.

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I was delighted to be introduced last week to Theresa, by Becky.  Another birder, of course!

Little Orme Level 1

For a glimpse of breathtaking beauty, you often can’t beat Drake :

Nowhere highland

One I missed from last week!  Please have a catch up with Denzil :

The Valley of the Hermeton

A beer by the Spree and/or a bit of wall?  Nice choice from Debbie :

Walking the Wall

A look at a place Jackie knows well- street art and stairs! :

Bonjour Montreal!

A bit of sadness with Woolly :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk25

But Geoff stays determinedly cheerful :

Cake not Hate – a walk and some thoughts

Meg gently meanders, looking in crevices, twice!

Two wordless walks

While Jude is mildly disenchanted with walking in Truro.  Can anyone help?

Truro – the UK’s most southerly city

Lady Lee offers a superb look at another of those places I’ve always wanted to visit :

Our Malta experience

A good friend has been to the falls at Plitvice and Krka.  They look magnificent!  Here’s proof positive from Paula :

Transience of Water

Do you know Ting?  She’d love to escort you around these beautiful gardens :

Exploring RHS Gardens, Wisley in Surrey

Becky just knew I’d love this post!  Distinctive boats, canals, sunshine… can’t go wrong!

Exploring the many canals of Aveiro

While Carol takes me somewhere very familiar indeed.  I do like a Shambles!

A Walk Around York

You might need a bit of stamina for this long walk, with Eunice :

Ambling round Anglezarke

I am enamoured with Savannah.  Take a look at Cady Luck’s post and you will be too!

Jo’s Monday Walk : Savannah, Georgia

Sssh, but the sun still seems to be shining a little bit up here, and I’m off out for a walk.  Catch you all soon.  Have a great week!

Six word Saturday

As transient as a reflected image

I hate goodbyes.  The weekend in Nottingham with my daughter came and went all too swiftly. Transient, you might say.  As she returned to work, I took one last disconsolate stroll by the canal.

Share your six words this Saturday?  Debbie will be pleased to see you.  Or you might want to try the Weekly Photo Challenge. There’s still time.