We are the new Lads on the block, only being adopted by Dad this month, Archie in Peebles & Cheviot in Northumberland. We heard Dad tell Uncle Brian that he was taking him for day out to the Lake District, so imagine our surprise and joy when he said that we could come along too.

The first part of the journey was north along the M6 motorway. At one point this passes through what is known as the Lune Gorge, with hills towering on either side. These were the Howgill Fells, and as we continued north we could see the Lakeland Fells too. It made us realise what a brave and intrepid group STAG are.

Dad told that when he is going walking he often leaves the motorway at junction 40 then heading west towards Keswick. Later we were to pass close by Keswick, but first today Dad continued to the next junction to exit. This was near the place called Catterlan. Here we headed west along a delightful road for a few miles. Then we turned left off this and passing through the village of Hesket Newmarket, and finally to Caldbeck. As we had rode along, more hills had come into view and we heard Dad tell Uncle Brian he had climbed them all.

At Caldbeck we stopped to visit the church. Immediately by the gate was this stone.

This is The Roughton Stone. In the 19th century it was used in its original circular form to process mineral in the mining area of Roughton Gill, near Caldbeck. It has been placed here in tribute to the mining men and their families who lived and worked in the Gill for four hundred years, and who now lie at rest in the churchyard.

Walking up the path we saw this stone that was the base of an ancient cross. Dad kindly took our picture sitting on it. Archie is on the left

The church is dedicated to St Kentigern, also known as St Mungo, who went round preaching Christianity to the pagan people. There are a number of churches with these names in the area, which are indicative of his route. Here is its interior.

The first stone church was built in Norman times, but of this only a section of the wall visible on the left of the chancel remains. The church has been enlarged and altered over the ages, and when a larger chancel arch was built, the original was incorporated into the entrance of the porch.

As we walked up into the chancel we saw this ancient gravestone to Thomas de Bray, dating from about 1250.

On either side of the path there are many graves, and this one in particular is perhaps the reason why many people visit here.

It is of John Peel, a Cumberland farmer who kept a pack of foxhounds and hunted in the traditional Lake District manner where the hounds are followed on foot. He died in 1854 aged 78, and is remembered forever in the words of the song ‘D'ye ken John Peel’. John Woodcock Graves penned the words. It is said that the two men met one night at Graves’s house to arrange some hunting matter. The grandmother of Graves's children was singing a child to sleep with an old nursery rhyme known as Bonnie Annie, or Whar wad Bonnie Annie lie, and Graves became struck by the idea of writing a song in honour of Peel to the tune the old lady was singing. He completed a version before Peel left the house.

Finally, in the song the words are "his coat so gay", but it is probable that is should be "coat so grey", referring the Hodden grey cloth woven from the fleece of the Herdwick sheep grazed in the area.

Before leaving Dad took this picture of the church.

The centre of the village was just a short drive, and Uncle Brian and Dad went and had a snack at The Old Smithy café and fairtrade shop.

Meanwhile we went for a walk. There is a stream running through the village behind which are these pretty cottages.

Here we are on the bridge over the stream that leads to the cottages.

Well it was time to move on and Dad drove us through the beautiful countryside, first to the tiny hamlet of Whelpo, where this graceful bridge spans the beck.

Soon now we were on the open commons and Dad stopped so that we could all look at the scenery and he pointed out too, where he, STAG and Uncle Eric had walked a few weeks ago, and where Grizzly had finally climbed to his last Wainwright summit. These cows and calves sat unconcernedly by the roadside.

Distantly we could see even higher mountains, which we were in fact soon to pass directly below. Dad told us that the highest was Skiddaw, just over 3000ft. He has climbed these with STAG of course – as has been said before, they really are intrepid. We now skirted the town of Keswick and turned off the main road to pass through the village of Braithwaite and climb up the Whinlatter Pass, stopping at the Forest Park Visitor Centre.

This was so that we could all go and see the live pictures of the ospreys, nesting on the eastern side of Bassenthwaite Lake. In fact just above the road we had driven along earlier. There are three chicks (all female it was determined a few days later), and we could see them clearly and the adult female too. The male was sitting on his favourite post by the lake and did not put in an appearance. The chicks were only about 5 weeks old, but we were amazed how large they had grown. We spent quite a while watching them – absolutely fascinating. After having a snack at the café, Dad then kindly took our picture by this sculpture, to mark our visit.

One of the reasons we think that Dad is so drawn to the Lake District is that on his Mum’s side his ancestors came from the north lakes in the Cockermouth area. He has done some research, and discovered that his great, great, grandfather, John Bateman, was a farmer and lived between 1800 and 1875. Dad’s Mum said that with his dogs he drove his sheep over Whinlatter Pass the very road we had driven up and down today. Also she said that he hunted with John Peel. Whether it is true or not he certainly was alive at the same time.

It was time to set off for home, and to complete Uncle Brian’s day Dad took us through the heart of the Lake District passing by Thirlmere, then over Dunmail Raise to Grasmere and Ambleside. All around were fells and mountains, which needless to say had been climbed by STAG and Dad. Exciting though it must be we were quite content to admire the scenery from the car.

What a wonderful day we had had, and we could not wait to tell our friends at home all about it. Thank you Dad!

Love & Hugs

Archie & Cheviot


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