29th SEPTEMBER – 2nd OCTOBER 2009


"Hi I'm Elmer, and I will be telling this story"


Armathwaite Hall is a very select hotel situated in extensive grounds at the north end of Bassenthwaite Lake in the beautiful Lake District. Our intrepid group STAG go frequently with Dad, walking on the fells there, but this time they were staying at home as no walking was in prospect. Instead it would be a nice change for Dad to rest and relax with Uncle Brian in the luxurious surroundings. It was to be just a short three night stay so Uncle Brian said that only a small group from the Hug could go. So Barnaby, Fred, Gladly, Lee, Snowdrift and myself, settled in the back of the car ready for the journey on the Tuesday morning.

To make for an easy journey, Dad drove us north on the M6. It was a cloudy day and the tops of the Howgills and Pennines were enveloped in cloud and looked quite dramatic and forbidding. Not for the first time had we thought how brave STAG are to venture into such wild places. The motorway was left at Penrith, and then Dad drove to the village of Stainton, and Greystone House, where he and Uncle Brian had a nice lunch. Dad has been here many times for tea and cakes after walks in this vicinity. Joined the A66 and headed west, and soon the high mountains and hills came into view, although many of the tops were in cloud. Passing Keswick, we were soon travelling along Bassenthwaite Lake under the very hills that Dad and STAG had climbed only last Sunday. Then we took a side road and soon we were entering the grounds of Armathwaite Hall.

If you think it looks like a stately home, then you would be right, as that is its origins, although it has been a hotel since 1930. Inside rooms have wood panelled walls and ceilings, and there are wonderful paintings, and old items of furniture, that have been passed down with the building from former owners. Our room had a high ceiling but was beautifully appointed, the furniture in keeping with the ambience of the place as a whole. Barnaby, Lee, Fred and Gladly immediately settled on the settee, There is a magnificent view from our bedroom, over the grounds and down the lake, with the hills on either side and in the distance.

To Snowdrift and I this was just magnificent, and we sat looking out of the window all the time. Again we thought about the wonderful days that STAG must have had climbing the fells we could see.

Later Dad and Uncle Brian went down for their six course dinner. They told us that the food was just superb and everything they had expected. Suddenly the door opened and it was the maid, who had come to turn the beds down, close the curtains and leave the lights on, for when Dad and Uncle Brian returned. Snowdrift and I were still looking out of the window, and so were in the way. The maid kindly lifted us down and settled us on the sofa with the rest of the Lads, also arranging Fred and Glad's hats in front of them, and placing a packet of shortbread in front of Snowdrift!

l-r - Myself (Elmer), Snowdrift, Fred, Gladly, Barnaby & Lee



Uncle Brian, and Dad in particular had come here for a rest, so when Wednesday turned out to be wet for most of the day, they did not mind and just relaxed in the comfortable surroundings. We too were glad of the rest. Later in the afternoon the rain had stopped, so we sent Dad out to explore the grounds and see what he could find out. He took his camera along and here are the results.

This is the rear of the hotel, the window of our room, is on the first floor, just to the right of the tower.

To the right of the picture, you will notice a brown door. Over this was an inscribed stone.

The 'T' and 'H', relate to Thomas Hartley, a mine owner who bought the hall in 1880 for £95,000. He is the owner who extended and remodelled the Hall into the Country Gentlemen's Residence, the building as it is today. He live here until his death in 1926.

There are extensive lawns to the rear and these steps led down to them from the terrace.

Dad now walked through the woods to the right of these steps. A circuitous path meandered, passing a curious structure with a wooden tower, with no apparent access to it. Just beyond was this pond.

This was rather mystifying, but later Dad met the gardener, who told him they were part of an old equestrian course, designed by Captain Mark Phillips. He also explained about a few other features in the grounds, which added enjoyment to Dad's explorations.

He had noted this line of tall trees. There are 21 in all, including the one on the right, at right angles to the line. They are Lime trees, being planted by a previous owner on the occasion of his son's 21st birthday.

Nearby was this enormous Yew tree, the oldest in Cumbria.

Continuing his explorations, he followed a path that led to a bridge over the road. After this the path went on leading to the shore of the lake. Sadly the view was not very good due to the low cloud.

Returning Dad took this picture of the road below the bridge, and you can see that it runs in a cutting.

There was a very good reason for this, as follows. In c1850 the house was bought by a Mr Boustead. He had the road (B5291), which used to run down the front drive and through the car park, moved to it's present position. The stipulation was that Mr Boustead should not be able to see any of the traffic on the road from the hall.



Today dawned with blue skies, so Dad said he would take Uncle Brian and us all for a drive. We were eager to be off, but had to be patient while they went and had breakfast. Then we hurried out to the car and settled on the back seat as usual. Across the fields from the car park there was this typically English pastoral scene.

The first stopping place was the lovely town of Cockermouth, which has a long main street lined with shops. The tall statue is to Earl Mayo, to commemorate his services to the country. He represented Cockermouth in Parliament, later being appointed Viceroy of India in January 1869. He was assassinated on February 18th 1872, in the Andaman Islands.

Near one end it crosses the river, where Dad got this pretty shot, with Jennings Brewery.

This building is of note too, it being the birthplace of famous Lakeland poet, William Wordsworth.

Some years ago, when Dad and Uncle Brian came here, they brought our Lakeland Bear hug member William Wordsworth, and he was photographed outside.

And finally as they walked back to the car Dad spotted that one of the pubs was called the Fletcher Christian. And, yes, you are right in thinking this is the same sailor connected with the Mutiny on the Bounty. There were information boards outside, giving an insight into his life, and the events surrounding the mutiny.

Fletcher Christian -
He was born 25th September 1764 at Moorland Close near Cockermouth, and educated at the Free Grammar School. When he was thirteen his mother was forced to give up Moorland Close and move to the Isle of Man, coincidentally the home of his future Captain, mentor, friend and finally nemesis William Bligh.
He started his naval career in 1783, joining the 'Eurydice' at Spithead. In 1786 Fletcher joined the crew of the 'Britannia' commanded by Lieutenant Bligh. Despite Bligh's seniority in rank and age the two men soon became firm friends. When William Bligh was appointed Captain on the HMS Bounty, Fletcher went with him and was quickly promoted to acting Lieutenant.

The Mutiny -
HMS Bounty's mission to the Pacific was to collect bread fruit plants. There are many reasons why Fletcher Christian and some of the crew mutinied. The prolonged stay on Tahiti, a lapse of discipline ashore and Tahitian hospitality were major factors. When the Bounty set sail for home with its cargo of plants it was also carrying a resentful crew. Fletcher was finding Bligh's attitude intolerable, so much so that he was persuaded to lead the mutiny.
Bligh and eighteen men were cast adrift in a boat designed to carry only fifteen.
Beset by problems, Fletcher, eight other mutineers, six male and twelve female Polynesians finally settled on the remote uncharted Pitcairn Island. It is most likely that Fletcher Christian was killed during one of the many violent feuds the mutineers had with their Polynesian companions.
William Bligh, meanwhile, accomplished one of the great maritime feats in guiding that small boat and its company to safety. He went on to enjoy a distinguished career, reaching the rank of Vice Admiral.

Well we all, Dad and Uncle Brian included, learnt a lot that morning in Cockermouth. Dad also bought a book - 'A Dictionary of Lake District Place-Names'. He and STAG will have an even better understanding of the places they visit.

It was time to be on our way and continue with our tour. Taking the road that leads towards Ennerdale, we then turned off at Mockerin passing the pretty tarn, on a narrow road that climbed up and then dropped down to pass alongside lovely Loweswater. Dad pointed out the hills on the opposite side, saying he and STAG had climbed them earlier this year. The road wound on and then turned right to pass along above Crummock Water. We stopped and got out to look at the mountains towering up on either side. On the far side was Mellbreak (1678ft).

While above the road was the massive bulk of Grasmoor (2795ft).

The rock adjacent to the sign seemed a great place for our photo, so we trotted across and settled into a pose.

Now the eagle eyed among you may notice that there is an extra bear amongst us sitting next to Lee. He was spotted by Dad in one of the display cases, immediately on arrival at the hotel, and he said there and then to Uncle Brian that he intended him to join our Hug. Not wanting him to miss the day out he had bought him just before we set off. Some deliberation took place in deciding his name, but eventually Dad hit on Fletcher. Not you may think after Fletcher Christian, but after the Fletcher-Vane family who owned the Hall from 1796 to c1850.

From further along there was a fine view along the length of Crummock Water, to the Fellbarrow Group of fells. Dad told us that this was where he met Uncle Bob.

Soon we reached the village of Buttermere, and then we drove along the lake of the same name, before starting the climb up the Honister Pass. From here there was a dramatic view of High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike, the three mountains that dominate Buttermere.

The pass leads down to beautiful Borrowdale, one of Dad's favourite valleys, and we could certainly see why. What wonderful scenery. Once past the so called Jaws of Borrowdale where the road negotiates a narrow gap between Castle Crag and King's How, we came beside Derwentwater, with ahead the massive bulk of the Skiddaw Group.

"That's where Dad took STAG a few weeks ago", remarked Lee.

"You're right," replied Fred, "and there is a story of that adventure elsewhere on this site."

Soon we were passing through Keswick, and it was not long before we were at the hotel, and settled in the room. For the first and only time this stay the clouds had finally lifted off the fells to the left when viewed from the room. They are Skiddaw (left and almost hidden by the trees), Ullock Pike and Dodd.

Well that was the end of a great day out and nearly the end of our holiday. Dad and Uncle Brian had their final wonderful dinner, while we sat in the room chatting and reflecting on what we seen and learnt today. Later Uncle Brian took Fletcher sitting with Fred and Gladly.

photograph courtesy of Brian Tooley (Uncle Brian)



So Friday dawned and the cloud was down on the hills again, so we had been lucky yesterday that all was so clear. After breakfast we departed and Dad drove us home through the Lake District.

We had had a lovely time, and the good news is that Dad and Uncle Brian are going back for another stay just before Christmas. So I guess that some other lucky Hug members will get to go along with Fred and Gladly. I know for certain that Fletcher will be going.

Love & Hugs


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