27th - 30th APRIL 2010



As the last week of April approached there was much excitement amongst the Hug, wondering who would be lucky enough to accompany Uncle Brian and Dad on their few days away in the Lake District at their luxury retreat of Armathwaite Hall. Fred and Gladly are very special and always go along, as would I, Fletcher, because that is where I came from. So, the day of departure arrived and we, with our pals Magee, Moss, Ping, Ripley, Tebay & Yanzi, settled ourselves in the car.

We were to enjoy much better weather than our last visit in December, so over the three days we all got to go out and here is the tale of our adventures.



As we set off, I asked, "which way are we going up Dad."

"To Windermere, so we can have lunch at Lakeland Ltd, then through the Lakes to Keswick, Fletcher", Dad replied.

"I thought there would be a stop for food", remarked Fred, knowing what an appetite his Uncle Gerry has.

It is not very far to Windermere, so it seemed like no time at all we were pulling into the parking space. We were not interested in shopping, so we went and sat on the railway station watching the trains, while we ate our sandwiches and drank our pop.

Magee was on look out, and called out as he saw them returning, so we scampered back to the car.

"Did you enjoy your lunch", asked Gladly.

"Yes", replied Uncle Brian. "The soup was delicious"

"Is that all you had, My, my what restraint", piped up Fred.

"Don't be so cheeky", said Uncle Brian.

So now onward north along Windermere to Ambleside then passing Rydal Water and Grasmere and over Dunmail Raise to pass Thirlmere and so on to Keswick. All the way along Dad was pointing out the different fells and mountains, adding that he and STAG had climbed them all too.

"Oh, how he goes on!", yawned Fred, promptly dozing off until we arrived.

Some of our party who had not been before were much more interested and marvelled at the great heights that STAG had attained on their many adventures.

As we neared Keswick, the familiar sight of mighty Skiddaw came into view and then to the right the massive bulk of Blencathra.

Armathwaite Hall lies on a road along the north shore of Bassenthwaite Lake, and last time due to the terrible floods last November the bridge over the River Derwent had been closed. To avoid the need to cross this, we took the road on the east side of the lake under the slopes of Dodd and Ullock Pike. At the Castle Inn we turned left and in minutes we were pulling up in front of the hotel.

I of course went with Dad and Uncle Brian, to check in. The lady on reception immediately remembered me, and that we were all having the same room with the wonderful view overlooking the grounds and lake. I felt ever so important, and told my pals later. Glasses of sherry were offered and we went and sat in the lounge to drink them, and Dad shared his with me.

While Dad brought in the luggage, I went and sat with the Lads in the car, until Dad was able to bring us all in. We immediately settled on the settee, although Yanzi, Ping, Ripley and Magee, who were amongst those visiting for the first time sat looking out in wonder at the view.

This is what they could see. Oh, and needless to say Dad had climbed all the fells that can be seen.

Uncle Brian was rather tired after the journey and just wanted to rest in the room, read his book and listen in peace to his MP3. Dad on the other hand was full of energy, so he announced he was going to do the Nature Trail again taking Moss, Tebay and myself along too.

"He got a bit lost last time", said Gladly, "so you had better be the guide Fletcher, to see he goes along the correct route".

"OK", I replied, "but I had better have a look at the leaflet to refresh my memory"

So off we went. Outside we turned left and walked round and along the back of the building. Looking up we saw Uncle Brian waving, and we waved our paws back.

"We need to go round behind that huge tree", I said, "then along the gravel path.

Just a little way along, I pointed out three large trees on the right. Then I said to my pals, "if you look left now, you will see a long line of similar trees".

"What are they?", asked Tebay.

"They are lime trees", I replied. "Twenty one in all, planted long ago by a previous owner on the occasion of his son's 21st birthday." Oh, and if you are wondering why the trees are in leaf, this is because Dad took the picture in late summer on a previous visit.

With Dad we ambled along the path soon arriving at the bridge that crosses the road.

Moss called out, "let's sit here while Dad takes our picture"

"OK", replied Dad hauling the camera out of its bag.

l-r - Moss, Fletcher & Tebay

"Where now?", asked Moss.

I replied, "we continue along the path as it meanders down, under the trees and rhododendrons. In another month they will be a blaze of colour."

So on we strode, and in a few minutes we emerged from the trees and after a final short steep section, arrived at the shore of Bassenthwaite Lake. There was a convenient stone where we sat to enjoy the stunning view.

Dad remarked, "when we were here last December the lake was so high after the terrible rains and floods that it would have been quite impossible to sit here."

It was so quiet and peaceful here and we were reluctant to leave, but we had only done about one quarter of the walk, so after a few minutes quiet contemplation, we set off again.

"Which way now?", asked Tebay.

"We return to the path and then go left along the top of the lake", I replied.

"OK", agreed Dad.

The path was a bit muddy in places so we walked with care to avoid getting our paws dirty and Dad getting his shoes mucky.

"Just look at those lovely flowers beside the path. They are Wood Anemones", said Moss knowingly. He is the flora expert amongst the hug.

Tebay added, "if we sit amongst them it will make a nice picture."

After a while the path seemed to climb to the right. Here I said, "we need to ignore that and keep ahead alongside the lake shore."

"That is where I went wrong last time, so thanks Fletcher for keeping me on the right track", said Dad.

So far the lake had been obscured by trees, but suddenly we came to a gap, and were able to walk down to water. What a wonderful view we had too, of the mountains that dominate the east side of the lake.

To the left is the massive bulk of Skiddaw (3053ft), then going right Ullock Pike (2270ft) and Dodd (1647ft). We looked on in wonder, knowing that STAG had climbed Skiddaw last year, and that they were going to climb Ullock Pike and Dodd, with Dad and Uncle Eric, next week. And indeed here they are posing for their usual summit picture on Ullock Pike.

"According to the leaflet, those hills are 450m years old, and there is evidence to suggest that Skiddaw was once taller than Everest", I said.

There were some rocks running out into the lake and we sat beside one for another picture.

Soon we came to a cross path. "Turn right here", I called out.

This led to the main road, which we had crossed earlier by the bridge. "It is left here". After a short walk we arrived at the road bridge over the river Derwent.

"Following the floods this was closed, and has only reopened quite recently", said Dad. "You can see in the field the mud that was left by the receding waters. At its height the water would have been up to the very top of the arches. Looking at the river level today it is hard to visualise the ferocity."

Bringing our thoughts back to today, Moss asked, "which way do we go now, Fletcher?"

"Through the gates of the caravan park over there", I replied.

So off we trotted and as we passed through the gates, Tebay called out, "look over there. Its a Derwent Bear, telling people where the car park is."

He has to stand there day in, day out, so it made us realise how lucky we are to have a Dad who takes us out on adventures!

We followed the main road through the site, and then continued on through a gate to a track. This took us over a small stream to another gate, which we were supposed to go through. However the gates had been tied up with string, and Dad considered that this was to prevent us using this route at present because there were ewes with lambs in the field.

Knowing the layout of the grounds I said, "we should go right and climb to the gate beside that large wooden tower that was once one of the jumps on the old equestrian course."

The tower is quite huge, as you can see how small we look, sitting on the seat.

Well our walk was nearly over, and all that remained was to go left along the path to emerge by the side of the hotel. We then hurried back to the room, to tell Uncle Brian and our other pals, all about it.



Today it was the turn of some of my other pals to have their day out, so I have nominated Ping to tell the story.

"Hi, Ping here."Dad and Uncle Brian were going to visit the town of Whitehaven today, so Magee, Ripley, Yanzi & I went along."

The route was westwards along the A66 road, eventually turning off south to Whitehaven. As we drove along we could see hills away to the left.

Magee asked, "have you climbed those hills Dad?"

"Yes Lad. I did most of them last year, some for the second time, so that all the STAG team could tick them off. The walks were good, but it is a long drive from home, so it is nice to think we do not need to go there again."

Soon we were entering the town and we eagerly looked out. As Dad drove round to the car park, we noted that the streets ran at right angles. Whitehaven is a Georgian town, that owes its development to the Lowther family, and in particular Sir John Lowther who laid out the original grid system, and specified the type of houses to be built. Dad told us that he once heard on a television programme that in fact Whitehaven was the original grid town. It was built on shipping and mining, but these industries have now almost totally disappeared. There are many fine buildings and in fact there are over 250 Georgian Listed Buildings. We were to see quite a few when later we went to the harbour.

"Where to first Dad?", I asked.

"Well we are walking along that street there, so that Uncle Brian can get some things he wants from Boots Chemist, then we are going to find somewhere for a snack", replied Dad.

The cafe they found was called The Haven. It was packed with local people, always a good sign, but there was a free table. The tea was welcome, and the teacake and scone was delicious they said.

Walking on along the street, suddenly a tall tower reared up to the right set amongst gardens that were ablaze with spring flowers.

"That looks like a church tower", remarked Ripley.

"I agree" replied Yanzi, "but there is nothing behind, so I do not know what to make of it all".

"There is a notice board, over there", called out Magee.

"Lets go and see what it tells us", I said.

This is what we learnt -

The gardens are the grounds to St Nicholas Church, of which all that remains today is the tower. Two former churches stood on this site, the original known to have existed in 1642. The third church was constructed in red sandstone and had a capacity of 600 and was consecrated in 1883. A dedication stone states, the church was erected by Margaret Gibson in affectionate remembrance of her beloved parents Hobert & Elizabeth Gibson. It was a magnificent addition to the town and stood for 93 years until it was practically destroyed by fire on 31 August 1971. Subsequently the tower was fitted out as an auxiliary chapel for services.

Well having noted this, we then toured the gardens and sat for our picture -

I am on the left, then Ripley, Yanzi and Magee.

"What's that over there set into the ground", called out Ripley. "It looks interesting."

So we trotted over for a closer look.

"It's a mosaic", I said.

We mentioned earlier that Whitehaven had once been a coal mining area, and we noted that the wheel design closely resembled a winding wheel at a colliery. The writing set in informed us that this was a memorial and read as follows -

In Memory Of The One Thousand Two Hundred Men Women And Children Who Lost Their Lives In The Whitehaven Coalmines 1597 to 1987.

Set into the spokes of the wheel are the individual names of all the collieries that made up the Whitehaven mines. Twenty four in all, with names such as Corporal, Countess, Country, Croft, Duke, George, Haig etc.

Close by the entrance to the gardens was this water garden. Note the sculpture of the otter on the left.

"Where are we going now?", I asked.

"Well once Uncle Brian has sat a little longer, we are going to walk slowly down to the harbour", replied Dad.

Soon we were ambling along, and in a few minutes, we arrived by the harbour. On the way we saw some of the old Georgian buildings.

The development of the harbour started with the beginning of the Irish coal trade in the the 1630's, subsequently being extended twice during that century. The Sugar Tongue Quay used for unloading sugar from the West Indies, was added and the Fish Quay, in 1809. The Lime Tongue (from which large quantities of lime were exported in the 19th Century) was added in 1754. As trade continued to expand, additional quays were built, culminating in the construction of the North Pier (1833-41) and the West Pier (1824-38). The West Pier was designed by the great civil engineer, John Rennie.

The final phase was the Queens Dock, built between 1872 and 1876. The Marchon chemical plant, on the hill above Whitehaven, was a major user of the Queens Dock for many years until 1992, bringing calcium phosphate from Africa to make detergents.

In 1998, as part of the major regeneration of Whitehaven, works were carried out to enclose the harbour, which resulted in the marina we could see on our visit today. The waterfront area has been extensively regenerated too, with many seats to sit on and enjoy the view, with little or no traffic.

Away to the left we could see The Beacon, the major tourist attraction, about the history of Whitehaven and the surrounding area. It has many other interesting exhibits too. It was rather too far for Uncle Brian to walk, so this was saved for perhaps another visit, on a future stay at Armathwaite Hall.

On the hill behind is the Candlestick Chimney. This is the only surviving part of a colliery engine house built in 1850, part of Wellington Mine.

Whitehaven was the last place in Britain to be attacked by American naval forces. On 23rd April 1778 during the American War of Independence, John Paul Jones arrived with the intention of setting the whole merchant fleet on fire. The alarm however was raised, and he retreated forthwith.

As we wandered along exploring we saw two old cannons, that had been restored, and could not resist, posing for our picture.

They were excavated from the quaysides. Dating from pre-Napoleonic times, one is believed to have formed part of the defences at Whitehaven Battery, providing protection for the town, harbour and merchant ships. The other it is thought may have been part of an 18th century ship's armament.

We wondered if the one that was part of the Whitehaven Battery, had been readied for firing when John Paul Jones attacked the town?

Well that was the end of our fascinating day out and we settled on the back seat of the car reflecting on all we had seen and learnt, ready to tell our other pals when we got back to Armathwaite Hall.



As Uncle Brian opened the curtains, this morning, I remarked to Ping and Co, "its a good job Dad took you to Whitehaven, yesterday".

"Why's that Fletcher?", asked Ping.

"It's raining and I can barely see the lake, never mind the hills."

Dad and Uncle Brian went off for breakfast, while we had ours served in the room, after which we sat on the settee, chatting. I was already thinking about this story, so was re-reading the walk leaflet, so that I could tell Dad exactly what needed to be included.

The weather showed no sign of improvement, but nevertheless Dad and Uncle Brian resolved to go out, and so Fred, Gladly and I went along. They took us to the Whinlatter Forest Visitor Centre, so that we could all see the live pictures of the Ospreys nesting on the slopes of Dodd. We spent quite a while sitting watching the pictures and seeing the female. The male never put in an appearance. The female is sitting on three eggs, which are expected to hatch towards the end of May. While Dad and Uncle Brian went and had a snack, we sat on the verandah watching the chaffinches and siskins feeding. Then before leaving we posed for our picture in the entrance.

"We need some petrol, so I'll go to the filling station in Keswick, before we return to the hotel", Dad said to Uncle Brian.

So off we went driving the few miles down Whinlatter Pass and through Braithwaite.

The sky brightened as we drove into Keswick, and Dad remarked, "look, the roads are completely dry."

Such is the vagaries of the Lake District weather, that can vary so much in such a short distance.

Uncle Brian now just wanted to relax in the room and read, while Dad did some work on his computer.

Once this was done, Fred said, "are you going to take us for our usual group picture."

"Yes" replied Dad, "we'll go now."

So we all trooped out and arranged ourselves on some steps."

back row - Magee, Gladly, Moss, Tebay, Fred & Ripley
front row - Yanzi, Fletcher & Ping

That done we made to return to the room, but Dad said "why don't I take you all down to the shore of the lake, so that you can enjoy the view, which Fletcher, Moss and Tebay saw on Tuesday."

"That is a great idea. Come on Lads", called out Gladly.

As we strolled across the wide lawns, Ripley called out, "that is a fine view of Armathwaite Hall, and worth a picture I reckon."

The window of our room is on the first floor just immediately to the right of the tower on the left. Beyond the fence the sheep were grazing peacefully. When we arrived they became inquisitive, and yes you have guessed it, Dad could not resist once again getting his camera out.

"Where to now Fletcher", asked Fred.

"We cross to that path then continue over the bridge and down the winding path to the shore."

"I hope it's not too far", he replied, not being a big one for walking.

Soon we were by the lake, and we all agreed that it had been worth the effort. The lake stretched away into the distance surrounded by the hills.

Fred said, "before you start Dad, I know, you and STAG have climbed them all."

"Well we had better have a picture to prove we have all been here", said Fletcher.

Well that was the end our our adventures for today and we returned along the path and finally back to the room, where we settled on the settee as usual. The holiday was nearly over and we had all enjoyed an exciting time, and by the end of the evening we were tired little teddy bears, as we snuggled down under the blanket. We can truly say that we all slept very soundly.



So, that was that, the end of another wonderful stay here at Armathwaite Hall. The Lads and I were sad to be leaving this morning, but Dad told us that he and Uncle Brian will be coming here again later in the year, so we can look forward to that. It was into Keswick first so that Dad and Uncle Brian could get some shopping from the Booths supermarket. Then straight on home where we told our other pals all about our adventures.

We all say a big big thank you to Dad and Uncle Brian for taking us.

Love & Hugs always




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