Friday, 30 November 2018

National Tree Week

From 24th November to 2 December the Tree Council promote 'National Tree Week' which is the start of the winter tree planting season (November to March) and volunteers and schools will be out and about putting that thought into action.  Winter also reveals the beautifully intricate structure of trees.
While in spring what is better than to gazing up into the sky through their branches  while taking in the glory of these yellow laburnum flowers.
Many make their home in trees.

The oak famously is home to a myriad of species and here is seen with a nicely snappy rhyme  'Plant a Tree in 73' postmark.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Ghosts of the Past

Time for walkies at Canal Foot for the Duddon History Group, the entrance to what was once the shortest canal in the country which today is a magnet for anglers, runners and strollers. The ship on the sign gives a clue to the reason for the canal as these came in at high tide from Morecambe Bay but there were also shipbuilders here as well. The notorious shifting sands and channels of Morecambe Bay added a bit of jeopardy to the changing  locations of piers.  The  canal had a short operational life and the coming of the Furness Railway sounded its death knell.  Canal Foot is now an ideal place to see the long railway viaduct (part of which can be seen in the background of the photo above) and the trains crossing, watch the bird life and enjoy the view,
We however were in search of past industries of which little remains but limestone quarries and lime kilns. The limestone is used in the iron making process and there were quite a few plants here at one time with also an iron ore mine but this view is what was the track-bed of the industrial rail link coming into the area and a rather fine limestone wall.
When I downloaded my photos I wondered why I had taken a picture of a field. Sheep in fields I am rather fond of but they are way in the distance then it was pointed out that banking loop to the right is also the old rail track.  In the distance can be see Hoad Hill
and the monument.  One can never get lost in Ulverston with this landmark and for generations of people a marker from a long journey that "we are nearly home".  After looking down the watery depths of the old iron ore mine we looped back to the canal
Low autumn light can make taking photographs tricky but it also lights up the colours of the few remaining leaves reluctant to let go.
After lunch at Canal Foot we journeyed half a mile down the road to the quiet hamlet of Sandhall with a handily placed postbox. In the 19th Century it was a hive of industry which included quarry, brick, and wire works and just round the corner
Carter Pool where the last ship to be built in Ulverston was constructed. From the size of it today it seems rather incredible.  Nothing on the surface remains of these industries and today this is a watery flat land and we watched hundreds of geese flying in formation in the sky, dividing and and then combining making shapes as they wheeled across the sky. Did I say nothing remains of the old industry here? Well there are two slag banks where now bee orchids grow and
a rather beautiful chimney that was once part of the wire works which operated from around 1882 to about 1919 and was left as a navigation aid for vessels berthing at Ainslie Pier, Hammerside.
The white brick banding is actually more yellow but digital doesn't pick it out too well. It looks to be in rather good condition.
I got rather excited about this chimney so clicked happily away as we passed it. Our guide for the day was Rod McKeever whose book The Industrial Archaeology of South Ulverston no doubt will guide us for another visit to the area.

Further and more informed information of Ulverston Canal and South Ulverston can be found on the Cumbrian Industrial History site


Sunday, 11 November 2018

Cease Fire

The bugle sounds on the 11 November 1918 for the cease fire and the end of The Great War.
Those that survived main question was 'what now' but it was time to live in the moment for this Canadian who had gathered blackberries from Bourlon Wood among the shattered trees. What better symbol than the blackberry  growing on its tangle of bramble branches in even the poorest soil and even in a land shattered by war.
Peace however was harder to find for although it came to western europe conflicts rumbled on in the east.  Some of the Canadian's comrades  lie at the end of the Avenue de Monument in the south-west corner of the village of Bourlon, lives never lived. The park is a series of terraces lined with ancient lime trees that were nursed back to heath after being shattered by the Battle for Bourlon wood. Nature survives us all.
Bourlon Canadian Memorial

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Heysham Spirit

The Spirit of Heysham sculpture by Michael Edwards on the wall of Heysham's Jubilee Institute depicts many of the historical buildings and artifacts to be seen in this ancient space and led us to the small but interesting Heritage Centre where the Duddon Valley History Group learnt about the area and indulged in a small bit of retail therapy and then moved on
to one of those buildings on the sculpture, St Peter's Church, a sturdy squat building whose churchyard slopes down to the sea and the buildings rear windows look out over the expanse of Morecambe Bay.  Two of the remains of crosses can be seen either side of the path in the photo above.  The core of the church is Anglo Saxon (mid 8th Century or before) and the door with a wooden bar and niches speaks across the centuries of times when refuge was taken from those with ill intent coming from the sea or land. Over the centuries the interior has been expanded from its Anglo-Saxon origin and altered with each era, Norman to Victorian.  One of the church's great treasures is the Hogback Stone, a Viking grave cover, and the story it contains of the Legends of Sigmund and Sigurd the Dragon Slayer are told and can be seen here .   Our church guide Richard Martin had a wealth of knowledge of the church and its history and has a handy guide available in the church for self tours.  

The church was consecrated in 967 and as part of its millennium celebrations the parishioners in 1966 made kneelers and cushions portraying the area's industry and occupations.  The four evangelists have pride of place
by the wooden screen in the chancel.  This is St Mathew and St John (the eagle)
St Mark (the winged lion) and St Luke (the winged ox).  The Cross with the crosses at the end is a Crosslet which also represents the four evangelists and the spreading of the gospel to the four corners of the earth.  Moving outside towards St Patrick's Chapel
a different type of cross can be see, a Pommée, the apple shapes at the end represent the fruits of the Christian life and it is thought that
St Patrick's Chapel's Anglo Saxon Doorway
St Patrick's Chapel on top of the headland was a place of retreat. It would have been a great place for contemplation with its views over Morecambe Bay and the hills of the Lake District.  Another of Heysham's treasures are the six rock-cut graves -
Nobody knows their origin but they are certainly unique and, as demonstrated, it looks a cosy place to end ones days under ever changing skies. Perhaps there were sky burials here although the less romantic archaeological explanation is that they were probably reliquaries for bones and other materials as they were not big enough for bodies but I observe they appear to big enough for female bodies.  The holes at the head were for crosses.  We took our leave of the Anglo-Saxon chapel and returned to the church
another stone coffin but of one which at one time contained the body of a past rector of the church (the crumbled remains of his chalice can be seen in the church).  We headed away
Remains of Anglo-Saxon Cross
to the nearby St Peter's cafe, a converted stables, which was a nice warming retreat to take the chill off the biting wind of the day.

The Heysham Timeline can be seen on Heysham Heritage Association website here.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Galatea Comes to Life

Galatea (45699) took a trip down the Cumbrian coast at the end of September and we watched from Foxfield Station as it steamed round the estuary
then came into view as it approached the station bend
past Tony Sharp's Trailer yard and towards the crowd of steam enthusiasts, their numbers swelled by those that were attending the beer festival in the Prince of Wales nearby who also couldn't resist a steam loco.
Galatea thundered past.  The driver waved, we waved, and then passengers and spectators waved, the power of steam and history joining us together in a wave of pure joy.  Galatea the statue that came to life and a locomotive brought to life by the power of engineering.

Can't get enough of steam engines? Here are more photos of Galatea and some black and white photos of the Jubilee class taken in the 1960s

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Ulpha and Dunnerdale

An Ulpha Circuit with the Duddon Valley Local History Group.

A sunny day in lakeless lakeland tempted a good turnout for the walk through Duddon history on Saturday.  Setting out off the road leading to Ulpha Bridge we walked up the fell-side east of the river to our first destination
the old Quaker Burial Ground known as the Quakers' Sepulcher, my first sight was of the beautifully crafted wall which encloses this peaceful space.
Burials took place here between 1662-1775. We appreciated the walled enclosure with its interior inset slate seats then took care to duck down under the low entrance to leave while mountain bikers waited to let the crowd pass.
After burial ceased here an apple orchard was planted but no trace of them remain, the only trees now are a scattering of firs.  We leave heading for Kiln Bank with views of the valley
the sky full of clouds with slants of sunlight highlighting patches of the field system. The scattering of houses and lone farms
and old slate workings entertain the eye.  We continued down the gentle path and reach the valley bottom
over the stream past 'The Fairy Bridge' in actuality built in the 1960s to show how a bridge was built -
only fairies may cross.   We cross the valley floor over Hall Bridge
Nook steps and Hall Bridge
and start to climb stopping part way up
to have lunch where there were plenty of nice flat slates to sit on
at Commonwoods Slate Quarry.  Our ultimate destination was further up
Ken stops to get his notes out to elucidate us all
to what is left of the Commonwoods slate dressing plateau.
There are many small ruined buildings, I think one would need plenty of shelter from the weather up here although this is a nice seat on a sunny day.
The slate workings building with pointed peak of Caw in the background.
The light playing on the hills with the steep slate quarry in the foreground. Here is someone who has visited the mines beneath.  We however stayed under the ever changing skies
headed downwards past the mossy remains of Grimecrag House.
which dates from the 17th Century. Built in one long range across the hillside it consists of a 3 bay house with 4 bay barn. Alan commented that the name Grimecrag would not have attracted a bride to this location in those day of old.  Today with it view of the Duddon to the coast it might have been more attractively called Sea View.  The old tree trunk in the foreground held a nice surprise
in this year of abundant fungi some had made a home here. Downward we continued by
Crosby Gill and past Grimecrag Bridge
through Hazel Head Farm, the group splintered when a few were tempted in to the Hesk View Walkers Barn with its cake and tea signpost but only with time to look around and think next time we might have time to stop but we had to catch up with our party.
We admired the bank barn on the way past.  Joining the Birker Fell Road and across the fields to the gate by
the charming Ulpha Post Office (opened in 1890). Buy your postcards here and post in
the Victoria Regina post box manufactured by WT Allen.  However it was only ice creams to be licked for us on this day rather than stamps.
A dated (1709 or 1769) gate stoop to gaze at and a visit to the idylic St John's Church
and enjoy its wall decorations.  This is dedicated to one of the Dansons (1793) who gave the church its lynchgate and oak porch (replaced in 1961 with a stone porch).  We give thanks for the day and return to our cars.