One of the two highlights of our trip to the UK last year was our hike around Coniston in the English Lake District. It was a day in which we melded our love for Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons.
We set off on foot from Coniston, following one of the walks in Walking with Beatrix Potter: Fifteen Walks in Beatrix Potter Country. The day was sporadically rainy and sunny and there were lots of blackberries lining the path.
A field of cows in the rain:
We carried provisions with us, including Romney's Kendal Mint Cake -- that famous food of British hikers. In fact, Kendal Mint Cake has climbed Mt. Everest.
The hike was to take us around five different farms belonging to the Monk-Coniston tract of land that Beatrix Potter purchased in 1930. Our first major landmark was Boon Crag Farm where we watched the farmer send his sheep dog out and bring in his entire herd of sheep, take them across the road and up into their pen. Quite an awesome sight.
Here you can see all the sheep safely in their pen.
I guess they were about to be sold:
Around the bend from the farm was another tempting blackberry bush.
Laura had height to her advantage.
A little snack for the road:
Looking over our shoulders to Consiton Lake -- all the area around here is what our guide later in the day called "Pure Arthur Ransome Country". Ransome lived on these shores and wrote his books (which begin with Swallows and Amazons (Godine Storyteller)) set in the much of the countryside roundabout.
I can never get enough of the green, the sheep, the constantly changing light.
Every so often we had to consult our guide book for phrases like "Immediately after passing a clump of mature beeches on the left, the track is indistinct for a short distance. Bear a little to the right....."
Such a glorious day!
It's no wonder this scenery features in storybooks -- it is so idyllic!
Rainbows appear often in this weather (can you see the one at the center of the photo?):
Once in awhile we met other hikers.
And eventually we came to the Tarn Hows Cottages, another of Beatrix's holdings.
Beatrix owned all this land but she continued to rent it out to the tenants and farmers who did all the actual work of the farm. This is still how the National Trust operates. They own all these places (including the house we were staying at) but continue to rent them out.
In the back of the Tarn Hows Cottages this gorgeous rainbow greeted us.
With another shower coming on we sought shelter under a large tree to enjoy our lunch.
Around the next bend we caught an excellent view of the Yewdale Fells, otherwise known as Slater Bob's Quarry and the Coppermines in Ransome's books.
The views with the sun shining, and rainbows glistening, were just breathtaking.
Another view of the "copper mines".
Sometimes there were surprises around the corner:
Always nice to get right up close to the sheep!
Looking down into the valley:
Another glimpse of the rainy fog mixed with sunshine:
At the bottom of the hill, in the valley, we came to Yew Tree Farm. You may recognize it as "Hill Top" in "Miss Potter".
Such a beautiful, beautiful setting! And another one of the farms owned by Beatrix from the Monk-Coniston estate.
Our path took us behind the farm and across this "Beck" which actually may be a possibility for the "River Amazon".
Next we came to High Yewdale Farm:
Lots of lovely buildings and check out the vegetables in the garden out front!!
On through a field of sheep:
And down toward Low Yewsdale Farm, otherwise known in Ransome's works as "Dixon's".
Dixon's Farm features in Winter Holiday -- a perfect book for reading during winter vacation.
Looking down the lane in front of the farm:
You can see the "copper mines" in the background:
And get a feel for the location of the outbuildings and barns which also feature in the story.
It always amused me that the gravel and stones were gray but the puddles had the exact color of a strong cup of tea!
Coming up from Dixon's Farm heading back toward Coniston.
A mossy area of the woodlands. Perhaps in "Swallowdale" there were scenes such as these.
In the outer areas of Coniston we passed by some lovely cottages:
And how do you like this for a house name?
Such neat and tidy back areas:
By this time I think we had been on the trail for nearly four hours but we were almost back to Coniston.
And when we reached the town, ice-cream for everyone was in order! We had just enough time to enjoy it before heading down to the boat launch for our Swallows and Amazons boat tour.
More about that next time!!!!
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