Sunday, 19 January 2020

Does size really matter?

If you Google '10 Things about Cumbria' you'll find a host of websites clammouring to tell you that we have the highest mountain, the longest (and deepest) lakes and the steepest road in England (I'm not convinced that last one is even accurate!)  

It's true that our towering fells and shimmering lakes are utterly spectacular, and it's also true that you can have some pretty big adventures here, from zipwires to mountain biking, but what often gets missed is that Cumbria is full of small wonders too, things that folks can (and do!) walk right past without noticing.  

This year we have decided to explore nooks, crannies, and paths less travelled - and certainly paths we've never wandered along before.  To kick off our 'Small Year', here are my 10 favourite small things that we've spotted on our walks so far.

1. An enclosed footpath

I love wandering along old enclosed footpaths - you know that 'back in the day' they were probably bustling routes between farms and villages, but today they're just for hikers and wildlife.

 2. The Old Concrete Road

While cyclists and drivers in their thousands stream over the high passes, I'll settle for the old concrete road near Shap.  It's not the biggest, steepest or most dramatic, but I absolutely love a toddle along it.

3.  Frozen bubbles

To be fair, I've shared this picture before - but we only spotted these because we were dawdling (as usual!) and paused to look more closely at a tarn.  I've never seen frozen bubbles before or since and absolutely love this photo.

4.  Bluebell Woods

Rannerdale Bluebells are the stars of the show every year, but there are dozens of stunning bluebell woods all over Cumbria, and none more spectacular than Dorothy Farrer's Spring Woods near Stavely.

5.  Packhorse bridges

Yes, Ashness Bridge is super stunning, but it's alo super busy.  We discovered this absolute gem by complete accident during our Brewers Loop hike last year.  It's not far from Ravenglass, but for full location details you'll have to wait for the book.

6.  The flowers on Grange Prom

We live in Grange-over-Sands and there are flowers in bloom pretty much all year round.  I usually take a detour along the prom on my way to the shops, and I'm never disappointed.

7.  Skylarks

Well, birds in general to be honest, but is there anything lovelier than the background music of a skylark during a gentle summer walk?  And we were SO excited to see one this close!

8.  Moss on a wall

I know you'll think I've lost my marbles with this one, but I love moss on walls - especially when the sun catches it like this.  We were meant to be eating lunch but I just kept staring at the wall...

9.  Wells and water troughs

As well as moss, I also love stumbling on old wells and water troughs, for me they are a great reminder to appreciate the taps in our house.  Imagine having to head off with your bucket every time you wanted a drink, or to do the washing, or anything really.  So many of them are incredibly ornate too, and often have fascinating snippets of history and folklore behind them.

10.  Sharing the experience

Yeah, I know this one is cheesy, but surely one of the finest pleasures is sharing wonderful new discoveries with someone else?  I love that we get to work and play outside together so often - it just makes it so much more fun!

Want more info on Cumbria's tucked away treasures?  Then may I recommend one of our books?   They are crammed full of wonderful nuggets of history as well as Steve's fabulous photos, and I promise I do a happy dance whenever we sell one!  Click the pic to browse our bookshelf!

Click here to browse