George and the Squirrel
11th July 2012
you hurtle northwards at 100 mph on your motorbike
along the A6 towards Shap, you might not notice the
sign on your right for Shap Wells Hotel. Even
at walking speed, you will not see the hotel from the
road, so far set back that it is.
of us who live locally tend to be rather dismissive
of the area (wrongly as will become clear). Comments
such as “They eat their young up there!” have been known
to have been uttered.
would have been a little different in Queen
Wells then was very much a high society
destination, partly for its peace and solitude
(except when shooting of course), partly
for its spa waters.
its history has been more checkered, having
been converted to a Prisoner of War camp
for officers in WW2'
its greatest claim to fame is that one of
its inmates might have been Rudolph Hess,
the German Deputy Fuhrer who flew to
Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with the United Kingdom, but was arrested.
then again, perhaps he didn’t stay there.
once more restored to being a hotel, most of us have
been to the odd function on occasion. Indeed,
one member of today’s party (nameless, to spare
embarrassment) had to have the bus stopped on the way
back after attending a lawyers’ dinner there at the
generous invitation of, and liberal supply of port by,
another of our group today. None of us had been
there recently, though we were aware that it is well
used as a staging post for coach parties.
the forecast for the higher peaks was not
at all promising, the concept of a circular
walk from the hotel seemed attractive.
derived the thought from a book called Curious
Cumbrian Walks in which such a walk is described.
was not today’s outing other than it brought
to our attention a monument and another
feature that we had not previously visited.
it seemed possible to produce a longer,
interesting circular walk down and round
Birk Beck- a major tributary of the River
phoning the hotel to ask if we might park in their grounds
whilst undertaking the walk, I was greeted kindly and
agreement was readily forthcoming.
day was not looking too clever as we turned down the
lane to the hotel to be confronted by an exiting coach.
However the dampness in the air more or less disappeared
as we left the car and, although we saw showers passing
by elsewhere, for us the day just got better and better.
party leaving .....
Shap Wells Hotel
readers will know that Tony is interested in historical
memorials but even he was not aware of this monument
erected to honour Queen Victoria’s coronation. Located
just behind the hotel, in an open field but flanked
by conifers that would not have been there a century
ago, it is a statue of Britannia on a high column.
Waives the Rules
one side the base had engraving commemorating the accession
of Queen Victoria to "The Throne Of These Realms"
village has an interesting website that includes
a page dedicated to the History
of Shap Wells.
Regarding the other sides of the plinth, it advises
that on the north panel is a wreath of palm and olive and the Lowther coat of arms,
on the west panel is a British lion with its paw resting on a globe
and on the east panel the goddess Hygeia pouring medicinal waters from a goblet into a shell held by an aged invalid.
by the beck we found another structure that would have
been familiar to Victorians, albeit in their time it
would have been a heated spa bath by the stream. Today
only the canopy and a pump remain.
else was to be seen here took us by surprise. More
red squirrels in this one place than I have seen in
the whole of my previous existence. They are clearly
well looked after as the plethora of feeding stations
verified. But by whom? Presumably the Shap
and motor ways
could have stayed here much longer or, indeed, wandered
upstream as suggested in the Curious Walks book, but
our way led to the south, parallelish with the rail
and motor ways whilst the Howgills and Lune Gorge could
be seen in the distance.
and Lune Gorge
had anticipated a walk that would be somewhat boggy
and damp underfoot and were not disappointed! Sadly
for the purpose of this report, nobody fell in or got
in the mire
progressed through various fields on the east side of Birk
Beck, past a number of fell ponies with their young.
with Lord Lucan
Beauty with Snow Black
closer view of Howgills and Lune Gorge
of the property we encountered was derelict, some tastefully
challenge for Tony?
restored Scout Troop barn
South of Scout Green,
crossed the beck, re-crossing
just before Steps where we patriotically paused by a
Union Jack for our Comitibus photo.
Bridge End, we returned to the west bank and, aided by
a signpost that had seen better days although the
destinations had not yet moved, explored the hamlet
of Greenholme, featuring an old chapel converted into
a village hall but still with an earth closet.
lunched on the steps of the hall where, directly opposite,
we discovered St
George with his tamed dragon behind him. No sign
of squirrels, red or otherwise, to be seen here. Had
the dragon scared them off?
Low Whinhowe there was some interesting, derelict farm
machinery. High Whinhowe was a long abandoned
tests the farm equipment
puts us right
we known at the time what we would know half an hour
later we could have saved ourselves the only steep climb
of the day but we didn’t. As we descended towards
the valley, I offered the team the choice of returning
north to the hotel or, alternatively, first exploring
trouble was that we weren't’t quite where I thought
we were; Bryan determined, correctly, that my navigation
had taken us too far south before meeting the road.
The wasted time let to us aborting the Bretherdale
mission and, annoyingly, climbing up the steep road
to emerge just by the High Whinhowe ruins that we had
so recently explored.
on the steep climb
Host- Shap Wells Hotel
little further on was a display of washing
that the boys insisted I photo for Margaret!
route back northwards, mostly on the west
side of Birk Beck, was without further incident
and soon we were returned to the Hotel.
boots, as quite reasonably,we had been requested
so to do when I telephoned, we entered the
hotel and found the bar, the friendly hotel
manager and a very tasty pint of Theakston's
best bitter to round off a good day's outing.
re-reading the above, the route sounds somewhat bland
but that is unfair. This is really pleasant countryside.
Not in itself particularly spectacular but with
long open views to Mallerstang, the Howgills and the
Lune Gorge. Although we mostly travelled parallel
with both the motorway and the Glasgow mainline, neither
interfered with the enjoyment.
the Shap Wells Hotel, although primarily designed for
a very different type of customer, made us and the squirrels feel very
welcome. I am sure they would do the same for St George.
who hurtle by at 100 mph don't know what they are missing!
11th July 2012
the Stricklands and the Hornyolds at Sizergh Castle
Simon Hornyold recently e-mailed me to advise that the
Stricklands ran out of male heirs. Henry Hornyold
married the Strickland heiress. He was the younger son
of the Hornyold family, at Blackmore Park, Hanley Swan,
Worcestershire. where the Hornyold family have been
in residence since the 11th century - one being hanged
in 1068 as a Saxon terrorist/freedom fighter!
Sort of Plane is this?
the question posed in BB1222,
"What sort of plane is this?" our military
expert, John S, responded:
One moment, whilst I don my Anorak.
The aircraft you saw was a
Lockheed C5 Galaxy,
America's largest transport plane. They've flogged a
few to the R.A.F.
on the link above, watch the video then have a stab at
answering the following question: "How
much would a set of 28 tyres cost for this Plane?"
on an e-mail please.
11th July 2012
climbed in feet:
Wells, Birk Beck
John H, Mike, Roger B, Tony
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