Ramblings of a non-walking walker
Due to a recent hamstring accident I was unable to take part in the walks on the U3A Walking Group
holiday in the Lakes.
We had all heard about or seen a television programme about life in the
Damson Dene Hotel where our party was staying, and as a result our
expectations were low. However, our experience was very different
from our preconceptions, as we enjoyed comfortable accommodation,
courteous and efficient service, excellent meals, and an inviting
swimming pool. The moral of this story is never believe all you
see on TV!! Apparently the hotel is now very popular and they
‘Sunday lunch with the cast!’
Whilst the walkers set off for the hills, a small group of non-walkers
investigated the cultural side of the area. Our first visit was
to Blackwell, an Arts and Craft House built at the turn of the last
century as a holiday retreat for Sir Edward Holt, the wealthy
Manchester brewer. It stands high above, and overlooking,
Windermere Lake with magnificent views of the Coniston Fells.
Inside everything is ‘in harmony,’ with a wealth of detail
and emphasis on light, space and craftsmanship - ornate plasterwork,
stained glass windows and carved wooden panelling, alongside rare and
fragile hessian wall-hangings. Lasting memories will be of the
‘living hall’ with inglenook fireplace and Minstrel’s
Gallery and the spectacular White Drawing Room.
Our next visit was to Kendal to investigate the Quaker Tapestry
Exhibition, a remarkable collection of 77 colourful panels, revealing a
wealth of fascinating stories – like a Bayeux Tapestry in
pieces. Stitched by 4000 adults and children in 15 countries of
the world, we learned about Elizabeth Fry and William Penn of
Pennsylvania, as well as many other important historical events.
We later discovered that one of our U3A members actually helped stitch
the Manchester panel, which told the story of the Peterloo Massacre.
Recently a friend of mine said she’d like to belong to a walking
group where you stayed in a nice hotel and did no walking!
However, I would like to say I have served my time as a
‘walker’ and am at present on ‘gardening
leave’, or perhaps it could be called ‘recovery time’.
On Sunday morning a group of 24 High Lane walkers met in the village of
Staveley and started a 5 mile walk from the village. The weather was
pleasant with hazy sunshine but the threat of rain later. After a steep
early climb, our original destination was to be Potter Tarn, which lies
in a fold of land east of Staveley at the southern end of a broad ridge
between Longsleddale and the lower valley of the River Kent.
However the weather deteriorated and our leader avoided the Tarn
and the high ground and took us through interesting and varied Lakeland
scenery to Frost Hole and Side House and down to the River Kent.
The return to Staveley was back along a delightful stretch of the
river on the Dales Way, where we spotted dippers, wagtails, and a
From Staveley Village we had a 7-10 mile car journey to our hotel - The
Damson Dene - the location for a recent TV documentary. The 37
bedroom hotel was set in most attractive surroundings close to the
village of Crosthwaite and catered well for the group. Facilities
included a comfortable lounge, a large dining room, an attractive bar,
plus swimming pool and beauty salon. Unfortunately the welcome we
received on arrival at the hotel was disappointing, as many of the
rooms were not ready for occupation until late afternoon, resulting in
a long wait for those affected. However after a good evening meal
and a most enjoyable quiz, these problems were soon forgotten. Top of Page
The morning of the 13th June started damp and drizzly as our group
26 walkers set
off in a 7 car convoy for Tarn Hows via the ferry from
Ferry Nab. The 6 mile walk
started from the NT car park at Tarn Hows
and took us up rough tracks through Iron
Keld Plantation to Black Crag
where there were wonderful views over Coniston,
Windermere and Little
Langdale Valley. Our return to Tarn Hows took in a short stop
coffee at the lovely High Arnside Tarn, just below Arnside Intake.
Here the skies
cleared and we had sunshine and blue skies for the
rest of the day and evening. The
journey back to the hotel took
us past the popular ‘Drunken Duck Inn’, where cream
a pint of the local brew were enjoyed.
Tuesday morning was warm and sunny. Some members of the group
decided to have a morning off walking in order to visit various Lake
District attractions, or to set off for home, leaving a group of 18
walkers to motor to a NT car park just south of Cunswick Scar (about 4
miles west of Kendal). There we started a 3 mile ‘out and
return’ walk to the cairn on Cunswick Scar. Here there were
splendid views to the west over the Winster Valley and east over to
Kendal and beyond. Having returned to the car park our group said
their goodbyes, and dispersed for home or some nearby hostelry for
Our Thanks to Walter, our Group Leader, for arranging and managing a
very enjoyable 2011 Walking Away in this less crowded but
beautiful part of the Lake District