Sizergh Gardens in Spring

My last blog post about Sizergh included photos taken in August 2018, after the spring with the long, hot spell. We visited again at the end of April 2019. We’d just arrived at the cottage after a 4.5 hour drive, and unpacked all our stuff. It was a hot, sunny afternoon, and Sizergh is just the right distance away for a stroll, and to take a look at the gardens (as members of the National Trust, we get in free).

The main rock garden was mostly green or bare, with things just beginning to grow, and the main border was neatly weeded but with nothing in flower. The blossom between the yew pyramids was lovely, though.


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Sizergh Castle

Sizergh Castle is just over a mile from the cottage, over the fields–a little further if you stick to the roads. It is a favourite destination for a short walk when we stay in the cottage, and as we are National Trust members, we can go in free for a quick wander around the gardens. There is also a tea shop (you don’t have to pay to go in to use the teashop).
Sizergh Castle

The castle comes into sight as you approach across the fields, with the hills beyond Kendal in the distance.

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Osprey chicks and other wildlife events

Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve is only a few miles from the cottage. I first visited the reserve a year ago – some photos here.

Ospreys are nesting again this year. The reserve is looked after by Cumbria Wildlife Trust, and they have posted a video of this year’s chicks. There’s also some excellent webcam videos of last year’s ospreys in their nest.

Check out other events from Cumbria Wildlife Trust here.



Building for birds – RSPB Leighton Moss


Reed beds at Leighton Moss

The RSPB reserve at Leighton Moss is the largest area of reed beds in the north west. I lived in Carnforth until 2012, and so it was right on my doorstep. As members get in free, I’d often have a wander in just to see if there was anything interesting to be seen and sometimes have tea and a scone in the tea shop. My main memories were of hides that were getting a bit worse for wear, and where you had to make sure you hooked up the windows properly otherwise you risked getting whacked on the top of the head while peering through your binoculars.

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Bridge to nowhere (1)

When I first started coming to the Lake District, several decades ago, the road to the southern lakes and beyond was a narrow road, only just wide enough for one lane each way. Then pressure of traffic led to parts of it being widened and some bits becoming dual carriageways. One of these bypassed the pretty village of Lindale, but then the road became narrow again as it wound through Low Newton and High Newton. A few years before I bought Limestone Cottage in Levens, the dual carriageway was extended by building the High and Low Newton Bypass. This has speeded up the journey considerably (until you get to the next narrow bit), but can’t have done much for the passing trade in the pub in High Newton.

Anyway, the reason for this rambling is that there is this ‘bridge to nowhere’ over part of this new bypass. This puzzled me for some time.

Bat bridge

It is, apparently, a ‘bat bridge’. It is thought that bats navigate around their patch in the dark using their sonar to follow hedgerows or walls. Bats are reluctant to cross open spaces, due to the risk of predators, so removing linear features such as hedges and walls can restrict their commuting routes. When they do cross open areas they tend to do so low down – at vehicle height, with the inevitable fatal consequences.

Bat bridges like the one above are an attempt to mitigate these problems by providing a higher-level structure that the bats can detect and, hopefully, follow to cross the road. However in the years since structures like this have been built in various places in the UK, there is little evidence that they work – bats still cross open spaces lower down.

There is more on bat bridges here.

Ospreys and dragonflies – Foulshaw Moss

Foulshaw Moss is a few miles from the cottage at Levens, on the southern edge of the Lake District. Part of the area is owned by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

I’d read that there were ospreys nesting there, so I thought it was time for a visit. I saw the osprey’s nest, and with the aid of a ‘scope provided by one of the volunteers on site I might have seen the head of one of the ospreys… but what I really enjoyed was the discovery of a totally different landscape.

But first, the ospreys…


Osprey nest

The nest is in the tree in the middle distance.

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Lake District back in business

It was most enouraging this week to read that the A591 has been mended, and ahead of schedule. The A591 is the main road through the middle of the Lake District that links Ambleside and Grasmere in the south with Keswick in the north. Storm Desmond, at the end of 2015, washed part of it away. There was still a road open – the small road around the western side of Thirlmere. However this road is narrow and windy and not suited to the normal volume of traffic and so it was closed to everything except buses and bicycles.

All the publicity about Storm Desmond and the homes and businesses flooded seem to have convinced a lot of people that the Lake District suffered much more damage than it really did. As a result the tourist industry, on which many depend, has been very slow to pick up this year. Mine included – one reason for setting up this website was to try to get a few more people staying in Limestone Cottage!

One benefit from this road damage is that the National Park has improved an existing right of way over Dunmail Raise to make it easier to walk or cycle over the Raise without having to use the road.