|A LIttle Bit of Heaven
By Doris Elsy
Over the hills and far away, but if you get on the A66 it isn't far at all. This wonderful country is heaven on earth to me. It's hard to describe the feelings of peace and solitude you can experience sat there for an hour in the shadow of Scar Fell and gaze across the terrain unchanged since time began. You could imagine marauding Scots hiding in the clefts of rock, long before tourists came in hordes.
From this high point you can look upon farms which appear to be out of reach, high up where a few years ago the occupants collected drinking water from a mountain stream, or from a lake below where a guide would point out an eagle's nest with chicks perched precariously on an outcrop right away from predators, especially humans.
You can see a farm road up the fell where you must have control of the car. The narrow road has more bends than a corkscrew and you drive over the top to Haweswater Dam and try to envisage what the village of Mardale was like before it was flooded to achieve this vast amount of water in 1935.
Climbing above this reservoir a little cabin comes into view. Oh good! Ice cream! When you've walked up there the thought of a comet is an added treat.
Have a picnic at Lowther Park where we see the castle, or should I say frontage, that's all that is left after a fire raged several years ago. This is still the domain of the present Lord Lonsdale where sheep and cattle graze peacefully around, no doubt dubious of any strangers in their midst.
Backtrack now towards Keswick passing mountains each side of the road. Then from Derwent Water stand for a moment to look up at the black dots on Striding Edge. These black dots are actually walkers on the mountaintop. Keswick is a very old town, packed as usual with tourists, each one looking for the right gift to take back home. Lakeland stone, farmyard animals, china cattle, there's something for everyone.
Going home we call at Appleby, it's horse fair week. Gypsies wash their horses in the river ready for selling, children as young four ride ponies barebacked. It's very interesting to see the bartering between the buyers and sellers of the horses.
Their lives seem to revolve around money, children as young as twelve are betting with big wads of money as they play pitch and toss in the park.
We move on up the road to Appleby Castle, through the gates to the pay box. This is a conservation park with rare breed of animals such as Jacob sheep, Llamas and exotic birds and plants. The castle is open to visitors and there is a small gift shop selling gifts.
It's time now to call it a day, and what a wonderful day it has been. We head for home, back to the graffiti which is prevalent in towns, we have not seen any of that since leaving home. We will return to the Lakes soon, that little part of the real, may change as farming is uncertain but those mountains will be standing there for generations to come, just as they have for hundreds of years.
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