Snowdrops for Sophie

In light of my recent incredibly sad and heart breaking loss of Sophie I thought long and hard about doing this walk, especially as I’d originally intended taking Sophie with me, but there was nothing to be gained by staying at home and after several weekends of not being able to go anywhere I really needed a few hours out. My intended destination was Hornby Castle Gardens, only open on a few select weekends each year with the most recent being the snowdrop weekend. Sunday’s weather forecast for that area was for sunshine and even though it was cloudy and grey here at home I decided to take a chance and go.
As I got to the far side of the nearby moors I could see sunshine and blue sky ahead and by the time I was heading north up the M6 it had turned into a really lovely day. Living where I do, halfway up a hill on the north side of town, I don’t normally encounter any instances of flooding in bad weather so I was quite surprised at the sight which greeted me as I drove along the A683 towards the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Just before Claughton village the River Lune had overflowed and a huge area of flat grazing fields had disappeared underwater, though fortunately the natural slope of the land from the roadside had prevented the water from reaching the road itself or any roadside properties.
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There’s a river in there somewhere
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Set back off the road, and just out of reach of the flood water, was the old Lanefoot Crossing signal box in the garden of a nearby cottage. Once part of the long-disused ‘Little’ North Western Railway line which operated between Lancaster and Wennington, then extended to Leeds, it was in use between 1849 and 1968, and in more recent years has been preserved and refurbished to be used as a summerhouse for the cottage.
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The Lanefoot Crossing signal box
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There was no parking available in the grounds of Hornby Castle so I left the van in the village car park and walked along the road and over the bridge to the castle gardens entrance gates. The River Wenning, swollen from all the recent rain, was in full flow as it ran west to join the Lune, and on the east side of the bridge the water was a seething boiling mass as it came over the nearby weir – definitely not a place anyone would want to fall in.
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River Wenning looking west
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Looking east
Entrance to the castle grounds cost £5 with dogs free of charge and after being given a map, which I didn’t really need as I’ve been there before, though not at this time of year, I set off with Poppie to find some snowdrops. Now I don’t know if my expectations were too high or if maybe the recent bad weather was a factor, but far from seeing carpets of snowdrops as I thought I would all I found were small clumps dotted here and there among the trees, with several clumps together on the bank leading up to the castle lawns.
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Driveway up to the castle

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The pond and island

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Part of the path along the riverside had been closed off as it was muddy and very slippery but I got round that by walking along the riverbank itself, and when I rejoined the path I came to the remains of a dead tree trunk. One side looked very much like the other so it was hard to tell which had been roots and which were branches but I liked the shape of it so it was worth a quick snap.
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Along the riverside walk

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Just past the tree trunk the path wound steeply uphill and almost doubled back on itself, emerging at one corner of the castle lawn. At the far side steps led down a short steep bank to the main driveway and on the bank itself were a couple of clumps of pink flowers ; they looked a bit sorry for themselves but at least they provided a bit of colour.
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Across the driveway a path and a succession of wide shallow steps went down through a wooded area to the walled garden ; at this time of year there wasn’t much colour about the place but I did see some more pink flowers, some daffodils, a few more isolated clumps of snowdrops and some lovely bright blue things which I don’t know the name of.
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The walled garden was my last port of call, I’d been everywhere else and with so few snowdrops to see there was no point walking round again, so I made my way back to the van and with one last shot from the bridge I set off for home, arriving back at 4pm and still in sunshine. Although Hornby Castle’s website promises ‘hundreds of named varieties of snowdrops’ the ones I saw all looked the same to me, and compared to the carpets of flowers I saw at Lytham Hall last year the clumps of snowdrops dotted here and there were rather a disappointment.
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This had been my first proper walk with Poppie on her own and it seemed so strange having just one little four-paws with me instead of two. Even though the snowdrops didn’t live up to my expectations I know that Sophie would have loved the walk so I’ve decided – when the time is right, and in her memory, there’ll be some snowdrops planted in her corner of my garden.

 

24 thoughts on “Snowdrops for Sophie

  1. Well done for getting out, even if it might have felt ‘easier’ to stay at home. You came back with a great set of photos (but you always do) and despite the lack of snowdrops it still looks like a beautiful place.

    I think it might be due to the very warm and wet winter, but my snowdrops haven’t seemed so good this year either.

    Been thinking of you all, xx

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  2. In view of the recent bad weather I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go anywhere at all so the sunshine came along just at the right time. If I’d stayed in I wouldn’t have achieved anything, probably just drifted around the house doing very little – it was long-ish drive to get there with very little at the end of it but it was good to get out for a few hours.

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  3. I’ve often been disappointed in snowdrop displays, Eunice- so much depends on the weather! But you had a lovely bright day and a nice setting. I love the hellebores too. Better to be out than sitting at home moping. Better for both you and Poppy. 🙂 🙂

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  4. To be honest Jo, after a combination of lousy weather and caring for Sophie over the last few weeks stopped me from going anywhere other than local, it was good to get out for a few hours in the sunshine. Bittersweet though with one member of my little pack missing 😦

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  5. A walk is always theraupeutic when one has sad thoughts and this one was a delight to join in on. I am a big fan of snowdrops and don’t see them here, so I always enjoys seeing photos from the other side of the world. Are the blue flowers iris? The castle looks very imposing and grand too!

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    1. According to Rosemary’s comment below, the blue flowers are miniature iris. The castle is actually a private home so unfortunately not open to the public – a shame really as there’s a lot of history to it and I can imagine the inside is lovely.

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  6. The flooding of farmland is bad around here, too but luckily my village is high up so I don’t fear flooding around my house. The village gets cut off though, as it is approached by steep hills on either side which invariably flood at the lower ends.
    It does seem a poor year for Snowdrops; last year I counted 5 different varieties in my garden, each varying in the shape or size of the flower, but this year, only one variety has appeared. I do hope the rest grow back next Spring. But my Hellebores – some creamy white and some pink with speckled ‘throats’ – have been flowering since January and are still flowering now, despite Ciara and Dennis! That’s what your pink flowers were, by the way and the blue ones are miniature Iris.
    It’s encouraging to see fat buds on my Camellia bush, and on the Rhododendron and my lovely Azaleas (one bright orange when in flower and several in various shades of pink) Spring could be on the way!

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    1. Thanks for telling me what the blue flowers are – I have no interest whatsoever in any form of gardening so apart from the obvious ones I wouldn’t know one flower or plant from another. If spring is on its way I wish it would hurry up 🙂

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  7. The weather was kind for you for your away day even though it did seem disappointing. I’m sure Poppie must miss her little companion too and I like that you will plant some snowdrops for Sophie.
    She will always be in your heart Eunice x

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    1. It was good to be out Eileen. I promised Sophie I would take her to see the snowdrops so my afternoon out was done in her memory – it’s a shame she didn’t get to see them. As long as it wasn’t raining I would have gone anyway so the sunshine really made the day.

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  8. It was a lovely walk, despite the lack of snowdrops and good you managed to find the opportunity to get out in between all the strong winds and heavy rain . There doesn’t appear to be as many snowdrops as usual around here either, so perhaps the rotten weather has had a part to play in that.
    Planting some in your garden is a beautiful way of remembering Sophie. X

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  9. It was still very windy at Hornby, it nearly knocked me off my feet when I crossed the bridge, but it was very sheltered in the gardens so with the sunshine it was quite pleasant. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this weekend will be okay as I want to revisit Lytham Hall – I was really impressed with the snowdrops there last year so it would be interesting to see if there’s just as many this time or if those too have been affected by the weather.

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    1. I’m hoping to get to Lytham Hall before the end of the month, the snowdrops there last year were beautiful. At least I got sunshine for this walk and got some reasonable photos so it wasn’t a completely wasted afternoon.

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  10. The snowdrops seem to have been early everywhere this year. I think the pink ones were hellebores, but don’t quote me on that. The rivers were certainly swollen, so many people flooded. Lovely idea to plant snowdrops for your dog.

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  11. I’m a bit late on answering this, but what a lovely place to visit. The snowdrops, hellebores &winter iris made just enough colour to tell that Spring is not far off. The photos of the flooding made me realise just how much damage your storms have reeked. Glad to see you out with Poppie. Take care.

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  12. The flooding over those grazing fields was, in some ways, minor compared to other parts of the country where streets and houses have been seriously flooded and people have lost many of their possessions – I feel so sad for all those affected. It was good to get a break in the storm on Sunday so I could get out for a while, but not the same with one member of my little pack missing 😦

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  13. I’m glad you managed to get out on such a lovely day with Poppie. I think the recent bad weather didn’t help with the snowdrop displays this year I’m afraid. The river here is up high too and has broken its banks recently. Planting snowdrops for Sophie is a lovely idea. Xx

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