A few days after my unplanned walk to White Coppice I found out that there was a chain of three lakes in the vicinity of the hamlet; they seemed easy to get to and would probably make a good dog walk so a very warm and sunny Sunday morning a week ago saw me setting off from home to explore pastures new. My original intention was to start the walk from White Coppice but the plan was scuppered when I came to the turn off for the hamlet and encountered problem No.1, a large wagon taking up the whole of the narrow lane and a board saying there was a 15-minute delay. Okay, I could live with that, so I reversed into the end of a nearby farm track and waited…and waited…and waited.
I couldn’t see what was going on behind the wagon but even after almost half an hour there was no sign of it moving so I gave up waiting and drove on to what would have been the turn around point of the walk, the third lake in the Heapey area – and that’s when I found problem No.2. There was a car park adjacent to the lake but as I drove in I saw the sign – ‘Wigan & District Angling Association – Car park for anglers use only – non anglers will be clamped’. That may or may not have been true, I certainly didn’t see anyone walking round checking the cars already there, but I didn’t want to take any risks so I drove out again and managed to find a safe parking spot a short distance along the road.
Back at the car park steps took me down to the end of Lake 1 where I had the choice of a path along the dam or one to the right; I chose right first but I hadn’t gone far when I met with a large and extremely wet and muddy patch right across the path. It was too long and wide to negotiate without wellies, Poppie would have got filthy, and trying to get round the side of it could have ended up with the pair of us tumbling down the steep bank into the water so I retraced my steps and went along the dam instead. I could only go so far though before the outflow channel stopped me so with just a few shots taken I headed back to the car park and the gate to the next lake.
Lakes 1 and 2 were separated by a second dam with a very pleasant wide grassy area overlooking Lake 2 and a footpath leading to the far side, but once again I came up against another obstacle blocking the path at the end of the dam. This time it was a semblance of a low dry stone wall topped by strands of a wire fence with a gap at one end and a notice saying ‘Access for anglers only’ – so back I went and continued the walk along the main path, getting a few lake view shots as I went.
Past the end of another dam which carried a track from the fields up to a farm across the other side I came to Lake 3. It was narrower, darker and more overshadowed by trees than Lake 2 meaning decent photo opportunities were few so I headed on towards White Coppice. Near the end of the lake a wooden footbridge crossed a narrow brook almost hidden in a deep ditch then a boardwalk ran along the edge of a field to another wooden footbridge which came out at a pleasant grassy lay-by on the main lane through the hamlet.
Across the lane were the cottages set at an angle which I’d photographed on my previous visit and growing above and behind the large driveway gate of the end house was a profusion of bright red flowers which seemed to have sprung up out of nowhere – I was sure they hadn’t been there before as they were so bright I could hardly have missed them. Along the lane the ford had a bit more water running across it than before; Poppie enjoyed a little paddle and while I was there I took a few more shots of the cottages and gardens across the stream.
On the corner by the ford was a footpath sign pointing up the steep narrow lane so I decided to walk up the hill to see what was up there. The answer was not much; after a few hundred yards and three bends the tree shaded lane ended in the driveway to a couple of cottages and several farm buildings. Walking back down to the main lane a movement at the top of the bank on my right caught my eye; a dark bay horse was standing by the fence and a few yards farther on an inquisitive donkey was staring at me from up above.
Back down on the main lane I took a couple of shots of the pretty garden with the stream flowing through it then headed back to the lay-by where the wooden footbridge would take me back towards the three lakes; there was no point walking up to the village green and cricket pitch as nothing would have changed within the last two-and-a-half weeks.
Walking along through the field near Lake 3 I was suddenly surprised by a flash of bright turquoise blue flying up from the grass right in front of me and landing just a few feet away. It was a damsel fly, something I’ve never photographed before, so hoping it wouldn’t suddenly take off again I lay flat on the grass to get a couple of close-ups – and it was only when I got back home and put the photos on the pc that I realised I hadn’t photographed just one damsel fly, I’d got two and they were in the process of mating.
I must have looked a bit odd lying flat on the grass like that so I was glad there was no-one around just then to see me. The damsel fly (and presumably its partner) flew off after a few minutes so I got back on my feet and continued the walk back to the van, with my final shot being another one overlooking the end of Lake 2.
The walk hadn’t been a long one – time-wise less than two hours including stops to take photos. Being almost level for most of the way it had been an easy and very enjoyable walk, and seeing the two damsel flies had certainly been a very unexpected and delightful bonus.
My Monday walk this week was done the day after my Heysham visit and on the second extremely hot day of the week, and though not immediately local the start of the walk was only just a 20-minute drive from home. During a conversation with a friend a few days previously she had told me about a lake she and her partner had stopped at briefly while on an afternoon out round the countryside; it sounded nice for a walk round without going too far so after checking out the location on Google maps off I went.
At the far side of Belmont moors a left turn took me another couple of miles to Brinscall village and the lake which was situated behind the swimming pool building and had a small free car park. At the end of the car park was a pleasant looking small park area with a playground and benches overlooking the lake but looking down the lake itself I could see it wasn’t as big as I first thought and it wouldn’t take me long to walk round it.
The lake was bordered on one side by a densely wooded area and as I set off along the path I came to a signpost for the hamlet of White Coppice, just one-and-a-half miles away. I hadn’t been there for easily twenty years and as I had plenty of time I decided to abandon my round-the-lake walk and head for there instead. A short boardwalk took me over a bit of a boggy area then from there a long almost straight path followed a shallow river, with the trees opening out occasionally to give views of the surrounding hillsides.
The path seemed to go on for ever but eventually I caught a glimpse through the trees of a couple of buildings and soon a slope led me down to a rough track and I emerged at the side of White Coppice village green and cricket pitch with its pretty cottages over the far side. Benches were set at intervals around the edge of the green and though there was no cricket match to watch several people were taking advantage of the sunshine and nice views. On a corner down the lane from the village green was a very pretty lake but it seemed to be private, belonging to one of the houses set just up the hill off the lane, so unable to walk round it I had to be happy with just one shot from over the wall.
A bit farther on a shallow brook ran parallel to the lane for a short distance, creating a ford across a minor lane and skirting the edge of a very pretty garden before disappearing under the road, and at the far side of the brook an attractive row of cottages was accessed by wooden footbridges over the water.
A little way on, and round a bend, I came to the last row of cottages, set at an angle to the lane and with the garden wall of the end one covered in pretty red and yellow flowers and lots of foliage. Back at the ford Poppie decided she wanted to cool off a bit so I spent several minutes with my feet just about on dry land while she paddled about at the end of her lead.
Heading back to the village green I came to the gated entrance to what was obviously a fishing lake; I wasn’t sure if I could go in to take some photos but there was a young guy repairing the fence just inside the gate so I asked him and he said it was okay. The lake was only accessible on that one side and at the far end of the bank was just one lone person sitting peacefully fishing.
With the last shot of the lake I made my way back to the footpath beyond the village green and as I headed back to Brinscall the cooling shade of the trees made a welcome change from the heat of the afternoon sun. When I got to the bottom end of Brinscall lake I continued with my original plan to walk all the way round it and went along the far side back to the car park. This side was more open than the other side, with a road bordered by a wide well kept grass verge with benches set at intervals, views across the lake and nice looking houses and bungalows with attractive gardens, and just by the last bench before the car park I came across a Muscovy duck pecking about on the grass.
Although the visit to White Coppice had been totally unplanned the walk there and back had been very enjoyable and it had been nice to see the hamlet again after so many years, but now it was time to go back home and relax for a while with a much needed long cold drink.
My Monday walk this time was done in April a week after my last Monday walk and just three days after the quarry walk – with the continuing good weather I’ve been averaging three long walks every week. The first part of the walk was a reverse of last week’s – through the avenues, down the lane past the stables where I once worked, through the woodland and up the steep path to the farm, then once I reached the main road a short distance along and under a railway bridge took me to the long and very pleasant semi-rural lane leading to the Jumbles reservoir.
The name Jumbles first appeared in the 19th century and is a variation of the word ‘dumbles’, a northern term for a ravine-like valley with wooded sides where a fast flowing stream tumbles down. At the north end of the reservoir is the old quarry, flooded when the reservoir was constructed in the late 1960s, and beyond it there is indeed a narrow wooded valley with a stream flowing through it and into the quarry.
About halfway along the lane a gate on the right led to a path which took me down to Ousel Nest Meadows. Ousel is the old English name for the blackbird and it’s possible that in the past its cousin the Ring Ousel may have nested in the area, giving the meadows their name. As I walked towards the bottom of the meadow a flash of white caught my eye as a bird took off from somewhere and landed in a tree over on my left; I couldn’t tell what sort of bird it was as it was so far in the tree I could hardly see it so I pointed the camera, zoomed in and hoped for the best. It turned out to be a jay, quite a cute looking little thing and the first one I’ve ever actually seen.
At the bottom of the meadow the path turned to the right, going steadily downhill until I came to the first of four bridges. This took me across Bradshaw Brook past the reservoir outflow and the steep bank of the dam and at the far side a long flight of steep steps and a winding path on their right went up to the top of the hillside.
After crossing the bridge on previous occasions I’ve always gone straight up the steps but this time I decided to take the slightly easier way up the hill and use the winding path, and I was rewarded by discovering something I never knew was there. Just off the second bend in the path was a small overgrown quarry which wasn’t visible from the steps; a short narrow path led into it so I just had to take a look.
It wasn’t a big place and the quarry faces weren’t very high. Several parts had trees growing straight out of them and at one point I could hear running water; it was coming from deep within one of the quarry faces so there must have been an underground stream running through and down to the brook. It was a strange little place and it was nice to have found it but I didn’t really want to linger too long.
Leaving the quarry behind I continued up the winding path to the top of the hill and came out at the car park. This was a place which, even on a weekday, would usually have several cars parked there so it seemed strange to see it empty and deserted.
At the far side of the car park was the closed up café and information centre with the outside picnic benches just as deserted as the car park itself. Directly across the water were a bungalow and big house, both with gardens which had been landscaped by my partner several years ago. Back then the owners of the bungalow, who I knew very well, also owned the reservoir dam and I would sometimes take a short cut across it if I didn’t want to walk all the way round.
With the continuing dry sunny weather the level of the reservoir was lower than usual and a bit farther on from the café I came across a couple of places where I could leave the path and go down to small stony beaches by the water’s edge to get some photos, shots which I wouldn’t normally be able to get.
A few yards farther on from the second beach a concrete bridge spanned a small offshoot to the main reservoir and set on the grass just off the far end of the bridge was a picnic bench with access down to another small beach just behind it.
Back on the path and through a tree shaded area I passed the part of the reservoir designated as a wildlife area; with the water level being low it was possible to see the natural barrier which kept it separate from the rest of the reservoir, and just across the water and set sideways on was a row of four stone cottages with attractive gardens.
The reservoir narrowed there and up ahead on the other side I could see something red and yellow partly obscured by foliage – I couldn’t tell what it was but I didn’t remember seeing it before. Soon I came to the bridge near the old quarry but instead of crossing over I took the path past the quarry and along the riverside until I came to a waterfall, though I resisted the temptation to explore farther and returned to the bridge.
At the far side of the bridge I discovered what the red and yellow thing was – a recently installed board with a water safety device, though looking at the instructions to access it and use it made me think that whoever needed to be saved could possibly have drowned before it could be of any use.
From the bridge the path wound its way through another tree shaded area and came out close to a small private fishing lake and the stone cottages, with a small parking area, concrete slipway and a pleasant picnic/fishing area by the waterside. Several ducks were sunning themselves in the picnic area though all but one took off into the water as soon as they saw Poppie. Along with the usual mallards and swans was one white duck with red eyes and a very odd shaped head, I hadn’t a clue what it was but later information told me it was a Muscovy duck.
Past the picnic area the fourth and last bridge took me over a narrow creek with the path leading past the grounds of Jumbles Sailing Club and through another tree shaded area with more places where I could get down to the water’s edge and take another few photos.
Back through the trees for a short distance and the path veered away from the reservoir, opening out and running between hedges on one side and the high fence and stone wall enclosing the gardens of the big house I could see from across the water. Near the end of the path was a very attractive timber-built barn erected only within the last few years; it replaced a huge and ugly green corrugated metal barn where my partner and I used to keep and work on our vintage tractors. I don’t know what the new place is used for but it looks much nicer than the old one.
Just past the barn the path came out onto the lane and I was heading back in the direction of the main road, and just before the gate leading to Ousel Nest Meadows I spotted some lovely bright flowers in the grounds of one of the three large Ousel’s Nest houses. Not far from the end of the lane another lane joined it on the right and in the small triangle between the two was a tree surrounded by a hotch-potch of colourful flowers and foliage worth a couple of shots.
Those were to be my last photos of the walk; it had been a long one this time, 7.2 miles from home and back. It was nice to see the Jumbles area coming alive in the fine spring sunshine, I’d got some good photos and even found somewhere I didn’t know existed, so my afternoon had been very enjoyable and worthwhile.
My Monday walk this week features Peasholm Park in Scarborough’s North Bay area, a place I visited while camping near there at Easter a few years ago. The park is situated on what were once the extensive grounds of the medieval Northstead Manor which had been part of the Crown Estate from the 14th century. By the beginning of the 20th century the area had become open farming land but in 1911 Scarborough Corporation bought some of the land from the Duchy of Lancaster and created the public park which was opened in 1912, then following the purchase of more land the natural ravine of Peasholm Glen was added to the park in 1924.
The park’s main attraction is its large boating lake with a central island; accessed by a Japanese-style bridge the island has a peaceful wooded area and Japanese-themed gardens said to be based on the Willow Pattern pottery design with a pagoda and a waterfall flowing down to the lake. Three times a week during the summer season the lake plays host to the Naval Warfare event the Battle of Peasholm, a recreation of the Battle of the River Plate using man powered model boats steered by council employees and known as ‘the smallest manned Navy in the world’.
My walk started not far from the lakeside cafe and circuited the lake in a clockwise direction. In late April the trees were resplendent in their fresh green foliage, the cherry trees were full of pink blossom, the flower beds were a profusion of bright red tulips and yellow bedding plants and with the brightly coloured dragon boats on the lake the whole area looked really pretty.
At the far side of the lake I crossed the Half Moon Bridge onto the island, stopping momentarily to watch the progress of three dragon boats on the water below, then at the end of the bridge I turned left and walked past the waterfall and round to the other side of the island where the grass beneath the trees was covered in a carpet of daisies and half a dozen geese were chilling out in a patch of sunlight.
Ignoring the geese I climbed the steps up to the top of the island; never having been there before I didn’t know what to expect so I was pleasantly surprised to find a pretty and very peaceful Japanese garden surrounded by trees and shrubs and dotted here and there with stone ornaments. A path ran all the way round the garden and a pond in the centre was crossed by a couple of oriental bridges.
Having walked round the gardens twice I made my way back down the steps, round the base of the island and back across the Half Moon Bridge to continue my clockwise walk round the lake. By the time I reached the café I was feeling quite peckish – it was time for coffee and cake, and though the café was very busy I managed to get a table on the outside terrace where I could sit for a while and watch the world go by.
My lakeside walk ended where it had started, not far from the café. My previous visit to Peasholm Park had been during a holiday thirty years before so it had been nice to wander along the lakeside and discover the gardens on the island – and hopefully it won’t be another thirty years before I make a return visit.
In which I explore a lovely little lakeside village and get thrown out of a quarry for trespassing…
After our visit to Leap Castle Laura drove us 30 miles west to the small village of Dromineer, six miles from Nenagh and on the east shore of Lough Derg. While in Roscrea a couple of years back I’d picked up an information leaflet about Lough Derg ; it was the nearest lake to Roscrea and finding out that Dromineer wasn’t too far from Nenagh I’d explored the possibility of going there last December. It’s not on a bus route though and the only way I could do it without my own transport would be to take a taxi from Nenagh, so that idea was put on hold for sometime in the future. Previous to the start of this holiday though, Michael had mentioned to Laura my wish to go to Dromineer and she said she was quite willing to take me, so a drive out there formed the second part of my day out.
Lough Derg is the third biggest lake in Ireland and the southernmost of the three lakes on the Shannon river, and in the 19th century it was an important artery of the waterways between Dublin port and Limerick. Navigable over its full 24-mile length it’s very popular with cruisers and other pleasure craft as well as for fishing, general sailing and other water sports. Dromineer itself is home to the RNLI’s Lough Derg lifeboat, its station being the first inland lifeboat station in the Republic of Ireland. It’s also home to Nenagh Boat Club, Shannon Sailing Club and the Lough Derg Yacht Club which was founded in 1835 ; Dromineer Quay and Canal Store both date from around 1845.
Overlooking the public marina is the ruined Dromineer Castle which started life in the 13th century as a two-storey hall house built by followers of Thomas Butler Esq, the 7th Earl of Ormond, and tenanted by the Cantwell family. In the late 15th century the building fell into the hands of the O’Kennedys, also of Ormond, and was remodelled into a four-storey tower house/castle, then in the late 16th century it was re-captured by the Butlers and the Cantwell family returned as tenants until the mid 17th century. In 1650 the castle was seized by Cromwell but was eventually returned to the 12th Earl of Ormond, James Butler, and it was occupied until 1688 after which it fell into ruin, finally being sold by the then Earl of Ormond in the late 19th century.
The road through Dromineer village headed towards the lakeside and when I saw the view I had one of those ‘wow’ moments. On the left, a handful of nice-looking bungalows with well-kept gardens while on the right was a white-walled thatched cottage, well-kept grassy areas, a small playground, a marina with several boats moored up and at the bottom of the road the lake itself with a shingle beach – this little place looked beautiful and I couldn’t wait to explore. The lakeside road ended in a large car park close to the private marina of Shannon Sailing Club and that’s where we left the car, so join me on my Monday walk as I stroll round and take in the delights of Dromineer.
Of course time spent in a lovely little place like this just wouldn’t be right without having coffee and cake so we made our way round to the Lake Café, sitting at an outside table as we had Laura’s two little dogs with us. The cake we had (with cream) was delicious, and after sitting for a while in the sun we continued our wander. Just along the lane from the café was the little thatched-roof cottage ; approaching from the back I thought at first it was just someone’s home but it turned out to be the studio-cum-craft shop of an Italian/Irish ceramic artist called Marina – a very apt name as the cottage isn’t far from the water. She said we were welcome to look round and during our conversation told us that apart from the plastic garden chairs everything in the garden had been recycled, reused or repainted, which I thought was a great idea. She seemed to be a bit eccentric and the studio was a complete jumble of all sorts of things but looking round there and the garden was a pleasant way to pass a bit of time.
Back at the lakeside we sat for a while on one of the benches, just taking in the view and enjoying the warm sunshine. Further along the grass it looked like a family were having a picnic – I couldn’t see them properly as there was a bush in my line of vision but I did see their cute little dog. It was looking my way so I zoomed in a bit and got a quick shot of it to show my friend Lin as it looked very much like her little dog Oscar.
With the exploration of Dromineer over we made our way back to the car but it was still only early afternoon, too early to go straight back to Roscrea when we could enjoy more of the good weather, so Laura suggested driving to a quarry where people went scuba diving and which she had been told was good for photo taking. That sounded okay to me so off we went round the country lanes and half an hour later pulled up at the bottom of the rough track leading to the quarry.
We hadn’t walked far when we came to a high steel fence and big double gates with a notice which said NO TRESPASSING ; the gates were open though so I figured out that we may as well take a look as we had gone far enough to get there. The track went up a slope for a couple of hundred yards then levelled out ; there was a large parking area on the right with a couple of portacabins and straight ahead was another sloping track leading a short distance down to the quarry.
The view from the bottom of the track looked great but just as I was about to take the first photo there was a shout from the top of the track and a guy in a wetsuit was standing there, telling us in no uncertain terms that this was PRIVATE PROPERTY and we had to LEAVE NOW! I did shout back that we were only taking photos but he insisted that we leave so I just snatched one shot and we made our way back up the track and headed back to the car ; it was a shame I couldn’t have got any more photos as it really did look nice.
Back at the car we had a few minutes to take in the view over the countryside then we set off back to Roscrea ; Laura had invited me round to hers for a meal so she dropped me at Nellie’s first and I went round an hour or so later. Her friend Nicole had arrived too and as there was a Chinese takeaway right across the road we all decided to get something from there. It was a lovely meal, although there was far more than I could eat, and after spending a very pleasant couple of hours with Laura and Nicole I took myself off back to Nellie’s for a reasonably early night. Thanks to Laura I’d had a really lovely day and my visit to Dromineer had whetted my appetite for seeing more of Lough Derg – hopefully that will be something I can do in the not-too-distant future.