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Episode 19: Westmoreland

Where is Westmoreland?

In our nineteenth episode, we talked about lots of interesting Westmoreland-based places and things, so here's some links and pictures:

Kendal Mint Cake

Joseph Wiper is said to have produced the first batch of Kendal Mint Cake by mistake in 1869. While making a batch of clear mints he took his eye off the pan and the mixture had become cloudy… and so Kendal Mint Cake was born.

Um Bongo

Um Bongo was first created in 1983,originally in Milnthorpe, Cumbria. It was originally sold under the Libby's brand, which at the time belonged to Nestlé who had acquired Libby's fruit juices.

Grasmere Gingerbread and Rushbearing Ceremony

The 400 year-old old tradition involved the procession winding its way through the village to St Oswald’s Parish Church. Before the church floor was paved in 1830 bodies would be buried within the chapel itself, and rushes were set down on the soil to purify the air and help insulate worshippers from the cold.

Kendal Castle

Kendal Castle, probably late 12th Century, is now a ruin, but worth exploring. From here you can get brilliant views over the town. At Kendal Museum is an exhibition telling the story of the Castle, its people , and the life of the town. There are displays showing medieval objects, reconstructions of the Castle, computer displays and there are various activities such as coin rubbing.

The Castle was built in the early 1200’s as the home of the barons of Kendal. They had a big influence on the development of Kendal. The Parr family is the best known of the baronial families, the most famous member being Katherine Parr, the sixth and last Queen of Henry VIII.

Appleby Castle and Caesar's Tower

Appleby Castle is in the town of Appleby-in-Westmorland overlooking the River Eden. It consists of a 12th-century castle keep which is known as Caesar's Tower, and a mansion house.

These, together with their associated buildings, are set in a courtyard surrounded by curtain walls. Caesar's Tower and the mansion house are each recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building.

The uninhabited parts of the castle are a scheduled ancient monument.

The Great Picture

The Great Picture, a huge triptych measuring 8ft 5" high and 16ft 2" wide, commissioned in 1646 by Anne Clifford, attributed to Jan van Belcamp (1610–1653), formerly hanging in Appleby Castle.

Appleby Horse Fair

Appleby Horse Fair is an annual gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in the town of Appleby in Cumbria, which takes place over a week in June, from a Thursday to the following Wednesday, but this is essentially a weekend event the main days being the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Appleby Fair is unique in Europe and, as well as attracting around 10,000 Gypsies and Travellers, over 30,000 other visitors attend the Fair. It transforms the town of Appleby for the week, as it normally has a population of around 2,500.

Devil's Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale

Spanning the River Lune to the south and east of Kirkby Lonsdale is Devil’s Bridge. This magnificent three-arched bridge, probably dates from the 12th or 13th century, and is now a scheduled ancient monument.

A popular haunt for motorcycle enthusiasts who congregate at weekends in the adjoining parking area to discuss all things mechanical over a mug of hot tea and a bacon butty, Devil’s Bridge was once the only bridge over the Lune for miles and formed part of the busy west-bound route into the town.

The Walney Island Cockfight

"Wa'ney Island Cockfight" or "The Bonny Grey" is an English folk song, Roud 211. Variants of the song exist across northern England from Cumbria to Shropshire.

Old Man of Coniston

It's hard to imagine visiting Coniston without climbing Coniston Old Man. It hangs over the village like the Matterhorn hangs over Zermatt. Smaller of course, but in the same way it is an integral part of the landscape. Most people attempt it via the Tourist Path which climbs a short and direct route up its eastern side. This is OK and not without interest as it climbs through old quarries and passes the dramatically positioned tarn of Low Water. But in terms of what Coniston Old Man has to offer, it is not the best route and is best left for descent after exploring other routes first.

A far better choice is to head up around the back of Coniston Old Man and tackle it via The Cove and Goat's Water. This route is a little bit longer but is much superior because, on one hand the gradients are easier being in a series of manageable steps, and on the other hand the scenery is breathtaking. Access is via the ancient packhorse route of the 'Walna Scar Road' which heads from the village onto the raised moorland of Banishead on the southern flanks. From here the route turns into the very heart of the hills and climbs through the wild stepped corries of The Cove and Goat's Water.

These corries are seriously impressive and are as dramatic a location as you could find amongst any British mountains. The tall buttresses and dark gullies of Dow Crag towering over the restless surface of Goat's Water is the scene that really steals the show, but along the way there is a lot to do and see so pick a clear day and get your monies worth from Coniston's grand old peak.

The Cup of Eden Hall

Still intact after over 600 years and a journey that took it from the Middle East to the north of England, the Luck of Edenhall is far more than just a compellingly old, and incredibly pristine, drinking glass. It carries with it a centuries-old legend recounting the power of the glass to protect the good fortune of its owner's household.

Calgarth Hall

“Guard thyself, Myles Phillipson! Thou thinkest thou hast managed grandly; but that tiny lump of land is the dearest a Phillipson has ever bought or stolen; for you will never prosper, neither your breed; whatever scheme you undertake will wither in your hand; the side you take will always lose ; the time shall come no Phillipson will own an inch of land; and while Calgarth walls shall stand, we ‘ll haunt it night and day never will ye be rid of us!"

Kirkoswald Hoard

The Kirkoswald Hoard is a ninth-century hoard of 542 copper alloy coins of the Kingdom of Northumbria and a silver trefoil ornament, which were discovered amongst tree roots in 1808 within the parish of Kirkoswald.

The hoard comprised 542 or more stycas, as well as a silver trefoil ornament. The coins within the assemblage were issued by the kings of Northumbria, Eanred, Aethelred II, Redwulf and Osberht, as well as by the archbishops of York, Eanbald II, Wigmund and Wulfhere.

Penrith Hoard

The Penrith Hoard is an assumed dispersed hoard of 10th century silver penannular brooches which were found at Flusco Pike, Newbiggin Moor, near Penrith. The location of these finds was already known in the 18th century as the ‘Silver Field’ which suggests that earlier finds, now lost, had been made.

The largest “thistle brooch” was discovered in 1785 and another such brooch in 1830. Most of the rest of the objects were discovered in two groups, situated close by each other, by archaeologists in 1989.

One group consisted of five brooches, with fragments of two more, the other bgroup consisted of more than 50 objects, including silver ingots, coins, jewellery and hacksilver. It is likely that the hoard became dispersed through the action of ploughing.

Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle was built at the end of the 14th century by Ralph Neville, who played a key role in the defence of the Scottish border. Ralph Neville (about 1364–1425) was granted the manor of Penrith in 1396 and built the castle soon afterwards. As warden of the West March, he was responsible for the defence of this area against the Scots.

Contrary to what might be expected, the castle was not built at the highest point of the hill, which lies 170 metres away. Its location was chosen because it was probably the site of an old Roman fort, the banks and ditches of which could be conveniently re-used for their defensive function.

The castle demonstrated Ralph’s powerful position and his dominance over this area of Cumbria. His son Richard, 5th Earl of Salisbury (1400–60), made it his headquarters, probably building the ‘Red Tower’ and improving the entrance defences.

Giant's Grave and Giant's Thumb, St Andrew's Church, Penrith

The ancient monument on the north side of the parish church, consisting of two upright columns ten to eleven feet high and fifteen feet apart, with four semicircular stones with flat bases between, belong to this period. All the stones have been covered with a profusion of ornament, but time has to a very large extend effaced the figures and tracery which formally adorned these stones, yet on the north side on one stone two serpents and a human figure are traceable, presumably representing the bruising of the serpent’s head, whilst on the south side another stone bears on its face Greek, Runic and Roman tracery, in lines below one another.

The period to which it belongs, like that of its neighbour, the “Giant’s Thumb”, is difficult to determine. The once beautiful sculptures, which have adorned these monuments, might lead to us to believe they had been the work of the Romans were they evacuated the neighbouring fort of Brocavum; that the old churchyard cross marked the place of assembly of the congregation which met to hear St. Ninian, and that the grave might be the place of sepulchre of some noble Roman, who had became a Christian through the preaching of St. Ninian. Some colour is given to this idea from the similarity of the sculpture on the two monuments.

St Olaf's Church, Wasdale

The smallest church near the deepest lake and the highest mountain in England. This little church is set amidst yew trees in the Viking fields of Wasdale.

In the churchyard are the graves of many climbers who died on the surrounding fells. The roof beams are thought to have come from Viking ships. The churchwardens’ staves have a Herdwick ram’s head on one, and a ewe’s head on the other.

Podnet Tarn

Weather is usually responsible for shaping the lakes, landscape and tarns in the Lake District. Sometimes they’re altered to create a water supply or for recreational purposes such as fishing and sailing. Occasionally, it's a good old honest mistake....In 1982, the Ordinance Survey completely missed Podnet Tarn off the official maps.

The mistake was quickly noticed - Podnet isn't exactly a small pond, it's a sizeable, permanent tarn - and it was put back on the next revision of the map. Even today, despite being one of the most tranquil and beautiful tarns to the east of Windermere, it’s almost unknown and is rarely visited, which means if you step just a short distance from the beaten track, you could have it to yourself all day.

Arnsbarrow Tarn

Arnsbarrow Tarn is a small, almost circular tarn, located in the undulating fells between Coniston Water and Grizedale Forest. It sits at the head of Tarn Beck, surrounded by three summits - Top o'Selside to the west, Heel Toe Hill to the north and Arnsbarrow Hill to the south. A right of way between Top o' Selside and Arnsbarrow Hill runs past the tarn, but wasn't that easy to spot on the ground on my last visit to the area.

The name implies that there was once a barrow or a stronghold of some sort in the area (Arne's Barrow), but there are no recorded barrows in the area.

Aira Force

An 18th-century pleasure ground, Aira Force was the backdrop for William Wordsworth’s poem ‘Somnambulist’ – a Gothic tale of love and tragedy. There are so many woodland trails to discover in this landscape of contrasts. Quiet glades give way to dramatic waterfalls, with Aira Beck thundering down a 65-foot drop past ferns and rocks.

If you walk to the summit of Gowbarrow, you will be rewarded with panoramic views over Ullswater. Starting your day in Glenridding, arriving at Aira Force by boat then strolling back along the lakeshore, allows you to take in the wonderful Ullswater Valley sights.

The Somnambulist

The painting by John Everett Millais, inspired by Wordsworth's poem The Somnambulist and the legend of Emma of Aira Force.

The Witch of Westmoreland

Archie Fisher sang his ballad The Witch of the West-Mer-Lands in 1976 on his Folk-Legacy album The Man With a Rhyme.

He commented in his liner notes:

"I have borrowed, for this song, the form of the narrative ballad. The ingredients are a mixture of legend, superstition, and ballad themes brought into focus by the Lakeland painter, Joni Turner.

"As far as I know, the female centaur is not a creature of mythology, and this role of witch disguise was suggested by the tales of antlered women with bodies of deer seen wading in the shallows of the lakes in the moonlight in the Lake District."


Pale was the wounded knight That bore the rowan shield, Loud and cruel were the raven’s cries As they feasted on the field,

Singing, “Beck water, cold and clear, Will never heal your wound. There’s none but the Witch of the Westmerland Can make thee hale and sound.”

“Turn, turn your stallion’s head Till his red mane flies in the wind, And the rider of the moon goes by And the bright star falls behind.”

Clear was the waning moon When a shadow passed him by; Below the hill were the brightest stars When he heard the owlet cry.

Singing, “Why do you ride this way And wherefore came you here?” “I seek the Witch of the Westmerland Who dwells by the Winding mere.”

And it’s weary by the Ullswater And the misty brake fern way Till through the cut of the Kirkstane Pass The winding water lay.

He said, “Lie down you brindled hound And rest ye, my good grey hawk, And thee, my steed, may graze thy fill For I must dismount and walk.

”Come when you hear my horn And answer swift the call, For I fear ere the sun will rise this morn Ye will serve me best of all.”

And it’s down to the water’s brim He’s borne the rowan shield, And the goldenrod he has cast in To see what the lake might yield.

Wet rose she from the lake And fast and fleet went she, One half the form of a maiden fair With a jet-black mare’s body.

Loud, long and shrill he blew, Till his steed was by his side; High overhead the grey hawk flew And swiftly he did ride.

“Course well, my brindled hound, Fetch me the jet-black mare! Stoop and strike, my good grey hawk, And bring me the maiden fair!”

She said, “Pray sheath thy silvery sword, Lay down thy rowan shield. For I see by the briny blood that flows You’ve been wounded in the field.”

She stood in a gown of velvet blue, Bound ’round with a silver chain, And she’s kissed his pale lips once and twice And three times ’round again.

And she’s bound his wounds with the goldenrod, Full fast in her arms he lay, And he has risen, hale and sound, With the sun high in the day.

“Ride with your brindled hound at heel And your good grey hawk in hand. And there’s none can harm the knight who’s lain With the Witch of the Westmerland.”

She said, “Ride with your brindled hound at heel And your good grey hawk in your hand. And there’s none can harm the knight who’s lain With the Witch of the Westmerland.”

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