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Friday, 19 August 2016

Sunshine and crowds in Lakeland

I can’t remember now when I first came across the work of photographer Nina Claridge but I do know she took some wonderful pictures for both the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Dymond Guide to the Lake District and Cumbria.

We’ve emailed and chatted on the phone over the last three years but, strangely enough, never actually met. Until yesterday when - totally by chance - we bumped into each other at Yew Tree Barn near Low Newton, home to a brilliant range of architectural antiques.

Nina was taking promotion photographs for Harry’s Café Bar there (pic), I was delivering copies of the guide book for the shop to sell. It was a big surprise but a great start to the day, one which saw Lakeland at its sunniest best.

After Yew Tree Barn it was the two beautiful self-catering cottages at Howe Foot, ten minutes from the south end of Coniston Water. Owner Sue Hawkard kindly buys my guide books to give to longer-staying guests, so they can discover more about the area. Incidentally her Garden Cottage is now on the Sally Cottages website and the other one, Otley Beck, is coming soon.

Back to Newby Bridge, we headed for the Lyth and Winster valleys (photograph on the left by Nina, from my guide book), passing four well known pubs along the way: the Masons Arms, at Strawberry Bank, the Hare and Hounds at Bowland Bridge, the Punch Bowl Inn at Crosthwaite and the Brown Horse Inn at Winster.

There were more stops for photographs and then a guide book delivery at Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House overlooking Windermere. I love the shop here, with its ceramics, jewellery, textiles, ironwork, wooden boxes, glassware and art books, and the house itself is magnificent.

As everyone knows, this part of the world took a real hammering from the weather in December and January, so it was very encouraging to see so many visitors lapping up the beauty of lake and fell.

One of those places hit by the heavy rain was The Forest Side at Grasmere where the extensive kitchen garden was pretty well washed away, and this around the time of the new hotel’s opening. But look at it now - a credit to the owners, gardeners and kitchen team.

Head chef is Kevin Tickle, a keen forager who used to work at L’Enclume in Cartmel. And that’s where the day came full circle because the operations manager at L’Enclume is Sam Ward and he’s married to......Nina Claridge, the photographer whom I'd finally come face to face with in the morning. Cumbria’s a big county but, as Nina says, it’s a small world....full of very pleasant surprises.

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