Lake­land’s Au­tumn Colours

The People's Friend Special - - CONTENTS -

Si­mon Wha­ley takes a walk in the Lake Dis­trict

INew Eng­land is fa­mous for its au­tum­nal colour,” the Amer­i­can tourist stand­ing next to me in the grounds of Ry­dal’s St Mary’s church says, “but your Old Eng­land dis­play is pretty spec­tac­u­lar, too.” I smile. The Lake Dis­trict’s au­tum­nal colour can be amaz­ing and I’m hop­ing to take some photos of it, if I can. Luck­ily for me, the Lake Dis­trict is a bit closer to home than New Eng­land.

“We’ve seen red, golds, or­anges and even pur­ples! Es­pe­cially just over there by . . . what’s it called again?” The re­tired gen­tle­man turns to his wife for in­spi­ra­tion. “Ry­dal Wa­ter?” I sug­gest. “That’s it! Ab­so­lutely spec­tac­u­lar. Any­way, we can’t stop. We’re off to Ry­dal Mount now,” he says, nod­ding up the lane. “We’re go­ing to see where your fa­mous Wordsworth lived. Have you been?” I nod. “It’s a won­der­ful place, but I’m walk­ing the old cof­fin route to­day.”

The Amer­i­cans frown with puz­zle­ment.

“Be­fore St Mary’s was built, the near­est church was St Oswald’s at Gras­mere. I’m fol­low­ing the track the cof­fin-bear­ers used when they had to carry a cof­fin from Ry­dal to Gras­mere.”

I wave farewell to my new Amer­i­can friends and watch them wan­der through St Mary’s grounds with its benches and pic­nic ta­bles and Vic­to­rian streetlamp.

I’ve never thought about a church hav­ing a grand open­ing day, but St Mary’s opened its doors to the peo­ple of Ry­dal for the first time on Christ­mas Day in 1824. That seems a pretty good day for a church to open for busi­ness.

Wordsworth had been liv­ing at Ry­dal Mount for nine years be­fore St Mary’s opened, so many of the trips he made to Gras­mere would have been along the route I’m trav­el­ling to­day.

Just as I reach the lane, I spy the Amer­i­cans turn­ing into the grounds of Ry­dal Mount. The lane is lined with parked cars along the left-hand side, all be­long­ing to hik­ers out climb­ing the fells, no doubt.

There are sev­eral pretty Lake­land cot­tages here, form­ing the ham­let of Ry­dal, but on my right over a high stone wall is Ry­dal Hall, now a re­li­gious cen­tre, with some fan­tas­tic for­mal gar­dens (ad­mis­sion free, but do­na­tions grate­fully ac­cepted) and a tea­room. Past ex­pe­ri­ence en­ables me to rec­om­mend the scones!

Si­mon Wha­ley strides out for a sea­sonal walk from Ry­dal to Gras­mere.

Tlane bends sharp left, and min­utes later I pass through a gate, on to a stone track and the open fell side of Nab Scar. A cou­ple of Herd­wick sheep glance up at me and bleat, as if to say, “Morn­ing!” and then re­turn to their graz­ing.

“Morn­ing!” I re­ply, be­fore check­ing no-one’s watch­ing me talk­ing to them.

Sud­denly I see the view my new Amer­i­can friends saw ear­lier. Each step along the stone track takes me fur­ther on to the open fell, and a kaleidoscope of colour opens up be­fore me.

No won­der Wordsworth was inspired to write his po­etry if he wit­nessed this glo­ri­ous sight ev­ery au­tumn.

From my van­tage point, the lower slopes of Loughrigg Fell are a riot of reds, yel­lows, or­anges, golds, sil­vers, the greens of conif­er­ous trees and . . . yes! I can see it! The thin sil­ver birch twigs have a pur­ple hue about them. Pur­ple is an au­tum­nal colour. Who’d have thought it?

Over­head the sky is a lit­tle drab, but still bright, and there’s not a breath of a breeze ca­ress­ing my face. Ry­dal Wa­ter is one gi­ant mir­ror, re­flect­ing that won­drous au­tum­nal sight. I’m get­ting two views for the price of one.

Some­how, I con­tinue to wan­der along the stone track with­out tak­ing my eyes off the view, un­til I turn a sharp cor­ner and see a swathe of yel­low larches amongst the deeper reds and browns of bracken. It’s as if an artist has brushed a splash of bright­ness across the scene be­fore me.

The track de­scends steeply and ar­rives at a junction with a quiet lane. It’s still down­hill to Gras­mere, and I think about those poor bear­ers hav­ing to carry

A rain­bow stretches across gor­geous Gras­mere.

St Mary’s church at Ry­dal.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.