Friday, October 23, 2020

Navigating (and the Walk Back From Wray Castle)

So I'm overdue in sharing more walking photos and videos from the Lake District. And I thought while I do that I would also share a bit more about the basics of walking there.

One of the things I love about England is that there is basically a way to walk pretty much anywhere you want to go. This isn't accidental -- it's the result of years of lobbying and civil disobedience (the most noteworthy event of the latter being the "Mass Tresspass" of Kinder Scout in Derbyshire). But what it means is that there are both ancient rights of way that have been maintained and more recent walking trails and footpaths where anyone has the right to walk. In the Lake District where so much land is owned by the National Trust, this is even more pronounced.

There's also an extensively detailed set of walking maps for the entirety of Great Britain, produced from ordnance surveys. These ordnance survey maps have been available on paper, and more recently on an app. I have to admit that I've found the paper maps complicated and unwieldy, and although I carried one on this trip in case I lost signal or my phone battery died, I loved using the app because my phone GPS immediately showed me exactly where I was. Unfortunately you can't see the GPS in these screenshots I took later, but this is what the maps look like on a phone:

app screenshot showing map

app screenshot showing map

It takes some time to learn all of the different markings, but generally a green dashed or dotted line is some sort of walking trail. For me one of the fun things was planning out my route the evening or morning before my walk, deciding what trails I wanted to take and therefore what I wanted to see. The maps detail both topography and noteworthy sights, so they're great for that purpose. The British are also great about marking footpaths and putting up signs, so I could often walk for a very long time without even needing a map check.

path and signpost

I also wanted to talk a bit about gear. One of the other things that's nice about walking in Britain is you're never really THAT far from civilization, and there are usually other people on the path. So while I did carry a paper map, compass, emergency whistle, and small first aid kit in addition to my other supplies in a little waterproof folding backpack, that was the extent of what I needed. I believe I mentioned the trekking pole I purchased, and I was very glad I had that for the remainder of the trip -- it makes stream crossings easier by giving you a third "limb" for balance, and it also eases the burden on joints when going downhill. 

The big thing I had regrets about was in waterproof gear. Some of my things were waterproof -- my backpack kept my electronics dry when it rained (and boy did it rain in the second half of my time there), and I brought a waterproof case for my camera, so I was still able to take some pictures when it was raining. However I did a much better job of protecting my electronics than my person! I had a water-resistant rain coat and water-resistant hiking pants, and when I spent enough time in the rain, both of them eventually soaked through. Whenever I get to go back, it's going to be with a new fully waterproof rain coat as well as rain pants.

pink shoes and trekking pole

 I also gambled when it came to shoes. You can see the ones I wore for the majority of my hiking above. They are a super lightweight pair, just a bit more than a barefoot shoe, and they were absolutely fantastic...until they weren't. When the weather was dry the light weight gave me a much better spring in my step than I've found in regular hiking shoes, and I'm sure I was able to rack up more miles than I might have been able to otherwise because of this. However they were designed to be worn barefoot, and every once and a while the back of my heels would blister up dangerously. And of course, they were decidedly NOT waterproof. I thought I'd solved for this by buying a pair of rubber shoe covers, but those broke on the first day I've used them. 

So for the remainder of my Lake District posts, if it looks wet, imagine me walking in squelching wet shoes. But hey, at least the views were still beautiful! So now for some of those views with pictures and a walking video from my walk back from Wray Castle.

hill and sheep

path and lake

wall and hills

Friday, August 28, 2020

Wray Castle (Lake District Part 4)

By this point in my Lake District trip, I was in pretty good shape. So good that what I'm about to show you I actually walked to after Latterbarrow, which I shared in part 3. But I thought it would be better to focus on the house for this one post, so one day's worth of walking is actually going to be three posts! This month I'll share Wray Castle, and then next month the walk back to Hawkshead (aka more lovely Lake District scenery!).

Wray Castle is a Victorian neo-gothic "castle" (which is to say house built with crenellation and other features to make it look like a castle but not really a castle), so it's from an era I don't usually share houses from. I think it's useful to see where styles were going to evolve to after the Regency, though!

The house was built by a retired surgeon, who must have married well for it was funded with his wife's fortune! Beatrix Potter spent a summer here when she was 16, so it's a key part of her story within the Lake District, too. But without further ado, let's look at some photos...

The gatehouse provides a good sneak preview of the castle

The walk along to the castle features more lovely landscape.

As you can see, though, the weather was turning rainier!
The exterior is this sort of Victorian castle fantasy.
And the interior keeps the fantasy going!

There are loads of gothic details like this window.
This ceiling is just a little bit bold!
It's not all over the top, though. I love the painting on this fireplace.
The main hall from another angle.
When I was a kid, I really wanted to live in a turret. And I don't think I'd turn it down now if the opportunity appeared!
More gothic detailing.
Upstairs in the main hall.
The impressive ceiling in the main hall.

A less over-the-top ceiling compared to the others, but still interesting!

And here are some 360s:

Some 360s of Wray Castle in the Lake District for an upcoming blog post.

Posted by Sophie Turner on Monday, August 24, 2020

That's it for this month. I'll see you all next month for another installment!

Friday, July 24, 2020

A Generation's Secrets-related posts

I'm posting this and will keep adjusting the date if necessary to keep it "pinned" so to speak as a resource for readers who want to learn more about some of the references in AGS.

If you're trying to envision the Baltimore clipper that plays a key part in the book, check these out:
And there's also a bonus post of video from a storm in this area rather like the one described in the book.

The Lake District posts are restored, with a new addition on 7/24:

Latterbarrow (Lake District Part 3)

So first things first. Many of you will already know about this because I mentioned it in the beta posting for AGS, but if not, I'm one of a number of authors who has left Austen Authors. This is summarized wonderfully by Katherine Grant, so if you haven't read up on what happened head over to her blog. As I said in my post a while back, I've tended to let my work speak for itself. If you've read my series and particularly if you're in on the AGS beta, you know I value diversity in my stories and I'm looking to bring in even more of it.

The admins have deleted the posts of all of the departed authors. I saved all of my posts before submitting my resignation, however, and will be working to restore them over time to this blog, starting with the first two posts in the Lake District series:

Near Hawkshead

In the first two parts, I had been basing in Far Sawrey, but I then moved on to the charming village of Hawkshead (seriously, I can't wait to share it in a future post). I dropped my bags off and as the weather was still clear but threatening to get worse later in the day, I was eager to get to walking. I stopped off in a National Trust shop first, though, because I wanted to get a trekking pole.

Gentler portion of the walk to Latterbarrow

I have a pair of poles at home but haven't really used them, but I was beginning to see how it could be a good idea. There are two key things the pole does: the first being to ease wear on your joints, because you can use it to help in downhill descents; the second being to use it for balance, for example when crossing a stream on stones. So I bought a pole at the shop, and since I was going out walking, the lady there recommended I walk to Latterbarrow.

The view was already pretty good!

I'm going to be honest, I didn't really realize it was...I won't call it a mountain, but it's a HUGE hill. But as I've said before, I've learned that you get rewarded for uphill climbs in England, so I kept going even when I saw that it was extremely high.

Getting steeper...
...and steeper.
The thing is, the path just kept getting steeper and steeper. I was definitely glad for the trekking pole to give me some extra stability going up, but there was one other problem.

Did I mention I am afraid of heights?

I am afraid of heights. Pretty significantly. And all of a sudden my fear kicked in, and I realized that I wasn't really going to be comfortable going back DOWN on the trail I'd come UP. Which meant I had to cross my fingers and keep going and hope for the best.

I made it, obviously, and I was pretty proud of myself for managing it, particularly since the view was absolutely wonderful, as I'd thought it would be. You can see it's very cloudy, but I found that just made it moodier!

At the top of Latterbarrow
Posted by Sophie Turner on Monday, July 20, 2020

Fortunately there WAS an easier path down on the other side, so I got to enjoy some more views without scaring myself!

Still a moody sky, even at lower elevation!

Love these farm houses, tucked away here.

Another farm.
I'm going to try to stay on a monthly blogging schedule here and I've got so much more Lake District to share, as well as some period cookery I've been engaging in. So I'll see you next month when I share where I walked next after Latterbarrow!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

It's not quite the Baltimore storm, but it's close

We are having a massive storm in the Washington D.C. area right now, but as I'm on the outskirts of it I was able to capture some video. It's the sort of weather I wrote about the Stantons and Ramseys experiencing in Baltimore: hot, humid weather (it topped 100 degrees here) finally broken by a massive storm.

I wouldn't say it's the most severe storm Georgiana or the naval captains have experienced, given their time at sea, and all of the characters experienced some strange and stormy weather during the Year Without a Summer. But it's not the sort of thing you usually see in more temperate climes like England, so I thought I'd share. Mother Nature is giving us a pretty impressive show!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Hill Top (Lake District Part 2)

In my first post in this Lake District series, I wrote about some of the first walks I took, from my base in Far Sawrey. I was blessed with absolutely beautiful weather for my first few days, but hey, it's England...eventually the rain was going to set in. So on my first somewhat rainy day, I decided to walk over to Near Sawrey, which is the site of Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's house, and see the house.

I was decidedly not the only person who thought the rainy way would be a good idea for this, but fortunately I got there well before they opened to line up for a timed entry ticket. The house is much smaller than the great country houses I usually see at the National Trust, so they have to manage how many people are inside.

Hill Top exterior
I wasn't actually intending to share the house here when I first went in, so I don't have as much multimedia. I'd originally intended my setting within the Lake District to be an old cottage that had been in the Darcy family for some time, but as I started adding up the number of people that might be staying there (plus servants), I started realizing they needed a little "upgrade". So I made it a farmhouse that had become redundant by the combination of two farms, and Hill Top, a 17th century farmhouse, became the perfect model. So now I'm doubly glad I went!

Although I don't have much in the line of multimedia, I do have quite a few photos to share, and I'll be back in next month's post with some more tales of my walks, and walking videos.

You enter into what I would call the kitchen, Potter called the Entrance Hall, and Lakeland farmers would call the firehouse or houseplace. I love that they had a fire going on a rainy day!
Another angle.
Beside the kitchen is this panelled Parlour.
Beside the kitchen is this panelled Parlour.
Spinning wheel and work table in the Parlour.
Up the stairs...
I love the big old four-poster bed in this bedroom.
Bedroom fireplace.
I loved all of the Georgian-era antiques in the house, like this pitcher.
This "Treasure Room" is filled with all sorts of little items.
Including this doll's house; Potter used some of the rooms as models for her illustrations.
I lost my mind a little bit in the Sitting Room because it has an early 19th century Clementi square pianoforte.
Here's some detail of the keyboard.
And the Clementi branding.
One more pianoforte detail, for good measure!
The "New Room" was described by Potter as the library. The room is larger and looks different because it's part of the 1906 portion of the house (Potter actually split the house with her farm manager, who lived in the other portion).
Detail of one of the desks.
The village of Near Sawrey is a charming little place worth some photos as well, and Beatrix Potter fans may recognise some locations:
Cottages and wildflowers.
A longer view leading up to the village inn.
Close-up of the post box.
Close-up of the inn.
Farther-out view of the village.
 I'll leave you with a few more animal photos from my walk back from Near Sawrey to Far Sawrey, but first it's worth noting that part of the reason I was able to make many of these walks on this trip was because of Beatrix Potter. During her lifetime, she worked hand in hand with the National Trust and others to see to preservation of Lake District lands, and after her death she donated more than 4,000 acres to the Trust so that it would be preserved. So not only do her books live on, but the land she helped save does, too.

Calves in the field.
And a horse.

Navigating (and the Walk Back From Wray Castle)

So I'm overdue in sharing more walking photos and videos from the Lake District. And I thought while I do that I would also share a bit ...