I have just returned today from a trip to Keswick. Yesterday, Hubby took Maddi to the vet in Keswick, but today it was Zack’s turn and so I tagged along. Poor Zack has caught the same bug as Maddi and has now been put on a bland diet of plain boiled mashed potato with a tablespoon of plain cottage cheese.

However, I want to talk about my day in the hills today. The road from Bowness-on-Windermere to Keswick winds through some really awe-inspiring scenery, taking in Ambleside, Rydal and Grasmere along the way. Driving along the long and narrow windy roads, we went up hill and (slightly) down dale with towering mountains on both sides and vistas of sparkling lakes and green fells dotted with ewes and their lambs along the way. It took around 30 minutes to make the run each way as it was not busy on the roads.

This is just a small part of the beautiful road that we normally drive on our way to Keswick from our guest house, Blenheim Lodge, in Bowness-on-Windermere. The surrounding mountains, high fells and sparkling lakes provide a feast for the eyes. (Photo courtesy of www.cumbriaphoto.co.uk.)

A curious phenomenon caught my eye as we passed fields and higher fells full of grazing sheep. I noticed that there were any number of greyish white fluffy sheep but their lambs were totally black, as in jet black! I could not understand how these light-fleeced ewes would have such black lambs and thought I would do a little research.

A picture of a black Herdwick lamb with its mother on a Lakeland fell. (Photo courtesy of www.think-differently-about-sheep.com/sheep_Breeds.htm.)

Well, as they say, one never ceases learning and I found rather a lot of information about Herdwick sheep on the internet. One of the more informative sites was www.herdy.co.uk/farming-fells.html, some of which interesting text and photos I have reproduced below.

Herdwick sheep flocks were historically managed in such a way that the sheep know which bit of the fell they are supposed to graze, and unlike most other sheep breeds they keep to this ‘heaf’. Each generation of sheep pass this knowledge of belonging on to their offspring. Because these unique sheep have this in-built homing instinct it would be disastrous if the flock were sold when a farmer retired. So Lake District farms are bought or rented with the existing flocks of sheep in place (‘landlord flocks’). Incoming farmers inherit the flocks that belong to the land, and which have been in place for centuries, with respected peers setting the price of purchase and judging the condition of the stock.

People used to think that Herdwick sheep were brought with the Vikings, or they swam ashore from a wrecked ship of the Spanish Armada… The reality is that these hardy sheep have probably evolved through the ages and may well be the descendants of the sheep of the first settlers in pre-history. In this community both the farming families and the sheep have been rooted to this place for centuries… Many of the practices and traditions survive here because the unique geography has preserved a kind of farming that has been swept away across much of the rest of Western Europe. Wordsworth called it a ‘perfect republic of shepherds’ and thought it a model of how people might live everywhere.

‘Herdwick lambs are born black, but as they mature they develop white, or hoar-frosted, head and legs.’ A Herdwick sheep sedately enjoying its walk along Lakeland paths and fells. (Quote from www.herdy.co.uk/blog/all-about-herdwicks/21/post. Photo courtesy of www.cumbriaphoto.co.uk.)

The sun was shining warmly today when we left Blenheim Lodge, but by the time we had headed into the North Lakes, the wind was getting a little chilly even with my 4 layers of clothing to protect me against the elements. However, this did not spoil my enjoyment of the bonny scenery. Driving into Rydal from Ambleside takes in some fantastic open vistas of lakes surrounded by high mountains. Then, as one approaches Keswick from Grasmere, the hills start to look rather more rugged and bleak, particularly in the distance. Meanwhile on either side, there are scores of sheep cropping away at short tufty grasslands.

Sheep grazing on Lakeland fells are a familiar part of the landscape in the English Lake District. (Photo courtesy of www.cumbriaphoto.co.uk.)

I always enjoy the drive to Keswick unless there is a heavy mist and torrential rain, because then it becomes plain scary to me. We have driven this road many times and when visibility is poor, it becomes dangerous as there are some steep drops on either side of the roads. For this reason, I never like to travel this road unless we have a clear day.

Well, Zack’s day at the vet ended with two types of medication for him. One of the medicines is administered with a syringe which he doesn’t like. We have now decided to put the medicine into his food instead, as we have done with his tablets which we have crushed up. It sounds unpalatable but he doesn’t seem to mind. Perhaps, because we have to keep their meals small and bland at present in order to help their colons recuperate, both dogs are eager to eat what is put before them instead of being fussy with their food as they can sometimes be.

I did not get to see much of Keswick today, but I did walk the town centre and got some shopping done for the guest house. I have been looking for scented drawer liners for a little while now, as I like lining the drawers and wardrobes in the guest rooms to give them that homely touch. Well, I have found some pretty rose-scented liners with a fairy motif which I hope our guests will like.

A photo of Keswick town centre. The tower in the centre of the picture, Keswick Moot Hall, is home to the Keswick Tourist information Centre. (Photo courtesy of www.visitcumbria.com/kes/keswick.htm.)

It is nearing Summer now, even though the air still feels Spring-like. If you are planning your late Spring or Summer holidays, do consider a break in the Lake District. For those of you who enjoy spectacular scenery, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. And if you are thinking of visiting the Lakes and want quiet bed and breakfast accommodation with views in the South Central Lakes, do consider a stay at Blenheim Lodge in Bowness-on-Windermere. Our Windermere guest house is a great base for days out and we hope that we will have the pleasure of welcoming you.

The Attic, a bedroom at Blenheim Lodge guest house, with Louis XV bed.
The Attic is on the second floor of our guest house and guests staying in this characterful room will enjoy panoramic views of Lake Windermere from the Velux window.

‘Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’

Visit our website: www.blenheim-lodge.com

Email: enquiries@blenheim-lodge.com