Croft Gate Bed and Breakfast Accommodation, Ingleton.

A luxury 4 star bed and breakfast in Chapel-le-Dale, near Ribblehead Viaduct and Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales.

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What a start to 2012!

What a start to 2012 – torrential rain, howling winds, snow and ice!  By far the strangest was the ice.  It came as rain falling on the cold earth and formed a sheet so thick and extensive that the only safe way to get around was on skates.  That was early February and since then we have enjoyed several bright, blue and crisp days.

Regardless of the weather, the season progresses and each day the noise from the rookery becomes more raucous as squabbling over nests increases.  Our churchyard is full of snowdrops and we have hellebores and the odd primrose in the garden.

All winter long a cock pheasant and two hens have feasted on food scattered from the bird feeding station.  What a magnificent sight the male is – bristling with all the colours of an artist’s palette – cerulean blue, rose madder, burnt umber, yellow ochre……  but there is also something special about the more subtle and delicate plumage of the females.  Soon they will leave the garden to breed and not before time too as they are far too partial to our winter vegetables!


Winter Solstice

23/12/2011

Winter Solstice

At last it’s the winter solstice and the Earth will be tilting back toward the light. Living in the heart of the country means we are acutely aware of the natural changes of the earth, the seasons and the length of the day.  Much of our life is dictated by these rhythms.   We have brought in the holly and ivy and added to mistletoe to create swags to hang from the beams and all is ready to celebrate both longest night and Christmas.

Outside, twinkly lights decorate the holly and fir trees and inside, two lazy cats are curled before the roaring log fire.  The children have returned home for Christmas and all is well.

Happy Christmas everyone!


The Belties are back!

The Belties are Back!

It’s good to see the Belted Galloways have returned to their Winter feeding grounds.  They’ve been further down the dale, toward Ingleton, for most of the Autumn but we can now watch them from the kitchen window, grazing their way across the rough pasture on Southerscales.

They are such tough, sturdy creatures with their rough curly coats and distinctive band of white across a predominately black body. Some days they make their way high up, over the limestone scars but it doesn’t matter how far away they wander, when the farmer calls them there is always a tremendous stampede for food. They are surprisingly nimble and quick and it’s quite funny watching them hurtle down the slopes, regardless of terrain.

Dagging and Tupping

15/11/2011

What a fabulous spell of good weather we have had recently.  A balmy 16 degrees – far warmer than many summer days and lots of sunshine too. The dry weather has been particularly welcome as it has enabled the flower garden to dry out after the water pipe which comes to us from the main road, via the dry beck, burst and flooded our land.

It’s tupping time in the dale again.  Sturdy rams, besporting stylish chalk harnesses, strut the lower pastures and the ewes, suitably dagged (tails and nether regions clipped and cleaned in preparation) are modelling a variety of coloured rumps, indicating that the tup has done his job.  By the end of the week the Soays will be tupping too – always a lively spectacle.  Then it’s just a few months until the dale is a cacophony of baaing lambs and bleating ewes.

There is winter to survive first of course and we are all hoping that snowfalls will be more moderate this year.  The generator has been serviced and camping stoves stand at the ready.  The freezer is full and if we are cut off for any length of time there’s always a plentiful supply of home- made tomato chutney!

What a fabulous spell of good weather we have had recently.  A balmy 16 degrees – far warmer than many summer days and lots of sunshine too. The dry weather has been particularly welcome as it has enabled the flower garden to dry out after the water pipe which comes to us from the main road, via the dry beck, burst and flooded our land.

It’s tupping time in the dale again.  Sturdy rams, besporting stylish chalk harnesses, strut the lower pastures and the ewes, suitably dagged (tails and nether regions clipped and cleaned in preparation) are modelling a variety of coloured rumps, indicating that the tup has done his job.  By the end of the week the Soays will be tupping too – always a lively spectacle.  Then it’s just a few months until the dale is a cacophony of baaing lambs and bleating ewes.

There is winter to survive first of course and we are all hoping that snowfalls will be more moderate this year.  The generator has been serviced and camping stoves stand at the ready.  The freezer is full and if we are cut off for any length of time there’s always a plentiful supply of home- made tomato chutney!

Summer’s over

18/10/2011

Well, Summer is definitely over as we have snow forecast for the fells today.  What a wet summer it has been too. All our potatoes and courgettes succumb to the inches of water in which they were  permanently immersed and the parsnips have given up the fight too.   The leeks have been happier though and we have made plenty of chutney from the abundance of green tomatoes produced in the greenhouse..

The wet weather forced the cancellation of our favourite country show too – the Shepherds Meet at Borrowdale and so we went to the World Sheepdog Trials at Lowther instead.  Fascinating watching the skill of shepherd and dog but once again, driving rain made conditions difficult.

Our bats have had a great time, feasting on all the evening midges and the heavy rain has provided some spectacular sights on the Waterfalls Walk so it’s not all bad news.  Don’t think we’ll even attempt growing geraniums next year though as they never manage to produce flowers.

We nipped down to Stainforth Foss yesterday to watch the salmon leaping – truly awe inspiring and as we write this, our local heron has flapped lazily across the bottom of the garden, making his nightly journey to the tarn on Whernside.


Marsh Helleborine

14/8/2011

What a busy summer! Thank goodness we now use a laundry service for our bed linen and towels  – crisp white linen without hours of washing and ironing  – what a treat!

We have managed the odd trip out though including a memorable visit to Ingleborough nature reserve just up the road to see the Marsh Helleborines in flower – particularly exquisite this year.

We have harvested all our summer fruit – raspberries, black and red currants and gooseberries –  and stored in the freezer along with some home-made elderflower cordial. There will just be wild blackberries to pick in the autumn and then our winter fruit supplies will be sorted.

We are busy harvesting vegetables now – broad beans, onions, potatoes, garlic and tomatoes – and are keeping an eye on the French and runner beans ready to pick them as soon as they are at their best.

Despite planting borage, we have noticed that there are fewer bees in the garden this year so pollination may be an issue.

All manner of birds are still visiting the feeding stations and we are delighted to have regular visits from warblers.  The cry of the curlew can still be heard in the evenings and the busy chattering of swallows fills the morning air.

The year is passing though. All the sheep in the dale have now been sheared and it wont be long  until the dale rings with the desperate bleats of separated lamb and ewe as weaning begins and the strong bond  that has been developing since lambing time in the spring is finally broken.


Weather

22/6/2011

A  couple of weekends ago the Southern centric national news was reporting drought conditions – parched earth, shrivelled crops and the possibility of water rationing.  ‘Not hear’ we cry!  It rained for part of every day in May and June has been much the same.  Runner bean seeds rotted before they could germinate and flower buds failed to open on peonies.

Despite the weather, we have been busy,  many guests choosing to tackle one or more of the three peaks  – the cooler conditions making for good walking weather.

We had a couple of guests stay who were keen birdwatchers too and were delighted to spot  willow warbler and wheatear  to add to their varied and extensive list.

We managed a trip to Stainforth Foss one sunny afternoon – we often see kingfisher and dipper here and in the summer months salmon leap the falls. We stopped off at the nature reserve at Ribblehead station on the way home.  There’s an abundance of orchids here – including the fragrant- and a substantial patch of birds eye primrose.  We ended the day sitting by a pond where we watched damsel flies fly amongst the water lilies.

Busy Days

28/5/2011

Oh dear – it’s such a long time since we blogged.  We have been so very busy and every time we have a spare moment it’s a chance to deep clean a room or catch up on baking – Yorkshire Fat Rascals, Banana Bread, Crispy Porridge, Granola ——

For weeks now the garden has been drenched with blue hazy drifts of Forget-me- Nots, prinked here and there with the vivid purple of Honesty, but these flowers are past their best now.  Columbine, Peony, Lily of the Valley and Sweet Woodruff now dominate and the Bearded Iris and Delphiniums are poised to burst open at any moment.

We have had three weeks of wind and rain and although the garden is lush and green, the weather has taken its toll on the taller plants.

Everything is planted in the vegetable garden and so we have our fingers crossed that late frosts don’t materialize.

The bird feeding station is busy and this year we have seen many more Goldfinch and Siskin than usual.  The Mistle Thrush has returned too and the Greater Spotted Woodpeckers have raised a new brood.

One day soon the voracious tadpoles in the pond will emerge as tiny frogs – a metamorphosis which remains just as magical no matter how many times you see it.

We’ve just returned

We’ve just returned from a mid-week  break in South West Scotland – in the Isle of Whithorn.  It’s a tiny fishing village right on the tip of the  Machars  peninsula, extremely quiet and very pretty. It has a harbour (where five trawlers arrived to shelter from storms on the day we left), rocky headlands and an early Christian history.

Burrowhead is within walking distance and those who are fans of the original Wicker Man film will know that this is the location of the huge, burning effigy at the end of the film.  The charred stumps remain if you know where to look.

We’ve been spending time on the Isle for many years and always make sure we visit Logan Botanical Gardens while we are so near. ( Another Wicker Man location).  The mild air of the Gulf Stream enables a wonderful range of exotic flora to be cultivated and whatever the season, there are always plants of interest.

There was something comforting about the familiar call of curlew and oystercatcher and the little turnstones scurrying along the beach are always fascinating to watch.

It’s good to be home though.  By the sound of the constant tapping inside the nesting box we have a temporary lodger at least, if not a tenant.  The snowdrops and crocus are all over and have been succeeded by swathes of lungwort and daffodils,  bringing new colour to the garden.

T’s herd of goats next door now have two additions – one black kid and one pale brown.  Her Soay sheep are due to lamb next week  and she has hens sitting on eggs so soon there will be little yellow balls of fluff running round the hamlet too.

Have picked and poached rhubarb today and it’s time to make more crispy porridge and fat rascals. We’re going to have a granola making day tomorrow unless its dry outside, in which case it will be onion planting instead!

Looks like summer!

25/3/2011

It’s like summer here – endless hours of sunshine spent mostly in the garden.  We’ve planted the sweet peas (possibly a little risky this early), sweet rocket, a lovely lime-green saxifrage and lots of forget-me-nots.  We should have endless drifts of blue haze in a few weeks time.  In the greenhouse we have onion sets  in cells, pot marigold, blue salvia and alyssum all growing strongly.

Elton the horse is up to his old tricks again. Last year, every time he heard us in the garden, he would stick his nose over the wall and neigh for an apple.  He’s obviously remembered this and so now the rule is don’t go down the garden without an apple in your pocket as you’ll only have to traipse all the way to the house for one as the whinnying gets louder!  Not difficult to guess who is in charge of who here is it? (more…)