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.


Croft Gate Blog

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?
Away from the garden we have banks of yellow celandine flowering by the roadside and the ramsons, although not flowering for a few weeks yet, releases a strong waft of garlic if you happen to tread on it.
The lleyn sheep in the dale are lambing now – they make sturdy lambs and good mothers and this and the warm weather has meant the shepherds have not had to bother with the little plastic raincoats they sometimes put on weaker lambs.
For several days this week the dale has been full of the sound of screaming jets and thumping helicopters. Both human and beast are used to airspace activity in the dale but it has been particularly intense this week. Yesterday , the army were yomping round the dale too.
Guests are arriving for the weekend later today so it will be down the garden soon to pick rhubarb to poach for one of the breakfast fruit choices. Of course, we will put an apple in our pocket before we venture out!

We’ve had all sorts of weather this week – from sunny blue days to snow, rain and howling winds. We took a trip out to the lakes on Monday, taking the car ferry across Windermere to Hawkshead. Then, on to Ambleside and a quick look round the garden centre and on to Lakeland for a coffee before returning home.
Our resident hedgehog is back in action, helping to control the slug invasion and we now have two ewes with lambs at foot in the field opposite the kitchen window.
We have had several viewings of the blue tit nesting box too so fingers crossed someone will raise a family in it.
We were busy baking for our weekend party of four guests yesterday afternoon when they rang to cancel at the last minute. We now have a glut of blueberry muffins, fat rascals and banana bread. We had prepared four packed lunches too. Egg and mayo or cheese and pickle sandwiches anyone?
Just been down the garden to check the new growth on the delphiniums and already there is slug damage – time to restart the nightly prowls, armed with torch and a sharp pair of scissors. We do have hedgehogs passing through but they only tip the iceberg in terms of slug control.
Talking of hedgehogs – we have just cleared out the hibernation house to put it away until next winter. No occupants this year – not even a return of the hare that used it as a shelter Christmas 09. We have saved the hay and tied it up so that it hangs from the bird feeding station. When nest building begins it provides a useful source of material for some of the local birds.
Frogs spawned in the pond last night – three weeks earlier than last year and ramsons is beginning to push its way through the earth beneath the copse. T says she expects her Soays to lamb about the third week in April so that is a date for the diary and her hens are laying well which makes for delicious eggs for the B and B breakfast.
We are planning to walk down the dale tomorrow and follow the River Doe for a while. Guests we had staying last week reported sightings of Dipper and Redshank and we have certainly heard the piping of Oystercatchers.
It’s 5.30 and the sun is just setting over Morecambe Bay. A bright shaft of sunlight is catching Southerscales. Sublime.
Snow on the fells again today but spring is definitely round the corner. Snowdrops are flowering in the churchyard and we have snowdrops, primroses and hellebores out in the garden. We are beginning to hear birdsong too – robin mostly and the call of great tits. Siskin and linnets have been extras to our bird feeding station and the raucous cawing of rooks leaves us in no doubt that they have returned to the rookery in the coppice by Nether Glen to nest.
One of T’s Soay sheep died overnight – an eleven year old ewe, in lamb too – what a shame.
We had a power cut at breakfast time on Sunday. Guests were waiting and scrambled egg and bacon were cooking at the time. There is no gas in the dale – we cook with electricity – so it was a mad scramble into the attic to retrieve the camping stove. By the time we’d got the thing set up the electricity came back on !
Speaking of panic and calamity – we baked some banana bread today and put the oven on at the grill setting by mistake. Oh dear!
What a lovely day we had yesterday. It was sunny, dry and warm – well, warm for this altitude anyway. We spent the entire day doing jobs in the garden. We covered most of the vegetable plot in plastic to help the ground to dry out a little before planting, although given the amount of rain that fell last weekend, the words stable door and bolted come to mind.
Next was the greenhouse which we scrubbed inside and out and we ended the day by cleaning the blue tit nesting box. We didn’t actually have any tenants last year although viewings were popular. The beginnings of a nest were lodged right in the bottom of the box so we are hopeful that it will be occupied this spring. It has however, provided lots of entertainment , as each winter evening, as dusk approached, we stood at the kitchen window and watched blue tit after blue tit squeeze inside to huddle next to others through the bitterly cold night.

M's Chapel le Dale marmalade

Just as we went back inside, M, one of our friendly neighbours, arrived with a jar of home-made marmalade. I bet she hadn’t got back through her own front door before we had got brown bread under the grill. M’s marmalade on toast for tea – delicious!

Yet more rain – torrential. We are expecting to end up as we were two weeks ago when the normally Chapel Beck turned into a raging torrent flooded the bridge and blocked our way to the main road. It certainly makes for an exhilarating experience for those exploring the Waterfalls Walk.

Twistleton Scars

In between we have had some wonderful crisp, blue, sunny days. We managed a walk down to Thornton Force gazing up at Buzzards circling and mewing above Twistleton Scars. On our return we were followed by both a flock of Field Fares and a hot air balloon!
At last the mist has cleared. For the last 48 hours we have been shrouded in thick mist – gloomy in the day and very difficult to drive in at night.
The only benefit of such poor visibility is that it seems to halt all RAF activity. We’re all very used to low flying aircraft whizzing over our heads and automatically stop conversation mid sentence and put hands over ears if we hear a jet approaching. Even the sheep maintain an air of nonchalance. However, earlier this week activity had seemed to increase, particularly in the early evening darkness. At one point we heard a terrific rumbling and rushed outside in the dark believing another earthquake was starting. However, out from the darkness, coming straight for us, roared a very low flying, huge helicopter, so low we could see the camouflage livery and the blurred image of the pilot too. For a brief moment the extreme noise was both overwhelming and exciting and then it was gone into the night.
Still on the subject of flight but on a more gentler note, we have seen an increase, at weekends, of paragliders soaring on the thermals by Ingleborough. What a view they must have but mighty cold this time of year surely.

More snow today and an earthquake last night! We had just gone to bed at 9 0’clock when we heard a terrific roaring sound. We rushed outside along with other hamlet dwellers but could see nothing. It was only when we were listening to the 7 0’clock news this morning that we realized we had experienced our second earthquake in just a few months.
We are right in the middle of our deep clean programme now and hope to have this year’s decorating schedule completed soon.
If we can finish by the weekend we might make some lemon curd so we can offer this as an additional preserve for breakfast. The challenge will be not to eat it all ourselves.
A quiet New Year and time to reflect on 2010. Did we enjoy it? We certainly did – we love every minute of running the B and B and reckon all of our guests in 2010 have been absolutely lovely.
We’ve met such interesting people – Scotland Yard Detective to American Diplomats, Hoteliers, Vets, Rock Event Organiser to Botanist and Archaeologist.
We’ve had people stay for romantic breaks, as a stopover while cycling Land’s End to John O’ Groats, to draw, paint, write poetry, walk across the Ribblehead viaduct, complete the Three Peaks Challenge, learn to play the violin, fly eagles at the local bird of prey centre and we even had a young man climb Ingleborough and propose to his partner at the summit!
We’ve had guests visit from as far afield as South Africa, America, The Sudan and Bavaria. While staying with us they have taken day trips to York, travelled the Settle to Carlisle Railway, toured the Lake District and even ventured as far as Edinburgh.
We’ve jump started cars, dried numerous pairs of soggy socks and boots and provided emergency toothbrushes , combs and plasters. We’ve posted back to owners their phone chargers, hair brushes, paperbacks, jeans, t shirts, gloves, socks and various bits of underwear inadvertently left behind.
And a new year is just beginning – how exciting!
Winter Solstice – longest night – and a lunar eclipse too which, sadly, we couldn’t see. Still it is very much a cause for celebration. High in the dale, we feel the seasons acutely and it is good to know that for the next few months our hours of daylight will be getting longer.
We have brought in the mistletoe, holly and ivy and tied large bunches to the old beams. Little fairy lights are twinkling a welcome at the front door and the log fires are burning – happy Christmas everyone!

We have had three hen pheasants hanging in the outbuildings for ten days now and we decided to prepare them today. We always skin rather than pluck as it is much less messy. It’s always fascinating to examine the contents of the crop to see what the birds have been eating – corn in this case and although the hen pheasant is much less flamboyant in plumage than the cock, the detailed and intricate patterns on the feathers are exquisite. They’re now crammed into the freezer ready to parcel up in streaky bacon and roast when we fancy them. Also took the opportunity to freeze several portions of home -made leek and potato soup and to make some potato cakes for the freezer. We’re going to offer these for breakfast instead of hash browns in the future – it’s a little more individual and of course, home – made.
This time of year we always have the freezer full of hearty food just in case we are snowbound for several days. So far, we have only had a couple of inches of snow from this spell of Arctic weather but temperatures at noon today were minus 6 so it’s very cold and getting colder!
A slight thaw has begun today but it hasn’t halted the endless queues of birds waiting their turn at the feeding station. We have robins, sparrows, dunnocks, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits, nuthatches, goldfinches, chaffinches, green finches, greater spotted woodpeckers, cock and hen pheasants – all feeding on nuts, seeds, oats, fat balls and so on. Occasionally a sparrowhawk will take advantage and swoop down and snatch a small bird and a marauding cat or two will visit – thankfully not to eat a bird but to graze instead on soggy bread or fat ball crumbs!
We have just returned from our annual pre- Christmas stay in York. We catch the 7.15 train from Ribblehead and change at Leeds. We’re in York by 9.30 and have plenty of time for shopping before checking in at the Hilton for dinner, bed and breakfast – a real treat. The Minister never ceases to amaze and the snow and Christmas lights all help us to slip into the festive mood. This year it was so cold that the river Ouse had frozen over.
As we sit writing this blog we are looking out, through the French windows, over the garden to the dry beck. The view travels upward, over the limestone scars and terraces of Southerscales until our eyes reach the horizon where the ridge of Simon Fell meets dark Ingleborough. As we look out, a herd of Belted Galloways crosses the fell in single line, heading for shelter in a small copse. Easily our favourite cattle, these rough coated, sturdy animals are well equipped to survive the bleakest of conditions on the fells. They graze on high pastures and herb-rich meadows allowing a diversity of plant species to recover and flourish. The cattle are reared naturally for nearly two and a half years – twice as long as most beef cattle today. The beef is hung for at least 21 days resulting in great flavour and taste.
Great News – we had a secret visit from the hotel inspector last week and we heard today that we have earned 5 Star status! We gained high marks across the board from hospitality and facilities to cleanliness and breakfasts. In fact we gained 100% for our breakfast which was described as excellent and certainly met the very high expectations at this level.
So special was the breakfast that we have been given a national Breakfast Award sponsored by Kelloggs. Only 8% of B and B’s in the country have been awarded this accolade so we are feeling very pleased with ourselves!
After a giddy half hour we had a long business discussion and, on reflection, decided we are more comfortable exceeding guest expectations. Four Star Gold it is.
Blue appears to be the colour of the moment as far as ewe rumps are concerned. ( See earlier blog on tupping for explanation). These will be some of the very last to lamb in spring – a season which seems so very far away as we contemplate the winter wonderland view today.
Like much of the country, we too have snow – currently about 10 inches. The council are doing a great job keeping the roads open so it’s not a problem at the moment.
We had guests at the weekend who thought it was a such fairy tale – they walked out under azure skies in the crisp snow in the daytime and returned to a hot drink and roaring log fire to relax in front of in the evenings. A bonus of such crystal clear skies is the spectacular show of star-spangled heavens at night. With absolutely no light pollution it’s a breathtaking sight so rarely experienced by urban dwellers and the background commentary provided by our vociferous tawny owls just adds to the occasion!

We went shopping to the supermarket in Settle at the weekend – and found ourselves pushing a trolley at the side of Alan Bennett. Actually, we do see him quite often as he has a cottage nearby.
We used to see Thelma Barlow (Mavis from Coronation Street) regularly too but she has now moved away from the area. Kate Ford ( Tracy Barlow from The Street shops in nearby Kirby Lonsdale – her family live locally and we have met Chris Chittell ( Eric Pollard from Emmerdale) several times when we have been walking on the fells. Of course, Ingleton’s most famous son at the moment goes by the stage name of Tom Lister but is perhaps better known as Karl King from Emmerdale. He lives in the village with his family and has done so all his life.
Mike Harding is often to be seen in the Naked Man Cafe as he now lives near Settle as does John Helliwell from the band Supertramp.
Michael Portillo has filmed at the chapel and Julia Bradbury from Country file has been to the Dale recently.
Only last night we were watching Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in The Trip. They were staying at nearby Hipping Hall and did a scene at Ribblehead Viaduct!
So far we haven’t had anyone famous stay with us – possibly the nearest we have got to this is a relative of a previous Chancellor of the Exchequer!

We have had our first snow of the season this week and some lovely crisp, blue mornings when we have had to scrape ice from the Landrover windscreen.
Tupping is well underway now and we can’t help but smile as we see field after field of ewes with coloured rumps. The shepherd straps a piece of coloured chalk to the tup by means of a leather harness or alternatively rubs ruddle or a sticky dye substance onto the tups chest. As the tup covers a ewe he leaves the tell tale sign of a coloured bottom on his chosen ewe. (No room for modesty here!) This lets the shepherd know which ewes have been covered and also, if the colour of the chalk is changed regularly, when the ewes will lamb. Thus he will be able to plan lambing, knowing for instance, that ewes with a red bottom will lamb two weeks before those sporting a blue rear and so on.
We purchased several large tubs of paint a few weeks ago, confident that we would have time to decorate and deep clean rooms before Christmas. How wrong we were! We have been surprisingly busy and every weekend up to the end of December is now fully booked. Our Romantic Retreats Offer for the Shippon has been really popular and we have organised several bouquets and boxes of chocolates recently for guests celebrating special occasions.
We have also had guests stay with us who have booked to spend a day at the Hawk Experience in Horton in Ribblesdale. A whole day can be spent flying a variety of raptors, culminating in the offering of a chick to an enormous, swooping sea eagle with an eight foot wing span – a very special priviledge.

Its been raining for over 24 hours now and the normally dry Chapel Beck is in full flood and Hurtle pot

Hurtle pot in flood

is overflowing with water. We have just been out in the dark to check water levels and its now 7 – 8 foot deep and almost up to road level. A few years ago the force of the water actually washed the bridge away but now a new bridge has been built we are all hoping it will hold. We were just walking back home when a recovery lorry pulled up. Apparently a delivery van is stuck somewhere up the track to Ellerbeck. Its pitch black, the winds are gale force and the rain is almost horizontal – what a night to break down!

Chapel Beck from the bridge, upstream.


Oops – we haven’t blogged for such a long time! We have had a really busy Autumn with the Shippon being particularly popular with guests. As the nights draw in, it provides a cosy opportunity to relax in front of the log fire in the late afternoon before heading out for an evening meal.
A few weekends ago we took a ride over to Borrowdale for the Shepherds’ meet and show. Rosthwaite provides such a sublime setting – verdant pastures encircled by the crags and fells that create the famous ‘ jaws of Borrowdale’. Quite unique and no wonder Prince Charles is a regular visitor. It rained for the entire show of course but we had such a fantastic time – Fell Ponies, Foxhounds, Shepherds Dogs, Cumberland Wrestling and the real reason we go – the Herdwick Sheep. We stopped off in Martindale on the way home to watch the red deer – quite special.

Herdwick at the Shepherds meet in Borrowdale waiting to be 'judged' in the best sheep competition.

We had our first real frost of the season a couple of nights ago and so that means an end to all the tender flowers we grow. Dahlias, nasturtium, cosmos – all had their flowering season abruptly curtailed. They have all flowered profusly this year and have enabled us to fill guests rooms with some vibrant displays.
Further frosts are forecast for later this week so we shall have to think about constructing cosy hibernating quarters for our resident hedgehogs.


There are several special plants that we like to see growing in the wild each year. The quest begins in Spring with Oxlip and Early Spotted Orchid, both to be found here in the dale. In June we look for the Birds Eye Primrose, Butterwort and Sundew, the latter two being insect eating. The meadows of Swaledale are a must at this time too. High Summer is the time to see the Mountain Pansy and this year we almost left it too late. One sunny afternoon last week, we travelled the back roads to Malham Tarn.

Malham Tarn

We set off to walk by the water and over to Malham Tarn Field Centre, eating wild raspberries on the way. Just after the house, we saw a deer grazing in the woods – we often see these creatures here and they seem to be reasonably used to humans, pausing from their nibbling to look at us and then carrying on regardless. We continued along the Pennine way, almost reaching Tennants Gill before sighting this elusive little flower. There it was, the only single specimen we could find on the whole pasture. Still, the excitement of discovering the flower gave us the energy for the trek back and the bonus of a large bed of Grass of Parnassus added to the pleasure.

Fervent hay making is over in the dale and the next mile-stone will be tupping. We are busy collecting the seed from Nasturtium and Cerinthe ready for next years sowings. Strong winds over the last two days have begun to dislodge leaves from trees and its now dark by 7.30pm. Time to get the winter wood pile stocked up!
There was a wedding at our little Chapel at the weekend. We love to see such a happy occasion in the dale. It brings joy and laughter into the hamlet and when the sun shines, as it did on Saturday, the scene is idyllic. The couple apparently held a civil ceremony at Settle Register Office in the morning and came to the chapel for a blessing before a reception at the Station Inn. It was said that the groom proposed in the churchyard while on holiday here.

Wedding day in the hamlet

This reminded us of a couple who stayed with us last year and became engaged while on holiday. A bottle of champagne was secreted in a rucksack, before a walk up Ingleborough. The proposal was made when the summit was reached and we were the first to know the news. They really were a lovely couple and we wish them well.

There is silence in the early morning now – the swallows and martins have gone. There is still plenty of bird activity round our feeding station though, including visits by a willow warbler. We were having five minutes sitting in the sun this afternoon when a sparrowhawk swooped down and snatched a bluetit – just a couple of feet away from us-such deadly efficiency is awe inspiring if ruthless.
On a more positive note we were delighted to find bat droppings beneath the bat box in the barnyard. Its been there two years without any sign of activity so this really is a move forward!
Three hot and sunny days in a row – this is paradise! We’ve certainly made the best of it too. On Tuesday, late afternoon/early evening we went picking blackberries, choosing to follow in the footsteps of Alan Bennett (he has a cottage nearby) and wander the Green Lanes around Austwick. This is such a pretty village – in fact it was the location of the 09 Christmas adverts for a well known supermarket. As we pottered about in the valley floor we took regular stops to gaze up at the famous erratic field at Norber and the great hulk of Moughton – one of our favourite peaks – and the location of a group of wild juniper. Crummack dale looked tempting too, a relatively undiscovered dale by many visitors but well worth the hike especially from the Green Lanes of the hamlet of Wharfe.

We picked a couple of kilos of fruit, (accompanied all the time by a young grey squirrel scampering along the stone walls), all to be frozen and used in our breakfast Summer Berry Compote.
As we drove home we saw a hot air balloon in the sky toward the bay. We get quite a few coming up the dale and over Ingleborough but we haven’t seen as many this year. One time, we heard the roar of burners rather too close for comfort and ran out to see a balloon very low in the sky and the pilot clearly in trouble. Most of the hamlet dwellers rushed out and saw the balloon land, just by Springcote, and narrowly missing a power line! As the basket dragged bumpily along the ground, it turned on its side and the occupants spilled out all over the place. Exciting but not for us.

Game Cock

It’s nearly a week now since we went out for a meal to celebrate a family birthday. We chose the Game Cock at Austwick because so many guests have said they really enjoyed their meal there. It certainly lived up to expectations – the food was good, the service exemplary and we had a cosy little table tucked away in an alcove. Best of all for us – you can an evening meal as early as 5 o’clock. Sounds ridiculous, but on busy days we often crawl into bed happy but exhausted at 8 pm so early dinner is needed. Bank holiday Sunday was warm and sunny but the quality of the light and the profusion of blackberries are an indication that the year is passing. The onions and garlic are ‘gathered in’ and drying out in the workshop. There are still plenty of courgettes to pick and we have begun harvesting and freezing the runner beans. Each morning now we are woken by a cacophony of chattering swallows and martins as they gather together on the electric cables prior to their long migration. Sadly, any day now, we will waken to find silence and know these sweet and special little birds have deserted us.

We popped the TV on Sunday evening to watch Secret Britain and low and behold, there was Julia Bradbury being filmed wandering over the limestone pavement a stones throw away from the bottom of our garden! We know we are lucky enough to live in a very special place and it always warms the heart when others recognize this too.


Nipped down to Ingleton yesterday to buy more award winning black pudding and sausage from Pearson the butcher, then across the road to Greeengages for some mini pears – sweet, juicy and crisp. As usual we ended up in Seed Hill nursery. It’s in the centre of the village and although small, is full of plants. We were tempted to buy a lovely blue scabious and as Adrian, the owner, had “popped out” we, like everyone else , put the money through the letter box. There can’t be many places where the owner is so trusting and the customers so trustworthy!

Today we managed some “time out” for a wander round the old limestone quarry at Ribblehead. It’s a fascinating environment – the richness and diversity of what seems at times to be growing out of bare rock is amazing. We were acting on a tip off from a botanist who stayed with us a few weeks ago. He told us where to find the Fragrant Orchid growing. We did indeed find evidence of orchid but sadly we were too late to see the flowers – just the seed heads remaing for this year. We’re not too sharp at the ID of orchids when in flower so the seed head presented an unsolvable challenge! However, they were definitely orchid seed heads but a more refined ID will have to wait until flowering next year. We did notice lots of Bird’s Eye Primrose seed heads too so we will definitely return in Spring , if not before.

We ended our walk with a look at the archaeological remains of a viking age settlement before dashing back to the Landrover to dodge yet another thunderstorm.


Ooops – we have been so busy – the busiest we have ever been – that there hasn’t been time to blog. We had glorious sunshine yesterday and the same today and this is so welcome as it seems to have been such a wet summer. The garden has suffered – two sowings of broad beans and lots of pods but full of rotten brown beans. A good crop of courgettes but the runner beans simply aren’t being pollinated – we plant borage to encourage bees but they have deserted us this summer.

The tadpoles from the pond are now little frogs and the garden is full of them – everytime we bend to pull up a weed, out pops a frog.

This afternoon we plan to harvest garlic and onions – both bumper crops this year. We dry them off in the greenhouse before stringing and storing in the workshop. They usually last us until April next year.

Everywhere there is evidence of the year passing. Swallows are gathering on wires ready for their migration and many garden birds have disappeared to moult. Harebells are in full flower and the Rowans dripping with bright red berries which the blackbirds are devouring at speed. Sheep have been sheared and it wont be long now before that particular time in the dale we dread – the separation of ewe from lamb. The dale resounds with the desperate cries of mother searching for babe and likewise lamb bleating for ewe. Though necessary it’s truly heartbreaking and almost unbearable.


Great news – a hedgehog has returned to the garden. We had at least one who visited frequently in Spring to devour the many snails and slugs we have. In fact, so well did he or she feast that we had to get up early each morning and swill the barnyard down with a bucket of water in case any guests walking to their car should step in the smelly result of hedgehog over indulgence.

There has been something of a slug and snail fest in the garden recently as it has been so wet. We use slug pellets as a last resort preferring to use a more humane and speedy form of dispatch involving dark nights, a torch and a sharp pair of scissors.

The water in the beck has disappeared as rapidly as it arrived and we are relieved to see our little bridge to the hamlet still standing. It was washed away a few years back and the inhabitants had to use the Roman road (Oddies Lane) to access Ingleton.


Such rain! The broad beans are ankle deep in water and the delphiniums have been dashed to the ground. The normally dry river bed of Chapel Beck is now a torrent of rushing water and the roar it makes can be heard from the house. Just beyond where it flows past the bottom of the garden, water is gushing out of a pothole and forming a dramatic mushroom shaped water spout. We don’t normally see such phenomenon until the depths of winter.

There are some very bedraggled birds feeding in the garden including grey wagtail and a juvenile greater spotted woodpecker. Picking raspberries in the rain this afternoon we heard the eerie cry of a curlew – a note which still makes the heart soar despite the wet!


We had to cancel our night out the previous evening due to the late arrival of our new guests. Instead, we took the afternoon off today and went to Over Kellet near Lancaster to pick soft fruit for our home-made compote. Raspberry, black and redcurrant and gooseberry bushes were all dripping with fruit.

From there we headed for Morecambe Bay – only a total of 20 miles from Croft Gate. We always avoid the town but the promenade is clean and tidy with excellent views across the bay to the fells of the Lake District. The sunsets are spectacular too. Sometimes, in the winter we’ll make up a flask, take a pair of binoculars each, and park up along the shore to watch the many wading birds that live here. It’s an ornithologists paradise.

We ended the day with a treat of haddock and chips from the Bay Cafe – far superior to those supplied by ‘you know who’ in Padstow and half the price!


We have been so busy in June it has been hard to find time to blog. We did however manage a half day trip down the road to Sizergh Castle (National Trust). The garden is fantastic this time of year.

In our own garden we are picking blackcurrents and gooseberries and eating homegrown spinach, potatoes and chard.

There is a magnificent elder bush growing by the hamlet’s well. It is dripping with flowers and no doubt our neighbour, T, will be out picking the flowers before long ready to make elderflower wine.

We have enjoyed the dry spell but many of the farms along the dale who rely on springs for their water are having to ration its use. Luckily, we have a mains supply.


An afternoon off today and so down Ribblesdale, through Horton and from Stainforth, the back road to Halton Gill. Its down a green lane off this road that a patch of bird’s-eye primrose can be seen. There are several sights on the limestone where this special flower can be found, Sulber Nick, Malham Tarn and on the footpath from Malham to Arncliffe to name a few but we particularly like this location as it is intermingled with the carnivorous common butterwort here. A real feast for the eyes.

Then back to do some weeding in the garden which is full of flowers and “bee loud” this evening.


Up at 4.30am this morning to cook an early breakfast for a party of four tackling the 3 peaks challenge. Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough – 26 miles. Plenty of flowers in the garden now to pick to put in guests rooms – peony, iris, lupin and ladies mantle to name but a few but it will be a while before we are picking sweet peas and the lisianthus seem particularly slow to grow.

In the vegetable plot we are picking spinach daily but it looks like we wont have a bumper crop of runner beans this year – as soon as leaves pop above the ground something eats them.


Planted the last row of broad beans today, right by the dry stone wall at the bottom of the garden. This turned out to be rather a risky business as Elton the horse is currently in residence in the pasture over the wall and every time he hears anyone in the garden he hangs his head over the wall and gives a slobbery snort. The mistle thrushes nesting in the Rowan are quite a hazard too as they fly low over the garden, at just the right height to clout someone straightening up after doing a bit of weeding!

Our current guests set off early to park at Clapham and walk up through Trow Gill to the winch meeting at Gaping Gill. Volunteers lower visitors down the 100 metre cavern by winch – spectacular but not for the faint hearted.


Off to Kirkby Lonsdale today to do some shopping. It’s such a pretty Victorian town with plenty of interesting shops and a variety of places to eat out. We are also going to see the florist about delivery of hand-tied bouquets for guests who want that little bit extra. We are also organising gift boxes of hand made chocolates too.


Another hot day in the dale with sheep pressing up to the stone walls in order to take advantage of any shade that may be afforded.

Other victims of the heat are the myriad of primroses which are sprinkled across the north western slopes of Southerscales. Their season will, no doubt, be hastened to an end now as will that of the many forget-me-nots in the garden.

A choir from Eastern Europe held a performance in the Chapel this evening and as the door to the chapel was left open, we were able to sit outside, bask in the evening sun, listen in solitude and breathe in the wafting aroma of the wild garlic. Fantastic.


Out in the garden at 6 this morning to pick rhubarb. We serve poached rhubarb with lashings of Greek style yoghurt as one of the fruit options at breakfast. At that time the air is full of birdsong – curlew, oystercatcher, great tit, chaffinch- to name but a few and by 6.30 all is drowned out by the bleating and baaing of lamb and ewe as the shepherd arrives with supplementary feed.

Went on a short walk passed the Chapel of the Fells toward Whernside this morning. Plenty of primroses and even oxlips in the woods. Saw a large bed of Herb Paris and the occasional early purple orchid. There’s a bank in the churchyard that’s covered in Water Avens too – fantastic.

Our local Cave Rescue Organisation counted the money in our collecting tin today. A grand total of £21.34 was donated by guests in 2009 – thank you to everyone who contributed. CRO is a voluntary rescue team made up of local experienced cavers, climbers and walkers who give their time freely to help those in need of assistance. The team is funded entirely by charitable donations and is on call at all times, day or night.


We heard the first cuckoo of the year in the dale today and the swallows have already arrived. We have several pairs of jackdaws nesting in the hamlet and we could see them pecking at the moss on the barn roof – presumably to use as nesting material.


A new web site and our first blog entry. We dismantled the winter hibernating quarters we made for hedgehogs today – no-one took up full occupancy but we did have a hare shelter in it for several days in the snowy weather we had at Christmas.
We can see hares from the kitchen window. They are busy nibbling the green pasture on the lower slopes of Ingleborough, weaving their way between the ewes with lambs at foot.