Portside…….

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The Port of Ravenglass, Eskdale, Cumbria

In the shadow of the Cumbrian Mountains, one the northern edges of Morecambe Bay and overlooking the Irish Sea, can be found the old Port of Ravenglass.   It doesn’t look much like a port, just a few hints that relate to its past maritime history….. but make no mistake that this was once a very busy Port.

From Roman times, through to at least the 1940’s, Ravenglass was a Port of some importance.  At both ends of that time spectrum it has been a vital strategic and then commercial link, though its fortunes did fluctuate.   There is no harbour infrastructure, no docks.  Vessels were sailed in on the high tide and left beached as the tide went out.  It was then a frantic exercise to either unload or load the vessel before the tide came in on its twice a day cycle.

The Romans built a road from Ravenglass, up through Eskdale, to link into their major highways they had built through Britain. They also built a Fort and Bath House “Glannoventa” at Ravenglass.

In 1875 a narrow gauge steam railway was built to carry minerals from the Cumbrian Fells.  Today that Railways is a major Tourist attraction now carrying visitors on a dramatically scenic ride through Eskdale.

A visit to Ravenglass is a step back in history……   all peaceful now, but once a centre of much activity.

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

18th March

(C) David Oakes 2021

Silent Sunday…. a Hall with a Chapel

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Haddon Hall, Derbyshire……  standing high above the River Wye

Over 900 years Haddon Hall has towered over the River Wye.  It has withstood all the turmoil and dangers that time and English history has endured over the intervening centuries. 

It is also one of the oldest  Houses in the country.  Surprisingly Haddon Hall is still owned by the Manners Family over all those years….  it has also remained very much as it was built, avoiding all the fashionable Georgian and Victorian restyling that many other old houses have undergone.

Stand in the Lower Courtyard, you can literally drink in the historical atmosphere created by the passage of time…

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Like so many Castles and Country Houses, Haddon has its own Chapel.

The Chapel may well be small… but it is well worth a visit in its own right.  It is an intriguing Medieval Chapel.  Wooden  Box Pews and Carved Screen, Flagged Stone Floor, Exposed Timbered ceiling, Coloured Glass window, and even more stimulating the rather stylish 15th century fresco wall paintings.  A design ,that would not be out of place, on a designer wall covering in the 2021’s

If your visit is a summer visit, then you can also enjoy the bonus of a walk arround the Terraced Rose Gardens…..  a treat in their own right.

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Haddon Hall is a worth inclusion on any tour….but until we can all start planning such trips…

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

7th March

(C) David Oakes 2021

Silent Sunday…… Two Churches in one small Location

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Saint Peters Church, Heysham Head, Morecambe Bay, Lancashire

Heysham is a rather quaint old village, on a headland, that juts out into Morecambe Bay.  On the top of that headland is this 11th century Church of Saint Peters.  A distinctive Bellcote tower with two bells, an equally distinctive Anglo Saxon Doorway and the solid Stone Slate roof create a solid character. The origins are indeed 11th century, but study the building outline you can soon detect the additions and extensions added over the following centuries.

Saint Peters is still  Hesham’s  Village Church….. but only a few yards behind the Church, and even more prominently locate on this exposed headland, are further signs of  even earlier religious occupancy.

The most dramatic are the tombs (or graves) that have been carved out of a sold rock.  Known at times as the Martyrs Graves and by others as the Pilgrims Graves, they lie on the highest point of Heysham Head.  Exposed to all the wind and weather that Morecambe Bay can deliver from across the Irish Sea…..possibly the same winds the assisted Saint Patrick on his journey from Ireland.

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Dating these stone hewn graves is problematic.  Let me try to explain.  These graves rest beneath the shadows of Saint Patricks Chapel.  Possibly built in either the 6th or 7th century and attributed to Saint Patrick.  However,  historical records still find it hard to be definitive on the exact date of Saint Patricks death, a time arround 490ad is very likely. Whatever that date is, it is still 100 or more years before the Chapel was built.

Saint Patricks Chapel has not worn as well as Saint Peters.  The chapel is now a ruin… all be it, ruin with a great outlook.

As with most religious locations across the UK, they are usually on the sites of much earlier places of worship or spiritual importance.  Various archaeological digs have taken place to try and discover the heritage of this Heysham location. Excavations arround the Stone Tombs did discover artifacts and tools, these would indicate that this site was occupied over 12,000 years ago.

One thing is for sure, no matter the legends and mysteries, these twin Religious ‘settlements’ capture the imagination of any visitor, and with a bonus view over Morecambe Bay, that must lift the spirits,

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

21st February

(C) David Oakes 2021

Not… A Bridge too Far

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Connel Bridge, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

There are not that many Bridge in the UK that have Listed Status, being of historic importance…. but Connel Bridge is justifiably one of them. When it was built in 1903, its 524ft cantilever span was the second longest in Scotland.  Only the famous Forth Railway Bridge was bigger, both having been constructed by Arrol Bridge Builders..

Connel Bridge stands at the mouth of Loch Etive where it joins the Firth of Lorne. It is at  times a tempestuous location,  the water flowing out of Loch Etive meets the incoming tides, which together with the deep channels, create the Falls of Lora.

As for the Bridge itself, it has had a chequered history.  Originally built as a Railway Bridge for the Callander and Oban Railway, it carried a single track line. Later a narrow roadway was built alongside the rail line.  For a time cars were conveyed on a wagon…..  for a Toll of course..  The Railway closed in 1966 and the line removed and replaced by a single track road.  Today,  a one way traffic system is controlled via Traffic lights.

Progress has seen a many, much bigger, bridge constructions. But Connel Bridge with its unique highland backdrop and the turbulent waters below, has a special magic of its own.

Whatever metaphorical bridges you have to negotiate today….

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

18th February

(C) David Oakes 2021

Valentine’s Day……..

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Valentine tokens were exchanged long before the Greetings Card Industry was invented. The commercialisation all  happened in the Victorian era, when  the printing techniques enable low cost mass production of coloured images.  Raphael Tuck & Sons, who had print works in London and also Saxony, were pioneers in developing the ‘Post Card’.  Many of the first Valentine Cards were just like postcards….. flat cards.  True they also produced folded cards with lace trim and other embellishments, but it was the flat cards, at a modest price that satisfied the mass market.  The Card above dates from circa 1885.

Three more cards, from my collection, are also samples of Victorian Valentine Cards.  Dated around 1900 and perhaps depict a further development in art style of the period.

Valentines senders were supposed to remain anonymous, which to me seemed rather strange…no point in ‘secret love’.  But I guess in the current Lockdown life we live, with many folk living lives apart, that many NEW methods of expressing ones “socially distanced” affectations have become the mode of conveyance.  I also guess the messages and the  intentions remain the same.

Valentines Day it may be but our message remains the same….

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

14th February

(C) David Oakes 2021