John & Anne Wiley

2019/01/11

To London With Ali

After another delicious Rosegarth breakfast I went to the kitchen and thanked our gracious, tireless hosts Ian and Sarah.

093729 Rosegarth Hosts

093729 Rosegarth Hosts

In gathering winds and darkening skies we departed toward London.

9339 Ratty?

9339 Ratty?

The “Ratty Arms” sign at the left had given us pause upon Ravenglass arrival, but now departing we knew it’s about the cool R&ER we’d ridden. In minutes a fine mist began to fall on the unfolding countryside as livestock found shelter or hunkered down.

9354 Blown Mist

9354 Blown Mist

Soon it became a stinging mist as the wind picked up, and people on the train started talking about cat.2 hurricane Storm Ali coming ashore.

112536 Storm Ali Lands

112536 Storm Ali Lands

Conversation turned reports of damage and even two deaths as we learned it was much worse in Ireland and Scotland. The mood and sky continued to darken as we learned that UK trains were being stopped.

9364 Darkening

9364 Darkening

But after Arnside the rain stopped and wind eased as we were passing a moody castle ruin.

9383 Ruin Near Arnside

9383 Ruin Near Arnside

By the time we were rolling into Grange Over Sands, locals accustomed to storms were taking a day in the park.

122754 UK Park Outing

122754 UK Park Outing

Arriving in Preston to change trains we learned that everything to the North was now cancelled. My impression is that trains behind us from Ravenglass had also been stopped due to power outages and track blockages. The platform crowd patiently milled about deciding what to do as the intricate UK rail system quickly adapted by sending most arriving trains back South.

135856 Packed Preston

135856 Packed Preston

Arriving in London only slightly delayed, we checked into our hotel and went to a cafe awaiting news of our friends who’d also departed Ravenglass about the same time. We quietly enjoyed many cups of herbal tea peoplewatching at a window seat.

182833 Cafe Window

182833 Cafe Window

They’d booked a train North to catch the fast central main line South to London, and we learned later it was cancelled. By the time we met up it was dark with a few stars, so three of us walked the Westminster area in an unusually quiet London.

194153 Quiet Night

194153 Quiet Night

Tomorrow we planned to check out views from the Shard and other attractions for our last London day of the trip.

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2019/01/09

Muncaster

Our second day in Ravenglass we walked about a mile up the gentle grade to Muncaster Castle where we met up again with our Santa Barbara friends. They’re distantly related to the heirs (exciting for their grandkids), and were doing genealogy research. It was a fun day, and quite different from the rest of the trip.

8274 Regal Roost

8274 Regal Roost

More about the Birds we saw in a moment, but first we had to find a way in.

8258 Muncaster Gate

8258 Muncaster Gate

Because we’d gotten an early start, the main gate was still locked but with no cell service we couldn’t find the other gate. After walking further up the road, back down, and back up past where we’d turned back we found our friends. Inside those walls is a wonderland.

153027 Fairytale

153027 Fairytale

Walking around to the front door the misty day opened enough to get a glimpse of the valley domain.

8791 Domain Glimpse

8791 Domain Glimpse

Inside the castle is a rich art gallery and museum, where we wandered the rooms imagining (and reading about) days gone by.

8820 Castle Entrance

8820 Castle Entrance

Back outside the sky had cleared more, providing another angle on the valley.

121724 Valley Vista

121724 Valley Vista

Far in another direction a stout guardhouse perched on a hillock in the lingering mist.

8800 Lonely Outpost

8800 Lonely Outpost

Walking around the other side of the castle we looked back toward the entrance gallery.

143752 Looking Back

143752 Looking Back

Our little group was headed to the castle’s famous bird show, our second of the day. It’s very well done, intimate (wingtips gently brushed several of our friends), and thrilling.

8342 Fly By

8342 Fly By

8983 Takeoff

8983 Takeoff

The show is narrated by experts who love to introduce these beautiful animals.

8700 Free as a Bird

8700 Free as a Bird

All of this is in the open air, but the birds choose to stay with their caring keepers. Adding to various silent owls are several other species of magnificent raptors.

8883 Expert Aviator

8883 Expert Aviator

The second show ended with an amazing show of aerial maneuvers, chasing a lure and catching bits of meat tossed into the air in mid-flight. Quite a memory for this pilot. 🙂

9287 Fast Precision

9287 Fast Precision

Much as we loved the smaller venue of the first show, many of us were quite moved by this second one. Part of it was accompanied by epic music that fit perfectly with the grace of these raptors stretching their wings. All too soon we headed back to town for our last night, beginning to pack for our morning train back to London.

2019/01/07

Ravenglass

From our night in Carlisle we enjoyed another short train ride, taking in the Fall countryside.

8082 Country Life

8082 Country Life

Now heading West we soon met the coast, turning South along stretches of dry stone wall.

8092 Return to the Sea

8092 Return to the Sea

Along the way we passed, and on this slower local train – more often stopped at, small towns and villages like Workington.

8094 Approaching Workington

8094 Approaching Workington

Nearing the village of Seascale we saw a woman strolling the deserted beach, with … could that be her pet Nero dei Nebrodi at the bottom-left?

DSC08116-b.jpg

Soon we stepped off the large comfortable electric train and back in time, greeted by the whistle of this magnificently restored narrow gauge R&ER steam train pulling small open cars into its parallel station.

153255 Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

153255 Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

Thus began our two nights relaxing in Ravenglass. After walking a block to our cozy B&B and dropping off our luggage we went back and bought a ride on the last round trip train out. Alas, it had a newer diesel engine so being only a few cars back we’d occasionally get a waft of exhaust. With ominous rain clouds gathering we chose one of the hard bench seats (bring a cushion) that has a roof and front window with open sides. Others enjoyed an unencumbered vista from the refreshing open bench seats, perhaps knowing the rain on our window would remain a collection of occasional droplets.

155901 Happy Family

155901 Happy Family

That’s the conductor standing in the next car forward to monitor our passage over switches. It was fun passing the last steam train (engine nameplate Whillan Beck) making its way back to the station.

161337 Whillan Beck

161337 Whillan Beck

We saw many ruins and stoneworks left over from the Industrial era, when it all presumably looked very different. This water wheel is one of the spiffier examples.

8140 Water Wheel

8140 Water Wheel

My love of rock formations and lush multicolored vegetation was also well nourished by the big variety on this small ride. Plant life gnawing at the wizened stone seemed unchanged since long before human eyes first beheld it.

8146 Timeless Shapes & Colors

8146 Timeless Shapes & Colors

Dalegarth Station ends the line, allowing me to unfold from the cramped car and savor the look of a stout home beneath carved mountains.

8190 Rugged Beauty

8190 Rugged Beauty

Riding back we chose the last car, spared any whiff of diesel on our gently wobbling roll through a moist verdant paradise, imagining a virgin forest here.

8224 Where Giants Stood

8224 Where Giants Stood

Too soon we arrived back in Ravenglass. Strolling down Main Street past our lovely Rosegarth B&B we stopped in at the quiet and friendly Pennington Hotel dining room for an excellent light dinner and a toast of delicious Strongbow Cloudy Apple on tap.

8252 Relaxing Day's End

8252 Relaxing Day’s End

2019/01/06

Carlisle, England

Our southbound train from Glasgow was soon gliding through the beautiful Scottish countryside toward the English border.

08015 Leaving Scotland

8015 Leaving Scotland

One stop on our way stood out in particular. As we rolled up to the platform, a somber mood seemed to envelope the train. We knew the history here and thought that was the reason, but later noticed three embracing couples in this pic and realized 2018 was 30 years since the tragedy. Typing this almost four months later, I can still feel the powerful silence of that stop.

8025 Lockerbie Station

8025 Lockerbie Station

Somehow the 40 miles or so across the invisible border into England, to our overnight stop at Carlisle, distracted us from past to present. The short walk from the station to our hotel brought us to a downtown core in stark contrast to bustling Glasgow.

174301 Carlisle Core

174301 Carlisle Core

A small city like this surely had things going on, but none of those things seemed to be happening anywhere we looked. Glancing back toward the station across the ancient town square we’d crossed to the hotel revealed someone finding solitude on a bench.

174302 Silent Square

174302 Silent Square

Stashing our stuff, we wandered over to the cathedral complex where stonework speaks of centuries.

8055 Carlisle Cathedral

8055 Carlisle Cathedral

From there, a short walk brought us for a view of the stout fortress.

8072 Carlisle Castle

8072 Carlisle Castle

Since the museum there had already closed, we strolled back alleys into town for a few groceries. As night fell, the moon hung over the quiet town on our stroll back to the hotel for an improvised dinner in our room.

8081 Quiet Night

8081 Quiet Night

Morning dawned sunny for our quick breakfast at a bakery across the square from our hotel.

102228 Morning Light

102228 Morning Light

At last we saw a mix of locals and visitors, before catching a train to our “rest stop” on this fast-paced trip.

2019/01/02

Glancing Glasgow

Scotland has been a lifelong interest for me, so it’s no surprise that Glasgow made a strong positive impression when we finally got there in 2003. What’s surprising is that this 2018 UK/EU trip had only a couple of hours there! Even so, the beautiful train ride from Edinburgh enhanced the anticipation of our arrival.

07932 Rural Scotland

07932 Rural Scotland

Even as skies darkened and rain showers increased, fascinations were abundant.

07918 Distant Castle

07918 Distant Castle

Far away in time and space, castles in various states of ruin and restoration garnished the green around villages, towns, and small cities like Linlithgow. But soon we emerged from the Glasgow station feasting eyes (and cameras) on a transforming city.

133639 Up Into Glasgow

133639 Up Into Glasgow

The station is below street level, with covered escalators including a set near an old clock tower.

7951 Turning Back

7951 Turning Back

We walked back beyond the distant escalator arch (left side of pic) to check it out again, since we’d heard in ’03 the then empty upper level was to be refurbished.

7959 Short Tower

7959 Short Tower

Sure enough, what had in the last millennium been atop the station was now a quirky cool two-story cafe. Even with all the new and refurbished buildings since our last visit, we saw construction and restoration in process everywhere in the city core. We walked a few blocks along River Clyde and enjoyed a mini “Brooklyn Bridge.” Perhaps a former carriage connection, it’s now a slightly wobbly pedestrian bridge.

140050 New Tags, Old Bridge

140050 New Tags, Old Bridge

With so much care going into this beautiful city, ugly graffiti tags here and there stand out. Back in the core, most of the crowd still seems to be locals strolling the mix of ancient, deco, and new architecture.

7954 People & Place

7954 People & Place

There are also both new and old indoor shopping arcades, and being tourists we found the old more interesting.

7956 Old Arcade Entrance

7956 Old Arcade Entrance

Just a decade and a half since our longer visit here, we could barely recognize it.

7987 Old Buildings, New Faces

7987 Old Buildings, New Faces

With so many buildings obviously old or even ancient, our lack of recognition clearly reflects a need for more time here. But alas, we were already headed back to the station for our turn to the South.

7997 Approaching Train

7997 Approaching Train

Along with the many “People Make Glasgow” banners, we saw quite a few admonishing us to “Think Before You Step Out.” Probably related to foreign visitors used to traffic on the “wrong” side, it could also apply to visitors about to step out of this beautiful city after only a glance. I wish we could’ve at least kept exploring until our train, but waiting in the covered station did give us some time for lunch and people watching.

7999 Sheltered Station

7999 Sheltered Station

In a cold Winter blizzard this must be a welcome shelter for people, pigeons and all living things. This former street level is also preserved as a repurposed arcade where locals, other Scots, and tourists gather in this global city spanning rugged, refined, ancient and contemporary.

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