Acorn Bank

Saturday, 5th September 2015


We left bonny Scotland today and travelled down the M6 towards our overnight stop in Cheshire.  On the way we avoided the motorway service stations and instead made our way to Acorn Bank, about 6 miles from Penrith for a lunch break and a stroll around the gardens.  This is a National Trust property described in their blurb as a ‘tranquil haven with a fascinating industrial past’ ( ).  They are right – it’s an interesting property which not only provided us with a much need coffee break and a tasty lunch, but a chance to walk in their gardens, orchards and acres of ‘wild garden’ – mostly woodland with a pretty river flowing through it.

A ‘fairy trail’ in the woods aimed at keeping the children amused, made us smile too!


RR x

p.s. – didn’t take the camera! oops.  All photos from Mr RRs and my iPods – that’s why some are not so clear!

Acorn Bank gardens, orchards and woods.  (2 miles)

“The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home.  First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms.  Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.  It was small wonder then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said ‘Bother!’ and ‘O blow!’ and also ‘Hang spring-cleaning!’ and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat.”

{The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame}

The Mole has made his way out into the sunshine!
The Mole has made his way out into the sunshine leaving his cleaning for a duller day!

We begin with a visit to the tea room and then, refreshed, have a walk about the gardens


admiring the pond (we could make one like that, we think)IMG_0012

and the orchards (we might have such an orchard, we thought) and the bee hives (we’ll definitely get one of those, we exclaim).  As you can tell, our minds are full of fanciful plans for our new venture and in such a mood we wandered through the gate in the walled garden and down through the woods to to river.

” ‘Hullo, Mole!’ said the Water Rat.  ‘Hullo, Rat!’ said the Mole.  ‘Would you like to come over?’ inquired the Rat presently.  ‘Oh, its all very well to talk,’ said the Mole, rather pettishly he being new to a river and riverside life and its ways.  The Rat said nothing, but stooped and unfastened a rope and hauled on it; then lightly stepped into a little boat which the Mole had not observed.  It was painted blue outside and white within, and was just the size for two animals; and the Mole’s whole heart went out to it at once, even though he did not yet fully understand its uses.’ “

If you look carefully you might just see Rat’s house in the tree! and his little boat on the river just waiting to row you across.

We made our way through the woods to the water mill, currently being expertly restored to its original state by volunteers:



One of the volunteers is recording the work they are doing and activities related to the mill on a blog:

We have a look around and then make our way back up through the woods towards the house for lunch.  On the way, we notice that Ratty has kindly hung Mole’s clothes out to dry after his adventures in the water:


“When they got home, the Rat made a bright fire in the parlour, and planted the Mole in an arm-chair in front of it, having fetched down a dressing-gown and slippers for him, and told him river stories till supper-time.”

After lunch we take the chance to walk about the house, which is mostly empty as restoration work has only just started on it, but interesting nonetheless.  And then we take the trail through the trees to the, now disused, gypsum mine;

The mine opened in 1920 and at its busiest employed 21 people – 20 men and 1 woman.
A drift mine is one which uses a near-horizontal passageway following a vein of ore.  Its seen when the mineral is located in the side of a hill.

Gypsum is a whitish mineral which consists of hydrated sulphate of calcium.  Its a sedimentary rock formed over many millions of years by the evaporation of sea water. The finest gypsum is alabaster.  Heating gypsum converts it into plaster of Paris – the name originating from the location of important gypsum quarries in the Montmartre district of Paris.  Nowadays its used in all forms of plaster, in blackboard chalk and as a fertilizer.

Walking on across fields, past grazing sheep we reach a bird hide and spend quite a long time watching the activity.  We also discover that if you keep your finger on your iPod camera button you can take a rapid series of shots – and if you’re very clever you can even capture a bird in flight!




We also catch sight of yet another nuthatch.  The books tell us that these exquisite birds have only just started nesting in  southern Scotland, and we have been lucky enough to see them on several occasions.  Last time we visited Scotland we saw one at Traquair House (Tipping it down at Traquair), this time we have had a pair on the bird table in the garden of our cottage and now here on the bird feeders in Penrith – very blurry pictures but they really are stunning birds:



No other British bird descends a tree trunk head first apparently!

The nuthatch gets its name from its habit of wedging nuts or seeds in crevices in tree bark so that it can then hammer it open with its powerful bill.  It even hides seeds sometimes by wedging them into the cracks and then covering with moss or bark – clever!

Sadly, we have a long journey ahead and reluctantly make our way back across the fields and the lovely gardens to the car.  If you’re travelling up the M6 any time and need to take a break – Acorn Bank is a lovely place to stop.


Total miles walked this year: 555.5

Pastoral with Sheep – Acrylic on Canvas

Artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major

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