Furness Ringers Tour North Cumbria

Name of walk Furness Ringers Tour North Cumbria
Date of walk 2017-05-29

On Bank Holiday Monday bell ringers from Furness and South Lakes attended their annual Branch Outing. This year we visited north Cumbria taking in towers at Shap, Penrith, Great Salkeld, Keswick and Cockermouth. I drove to Alan’s house in Bardsea for 8.30am and we were chauffeured by Andrew, both Ulverston ringers. We arrived in Shap before 9.30am to typical British Bank Holiday weather! Alan makes a dash for the church, while I take a photo from under a tree and in a dry patch!

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On arriving at St. Michael's, Shap, the mist was right down so the amazing views out to the hills were obscured. The church was built in 1140AD and predates Shap Abbey.

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There are six bells. The ringing room is quite small, so ringing was done in shifts with those not ringing waiting down stairs. Christine, Rosemary, Alan and Barbara wait for ringing to commence. Bill in Melbourne has commented that: "I must say though there's something slightly macabre about idle bell ropes. They tend to look unnervingly like nooses. Four people, four nooses. Not to mention a wooden box to stand on! Yikes." Now that he has pointed it out, they could pass for the mildly happy condemned!

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Training officer, Kevin watches over young ringer, Alex.

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The Millennium window created by Adam Goodyear depicts Kidsty Pike, Shap Abbey and other local features.

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View up to the ringing room.

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Alan takes this one of me looking through the tower stair window.

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St. Andrew's Church, Penrith. Once more it is raining. The tower dates from the 12th and 13th centuries and the church was rebuilt in the 18th.

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Ringers wait in the rain while a church key is located. Andrew and Rosemary are happy enough to endure the weather. Alan and I adjourn to a nearby Tea Room with views to the church so we can see when they eventually gain access.

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Inside the church are galleries on the north, west, and south sides. These are carried on Tuscan columns.

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It is very similar in design to St. James' in Whitehaven.

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The ringing room is massive. If you are wondering what the words on the wall are, each bell in the tower is named: 1. Squilla, 2. Nola, 3. Nota (fire), 4. Signum (service), 5. Nundaie (market), 6. Noctula (curfew), 7. Morta (death) and 8. Andreas.

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The tower has housed bells since 1655. There have been eight bells since 1887.

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Next up is St. Cuthbert's Church in Great Salkeld. There has probably been a Church in Great Salkeld since 880 AD, when the body of St. Cuthbert was rested here after being brought from Holy Island. Rebuilding took place in 1080. The Pele Tower was added in 1380, with an iron door for defence of the inhabitants against the Scots.....but it didn't prevent Alan Dewar from gaining easy access!

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One of the gravestones in the churchyard.

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Looking up towards the ringing room.

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Mediaeval grave slabs have been incorporated in the structure. This is over the fireplace within the tower ringing room, others have been used as lintels.

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Photos of all the previous incumbents are on display in the ringing room.

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There are six bells, but they were not easy bells to ring. I watched Keith ring, his ringing is usually effortless, but even he had to put a bit of effort in to make the bell do what he wanted. I decided to give ringing these bells a miss and had a walk around the village instead, as it had almost stopped raining and was now just a bit of drizzle. A lovely village.

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Alan went up on to the roof of the church to take this photo. He said that the roof was very slippery in the wet.

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The village's location is on several ancient drove roads used to bring cattle to market. The village pub is named The Highland Drove, and was once used by drovers who watered their cattle at The Dub, just outside the village. During the Middle Ages the village was held by the crown and was sometimes known as Salkeld Reigs. Alan, Andrew and myself stopped here at lunch time. Andrew and myself had brought sandwiches, which we had already eaten, so we watched Alan tuck into fish and chips.

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This big beast was looking down on us from above the fireplace. Enough to put diners off their steaks and beefburgers! No wonder Alan had fish!

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After lunch was St. Kentigern's Church in Crosthwaite, Keswick. The church dates from 1523 and was restored in 1844.

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The rain had now stopped and there were views out to the hills.....well the bottoms of them!

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Barrow and Outerside on the left and Grisedale Pike on the right.

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Looking up the Coledale Valley at what should be Grasmoor.

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A ground floor ringing room. Tower Captain, Nick Newby, in the shorts, reminds me of the necessity of a good technique to compensate for the challenges of a long draft. I rang the tenor, but found them quite easy to ring, but a bit too quiet for me, as the bells were a long way up.

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Looking towards the ringing room from the altar.

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There are eight bells.

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In the church is a memorial to poet laureate, Robert Southey, who attended this church for 40 years until his death in 1842.

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Robert Southey's tomb.

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In the afternoon we were joined by Margaret and Ian from Ulverston tower.

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The churchyard is extensive. This is a view from the back looking out towards Skiddaw and Lonscale Fell.

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This sundial has a bit missing.....and there's no sun either!

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Good job there's a clock!

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Last up was All Saints Church in Cockermouth. The present church was built in 1853.

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The tower has its own door, separate from the church. To get to the ringing room you have to venture out on to the roof.

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Then you have to climb an old wooden ladder. Ringers are asked to be careful in high winds! Ian makes his way into the ringing room.

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Andrew and Margaret follow me up.

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I nip back down to see inside the church. The parish room was once the old Grammar School.

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Mike checks the England cricket score when he thinks no one is looking, but I see all!

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Time for dinner at the Castle Bar in Cockermouth.

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Cockermouth on a Bank Holiday Monday, minus the tumbleweed.

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We have a room to ourselves upstairs, they don't want us to mingle with the general public and scare them with our conversations about Stedman Triples, double dodging and calling 'Bobs'.

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The meal was excellent.

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Ian gives his vote of thanks to outing organisers, Keith and Anne. This would have been a good photo if I wasn't laughing while trying to take it!

I got home at 10.30pm. An interesting, but long day. Just a pity that the morning weather curtailed my usual explorations of the church environs. Thanks to Anne and Keith for organising a memorable outing.

Jo.

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