Through The Viewfinder and What Alice Found There
This week my adventures took me to Acorn Bank in Temple Sowerby, Cumbria. It's a house and gardens owned by the National Trust and I'd been wanting to visit for a while but had never found the right time. However, on Wednesday the sun was out with not a cloud in sight so I decided this would be the perfect time for a visit!
When we first arrived we went into the house entrance to buy tickets but we were told that only a few rooms were open as work was being done, so we decided instead to just explore the gardens and surrounding woodland. We started off with the woodland walk which takes you down a maze of small paths, alongside a river in the woods. It was really beautiful and peaceful - we heard quite a lot of woodpeckers though! The walk had sort of a magical feel to it aswell, because every now and then we'd come across a small door or a window in a tree, as though there were little houses for all the woodland creatures! It was really cute and reminded me of a book I read when I was little called Brambly Hedge, which was all about the lives of mice and other creatures that lived in a hedgerow.
The woodland path led us to an old water mill that is no longer in use, but we were still able to go inside. There wasn't much to see - there was a bit of old machinery in there but the main thing I was interested in was the family of swallows making nests up in the beams! After wandering around there for a bit we took another path back up to the house - on our way back I managed to spot one of the woodpeckers in a tree and got a few shots of it! It was really high up though so unfortunately I couldn't get a great picture as my lens didn't zoom far enough!
My attempt at photographing the woodpecker!
Back at the house we joined onto yet another woodland path that led us down to the remains of an old mine (which again is no longer in use) then we went on further to a little wildlife hide. We sat for a while and saw quite a few little birds coming right up close to the hide on the bird feeders, then we headed back to the house again. Next we went into the gardens which were really pretty with loads of flowers coming into bloom. Up at the end, away from the house, was a small orchard where they were growing apples. There were also some beehives which were really noisy - the bees must have been busy! There is also a small pond in the gardens which was home to loads of newts. You could see them swimming around below the surface and every now and then one would come up for air. We also had a quick look around the small herb garden and greenhouses which was interesting as it told us what each type of herb could be used for.
When we'd finished looking around Acorn Bank we decided to go on and visit the Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre near Lowther, as it was only about 10 minutes drive away from where we were. When we arrived at the centre we went into the tearoom which was decorated with antiques and handmade items, all of which were for sale. We decided to get something to eat before going through to see the birds so we sat on the picnic benches outside in the sunshine and had a baguette each. Next to the benches was an open barn which formed part of the tearoom seating but was also an extension of the antique shop. There was some really interesting things for sale - I love vintage things so I really enjoyed having a look around while we waited for our food to come out.
When we'd finished, we went through the tearoom and out the back where all the birds were - there were all sorts! Hawks, eagles, falcons, owls - my favourite was the bald eagle, it was huge! We then made our way across to the flying field where each day a selection of the birds are flown as a demonstration between 2-4pm. We missed the first 10 minutes but I don't think we missed much as he was still flying the first bird - a peregrine falcon. The displays were really interesting and we learnt a lot about each bird brought out. It was interesting to see how each one manoeuvres in the air to catch it's prey as well. The last bird that was brought out was a hawk and he liked to fly really low and close to the visitors - a few times his wings actually brushed my face as he glided past! We were given the chance to fly the hawk ourselves - I didn't have a go but a few of the other visitors did, and he was really well behaved for them all!
It was a really good day out, made even better by the warm, sunny weather! I would definitely visit both places again - especially Acorn Bank when the house has a few more rooms open to look around. If you are interested in wildlife then you would love to visit both these places, they are easy to get to and there's loads to do, whether you want to go off and explore, or just relax and sit in the sun with a drink and a slice of cake! Some great photo opportunities as well for anyone interested in landscapes and wildlife like myself!
Landscape & travel photographer from Cumbria, UK.