From Year 3 to the U3A, to our Heritage Open Day visitors, we have been stimulated by lots of keen learners in the past few weeks. We have also been invigorated by the C-Art studios and installations that criss-crossed Cumbria from 13th to 28th September. From Viking art at the Bowder Stone to skulls in Bark Barn, there have been lots of opportunities to engage with the landscape in new ways, not least when we helped to dismantle the wool installation at Ashness Bridge, much to the amusement of on-looking sheep. We hope you enjoy the entertaining photos!
C-Art is an annual Cumbria-wide visual arts project, with open studios, gallery events and, new for this year, C-Art in Extraordinary Places. The extraordinary places included Ashness Bridge and Bark Barn, just above our grounds, and so we were in the perfect position to get involved.
Up at Ashness Bridge, artist Annabel Lewis covered Bark Barn with sheep’s wool, as well as placing large wire-bound balls of wool along the Falcon Crag footpaths. Inside the barn, Annabel and fellow Cumbrian artist Natalie Williamson displayed skulls and skeletons, some highly decorated, and some in their natural state: Natalie cleans and dries them very carefully though!
I enjoyed looking at the soft additions to the landscape, with the intrigue of unlabelled skulls inside the barn, but we got the most out of C-Art when Oughterside School came to visit. We had a fantastic morning at Bark Barn, talking to the artists, playing with the wool balls, investigating the skeletons, making our own environmental art, and walking along the wool ball-strewn paths to Falcon Crag.
We learnt a lot from the artists: Natalie Williamson collects skulls and skeletons from all round Cumbria, keeping a good look out on her walks and travels. She generally finds them near stone walls, where animals curl up to die, but her collection also includes some Minke whale bones, found on the West Cumbrian coast. Her fellow artist Annabel Lewis also knows the ins and outs of the local fauna! Annabel grew up on a West Cumbrian farm and her C-Art installation was made from 300 sheep fleeces of 3 different breeds. There is another side (or a few decorative trimmings) to Annabel though: in 1990 she established a ribbon and trimmings emporium in London called VV Rouleaux, and she now combines high-end fashion with fell-side fun!
On the last day of C-Art I had really good fun, helping Annabel to take down all the wool balls. There was some tricky fern-wading to do, but I paused a lot to look at the view, and it must have been a lot easier than the putting the balls up in the first place! The balls had gathered bits and bobs of fell-side flora, and patches of the wool were tinged brown and orange with rust from the wire binding: they looked like they had undergone the same autumnal transformation as the rest of the landscape.
I was really happy to be allowed to take two wool balls home as souvenirs: can you find them in our grounds when you visit the hostel?! There is also an opportunity to see the wool balls again at the Winter Droving Fair on 15th November in Penrith.
This month we welcomed our first beneficiaries of the DIH Fund, with 12 pupils from Years 3 to 6 enjoying a two-night residential at the hostel. Their visit followed a customised itinerary from our new 360 Education + Adventure programme, and the activities ranged from ghyll scrambling to map symbol Pictionary to Georgian parlour games.
We have included a summary of the Oughterside itinerary here, but next month you will be able to read some of the pupil reviews. Their own words will be much more engaging!
Theme: Team-work and orientation in an unfamiliar environment: working together as one group to explore the geography and history of the surrounding area.
Day 1: Walk to the hostel from Keswick (their coach delivered the baggage!); evening meal; role play to re-enact the history of our Georgian house; take it in turns to lead a walk around the grounds; make a descriptive acrostic poem in the woods; design a folly for Derwent Island; and decorate Georgian gingerbread.
Day 2: Make mini-rafts out of natural materials; paint the view on a giant easel; explore our waterfall and hydro-electric plant; walk on the fells, discuss different land uses, and interact with environmental artists; lunch; ghyll scrambling; evening meal; draw the walking route on an OS Map; learn about scale and map symbols; play map symbol Pictionary; write postcards to a friend; and play Georgian parlour games.
The half day adventure activity (in this case ghyll scrambling) was delivered by our well-established partner Glaramara Activity Centre.
For those of you who might not be familiar with The University of the Third Age, this report from the Stafford Group will be a good introduction to the creative, educational, and leisure activities which they enjoy.
The Third Age sounds great - beyond the age of childhood, parenting responsibilities, or full time employment - and the Stafford Group has about 40 members, all retired and ranging in age from 60 to over 80 years old. Here is a report from the group:
‘Stafford U3A Hostelling Group enjoyed a fantastic five day break in the Lake District this month, staying at the wonderfully located Derwentwater Independent Hostel near Keswick.
25 of our group came on this trip, most arriving in time for lunch on Monday 8th September. Some had come by car, others by public transport (the age of the free bus pass), and we were able to sit in the sunshine on the hostel terrace, enjoying fantastic views of the lake. There was time for a short walk in the afternoon before we all gathered for dinner at the hostel.
Being such a large group and age range, we have a diverse range of interests and capabilities. Some of us like long walks (over 10 miles), while others prefer shorter more leisurely strolls, but everyone enjoys some sightseeing and cultural activities; fortunately the location of Derwentwater Hostel means that there is something for everyone.
The 'long' walkers tackled Causey Pike, Great Gable, and a particularly pretty walk from right outside the hostel. Climbing up to Surprise View we were rewarded with amazing views, before returning by the lakeshore path. Others combined a trip on the lake with a walk and afternoon tea. The jetty near the hostel is perfectly located for catching the Keswick Launch and spending all day on a picturesque sightseeing cruise around Derwent Water, hopping on and off throughout the day.
On Tuesday evening we enjoyed a pre-theatre supper at the Theatre by the Lake, followed by ‘The Winterling’. Although we all agreed that the cast gave excellent performances, we found it quite a puzzle and everyone had a different interpretation of what it was all about.
On our last night we held a quiz, devised by one of our members. We had random teams of four or five, and it was great fun: there is no prize for the winning team, just bragging rights until the next week away!'
Thank you to Stafford U3A for this report and great photos.
Earlier in September we had a really interesting group at the hostel, with 30 young people from all over the USA. With so many states represented, there was a fascinating cross-section of US cultures, and their unity developed throughout the week.
Thank you to their leader, Kookie Taylor, for writing this report:
'In partnership with the Tees Valley Youth for Christ, 30 American students have been twinned with schools and churches across Teesside, where they will be serving as youth workers for the next year. The majority of the group had never been to the UK before, and so the Lake District was a perfect introduction to our long-term stay in the UK.
After arriving at the hostel we immediately hiked to the top of Surprise View. Everyone was completely enamoured by its effortless beauty, and it was a powerful place for considering how this landscape might have been created. While admiring the view, TVYFC Director Mike Taylor shared an inspiring message on Vision.
Following Surprise View, we hiked a little over three miles to Watendlath Tarn, hidden away in the mountains. Then, after the refreshing hike, we headed back to the hostel and played sports games until tea. We were graciously served a filling meal and delicious desserts by the hostel staff.
After a morning of worship and sharing our stories, we tackled Cat Bells together. Our group represented many different levels of fitness, yet every student was capable of reaching the top. Whether you are a casual walker who wants to make the most of a beautiful afternoon, or an experienced hiker looking to explore further, Cat Bells is a highlight for everyone. Each view was truly spectacular, and the fresh air was exhilarating.
After our leg work-out on Cat Bells, we challenged our upper bodies to a little kayaking on Derwent Water. Kayaking was equally breath-taking, but from a uniquely different perspective. The weather could not have been more ideal, with the water glistening magnificently in the afternoon sun.
We spent our third day in Ambleside, enjoying the best of town and countryside. Some of us stayed on the high street, enjoying a quiet day in the coffee shops, while others spent time shopping, playing volleyball in the park, or hiking on Loughrigg Fell. That night we also had a relaxed evening out in Keswick.
Overall, TVYFC was completely blown away by the beauty and charm of North England, as well as the service and accommodation at Derwentwater Hostel. The staff attentively met all of our needs, and made our time in the Lake District that much richer. It was an unforgettable week.'
Thank you Kookie, and good luck to all the Tees Valley youth workers.
Back in June Alina and Euan held their wedding reception at the hostel, with a beautiful array of Polish and Scottish dancing and costume (quite a contrast from the outdoor gear that Euan wore when he first stayed here as an Expedition Medicine participant!). They also planted a tree in our grounds, commemorating their marriage and providing us with a beautiful reminder of their wedding weekend. Here is Alina to tell us a bit more about their special occasion:
'Euan and I met in 2004, on an island on Lake Titicaca in South America. We only spent a day together, but coincidentally we met again in Peru about a week later. We exchanged email addresses, and now ten years later we are married!
We are both big fans of youth hostels and the Lake District, and as soon as we visited Derwentwater (Euan for the second time after his Expedition Medicine course) we knew it was the perfect place for our wedding celebration.
Euan has Scottish and Welsh roots, while my family are a mixture of British and Polish. My Dad and several of our family friends used to dance for a folk group in London and so our initial idea was for a Scottish-Polish 'dance off' during our wedding weekend. However, as things panned out, everyone got involved in the different cultural traditions: we had the ceilidh on Friday, and the Polish dancing and vodka on Saturday! Completely undecided as to what to wear, my brothers wore kilts to the ceremony, Polish gear for the dancing, and shirts and ties for the evening.
Some of our friends and family had never danced before (apart from the many rehearsals for our big occasion!) and my Dad suddenly realised that it was the first time he had danced with all five of his children at the same time. We borrowed costumes from the Mazury Folk Group in London and everyone rehearsed very seriously. The main dance was called the Hajduk, from the mountains of south-east Poland, and then there was a women-only dance, where my veil was exchanged for a shawl to represent the loss of youth! The unmarried female guests were then invited to dance around me to catch the veil, much like throwing the bouquet.
With lots of friends bringing food, helping to decorate, and contributing to the entertainment, everyone really got into the spirit of the wedding.The hostel looked beautiful, the food was amazing, the outdoor ceremony and tree planting were personal to us, swimming in the morning was a hit, the music was fantastic...I could go on all day. But a huge, huge thank you to Kathy and everyone at Derwentwater for making our wedding so wonderfully special. It will remain such a happy few days for us, full to the brim with fantastic memories.'
We are now going to let the pictures speak for themselves (well, as far as we can resist a few oohs and aahs here and there):
We hope you enjoy them too.