Between Windermere and Coniston Water is a maze of narrow country lanes and this morning Sir Hugh was navigating skillfully to a parking place deep in the forest. By now I was disorientated, that was part of his plan to take me somewhere new. I was issued with a scrap of paper map with some pink dots on it. Where we had parked was Rusland Church, typical of these small Lakeland parish squat churches. In a quiet corner of the graveyard is the burial-place for Arthur Ransome (1884-1967), and his Russian wife Evgenia. [she had once been Trotsky’s secretary] He found the churchyard one of the most peaceful places, and asked if he could be buried there under a particular tree, with the sound of the wind in the pine needles. Of course he is most well-known for his ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series of children’s books inspired by this area.
A little way up the road we discovered a waymarked trail following the lively beck and avoiding the tarmac and traffic. We were forced onto the road for a stretch and I realised I’d been here before, Bowkerstead Farm was where my son and grandson camped last year.
Out of the forest we headed up onto Bethecar Moor. Open fellside with craggy outcrops, views to the Coniston Fells, over to Ingleborough and down to the Leven Estuary, the perfect Lakeland scenery on this perfect sunny autumn day. And there was not a soul in sight.
The spring in our step was slowed when a large bull stood in our way, as I’m cowardly [sensible] we made a marked diversion to avoid it.
On our return leg along little lanes we continued to soak up the atmosphere whilst we chatted away. I can only thank Sir Hugh for the mystery tour I’d just completed. I already have plans to return to the area and delve deeper into the secrets of these forests.