How You Get There

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Today seemed to be about modes of transportation—cars and boats and trains. We rolled out early to go to Bath, and met up with a quintessential charming publican, Nick Luke, in a village near Bath with the lovely British name of Limpley Stoke. He suggested a slight detour to see the local gap in the hills where the river, the aqueduct, and the railroad all pass through at one point. So we parked off of the main road, and walked down this path:

canal and rail 1I mean … who would not want to walk a path like that, so full of green and light, and so replete with unspoken promises about the future?

As we walked, Nick mentioned that the railway ran alongside the path … and in a rare display of timing, just about then, an actual steam train came flying by. I fear I was a bit slow on the draw with the camera, or more likely, I was at exactly the right speed and the train was fast … in any case, here’s the steam locomotive on a roll …

canal and rail 2

Nick told us that the locomotive was one of the very few new steam locomotives built in the last few decades. It is a copy of the “Tornado”, which was a famous locomotive back in the days of steam. It whirled on past, easily pulling a string of passenger cars. We could see in the windows, the folks were sitting and having lunch at lovely tables, with crystal service … it was an entrancing vision of a bygone time, when people rode the steam train from London to their holiday in the town of Bath.

We walked on further, and we came to an aqueduct which is part of the extensive network of canals which were originally built to carry coal from the mines to where it was needed. There we encountered several of a species of boat that I’d never actually seen, the British canal boat. For some reason I’ve been re-reading “Moby Dick” lately, first time since high school. I hadn’t realized how funny Melville is. Anyhow, at one point he says:

You may have seen many a quaint craft in your day, for aught I know;—square-toed luggers; mountainous Japanese junks; butter-box galliots, and what not; but take my word for it, you never saw such a rare old craft as this.

That’s just how I felt when I saw the canal barges. Using the famous “Imperial” system of measurements, by my estimate they’re about a mile long and a yard wide. Here’s one of the several that we saw coming out of the Dundas Aqueduct that carries the canal across the Avon river below:

canal and rail 3

After the end of the coal mining era, many of the canals fell into disrepair. But now, there has been a resurgence in traffic, not commercial, but recreational travelers. The boats are about as skinny as you could make them, and for a very good reason … so are the canals. For example, off of the bit of water shown above, another canal takes off that looks like this:

canal and rail 4

The sign on the left identifies it as the “Somerset Coal Canal”, which was built in 1801, and which closed in 1898. I asked Nick if coal was still mined in the UK. He said the deep mines were uneconomical, but the open-pit mine near the Drax power plant was still producing. I had to laugh at that, because as Nick already knew, after years of successful operation and with lots of coal still in the ground, the Drax power plant is currently being converted to run on wood chips … and because there are not many forests left in the UK these days, the wood chips are to be imported from the US. Climate madness at its most inane, or perhaps most insane.

So somewhat sadly, we left the lovely confluence of river and rails and canal, and followed Nick into Bath. He stopped on a hill above the town and explained the layout. The church in Bath is not a cathedral, he said. From his explanation, s “cathedral” is the “seat” of a Bishop. But of course, this being England, the church in Bath is the seat of a Bishop … but it’s not a cathedral. It’s down on the lower left. Above it there are some trees, then a row of buildings called the “Royal Crescent”. In the dappled sunshine it was picture-perfect.

bath from above

Now, as near as I can figure out, Bath has always been a party town. It’s the only thermal hot springs on the island, so it was a big hit with the Romans. Then in Georgian times, some people built a bunch of what we would now call “spec” houses, houses built to sell but with no specific owner in mind. This was a success, and from local accounts, it became the place for the rakes to come from London to have a good time and gamble and chase the Georgian lovelies round the antechamber. Here’s the “Royal Crescent”, built in the early 1800′s.

royal crescent bath

The Royal Crescent adjoins the town commons … and as a result, the property owners needed to be separated from the plebeians. So in the best pre-Druidic fashion, they built their own “henge” to keep out the polloi, which survives to this day as seen below. Plebs to the left, property owners to the right, gotta keep the old traditions alive …

the royal crescent henge

Nick also pointed out how the masonry was made to look so good back in the Georgian times. The blocks of stone are chamfered from front to back on the bases. Then they are set in mortar with the front edges of the blocks very tightly aligned, with only a few mm of space between them. They have gaps in the back, but you can’t see them. Of course, regarding the backs of the houses they didn’t bother with that, they just piled up most any old stones and mortared them together. But in the front they had to keep up appearances … not much different from LA today, where how you look is more important than what’s actually going on behind your eyeballs. Plus ça whatever.

Nowadays, as in the past, Bath is still a holiday town, with over a million visitors a year. I was very glad that we were not there during the tourist season. The Roman baths are still there, but built over and rebuilt over the centuries. Here’s how they looked today:

roman bath

One great and unending joy of this life is that there is always more to learn. In the Roman Baths I learned about “curse tablets”. These are from Roman times. They are thin sheets of lead with a curse on someone written on them, and then they were rolled up and (in this case) thrown into the bath. Mostly, the curse tablets found in the bath contain a curse on whoever it was who stole someone’s clothes or shoes when they were in the bath a couple thousand years ago … plus ça change, plus ça the same dang thing, as they say …

Nick took us to his pub, The Old Green Tree, which might be the oldest pub in town, and might be the smallest pub in town, depending on who you’re asking. It looks like this, starring my daughter giving her best Vanna White spokesmodel imitation …

the old green tree

It is truly old, truly small, and truly a “local”, hardly a tourist in sight. I drank some “Pitchfork” ale, and a variety of other local brews. Say what you will, but when it comes to beer, it’s hard to beat a local British beer or ale in a local British pub. Drank some cider too, it was like Strongbow only tastier.

What else did we see in Bath? Well … tourists. Oh, and a solar-powered garbage can, can’t forget that. Like the canal boats, I’d never seen one of these either, and but for the evidence below you might think I was having you on … but here is the Big Belly solar garbage can in all its refulgent splendor:

big belly solar garbage can

From Bath, we rolled on to Bristol. Tomorrow we decamp for Liverpool, and from there up to the Lake District. Advice on inexpensive places to stay in the Lake District would be much appreciated.

Finally, in the matter of appreciation, my great thanks to Nick Luck for his hospitality, his information, his willingness to answer every and all of our sometimes foolish questions, for his pub, and for his free and easy laugh. If you’re in Bath, go look Nick up at the Green Tree, you’ll find a good man and a good place to bend an elbow.

The journey continues tomorrow, and as the title implies, for me it’s not the journey’s end that’s important—it’s how you get there. So my wish for all of you is that each of your journeys may be as full of sunshine and learning and laughter as mine was today.

Onwards, ever onwards …

w.

About these ads

130 thoughts on “How You Get There

  1. Wil, when in Liverpool please make sure that you have alternative transport to leave that city – The beggers will have your wheels – Just saying, its a scouser thing :)

  2. You are having me relive memories, once took a canal boat from England to Llangollen in Wales, crossed the river Dee by way of a metal tub of a bridge.

  3. The locomotive you saw is actually the newly built Arthur Peppercorn designed A1 Pacific “Tornado”, Willis, a refreshing change from the much better known Sir Nigel Gresley designed Pacifics such as the World speed record holding A4 “Mallard”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNER_Peppercorn_Class_A1

    A lovely machine, she regularly passes within 100 yards of my house.

    [Thanks, fixed. My mistake, not Nick Luke's. -w.]

  4. Lord Galleywood says:
    September 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Wil, when in Liverpool please make sure that you have alternative transport to leave that city – The beggers will have your wheels – Just saying, its a scouser thing :)
    …………………………………………………….

    EH? EH?…….

  5. Just occurred to me that my comment will be completely lost on the entirety of the world outside of the UK….

    Ah well….

  6. What a brilliant holiday. Bath is my favourite holiday town in the UK for all the reasons you give + a brilliant rugby stadium with a brilliant rugby club. Liverpool, where I went to university in the mid sixties, is … I’m lost for words. So immensely rich in many ways….. bought low by socialism & changes in the economic drivers. The two Cathedrals are both worth seeing, joined by Hope Street. Scouse humour in action. The Lake District is poetic in other ways! For your amusement & delectation go to “Lakeland” in Windermere. A truly amazing shop dedicated to … Housekeeping. You might not think much of it but the ladies in your party will remember it forever (I have no connection or interests in this establishment). Buy ONE book, ANY book by Wainright (not in Lakeland) as a momento of your trip. Me? I’ve just spent 5 months in NZ. Enjoy your trip.

  7. EH? EH?…….

    jones says:
    September 7, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Just occurred to me that my comment will be completely lost on the entirety of the world outside of the UK….

    Ah well….
    _________________
    For a moment there, you sounded Canadian, eh?

  8. Willis and Co.
    It was a real pleasure to meet you and your family to-day if only for a brief while.
    Anna and I wish you all well on the next leg of your voyage of discovery.
    Nick.

    And to Timbrom…long time no see, all well I trust.

  9. Luther Wu says:
    September 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    EH? EH?…….

    jones says:
    September 7, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Just occurred to me that my comment will be completely lost on the entirety of the world outside of the UK….

    Ah well….
    _________________
    For a moment there, you sounded Canadian, eh?
    —————————————————————

    There is also a special type of hand gesture that goes with it but very difficult to show on a comment thread…..

    Ahhh gran….That will also be lost completely outside of Britain……

  10. . . . Nick told us that the locomotive was one of the very few new steam locomotives built in the last few decades. It is a copy of the “Typhoon”, which was a famous locomotive back in the days of steam.

    Could he have meant the “Tornado,” a Pacific-type (4-6-2) locomotive built from original plans by fans of steam?

    http://a1steam.com

    AFAIK there have been no other replicas built in recent years, but I could be wrong.

    I see there is a running “Typhoon” (also a Pacific), built in 1926:

    http://www.steamlocomotive.info/vlocomotive.cfm?Display=5136

    /Mr Lynn

  11. I can recommend this hotel in Keswick in the Lake District ….. http://www.thekeswickhotel.co.uk/
    It was built next to Keswick Railway Station which now forms part of the hotel. The food at the hotel is excellent. The rooms are reasonably priced.

    I suggest that you exit the M6 motorway and travel along the A590 and then A591 towards Windermere and on through The Lakes.

    Whitehaven on the coast is worth a visit. John Paul Jones (not the Led Zepplin base player) led a raid on Whitehaven in 1778 during the American War Of Independence and the town has other historical links to the USA.

  12. That should read….. exit the M6 motorway at Junction 36 and travel along the A590 and then A591 towards Windermere and on through The Lakes.

  13. The Lake District is lovely but there is no cheap accommodation apart from the bunkhouse at the Kirkstone Pass Inn. This sits under the mountain Red Screes and is a very scenic spot not far from the tourist turmoil of Windermere. The bunkhouse is OK but you never know if a bunch of farting, swearing yobs like my friends and me might turn up and ruin the ambience. It is cheap though.

    You should have gone to North Wales. Beautiful.

  14. Willis, you are one hell’uva bloke.
    Forget the science mate. It’ll take care of itself.
    It’s the 21st Century Mark Twain that you’ll be remembered as.
    Keep ‘em coming Mr E!

  15. I see catweazle666 beat me to the Tornado; I started the comment but broke for dinner and finished it after. Oh well; I envy you for getting a glimpse, and especially catweazle666 who sees it regularly. There is nothing like experiencing a steam locomotive in full running glory.

    Thanks for the travelogue.

    /Mr Lynn

  16. Willis – Great post. Keep them coming. The answers to many of your questions (those that you asked as well as those you did not ask, and even those you should have asked) can be found in Bill Bryson’s peerless book “At Home.” Required reading for visitors of that strange land.

  17. Wyguy says:
    September 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    You are having me relive memories, once took a canal boat from England to Llangollen in Wales, crossed the river Dee by way of a Wyguy says:
    September 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    You are having me relive memories, once took a canal boat from England to Llangollen in Wales, crossed the river Dee by way of a metal tub of a bridge.
    .

    ======================

    “metal tub of a bridge”

    Bloody heathen! It is THE Pontcysyllte Aqueduct built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop and opened in 1805 and if you ever have the privilege to navigate a boat over it you might just understand how design concepts developed. Materials were limited, cast iron is brittle, so keep the “tub” and width of boat (narrow) close, thus ensuring no significant shock transfer of energy.

    PS when standing on the aft deck of a narrow boat going over the aqueduct brings a whole new meaning to white knuckle ride! A glimpse to the side revels that all there is between you and 126 feet down is an inch or so of circa 1800 cast iron! The knuckles on the tiller lose their colour!

  18. Well, a bit of explacorrection.
    Most of the canals in England are indeed narrow and the photo shows a minor one close to the main canal thereabouts, which is a broad canal, Kennet and Avon which runs roughly speaking from the river Seven estuary near Bristol up over some hills to Newbury where it turns into the river Kennet navigable river then joins the River Thames at Reading.
    This was a working canal. Unusually it carried much larger barges of 200 tons. So far as I know none exist today although I know where the skeletons of a few are lying or least were 40 or 50 years ago.

    If Willis had more time and visited a few weeks ago he could have visited the unique Crofton pumping station which feeds the top level of the canal. This is restored at is run some weekends during the year, two of the oldest working beam engines in the world, a ton of water a stroke. Yes you can walk around the engine house when one is running… are run alternately.

    http://www.croftonbeamengines.org/

    Not far from where Willis met the canal is another oddity, Wikipedia will do for this one
    Claverton Pumping Station

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claverton_Pumping_Station

    Another strange combination on the canal is, hope the Bing link is spot on

    Here the canal takes an aqueduct carry a canal lock and goes over the river Kennet
    . Railway is close as is the road to Bath turnpike and even a track with a ford through the Kennet. Switch to the Ordanance Survey map to see how odd it is.

    There is lots more but so there is in the US, often much the same was being done around the same dates.

  19. Hi Willis,
    I am glad you are enjoying your journey.

    Some extra info about the canal boats. They are generally called Narrow Boats ( for obvious reasons ). Traditionally they were about 70 feet long and 7 feet wide. Although, for some specialist canals smaller boats were needed. The size was in general governened , not by the size of the canals, but by the standard size of the locks. The real fun is when the lock is slightly short of standard length. You have to manouver the boat into the lock on the diagonal! Not an easy task. Other fun parts are turning circles wher you can turn a Narrow Boat around. These are rarely dredged and you need to use large wooden poles to ‘Punt’ the boat round. It is very easy to get a pole stuck in the mud and lose a pole or if the crew menber is dimwitted enough, lose a crew member overboard because they forget to let go of the pole :-).

    The path running alongside most canals is called the tow path. This is because, before internal combustion engines, Narrow Boats were towed by a horse. However, when it came to going through tunnels, they often did not build them with a tow path. So the crew would lie down of the roof of the cabin, and walk the boat through the tunnel with their feet against the ceiling of the tunnel. The horse was lead round the hill by another member of the crew.

    I also found them very difficult to steer. You move the tiller, and it feels like five minutes later the bow begins to swing!

    Accomerdation for the rest ofr your stay.

    First, I suggest you get a guide book. “Rough Guides” have always worked well for me. You will be looking for “Bed and Breakfast” guest houses. Also, most tourist towns and all large towns have a Tourist Information Centre. These have lists of local Hotels and Guest houses ( Bed & Breakfast ). I have not booked a B & B for a few years, but I think, out of season, you should be able to get a single fro around £25 per night and a double for around £35 to £ 50 per night.

    Best of luck and enjoy your holiday.

    Regards

    /ikh

  20. Just back from my first visit to the Lake District, stayed at Thornthwaite Grange near Keswick, very comfortable B&B and extremely helpful host with a fund of local knowledge, highly recommend it. Take the steamer on Derwentwater, there are several stops around the lake where you can get off and walk, beautiful views too. Hope you have good weather.

  21. Willis,

    Thank you for this simply delightful series of essays on your travels.

    I have lived in California for the past 20 years — but England for the 40 years before that. I’m just a little envious because it seems that you have been able to cover so many of my favorite spots in one short trip!

    Thanks again and keep those reporting coming!

  22. Wyguy says:
    September 7, 2013 at 6:03 pm
    Blue Cedar says:
    September 7, 2013 at 6:01 pm
    ikh says:
    September 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm
    tchannon says:
    September 7, 2013 at 5:36 pm
    Green Sand says:
    September 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Hmmmn. Green Sand and Blue Cedar …. What colour might Wyguy be? 8<)

    To read a first-person account of the narrow canal boats of England's 1790-1800-1810 era, read the first chapter of C.S. Forester's Hornblower and the Atropos.

    There, Horatio Hornblower as a junior captain, begins as a simple passenger with pregnant wife and toddler son riding the fast boat Queen Charlotte through the dams and locks and canals towards London, but after a tow-horse accident takes out the postillion rider, ends up guiding the canal boat himself through more staunches and shallows. But Hornblower begins his "career" as a canal boat captain by "legging it" (walking the boat backwards through the canal) in narrow tunnels as described above.

  23. There is nothing quite like a narrow boat holiday in the UK. Plenty of pubs along the way to feed and water you as you meander along at a sedate 3mph. The canal system is truly a fantastic feat of Victorian infrastructure. There is at least one other place “Three Bridges” with a three-layer intersection of road, rail and canal.

  24. A “solar-powered garbage can” just like the one in the photo was installed in a park in Lakeside, California, where I live. They placed it right under a tree, where it is shaded most of the day.

  25. “who would not want to walk a path like that”

    Me. I have walked plenty of them. They are usually cold, damp, muddy, and smell of the cow poo in the surrounding fields.

    “I asked Nick if coal was still mined in the UK.”

    Duuuh! Margaret Thatcher cooked up the Global Warming scam as a weapon to destroy the coal mining industry. Destroyed most other industry as well.

  26. Aside from the hop across the Channel, it used to be (and as far as I know, still is) possible to travel by boat through canals and rivers from the North of England to Istanbul. Or so I am told. I haven’t tried it myself.

  27. Willis,

    I am enjoying your travel journal and pics enormously. Since you are going to Bristol I would like to add my voice to those in previous posts who recommended a visit to the SS Great Britain, the first ship with both a screw propeller and iron plating, built by the great engineer Isembard Kingdom Brunel. The museum that has been created in and around this partially restored ship – which rests in the dry dock in which it was built – was chosen as the best in Britain a few years ago, and won the award twice. I’ve been fortunate enough, due to the presence of relatives in the area, to visit twice. The first class berths in which wealthy people lived en route to or from Australia back truly make you wonder how anybody slept – the beds are incredibly narrow. Yet infinitely preferable to the steerage berths!

    Bristol is a great place for seeing Brunel’s achievements as it is hard to avoid a siting of his Clifton suspension bridge, which you can also walk or drive across.

    I’m also experiencing a lot of envy re your visit to Bath, which I visited only once, thirty years ago. It always looks gorgeous when glimpsed from the train.

  28. Willis, minor correction. The canals fell into disuse with the advent of railways. Coal production rose substantially throughout the 19th century, by a factor of at least 5, and peaked in 1913.

    Even today with diesel engines, canals are the most energy efficient means of land transportation.
    There is a proposal to build a new mega canal network in England both for transportation and water distribution. Predictably the Greenies hate the idea.

    eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2013/08/britains-root-canal.cfm

  29. ps, I think I read somewhere they are even thinking of trying to build a 9F BR loco and one of the Southern rail locos, but can’t find the links.

  30. Anyways, there are quite a few preserved operating steam engines in the UK. Not many allowed on the main line system though.

    Even Tornado usually travels with an auxiliary diesel loco in case of “issues”.

  31. How does an Aussie know this stuff, you ask?

    We all gotta have hobbies :-)

    One lap around my partially complete OO gauge LNER based layout.

  32. Willis,

    Bath is the most famous but not the only spa town in England. Others include:
    Ashbourne, Askern, Boston Spa (West Yorkshire), Buxton, Cheltenham
    Church Stretton, Dorton Spa, Droitwich Spa, Epsom (of Salts Fame) , Harrogate
    Ilkley, Knaresborough, Malvern, Matlock, Matlock Bath, Royal Leamington Spa
    Royal Tunbridge Wells, Scarborough (The Spa), Shearsby, Tenbury Wells &
    Woodhall Spa

  33. Mr Lynn says:
    I see there is a running “Typhoon” (also a Pacific), built in 1926:

    That appears to be a miniature (15″ gauge) of a Gresley A1 or A3

    http://www.lner.info/locos/A/a1a3a10.shtml

    I can’t find any record of there ever being an actual real size loco of that type with that name.

    Still, a remarkable piece of workmanship :-)

  34. AndyG55 says:
    September 7, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Right you are. I didn’t see the gauge (nor the two humans behind the loco!).

    Very impressive layout, AndyG55!

    /Mr Lynn

  35. RoHa! says:
    September 7, 2013 at 7:44 pm
    =========================================================

    Ah the power of myth. Harold Wilson closed twice as many coal mines as Thatcher. And by the time Thatcher came to power, the mining unions were demanding silly pay rises, whilst at the same time we could import Polish coal far more cheaply than we could, as a result, produce our own.

  36. That henge separating the masses is called a “ha ha”in some parts of England, most country estates have them to keep cattle and peasants off the south lawn! great writing it almost makes me want to go back and visit!

  37. Steam Power, oh memories,
    My mother came from a small village, Sudbrook in Monmouthshire. It grew up around a pumping station built to dewater the river severn rail tunnel. When I was a young boy in the early fifties it was still running the most beam engines under one roof in the country. The managers name was Mr Stephenson and he was related to the famous Stephenson.

    Biggest thrills of my young life were the annual summer holidays in the village where I would get to ride on the plate of the steam engine delivering coal to the pumping station. That was always followed by a tour of the pumping station, the sounds and sights would entrance me, shining brass and steel, wood stave insulated steam cylinders, the sounds of the valve gear and the steam all overlayed the smell of oil and sulphurous clinkerl.

    Most exciting, and at times terrifying, were the trips down into the tunnel itself, you’ve never experienced a sensation of power until a steam locomotive powered express train has gone past you at full tilt in a tunnel barely an arms length away. All the above conducted by Mr Stephenson, no way into todays world would I have been allowed the access I was given back then.

    All the above are part of why I became an engineer.

  38. Great comments about the loco, just some small points. The new loco is not a copy or replica of any of the 49 locos of the class built in the steam era, it is the 50th, and new, loco belonging to the same class. That means the builders felt free to make any changes to the design that they deemed necessary for the modern era, such as different braking system, welded boiler, roller bearings, slightly (1 in) lower, differences in the tender design, and so on. As an aside, when being tested for its effect upon the track (remember steam locos have that huge connecting rod going up and down many times per second at top speed) it was found to give a smoother ride than even the passive testing vehicle that was taking the measurements – astonishing! http://www.a1steam.com

  39. During the war Bath was aptly described by an American serviceman as a cemetary with street lamps. People go there to die and don’t.

  40. Ron House says:
    Great comments about the loco, just some small points. The new loco is not a copy or replica of any of the 49 locos of the class built in the steam era, it is the 50th

    So true. and amazing piece of work. I hope they get the LMS Patriot project done at some stage.

    Its amazing to think they used to build heaps of these locos, without own modern facilities.
    The REAL industrial age !

    I actually have a video of the whole construction somewhere.
    Downloaded off the web, but I can’t find the link.

  41. Willis,

    I’d recommend staying in Keswick, take the route through the lakes via Windermere to get there – very scenic.

    There’s plenty of b&b in Keswick (a personal recommendation would be the cherry trees run my Margaret and her husband)

    If you do stay in Keswick you have to try the famous cow pie at the George (can you manage a full serving??)

    Good pubs include the George, the dog and gun and the banks tavern (and many many more). The views across derwent are superb (just follow the path down to the lakeshore past the theatre and keep going till you hit the very end)

    If you’re a walker there’s no end to the hills to climb. For an interesting drive try hardknott and rynose passes :-)

    Cheers

    Mark

  42. Thanks Willis. Can’t wait to read your Liverpool adventure. You’ll get loads of tips… but do try to take in the iron men of Crosby Beach at low tide. Fantastic view…

  43. Willis – you may get a chance on your travels to go punting (a punt is a small flat river boat which you power yourself, with a pole). Oxford and Cambridge are traditional places for punting, but no doubt there are others. A rather delicious mode of transport.

    And as said before, I hope you manage to catch a game of cricket. The cricket season is nearing its end, but should still be in full flow.

    All the best and enjoy your travels.

  44. Willis, if you’re looking for cheap accommodation in the Lake District you could do worse than the Water Wheel at Ings, a tiny vilaage (more of a hamlet really) just south of Bowness-on-Windermere. And if you have taken such a shine to Brit ales then please be informed that the pub comes with it’s own microbrewery. I recommend The Colliewobbles bitter. The food is good too.

  45. Hey Willis, I used to drive through the village of LImpley Stoke every day to where I lived, just up the road. A beautiful part of England. A bit like the Yorkshire Pennines but without the rain.
    You may get to see some of that next week.

    A very enjoyable read as always Willis you have a great style of writing.

    Odd you did not notice City of Bath written everywhere. Bath is a city, not a town and the big thing in the middle is an abbey not a church or a cathedral.

    http://www.mayorofbath.co.uk/city-arms

    http://www.bathabbey.org/

    I’m glad you enjoyed the flat, luke warm british ale. To my taste, traditional ales from that part of England are among the best in the world.

    Most beers are drunk well chilled with lots of fizz to hide the fact that the fluid you are drinking is actually quite disgusting. Shake the fizz out of a Heineken and let it warm up to around 8 deg C and taste it. You’d spit it on the floor.

    Good beer is liquid food, “Bier ist Essen” as the Germans say.

    There’s some beautiful country up north too (in the unlikely event the weather’s good). It will interesting to read your impressions in the next bulletin.

    Don’t forget to download the “scouse” translator for you phone. It could get tricky.

  46. jeremyp99 says:

    Ah the power of myth. Harold Wilson closed twice as many coal mines as Thatcher. And by the time Thatcher came to power, the mining unions were demanding silly pay rises, whilst at the same time we could import Polish coal far more cheaply than we could, as a result, produce our own.

    ====

    Yeah. The difference he left some working.

  47. Enjoying the post a lot.
    Not sure if you have time but a possible detour on the way up to the Lake District is Iron Bridge and Coalbrookdale. To quote Wikipedia:
    “This is where iron ore was first smelted by Abraham Darby using easily mined “coking coal”. The coal was drawn from drift mines in the sides of the valley. As it contained far fewer impurities than normal coal, the iron it produced was of a superior quality. Along with many other industrial developments that were going on in other parts of the country, this discovery was a major factor in the growing industrialisation of Britain, which was to become known as the Industrial Revolution.”

  48. Hello Willis. Pity you didn’t get to see Caen Hill locks (16 of them – takes you all afternoon!)

  49. RoHa! says:
    September 7, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    “who would not want to walk a path like that”

    Me. I have walked plenty of them. They are usually cold, damp, muddy, and smell of the cow poo in the surrounding fields.

    Since this path was neither cold, damp, muddy, nor smelly, it would seem you haven’t walked a path like the one I describe … you should try it some time.

    w.

  50. Living just outside the Lake District national park I can’t offer any advice on where to stay but I would recommend Whitehaven a little further down the coast you have sellafield the site of the first commercial nuclear power plant. If you are into the Romans a trip to Maryport and the roman museum. Surprise view near Keswick is spectacular if the weather is good, the bowderstone is also quite a nice short walk.

    Coinston water is the site of Donald Campbell’s ill fated water speed record attempt, if you like poetry then William Wordsworth was born where I live in cockermouth and there is a museum at grasmere.

    If you like mining you could visit the slate mine at the top of Honister Pass.

    I hope the weather is good for you!

  51. “Drank some cider too, it was like Strongbow only tastier.”

    Regular cider drinkers will tell you that Strongbow bears little resemblence to cider ;-). Try Old Rosie at 7.3%.

  52. jeremyp99:

    re your post at September 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm
    Your untrue political propaganda and attempt at historical revisionism is not appreciated.

    You and RoHa are both wrong about why Thatcher closed the UK coal industry.

    Margaret Thatcher created the AGW-scare for a very personal reason which had nothing to do with the coal industry. However, her political party was willing to support – at least, to not oppose – her AGW campaign because it was anti- coal.

    People wanting the truth of these matters can read the item at

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/richard-courtney-the-history-of-the-global-warming-scare/

    RoHa is right when he says she destroyed much UK industry. I describe the reason she deliberately destroyed 20% of the UK economy, and I explain how she closed the UK coal industry here

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/13/weekend-open-thread-6/#comment-1274534

    Now, please let that be an end to attempts to discuss the most divisive British politician over the last century. This thread is about pleasant things and NOT that.

    Richard

  53. Great travelogue.
    There is a big connection between the canals in that part of the England and William Smith, who was a canal surveyor. The book by Simon Winchester – “The Map That changed The World” explains the canal connection with “evolution” and “geology” and is a great read. The map of the book title, is the first ‘accurate’ geological map of England and the first ever national map, was drawn by Smith and is displayed in the Royal Society headquarters.
    I also suggest that you make a detour to visit Derbyshire for wonderful scenery and the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Sites – the first water powered cotton spinning mills of the Industrial Revolution.

  54. Willis, you need to hunt out some old disused railway lines. The walking is usually pretty easy, often even suitable for cycling. and often magnificent views. :-)

  55. “Bloody heathen! It is THE Pontcysyllte Aqueduct built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop and opened in 1805″
    And a world Heritage site!

    Lots to see in Liverpool (my birthplace) especially for a seafarer. The city is on its way back after years of misrule. It is now fastest growing city outside London and has become a melting pot again (my own mix-Irish, Prot and Catholic, Scot, Scots Irish)
    Look up William Roscoe, who was an early brave (lots of slavery vested interests in the Liverpool of his day) abolitionist and a largely self taught scholar.

    This thanks from a fledgling USA: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/75.html

  56. Or even better, hunt down a railway preservation line. especially if you can find one with BIG locomotives like A4′s A3, even a Duchess or something. etc.

    with LOTS of pictures please,:-)

  57. Thanks, Willis. I’ve enjoyed your many posts on WUWT and I’m glad that you’re enjoying your trip around Britain. I’m even happier that it’s inspired links all over the canal and railway engineering universe. I youtubed the Tornado railway engine and followed many links. Great stuff :-)

    I visited the Roman baths in Bath many years ago and wondered why they were so far below the street surface. There’s probably some AGW explanation.

  58. Been to Bath recently. Lovely city. We also went to the lake district and found very good accommodation for a good price at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub in Arnside. It’s situated on the Kent estuary facing the Lake District and I think we got a special deal because it was very economical but the room was excellent- clean, spacious, well appointed (though wifi worked only by the window :-),with excellent views; and the pub staff were friendly people, plus the pub had good parking. The breakfast was average and the corridors smelt of dog, but those are the absolute worst things about a really good pub.

  59. Your canal picture is of an old lock, that recess to the right foreground is for the gate.
    Our Imperial Measures are used by the US though you did fool around with the gallon to end up with a smaller one. Based on a pint being 16oz not our 20oz so drinking pints of beer in America means more pints can be consumed before collapse.

    Try Lancaster Jail which is in the old castle. Visitors welcome. As far as cheaper accommodation then B&B is best but quality can be more varied than a rated hotel and we are out of the main tourist season now so prices might have fallen a little. If you don’t ask you don’t get.

    Beware the rain. The Lake District can be wet but still beautiful.

    A quick note about Bath, under the city is the mine where the Bath stone comes from. It is still being worked and costly supports have to be installed to prevent Bath falling in. The mine was originally worked by the Romans.

  60. Willis,
    I don’t think you plan to come as far north as Scotland, but if you do one thing that’s worth a visit is the Falkirk Wheel….

    http://www.thefalkirkwheel.co.uk/about-the-wheel-

    It’s a rotating boat lift opened in 2002 to join the canals from Glasgow and Edinburgh at a point where there’s a 35m difference in height.
    If you do get this far north you can’t miss Edinburgh (the “Athens of the North”).

  61. Willis, just remembered I did a “what to see in Scotland” which is Here

    Places to avoid.
    1. The M74 (the motorway from England) which just shouts “welcome to numptyland” with all the windmills.
    2. Edinburgh particularly the Royal Mile (unless you like tartan tat produced in China).
    3. Any place that promotes itself as “celtic” or anything to do with “clearances”. These are just fake history. (The historic evidence is that there were no celts in Scotland and the period of the “clearances” saw a growth in population.)

  62. The first commercial canal in the UK was built in 1770 by the Duke of Bridgewater to take coal from his mine at Worsley N.W. Manchester into the city. Steam engines for motive power (rather than just mine drainage) had just been developed and the city with the cheapest coal was the one with competitive advantage. Until the canal was built it took an ox cart of coal two or three days to travel from the mine to the city on a very poor road. After the canal was opened tons of coal could be transported in a single barge towed by horse and tended by a couple of bargees.

    The result was that the price of coal in Manchester dropped by a third overnight and its population expandend threefold in the next thirty years.

    Nothing has changed on energy costs in the intervening 250 years: Low energy costs generate growth and prosperity, high costs low growth and misery. Fossil fuels remain the only sensible option to power developed and developing industrialised economies.

  63. Second the Anderton Boat Lift. And if you get up to Scotland check out the Falkirk Wheel on the Forth and Clyde Canal.

  64. If you drive up the M5 you’ll pass close to my place, near Bromsgrove. I’ll give you a wave!

    Hope your trip continues to delight you.

    Robin

  65. Willis – a nice piece celebrating many of the liberating and imaginative achievements of the Industrial Age – now, sadly, recast as the villain of AGW.

    Tornado is not just a magnificently re-engineered tribute to the great machines built by men with vision from a visionary age. While Mother Nature did her best to mock the climate alarmists – on this occasion with their dire warnings of no more snow – by providing English winters with so much snow and ice that our modern infrastructure failed to deliver (again!), the mighty, coal-powered Tornado came to the rescue. Even the BBC mentioned it…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8428097.stm

  66. “Edinburgh particularly the Royal Mile (unless you like tartan tat produced in China).”
    We’re possibly going off topic but that’s a bit unfair. The castle’s impressive and if you wander down some of the closes (small narrow lanes) in the old town you can get an impression of what the old town was like). Then head over to the New Town (designed by competition and won by a young architect) to see what those with money created out of it. A bus tour is worth while to get an impression of the place.
    Nial (Irishman).

  67. Dear Wiilis,
    if you are in Lverppol then there are
    Albert Dock with the Maratime Museum
    The Liver Buildings
    Next to the main station are St Georges Hall, the Walker Art Gallery, the museum and planetrium
    The Mersey ferry trip

    For scenery there are the Ainsdale sand dunes , about 10 miles north( one of the few areas where the native red squirrel lives)

    There is a replica of the Cavern Club for the Beatles. However the original Cavern Club was filled with concrete in the mid-70s. It was endemic in Liverpool that if there was something worthwhile it was demolished ( for example the Overhead railway, which was a lot like the ovehead rail still extant in New York)

  68. A bit of entertainment:
    60007 breathtaking footplate run into Kings Cross

    Bittern at 90mph with the Ebor Streak

    As part of the 75th anniversary of Mallard’s record breaking 126mph run in 1938, sister loco 4464 Bittern was temporally permitted to exceed from 75mph to 90mph (144.84 km/h) on the mainline.

    I know it’s old fashioned and being a bit nostalgic but it’s still great to watch and its amazing what you can get a giant kettle to do.

  69. Willis,

    When in Liverpool, check out “the fly in the Loaf” pub on hardman street. One of the best pubs in the city (ergo, the country, world and universe).

    Don’t stay in a hotel in the lake district, stay in one of the many affordable and friendly guest houses, or “B & Bs” (bed and breakfast) as they’re more commonly known.

  70. ( for example the Overhead railway, which was a lot like the ovehead rail still extant in New York),

    Chicago I think; the ironwork patterns, were shipped to Chicago for the construction of their overhead railway, which looks a lot like the “worlds’s first” electric overhead railway in Liverpool, which I remember well from my childhood. It was demolished (Vandalism of the highest order) when I was about 12; about the time the electric trams were replaced by “diesel engined buses of the future” . Politicians are perennially stupid; the people of Liverpool opposed both stupidities, to no avail.

  71. Ironbridge is the essential tourist site in the UK, possibly the world. Here the world changed, here it was upwards and onwards forever… well, until we decided to go back to wind and water power.

    JF

  72. “Willis Eschenbach says:

    September 8, 2013 at 1:16 am”

    I do very much miss the English countryside, country “out of the way” pubs etc etc. I’ve never seen a sealed, cross-country, footpath (Was it a footpath? I doubt) like that before. Unless it’s so popular the local council decided to seal it. Footpaths, Roads Used as Public Path (RUPP), bridleways and byways are all ancient “pathways” across the entire English countryside. Byways, and most RUPPs, are open to vehicles but with pressure from ramblers and “horsie” types, many are being downgraded to bridleway and footpath. All well and good, until you want it cleaned up. Most of these paths in my experience in Berkshire, Wiltshire and Hampshire, were, sadly, dumping grounds. You would not believe what people dump!

  73. “Limpley Stoke”

    One can see with quaint names like this all over the country popping up unexpectedly that the UK had to be a source of fantasy literature – Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc.

  74. Ah, Willis, If you go to Scouser land, you’ll be within 30 miles of where I live. You must go to see the Albert dock, very near to which my second- or third-hand car once set on fire because It’d lost the cap of the water reservoir for the radiator. An AA man who came to my rescue offered to buy it for £20, so I let him have it (it would have cost me a lot more to get it to the scrap yard) He towed it to his house where he’d probably be repairing and selling it for profit, and then took me back to the entrance to the dock. Only in Liverpool–always an enterprising eye for making a bob or two.

    At the dock, there’s the Tate Liverpool art gallery, a maritime museum, and a Beatles exhibition centre. There are some very hard men (and women) in Liverpool, but for the most part the natives are friendly and totally without a trace of pretension. They bow to no man.

    The lake district is glorious. As others have said, steer clear of the hotels. Repair ye to a B&B and save yourself a small fortune. If you really want to save cash, you could maybe seek out one of the hostels there–see:

    http://www.yha.org.uk/places-to-stay/region/north-west/lake-district

    Can’t wait for the next bulletin. Lovely to have you here! :-)

  75. “Gary Pearse says:

    September 8, 2013 at 6:05 am”

    What like Scunthorpe? Really played hell with council e-mail spam filters!

  76. My son and I (both geology professors) made a pilgrimage to Bath and the surrounding area some years ago and used Simon Winchester’s book, “The Map That Changed the World” as a tour guide. We found many out of the way portions of the canals and even found the house Smith lived in on a tiny one lane road deep in the English woods. Every geologist, especially stratigraphers should take that trip.

    While in Bath you should have gone to William Herschel’s home which is a lovely little museum of his telescopes and the workshop where he built them.

  77. Willis, how wonderful! Your travelogue makes me think I’m there with you – and jealous I’m not! Y’all are obviously having a wonderful time. Please keep the reports up.

    And this also shows what’s great about living in the Information Age: Someone you just met in England (Nick) can comment on your visit to him and his pub in real time to you and the rest of the world, and even “meet up” again, if only through comments here, with someone else (timbrom) who was once a customer of his.

    [And by the way - that lovely woman is your daughter? Man, Willis, you must be (as) OLD (as me). ;-p ]

  78. ed t says September 8, 2013 at 2:52 am
    Been to Bath recently. Lovely city. We also went to the lake district and found very good accommodation for a good price at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub in Arnside.

    Ya beat me to it. I was going to suggest that area. ( 54.203244,-2.833571 ). There are all sorts over overnight stops in the area and is just on the ‘border’ of the Lakes.

    Willis – glad to see you enjoying our green and pleasant land but …

    1) The Lake District is full of Lakes for good reason – It rains a lot. So no complaining about the LD weather! (also look toward Ambleside (54.428848,-2.9613) and the surrounding area for food and beer once you get to that stage of the day)

    2) I don’t want you heading back to California with the idea that you have just visited the worlds largest open air Museum! Just keep in mind that we are a modern industrial economy with some well preserved history not the other way round.

    Now… I just know that I will be hounded for suggesting a couple of outrageously non PC monuments to UK culture such as (I don’t know your schedule, if you have one) …

    (on your way to the Lakes, if it late evening) Head to Blackpool Illuminations (just off the M6). Every night into November. An annual celebration of electricity (and electrically powered 3D Laser holograms). Well worth a visit around 10pm – the Blackpool electrons would probably welcome jumping into your luggage for a holiday break in Vegas.

    On your way back down the Eastern side (again I don’t know your schedule) why not detour from York and visit ‘Old Trafford’, another historical monument where, apparently, on the 25th, two football teams will dress up in traditional garb and re-enact some long standing feud or other. [Wed 25 Sept - League Cup Man Utd v Liverpool - 19:45]. Get yourself a ticket in The Stretford End and absorb some real UK culture. (you will be safe enough in the Stretford End as long as you don’t feel the need to celebrate the unlikely event of Liverpool scoring a goal) .

    Whatever you decide to do – enjoy.

  79. Is CO2 induced global warming causing a cool weather in the UK this time of year? Or, is it “normal weather” where people wear coats this time of year?

  80. Willis, glad you’re enjoying our green and pleasant land.

    In the Lake District, weather permitting, take a day to do some mountain walking – best in the world IMHO. The mountains are mostly less than 3,000 feet which means that in one day you get many wonderful views. Yes, the Himalayas are more spectacular but you get the same view for several days…

    My favourite was a horseshoe walk to Helvellyn, which has ridge walks on the way up and on the way down. Not for the faint-hearted. I took my beautiful ex-fiancee on this during our honeymoon and when telling her how fantastic it was realised she was petrified.

    Your comments on Avebury prompted me to look at my old copy of “A View over Atlantis” by John Michell. Lots of stuff on the henges, ley lines, ancient buidlings and so on. Should be up your alley. Also, learn about the infamous “Stone-killer” Robinson, an 18th century farmer who destroyed much of the original Avebury complex.

    Looking forward to your book.

    All the best.

  81. ***
    catweazle666 says:
    September 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    The locomotive you saw is actually the newly built Arthur Peppercorn designed A1 Pacific “Tornado”, Willis, a refreshing change from the much better known Sir Nigel Gresley designed Pacifics such as the World speed record holding A4 “Mallard”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNER_Peppercorn_Class_A1

    A lovely machine, she regularly passes within 100 yards of my house.
    ***

    Great read & seeing a well-designed steam locomotive built to modern standards. Rode the rebuilt Norfolk & Western J611 back in the 1990′s:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norfolk_and_Western_611

  82. Willis, if you can get to Scotland, go on the Jacobite railway (hopefully steam hauled) from Fort William to Mallaig. The scenery is stunning; keep an eye out for the Glenfinnan Viaduct (aka Harry Potter’s).

    Also, try to visit the Western Isles and the Corryvreckan – the world’s third largest whirlpool. Great B&B at Seil Island here:- http://www.innish.com/ . At the southern tip of Seil Island is Ellenabeich and the Slate Islands Heritage Centre with the excellent Oyster Bar nearby (great ale and sea food).

    Of course, Scotland is also known for that other amber nectar….

    If you return south down the eastern side of the country try to get to York (great city) and Norwich (first part pedestrianised city in Europe, capital of Norfolk and the waterways system known as The Norfolk Broads) with its equally superb cathedral.

    BTW, ignore the comment above about the Highland clearances: they happened and were appalling.

  83. Nial says:
    September 8, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Willis,
    I don’t think you plan to come as far north as Scotland, but if you do one thing that’s worth a visit is the Falkirk Wheel….

    http://www.thefalkirkwheel.co.uk/about-the-wheel-

    It’s a rotating boat lift opened in 2002 to join the canals from Glasgow and Edinburgh at a point where there’s a 35m difference in height.
    If you do get this far north you can’t miss Edinburgh (the “Athens of the North”).

    Nial, I couldn’t come this far without seeing the kilts and listening to that octopus-thingy that masquerades as a musical instrument … we’ll be up there in the coming week.

    And I’ve looked at pictures of the Falkirk Wheel, it’s a brilliant invention and I may get to see it.

    w.

  84. Having been a student in Bath I was once quite an expert on its city-centre pubs. Memory’s fading a bit, but the smallest pub was either The Volunteer Rifleman’s Arms or The Coeur de Lion (both in the Passages, quite close to The Old Green Tree). The Old Green Tree was one of our haunts until we were asked to leave after one of our group was accused of barracking the landlord’s wife. After 30-odd years I expect it’s safe to venture back. Sadly, no chance of revisiting The Beehive, another tiny pub that used to be up the hill in Lansdown Road, purveyor of scrumpy (rough cider, unfiltered so quite cloudy) at the then bargain price of 50p/pint, but which is long gone.

  85. in response to Gary Pearse

    other real English place names
    Tiddlywink, Tollard Royal, Sixpenny Handley ( Wiltshire) Haselbury Plucknett, Ryme Intrinseca ( Somerset) Toller Porcurm, Piddletrenthide ( Dorset) , Broadwoodwidger ( Devon) Polyphant and Indian Queens ( Cornwall)

  86. Wills,
    If you want to see the Lake District, don’t just drive through it. The best way to see it is by air and the best way to go by air is by gyrocopter. There is an airfield to the north of the actual lakes called Kirkbride. Phone Chris on 07796 955805 and he will fly you around the lakes for 1 hr for a measly £120. Chris is a real gent and will fall over trying to accommodate you. You can see his website at http://www.chrisjonesgyroplanes.com/

    I have flown with Chris several times and he is a gentleman of the old school.

    I have been through over and under and in the lakes and flying over Skiddaw near Keswick is a memory you will NEVER forget.

  87. London247:

    You mention Indian Queens here in Cornwall.

    Willis being an American he may be interested that local legend says Indian Queens is named after Pocahontas whom the locals believe resided there with her husband for some time. The legend is probably not true but is firmly believed by many locals and so Pocahontas Crescent in the town is named after her.

    Pocahontas was a Powhatan native American lady who saved the life of Englishman John Smith then married John Rolfe who returned to England with her where she became a famous figure in London social life.

    Richard

  88. For the record, there are two deep – that is, underground – coal mines still operating within 20 miles of the Drax power station. There have been surface mines in the neighbourhood too, (mostly on former underground mine sites) but I don’t think any are active at present. That said, Drax and the other coal-fired power stations nearby take surface mined coal from other parts of UK, such as north-east England and central Scotland, as well as imports.

    Inevitably, any mention of the UK coal industry raises the usual spectres of closures under Wilson, Thatcher, etc. But they were amateurs compared to the three Secretaries of State for Energy and Climate Change, starting with Ed Miliband in 2008. These have cut to the chase by carbon-taxing coal out of the mix by 2018 at the latest, with the inevitable effect on the future viability of the remaining mines, underground and open air.

    All of these politicians have, of course, had considerable help from the fossil fools in the mining unions…

  89. Mardler says:

    September 8, 2013 at 9:33 am

    We did both the Jacobite and Corryvreckan earlier this summer, but you generally have to book well in advance for both, and the whirlpool is obviously tide-dependent and only worth visiting on certain days. Well worth doing though!

  90. North from Bath to Liverpool and Beyond.
    Hi Willis,
    The following are some suggestions for your itinerary as you head north.
    At Bristol you are near the mouth of the River Avon (Afon is the Welsh word meaning river, so Bristol is on the banks of the River River). At Portishead the Avon joins the estuary of the River Severn famous for its tidal bore.

    The River Severn is the longest river in the United Kingdom, it rises in the Cambrian Mountains of Central Wales and first flows north to reach the English county of Shropshire. At Shrewsbury its former course to the north to the Irish Sea is blocked by the terminal glacial moraines located around Ellesmere, formed at the southern limit of the ancient Irish Sea ice-field, instead the river turns south through the Iron Bridge Gorge, following a route cut by the glacial melt-waters as they flowed south from Shropshire at the end of the Ice age. The river’s course passes by Worcester and the Vale of Evesham, famous for its apples, to reach its modern southern estuary.
    The main modern road route north, the M5, misses many tourist spots. In the east is Stratford-upon-Avon (another afon), Shakespeare’s birthplace, while in the west are the Malvern Hills and the spa town of Malvern. In the Malvern Hills a wild apricot Golden Glow was discovered growing on the slopes of the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire. Apricots are believed to originate from China and were widely distributed in the ancient world and the possibility that these Malvern apricots date back to an introduction to Britannia in Roman times is pure speculation on my part!

    Ironbridge is a must see. This bridge was built by craftsmen who were skilled at working with wood and stone and so the bridge is designed in the traditional way but constructed with iron and not wood.

    North from Ironbridge head for Chester the county city of Cheshire located at the tidal limit of the River Dee. Chester is an ancient town with a medieval wall and superb examples of Tudor timber frame buildings. Chester has Roman origins, its name derives from the Latin word castrum (the fortified camp). In Roman times it was the main base for the XXth legion
    In Roman times Chester provide access to the Irish Sea 20 miles to the north via the wide tidal Dee estuary, now heavily silted up with tidal flats alongside the Wirral peninsula and the reclaimed marshes of Sealand. The question as to whether the Romans maintained a military presence on the east coast of Ireland is moot (think Guantanamo Bay for a possible modern superpower example). What is clear historical record however is that by Viking times Dublin (Dubh-linn or Black Pool) was the premier Viking City of the Irish Sea region.

    On expulsion from Dublin the Vikings settled on the Wirral where many villages have the suffix “by” in their name e.g Irby, Pensby, Greasby. The by is a city in modern Danish, but here the word refers to a farmstead or small village, the word “by” is found in terms such as “Highways and Byways”, the By-laws (the village laws) and also By-elections.
    By modern times ships where no longer able to easily sail to Ireland from Chester and the Port of Parkgate was briefly developed with its Old Quay and New Quay. Admiral Nelson’s mistress Lady Hamilton was born in the nearby Wirral village of Ness. Ness means headland or nose and has the same etymological roots as the French word Nez as found in Le Gris Nez, the Chalk cliff headland near Calais on the north coast of France.

    To visit Parkgate now none of this maritime activity seems possible as the vast coastal marsh extends out across the Dee estuary from the old sandstone seawall that lines the Parade. However even in the 1920s Parkgate had a shrimp fishery and the navigable tide reached the wall every day. Now only the extreme equinoctial spring tides with their 10 metre range, flood the marshland because the mud has accreted by up to 3 metres in 90 years.

    With the silting of the Dee estuary Commerce turned its attention to developing the small Lancashire port of Liverpool on the east bank of the Mersey estuary. The key to the development of Liverpool was the creation of the dredged Crosby Channel through the Great Burbo Bank, lined by the revetments and marked by the Bar Lightship in Liverpool Bay, (Bar, or Aber, refers to the mouth of a river as in Barmouth or as in Aberystwyth).

    The Northwest region is the most densely populated area of the British Isles. Its two major cities, Liverpool and Manchester have always been rivals. Liverpool as the major port city of Lancashire controlled the commerce to such an extent that Manchester funded and built the Manchester Ship Canal on the southern side of the Mersey, through Cheshire (thereby avoiding Lancashire) to reach the navigable Mersey tidewater at East Ham near Ellesmere Port. The canal was built with locks identical in size as those of the St Lawrence Seaway, allowing ships to sail from Manchester to Port Duluth, Minnesota at the head of Lake Superior.

    You will have many things to do in Liverpool. A must is to take the Ferry across the Mersey to Birkenhead. Birkenhead Park opened in 1847 and is the model for Central Park in New York. American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted incorporated many of the features he observed into his design for New York’s Central Park. He wrote about the strong influence of Birkenhead Park in his book Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England.
    Overlooking Birkenhead is Bidston Observatory on Bidston Hill a local landmark and weather station of historic importance.
    After Liverpool, the Lake District has a huge “to do list”, but do visit Brockhole, the Visitor Centre on the banks of Windermere for ideas. Finally returning to my Roman Theme, High Street the Roman Road from Ambleside to Penrith takes the ridgeway route north avoiding the forested valleys of Cumbria and rising to an elevation of over 2,500 feet. A high level route, now used only by walkers, that bears witness to a different climate in the past.

  91. Willis, Ambleside is very picturesque, but expensive to stay. Good eating though. Keswick on the north side of the lakes is probably where you will find reasonably priced accommodation in the form of Bed and Breakfast (B&B). Keswick is good for getting south down into Borrowdale.

    For me the best lake in the Lake District is Wast Water. The view of the screes is amazing. It is the deepest lake in the area and is the back of the highest mountain Scafell Pike as well as a beautiful view of Great Gable, scene of some the earliest rock climbing in the UK. At the top of Wast water is the Wasdale Head Inn, fantastic meals and a famous pub with a climbing history.

    Its a view you will never forget.

  92. Welcome to Europe (and YES, UK is part of Europe, willy-nilly).
    If you happen to come by Brussels (“If it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium”) don’t hesitate to call me, I will provide good shelter and fine food!
    BTW, do you (and Anthony) ever sleep?
    Pip-pip and cheers to you!

  93. Hey, Willis,

    I think you said you’re coming back down the East side of England. Make sure you leave enough time for the North Norfolk coast, all the way around to the Broads, on your way.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norfolk_Coast_AONB

    The whole place is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – for once a well-named bit of bureaucracy – as well as having several unique or very rare ecosystems like the salt marshes. Truly stunning beaches, too – the one at Holkham has a real claim to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

    http://www.holkham.co.uk/html/beach.html

    The Norfolk Broads are of course world-famous, and it’s interesting to see how the different design imperatives led to very different looking watercraft – the Norfolk wherry.

    Aside from the natural attractions, there’s also plenty of history and so-on – in the Middle Ages Norfolk was one of the richest places in the world, thanks to the wool trade – and amongst other things a working steam railway…

  94. Please don’t tell me that you didn’t go see Brunel’s iron-hulled ship SS Great Britain in dry dock in Bristol? Launched in 1843, screw driven and did the transatlantic run in just 14 days! 322 ft long.

    If you missed it… get back there at once!

  95. richardscourtney
    Thanks for that little gem. Had always intigued me driving along the A30.

    P.S Wiilis having spent some time here you may now understand the British obsession with weather. Any climate model for the UK is flawed when we can quite easily provide four seasons in a day. If it extends for more than three days then people will say then have known nothing like it in their lifetimes. Three weeks ago we had a fortnight of sunshine having forgotten that at the beginning of June most houses still had their central heating on :-). It is a bit like cricket. Nothing happens for much of the time( grey skies with intermittent showers) then a sudden change to drought or flood or snowfall. ( bit like a quick six to the boundary) and then back to tedium. it is the British character.

  96. There’s a ‘Lakeland’ in Cockermouth too. More importantly, there is Wordsworth House. Cockermouth was badly flooded not so long ago and the recovery and spirit of the people there are quite remarkable. The Northern Lakes are beautiful and we love Buttermere and Crummock Water.

    I am enjoying reading about your tour of my country Willis and I’m learning new things about it through you blog! As you say, you need never stop learning.

  97. The Roman baths are still there… I learned about “curse tablets”… thin sheets of lead with a curse on someone…rolled up and…thrown into the bath… a curse on whoever it was who stole someone’s clothes or shoes when they were in the bath a couple thousand years ago

    Perhaps cursing the last soldier out for leaving that terrible ring.

    [Sorry - I am enjoying your travelogue]

  98. Can anyone tell me the whereabouts of an ingenious device which was used to lift barges from the River Severn in water-filled tubs up to a canal about 200 feet up a hill? They were rebuilding it when I visited in 2005? There was a tourist village nearby, I recall, where you had to purchase original pennies to spend in the shops.

  99. I hesitate to publicise this, but the best restaurant I’ve been to in all my quite long life is just near Keswick in the Lake District. It is called The Lyzzick Hall Hotel and is described as ‘Under Skiddaw’. It is on the north side of the A66 right near Keswick and is really under Skiddaw. It’s marvellous in every way I can think of and I’m looking forward very much to my next visit.

  100. @Willis Eschenbach

    “Since this path was neither cold, damp, muddy, nor smelly, it would seem you haven’t walked a path like the one I describe … you should try it some time.”

    Unique among English country paths, then. I certainly haven’t walked along it.

  101. Nice to see a picture of your daughter; how about a picture with you on it so we know who the narrator is!

  102. A Lake District …..MUST SEE ….. is the “Windermere Steam Boat Museum”….. check it out at ….http://www.steamboats.org.uk/…….. As an English man living south Orange County California it is wonderful reading your reports and seeing photos of my home country …MANY MANY THANKS …….. Cheers

  103. ‘So in the best pre-Druidic fashion, they built their own “henge” to keep out the polloi …’

    Funny you should mention that (correctly identified as a ha-ha by other commenters) – John Wood, the architect who designed most of Georgian Bath, was obsessed by ancient British mythology and history. He actually surveyed Stonehenge in 1740, before Stukeley, and left behind very accurate draughtsman’s drawings of it (valuable because they show the monument before one of the great trilithons collapsed).

    Convinced that Bath was once a city the size of Babylon founded by the ancient British king Bladud, Wood tried to recreate what he believed to be its legendary glory, incorporating as many antiquarian, ‘Druidical’ and arcane references into the layout as he could. Buildings like his Circus, often thought to be Roman-inspired, actually owe as much to the idea of Stonehenge as to the Colosseum.

    http://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/bath-and-its-druidical-fancy/

    Once described as a man of ‘crackt imaginations’, Wood is largely responsible for Bath’s World Heritage status today. Completely bonkers – but what a magnificent achievement.

  104. Richard Bell says:
    September 9, 2013 at 7:19 am

    A Lake District …..MUST SEE ….. is the “Windermere Steam Boat Museum”….. check it out at ….http://www.steamboats.org.uk/…….. As an English man living south Orange County California it is wonderful reading your reports and seeing photos of my home country …MANY MANY THANKS …….. Cheers

    Sadly, the museum is closed for a complete renovation.

    Barbara says:
    September 9, 2013 at 7:53 am

    ‘So in the best pre-Druidic fashion, they built their own “henge” to keep out the polloi …’

    Funny you should mention that …

    Thanks for that information, Barbara, most fascinating.

    w.

  105. The efficiency of steam locomotives was at best 8%, or 1/5 that of diesel. But it’s not powered by carbon-neutral local wood, just dirty coal!

Comments are closed.