NEWSLETTER No. 27
Festive greetings from the heart of the Lake District! Estate Manager Jon here with your annual yuletide helping of news, gossip, hearsay and uncorroborated nonsense sent to you directly from Patterdale, scienti cally proven to be the centre of the known universe. Possibly.
‘Newsletter No 27’ is a bit dry really, I prefer to think of this as a glitteringly entertaining semi-factual info-bauble which is in many ways very much like Christmas itself – you have to wait a whole year for it to arrive and then it’s over in a flash and you’re left with a lingering sense of mild disappointment. Hurray! So buckle up for a roller-coaster ride through one of the most eventful years in estate history, and ready yourself to be amazed by our future plans to improve and develop this wonderful slice of Lake District heaven. And when I say ‘be amazed’, I mean ‘be slightly bemused’.
Rather conveniently we’ve had an early cold snap, and the resulting frost and snow are glistening on Place Fell as I write this tome. After the lovely year we’ve had, waking up to winter wonderland this morning was a bit of a shock to the system, but the mixture of snowy fells and autumn foliage is a sight to behold and has put me in a suitably festive frame of mind. Now then… where to start… how about with a flashback to one year ago when I woke up to a very different sight!
The Great Flood
Remember remember the 5th of December… for twas on that very day in an era known as ‘2015’ that the dale was doused in a frankly hilarious amount of water that resulted in our most impressive flood since records began. It was amazing. Desmond was the storm that never stopped giving – a heady combination of storm force winds and incessant rain that ended up tearing a hole right through Glenridding village and, indeed, the estate itself. The sheer destructive power of nature was a sight to behold, and on that fateful day I spent several wasted hours sand-bagging and pumping water in an attempt to minimise the damage, only for Grisedale Beck to laugh mockingly at my endeavours and burst its banks mid-afternoon. We were quite full at the time, so I made sure the guests were all OK and then retreated to Lishman House to watch the ensuing mayhem. By the time the power went off the beck had diverted straight over the caravan site and across the road to the chalet site and we had a torrent running past our of office door! Confident that we were all safe, I sat back with my family to enjoy the surreal show.
As darkness fell all we could hear was the deep resonant rumble of water thunking the house, and yet somehow we didn’t flood because the brainiacs that built this wonderful abode back in the 1950s made it juuuuust high enough to keep the water out. As the sun came up I armed myself with a yard brush and headed outside to tidy up the exterior damage.
I soon realised that I’d need a JCB and not a broom as the beck had demolished the road and left trees, boulders and an incredible amount of silt in its path. The lake was 5’ deep above the lake road between Glenridding village and the estate; the caravan site had entirely disappeared; and the two bothies were well and truly flooded along with our workshops. The chalets and lodges, like the house, are raised up and were therefore unharmed. A walk up Waterfall Wood revealed two major landslips and a great deal of damage to the Victorian beck-side path. That stroll felt very unreal and a little over-whelming – a sensation enhanced by the sighting of my first ever Kingfisher darting back and forth across the beck ahead of me! Little did I know that that stroll marked the start of an amazing journey that would see a monumental team effort heal the estate’s scars and leave us better and stronger than before.
It took more than a yard brush to tidy up the estate entrance!
After two days we were able to walk to Glenridding, and I was gobsmacked by the scale of the damage. I didn’t recognise the spot. There was a river where a road should be, and a road where a river should be! Amazing. The field next to the Steamer Pier had become some sort of delta with lots of tributaries feeding the beck which had diverted 90 degrees to the right. The shops and Glenridding Hotel were flooded, and the Steamer Pier house was an island sticking apologetically out of the lake. Even Lady Wakefield, one of the Ullswater Steamers, had been unceremoniously dumped up a field way above normal lake levels down near Pooley Bridge. It felt just a tiny bit like the end of the world…
You get knocked down, you get up again…
Due to the kindness of both estate guests and strangers and a great effort from the estate team we removed the debris from the chalet site and rebuilt the entire caravan site in under two weeks. Volunteers from near and far turned up to help us re-direct the beck, shore up the landslips and rebuild the beck walls and footpath over the ensuing months – and we managed to do this without shutting for a single day. By spring the estate was well on the road to recovery – the bothies had had a fantastic refurb, Waterfall Wood was once again passable, and a ridiculous number of bulbs and seeds had been planted right around the sites. The beck still looks almost Alpine clear a year later, with the jet-washing action of the water revealing wonderful geological features hidden for decades behind lichen and silt.
I will never forget the generosity of everybody who contacted us to wish us well; who came down to help; or who simply came to holiday here in 2016 in order to support us. Thank you all so much. Oh, and thanks also to everybody who took the mick out my rather dubious and thankfully brief performances on the telly. What can I say? Clearly if you push a microphone in my mush it makes me gibber like a total nubbin, and I’ll never live down my confident boast that we ‘would not be beaten by a beverage’. Hey-ho… we live and learn.
A year on from the floods and the estate really does look better than ever before having had some glorious weather and an awful lot of TLC helping it recover. We even had time to put in new double glazed windows and doors into the chalets, as well as the aesthetic touches such as our new rockeries. Glenridding village has had a much more torrid time of it and the Glenridding Hotel is only just opening its doors again after a whole year of closure. Saying that, they have used the year to revamp the whole hotel and it looks spectacular – with the Ratcher’s Tavern changing name to the ‘Beckside Bar’ as a tribute to the boys from Beckside Construction who bravely worked in their huge diggers to remove all of the stone from the beck and get the river back to where it should be after the deluge. The Minimarket in Glenridding run by Alan ‘Mr Grumpy’ Brown has also just reached the re-opening stage – but again it looks fabulous and no trip to the dale is complete without a dollop of Alan’s sardonic wit!
The Estate Team
For starters I would like to say a big thank you to all of my colleagues for their hard work in this slightly ‘different’ year. To have come so far since the flood is no mean feat, so well done to them all. Changes are afoot, however, as Steve & Louise Hughes have moved on in order to concentrate on their own business, Deepdale Design. With Steve’s abilities as a designer and Louise’s excellent customer service skills I’m sure they’ll both make a great success of things. I wish them luck for the future, and now look forward to welcoming a full time assistant to ‘fill the gap’ early in 2017. Denise, Sarah and I are staying, so you’ll still see familiar faces if you come to visit whether you like it or not!
Your Estate needs you!
I need to hoy another humungous platter of gratitude at a bunch of crazy people that have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into helping the estate in exchange for free self-catering accommodation or a free caravan pitch. Our ever increasing squad of wonderful volunteers has filled my heart with joy and given me the most rewarding experiences imaginable. Thousands of hours of work have been done by these tireless, hardworking, masochistic lovelies and I can confidently say that they are an indispensable part of the estate team. From path work to gardening, and from painting to rhoddie bashing – they have gone at every task with gusto. Thanks to them all, and please do come and volunteer for us if you have the occasional few days to spare. It’s always a laugh, and we never make anybody do anything that they don’t want to. Just ring or email me for details.
As you possibly know already, I like nothing more than to prattle on incessantly about future plans for the estate – so here I go again! Having successfully provided new doors and windows last winter, the next stage for our beloved chalets is to replace their sofas and to upgrade the kitchens in Chalets 1, 2 and 6. There was a fair amount of dishwasher- jealousy from the guests in those properties, so I have already taken delivery of the units and we will have Chalet 6 done by Christmas, with the others following in January. Those three chalets will become our five-person properties, with Chalets 3, 4 and 5 still sleeping four. Lodges 1 and 2 will also get a sofa upgrade, and I’m planning on putting Lake District maps on the walls in every property so that you can better plan your jaunts.
The bothies, having had a full interior refit already, will be getting a garden make-over with a BBQ area each and we hope to somehow make more use of the arbor. Polite suggestions welcome! We are toying with the idea of having a fire pit or two in the lake-view picnic area for general use, and also giving the chalets and lodges a more practical BBQ space of their own. The new satellite TV system has gone down well, and we are now digging a duct around the entire chalet site so that each of our properties can enjoy a more reliable hard-wired Wi- Fi system. We have thrown a lot of energy at the caravan site this year, and it really is looking great – but I also really want to get a TV point to each pitch and have engaged a local firm, Krypton TV, to find a way to achieve this.
An idea of how our fire pits might look!
Website wishes and deepest blogologies
Whoops! Our spangling new website is aesthetically pleasing but, as you may have discovered, not fully functional. Huge apologies for the slow progress that I’ve made in putting content behind some of the buttons, but rest assured that I am now giving it my full attention and my dearest wish is that by Christmas it will be all-singing, all-dancing and, most importantly, all-working. A live events page has just been added, and we are currently putting together the estate history page, volunteering page and a plethora of images for the gallery. The online booking button works just fine now, and we have kept the good old ‘Availability’ page to help you plan your stay by giving you a snapshot of the next 12 months. My ‘News’ blog page has been sadly neglected this last ten months as I’ve been a smidgeon pre-occupied with more physical labours – deepest blogologies for this, I know that both of my readership cry themselves to sleep at night due to the lack of literary twaddle I’ve supplied them. Well cry no more, for I am back in the blogzone and would love as many as you as possible to occasionally visit the news page. As you’ve no doubt noticed, my writing is of an eloquent neo-soporific style and the NHS are seriously considering prescribing my blog as a cure for sleep deprivation.
Our dearest wish is for you to enjoy your stay on the estate, and with this in mind we have created several ‘Local Link-Ups’ with special discounts at nearby attractions, eateries and spas for our guests. So far we have lined up reductions for those of you wanting to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of a Nordic Walk with local lass Nicola Sproson, whose infectious passion for outdoor life never fails to inspire. The Inn on the Lake have kindly given us 10% off vouchers for guests visiting their excellent eateries. The Ullswater Steamer folk have given us vouchers to use on Round the Lake cruises and for their sister company Ravenglass Railway. Many of our guests have thoroughly enjoyed discounted visits to the multi-award-winning Lakes Distillery this year; and nearby Rookin House Farm adventure centre also gives us reductions. I can thoroughly recommend another local lass, Hazel Bell, who offers us 10% off her amazing holistic therapies; and if you like a nice pamper then the North Lakes Hotel & Spa in Penrith also offers our guests money-off. We are working closely with our lovely neighbours at Glenridding Sailing Centre and have come up with a great offer for families who have the flexibility to take their summer holidays in the first week of July – reduced price accommodation along with great reductions on RYA sailing courses for kids – leaving the parents time to enjoy some time away from their young’uns safe in the knowledge that they’re enjoying a potentially life-changing experience! We will continue to find further link-ups and get them all up on’t website for you to see.
The 2017 Estate Calendar
Our first ever calendar competition went really well – a big thank you to everybody who took part, and especially to the twelve winning entrants. We have just got the 100 limited edition calendars back from the printers and we are posting them out free of charge for one year only on a first-come first served basis – so if you want one then get in touch quickly! We are running the competition again for the 2018 calendar, so please send your entries in as the year progresses. All entrants will get a free calendar, and the winners also get a holiday discount voucher… give give give! The images can be of the estate, the lake, the dale, the Lake District, local wildlife … anything that you think will float our proverbial boat. Please email your entries to us and make sure they are of a decent resolution, preferably 1MB or more. Get snapping!
‘So’, I hear you ask in unison, ‘what has gone on in’t dale this year?’ Well, I’ll tell you! In 2015 the new footpath from Glenridding to Aira Force waterfall opened along with the new Aira Point steamer pier and revamped tea rooms, and they’ve all proved an absolute smash hit. In March 2016 this was further improved upon with the opening of a new path between Aira and Pooley Bridge, so you can now circumnavigate the lake with waymarkers to help you along. The ‘Ullswater Way’, as it has been called, is 20-miles long and can be walked in either direction and from any starting point. It’s a wonderful route, and a few of our crazier guests have actually done the whole thing in one day rather than the more sensible option of splitting the walk into more manageable shorter sections, using the local bus or steamers to access your chosen starting point. You can visit the ‘ullswater.com’ website for details of this and many other attractions and events in the area.
In May the rescue of the Ullswater Steamer, Lady Wakefield, from a field using whopping girt big air bags was a spectacle indeed, and you may well have seen bizarre footage of this on the national news (see piccy). That month also saw a dramatic light installation created by artist Charles Monkhouse who, inspired by the poets and artists of the Lake District, hoyed a shed load of rainbow coloured LED lights on the lake and we all cooed and gasped as they gradually dispersed. In September Sir Bradley Wiggins hurtled through the dale again as the Tour of Britain paid us a second visit in 12 months, and in November the increasingly popular and impressive Winter Droving hit Penrith – if you’ve not witnessed it then get on Google and you’ll see what you’re missing.
With the totally refurbed Glenridding Hotel opening in early December, and Alan Brown’s sparkling new-look mini-market following suit soon, Glenridding will truly have come out of this tumultuous year stronger than ever before. The White Lion has just been taken over and is to get a new lease of life, the Inn on the Lake has got its new look Ramblers Bar and adjoining Candleroom which I love! Fell Bites restaurant goes from strength to strength, and Helvellyn Country Kitchen is also now opening on selected evenings – there has never been so many great places to eat within walking distance of the estate.
Naturist Nature News
It ain’t so bad living in this wonderful part of the world amidst such spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife. The highlight of the last 12 months for me was seeing the King sher in Waterfall Woods last winter, but there’s been plenty to please the eye since. Our red squirrel population is recovering well thanks largely to the efforts of Christian our local Squirrel Ranger, who battles the greys and supports the reds in equal measure. Last week four reds were spotted up on Keldas, and I have seen very little evidence of greys in recent months. The £1 Nurture Lakeland donation that many of our self-catering guests give when they book goes to ‘Fixing the Fells’ and to the ‘Penrith & District Red Squirrel Group’, and thus far we have raised £1,500 in three years towards these great causes, so well done you lot!
We have a thriving and very active badger sett on the chalet site and most of you will have seen and heard them out and about after dusk each evening. The little tinkers have dug another entrance just two metres from Lodge 2’s bedroom window, so residents in that property will have the perfect view of their crazy shenanigans. Today’s badgerfact is that the Welsh name for badgers is ‘moch daear’ which translates to ‘earth pig’, oh yes!
In early October we heard the incredible noise of the wild red deer rutting over on Place Fell. It led one particular guest to ring my doorbell at 10pm one night to ask what the heck was going on! The barking noise is right out of Scooby Doo and really resonates around the valley. For those of you wishing to share this experience at even closer quarters the Ullswater Steamers put on Red Deer Cruises every year which take you from Glenridding to Howtown and then by minibus over to Martindale where the herd hang out.
It was a great relief after the re-shaping of Grisedale Beck caused by the flood that from late August onwards we once again had large numbers of trout attempting to jump up Grisedale Beck. The ideal viewing spot is at Gooseneck, where the Victorians have carved stone steps into the beck bank. You have to be careful going up there, but you’re efforts will be rewarded in spades – take your camera and get me a fishy snap for next year’s calendar!
The Short Notice Subscriptions Club
A slight tweak to the Subs Club for 2017. Due to the great bookings we enjoyed this year I was only able to put a few offers out earlier in 2016, so I’d feel a bit bad if I charged for membership in 2017! The club will go on providing great discounts on holidays to all members at short notice, usually within two or three weeks of the arrival date. If you wish to sign up then please ring or email us by the end of January – we’ll need your email address or alternative form of contact if you don’t have one. I will carry forward all members from 2016 automatically, so no need for you guys to get in touch.
Making a difference for YMCA
Forget the whole 1970’s dance routine with the biker, construction worker and native American Indian; YMCA is an amazing living, breathing, young-people-focused charity. Why is this important and how is Patterdale Hall Estate making a difference? Simple: any surplus we make from trading (that’s “profit” in private sector speak) goes to support the work of YMCA North Tyneside. So your holiday is helping to put a roof over the head of some of the most vulnerable homeless youngsters, helping them get support, get onto training courses and working towards employment – amongst other things that YMCA does for its local community.
Feel free to allow yourself a little glow when you holiday with us, because your holiday is indirectly helping YMCA to transform the lives of young people. Want to be even more glow-y? There are some really simple ways to contribute…. spread the word (and help us keep our marketing costs down) by telling people or sharing Facebook posts. Volunteer with us. Or consider fundraising on behalf of YMCA – they’re currently recruiting 70 runners for the Great North Run next September! To nd out more about the work of YMCA North Tyneside, visit www.ymcanorthtyneside.org
Did you know that across England and Wales, YMCA’s support 228,000 young people in need? With 11,000 beds provided each night and 53,000 places on educational or training courses? Yep – it’s not all about novelty 70’s disco!
As if working with me was not reward enough, I am very pleased to say that the estate’s beloved Chair person, David Hodgson, now has the letters ‘MBE’ after his name. I cannot think of a more deserving recipient of such an award as he has worked tirelessly for decades and has roles within various voluntary organisations including governor of TyneMet College, trustee of North Tyneside YMCA, panel member of North Tyneside Business Forum, exec member of North Shields Chamber of Trade & Commerce and secretary/treasurer of another 10 community based organisations!
Huge congratulations, David Hodgson MBE!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
We have already received record bookings for 2017, so to avoid disappointment please please get in touch soon if you want to visit us! Have an amazing festive season you lovely people, and best wishes for the New Year!
Jon Holdsworth, Estate Manager