It’s been dry here in Cumbria for so long (about four months, give or take) that many of the streams had dried up almost completely and even the lakes were getting very low. In an area that’s usually known for its rainfall and its many natural ‘water features’ this always seems very strange, so we’ve been glad, the last week or so, that normal service has resumed. In fact, it’s been bucketing down for days, and the becks are all gurgling happily and everything looks greener and healthier.
To celebrate, we had a quick trip to Ambleside on Sunday morning, and dodged/notdodged a series of heavy showers to walk to Low Sweden Bridge and back. This is one of two old pack-horse bridges, both Grade II listed, over Scandale Beck. As the name suggests, this one is lower down the beck and not so far from the town centre. You just stroll up a couple of back lanes, head through a farmyard, take a footpath through the woods, and suddenly you can hear the sound of rushing water and you’re there.
I’m slightly baffled by the name ‘Sweden’ bridge. It’s possible it’s named after the many Norse ‘immigrants’ who moved to the area centuries ago, or perhaps some Scandinavian miners working in nearby quarries and mines; or perhaps it’s just a corruption of something else. I’d love to find out, but in any case it’s a romantic name for a very romantic and scenic spot and the walks to either the high or the low bridge are amongst my favourites. And it was a special treat this time to see the beck in full spate again.
We staggered back down through the rain and fell into a coffee shop at the side of the town centre’s other main waterway, Stock Beck. This (the cafe) used to be known as Rattle Ghyll but has recently been re-named as Bumble’s something or other. I wasn’t taking as much notice as I should because I’d just found that one of my earrings was missing, presumably knocked off/out by frequent pullings-on-and-off of my waterproof hood. Annoying, but I found a replacement pair in one of the nearby galleries so all is not lost!