Circles around Sedgwick (1)

It’s a Viking word, Sedgwick. It dates from the time when the Lake District was part of the Danelaw, the half of England under the rule of the Norsemen, and means ‘place by the river’. The river in question is the Kent, which flows from Kentmere lake through Kendal on its way to the estuary at nearby Arnside, then out as a major channel into the expanse of Morecambe Bay.

Sedgwick, our home village, lies on the edge of the Lake District. For now, due to the Covid19 crisis, we are, like millions of others, confined to our homes – apart from essential trips out for food, medicines, or to help vulnerable people. Our incarceration is compounded by our choosing to bring my mother – who is ninety and has (moderate) vascular dementia – to live with us for the duration of the ‘lockdown’ period, rather than leaving her alone in the family home town of Bolton, Lancashire.

Three people, two dogs (we have a five-year old Collie and my mother has her aged Pomeranian with her) and an exotic looking cat… It’s a challenging mix.

So… how to (a) stay sane, and, (b) make best use of this enforced grounding?

The lower part of our garden a hollowed-out basin as its used to be a section of the long-defunct Preston-Kendal canal.

Doing the garden is one possibility. We have a large and challenging garden due to half of it being a residual hollow resembling the bed of a canal… which is just what it is. The celebrated Lancaster canal, which connects Preston and Tewitfield, used to extend all the way to Kendal, ferrying coal from the south and gunpowder (amongst other things) back to Preston, and via the docks there, out to sea and the world… Our house is directly on the line of that route and the (long gone) wharf here played an important part in the history of the village.

(Above: the old canal holds many surprises. It will form the starting point for many of the walks to follow, as will the occasional ‘bridge to nowhere’)

More on that, later… Sedgwick is only famous for two things, so it’s nice to be connected with one of them… (and, obliquely, both!)

(Above: The entire village of Sedgwick, set in its classic glacial ‘Basket of Eggs’ topography (technically – Drumlins)

The canal north of Tewitfield was drained of water in the 1950s and our garden is one of many plots that were sold off to the owners of adjacent land. We moved here in 2010 and inherited a sunken wilderness which has taken many years to bring into harmony with the rest of the plot. The far side of the garden rises to the level of the old canal path, which, although our land, is still a public right of way and footpath. When we’re gardening – which is often in the warmer months – we often get walkers stopping to chat. We spent most of our savings transforming the decaying 1960s property and are happy to suspend the garden work and take a few minutes to chat to those passing.

Cumbria is next to Scotland so the weather is similarly chilly and wet. But the verdant green countryside is the result. Currently, the unseasonal north wind is trying to exterminate us with arctic conditions, and mum can only take so much of the cold, though she hates being ‘cooped up in the house’, so gardening is only a partial solution. We used to take her out for drives, but non-essential motoring is now out of the question, so… it’s walking. Despite her age, she still walks a few miles every day at home. It makes sense to carry that on, keeping her healthy and exercising the dogs at the same time.

(Above: Mum at ninety, with Sammy the Pomeranian dog – inseparable companions)

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know I take a lot of photographs. Many of them find their way here, when they are appropriate to the writing. In this time of reduced mobility, I thought it might be fun to describe and illustrate some of the local walks we take.

I’ve called this series ‘Circles around Sedgwick‘ because that’s just what they will be: circular walks from our home that last, typically, 3-4 hours. We take along a flask of tea and a biscuit or two. The cafes are all closed, of course, and those with outdoor tables seem to have stored them away. I can understand the logic (reduced social meetings) but the result is that we usually end up – at the farthest point of the walk – huddled against some stone wall, hiding from the wind and sipping tea.

(Above: The black arrow shows the location of the tiny village of Sedgwick. The dark shaded area to the left of Kendal is the Lake District National Park)

Where is Sedgwick? It’s a small village a twenty minute drive due south of Kendal. Kendal is the major gateway town to the Lake District, though the fast A590/591 dual carriageway re-routed the majority of the traffic past the town and on to Windermere or along the coast to Ulverston and Barrow in Furness. If you were visiting the northern lakes of Ullswater or the popular twin-laked town of Keswick, you’d stay on the northern M6 motorway and exit at the Penrith junction.

We are therefore in what is known as the ‘South Lakes’, and that is what you’ll see on the sign at Junction 36 as you leave the M6. At the moment, you’ll find the A590 looks, unusually, like this:

The mighty A590, which conveys millions of visitors each year to the Lake District – now virtually empty.

Sedgwick is a small village. It has a farm shop, no pubs (the nearest is a thirty-minute walk away), and no cafes. It does have an excellent cricket club, which will serve you a pint on a Friday night, if you’re a member. The nearest church is a twenty-minute walk over the hill to the even smaller hamlet of Crosscrake.

The old canal – what’s left of it – will form the starting point to many of these local walks. We’ll encounter some of its history, and the reason for the presence of the largest house for miles around…

(Above: small village, mysterious mansion…)

©Stephen Tanham 2020

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

12 Replies to “Circles around Sedgwick (1)”

  1. Your mum looks incredible and beautiful for her age. It gives me a lot of hope for my own life – I will be 79 in November. so lovely the walks you can choose, and so full of interesting things to see. Even just the land itself offers so much to enjoy (at least to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful respite. It is much welcomed!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Steve, I would like permission to use the photo (or any of your choice) and some of the text (with total credit to you of course and to The Silent Eye School in a post I am currently putting together in my head about the evolution of the roles of seniors in our world today. I actually will likely address what I am experiencing here in the U.S. and what I remember about the importance of seniors in years past and how we now seem to be on the bottom of things considered important to deal with.

    I will explain. You likely know that I follow all the National Institute of Justice funding and issues in the U.S. When I was trying to report the issues we seniors living in senior mobile home parks as homeowners and residents (renters) throughout the U.S. It far surpasses the elder abuse we often hear about in Eldercare homes. Despite the overwhelming evidence, with all sorts of crimes being addressed, not at the root cause level but at what is deemed important in today’s civilization, and here in the U.S., it is definitely not elders.

    I am sad, not so much for my own self, but because in the world I lived in here in the U.S., seniors were always considered valuable in our society. Job hunters who were older could often get hired regardless of their age because of their overall wisdom and experience, but today the tables have turned as the job ads grow thinner every day in the newspapers. The younger the candidate, the better, for younger people, anxious to get careers off the ground, will often do the work of three people for the paycheck barely adequate for one. Families are put aside while the young people put in endless hours working in order to “live the American dream,” a shallow and meaningless lie, for in the end result, it is all about how many credit cards you have and how much better you are with your many possessions than the quality of the overall family being together and the elders being dumped in places like senior caregiving homes and senior mobile home parks, and families seldom come to visit. It is sad beyond belief.

    So when I addressed the issues of the elder abuse that the elders are experiencing in these parks, and the specific problems we encountered, at every level from local senior protection organizations and government agencies to the state and national levels, I found none of them willing to take responsibility for anything. Basically, all issues relating to elder fraud, elder theft and abuse (all which come under the same basic category in my mind, was told by all the different organizations that these issues I have brought up are CIVIL issues, and as such, we would need to take the wrong-doers to court. Since when did fraud, theft, and abuse become CIVIL issues? I am so saddened by all of this because suddenly it feels as though none of it will be addressed in our lifetimes. As you probably are aware, I am the caregiver/advocate for my significant other, Richard McCoy. I can tell you absolutely that since he had his first surgery, the doctors, the potential caregivers to give us a bit of respite and assistance have been dropped. Everything related to his care, his earnings through life, and even solid care is virtually nonexistent. Now, as I am trying to help get him out of this place and perhaps into a better environment in another state, I am running into one roadblock after another.

    I think of ancient times when the elders in a tribe or group were looked upon with the greatest of honor and respect because they were the key to those people being to live on for the future. They knew the mysteries of the world, and I suspect without them, we might have no contemporary cultures.

    I would like to work with this issue for a post on my blog and I want to be certain that you, Stuart and Sue are all given credit along with some good words about The Silent Eye Mystery School. What I thought might work is if you (and if you want to include Stuart and Sue and their views of the elders). I would come in with what we are experiencing here in the U.S. and how society in this world is evolving, and we would all review and edit it before it gets published, with you retaining rights to reprint, repost, etc. Let me know what you think and if it is something you all chose not to do, I am sure I can find enough to write about the issues I have seen here and am dealing with. I know Sue has some good things to add about her elders (Stuart may too), and we can cut it into “Continued” if necessary or whatever works best. You all have a lot of excellent knowledge in this arena. Thank you one and all. Anne always

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Anne. I’m sure we’d all be delighted to be part of this reference. Societies lose such ‘wisdom’ at their peril… and yet the transmission of its is one of the hardest things I have ever encountered. Love and best wishes Steve

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      1. Thank you so kindly. I do not have any actual statistics as of this time, but I am certain I can find at least something that is written about this topic that confirms or negates its validity (. More of this is how the elders are perceived in at least the U.K. and also here in the U.S. and to what degree this is true. I think if we look at the countries throughout the world, different cultures might perceive their elders differently. For example, I believe that countries like Japan still have a culture that respects and honors its elders. It is somewhat of an interesting topic in how tribes (or societies have evolved) and what other factors have perhaps contributed to it.

        And I realize that what I am seeing and hearing here in the U.S. is from my own experiences in various parks, and also what news I receive from other mobile homeowners and residents associations. This is an interesting project, and one I will start from here and then send it to you when I have something together, and you are welcome, together with Stuart and Sue, to add whatever seems relevant to it, and to make any changes in my text that may be necessary. Peace and genuine friendship always, Anne

        Liked by 1 person

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