(Above: the market square – the main street in Cartmel)

The Cumbrian village of Cartmel is most famous for its racecourse, but it is difficult to find any part of it that is not also beautiful or at least interesting. There are also examples here of innovative responses to hard times… Something we all need to take note of.

(Above: the celebrated horse-racing course is busy during the period May-August every year and brings in tourists from all over the world)

Cartmel lies two miles northwest of Grange-over-Sands, on the northern edge of Morecambe Bay, just outside the Lake District National Park and alongside the River Eea. It takes its name from the Cartmel Peninsula and used to be called Kirkby in Cartmel.

The village is the location of the 12th-century Cartmel Priory, around which it initially grew. There is free, two-hour parking at the rear. This is where we begin our photo-walk.

(Above: Cartmel Prory. A 12th century masterpiece and chock-full of English history)

I’m here for my NHS-booked Covid booster: my fourth vaccination in the Covid sequence. The day before, I had my flu jab. When I view it this way, I’m beginning to feel like a pin cushion…

I’m a believer in being protected. I don’t subscribe to the idea of micro-robots shaping my mind into governmental compliance. My bodily inclinations seem more or less as they were…

(Above: the old archway that led to the priory stables)

We skirt around the back of the Priory to get to Cartmel’s main street, where most of the shops are still closed. No chance of an early take-away coffee, then… pity; a good coffee can cheer up any queue)

(Above: Cartmel is still waking up… The far end of the main street, named ‘The Square’)

The doctor’s surgery (where the vaccinations are being offered) is on the outskirts of the village. On the way, we pass a couple of places I have wanted to photograph but never had the time. The mellow but bright autumn morning light is perfect… and I’m still fifteen minutes early for my jab… what an opportunity…

(Above: Bridge Cottage No.3.
I’ve been waiting to snap this beauty for a while. The small river; a tributary of the Eea, makes a perfect foreground and generator of contrasts, Rivers are hard to avoid in Cartmel. Several of them cross-cross the village centre)

The vaccine injection is handled in a friendly and efficient manner, and the event even has a burst of humour when the lady doctor dealing with me confesses that she’s been at it since dawn and is dying for a break and a coffee.

(Above: Alan Arkin – one of my favourite humans, Source Wikipedia)

In my best impression of Alan Arkin, one of my favourite humans, I surprise her by calling out of the office: “This doctor needs a coffee!”.

For a second there is silence… Then she dissolves into laughter… as do the reception staff who come to check on her well-being with the potential madman… We part on the best of terms, no police involved, and the quiet and creepy web of doctors’ waiting rooms slightly ripped…

I have a very small anarchic streak… Usually, it’s in a well-taped box in my pocket. But every now and then, when the fabric of ‘space-time- process’ needs a magical kick, I’m happy to oblige…

Reverting to normal human, I venture out dragging the second of two pierced arms in as many days. Perhaps the number of holes in my arms has tipped me slightly over the edge?

I get a grip and we walk… The weather is even nicer than it was when we arrived. The main street in Cartmel holds some visual gems.

(Above: The Mallard Cafe in the main street. People friendly, dog- friendly and just plain good!)

Next door is a new shop offering ‘Vintage goods’. They look good but I’ve just had a text from my wife and ‘abandoned collie’ to say they are waiting in a coffee shop at the top end of The Square.

(And next door, a new vintage goods shop)

Several older buildings in the main street have been modernised to offer modern facilities for snacks, wine and dining.

(Above: Unsworth’s Yard – repurposed as a shop, wine bar and restaurant)
(Above: the interior of Unsworth’s Yard. Just beautiful!)

Further up the street are two of Simon Rogan’s famous eateries, including ‘L’enclume’: his top-class Michelin 3-star restaurant, and Rogan and Co, a more modest bistro-style establishment.

My phone beeps. My wife’s coffee is going cold and so is mine. I must rush back. I can choose to photograph the Paul Rogans for you…. Or choose another, little-known route…where there’s this:

(Above: The new Ford Bridge)

At the end of an uninspiring alley lies the The ‘Ford’ Footbridge. In medieval times, Cartmel was a bustling market village centred around the walled 12th century Priory Church.

The only access across the River Eea running North to South, which separated the village, was by using the ford crossing along the line of the new footbridge. During times when the river was in flood only horses and carts could pass, leaving pedestrians to pay a toll to use the narrow Penny Bridge downstream.

With the formation of the Carmel Township Initiative in 2014, progress was finally made towards raising the necessary funds.

Despite numerous difficulties including securing Planning Consent, consents from the Environment Agency and United Utilities, as well as other statutory bodies.

A scheme was finally agreed in 2019 and the footbridge laid in place in 2020 with funding from: the European Agricultural Fund, many local sources including South Lakeland district council and the Cumbria Fells and Dales LEADER programm. Local residents also provide a significant contribution.

(Above: The Cartmel Square Cafe and guest house)

Our walk ends with my arrival at the Cartmel Square Cafe and guest- house – newly opened and an example of the kind of innovation that’s going to be needed to get small businesses through the next few years of extreme economic challenge.

They have formed a partnership with the nearby pub – which, post-Brexit, was finding it impossible to recruit an affordable chef. The Cartmel Square cafe cooks the breakfasts for the hotel’s guest and ferries them across the square… Simple and effective, and benefits both.

And the cafe makes great breakfasts… With holes in both arms, and government nanobots flowing through my veins, I needed one…

Hope you enjoyed the walk…

(Above: And just across the road from the Cartmel Square Cafe is the home of the world-famous Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding. Not to be missed…)

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

16 Comments on “Cartmel, anarchy and the perfect morning…

  1. What a delightful place to go for your covid jab, Steve. I’m booked into Leyland to get my microchips boosted, but it doesn’t have the same ring to it, and I don’t think I’ll be writing it up – but you never know. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perhaps not quite so glamorous, Michael – though we have some good friends living there and they rate it, highly. We do visit Cartmel – you can run dogs on the edge of the racecourse and through the forest, but I never expected my jab to be here. Watch out for those pesky nanobots… 😎

      Liked by 1 person

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