(Above. The combined rivers flowing through Birdhouse Meadows)

It’s largely unvisited by people passing this way en-route to busy Ambleside – just a mile up the road. I’ve been coming to the Lake District most of my life, and we now live on its southern edge, yet, until two weeks ago, I had never heard of the small triangle of land between the ancient Roman Fort and the Rivers Brathay and Rothay, whose name is Birdhouse Meadows.

(Above: the location of the hidden Birdhouse Meadows (B))

As the saying goes, we were simply passing through on the way to somewhere else..

That somewhere else was carrying out a timing check for a Silent Eye walk down part of the eastern shore of Windermere via the Clappersgate district of Ambleside – the gateway to the famous Loughrigg Fells.

(Birdhouse Meadows)
(Above: the beautiful Loughrigg Fells, less than a mile from Birdhouse Meadows)

The weather was gloomy on the day of our visit. I’ve supplemented the shots with others taken of the surrounding landscape on previous occasions.

(Above: worthy of its own blog, the Roman Fort at what was Galava – adjacent to the little-known Birdhouse Meadows)

To find the Birdhouse Meadow, you need to skirt the Roman Fort ruins and pass through the gate that appears to lead to the very tip of Lake Windermere. This part of the land spends much of the winter and part of the spring flooded, so it’s not on most people’s explore list.

(Above: The cherry blossom at the Hiroshima memorial in Borran’s Park)

The Meadows shares the shoreline with Borran’s Park, famous for its views across to the Langdale Fells and for the quiet and dignified memorial to those who died at Hiroshima, when the first atomic bomb was used in anger to force an end to the war between the USA and Japan – and thereby bring WW2 to an end.

(Above: Sunset at Borrans Park. Birdhouse Meadows lies behind the trees across the bay)

Birdhouse meadows are situated at the head of Windermere, where the Brathay and Rothay rivers meet.The winter flooded meadow comes into its own in spring and summer, when it becomes a special home for wildflowers, grasses, insects and other wildlife. The meadows are managed traditionally, without the use of artificial fertilisers.

(Above: Birdhouse Meadows and at the confluence of the rivers Brathay and Rothay. The gloomy skies could not hide the fact that it’s a magical place)

This encourages wild flowers to grow. Late cutting of the meadows, at the end of July, allows the flowers to set seed for next year.It is at this point that cows start to graze, which disturbs the ground and allows the seeds to germinate.

(Above: new life growing sidewards on a tree fallen by the winter’s winds)

Characteristic plants found here include Ragged Robin, Marsh Marigold, Bistort, Hay Rattle and Eyebright. The vibrant combination of meadows, pastures, riverbanks, lakeshore, hedgerows, trees and sweet vernal grass make Birdhouse Meadows a very special place.

(Above: from the Meadows looking north towards Ambleside and, beyond, to the mountain ring of Fairfield)
(The ever-present fells are directly visible from Birdhouse Meadows)

Birdhouse Meadows is owned and managed by The National Trust. It was created when The Lake District Tourism and Conservation Partnership invited local tourism businesses to help fund the wetland habitat and riverside walk.

One could say it has been a ‘quiet success’ … and deserves to stay that way.

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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

8 Comments on “The hidden Birdhouse Meadows

  1. Not an area I know at all, Steve. I shall bear it mind next time I’m in Ambleside.

    Liked by 1 person

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