Tuesday, 21 September 2010

In the north country

The weekend was taken up by a frustratingly short visit to Mrs QO's esteemed parental units in the high north-west of England. This part of the country is stunningly beautiful, yet rather quiet - so many only make it as far as the Lake District, or stay on the motorway and pass by up into Scotland. The opening up of the Hadrian's Wall walk is bringing a few more people in but thankfully it's not on the mass-tourism trail, and long may that be so.

Some say the north starts at the Trent; some think of the South Yorkshire border as more like it. To my mind - having spent three years up in County Durham and 30 years visiting Cumbria - the north starts at Scotch Corner. Take a left onto the A66 and head up and over the moors...

I've enjoyed driving this road for a quarter-century or so. It's been considerably improved in that time, but not yet completely tamed - they're difficult to see in this pic, but there are still striped poles up by the side of the road to show how deep the snow is. And, of course, where the edge of the road is. This is valuable information, given the rocky drops on either side. This road still bites back in winter.

Having safely reached Penrith, we turn north again on the M6 and half an hour sees us at journey's end. Around here are sights like these.

Thanks to Backpacking in Britain for this one.

Mrs QO's brother and his family live up here. The views more than make up for the lack of mains water, I think. They get red squirrels on the bird-table...

I'm very fond of Nottingham, and we have some quietly beautiful scenery in the county. But if I didn't have to get to London so regularly, I'd really think seriously about being up in the true north for more than a few snatched weekends here and there.

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