Monday, 21 September 2009

Up North - part two

This is the second part of my short journal of my recent trip to the north of England.

After Manchester I drove northwest onto the Fylde peninsula and up to Lytham St Annes, an attractive small coastal town facing out onto the estuary of the river Ribble and Morecambe Bay.

I was looking for the house where my father was born in 1910 and where he spent his early years, and this is it, in Mythop Avenue.

Those who knew him won’t be surprised to read that there was and still is a railway line at the bottom of the road – so he did catch the railway bug very early.

And then onwards, for another seventy miles into the southern Lake District. This was the objective of my visit north, to catch-up with close family who I haven’t seen for many years and who all live in the valley of the river Leven.

The river runs from Windermere out to the sea at Greenodd and links the small villages of Newby Bridge, Backbarrow, Haverthwaite and Greenodd, all places where my mother’s family had lived and grown up, and where I spent much time in my childhood.

The MV Tern, which operates on Winderemere, was built in 1891 and still carries passengers between Lakeside and Bowness

The river Leven at Newby Bridge. My uncle Peter walked me across this weir when I was quite young. Thankfully the water level was lower, and I’m sure we didn’t tell my parents about it.

These are Bridge cottages, standing above the River Leven, in one of which my grandfather Edward was born in 1891.

Bare Syke in Backbarrow, my mother’s family home and centre point of the Bevins family for 100 years. I have many, many memories of happy days here.

Directly across the road is the Leven Valley School, which my mother and her siblings attended. They left school at 14, which was the norm in those days. My mum then went into service, working at a big house up near Windermere until she was old enough to go to Manchester to train at the Royal Infirmary.

From the southern end of Windermere the river Leven runs 8 miles and out to the sea at Greenodd. Six generations of the Bevins family have been river bailiffs or beck watchers, managing and maintaining the river and its stocks.

I walked with Richard up into the woods and rocks known as Haverthwaite Heights where as children we spent many happy hours climbing up, scrambling down and generally playing.

The war memorial in the small town of Ulverston. Two members of the family lost their lives in the Great War and are commemorated on the memorial.

And of course I visited the small graveyard at Haverthwaite where many of my family are buried, including my parents. A very peaceful setting beside the river.

Turning south, I drove down to Oldham where I spent a very pleasant lunch and afternoon with my aunt, Richard and Sue’s mother. She and her sister have recently holidayed ‘down under’. This photo shows them climbing the Sydney harbour bridge, something I flunked on my two visits, thinking I might be a bit old for it. I now regret that.

And so to home. Seven days, and only seven hundred miles: It has been a very enjoyable week which I will repeat soon.

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