It's Monday, so that means various of the family are at work and school. I'm left again to my own devices… so I walk into Keswick and poke around town.
So I find an old railway which has undergone a metamorphosis and become a bike path. Following this out of town, I cross under a high bridge with an unlikely distinction; beneath it, some sheep take shelter from the nooning sun.
|I continue along the bike path and it plunges into the woods, offering me a uniquely well-fitted place to sit as it does so. All along, it's evident that industry has been recycled for "better" uses, would that this could always be the case.|
|The lake district land usage reminds me a little of Alaska - there's a lot of public and protected land. As it turns out, this isn't surprising, though. The whole place is a National Park. This includes Keswick and implies strict regulations. New buildings have to fit with the existing architectural style, using the local building materials. It's also very difficult to find space to build new buildings as the town isn't allowed to expand, the most recent expansion being a set of new houses built in a field that was already surrounded by the town before it was a National Park. In this way, the park preserves not only the physical characteristics of the land (insofar as that's possible with boundary effects and dispersive pollution), but also cultural elements. For the town, though, this means that property prices are high and keep rising because everyone wants a slice of paradise. The conversion of houses to "holiday homes" (and associated elimination of contributing community members) has made it more common to have restrictions on property says requiring the new owners to have lived in the area for some time previously and to maintain residence for periods of up to six years afterwards.|
It's interesting how these sorts of regulations are reminiscient of ideas such as China's One-Child Policy. The prevention of growth is controversial and leads to problems; yet, just as surely, the failure to limit growth will inevitably lead to its own set of (potentially much worse) problems. Malthus, noting the trend to geometric population expansion, hypothesised the eventual exhaustion of food resources and, as a result, population collapse. Could rising prices in Keswick and continued push to "develop" beautiful places be indications of a Malthusian crisis of a different kind? (Feel free to discuss below.)
|The path wends by still waters before winding up and away from the railway (which continues on, unconcerned).|
After getting directions and a geologic history of the Keswick area from a man who sounds (and looks) suspiciously like Sean Connery, I find myself wandering up away from the forested river valley.
Looking towards Bleaberry
|Along the way I pass one of the quaint little barns which James Harriot and PETA warn you about.|
I'm getting a little tired of walking now (the last two days should be the norm, but, alas, are the exception), so I'm very happy to chance upon a random ice cream man and his truck. But, as I dig about in my pockets, I realise the terrible truth… I have only American and credit. I ask, and neither will do! Sensing, perhaps, my despair, the man offers to give me one of the reject cones for free. He pulls it out, all jaggily edges and crumblingness and, as he puts on a little scoop of ice cream, it breaks apart more - so that I'm handed a pile of crumbs topped with an ounce of joy. And such joy it is!
Filled with joy and glucose (which starts to hit the bloodstream within twenty seconds of consumption), I stroll up to the hill…
Castlerigg Stone Circle
The circle has stood here possibly as long as 4,500 years ("just" older than the Bristlecone pines) and has been protected since 01913. Today, there are just the usual assortment of tourists, but yesterday was the Solstice. As I enter the circle I see two grassy circles with traces of ash about them - the druids must have had fires going, paying tribute to naturalistic forces much older and larger than themselves. They've done a good job of cleaning up after themselves.
Looking around, I'm pleased to find a number of interesting lichens hanging out on the stones, but don't otherwise sense the ebb and flow of ley-lines, at least on this day.
|Walking home, I pass the molting sheep - depositing their dirty winter coats in patches and lumps. Tonight we're off to see Jean who is also, somehow, related to me…|
|Jean - a former teacher - doesn't quite know what to do with boys our age (Matthew and David are along) and starts suggesting fires and the like, even as we tell her that boys this age will be quite happy just to sit down and talk. Dissatisfied with this idea, she suggests we climb Ladderrigg, which is behind the house. It's a tradition that every Easter, the children go up to the top and try to roll a hard-boiled egg down to the house - a yolk made it once. Glad we don't have to take up this challenge, we set out.|
|Getting into Jean's house is also a trick. Our stay is brief, but enjoyable, as Hector the parrot entertains all of us "funny people". He'll also probably outlive all of us - his heart rate goes to about 1 bpm at night enabling him to live up to 120 years.|
|As Jean and I say good-bye, I learn that somewhere out there, I have a relative who's studied glaciers extensively. Having already found out about two physicists in the family, I can't say I'm surprised.|