The Road to the Lakes

3.30 p.m.; View of Windermere from Costa Coffee at Pringles, Bowness.
The small, sometimes winding, roads made sketching from the car difficult.

THE LAKE DISTRICT is so often moody, wrapped in clouds and mist, so today, with ranks of cumulus marching across a clear blue sky and sparkling panoramas unfolding before us, our regular journey was a different experience. After so many years of heading along the Leeds ring road to get on the road to the Lakes, the A65 via Skipton, we’ve found a short cut on smaller quieter roads following the ridges between some of the old woollen towns of the West Riding – Huddersfield, Mirfield, Halifax and Bradford – not far away in the valleys below.

It was so clear that already, as we approached Howarth over the moors, we got glimpses of the sphinx-like peaks of Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent crouching on the limestone plateau of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Coming this way, along the smaller but slower roads, the Dalesman Cafe at Gargrave, 1 hour 20 minutes but only 40 miles into our journey, makes a timely coffee stop. They specialise in ephemera of the 1950s and 1960s so as I tried a local speciality, buttered Chorley cake, the tins and packages of the period brought back memories for us.

I sketched this shrimping net from an earlier period, still with its canvas bag stencilled ‘W EGLON, NEPTUNE FISH STORES, WHITBY, TEL. 60’. I wonder whereabout in Whitby that was . . .

The Eglons of Whitby

A Google search turns up this reference to the Eglon family from the 1891 census (, when they were living in four rooms in Elephant & Castle Yard, between Haggersgate and Cliff Street, so very near what is still the fish quay at Whitby. I guess that Neptune Fish Stores would have been there or very near.

4 Elephant & Castle Yard (4 rooms)
     Eglon, Christopher - Head - M M 41 - Fish Merchant - YKS, Whitby
     Eglon, Eliza - Wife - M F 41 - - YKS, Whitby
     Eglon, Mary E - Daughter - S F 21 - Dressmaker - YKS, Whitby
     Eglon, William - Son - S M 19 - Fisherman - YKS, Whitby
     Eglon, Christopher - Son - M 14 - Errand Boy - YKS, Whitby
     Eglon, Esther - Daughter - F 12 - Scholar - YKS, Whitby
     Eglon, James H - Son - M 10 - Scholar - YKS, Whitby
     Eglon, Margaret E - Daughter - F 7 - Scholar - YKS, Whitby

William, born in 1872, must be the ‘W. Eglon’ named on the bag but sadly his business, Neptune Fish Stores (Whitby) Ltd, was wound up in 1969, at a time when the traditional English seaside resorts had lost out to competition from package holidays to the Mediterranean.

Sunset across the Lake

Barn owl from Walney Owl Sanctuary, which along with a Little and an Eagle Owl was proving a hit with visitors to the Tourist Information Centre at Bowness.

I’m certainly getting in holiday mood today, I’m beginning to feel like a different person, as if a burden has been lifted from my shoulders, as we approach the Lakes and leave the distractions of home and work behind. As the rugged peaks of the Borrowdale volcanics come into view a Buzzard circles above the road.

Bowness can be as busy as a traditional seaside town – the Blackpool of the Lake District – but, as we’ve booked in for a few days at the Belsfield Hotel overlooking the Lake Windermere, we can stay after the weekend trippers return home.

There’s a perfect sunset, a clear sky across the lake. In this old hotel, originally the home of a wealthy Victorian industrialist, you have the feeling that you’ve got away from everything; as if you’re aboard one of the old, opulent ocean liners. When we walk down for our meal in the sumptuous dining room, past the reception desk, we glimpse sparkling water through the lounge window. You feel that the whole hotel might be gliding over calm waters. Hopefully with no icebergs on the horizon. The bustling piers where the ferries come and go are hidden away behind the grassy banks of the hotel gardens.

Links; Walney Owl Sanctuary, Belsfield Hotel

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