87 Fellbarrow – Taking Life for Granted

10 Weeks Look but Don’t Touch!

It was half-term, 19 February 2020 when I was last in the hills on Sale Fell with Christine.  A lot has happened since then and we have talked of nothing else. “Coronavirus”. We stayed at home.  Not such a chore when the sun was shining and the garden was ready for some attention, but the hills were always calling and freedom to chose where and for how long we could drink in the fresh air and stunning views a constant thought in the back of our minds.

After 10 weeks of almost permanent sun we worried it may disappear on the day we headed out to the hills for the first time in a while.  Thankfully the heat remained unseasonally hot for our first gentle ascent of Fellbarrow.  Not a long drive from home and not a difficult climb, mindful that I did not want to be the one to put the Mountain rescue and our already stretched health services under any further duress it was a great place for a come-back.

My son could not understand my joy at  breathing-in the new views, which to his teenage brain looked just as green and blue as the ones at home.  I could feel the energy returning to my veins and was thankful for my daily 2.5 mile walk for the past 10 weeks, meaning at least my lungs and heart could cope even if my uphill leg muscles might be sore the next day.


On the summit we met Jason and Adam who in accordance with current practice kept their distance but enjoyed the spectacle of a spinner on the summit. Meeting them helped my confidence in feeling that it was somehow “wrong” to be in the hills again.  Bheinn carried out a social distanced signing of the wheel, by writing Adam and Jason’s names for them, and at that moment I felt I was starting to return to some sort of normal.  My mind was racing forward to plans for my next mountains.  I was truly “excited”.  A feeling we do not always identify when life is too busy.  10 weeks in lockdown and I realised that the freedoms we enjoy in our lives and the spectacular county we live in can easily be overlooked.

A post lockdown resolution – not to take anything for granted ever again!

Coronavirus is great for Gardening

Rooky in the Garden

We have had a staggeringly sunny May 2020 and instead of weaving or spinning away the Coronavirus Lockdown I have been able to move the garden forward at an astounding rate.  In the last pictures you will notice the black plastic is still down. As you scroll down you will see the garden being revealed.

The original plan was to grow exclusively dye plants, but it soon became clear that I would have enough room to sneak in a few items for the farmhouse table and luckily I worked this out before the lockdown and had already ordered my seeds from www.realseeds.co.uk and they arrived before the stockpiling of toilet roll and other essentials started.

Like all new gardeners I planted “loads” of salad seeds at once, and soon needed to build another set of cold frames to protect my seeds from the Lake District cold and frosts of spring.  I made rooky mistakes of planting the courgette and butternuts too early, but luckily only lost 1 plant.  They look so beefy and large that it never occurred to me that they could be damaged by frost.  I felt intimidated by “Brassicas” and the use of fleece and netting, and watched many You Tube hours of how to sow in seed trays, how to prick out, how amazing plug trays are.  I even taught my green-fingered biological science majored friends how easy the no dig method of gardening is and she is going to try it on her new allotment.

The day I took up the first plastic covering was so exciting to see I had real, crumbly, rich, healthy looking soil.

I planted the Woad seedlings Katie (Wwoofer)  had brought with her, transplanted the Madder from the buckets into the beds and filled some gaps with Onion sets, figuring that they are edible and useful for dyeing.  Again though I bought too many and am looking forward to them maturing so I can use the space for something else.

Every week I have revealed a new bed, pulling back the plastic, full of trepidation for the weeds coming back.  I am still having to pick out  individual bind weed stems, which are now very weak and give up very easily, but on the whole I am weed free.

Happy Learning Curve

I have lost the fear of “Killing” things as lots of plants are actually growing – to my amazement!  I am no longer overwhelmed that there is so much to learn, as the activity of practical application and learning at the same time seems to be making the knowledge stick. And the best thing about no dig is that if the weeds do come back, or I don’t have time to spend gardening, I can cover the beds with cardboard, manure and or plastic. I never thought I would enjoy gardening so much.  The views and the blue-sky sunny days are helping, but also the success and the feeling of nurturing the baby plants is so rewarding.  We are already on our second bucket of cut and come again salad leaves, we have added Chard to many dishes and I am looking forward to harvesting my first full lettuce.  I am even dreaming of the possibility of entering some of my produce in the veg category in the local show. Sadly not until next year as due to the virus the 2020 Ennerdale Show has been cancelled. By then I may even consider myself more than a beginner.


Since writing this I have also learnt that using the No Dig method you may not even have to use the black plastic.  If you are starting in a flat area of the garden the use of cardboard, compost/manure and wood shavings are all you need.

Check out the Charles Dowding video below.