Wednesday 1 November 2023

The Badgers of Rydal


Last time we chatted, I mentioned that I was starting work on a new book, looking at the state of British mammals in times gone by and how they are fairing now. On rainy days, I've been poring over old texts, but every now and then, I manage to get out and about with Ishbel and Mattie, and take a few photographs. Such was the case last weekend, when we visited Rydal Water.

And this is the reason. For many decades, the staff at the Glen RothayHotel have been leaving kitchen scraps out for the badgers that live in the hotel grounds. On Friday night, I was rewarded with a brief glimpse. The badger approached, cautious as a kitten and as silent as an owl, but was spooked by people leaving the bar rather noisily, and left with great alacrity. On Saturday night, we watched and waited in the comfort of our room (thanks to a webcam provided by Cumbria Wildlife Trust) and when they appeared, we took it in turns to slip out and meet them. I'm 65 now, and this is the first time I've seen a badger in the wild.

Rather than go straight home on Sunday, we popped next door to Rydal Mount, where Wordsworth spent his final years. He was born in Cockermouth, just upstream from where I am now living, so it seemed rude not to pop in while we were in the area. I fell in love with his garden. Totally unstructured, with paths, lawns and little hideaways all over the place. Plenty of birds... but no mammals.

Until we got back to the car park. And there, in the middle of the day, hopping about without a care in the world, was a wood mouse. Leastways, I'm pretty sure it's a wood mouse. The back legs look too big for a house mouse, but I've yet to have it confirmed.

Illustration from Cassell's Natural History, Martin P Duncan Vol.1 (1896)

The other little fellow that I've been studying is the mole. Fascinating, solitary little creatures. Did you know that a mole's home is called a fortress and that they all follow the same design? No, neither did I. Anyone have any moles on their land, up here in Cumbria, that I can come and photograph?

Steve's Vintage Collectables. (click to visit)

Whilst wandering around Wordsworth's house, I noticed a number of antiques similar to those that I have on sale. Nice to see them in their original settings. Retro, vintage and antiques are tipped to be big sellers on the Christmas present market this year, as people shun modern manufactured goods. Just a thought.

Steve's Books (click to visit)

And books make great Christmas presents. Easy to wrap. Easy to post.

Until next time, all the best,


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All the best,


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