When I started this blog last October I used existing photos I had of monkeys at Ness Botanic Gardens, Birmingham Botanic Gardens, and Grange-over-Sands. They just happened to be the monkeys I had photographs of. I then started ‘growing’ the blog with other monkeys gradually collected from the beginning of this year, and of course contributions from a growing number of ‘Agents’.
Shortly after my first visit to Grange I went back to the area walking the Cistercian Way in memory of my dear friend Rachel who died of breast cancer. I stayed for some of my visit at the Jammy Patch in Cartmel, where their directions told me that I was nearly there when I saw the monkey puzzle tree – a sight of great joy to me having walked from Grange and across Hampsfell to get there! During my walks in the area I also noticed another large tree at Kents Bank. I hadn’t started this blog, but stored these sightings in the back of my mind.
It was always my intention to revisit Grange, it was a lovely town, and now of course there was the bonus of monkeys!
This week, Ronnie and revisited Grange and the area around it, hunting for monkeys. It was a very successful day. 16 monkeys.
We started our day in Grange, and walked around the town and along the promenade. I knew there was one monkey here – in the gardens by the train station, and was sure there would be more. The promenade gardens are beautifully maintained and planted with herbs and flowers.
As we got to Grange station I nipped into the shop to buy a couple of postcards – and found this:
I think this is the first postcard I’ve ever seen that features a monkey! I knew there was one monkey in these gardens, but this showed another, much bigger one, so we went off to find it.
And as we stepped in front of the train station, there it was. A lovely big monkey.
LA2 is situated just inside the gardens by the train station. Across the lake is the first Grange monkey, LA1.
I was pleased to see LA1 doing well. And from across the lake a lovely view of LA2.
We’d had lunch and were ready for some serious monkey hunting now, having had our appetites whetted with this immediate find! And on leaving Grange, LA3 was spotted.
A ‘stop the car’ moment…. and this lovely tree with a view across the estuary in the grounds of the hotel, Clare House.
We then drove off to find the monkey by the Jammy Patch, which meant driving through the village of Cartmel, or as Ronnie described it, ‘a vision of perfect England.’ And this is the landscape of the gently rolling hills of south Cumbria.
And just up the hill from Cartmel racecourse we find ‘the Jammy Patch monkey’ as I think of it.
This monkey sits in the corner of a field by the road. It’s not in the land belonging to the Jammy Patch, and I wondered how it came to be here. Perhaps there was another grander house here? It sits strangely in this agricultural landscape. But I was pleased to see that it had survived.
We then carry on in the direction of Cark, where I’ve told Ronnie I know there are monkeys in Cark. What I didn’t say, is that they are in the grounds of Holker Hall, a stately home. My driver hates stately homes. But he humoured me, after all I am on a personal mission – and he wrote about our visit here on his blog.
But first, two bonus monkeys, in Cark.
Thought this might be another ‘front and back’ monkey discovery, but it actually looked liked ‘next door’ monkeys. I couldn’t actually stay for very long as an inhabitant of this cul-de-sac, Bank Top Close, was giving me the evil eye and an even more evil eye to Ronnie who was turning the car round in their road. As I’ve said before, suburbia can be quite a frightening place! We drive on.
And into the perfectly manicured grounds and landscape of Holker Hall. My driver is incensed and begins his tirade against the landed gentry which he continues on his blog. One of the strange, and delightful, things about monkeys, is that they are found in deepest suburbia, and also in areas of deepest wealth, like stately homes. Interesting. I have to admit I’m a bit shocked by the entry fee of £8 each… but I’m after monkeys and nothing will stop me. I’m studying the map, wondering if they are marked.
And I am delighted to see that yes, they are indeed marked as monkey puzzles… so delighted in fact that I miss this one, right in front of me, which Ronnie technically ‘finds’ first. Marked with a red star on the above map. A monster.
I discover that this tree was planted in 1844, making it 170 years old. It’s a monster.
The tree has an enormous trunk, and lots of suckers round the base. I suppose this shows what can happen when growing conditions are just right – this tree is in a sheltered location, it will be mild thanks to the Gulf Stream, and also nice and moist as well. Perfect.
And about 10 feet away from the tree, this small monkey – well it’s about 8 foot high, but is dwarfed by the big tree.
I’m not quite sure when you would call a sucker a separate tree, or if indeed they remove the suckers, or even propagate then into trees for sale. But I decide that this small tree is worthy of its own cataloguing number.
We move on, up the steps to the section of the garden where the ‘monkey puzzles’ are shown on the map.
What a splendid bit of showing off! Four monkeys in a group. With, as the map tells me, a ‘slate clog’ underneath them. Now I’m not sure what a ‘slate clog’ is, but it was a splendid sitting place.
And also of interest to a gardener, these monkeys are underplanted with a lovely wildflower meadow.
Fully satisfied with surfeit of monkeys, we prepare to leave, with the sheep getting the last word from Ronnie.
‘No need to look so smug,’ he shouts at them, ‘yes, enclosures… it’s all your fault.’ We leave.
And drive on in the direction of Kents Bank, passing a monkey on the way at Allithwaite Lodge, a bit difficult to catch behind a huge wall.
We drive on to Kents Bank where I know there is a monkey. But didn’t bargain for this which we see as we get out of the car.
The gardeners here do seem very fond of conifers generally, I’m not sure why – but across the road this is the view of the estuary. Funny how being on the edge of somewhere so wild seems to make gardeners create very manicured planting sometimes…
No doubt this juvenile monkey was inspired by the nearby mature monkey at Kents Bank House.
And in this quiet and lovely place we sit and end our day, thinking that it’s the end of monkey hunting. And then spot this last one on the way back to the car.
Another inspiration from the ‘big’ tree maybe? So a 16 monkeys day, and a very satisfied Sarah and driver head back to Liverpool.