Drawing 197: Bridge House, Ambleside
Direction of view: N
Notes: Taken from junction of walls alongside pavement. Best around noon to minimise shadows. Tree branches are growing across the view (2015), and the leaves will obscure the house in summer. This view appears on page 2 of Westmorland Heritage, and page 184 of Wainwright in Lakeland. The former is a miniature drawing only.
Comments: The Bridge House is Grade 1 listed. It was built in 1723 by the Braithwaite family and has been used as a counting house, an apple shop, a tea room, a weaving shop, a cobblers, a chair makers, and home to a family of eight. It is owned by the National Trust. There was controversy in 2014 when they applied for (and obtained) permission to erect a handrail to facilitate access to the upper floor; the Parish Council described this as “sacrilege”.
The first photograph was taken on slide film on 29th June 1977. Peter Messenger and I had spent the night in a tent on the summit of Helm Crag, and were up very early, taking this picture around dawn! Mist lay in the valleys below, but soon cleared with the sunshine. We then had one of our greatest bonanzas of sketches snapped – 14 in the day in Ambleside and Great and Little Langdale, then over the passes to Eskdale.
My next picture, also on slide film, was in December 1980, on a day which seems to have been concentrated on getting sketches rather than walking – see 176. This would almost certainly have been a day out with Peter Messenger.
Having passed the Bridge House hundreds of times (and even practised drawing by copying AW’s sketch when a lad, see below), I first visited it for this digital project on 8th September 2012. It was cloudy at the time, so a revisit was called for.
My next shot was taken on 10th November 2012, on the occasion of the 10th birthday celebrations of the Wainwright Society.
The Bridge House was the rendezvous for a walk up Dove Crag, recreating the first guidebook page penned by AW. Society members lined up on the steps, including walk leader Caroline Nichol. There were flashes of low sun, but the shot looked better without it, because of the deep shadows. I spent some time on 27th February 2015 at the location, waiting for the sun to appear, which it didn’t before I had had to leave for a rendezvous with David Johnson (see 255).
Another improvement was achieved on 26th April 2015, prior to a walk on Wansfell (see 172 above), when there was plenty of sun, but strong shadows from the wall on the right.
I was a teenager when first introduced to the works of Wainwright, and I got myself a nibbed pen and some Indian ink, and started copying some of Wainwright’s drawings. This one was a great favourite, which I did several times, because it is so picturesque and so recognisable. Later I did some of my own drawings from photographs, but that was more difficult!