Eleanor Blair (lnr) wrote,
Eleanor Blair
lnr

The Lake District

Mike and I have been off on our holidays, visiting the Lake District. 6 days of (variously) long walks, and a couple of days of taking it easy in between, plus the addition of the company of my mum and dad for a couple of days last weekend. We had a great time!

Friday 17th

Today's walk was mostly along the Cumbria Way - down the west side of Derwent Water and then down into Borrowdale - for the bus home. We'd originally planned to do Scafell Pike today but decided to postpone until Monday and hope for better weather.

Yesterday we travelled up by train, then had a very pleasant evening - warm and sunny we pottered round the market buying towels and lunch, pored over maps at the flat, went out for curry and then a pleasant walk down to the lake. Tomorrow we're expecting mum and dad to join us for a day out (not sure where yet) and stay over in our spare room. The flat isn't in the prettiest building (above a shop) but it's very pleasant/

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Sunday 19th

Yesterday (Saturday) we had a very lazy morning reading and watching the telly while mum and dad drove up from Mirfield to meet us. They briefly admired the flat before taking us out to lunch at the Scafell Hotel in Rosthwaite, then we continued up over the Honister Pass - stopping on the other side to climb on rocks, admire the scenery and take lots of photos. We drove on through Buttermere to Lorton, then back over the Whinlatter Pass (much less impressive) and down to Threlkeld for a rather old fashioned afternoon tea in the village hall - with homemade cakes sold in aid of the hall's refurbishment fund. Then we headed over to the Castlerigg Stone Circle in what was now gloriously sunny weather for a lovely potter about the stones. The circle itself is moderately impressive but it's the location on a small rise completely surrounded by big hills which really makes it. Home to the flat for a potter about and a look through all the photos and then out for the evening for dinner at The Mill in Mungrisdale - really really good food in a proper pub in a lovely location - with very friendly staff too - couldn't ask for more.

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Today after a brief lie in and bacon sandwiches and real coffee for breakfast we headed out for another drive. It was quite bright first thing but already turning to drizzle as we set off. That didn't stop us from enjoying the mad road and amazing views as we took the road to Eskdale from Ambleside - up over Wrynose and Hardknott passes. You can absolutely see why the signs say it's unsuitable for all vehicles in winter conditions - brilliant! We stopped the other side at The Woolpack for a really good value tasty lunch - I had a good steak and kidney pie and mum and Mike had the rather cosmopolitan "tatie pot" - a Lancashire hotpot served in a Yorkshire pudding in a Cumbrian pub! Very yummy.

Back over both passes we found that we'd bumped into a whole convention of minis - there were 10 modern ones in the pub carpark - and by the time we left the area we'd got up to 16 modern and 15 classic minis!

By Little Langdale we took a very hard left over another steep (but less spectacular) pass over into Great Langdale and stopped for afternoon tea at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. Tea in the lounge with a flapjack and a current slice to share. Very good fun. It was almost time for mum and dad to head home though - so we headed back up the road to Keswick and said our farewells in the pouring rain in the carpark of Booths of all places - before quickly dashing in to get our shopping before Sunday closing.

By the time we got back to the flat and checked the weather forecast it was already clearing up though - and since it turns out the launches on the lake finish quite early we decided against a walk up Cat Bells and instead turned our eyes towards Skiddaw. It was probably a bit late to sensible to be fair - but we promised ourselves we'd turn back before 7:30 even if we'd not reached the top - and as it was we got up and then enjoyed glorious views of Derwent Water in the evening sunshine on the way back down - and reached the roads before it got dark. Though in future we should cut it less close. Picked up fish and chips for supper on the way back to the flat - and after a shower and putting the washing on we even had time for an episode of Father Ted before bed. We've tired legs now - perhaps a less vigorous route tomorrow - but go to bed happy!

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Monday 20th

A pleasant walk up the steep part of Cat Bells then on up the next ridge and up Maiden Moor to the next crag. Lost our way a little on the way down as the path was a bit elusive and we kept getting caught out by sheep trails - but by asking for help we eventually made it back down from Nitting Haws to Hollows Farm - which we'd passed through on Friday. It wasn't quite as we'd plnned and was a bit steep in places but we made it down in ones slightly damp piece - through despite the showers it turned into a mostly lovely day. We were a bit too late for more legs of boat trip on the lake (having taken the boat across to Hause End first thing_ but it was still pretty on the bus route back into town. With tired legs we just managed to make it out for an Italian for dinner - though the planned pizza and icecream became steak (Mike), risotto (me) and chocolate cake (both). A pleasant way to end the day.

Nearly all packed now as it's time to move on from our flat in Keswick tomorrow to go and stay another 4 nights at the Applegarth Villa in Windermere. Our muscles will thank us for the day off from hiking - if we make it down the hill to the bus station :)

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Tuesday 21st

A day of nice views, lots of travel and sore legs. We packed up the flat, handed in the keys and gingerly walked down the hill with our bags to wait in the sun for the bus to Windermere. Lovely views as always on the A591 we passed through a couple of showers but arrived in Windermere in a pretty torrential downpour! Thankfully there's plenty of shelter at the station and it soon blew over. It was too early to check in but we dropped our bags at the hotel and then gently followed our noses downhill to Bowness to find some lunch (with excellent milkshakes) and then take a cruise on the lake down to Lakeside and back. By this point the sun had returned and it turned into a very pretty day. Took a gazillion (approx) photos from the boat. Slowly made our way back up the hill to Windermere itself and our rather lovely hotel room (which is perfect in most respects but a bit lacking in storage space! We'd evict the coffee table, if necessary downsize the armchairs, move the dressing table and get a much bigger wardrobe). Time for a nice hot bath though and then a very tasty dinner - the hotel has very nice food - and nearly everyone else was no more "smart" casual than us :)

We'll see how our legs feel in the morning before deciding how much walking to do (and exactly where) but there are loads of possibilities which all look fun.

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Wednesday 22nd

We've had another great walk today - reasonably gentle and just right for our still-recovering legs. We started out by finding a pretty different route down the hill to Bowness, and then a footpath to where the ferry crosses the lake - for a bargain 50p each. From there we walked by minor road and bridlepath along the shore to Belle Grange - surprisingly busy with families cycling but very pleasant and easy going. Turning in from the shore we took a well paved (but slippery) bridlepath steeply uphill and inland (erm - by which I mean away from the lake) through the woods on an increasingly rocky path and then down the other side to the pretty village of Hawkshead. There we had a tasty afternoon tea (sandwiches, scones plus tiny flapjack and brownie pieces) and did a little shopping and exploring before getting the Mountain Goat bus back down to the ferry corssing, for a leisurely walk back up the hill - arring in time for a bath and some time chilling out before we go out for some tea (and though the hotel dinner was nice we probably won't eat in the restaurant again as all the mains seem a bit too similar - all nestled on the same bed of veg).

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Thursday 23rd

Our initial plan for today was to get the bus to Coniston and see if our legs were up to a trip up Coniston Old Man - the weather intervened though - being rather wetter than previously predicted today - and with rather drier weather than previously expected for tomorrow. So in a moment of impressively quick decision we changed our minds and set off on the bus for Grasmere. Having briefly admired the village (the prettiest of the central lakes ones in my opinion) we went to find the road to Langdale which wends its way along the west side of the lake. We'd tried to find it in the car on Sunday but missed the turn-off, which is a shame as mum and dad would have liked it. Gently uphill along the lakeside with lovely views it then climbs steeply (25%) up Red Bank through the woods. With another pretty lane back down the other side we then found the National Trust bridlepath which runs high around Loughrigg Tarn and then climbs up and over the lower slopes of Loughrigg Fell to drop us into Ambleside - 4.1 miles of great scenery and easy walking. The weather was actually pretty kind in the end and the morning's torrential rain had died down into just a series of short showers - just heavy enough to definitely need the waterproofs but none long enough to leave us at all damp.

In Ambleside we had excellent milkshakes and a pleasant lunch at Zeffirelli's (whose menu was so full of appealing choices I didn't even notice it was completely vegetarian until Mike pointed it out!) A gentle 20 minutes walk took us from the village centre back to the lakeside where we hired a rowing boat with two sets of oars and spent a pleasant but faffy half hour pootling about on the water - trying not to bump into anyone else, or the rocks, or (less successfully) not to get our oars tangled up. We could have stayed out longer but decided to stop while we were fortuitously at the right side of the lake, and before we made our blisters too bad! Good fun.

Home again on the bus for a quiet late afternoon of reading, and a bedroom picnic for tea. Now tucked up in bed with the footie. We know how to live! Coniston calls for tomorrow - weather permitting - and we'll aim to get the early bus.

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Friday 24th

A perfect day - we got our early breakfast and early bus and picked up lunch in a nice grocery store in Coniston and found ourselves setting out just after 10 to head up The Old Man. This turned out to be a lovely day's walk - starting out with waterfalls in the valley, then a little open moorland, a steep climb past the old copper mines to Low Tarn - oddly named since it's so high up. A perfect place for a spot of elevenses (at 11:40 or so). And surprisingly peaceful given that at this point it suddenly appeared that everyone else was climbing the same hill too. With more company than we'd seen in a while we set off up the last step kilometre to the top - another 250m of climb partly stepped but with a little easy scrambling too. At the top the views were initially quite obscured - but we rested a short while and the cloud began to lift - eventually clearing not just over our peak but all the rest too - so we could see the top of Scafell Pike quite clearly for the first time all week.

At this point we could have simply returned the way we came - but instead we continued along the ridge then dropped gently at first, then steeply again to the col at Goat's Hause and then back up the other side in order to turn south along the ridge of Dow Crag. From the Old Man this looks incredibly steep and unwelcoming but in fact it was a lovely climb to the ridge and then a gentle walk along the top stopping often to admire the view - taking in another couple of small peaks before dropping to meet the Walna Scar Road - an old packhouse route. There at about 2pm we finally stopped for lunch.

It's maybe 4 miles back to Coniston from there, following the scar road most of the way through lovely landscapes with great views and watching the sky ahead get increasingly foreboding. Despite the clouds we had nothing worse than a light shower just as we reached the carpark and paved road into town. This was pretty steep too and a little tough on the knees but fast going - and we were back in Coniston by 3:30 with loads of time for an icecream before the 4pm bus home.

A lovely hot bath awaited us - and sadly some packing - then we went out in search of dinner and hit gold with Francine's Coffee shop - which doubles as a restaurant in the evening. They were very busy and there was a bit of a delay between courses but from the canapés and bread through to the main courses the food was fantastic. With the finishing touches on each dish lifting it from good tasty food to something a little special. Very much recommended.

Bedtime soon and then the train home in the morning - but we couldn't have asked for a nicer last day.

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Tags: family, hiking, holiday, lake district
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