Friday, 14 September 2018

Lake District, September 2018. Day 8.

A Day at home today at home today.  A good decision as the people across from us had been up on the Kentmere Fells and had driving rain and gales and said it was sodden underfoot and feezing cold.  We had a relaxed chilled it morning and in the afternoon went for a walk from the caravan.  We were more fortunate on the weather front; some rain but mainly dry although thick cloud.  We found plenty of fungi, especially in Ratherhearh woods and late swallows and house martins were  swooping low over the fields.  Once back at the van it was soon that time and then we heated up the remains of our beef in beer and sausage casserole in one pan and enjoyed with boiled potatoes and kale.  Must ease up on the kale - it's bad for my INR!!
Last day sadly and home tomorrow!

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Lake District, September 2018. Day 7.

We were up early after another night of heavy rain.  The world was sparkling in the early morning sun and seemed freshly washed.  Today's plan was to walk to our sixth of the seven magnificent Long View trees inspired by the work of Harriet and Rob Fraser.
We were soon on the main road through Windermere to Ambleside, struggling in heavy traffic once more.  One might wonder why the Lake District isn't solid with people but as soon as towns and car parks are shunned for the fells most of the tourist visitors are left behind.  As we drove along, though, We couldn't fail to have our spirits lifted by the wonderful views,  stunning light and the sparkling lakes.
Having negotiated Ambleside we were soon parked up at Town Head farm which provides an informal car park for only £1 per day. Excellent value and well worth calling to buy eggs as well.  Above us reared the lofty slopes of Helm Crag and on its steep scree slopes our goal: the Under Helm Sycamore.  The narrow lane took us under and then past the cottages of Helmside as we headed into the valley of Greenburn.  Above us to our left were the slopes of Steel Fell which we had climbed a couple of years ago as part of the Greenburn Round, climbing the Wainwrights of Steel Fell, Calf Crag,  Gibson Knott and Helm Crag.
We crossed the footbridge over the beck and climbed steeply to the wall above on the path we had descended from Helm Crag.  Turning left we followed the path that hugged the wall above Ghyll Foot.  Soon the Sycamore came into view above the skyline, perched precariously on the steep scree slope beneath the beetling crags above.  We continued until we could strike up the fellside.  Heather found a spot from which to draw the tree while I scrambled up ever steepening boulders and scree until I was on a level with the tree and in a perfect position for the direction of the light.  The slopes were so steep that I felt as though I was looking straight down the chimney pots of Ghyll Foot.  How such a substantial tree could have grown and thrived in such an inhospitable spot, goodness only knows.  As a degree colleague commented on my Instagram feed, "It is nature's response to environment."
We enjoyed a happy hour up here waiting for the light, drawing and eating lunch before scrambling back down.  On reaching the car we called at the farm for eggs but sadly no-one was in.  It was now time for a spot of luxury so we called in at the Landgdale Chase Hotel for a late lunch with superb views over Windermere with launches and ferries busy steaming up and down the lake.
Ater calling at Stavely to pick up a baffle plate for our wood burning stove we returned to the caravan and the delicious aroma of beef in beer in the slow cooker.
A wonderful day.

Lake District, September 2018. Day 6

We had a night of torrential rain last night and this morning.  Eventually it stopped, however, and we set out to explore Lancaster and meet up with Thomas and have an evening meal with him.  We parked at his office on the outskirts and walked into the centre from there.  Our route took us alongside the River Lune on The Lune Cycleway and Footpath. The river is tidal at this point and as it was high tide and we had had a night of heavy rain it was extremely full and fast flowing.  I looked ominous and threatening, The impression being enhance by the fact that logs, branches and whole trees were being swept down on the turgid waters.  No wonder people in the north west live in fear of floods.  High above the beautiful Millenium Bridge we could see the priory and castle perched in an impressive position.  A steep climb from the bridge took us up to the priory.   We enjoyed exploring this beautiful building with its beautiful stained glass.
Having had a culture fix it was time to attend to more bodily concerns so we repaired to Atkinson's coffee roasters and cafe for coffee and cake.  Once revived we walked back up to the impressive castle but decided to leave the guided four for another day.  Instead we followed the city tour guide leaflet to explore the old part of the city.  The best of it we likened to Edinburgh, the worst to Grimsby.  Like Grimsby, the government's austerity measures seem to be hitting hard: many boarded up buildings and large numbers of homeless people huddled in doorways or in large groups drinking from cans in the street.  We did enjoy it though and there is an excellent Waterstones, Atkinson's coffee roasters and the very fine city centre John of Gaunt Pub offering live jazz.  We also had an excellent Indian meal at the Sultan of Lancaster with Thomas.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Lake District, September 2018. Day 5.

A domestic day today.  Fortunately it dawned dry if not bright and so we spent the morning cleaning the outside of the caravan.  We had brought collapsible ladders so I could get at the roof which gets covered  in green algae.  It cleans off easily though.  All that work entailed a coffee and sit down before a bite of lunch and later we walked across the fields to Stavely for some shopping and tea and cake in Wilf's excellent wholefood cafe.  I have come to love Wilf's over the years as the do a lot of outside event catering and at the end of a day mountain bike orienteering or a two day mountain marathon their vegetarian chilli is to die for.  As we wandered back it began to rain and it was torrential all night.  The rivers will definitely be in spate now.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Lake District September 2018. Day 4.

We awoke to a wet morning today after a night of rain.  It is noticeable how much greener it is over here than at home where we are in the rain shadow of both the Pennines and then the Lincolnshire Wolds.  After the rain we found rivers in spate yet reservoirs such as Thirlmere and Haweswater are still empty.
Eventually the rain eased and we set out for Borrowdale with those magnificent bath buns in our bags for lunch.  Again, as we drove up Borrowdale, We noticed the first signs of approaching Autumn. When we arrived at Stonethwaite I was surprised to find how quiet it was and how easy to park despite it being Sunday.  Keswick and Borrowdale were particularly busy.  Our plan for today was to walk up to the Langstrath Birch, the fifth of our Long View trees inspired by the work of Rob and Harriet Fraser.
Passing through the attractive village of Stonethwaite and it's even more attractive pub, we were soon making our way through the flat fields of the valley bottom.  Once through Stonethwaite campsite we arrived at the junction of Lagstrath Beck and Greenup Gill where the two become Stonethwaite Beck.  As the river poured out of Langstrath it thundered through a spectacular gorge looking and sounding mightily impressive being in spate as it was.  Thomas and I indulged in a spot of nostalgia at this juncture remembering being here on mountain bikes 10 years ago when we're were riding Wainwright's Coast to Coast.  We laughed at the memory of climbing Lining Crag at the valley head with bikes on our shoulders and the bemused looks on the faces of two fell runners as we pulled up onto Greenup Edge.  That was a hard day.  I remember then looking up Langstrath and thinking how attractive it looked.  I had also looked down into Langstrath from above on many occasions but had never walked in it, so it was with anticipation as we headed upwards accompanied by the roar of the river to our left.  As we climbed it was good to see the herdwick sheep (herdies) on the open fellside as well as in the intake fields below.
Soon the valley widened and flattened and the river began to meander.  At the head of the valley white water could be seen tumbling down the slopes of Stake Pass with the brooding heights of Bowfell enveloped in cloud further west.  Checking our position on Viewranger,  We soon found 'our' tree at the top of a spectacular cascade of white water.  We spent a happy hour with the tree revelling in the changing light, drawing and photographing it.  All too soon it was time to head back down into the valley delighting in the excellent view we had of a red squirrel as it ran along the top of a fence it's ginger blonde tail stretched out behind it for balance.
We finished a fine day with an excellent pint in the village pub.

Lake District September 2018. Day 3

A lazy start to today as we were waiting for Thomas to join us.  As he arrived the rain started so we continued our relaxed morning, eventually stirring ourselves to go into Ambleside for lunch.  The Apple Pie bakery was the only choice for cornish pasty and their amazing bath buns.  Lunch sorted we pottered round the town Heather doing clothes, crafts and galleries whilst Thomas and I hit the climbing shops looking at kit.  You can't beat kit! 🤣
Shopping over and the rain stopped, we headed for White Moss car park where we set off to walk though the woods to Grasmere lake and the up Loughrigg Terrace and Rydal Caves. Despite the rain the river was significantly lower than the last time we were here and there were the first signs of Autumn with some trees and bracken already beginning to change colour.
Climbing steeply up to the caves, high above Rydal Water, we were suddenly deposited on a wide balcony overlooking the lake and backed by the vast cave entrance.  It is hard to believe that as often as we have visited The Lakes over the years we had never been to these caves.  And how splendid they are; huge entrance disappearing into a dark interior.
The path now descended steeply back to the lakeside where there were people swimming out on the water.  Wild swimming has become a very popular sport in recent years.
We returned to the car on the road side of the lake before returning to the van to cook pork loin for our evening meal.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Lake District, September 2018. Day 2

We awoke to a beautiful morning g this morning excited at the prospect of watching The Tour of Britain.  Breakfast over we got ready for the day.  It was very cold here- 7C - so we (over) dressed for the cold o my to find as we got to  Hawkshead the sky had cleared and the sun had come out.
Once parked in the village we joined the stream of cars, walkers and cyclists heading for the top of the KOM Hawkshead climb summit.  As we approached we began to meet the team cars heading for the finish the race having started at 11.00.  We were in place just before 12.00 and enjoyed 30 mins of increasing activity.  The police motorcyclists busy closing the road were very friendly and a mine of information.  Before too long the helicopter filming the race and shortly afterwards the 4 man breakaway group including Toni Martin and Vasilli Kyrienka appeared and not long afterwards the main peloton.  They were led by the Lotto Jumbo riders of the team of race leader Primoz Roglic.  In the middle of the pack I spotted Geraint Thomas and Waut Pouls of Sky but missing Chris Froome.  The new race leader Julian Allaphillipe was there only beaten to the finish by Waut Pouls.  It is good to see Thomas and Froome riding for their super domestique.
It was all over quickly and we wandered back down to Hawkshead for a cup of tea and a wander before returning to the site.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Lake District September 2018, Day 1.

Despite not starting our packing until this morning we had a pain-free journey up to the Lakes and arrived in warm sunny weather.  We soon had the caravan set up and were sitting out in the sun enjoying a cup of tea.  Before our evening meal we walked out in beautiful 'golden hour' light the short distance over the field to our favourite oak tree.  The views were splendid and it was good to be back.  Having just read James Rebank's A Shepherd's Life I was interested to note that the herdwick sheep that are usually in these fields were absent.  Perhaps they are still up on the fells.
Later, just before going to bed we took pleasure in the night sky.  It was a crystal clear evening and all clouds had dissolved.  The stars spangled the sky like jewels and seemed close enough to touch.  The plough stood out strongly and Mars glowed red low in the sky.  The Milky Way was clear and arched mostly above us.
A great start to our holiday and we look forward to watching The Tour of Britain cycle race tomorrow.