Why do I refer to this day as a “disaster” ?
Mainly because it was one of those days where my initial enthusiasm got beaten into a bloody pulp of despair as a result of endless treks through neck-high nettles, up slippery banks and through insect-infested swamplands.
In fact, the thought of it is so depressing that I can’t even bring myself to write about it.
The general gist of the day was to go out to Thrapston and do a shed load of caches. By mid-afternoon I’d been stung and bitten so many times that I just gave up and went home. Life’s too short. Even the supposedly easy drive-bys I tried for a while after stopping the walk proved to be a nightmare.
At the point I gave up, I’d found 40 caches. When I set off I’d hoped to find about 80.
To me, that’s a waste of a potentially good day out, and as a result I’ve never been anywhere near the place again.
The caches I found on the day were :
We got out of the log cabin quite early, having decided not to bother with parkrun. On the agenda today we had a bit more walking followed by a drive down to the East Midlands. First up though, we drove into Keswick to find a local sandwich shop and get ourselves tooled up for the day.
We drove from Keswick down the recently reopened A591. This was badly hit by the floods in December 2015, the result of which was the loss of significant stretches of the road on this section. It only opened about two weeks before we drove down it, and there were obvious signs of rebuilding everywhere.
We drove down into Ambleside and then headed up Langdale for our walking. On the cards was a walk up to Stickle Tarn and a potential climb up one or more of the surrounding peaks.
We parked up in a car park that I’m sure wasn’t there when Kas and I came in 2004, and headed off up the somewhat improved paths up the mountain.
It took us a while to climb up as it was pretty steep. We kept needing to take a break, however that was fine, because having a break means having to turn around and enjoy the scenery.
When we got up to the tarn it was lunchtime, so we found a good spot on the grass and ate the sandwiches we’d bought in Keswick earlier in the day.
After lunch we’d regained some strength and enough confidence to go for a climb up a mountain.. We weren’t quite sure how many mountains we’d manage, but we decided to head initially for Pavey Ark, and then see how we felt at the top. We had to walk all the way around the tarn to get to the path up the mountain. When we found the path it looked quite unappetizing. It was kind of steep and would be classed as a scramble rather than a walk. I didn’t enjoy looking back down, and I wasn’t particularly keen on walking back down that way either.
At the top, the view was spectacular. You could see a long way as it was another clear and quite sunny day. It’s also quite a long way up.
Time was marching on so decided not to attempt any other mountains, but just to head back down instead. To get back down again we decided to follow a path that was marked on Kas’s Ordnance Survey app but wasn’t on my Garmin OS maps with Open Street Map overlay. Hmmm ! I think my maps won. There wasn’t a path there. Thankfully there was a series of gently sideways slopes we could walk down until we reached the stream bottom, and were then able to follow the stream around to the tarn and the place we’d headed off up the scramble on the way up. We know for next time, if there is a next time.
We failed to get ice creams at the NT property at the bottom of the mountain, so we decided to drive into Ambleside instead.
We parked up in a big car park near the centre and walked just a couple of hundred yards up into the town to grab an ide cream. There was a cunningly placed streetside wagon thingy selling locally made ice cream. Izzy also wanted to buy a souvenir. It was quite late in the afternoon so most places were shut already. The best we could manage was a small place right over the road. It didn’t stock very much, but Izzy eventually decided on a scarf (for some reason) and Ami didn’t really seem bothered about anything.
We drove home alongside Windermere and then past Kendal and straight home down the M6. We stopped at Knutsford Services on the way down for some tea and then drove round to my folks place in Measham to spend the night.
It had been a good week overall, especially with the weather. We’d got the kids interested in a new sport of walking up Wainwrights. Kas had done a few runs and I’d found a handful of caches in some lovely locations. It also reawakened my love of the Lake District after many years of not visiting.
Round the Back of Skiddaw
Our last full day in the Lake District before having to head home, which was a bit of a shame, but the kids only get one week off, so we were scuppered from that perspective. We had to get back home and get some washing through the washing machine. Anyway, that’s all tomorrow.
Back at today, we set off fairly early because Kas wanted to go for a run to recce a bit of the course she is supposed to be running on some madder-than-a-sack-of-monkeys ultra marathon she’s doing in September. The part of the course in question was away on the west side of Skiddaw, so we drove her off there and then went for a bit of a drive looking for a few caches. Well, Izzy and me were looking. Ami was sat in the back of the car playing on her iPad, as she tends to these days. We found a couple of caches in pretty good locations. Here’s the view from one of them.
When it was about time, we drove round to our assigned pickup point and found a convenient parking spot but therein began the problems. We had absolutely no phone signal where we were parked and assumed Kas didn’t either, so we couldn’t see where she was on Glympse and nor could we phone her.
Anyway, we sat waiting for 15-20 minutes with me getting increasingly disturbed about Kas being late. There was some nervous pacing about going on. But eventually Kas rolled up, having discovered that fell running is a little slower than running on roads, due to the uneven terrain, and the having-to-navigate. She’d ducked a chunk of her planned route on the basis that she was taking far longer than planned, so she cut short and run up to meet us along the road, which was not a direction I was expecting her to come from.
We drove over to the The Old Sawmill Tearoom for a quick change and to grab a handful of cold drinks to take with us, and then we set off for our main event of the day – the walk up Cat Bells. This is more of a family-friendly mountain than some of the others nearby, being only modest in height and having a decent quality path most of the way up. It certainly is a well-trodden path.
When we reached the top it was well into lunchtime, so we sat for a break and some well earned nosh. It was another fan-dabby-tastic day for the weather and the view from the top is pretty darn good.
We were doing (well, I was doing) a few caches on the walk around – just those we passed within 100m of – which added up to eight or so on the walk. Most were easy. The one down the side of the hill in the ruined shepherd’s hut surrounded by bracken was not so easy. Ami came with me to that one. From the summit we lurched over the back a little bit and then descended a path down to the shore of Derwent Water. We’d been walking for a while so the first thing we did at the lakeshore was to whip our shoes and socks off and cool our feet down in the lake water. The water was refreshing.
By the time we got back to where we’d parked time was moving on a bit and the ice cream stand was shut, which we obviously count as a total failure. We therefore drove into the middle of Keswick, safe in the knowledge we’d find something there. What we found was the really rather nice Bar Metro. It was a very small but perfectly formed mock American diner, serving a selection of American favourites, plus beer and massive milkshakes. Perfect pick-me-up food after a day of walking up and down mountains.
As we had an appointment with the motorway system the following day, and planned to do some more walking, we got home quite early, packed our bags, and went to bed. The end of another day filled with fresh air, sunshine, and mountains.
Ahhhh! The 2nd of June. The day that saw both of our little balls of energy come into the world. Not on the same day, you understand – they gave us a three year gap in between – but they were indeed both born on June 2nd.
The early part of the day was spent with both girls opening the presents that I’d very neatly wrapped without the aid of sellotape the previous evening. Izzy got a new iPod Touch to add to the bike she wanted (and had received a few weeks earlier). Ami wanted a bunch of Star Wars bobbleheads, and then kept a tight grip on monetary gifts so she could have a fun shopping day in London on the weekend that me and Izzy were in Valenciennes.
After the present opening ceremony we got dressed for the now ritual trip down to the riverside for skimming stones and plopping rocks. We had a little while to kill before Denise and Dave arrived from Whitburn, so there was time for a bit of that.
Once Denise and Dave did arrive it was getting towards lunchtime, so we decided to head out down to the side of Derwent Water and camped ourselves down in a very nice cafe at the Theatre by the Lake. The menu was really nice, and I decided to go for the maximum score on middle-class lunch bingo by ordering a salad with black olives, rocket, sun-dried tomatoes, quinoa and halloumi. It was rather nice though. The lemon juice was the swinger for me.
From here we decided to take a walk down by the lake, like you do. It was another stonkingly nice day and the kids were beginning to think we were lying when we said it always rains in the Lake District. Well, it always has every other time I’ve been. There must be something wrong about this week.
On the way down the lakeside I tried to grab a couple of caches. I found one trad but then somehow managed to DNF a virtual. Quite a few people do, apparently, because the requisite item is quite well hidden, and, if you’re like me, you’re trying to fit in a few sneaky caches while the others aren’t looking.
Anyways, as you can see from the photos the weather could easily be described as “grand” again.
On the way back past the theatre the girls grabbed ice creams, and we then went and parked up in the centre of town again to go for a quick wander around the shops.
We didn’t really get anything except for some pie and two small cakes off a bloke in the market. That’ll do us for tea then. The pie in question was a traditional northern English affair, a big flat tinfoil tray containing a fully pastry-enclosed mince-and-onion, thankyou very much. Once we’d driven back to the log cabin I then had to scoot out again to fill my car up with diesel and also to get those northern essentials to go with pie – mushy peas and gravy. OK, so I’m the only one that actually likes mushy peas, and I’m the most southerly of the lot apart from Ami, but the point had to be made.
And that was more or less it for the day. Denise and Dave set off home in the early evening to give themselves time to get back while it was still daylight. The rest of us chilled for a bit and went to bed earlyish.
Our third day in the Lakes, and our second full day. Today was planned to be somewhat easier going than the previous day, as we were waiting for Nana and Grandad to come over from Whitburn.
We started off with a fairly leisurely breakfast. Well, three of us did. Kas started off with an early breakfast and a run, as she often does.
We then went for another wander down to the side of the River Greta for a bit more stone skimming and general mucking about to fill the time.
Once Kas was back I stole an hour or so to go and do a couple of caches up at Castlerigg Stone Circle.
When Nana and Grandad arrived it was already getting on towards late morning so we decided to head straight out for our daytime appointment. We’d decided to go catch a boat on Ullswater. There are a couple of services that run regularly during the day between Aira Force and Glenridding. We hadn’t booked, we just decided to play it by ear. The place we arrived first was the car park at Aira Force, so we parked up and legged it down to the waterside just in time to catch a boat. It was kind of a grey morning compared to the previous days, so the photos aren’t great, but you get the picture.
By the time we got to Glenridding it was definitely lunchtime. Glenridding was hit really badly by Storm Desmond in December 2015 and much of the village centre was flooded. Where we walked to first had evidently suffered very badly as it was right by the stream. The banks were still being rebuilt, in fact, which meant we were initially put off going in any of the cafes because of the building work going on outside. One looked OK through, and once we were inside it was fine, and the food was rather good.
When lunch had finished it was pretty much time to get back on the boat again so we would have the chance to do some walking at Aira Force too.
Aira Force is a place I always seem to go to whenever I go to the Lake District. I think I’ve been there four times now, but each visit was sufficiently far apart that I don’t remember much of the detail from one to the next. The quirk of the trip this year was that people have got into the habit of hammering pennies into various bits of fallen wood by the pathside. I don’t remember that before. It was remarkably easy to do though, once you found an appropriate stone to use as a hammer.
We walked a little way past the waterfall, and I grabbed a couple of caches on the way up. Eventually we reached the “plodging” bit above the waterfall, where we decided to stop for a while and let the girls get their feet wet. OK, I did too.
Back at the bottom, it was time for ice cream while I shot over the road to grab another cache on the path down to the boat jetty. I’d not been able to grab it earlier because of the number of people around.
Nana and Grandad drove back to the log cabin with us and we had a snack-based tea whilst chatting about nothing in particular, and then they shot off home.
After they’d left, and everyone else had gone to bed, I attempted the very difficult job of wrapping up birthday presents without using any sellotape. I had paper, but not sellotape. D’oh! It sort of worked, but only because Ami’s presents neatly fit back into the cardboard box they’d been delivered in.