Sunday on the lads weekend away was the day for the boys having a bit of fun in their flash motors while me and Stevie B were riding shotgun. We’d not really planned any kind of route, on the basis that unlike most bits of Britain, the Lake District doesn’t have a lot of roads that are exciting to drive but which also go through the best bits of scenery. In the Lake District there are either long, flat, traffic-filled nightmares or roads that require the packing of spare underwear due to their narrow, twisty, stone-walls-up-the-side character. The scenic roads would be more exciting if you could guarantee nobody was going to come the other way, but sadly most do have cars coming the other way, and you invariably meet somewhere that’s not quite wide enough for two cars to pass without slowing down, and which has either a vertical cliff, a bog or a stone wall on the side. Anyway, there’s not a lot of scope for going off the tarmac in a Porsche, especially in November.
One of the best compromises ( in that the road is mainly wide enough for two cars all the way ) is the drive over Honister Pass. To get there from Great Langdale you have to drive out to Ambleside and then up the main road to Keswick, before then turning south again into Borrowdale, which is reputedly England’s wettest place. The start of the road up to Honister Pass from Borrowdale is probably only 3-4 miles as the crow flies from where we’d started, but there’s some hilly bits in the way, so you have to drive about 25 miles around to get there.
At the head of Honister Pass is an old slate mine, where we pulled off the road to admire the view, but rather disappointingly the car park was completely full ( and very uneven ), so we did one lap and then exited again and drove down the hill towards Buttermere. It’s kind of pretty in Buttermere but we found an absence of decent-looking parking again, so decided to continue on and maybe go back to Keswick. To get there we headed out of the bottom end of the valley into Cockermouth, partly because the boys were getting a bit short on motion lotion and weren’t sure quite how far they were going to get without stopping.
Cockermouth proved to be a nightmare, because we immediately got stuck in a random traffic jam and had to try to figure out how to get out again without going back where we’d come from. We couldn’t figure it out, so eventually we did go back where we’d come from, and did a loop of 5 miles or so to get to a different road that had a junction with the main A66 road back to Keswick. That was half an hour of our lives that we’ll never get back.
Three years ago, when we’d been on a family trip up to the lakes ( see Happy Birthday ), we’d gone to Keswick and had a pleasant afternoon walking up and down the side of Derwent Water, so I suggested maybe we could go there for a while on the basis that I knew it ticked many of the required criteria for a Sunday afternoon stroll, in particular :
- There’s a cafe
- There’s a variety of walking options of differing lengths
- There’s a handful of geocaches that I’d not done before
- There’s a massive, tarmac-covered, easy-to-access car park that has lots of spaces in it
Parking up two Porsches in the car park proved to be a great way of drawing attention, apparently, despite the boys having done their level best to make sure they were miles away from anyone else. Or maybe they drew attention just because they were miles away from anyone else. Whatever. The cars seemed popular with the locals.
It was definitely time for lunch when we arrived, so we headed straight into the cafe at the theatre before then heading off for a walk around the edge of the lake. I’d been there before too, so had some experience of their lunchtime offerings. Pretty good, all-in-all.
When walking from here you pretty much have to head south along the lake shore, heading a very wiggly mile or so along the lake shore until we reached a point where the lakeside path and main road came close together. From there we turned back along the side of the main road to head back to the theatre again. We retired for a round of coffee and cake, as you do, and when we came out there was just about enough daylight left to take a few snaps of the setting sun over the lake.
On the way back we got stuck in a huge traffic jam trying to get back through Ambleside, so someone suggested we turn around and take the small road that goes out of the back of Grasmere into Great Langdale, bypassing the centre of Ambleside. It seemed like a good idea but by this time it was completely dark and the road was one of the proverbial 6’6″-width-restriction-not-suitable-for-HGVs variety. It was most definitely not suitable for HGVs. It was barely suitable for Porsches either. Definitely a few brown-trouser moments, but the boys did a grand job and eventually we found ourselves back on the slightly better road back up the valley to our hotel.
We stayed at the hotel for the evening again, not that there was really anywhere else to go, and feasted on some stuff in the bar again. The bar menu was more than adequate, and felt like more of a “lads weekend away” venue than the proper restaurant. There was some farting about with board games again, which I did my best to grump out of, but eventually gave in.
And that was it apart from another monstrously huge, lardy breakfast on Monday morning and a boring but ultimately painless drive back down the M6. Another year of lads-weekend-away-in-November completed, and once again we’d managed to pick a great location and had enjoyed some unseasonably warm and sunny weather.