The plan for today was a number of different activities that involved not all of us being at the same place at the same time. We were, frankly, all over the place. I spent most of my day geocaching in Penrith. Kas spent some time with Ami climbing a mountain and some time with Venus pedalling over a lake.
A some point during the holiday Venus had asked for the opportunity to do some watersports. I didn’t fancy it (and nor did Ami) so I ducked and the watersports became a “mum and V” thing. As Ami didn’t want to be outdone, she wanted to do something with just Kas in the morning, so they planned to go do an easy Wainwright at Raven Crag. Which left me some time for a bit of caching.
Off We Go
Kas and Ami left fairly early to climb Raven Crag, as Kas needed to be back for early afternoon to do the watersports. I wasn’t far behind them.
The first bit of sport when caching is, as ever, finding a decent place to park. I thought this would be easy in Penrith but I have to admit I made a bit of a song and dance about it. First of all I parked in a well-known supermarket. But that was no good because they limit you to 2 hours and I probably wanted about 4 hours.
So I then tried to move to the station, because they normally have car parks, right? Penrith does, but it was basically full. And I wasted ages there because it’s a two-storey affair and the ramp up to the top is a single car width and has traffic lights to decide who’s go it is. It was a tight turn to get in and out of too, so there was much toing and froing, and a reasonable amount of swearing. When I got to the bottom a parking attendant said I’d “probably be alight on the station forecourt”, to which I replied something along the lines of “I can’t work with ‘probably’ mate.”
So I left the station and found another car park in the centre of town. It was the one at Bluebell Lane, I think. Anyway, it had loads of wide spaces and a pay-and-display saying I could stay all day, if I wanted to. That’ll do me guvnor! And then I basically walked all the way back to the station because it’s just over the road from the castle, and that’s where I wanted to start my caching trip.
For some reason I was quite surprised to find out that Penrith has a medieval castle. It’s surprising that I was surprised, given that everywhere in the UK that’s bigger than a hamlet used to have a medieval castle somewhere nearby. Why would Penrith be any different? It isn’t.
I wasn’t even remotely surprised to discover that the castle has a clutch of geocaches nearby. There was a set of adventure labs, with a bonus.
Moving on Up (or Down, in this case)
As is the norm for English medieval castles, everywhere else is downhill. Something about being in a good defensive position.
The hills in Penrith seem fairly flat after 10 days in the Lake District. Maybe I’m becoming accustomed to it. Anyway, it was downhill from the castle to get to the centre of what seemed a pleasant little market town. In the centre were 3 other sets of adventure labs, plus their bonus puzzle caches. There were remarkably few other caches though, for some reason.
Anyway, the labs caches were all intermingled with eash other so i had a game of “which series is this one” as I wandered vaguely south-to-north through the centre of town. There were a couple of bits of swearing when I couldn’t get a good enough phone signal to log the finds. I got there eventually, but there was some walking backwards-and-forwards involved. That, in itself, prompted a couple of locals to ask me if I was lost.
All in all I found 24 caches in Penrith in a little under three hours, and then I jumped in my car and went back to Ambleside. I got back at about 3pm. As soon as I got back she went out shopping in Ambleside to get a few personal items for her recently redecorated bedroom at home.
Climbing Raven Crag
Raven Crag is at the north end of Thirlmere and described as a short, but reasonably steep ‘Wainwright’ Fell. It’s more of a cliff than a fell, nevertheless it is very impressive standing watch over Thirlmere. We parked at the layby opposite the start of the walk. There is a small parking area a few hundred metres away but there’s a charge to park there so we opted for the free layby.
Steep doesn’t begin to describe the route up. We were having to stop every 20 or so steps for a breather and it’s like that from the start. There’s no easing yourself into this walk. It was also a bit muddy and slippy after the recent rain. After a few minutes we came to a forest road, but rather than follow this we went straight over and carried on up until we reached the same forest road looping back round. Our route continued over the forest road and up but we had a slight challenge here. Part of the path had been washed away, so we had a bit of scramble using tree roots to climb up to the path. The trail was now turning into a mini stream and a few parts of the path had also washed away, but it wasn’t difficult walking conditions. As an added bonus, the gradient was somewhat shallower.
From the Top
We reached the saddleback, and then turned left towards the summit of Raven Crag. The walking got easier at this point and there were now steps so we started making quick progress. We stopped to gaze at a tree that had come down, exposing its roots. I suspect it came down in the winter storms, nevertheless it was very impressive.
We reached the summit about 50 mins after we left the car. After taking the obligatory photos we had a snack break and then headed off back. We weren’t keen on the steep route down, although plenty of others we met up there were taking that route. Instead, we opted for the long forest road route. It wasn’t muddy or slippy so it was quick going. Walking parallel to Shoulthwaite Gill we had a few stops to admire the waterfalls. It started to rain just was we were leaving the forest, so we put on our wet weather gear and walked back to the car with just the one photo stop for Ami to point to where we’d just come from.
Back at the car, a bloke we’d met at the top arrived having walked down the steep route. Walking the longer route back had taken us about five minutes longer than the short route. And with that it was time to head to Ambleside for my second activity of the day, 90 minutes of pedelloing (if that’s a word).
I was put off the watersports activity by the possibility it might be kayaking. It’s not that I don’t like it. It’s just that at the moment I’m going through a portly phase and I didn’t think I’d find it enjoyable.
As it happens though, Kas and Venus rented a pedalo. I would probably have enjoyed that greatly, but the scene was set by this point, and there was no turning back. Anyway, they rented a pedalo, and then spent a couple of hours pedalling the best part of 5km up and down and across Windermere. Next time I’ll volunteer to do that.
I managed to get a table at the tapas place in Ambleside (Bar eS Ambleside) for 7:45. They only had “bar tables” available, but that turned out to be a good thing. It was basically a proper table, but set up high and with bar stools. We ate lots of bits and bobs on a vaguely Mexicanised Spanish theme, and I think we all agreed it was probably the best place we’d eaten in.
While we were there, I floated the idea that we might drive home on Friday night rather than on Saturday. Kas was leaving anyway on Friday morning to drive down to her half ironman in Swansea. So we were always going to spend most of Friday just packing and cleaning the house.
I took the view that I’d rather drive home and spend a night in my own bed. I was slightly surprised that the kids were in enthusiastic agreement. So we decided there to cut the holiday short by one night, in favour of spending a whole weekend at home. We still had the whole of Thursday though.