January and the New Year is here. We have survived the festive season and Chris has chopped down the Christmas tree. It’s now time to get back to normal and the standard 9 to 5 of work. However, we aren’t normal people and haven’t worked 9 to 5 ever! So for us it’s time to head off and do a little bit of travelling....this time it’s only a short trip though - a couple of hours drive north to one of England’s greatest and most beautiful of places – The Lake District.
|Buff checking out the lake...|
|1st night - Bunk beds....|
|a great view though!|
We left Manchester after a nice lie in on Sunday morning. In actual fact we could have left two days earlier as there was a mess up somewhere at work and when I arrived from my shift on Saturday morning it turned out I should have been on a day off already – I smiled, said my goodbyes and drove back home for a lazy Saturday morning in bed before packing our stuff, watching the United game and heading off to bed late on. Where were we....oh yeah....We left Manchester on Sunday morning and drove the two hours or so north to The Lakes. After a tour of Lake Windermere where we rally drove some of the awesome roads we finally found our hostel for the night right by the lakeside and headed into the town of Ambleside for a look around (at least that’s what I told Buffy – I was actually heading to the pub)
So our look around the town actually meant a visit to ‘The Golden Rule’, a real proper brilliant fantastic country pub, complete with mental barman, dogs and their owners, good local beer and a nook fireplace throwing heat across the stone floor. We spent about three hours in there chatting to the locals and tourists alike. Telling our travelling tales and listening to theirs. Strong cider was drunk by Buffy and she also got to try out her first ever Scotch egg – which she loved. We couldn’t remember where we had parked the car and didn’t really care once we had had a few drinks! It was that kind of evening. Surprisingly we actually left the pub no later than half 7, which sounds early until you remember that we got there before 4! A fantastic little pub to drink in and we intend to visit again before we leave.
|The entrance to the pub...|
|Rob - the barman|
Early the next morning we drove the short distance from the hostel to our hotel for the next couple of nights – we had dropped in earlier yesterday to arrange to leave the car and had been upgraded to their best room as well – and then started our days walking in the hills.
The first hour was lovely – we walked in t-shirts and stopped often to look behind us at the views over the town and the lake below as well as talking to the local sheep. There was blue sky above and the promises of a lovely winter’s day. But as we climbed higher and out of sight of the town, the sky also disappeared and we were enveloped in grey clouds and mist. The t-shirts were replaced by waterproof jackets as a slight bit of rain started to fall. Fortunately it stopped pretty quickly but the mist remained and the wind started to howl around us.
|Setting off early doors.|
|The views were good at first...|
|...and got better|
|Then the mist descended|
The views over the town were well behind us and now we followed the path besides a stone wall and avoided the deep mud that formed a lot of the path. It sounds like a terrible day out – but in fact it was a lot of fun. We enjoyed falling over when we slipped in the mud and the test posed by the windy, cold wet weather gave us a purpose for the day. We took a path that lowered us onto a saddle between two hills and were presented with a couple of minutes worth of great views as the grey clouds blew by and were replaced by a small patch of blue sky – just for a minute though – as quickly we were again doused in mist and wind.
As we headed up the hills we followed a path that led beside another handmade stone wall – the path was well worn and the rain from the hills had run along and down it forming a stream that had now frozen to create an impossible path to walk along. So we had to trudge through the grass and mud beside it. We did find real snow though and Buffy loved grabbing a handful of her favourite white stuff and throwing it in the air. I just jumped into it and lay down!
|Buffy found real snow|
|I found mud|
|There was a little clearing in the weather|
|One of my dads old trig points!|
|The trig point|
There were stumbles in the mud and we both caked our shoes in the stuff as well as getting quite dirty all over as we reached the peak of Red Screes. Here, we found an old Ordnance Survey Trig point – a place where surveyors mark a height and location in order to take accurate readings – this one was special though as it was no doubt used by my dad when he led the team surveying the Lake District in the 70’s. A little bit of personal family history and a highlight of the day.
|Yes, i slipped!|
|Looking dow the valley|
It was then all downhill towards the Kirkstone Pass pub – over 500 years old and the end of our 8 hour day trip. We knew it was in the valley below the peak of the screes, but couldn’t see it until suddenly the clouds ripped apart below us and there it was like a beacon of hope – shining from the valley below leading us downwards. The last few steps down the steep craggy hill were lighter than those before and were quickly behind us as we settled in the pub, in front of a roaring fire with a pint of ‘Red Screes ale’, named suitably after the hill we had just conquered.
|Look! Theres the pub!|
|there it is - hope its open!|
A couple of hours later we were back in town and settled into the sauna, steam room and Canadian hot tub of the local spa – where we spent a good while soothing our aching muscles and bruised egos (and my bruised arse) after a great day out. Just two beers tonight and a movie in our room before a well deserved early night.
|Back at the hotel...|
A superb full English breakfast greeted us the next morning when we eventually ventured out of our room. A lovely way to start another day up here in the hills. Then a short drive through the countryside took us to Keswick and a place I haven't visited in about 20 years - its actually where I went on a religious school trip in 1986 instead of attending my brother Gareth's wedding - so it has some weird memories.
We had a nice day mellowing out wandering around Castlerigg stone circle and the old town centre of Keswick itself as well as up and around the end of the lake. This was followed with a long rest and a cup of tea in a nice cafe before driving back to Ambleside taking in the views of Ullswater and the low flying jets as they streaked through the skies above the water.
|A few views of CASTLERIGG STONE CIRCLE..|
|The snow capped hills|
|A great way to close a gate - use a big rock!|
Back in Ambleside we tried out a couple of other pubs but none were as good as 'The Golden Rule', so we found ourselves there again for the evening - parked in front of the fire and loving every minute of its 'olde worlde' atmosphere.
Our little break was finished off once again by a huge full English breakfast in Ambleside lodge the next morning and a slow drive back to Manchester. We had all day to get back and as the weather was grey, windy and very wet we took a diversion so I could show Buffy the sights of Blackpool, resplendent with its old tower, piers and crap hotels. A bigger and scummier version of Skegness! But it was well worth the visit as we found a lovely little cafe and enjoyed a nice scone with jam and cream for lunch.
That was it - then end of our little holiday and now we are back in Manchester with Chris, Taz and work beckoning tomorrow. It was a lovely little holiday and we are feverishly planning our next getaway very soon......