England 2010 – March

11 March Keswick

We began the day by getting the van ready for moving off tomorrow. We have said it before but for those that do not know we have inside and outside jobs. Dean is responsible for all of the outside jobs which include emptying the thetford (Toilet), emptying the waste water, taking the awning down, putting the mountain bikes onto the cycle rack and loading the scooter on the trailer. This list is not exhaustive!

Angela does the housework side of things and if she was writting todays entry she would make the list longer! It has to be said, she does keep a tidy ship and when she is doing it it is best for me to keep out of the way. All you men out there will know what I mean!

After we had both completed our jobs we made ourselves respectable and went for a final mooch around Keswick. We got the last few bits and pieces we needed and decided to have a final pint in the ‘Dog and Gun’. The pub is known as a dog friendly pub and have a menu of dog food on offer as well as the human menu! They are well known for their famous Goulash of which we had one each and were not disappointed, it is served with a crusty garlic bread…Mmmm.

Once we had finished our meal all we wanted to do was head back to the van to rest…..so we did!

10 March Keswick

What a beautiful morning it was today. The sun was up early and no frost. It almost felt like summer! So much so that we decided to have a good breakfast…………on the BBQ.

Breakfast in The Lakes!

Breakfast in The Lakes!

For those observant people out there,behind me is Cat Bells! Maybe after eating all of this we will have to go up there to walk it off!

9 March Scooter ride

As we had such a great day out on the scooter last Tuesday (2nd) we decided to go out again today. Also it was so we could rest after yesterdays walk!

It was another chilly start to the day but at least there was no frost unlike the last few mornings. It was a bit overcast but by the time we were ready to leave the sun had began to shine.

We headed out beneath the Derwent Fells towards Buttermere and Crummock Water over a steep and narrow minor road. Once again the views were spectacular. We stopped off at various points to take in the view and to listen to the peace and tranquillity. One of the advantages as we have said before about owning a scooter is this ability to pull over pretty much where you want to get that great picture!

Don’t mention pictures (I’ll explain later).

There was one really sharp bend by Keskadale farm and as we rounded it we were nearly taken out by a Kamikaze chicken! Poor Angela didn’t know what was going on.

We stopped again at a parking place at the top of this steep bit called Newlands Hause. From here you can see (and hear) Moss Force (Waterfall).

We took a few more pictures and carried on.

Don’t mention pictures (I’ll explain later).

We eventually arrived at and passed through Buttermere, we found a nice spot to stop for our coffee and this time we had biscuits instead of plum bread. Just as nice.

We took a few more pictures and carried on.

Don’t mention pictures (I’ll explain later).

We were looking for a right turn B5292 (Which we found) that would take us back towards Keswick over the Whinlatter Pass. This was a lot colder than the journey out and there was still snow around and I had to be careful of the ice in parts.

Whinlatter Forest Park is set in and around Thornthwaite Forest and there are footpaths and cycle routes all around. As we passed the car park there were lots of people getting their boots on and lifting bikes off from their cars ready for a day of adventure……lucky people.

As it was cold we decided to carry on straight back to the campsite. I checked the odometer and we had completed a 43 mile round trip.

Now about those pictures………………………….

I was always told that when transferring files on a computer you should always copy & paste, make sure that the file is in the new folder before you delete it from the old one, can you see where this is going?

I used to copy & paste the pictures from my digital camera onto my laptop and then delete/format the memory card ready to use again. Recently I have been just Cutting & Pasting them and this is what I did today!!!!!!

I created a nice new folder called 2010/03/08 Scooter ride but formatted (Deleted) the memory card before I pasted them into the nice new folder. How angry was/am I?

What you will have to do is go back to the 2nd, look at those pictures again as they were pretty much the same…..only better!

Today I learned a valuable lesson!

8 March Walk to Castlerigg Stone Circle and Walla Crag

Armed with our new Garmin Dakota 20 GPS unit and a map we headed off for a walk. Our plan was to visit the Castlerigg Stone Circle and from there carry on to Walla Crag.

We left the campsite in lovely sunshine and were soon out of the town and following the old Railway line. The walk was easy going for quite a while which was good as we had not be out walking for a while. There is still a lot of evidence of this being an old railway line, nice and straight in places and a few iron bridges.

Old railway footpath

Old railway footpath

We eventually turned right off this track, walked under the A66 and were soon climbing a bit till we reached the stone circle. Timing is everything they say and in this case they were right. As we approached the stone circle we noticed that we were the only ones there so managed to get a good picture. No sooner had we sat down in ‘The Sanctuary’ to our coffee and plum bread when we were suddenly swamped with a bus load of tourists armed with cameras.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Us at the stone circle

Us at the stone circle

After our fill we checked our route and set off again towards Walla Crag. Once again the going was quite easy but when we got nearer to the Crag we began climbing again. In order to get some good views in the Lakes you need to put in a bit of effort.

When we got there we were not disappointed. The sun was still shinning, there was no wind, it was still a bit chilly but the view was great. From Walla Crag you can see over Derwent Water to the Skiddaw Range above Keswick and Cat Bells and Maiden Moor are right in front of you. We finished our coffee off and headed back down to the campsite.

Derwent Water & Keswick

Derwent Water & Keswick

Cat Bells & Maiden Moor

Cat Bells & Maiden Moor

Skiddaw above Keswick

Skiddaw above Keswick

When we got back to the van I plugged in my GPS unit to my laptop and downloaded today’s walk. We had completed 10.5 miles and were so pleased that we rewarded ourselves with a bottle of wine and pork chops cooked on our gas bbq. It felt almost like summer!

6 March Derwent Water & Keswick Market

We have stayed in Keswick quite a few times in the past but apart from walking around the main town centre (Shopping) we had never really explored the side streets.

We decided to rectify this today and headed off for Derwent Water via the Theatre by the lake. We had heard about this theatre and seen posters promoting the latest production but never imagined it to be as big as it was. It has a coffee shop next to it and it is a place we would consider next time we are here.

Leaving the shops behind us we walked under a subway where a busker was playing his guitar and singing (he was actually quite good) and came out next to Hope park. Hope Park was donated to the town for the benefit and enjoyment of residents and visitors in 1974 by Sir Percy and Lady Hope.

Hope Park

Hope Park

This area was busy as there is a large car park next to the theatre where day trippers can park up and visit the park, theatre coffee shop, tea rooms or take the Keswick Launch for about 50 minutes cruise around Derwent Water. You can also walk on the shoreline up to Friar’s Crag as we did.

Keswick Launch pier

Keswick Launch pier

Keswick Launch

Keswick Launch

Roses in the water!

Roses in the water!

As we neared Friar’s Crag we saw a couple of red roses floating in the water. We have seen this type of floral tribute a few times on our travels, an act of remembrance maybe for a loved one?  To commemorate a special occasion? Whatever the reason is it always makes us stop and think. On one walk in particular there was a little posy, a photograph of a young man and a letter from the family. He had clearly decided that he could not continue with his life so ended it there. How tragic is that?

At Friar’s Crag there is a large slate tablet. On one side is a carving of John Ruskin and below it a quote from him and on the other side a Religious quote. There is also a bench with a great view overlooking Derwent Water and the distant fells. It is a great place for reflection.

John Ruskin memorial stone

John Ruskin memorial stone

Religious Quote

Religious Quote

Bench with a view!

Bench with a view!

As we left this great viewpoint and headed back into the town centre we were pleased to find that there was a market on. There were many stalls from the Moot Hall down to the Skiddaw Hotel. There were fishmongers, local butchers, cheese makers, green grocers and many others selling clothing and household items. We were drawn to a stall selling items made by disabled Ghurkas and all proceeds going back to them. It is a well worthy cause. We could not leave without buying something from him. I had to rein Angela in as she is a bag lady (What is it with women and bags?) and the bags on display caught her eye. We ended up buying a holder for all of our incense sticks and cones.

Keswick Market

Keswick Market

Incense holder

Incense holder

One of the food stalls we spotted was selling freshly made curry. It was cheaper to buy one to eat there and then than it was to take away…………….the smell was amazing. We were going to share one but after ordering it Dean decided that he wanted one for himself. We were not disappointed and would recommend it to anyone in Keswick on a Saturday.

After the market we headed back to the van for the evening.

2 March Scooter Ride

As the weather forecast was good for today we decided to take advantage of this and go for a scooter ride which Dean had planned last night.

After breakfast we cleared up, carried out a few necessary chores then made a packed lunch and flasks for the day.

Although the sun was shining there was still a chill in the air, so we dressed accordingly. Good old Ron Hill base layers, fleeces, biking jackets and Very bright fluorescent jackets so we could be seen while out.

After leaving Keswick town centre we headed out on the Borrowdale Road and followed the east side of Derwent Water. We forked off left and headed up to one of the most photographed bridges in the Lake District, Ashness Bridge.

Ashness Bridge

Ashness Bridge

Happy Bikers!

Happy Bikers!

Just a bit further up we stopped off at a place called surprise view named for obvious reasons. It is beautiful and peaceful and on a clear day you can see all the way to the Solway Firth. A friend of mine loved the setting so much he actually proposed to his (now) wife, I can understand why.

Surprise View

Surprise View

Ashness Bridge

Ashness Bridge

We have visited the last two mentioned places before but we had never carried on up this minor road. Probably because we had cycled there and were too tired to go any further. This time we were on Florence our Piaggio Fly 125cc scooter so there was no stopping us, we could go where we wanted……..well within reason.

The track came to a dead end at Watendlath Farm. There was a car park there where you could park up for the day and walk the fells around you. Watendlath Tarn was frozen and the surrounding fells topped with snow, it looked as though someone had lightly dusted it with icing sugar.

Watendlath Tarn (Frozen)

Watendlath Tarn (Frozen)

There were a few people around at this point as it is where a few footpaths cross. Some were sat drawing the lovely footbridge and others were taking advantage of the lovely setting and having their lunch.

Watendlath Tarn Footbridge

Watendlath Tarn Footbridge

We decided that we had seen enough here and so we continued on our journey which was back down to the Borrowdale Road and further along the Borrowdale Valley towards Seatoller. This is where the Honister pass begins which has in places gradients of 25%, a real test for the scooter which was screaming at some of the steeper points. I am glad that we got a 125cc and not a 50cc.

Honister Pass

Honister Pass

Looking back towards Seatoller

Looking back towards Seatoller

Honister Slate Mine

Honister Slate Mine

Anyway, the plan was to go over the pass and stop for lunch between Buttermere and Crummock Water before heading back towards Keswick via Braithwaite. This is another minor road that is through the Derwent Fells.

Unfortunately when we got to the Honister slate mine we were stopped in our tracks by a Road Closed sign. This was due to a damaged bridge and also because there was a lot of ice and a few cars had come off the road.

All we could do was head back towards the Borrowdale Valley and turn off towards Grange. We could then follow the road back to Keswick along the West bank of Derwent Water…….we were not disappointed and we stopped off for lunch at a spot we had stopped at before.

Lunch with a view!

Lunch with a view!

The Rider!

The Rider!

After lunch and a flask of tea we took a few more pictures before heading back to the campsite.

One of the advantages we have found by having the scooter is that if you see something or want to take a picture you can pretty much just pull over. Not an option in the motorhome.

Advantage of having a scooter!

Advantage of having a scooter!

End of a great day!

End of a great day!

We finally got back to the campsite after about 3 hours and both agreed that we had had a great day. We both had a nice warm shower and on our way back to the van we were surprised to see the area manager on site that took us through our induction. He saw us and said he would come and see us a bit later.

We quickly rushed back and had a tidy up (not that we are messy) but we were going to have the area manager of the Camping and Caravanning Club (CCC) on our van.

He arrived, had a cup of tea and gave us the best news we had heard for a long time, which was we were given a contract to work as Holiday Site Assistants (HSA) at the clubs site in Inverewe (Scotland).

This was the perfect end to the perfect day, as soon as he left we walked up to the supermarket to get some gin and tonic and a curry to celebrate.

1 March (A pinch and a punch) Ambleside by bus

This morning we decided to take the bus into Ambleside. It was another beautiful day and we had planned to get the 09:30 bus! As per usual we had an extended breakfast (As you do) and missed it so had to get the next one an hour later!

The journey lasts about 45 minutes and the views along the route are lovely, especially on a clear day as this was. To begin with you see the Skiddaw range (still covered in snow) on your left with Latrigg (368 mtrs) beneath it. Then as you begin to travel along the entire length of Thirlmere (Reservoir) Helvellyn (949 Mtrs) looks down on you. At the end of Thirlmere the Pass of Dunmail Raise begins and you continue along to the beautiful village of Grasmere famous amongst other things for Gingerbread. Just before Grasmere on the right looking down on you and keeping watch are ‘The Lion and the Lamb’ or its proper name Helm Crag (405 Mtrs). It is one of the best known of all the Lakeland fells.

After passing Grasmere water you arrive at our favourite destination of all in the Lake District, Loughrigg Fell (335 Mtrs) not as tall and as strenuous as some of the others but it means a lot to us. It was the first place we would go to on our arrival in the lakes. We have been coming up here now for about 15 years. It is a very pretty place with Rydal Water below; it has many footpaths on and around it and can be tackled from many directions. It is also walking distance from Ambleside which is where we now end our bus journey.

Another tradition of ours is to head straight for the sweet shop or its proper name is Gaynors Sports shop. It has various floors which sell all things relating to walking and other outdoor pursuits. They also have a bargain basement which is worth a look. You can never have too many fleeces!

Gaynors (Sweet shop)

Gaynors (Sweet shop)

After Gaynors we had a walk around the town to see if there had been any changes since we were last here. We went into another favourite clothing shop, Rohan before heading for something to eat in the lovely Apple Pie shop. It is a must for any visitor to Ambleside as their cakes are very nice……but not healthy! We had a snack with a pot of tea them headed back to the bus stop for our return journey back to Keswick. Apart from the bus being full of school children it was a pleasant journey.

Rohan shop

Rohan shop

The Apple Pie

The Apple Pie

Feed Me!

Feed Me!

Lucys

Lucys

About Dean

Angela and I decided that there was more to life than working hard to keep up the payments on the mortgage, to pay the gas, electric, phone bills etc. etc. SO............ In 2008 we sold our house, I initially took a year off (Unpaid) and Angela handed in her notice! We bought a motorhome and set off for a year of travelling! This was the best thing we had done in our lives (Apart from getting married) and we have no regrets. During the year I managed to secure a redundancy package which felt very strange. Almost sad as I had worked for the same company for 19 years (BT). It was always our plan to have a whole year off before thinking about the 'W' word. We began applying to the Camping and Caravanning Club (CCC) for the position of Holiday site assistants in August 2009. After the interview, work experience and induction we were finally given a contract at the CCC site in Inverewe (Scotland). Our plan is to work through the summer in the UK then head to Europe to overwinter before coming back to work the following summer season. Hopefully these few words and our blog will inspire others to get off the hamsters wheel and see that there is more to live than having a house and material things. A cliche I know but this is not a rehearsal, life is too short!!! Since our first contract in Scotland we have worked a winter contract in Oxford (never again!) not Oxford but a winter contract. Hereford for two years, living in a yurt for one! And Cornwall. In between our working we have also travelled a bit. Hopefully this website will give you an insight into our alternative lifestyle. Get out there and live the dream!
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