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Trip Report Lake District: HF Holiday houses Derwent Bank and Monk Coniston

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Thanks to those who responded to my questions awhile back about hiking in the Lake District. From August 31 - September 13 2017 I spent 9 nights at the HF Holiday house at Derwent Bank and 4 nights at their Monk Coniston house, doing Guided Walking at both. My husband couldn't travel at this time, so I went solo (I live in California). The trip was absolutely fantastic. For those new to HF Holidays, the concept is you stay at one of their houses and choose either self-guided or guided walking from the house. They offer easy, medium and hard walks each day, and the leaders are engaging and super competent. No single supplement is charged. I had a beautiful double room at Derwent Bank just by myself as they ran out of single rooms, and a single room at Monk Coniston. I did pay the double room price, which was very reasonable considering they offered three meals a day and a guided hike each day as well. Meals were wonderful and they accommodated any sort of dietary restrictions needed. Meals are communal, served at large round tables, so you get to know the people staying at your house. They offer social activities after dinner, or you can just hang out in the lounge. I was one of a handful of non-British guests, but everyone was very welcoming and friendly to me.

The cute town of Keswick was a short walk from Derwent Bank and had an outdoor gear store on just about every corner! Anything you might have forgotten was on offer there.

As a Californian, calling what we did "walking" was a strange concept as in my mind we did very little of that in the mountains! It was more climbing, clambering, slipping, scaling, bum-sliding, etc...the terrain in the Lake District is very challenging, as is the weather, which can change from hour to hour. Paths were very rocky, on scree, steep, often boggy and muddy. There were two walks I had wanted to do (Scafell Pike and Catbells) which were too difficult or dangerous due to heavy weather conditions, but I did climb the following Wainwrights: Causey Pike, Walla Crag, Haystacks, Blencathra, Outerside, Latrigg and Bow Fell. Blencathra was done in lovely weather, fortunate as it was my introduction to the sort of clambering and climbing necessary to get to the top of many of these peaks...the steep rocky path disappeared and we basically climbed up sharp rocky points using both hands and feet to get to the top. Bow Fell was done in heavy rain and winds, but with proper wet weather gear it was OK. We used the Climbers Traverse which was a narrow scree path traversing the side of a mountain with a steep cliff up and steep one down on the other side. You REALLY did not want to slip on this one. We also were going to use a large expanse of granite called the Slab, but our leader wisely determined it to be too slippery to use (if you did lose your footing you would probably just slide to your doom). Instead, we clambered through a large boulder field to reach the top. All this was both challenging and exhilarating.

We did take some easier (relatively) walks that involved going through some of the cute Lake District towns such as Ambleside and Hawkshead...and to several beautiful tarns and waterfalls. On one of my free days I walked around Derwent Water, about 10 miles and relatively easy walking. From Monk Coniston I walked to Ruskin's House Brantwood and returned via the Steam Yacht Gondola, a restored Victorian boat acting as a ferry. Both wonderful. On another day an English friend visited and we went to a house and gardens from Derwent Bank.

Hopefully this will not be the last HF Holiday house I visit. There are a number in England, Scotland and Wales, plus a number of overseas trips also offered. I enjoyed every minute and thank those of you who helped me with planning this trip.

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