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Swallows and Amazons! (or a midweek break in the Lake District)

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May 18th, 2015, 08:37 AM
  #1
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Swallows and Amazons! (or a midweek break in the Lake District)

Just got back from 4 nights in the Lake District with tame Scot Tommy (Uruabam) and thought you might like to hear a bit about what there is to see and do there. The Lakes are a very popular destination for the British, but I notice they figure relatively little on Fodors, so maybe this will be an eye opener for some of you.

I will do the usual one post per day format, and start with some photos as an appetite whetter....

https://www.flickr.com/photos/494523...57652945323476

Enjoy!
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May 18th, 2015, 08:53 AM
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Oh my gosh, those photos are beautiful! Love the stone circle - really looking forward to hearing all bout your trip.
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May 18th, 2015, 08:53 AM
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Delightful pics, RM.

we haven't been to the Lakes for about 25 years but before the kids we went a lot. we loved the northern Lakes in particular especially the area north of Keswick.

looking forward to reading more about your trip.
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May 18th, 2015, 08:54 AM
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My guilty secret is that I've never been, so I'm in the market for suggestions and recommendations. Looks like you had lots of sunshine, at least, and plenty of great photo-ops.
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May 18th, 2015, 09:08 AM
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Thank you all - will try and get the first day posted this evening.

Patrick - I am in the same boat as you as we had numerous family holidays in the vicinity as kids and often drove through the Lakes tantalisingly en-route to somewhere else, but this is the first time I've properly stopped off......will be sure to include plenty of heads up for food, accomodation and things to do....
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May 18th, 2015, 10:17 AM
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My god, Derwentwater is high!

The water usually reaches the top of the jetties for the launch by Easter, shows what bad weather we have had. We were on the launch 4 weeks ago, the water was around 2 feet lower.

Love Castlerigg very eerie place.
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May 18th, 2015, 11:23 AM
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Lovely photos, thanks for posting...
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May 18th, 2015, 12:32 PM
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Monday.

The Lake District is a four and a half hour drive from my home in Hertfordshire, and about two hours from Tommy’s place in Glasgow, but he was on airport duty picking up his mum on Monday afternoon so I actually got there first.

To make up for having to brave the A14, A1/M and Wetherby services I treated myself to a week’s hire of an Audi A1 - all gleaming glacial white teutonic gorgeousness with a tasteful amount of leather trim. Mastering the sat nav and climate control unfortunately took most of Sunday afternoon, but come Monday lunchtime I was all ready to go! After a mostly uneventful journey (one ham and cheese baguette and a very bad coffee from Upper Crust en-route) I arrived at Ullswater about half past five.

We were staying in a converted boathouse, right on the lake shore, found down a private drive through an area of woodland replete with red squirrels (Tommy nearly ran one over later in the week). The pictures on the holiday property website suggested it was going to be an attractive location but the first sight of the boathouse with the vast expanse of Ullswater glittering behind it in the late afternoon sunshine was really breathtaking.

Inside, it was all mod cons – a great kitchen with granite worktops and Bosch appliances, a bathroom with monsoon shower, lovely warm bedroom with down filled duvet and pillows, and a living room with comfy sofas, Turkish rugs, a flatscreen tv and stack of DVDs. The best thing though, was the view over Ullswater, with huge floor to ceiling windows, and a balcony with table and chairs.

Tommy arrived shortly after nine, just as the sun was starting to go down. We opted not to go out the first evening and instead settled in to enjoy the complimentary bottle of champagne we’d been kindly left by the hosts, with smoked salmon and horseradish crème fraiche on blinis. The crème fraiche slid off the hot blinis and made a bit of a creamy horseradishy mess but it still tasted great. Pud was Neuhaus chocolates and coffee (somehow we got through half a ballotine, but they were the ones with the light moussey middles so very probably negligible on the calorie front).

Across the water pin-pricks of light picked out Howtown on the opposite shore. The weather took a turn for the worse as midnight approached with strong winds whipping up the lake. I thought I could hear the boathouse gates banging together in the choppy water – Tommy said that seeing as we were in a Cabin on The Lake it was more likely an axe murderer. He didn’t think it quite so funny when I made him get up at half one to check the front door was locked

Here are the boathouse details if you are interested – not cheap, but you can rent it by the night (minimum stay 3 nights) all year round, and we found the rental firm really excellent, responding to all emails within 15-20 minutes, not to mention they have a local office in Ambleside, which is handy.

http://www.lakescottageholiday.co.uk...ater-80640.htm

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Vacatio...ct_Cumbri.html
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May 18th, 2015, 03:05 PM
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Tommy must not have seen the "red squirrel crossing" sign?

>>they were the ones with the light moussey middles so very probably negligible on the calorie front<<

I love how you think.

I also love how you write a trip report and am really looking forward to more.
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May 18th, 2015, 04:23 PM
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Thanks - that's very kind. I will put up Tuesdays activities tomorrow...
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May 19th, 2015, 03:11 AM
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Pud was Neuhaus chocolates and coffee (somehow we got through half a ballotine, but they were the ones with the light moussey middles so very probably negligible on the calorie front). >>

you think? I'm expecting you to be doing a lot of walking up those Fells to counteract all those calories you're going to be consuming.
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May 19th, 2015, 03:28 AM
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There was some walking later in the week Ann, though obviously we had to build up to that gradually. Health and Safety and all that.
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May 19th, 2015, 03:29 AM
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I've cycled Sea 2 Sea from Whitehaven to Snnderland and overnighted in the Lakes and I've had to do very expensive team-bonding exercises there.

Very pretty, I woke up early one moring and watched a swan use low level ground affect coasting to travel about a mile across a mirror smooth lake.
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May 19th, 2015, 03:32 AM
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Missing "Sunderland" and "morning"
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May 19th, 2015, 03:51 AM
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Spookily, team-building figures in the next installment Bilbo.
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May 19th, 2015, 04:51 AM
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Tuesday

Tuesday dawned quite overcast and grey, though not actually raining, so we opted for a quick breakfast of bacon rolls and tea before setting off on a tour of the periphery of the Lake District by car, the aim being to size up which bits we’d like to revisit when the weather (hopefully) improved.

First we headed south to Glenridding, briefly stopping to pick up a toothbrush for Tommy in the village, then carrying on past the steamer pier and boat hire centre. The steamers were quite petite compared with some of the more modern cruisers we’d later encounter on the other lakes, a mixture of teak, tasteful sage green paint, and jaunty red funnels. They have been plying Ullswater for well over a century, two of the fleet dating back to the 1870s and still running daily, though having been converted to diesel in the 1930s. We continued on round the bottom of the lake to Patterdale where we passed a road sign warning you to slow down for red squirrels (I wanted to stop for pics but it was on a bend with safety barriers so not an easy target and we gave it a miss for the time being), then to the foot of the Kirkstone Pass which takes you over the mountains and down to the next lake, Windermere. The Kirkstone pass is a great road to drive, ascending to about 1500 feet, which may not sound that impressive to non Britishers, but has relatively few rivals in England for altitude. The road was twisty, but not single track, magnificent views of the slatey fells towering above you on either side. At the top of the pass there is a pub called the Kirkstone Inn, and a car park which makes a good stopping point for photos. We took a few shots here, though they came out more brooding and intense than picture postcard due to the steely skies.

Continuing on down the other side of the pass we noted new born lambs in stone-walled fields, including some especially cute tiny black ones, and a small church, the yard heaving with ancient gravestones packed in at a variety of odd angles. In very little time at all we were along the lakeshore of Windermere, a few small yachts and dingies out on the water making the most of the breeze. An RV pulled into the parking-bay-cum-viewpoint beside us, steam pouring from under its bonnet, but rather than giving it time to cool down, the daredevil owners shot straight off again after procuring water from an ice cream van parked alongside. Continuing our journey (and thankfully not coming upon any traffic jams caused by overheating mobile homes) we passed Bowness where many of the Windermere steamers depart, then round the bottom of the lake passing a steam railway (which we forgot to come back to) and a few inlets from the coast – technically the very top of Morecombe Bay.

We then headed north past Coniston Water (there is a helpful article on Wiki explaining the difference between ‘waters’, ‘tarns’, ‘meres’ and ‘lakes’ ) stopping in Coniston itself for a light lunch at the Yewdale Hotel. Both of us had Yewdale rarebits – basically cheese on toast made with the usual beer and mustard - but here with the addition of finely chopped leeks. Tommy reckoned that the leeks are standard fare in a welsh rarebit but I’ve never had it like that before and think he is wrong. Please feel free to adjudicate. Coniston was backed by impressive hills and we placed bets on which one might be the famous ‘old man’ as we walked back to the car, parked in a residential street that created a nice juxtaposition – demure white rendered bungalows set opposite towering rock faces, mountain rescue teams and cavers getting kitted up in red waterproofs below.

Leaving Coniston, we continued north past Grasmere and on to Thirlmere. Thirlmere is actually a reservoir and not one on the natural glacial lakes, still very picturesque though, and fringed by more fields of adorable lambs begging to captured on film. Dutifully getting out of the car to take photos, we were instantly struck by how much colder it was here than at any of our other pit stops – the wind whipping across the blue-black water. You can swim in all but three of the lakes in the Lake District and unsurprisingly baltic Thirlmere is one of the few forbidden ones – signs warning you of the dire consequences of swimming in the reservoir, at any time of year, no matter how hot it is on land. You will die says the sign. Do not go in or your chest muscles will freeze. You have been warned. Leaving the near-Siberian waste behind us we headed back to Ullswater under shifting skies of alternate cloud and fleeting blue slivers.

Though relatively brief, I was struck by just how varied the scenery had been on our mini roadtrip – high, arid fells with a gorsey appearance, areas of exposed rock, flint and slate, thickly wooded hillsides, mirror-calm inky black tarns, white water rushing through forested gorges, and even areas of cultivated lush flowers, blossom, and lawn at the fringes of the lakes.

Back at the boat house we enjoyed glorious double rainbows over Ullswater after a brief shower of rain. As we were jockeying for position on the balcony to take photos we noticed an intrepid swimmer going past, wetsuited and pink-capped. Two swans also bobbed past, letting the breeze do the work for them. Down the lake toward Glenridding two men who had been out in an orange inflatable when we left that morning were still anchored over the same spot in the water, presumably fishing or conducting a survey of some sort. Every now and then the steamers glided serenely past on the far side of the lake.

Eventually, we got tired of lazing in front of the magnificent view and changed to go out for dinner. We chose the Brackenrigg Inn, about a mile and a half north of the boathouse, on the road to Pooley Bridge, where we enjoyed steaks – sirloin for me, ribeye for Mr M, and a shared portion of the best onions rings I’ve ever had, in a light tempura-like beer batter. There were views of the lake and marina from the pub windows which we admired over espressos, whilst bitching about team building sessions at work (new words: ice breaker, blamestorming, impactful). Back home to our boathouse for a DVD, more chocs from the Belgian haul, and a nice Chilean Petite Sirah (huge bouquet, intense blackcurrent syrup flavour, not much in the way of peppery notes, if you are interested).

Info about the steamersbr />
http://www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk/about-us/our-fleet/

Link to the BrackenRigg Inn website – they do rooms as well as grubbr />
http://www.brackenrigginn.co.uk/
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May 19th, 2015, 05:45 AM
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Here I am planning to go back to Cornwall and you remind me I need to go back to the Lake District as well. Spent quite a bit of time there a long time ago, but have only been back once since I moved to the US and then I couldn't believe I had left it so long, and how beautiful it was. But these days I would want to do it by public transport.

Loved the Swallows and Amazon books growing up - still have some around.
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May 19th, 2015, 06:55 AM
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I read those too Thursdaysd - and even re-read one before the hol on my Kindle.... very 1930s and a bit un pc, but still fun...
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May 19th, 2015, 07:17 AM
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Btw, out of high season, as we were, the driving was an absolute dream - no traffic whatsoever.
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May 19th, 2015, 11:48 AM
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I like your report but would never be attracted to a place by the mention of Swallows. They are nasty, diving birds that should be made extinct. Horrid creatures.
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