We did our usual this May bank holiday week just gone and travelled back to the Lake District for our annual getaway in a cottage. I wanted to blog about this holiday last weekend but I’ve been working hard on my units on my Forest School Level 3 training. Earlier this week I sent off units 2,3 and 4 for assessment and if they all pass then it’s just unit 5 to go for my certificate. With each assignment being roughly 1,000 words (including my notes) it does take up a lot of time.
Anyway, back to the holiday. For a couple years now we have travelled to the Lake District, each time spending the week in a different part of it – so far, Keswick twice, Ambleside, Borrowdale and this year was Ullswater.
Our choices are decided upon several things, the environment around the location, the mountains, the amenities but most importantly where we can get a reasonably priced cottage that accepts a dog (and has great garden fencing) and for two people, so Ullswater it was.
It was just so lovely, very cosy for two and we loved being able to keep the door open and Bailey being free to roam in the enclosed garden area outside (he can’t do this where we currently live)… not that he did, he prefers to be close to us but I’m sure, given time, he would have used the area more to relax in.
We decided to explore the area straight away and found a National Trust car park near the water which [sadly] delighted as, as parking in the Lake District can be expensive (often £6-8 for a “full day” when you only want a couple of hours) but as NT members it was free – so we visited the lakeside often!
This time I remembered to pack my ‘shorty’ wetsuit for a swim and it was FREEZING (at least to begin with). The water was cold on the surface but warm beneath which was an odd sensation as I’m very much used to warm surface seawater, not the other way round!
The lake is the second largest in the Lake District with a length of 9 miles, 0.75miles wide and depth of 60 metres! You certainly felt the ‘drop off’ just a few metres from the shore – the GoPro captured the drop perfectly.
We had a lot of fun. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do properly was to swim with Bailey on a still lake. He’s not comfortable with the surf and I’ve never fancied getting in some of the dirty rivers nearby with him… so this was literally a ‘dream come true’, but, Bailey didn’t know how to act whilst we were in the water – he’s not used to it – so would swim out to us, use us as something to push himself off and swim back to the shore; if we went out too far he’d stand and cry for us to come back and tried to get back in the water but then would head back to shore again. I aim to swim more with him so he’s used to us being in the still water with him.
If you want to see his little legs swimming have a look at the video – it’s so cute.
We had a wander up a fell nearby to our place one evening – Little Mell Fell (meaning “Bare hill”) which is 505 m/1,657 ft high (NY423240). What is unique about the fell is that it is composed of the Mell Fell Conglomerate, a sedimentary rock formed from deposits of sand and gravel in alluvial fans and braided river channels in a desert environment – which can only be found on this fell and the nearby Great Mell Fell.
One of the things I really really really wanted to do whilst we were here (and may have persuaded me to book to cottage here) was the long distance Ullswater Way Walk – a 20-mile route around Ullswater passing through Howtown, Glenridding and Pooley Bridge (taking in Gawborrow Fell on route).
The Ullswater Way is recognised as a ‘long distance route’ by the Long Distance Walkers Association, I’d love to walk more of their routes in the future – I enjoy long distance walking and have set a 100KM as a personal goal!
We heard that most people walk this route in two halves, from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge, then leave Pooley Bridge to Glenridding for another day – we decided to give it a go all in one day and why not? It was sunny and we wanted the challenge!
So we started in the morning from Glencoyne car park (free parking!!) and made our to Aira Force...
The route is easy to follow in this first section, we were close to the road so Bailey had to be on a lead but the moment we got to the waterfalls and fell he was off lead and loving it.
Gowbarrow Fell (meaning “Windy Hill” 481 m/1,578 ft NY408219 ) is a popular low fell, as it’s close to Aira Force and sits on Airy Crag. Owned by the National Trust the paths are easy to follow to get here and the views are lovely.
The route from here to Pooley bridge was lovely, passing on the low ground beneath fells, through fields, passing “The Bothy” and through woodland, we reached the popular Pooley Bridge at lunch time where we enjoyed a nice sit down to eat ice cream, drink sugary Colas and read the sign about the temporary bridge and 2016’s storm Desmond.
The walk from Pooley Bridge could go either up a fell and claim another Wainwright or along the lakeside – we opted for the lower route to get Bailey in the water as much as possible as it was a hot day – plus, the walk should be as enjoyable for him as it is for us and anyone that knows Bailey knows how obsessed he is with water!
I did find the second part of this walk the nicer side but mainly because we were closer to the lake rather than walking through fields.
The route took use via Howtown where we could have opted to catch a ferry back to Glenridding. At just after Pooley bridge that Terry was experiencing pain in his hips and legs so I took his (heavy!) bag from him to relieve the pressure and walked with it for the last 6 or 7 miles left. We were slow going but it meant more time to appreciate the wonderful views in front of us…
The last few miles are always hard going, especially if you’re like me and miscalculate where you are on the map and assume you are much much further ahead than you really are! Argh!
Still, we carried on via Glenridding back to the car park and back home for a much needed rest! My Garmin recorded 41.4km with 52K+ steps!!
Terry surprised me with the ‘free’ badge you can purchase to say you’ve done the walk… as I presented him with his badge as I’d purchased ours secretly ready to present once completed! Great mind think alike! Even Bailey got his own badge which is pinned to his running harness to show off to others!
We had a day of rest afterwards to sooth Terry’s (and Bailey’s) legs. He’d picked up an injury so we wrapped his split paw in cream and vet wrap (it didn’t stay on for very long mind) and went shopping instead in Ambleside, Keswick and Grasmere (love the art gallery here!)
When we had sufficiently recovered, we decided to walk up Blencathra. I don’t know what it is about this mountain but I find it very enticing and have wanted to walk up it this visit (I heard there is a film documentary about it which I will watch when I get around to it), so off we went. On route to the summit we did some timing/distance navigation practise on steep ground to aid us with our navigation calculations, whcih was fun.
When we made it to Blencathra summit (868 m/2,848 ft NY323877) there were beautiful views all around this lovely mountain – Blencathra is derived from the Cumbric elements *blain ‘top, summit’ and cadeir ‘seat, chair’, meaning ‘the summit of the seat-like mountain’.
I took a video of the fantastic views from the summit point:
As it was windy we decided on Doddick Fell for our descent (I’d opted for Scale Fell). The video below shows the Blencathra summit and the fells descending from it.
Even though Doddick Fell would not have been my first choice of descent (as I prefer gradual) and even though I had tired aching legs at the end of it I’m glad we did it and would highly recommend it to anyone. We’d vowed to come back and walk all the 6 fells that make up the Blencathra ridgeline one day.
The rest of the week was just resting really and going on shorter, interesting walks. We decided to head out to Whinlatter to explore this forest a couple of fells nearby – most notably Lord’s Seat and Barf fell (When a fell is called “Barf” it’ll be rude not to go take a wander up it! I had to “bag” it just for the name!). The heavy rains were due in in the afternoon so felt we could walk these in the morning before the rains came.
Lord’s Seat is a nice low fell at 552 m/1,811 ft (NY204265) in height and at its summit is just some bricks and the remains of the metal fencing that once extensively covered this area. I even took a little view of the views from the fell….
Next was “Barf” Fell (468m/1535ft NY216267) The name is thought to be a derivative of “burgh” (lol). The views from the summit of Skiddaw are great – when we stood on top we could see the summit of Skiddaw hidden in clouds – our last trip out to Skiddaw was the same, covered in clouds!
That’s pretty much it for the week. As always, it went too soon and there wasn’t enough time to do everything we wanted to do. It was barely a blink before we were back to work and it doesn’t seem like a week has gone by since we were there. At the moment it is exam season at the school I work out and it has been stressful and tiring, I think I need another holiday to relax!