The Lakes, Cumbria, U.K.
We left Cornwall just before the end of May and headed north. Stopping off in Leamington for a few days before heading up to the Lake District.
I had never been to the Lakes before and was looking forward to visiting. We left Leamington on a Sunday and had a clear trip up to Grange-over-Sands, our base for the week at the very southern tip of the Lake District.
It was raining when we pitched up; not unusual in the Lakes I know. After all, that water for the lakes has to come from somewhere. I was still finding pitching up as much of a stress as anchoring. My “that’ll do”, apparently won’t. Reiterating why I didn’t build a boat where my that’ll do attitude wouldn’t be good enough.
The site was great. Good facilities, varied pitches (note to self to check that hardstanding pitches have water as well as electric) and a distant view to the sands to Grange over Sands. We were on a huge pitch about twice as long and wide as our unit near some established trees which gives a woodland feel. We occasionally heard a siren sounding in the daytime. Luckily I had read that it is the Arnside Bore warning before I heard it as it sounds remarkably like the 4 minute nuclear war warning!
On day one we went to Kendal. We first stopped at Kendal Castle a ruin on a hill (unsurprisingly) to the east of the town. Nice that there was free car parking (virtually no free car parking anywhere else we went even in remote places) around the foot of the hill and that the town council have gone to the trouble of putting up lots of information boards around the site about the castle history.
Kendal town was interesting too – in fact my favourite town in the Lakes out of the ones we visited. Really quirky alleyways and yards between streets. There were plenty of information panels on buildings and streets giving detailed histories of the town, it’s buildings and traditions. The New Shambles had different information panels at each end and the building which housed Coolcrafting, home of Luna Lapin, a destination for me also had an information panel – see below. We spent more time reading the panels than anything else. We also went to the Famous 1657 Chocolate House. Yes, it was as great as it sounds. I had a Turkish delight hot chocolate and Neil had a Rum & Raisin. Delish. The Chocolate House building was old and quirky with uneven floors, beams, large fireplaces and nooks. There was a narrow spiral staircase at the back to take you from the upper tea room to the lower chocolate shop.
Over the week we travelled almost the full length and width of the National Park. We drove up to Keswick and back via mountain passes and narrow winding single track roads. We found ourselves going against the traffic on Cold Fell between Ennerdale Bridge and Calderbridge. We were anticipating a quiet pootle across the fell and we couldn’t understand why there were so many cars heading towards us at speed. Initially we thought it was school tipping out time but none of the cars had children in. As we topped a rise we saw Sellafield nuclear power station and guessed it was the end of a shift and these were commuters on their way home. Turns out it was. The speed they were going on a road which is barely wide enough for two narrow cars in most places was mad. Turned our quiet pootle into an expletive ridden ride; not the most relaxing end to our day.
We did most of our exploring by car which meant we got to see all the different landscapes the Lakes has to offer. We took a boat trip along Windermere from Lakeside up to Bowness. Bowness was busy, full of tourists, most of them Chinese. I can’t imagine what the crowds must be like in August at the height of the season if it was like that on a weekday in early June. We circumnavigated both Windermere and Coniston and crossed Windermere on the car ferry. We went to one of my happy places, Lakeland (kitchen gadget store) which is based in Windermere and their largest store in the UK. We walked up to the walled garden at Monks Coniston and skimmed stones on the lake. Had lunch in Keswick and cake in Bowness. Visited the Lakeland Motor Museum, drove through Grizedale forest and Neil reminisced about his rally days.
A week really isn’t long enough if you want to “do” the Lakes and visit the main attractions. I surprised myself in that I was quite happy with the new landscapes and views and wasn’t bothered about the numerous National Trust (NT) and other gardens and properties that are all around.
Next – heading north.