I travelled from Newcastle upon Tyne to the Lake District via Alston. Here is the heart of the 870 square miles of North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The view was awesome. As I wound my way through the country road, the wild moorland stretched for miles before me. The closer I got to the lakes the more mountainous the terrain became.
My heart leapt as the bikers travelling at a ridiculous speed swept past my open car window with a roar and sped into the distance. The roads are winding up the steep mountain sides and down again. My concentration at an all time high as I manoeuvre my way around the hairpin bends. One wrong move and I’m a goner.
I eventually find my campsite. This is the second time in my life I have been camping. I have a five berth, six foot high tent and I have left the grandchildren with their dad! I take the tent from the car with my recliner chair and place it in the most advantageous spot on the camping field with a mountain on my doorstep.
Here come three very fit looking young men whom I engage in conversation. They are from Holland and staying in the youth hostel. After a while they ask, “Are you alone putting this tent up?” “Yes,” I reply, so guess what!! – they put it up for me. Next I go and get my double air-bed and the foot pump. When I return there are now six new people who are from London and biking from Lands end to John’o Groats.
A young woman has spotted what I am about to do. She is a very jolly, forward young woman and asks, “Can I do that for you?” Then one of the men wants to have ago with the foot pump.
They are competing for who is the fittest! My air bed is up in no time.
Just as the foot pump is being disconnected there is a crack of thunder and the skies open. The rain is stotting down from the heavens and you can hardly hear yourself speak. “Get into the tent.” I say to the six new people I have just met. My tent is full of fun and laughter as we huddle together sheltering from the thunder storm. After they left, the rain poured all night; in a tent this is very noisy. I had little sleep and then slept in and woke at ten past nine!
A quick breakfast, then I met someone else and after a brief introduction we went into Keswick together. Keswick is about 20 miles from Patterdale where I am staying. Keswick has a beautiful lake with a boat which picks people up and drops them off at various spots on the lake side. It also has the most pretty, quaint park with a little bridge and a stream and lots to do like crazy golf and a large area for sunbathing or just lying relaxing on the grass. There are lots of places to eat and stay in Keswick with good food catering for a range of pockets. They also have a good selection of shops and a tourist information centre.
I got back to the camp site and someone asked if I would like to go for a short walk nothing strenuous! “Yes,” I said as he looked quite old and infirm so I thought he won’t be like those people who do the real mountain walks. So away we went up the mountain side for three hours. I struggled to keep up with the old guy. He said half way up the mountain “I climbed Ben Nevis last year.” Well that might explain things, I would hate to have done something strenuous! There is no language which could capture the sights before my eyes as we wove our way around the mountain sides. The higher up we went, the view got more spectacular.
The mountains just looked as if they rose out of the lake with great majesty. The lush green foliage and uncultured land stretched out before me like Joseph’s multicolour dream coat.
No picture, video or visual imagery could come close to capturing the real beauty of the Lake District. I have spoken to a few people from Vancouver who live just next to the Rockies in Canada and they say the Lake district is very similar to the Rockies, except some of the mountains are more jagged with sharper edges than the Rockies. When driving around the lakes it is hard not to stop your car every couple of minutes to take a photograph. I am surprised there are not a lot more crashes as it is difficult to concentrate on the road when surrounded by such mind-blowing scenic views.
Nevertheless, in one of the fields I was walking through, the sheep looked like the dog on the “Specsavers” advert. What a sight for sore eyes – they looked like something out of a comic strip. The person I was with said, “They are not very good sheep shearers in this area, I guess!”
The Lake District has something for everyone. Whether it’s forest and woodland walks you like, or the more strenuous mountain climbing or riding your bike or just a slow saunter along the road you will not be disappointed with the wonders of nature that unfold before your eyes. Travelling down the lush green valley with the deciduous woodland to my right and mountains everywhere I look.
I’ve survived my second night of thunder and lightning with torrential rains. Every time the rain stopped there was the raucous noise of the frightened sheep. I couldn’t win but slept in again!
The sun is shining; I am the only person sitting at the bottom of this mountain writing this blog. I share my space with the birds in the background and the occasional bleat of the sheep who must be resting now after the storm last night where they cried out all night. There is a baby deer just running by the side of the river beside me, wow.
Today I went out to make a telephone call at 11am and had to travel 20 miles to get a signal. I had stopped so many times to see if I had a signal that by the time I reached somewhere that was OK the telephone needed charging! There were so many beautiful places to stop and just gaze at. I got back to the campsite at 10pm.
Today I go out with the intention of seeing the Aira Force Waterfall. Alas, as I engage with life my plans change by the minute. I end up at Helvellyn and had I anticipated the hair-raising journey to get there on a one track road going up a mountain I might have thought twice and stayed safe on a main road! I pray to God a car does not decide to come down the road because the track will not hold two cars and there are few passing places. I don’t do reversing along a narrow track very well, where I imagine I am going to fall to my death. One man said, “Go slowly as the stones will damage your tires” – as they crunch, screech and pop on every turn.
A few times since leaving home the roads have been so steep I have felt as though the car was going to summersault over onto its roof! Between the tranquil and peace of the most beautiful scenic views you could imagine and the hair raising ordeals of the narrow winding roads and the scary noises as I try to sleep in my tent, I can’t decide if this holiday is as relaxing as I intended it to be or raising my blood pressure by the minute!
I end the evening sitting by a camp fire singing and telling stories to some children, one a very vocal, opinionated six year old. I am going to stop speaking to people, my holiday is too social! My intention was to have a quite time, I think things have not gone to plan.
There is no rain tonight, the air is still. I can hear the river flowing gently at the bottom of the field. Ah I think a good nights sleep everything is quiet. I hear the engine of a plane in the distance. It is getting closer and louder, the noise is becoming deafening. I fear for my ear drums blowing out, I put my fingers in my ears. I think the plane is on top of me and going to crash into my tent any minute. Wow it passes over and fades into the distance. About thirty minutes later the same thing happens. Apparently the airspace above my tent has been sold to Scandinavia for army training!
I made the Aira Force Waterfall today; I must say it was a lovely place to visit a National Trust Venue. I wore my new walking boots and took my Jacket. I really looked the part. I left my briefcase in the car! I found a raspberry bush and picked some raspberries. Fresh raspberries picked at the right time are delicious. They do not taste like shop raspberries.
Next I make dinner at the YHA. A rather good looking young man from Edinburgh asks if he can join me. He is a thinker and is controversial about everything I say. He makes for an interesting evening as I am challenged to think about the views I hold on the topics we discuss. He leaves for the pub while I write this review.
My friends arrived today from Alnwick – a school friend, her partner, her son and his partner. We went to see the Beatrix Potter attractions in Bowness-on-Windermere. Bowness is a scenic and bustling town on the banks of Lake Windermere. It has panoramic views of the lake and mountains; lots of boat trips were available. There were a variety of shops and good food eating places. The fish and chips were really tasty.
I forgot to say that I had padlocks on the tent, one on the side door and the other on the bedroom door. There was no way to lock the front door, so I just left it. I thought well that will stop anyone getting in!
That’s it guys – the Lake District is the place to go.