Pheasants and Robins

Today I took a bus to Dubwath, which is on the west side of Bassenthwaite Lake, thinking I would do some walking around there. I’d seen the gently-rounded hills from the bus on my trip to Cockermouth.

The bus stop I alighted at was over the road from the train station cafe that I had booked for Luke, Pete, Lea, Sue, Mark and I in May. I’d seen it online and booked it but had no idea what it was like so it seemed like a good idea to go have a look and see if I’d made a terrible mistake.

I had not made a terrible mistake.

I had coffee at the cafe, in one of their railway cars.

I used their bathroom, outside of which was a bookshelf and I think one of the books was about me!

I’ve been practicing my banter so much I think I’m definitely at an advanced level now.

Then I took a walk around the nature reserve over the road. It was a boardwalk over boggy ground. I took another photo to add to my collection of terrible quality photos of birds. I think it’s a wren but I’m happy to be corrected.

I know it was a bird, but this photo is so bad it could be a weird potato.

I had a look in the bird hide, where there was a whiteboard to record wildlife sightings.

Exciting stuff! I then had a chat to a man who told me about the African swallows (unladen) that had just started arriving and described their call to me and just as he did, one of them did their call. It was very fortuitous.

Then I took a walk up the nearest fell. It was a stunning day and the views were tremendous. The walk wasn’t super difficult but from the top I could see all the way to Scotland, the Isle of Man and I think I could see Northern Ireland too. I’m not going to post many photos because I think it would be an ideal walk to do with everyone before our tea at the train (weather permitting). Some of the walk was a corpse road, an ancient track along which people would carry bodies to the local church.

The amazing weather made it less creepy.

There were a few people around as the walk was very accessible. It’s the first walk I’ve been on where I’ve seen quite small children.

The way there and back from the bus stop passes the Pheasant Inn.

My favourite bird, as you may well know by now. I went in and had some lunch in their back garden area.

Roast beef roll and some cider.

A very tame little robin joined me.

I can now start a collection of high quality photos of birds. Finally!

After a long rest and soak in the sun, I took a photo of the hedge then returned down the road to the bus shelter.

High quality photo, poor quality bird.

The bus shelter was of a much higher standard than most, and a nice place to wait out of the rain.

I felt like I’d had a medium-effort day but my watch said I’d climbed 59 storeys. There certainly were a lot of ups and downs and I could feel it in my calves.

I got back to the B&B to find all my washing done – my hosts had asked if there was anything they could do to make up for the lock incident. The only thing I really wanted was clean clothes, so that was easy!

All my clothes are pictured except for the set I was wearing. I have attained my badge in ultralight packing!

I’ve also done a book swap with one of the owners here, since I finished the Matt Haig novel last night and there’s no reason to hold onto it. It’s the first book I’ve finished on the trip. I think writing the blog and listening to podcasts has been my main entertainment. Luke asked me what I do in the evenings and, aside from washing my pair of socks and underwear from that day, that’s about it.

I’ve been having trouble replying to people’s messages on the blog but thank you to everyone who has left comments and kind words, I’ve really appreciated them! Deb asked what I think of walking poles. As I was on the bus home I tried to think of ten reasons why I recommend them.

1. Better balance (four legs are better than two!)

2. They help me hoist myself up higher more easily.

3. They help me let myself down easier from high steps – they are great for relieving pressure on joints.

4. I can prod damp patches to see if they are deep or shallow and get across wide puddles more easily.

5. They are good for lifting spiky plants away from my legs.

6. They give me peace of mind. Charmaine broke her ankle and couldn’t come, she said if she’d had her poles she probably would’ve been more stable and not fallen. I’m not taking any risks I can easily avoid!

7. Numerous times I’ve gone out without them and regretted it but never regretted taking them!

8. I’ve had a couple of people say to me over the years that they think poles are for elderly people, so I like to use them because I’m not, so I’m normalising them for middle-aged people;-).

9. They do take weight off your legs so you get more of a workout for your arms and can walk further in comfort.

10. This is one of the things I notice almost immediately if I don’t use them; my hands feel slightly swollen when I walk briskly with them hanging by my side so I have to hold my backpack straps to alleviate the sensation. With poles, my hands are elevated enough to avoid this sensation.

I don’t use them on city streets or anything, but out in the countryside, particularly going places I haven’t been before, they make it possible for me to go further, faster and more confidently. So I say grab yourself a pair!


A Bit of Buttermere

I camped the night by the lake in Keswick and then caught the 77a bus to Buttermere via Honister Pass. Last time we were in the UK we risked death and drove Honister Pass ourselves in dark and misty weather. This time I wasn’t driving and it was broad sunshine. Far superior!

It is still one of the most dramatic roads I think I’ve ever been down (almost equal to Canada’s Icefields Parkway and certainly more hair-raising) – if you’re in the Lake District do yourself a favour and catch the bus and see for yourself.

Although I wasn’t driving I didn’t manage any decent photos through the bus windows so you’ll have to take my word for it and go.

The bus was packed and it was a relief to get off in Buttermere village, a tiny hamlet that sits between the two bodies of water that are Buttermere and Crummock Water. Naming towns and lakes the same thing is annoying and it happens a lot in Cumbria. There’s also about a dozen each of Angle Tarns, Castle Crags, Raven Crags and Blea Tarns, to mention but a few. Also you wouldn’t believe how many Grouse Butts I’ve found on the maps (tee hee).

The bus stops at the picturesque Fish Inn.

Buttermere has been recommended to me by many people and also features heavily on Lakeland Instagram communities but nothing really prepares you for the beauty of its steeps mountains and crystal waters.

First I walked up the side of the valley towards Bleaberry Tarn until the path became too steep (story of my life) then I did a lap around the lake.

The water was so inviting that I took off my shoes and socks and hobbled a little way along (some of the stones are a bit sharp) and was surprised at how warm the water was.

It was good 6km round and there was a man in a van selling ice creams halfway.

There were many people and many dogs all the way along, a great deal of whom seemed to want to speak in a shouting volume or walk in large groups across the path and at a glacial rate. Still, I was there, so I suppose I can’t really resent everyone else for wanting to be there as well. I just wish they’d all pipe down.

The bus back was even more packed than the bus there and we got to experience that classic moment when two large vehicles come around a bend and one has to reverse, with a stone wall on one side and cliff wall on the other.

I had complete faith in our driver as he reversed the bus about 20 metres back around a sharp corner so a truck could get by.

We all gave him a round of applause after, obviously. As the truck indicates, it was indeed pure Lake District;-)

Back in Keswick I felt in need of an early night but first had to take a few photos of the canada geese that had brought their goslings up the bank to ravage the grass.

On my Instagram and Facebook I’ve posted a video of the moment one of the geese took offence at my presence and I squealed and scurried away.

Into town for a bite of dinner and a couple of little bottles of gin and I was set to lie in my tent giggling away to PG Wodehouse’s ‘Joy in the Morning’, which is the best Wooster and Jeeves book I think I’ve read yet.

I’m not really achieving my reading goal for the year but it’s mainly because I’m so tired each evening – not a bad thing at all!

Here Comes The Planet 48 – Tanzania 04

On this episode of Here Comes The Planet we head out to the Serengeti for our first safari, and spot a good number of animals! As exciting as it was, to get there we had to drive many hours over what was by far the worst “road” many of us have ever had the displeasure to experience. Worth it in the end, but only just!

Also, we take a sneak peak at the location of what will be the location of our next safari, the Ngorongoro crater.

Special thanks to our travel companions Pete and Deb for loaning us their footage to use in our video!

Here Comes The Planet 39 – Iceland 04

We go back to Jökulsárlón to see the nearby black sand beach, and then continue our travels across Iceland’s stunning landscape.

Also, here are the promised 80’s-hair-metal-band Iceland horses; none, unfortunately, which are fighting. 🙂

Music: Rafstraumur by Sigur Rós