Keswick Day 1

First, thanks for your video, Mum!

My phone setup at the moment makes it difficult to communicate directly with my parents, so I haven’t spoken to them directly since I left. My brother recorded Mum sending me a little message, which was very nice to watch!

Also apologies to all the people who get email notifications, I’ve uploaded a few old posts out of order so if yesterday’s updates were confusing, that’s why.

Today we left our cosy apartment in Ambleside and moved to Keswick. I phoned the owners of the property to see if we could be let in early to drop our bags off and she said it was fine.

Out the door with all the bags.

We caught the bus and Luke and I minded the bags so Lea and Pete could see the view from the top. We’ve taken the route before so we don’t mind not having the best seats.

Wedged in.

The bus was a bit delayed and we ended up taking longer than expected, but the walk from the bus stop to our new place wasn’t far.

The place is lovely and very central, with one bedroom and the living area at ground level then two bedrooms and a bathroom below. We access it from a little door in the car park out back but the front is a traditional Lakeland guesthouse.

Not quite as charming as the front… which I’ll take a photo of tomorrow since it’s dark now.

We went for a walk into town while the cleaning was being finished. We looked through a few shops and walked down to the lake.

A somewhat grey day and a somewhat wonky photo.

There were food vans and a start/finish line for a race all being set up, part of the Mountain Festival that is happening this weekend. There are fell races happening tomorrow (where people run over the fells) of between 5k and 50k. If I hadn’t booked us a pub for lunch tomorrow I’d seriously (not) consider joining in.

We stopped at The Wainwright for lunch.

Pickle Pete! (He was sharing Lea’s burger).

Afterwards we had a bit more of a wander through op shops and bought some lemon cake for our afternoon snack.

We had a bit of quiet time in the afternoon before going to Booths to stock up on breakfast food, crackers and alcohol.

We tried a sample of blue cheese at the cheese counter and ended up bringing several cheeses home.

Before we could contemplate cheese we had to have dinner (it feels like all we did today was eat) and after asking for a table in several restaurants, we ended up back at The Wainwright, where we all had the steak and ale pie.


Our accommodation has a little patio so we finished off the evening with cheese and wine outdoors. The sky put on a lovely show for us.

The company and cheeses made up for the car park views.

Walking Ambleside to Grasmere

A much more gentle goal for today’s walk; a low level walk from Ambleside to Grasmere via Rydal Water. I’d never done this walk before so I was keen to do it.

We headed out of town a little after 10am. The first part was road walking but we soon stepped off the main road and onto one of Cumbria’s many corpse roads, where bodies were transported from town to town.

Lots of cute herdwick sheep.
Checking whether it’s true or not.

We took many photos of the landscape and livestock as we wandered along. The weather was cloudy but warm.

Over a stile and into the grounds of Rydal Hall, a manor house with some lovely garden features.

‘Grot House’ must have been named before people realised ‘grotto’ was more suitable.
To get to the house we walked along this lovely path then under a bridge.

The inside of the house was simple but lovely, with window seats for viewing the waterfall.

We had a little walk around their gardens and took a photo of the front of the main house.

We thought about pretending we were staying here but you lot would never believe it.

On our way out we saw the most magnificent carpet of wild garlic I have ever seen! Look at it!

It was very hard to photograph well but we gave it our best shot.

On to the 400 year old church just down the road.

The interior of the church was lovely in its simplicity.

There was a bowl and little slips of paper up the front on the little table. Visitors were invited to write a prayer or message to god and put it in the bowl. Luke pulled a couple out and had a look.

Did he fall asleep in church? Is this a threat?

Past the church and down to Rydal village, which is a very small collection of houses and a pub. It is very cute though!

Clematis is out everywhere at the moment. So pretty!

The next section of the wall was on the other side of the main road, over a bridge and then along the banks of Rydal Water.

The forest was a luminous green, with all the new leaves and fresh ferns.
Thousands of bluebells along the path.
Bluebells are irritatingly difficult to photograph effectively but so magical in person.
This is a very famous boat shed that has has been photographed millions of times… I haven’t done it justice, but sometimes it looks like this:
(Not my photo, obviously)

The walk along the water was lovely and we got to see some people doing something unexpected…

… getting in the water. Upon closer inspection we could see the kids had gum boots and there were a couple of adults with wetsuits. The water temperature today was 11 degrees.


Then it was across country to the next body of water, Grasmere.

Another photo that completely fails to capture the millions of bluebells in front of us.

I won’t lie, much like this post, the route was longer than I expected. Maybe my mile to kilometre conversion was off but the walk did feel longer than I’d anticipated.

We stopped for a toilet break at the cafe next to the cottage where Wordsworth lived. This is a photo of his cottage, not the cafe.

Here’s a poem I liked from the visitors centre.

Next stop: lunch! Even though I walked everyone further than they’d probably have liked, food is so much more enjoyable when you’re tired (or at least, that’s what I keep telling them).

I managed to take a photo that looks like I’m stalking them.

No behaviour worthy of blackmail. Yet.

Lea and I shared a coronation chicken sandwich and then I ate half of Luke’s bowl of chips.

Almost as delicious but half as brightly coloured as my last curried chicken sandwich.

The people next to us had a dog that was a BORDOODLE! Border collie x poodle.

Here’s the dog I patted for about half an hour.

A mix I had not heard of until this year and one of my workmates got one. This one kept leaning on my leg and I found myself patting it without realising what I was doing. I am definitely missing Bonnie but I am 100% certain she is not missing us, going by the photos I am getting from the people she is staying with.

Daycare photo from a few days ago for reference.
Luke is dubious.

Next we wandered around Grasmere and looked at all the cute buildings.

After doing a couple of circuits of town we decided on afternoon tea at the hotel above. Apart from Lea being served a pot of tea that contained a single teabag and getting a grumpy look from the waitress when I asked for more, the food as lovely and served in a very comfortable room with a view of the plebs walking past.

The only significant thing we did in Grasmere was buy some ‘famous’ Grasmere gingerbread.

This required queuing, which I am ideologically opposed to, but we eventually got into the tiny room and Lea bought a packet.

Last was a top-deck bus ride back to Ambleside!

This might be my longest post yet but I couldn’t bear not to share all these magnificent views. To finish, for those of you who know my dog, here’s a last photo of her at daycare with her adopted older brother, Chester.


Ambleside: A Walk Up Loughrigg Fell

Everyone was happy for me to lead the way today so I suggested a walk up Loughrigg Fell, which is one of the closest and smallest fells near Ambleside.

Setting out!

We were up and out just before 10am, all well-rested and full of energy. It’s so nice to have a kitchen and be able to have a small breakfast. The place we are staying at only has one teaspoon though so we have to take it in turns to use it… and no toilet roll holders, which is also kind of weird.

We walked across the park and over the bridge to the bottom of the hill.

Look at that sky!

Up a steep road then over a stile.

Many photos were taken.

There were swathes of bluebells, which are hard to photograph but stunning in real life.
Within half an hour we had made it up the first section to Todd Crag, which had beautiful views over Ambleside and Windermere.

The top of Loughrigg is undulating so we walked up and down a bit and even did a tiny bit of scrambling (walking but having to use your hands where it’s steep). We saw a deer and I saw a hawk.

Windermere in the distance.
Some of the tarns had completely dried up but the larger ones remained.
We took lots of breaks to enjoy the views.

We had a chat to a fellow who was enjoying a quiet walk while his wife was at her 75th school reunion in Ambleside. We later passed him and his wife in town and told her we hoped she’d had a lovely time!

After wandering on the southern half of the fell, and everyone feeling fine, I suggested we walk up the higher part of the fell to the north as I recalled there being good views of the Langdales from the other side.

This is the part of the day where I stopped taking so many photos because the path was distinctly more hilly and rocky than I’d recalled. Everyone else was extremely patient and put in a top effort and we got up the steep and gravelly slopes with a few rest stops.

We also saw the fighter jets again from this side! We’d seen a tiny moment of them from Ambleside yesterday but had a much better view today.

I don’t like slippery gravel at all, especially downhill, so I used the OS map app to navigate us down some grassy goat tracks on the far side and back to the main path. It was a bit hairy but I think, in the end, that it was a better way to go and no one complained at all. Champions!

Once we got down to the wide track it was an easy walk down back into Ambleside.

Next stop:

For some:


The sun was out, along with every man, woman, child and dog in town. After lunch we had a wander around town and a look in the Oxfam store.

I bought this book, I hope to use it to my advantage.

Then we discovered that Lea hadn’t tried Jaffa cakes so it was home for tea and biscuits!

(Or cake, depending on how you view them)

We learned our lesson from last night and booked a table booked at The Flying Fleece for dinner.

I had curry and everyone else had a gigantic Cumberland sausage and a mountain of mashed potato. A satisfying end to a big day!

Ambleside Day 2: Family Reunited!

After a fabulous sleep in a king-sized bed, Luke and I awoke ready to enjoy the wonders of the Lake District and to catch the bus to Windermere to meet Luke’s parents, Lea and Pete, at the Windermere train station.

The smiles are a lie. It was freezing and I was deeply regretted not bringing my coat.

We caught the open-topped bus from Ambleside to Windermere and had a wander around Booths while we waited. It is a large and fancy supermarket where everything looks perfect and fresh and the labels are all very English and cute, it’s a bit like walking around an art gallery. Also there are no decent supermarkets in Ambleside so we picked out a few things to buy later before we caught the bus back.

Close to the time the train arrived, we went to the station, which is right next door to the supermarket. Precisely on time, the train pulled in.

I had several potential plans for the afternoon and we settled on the following:

Brunch at a cute cafe.
Full English!
We saw a huge dog in the street.

Then up to Orrest Head, one of the best bang-for-buck walks in the area and it starts right by the train station.

A lovely leafy walk.
Not too many stairs.
Beautiful green views along the way.
The view from the top was fantastic but is hard to show in a photo, so here’s one of us instead:-)
On the way down we found the Gruffalo! We also saw some fat native bumblebees and robins bobbing around the undergrowth.

Then a tour of Booths to buy supplies..

Examining the beer selection.

Then onto the bus to Ambleside!

Followed by relaxing in our lovely apartment, eating cheese, drinking wine and sharing travel stories.

Our flat is up those steps.

In the evening we took a short walked to bridge house, which had already featured in the blog at least once, many years ago. It is the most photographed building in the Lake District and used to house a family with six children. It was built across the beck to avoid land taxes.

We had a drink outside one of the pubs then bought some pizzas from the little local supermarket to heat up at home. We were all in bed by 10!

Whaley Bridge: Visiting Rick

When I come to the UK I usually drop in and visit Mum’s cousin Angela and her husband, Rick. I’ve never been great at keeping in contact with family and I usually send them an email a couple of months before I arrive to see if they are free.

This time when I checked my email for their address I found an email from Rick telling me that Angela had died two years prior from cancer. It was quite a shock, as I knew she had been recovering from chemo and breast cancer prior to our last visit but had seemed in reasonable health. Angela was always a very energetic person and somehow I just expected her to always be there.

Rick invited me to come visit (although actually I might have invited myself) but Rick is an absolutely delightful person, a retired Church of Scotland minister, and it was lovely to have the chance to go and see him.

I caught the train from Oxenholme to Whaley Bridge, which is in the Peak District. In terms of beauty it is, in my opinion, second only to Cumbria. Rick picked me up from the station (I’d missed my first train and had to take later trains but didn’t have to buy extra tickets thanks to the very nice ticket collectors) an hour later than expected and we went back to his house, which sits on the side of a hill just out of town.

It was built around 1890 so by English standards it’s almost brand new.

After a cup of tea we picked up Teal, Rick’s spaniel, who I’d first met on my last trip, and took a drive to the little church and cemetery where Angela was buried.

I don’t even know that I could say I knew Angela very well, we only spent a few days together every five years or so, but she was very kind and generous and a lovely person to be around.

It did occur to me that outside of my immediate family, despite being on the opposite side of the world, Angela and Rick were the family members I saw most after Mum’s parents died. I have two cousins in NSW and Mum has a sister, Vivian, but I never see much of them and even less of Dad’s side of the family. I’ve always assumed most families were like this but Luke’s family (he had 10 aunts and uncles in total) is the complete opposite – always in contact and there’s so many of them! My first Christmases with his family were quite a shock to the system!

I hope Rick will correct me if I’ve got this wrong, but the tower of the church was built in the 13th century, the rest is a Victorian addition.

We then went back to the house and I offered to take Teal for a little walk. Being on trains all day, I wanted to stretch my legs. Teal wasn’t super keen to leave Rick behind, but I dragged him along a bit and as we got up the laneway behind the house there was a lovely view.

Then a lady came along with three border collies off lead. Teal was very friendly with them and the lady and I stood there talking about dogs for about half an hour.

Then another couple came along with their three dogs!

They had a terrier puppy with a very unusual coat.

After a good sniff around Teal was happy to head back the 200 metres to home.

In the evening Rick and I went to the local pub for dinner, where both of us managed to drop food on the floor, although I like to think I did the most damage with my molten Brie.

It was a lovely old pub which had recently been done up. Mysteriously, they kept the original name.

Very cosy!

We talked a lot about travel. Rick is going on a cruise with family next week to Spain, then he is off to Iceland a couple of months later. The following day we talked about the possibility of Rick come to Australia next year!

I had a lovely evening and came back to sit on the couch and pat Teal. It was nice to have some dog time as I am missing Bonnie but seeing dogs everywhere!

The following morning, after an excellent night’s sleep, we had breakfast then did a bit of gardening before Rick took me back to the station. I don’t think Rick could believe I actually wanted to sweep up leaves and do some out door work, but when I travel I miss doing domestic things and it was like scratching an itch. Also I was going to be sitting on public transport for about eight hours so I was glad to be doing something physical.

Now I’m part way through my journey to Stansted airport, which has entailed a train to Stockport, a change at Sheffield, a bus to London Victoria and then I’ll find a way to get to the airport.

Goodbye until next time, Whaley Bridge!
A fish in Sheffield.
There was some writing on the cream wall…
If you can be bothered zooming in it’s a beautiful poem.

I was going to leave it there for today’s post but I just had a noteworthy experience at the bus stop.

It wasn’t the architecture of the bus stop though, tell me this building isn’t missing a 25 metre pool and the smell of chlorine.

I waited a while for the bus and then wandered out with my big backpack when it looked like people were boarding. One of the bus drivers said he’d put my big bag under the bus and so I pulled out my little backpack and threw my puzzle book and my copy of The Idler on the ground while I did up the straps.

Both the bus men noticed The Idler and commented on it, one was in favour and one was not. Was got into a conversation on the value of occasionally being idle and then one of the drivers started reciting a poem to me about expectations and ambition. The poem would have been hundreds of words long and it was fantastic.

He said it was his own poem and he loved writing poetry. I commented on the giant poem I’d seen on the building nearby and he performed another poem, then we talked about friendship (I was going to ask if he shared his poems with a partner or friends) but he said he didn’t have any friends because they let you down. He then proceeded to perform another poem and then told me he had 102 poems that he had composed but they were all memorised, none of them written down.

The other driver looked quite gobsmacked – this was the first he’d heard about the poetry. I thought it was very entertaining and very unexpected! I said he should perform some over the loudspeaker on the bus but he didn’t look keen.

So, one hour in Sheffield but quite a memorable experience!

Next stop: London Victoria Coach Station