Sale Fell And An Afternoon Tea

Today was the day! My guided walk for everyone up Sale Fell then back to the lake station cafe for the afternoon tea I booked months ago. I’d been keeping my fingers crossed for good weather but it was sprinkling just a little when I woke up.

There was one thing to do first: the presenting of the gifts!

Relish, satay spice mix and Vegemite.

If you have family overseas you’ll know that any visitor from home will be asked to bring food items when they come to visit. Luke’s uncle Mark had requested a few of his favourites.

Next we headed to the bus stop and finally managed to be first on and grab the seats up the top and right at the front.


The slight mist of morning rain had stopped and the day was clearing a bit and warming up.

We set off uphill.

And up.

And up.

If I didn’t explain fully yesterday, Mark is Luke’s youngest uncle (Luke’s mother is the eldest of nine siblings) and only three years older than me. Mark moved to the UK in his twenties, met Sue and settled in Essex.

Mark and Sue come to the Lake District every October with a group of friends for walking holidays. They are both very fit, Mark just completed a 100km walk around the Isle of Wight (in one go, not over a week like I’d do it) and Sue runs marathons. The rest of us were a bit concerned that our pace would be a bit painful for them but they magnanimously slowed down.

Well, mostly.

The walk was a long way to the top but worth it.

Sale Fell is a nice gentle hill with an undulating crown. Good walking for inexperienced walkers and families. Great views and no sharp edges!

Right at the very top are views to Scotland and, extremely faintly if you really squinted, Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Here’s Mark’s photo of ‘Luke and Lea looking like they’re loving life on the lakeside links’. (Say it ten times fast!)

We met a nice older man at the top who told us he’d heard cuckoos on the way up, which we completely forgot to listen for on the way down.

The ubiquitous lambs.

The walk down was lovely.

We decided to stop at the Pheasant Inn for a drink since we were too early for our cafe booking.

It was lovely sitting in the sun and the garden had a lot more flowers out since I’d last visited. All the azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom at the moment. Mum, you would have loved it.

But forget about a mere drink, afternoon tea was on the horizon!

The tables I booked were in the train cafe.

Apart from being stiflingly hot, it was delightful.

We weren’t sure how the waiters would fit food onto the tiny tables, but through sleight of hand, and possibly some actual magic, they did it with ease.

What first??

The food selection included tiny Yorkshire puddings and roast beef, delicious sandwiches, cheesecake, profiteroles, salmon and avocado mousse, deep fried Camembert and more! Lea had, rather unwisely, claimed at the pub that she would be capable of eating everything put in front of her at the tea.

Don’t underestimate the way a dozen small things can be extremely filling!

Thanks for taking this photo, Sue!

We caught the bus back and are currently collapsed on the couch, digesting!

For those who have asked me if Bonnie is missing us, here’s today’s upload from her host family.

I’m guessing she does not.


Despite the bus breakdown, the ride to Cockermouth was stunning, with mountain, lake and forest views along the way.

I did find a big mural with the history of the place. The town has been around for over 1000 years, which is pretty incredible!

Cockermouth is an ancient town, the first written record of it is almost 1000 years ago so it’s probably been around even longer. Apart from the castle it doesn’t look very old though and unfortunately the castle is a private home.

I walked around the Main Street and saw a new history mural.

There was an historical walking route so I decided to follow that around the town.

I noticed one of those historical plaques above a doorway.
If you notice this notice you’ll notice this notice is not worth noticing.
Somehow I crossed the wrong bridge and ended up on the other side of the river.

Cockermouth is most famous (to me, anyway) for being the home of William Wordsworth. I thought it was peak daffodil season because there were white daffodils everywhere, which felt like an odd choice, considering the famous poem is about a host of yellow daffodils. A lady I met on my detour told me that I’d missed the yellow ones by a couple of weeks.

We talked about how many times her house has flooded since she moved here from the south (twice) as she lives by the river. We also talked about how small towns like this are being affected by things like Airbnb, online shopping and younger people moving away. It’s the same story everywhere, really. The towns that are thriving are too expensive for locals and the smaller quiet places feel dead because the houses are empty except on weekends.

We also talked about the largest building on the river, the brewery, which was now for sale. The locals want a museum but it all depends on who buys it.

I returned to the trail, which took me through the main courtyard of the brewery.

A man saw me taking photos and jokingly asked if I’d like to buy it and I said I was just seeing how much I had on me. He said if I had three quarters of a million pounds it could be mine! Well, I said I’d have to ask my husband but why not?

Next was around the castle wall to have a peek through the bars, then down some back lanes. I quite like the name of this pub.

‘The Bitter End’

Next was the churchyard.

It’s always worth pushing on a church door, just in case you can get in and have a look. The stained glass looked like it might be worth a view from the correct side.


Very nice! But I think my favourite part was where it looked like they had the local primary school kids do a project on the church then put the beet one on display.


The buildings in Cockermouth are quite brightly coloured, which is interesting (well, to me!).

It was a nice day for a wander about. The little blister on my toe is getting better but I’d like it to be gone by the time I get to Spain so I’m having a couple of easy days. Plus it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.

The last thing I did before I caught the bus back was have a chocolate eclair from a very nice bakery. I sat in the sun at the bus stop with an older lady and got chatting about chocolate eclairs and the weather and the buses and she said ‘You look very familiar,’ and I replied that there was no chance of her seeing me before as I’d never been to Cockermouth. Then we worked out that she had been on the bus that had picked me up from the broken down bus earlier that day.

When the bus arrived I once again got the front seat at the top (woo hoo!) and, since it was a different numbered bus it went back along the other side of the lake and I got to see the train cafe where Luke and his family and I have booked for an afternoon tea when we come back to the area in late May.

Before returning to the campsite I went back to Mrs F’s Cafe for some lunch. Pea and mint soup.


I asked what soup would be on tomorrow – curries butternut squash. I can’t wait!

Back to the campsite to enjoy the sun. The wind that had been predicted wasn’t affecting my little spot but, with two days of rain predicted, I decided to pack up and book a bed and breakfast.

Enjoying the view for the last time (this trip).
These people take their dogs EVERYWHERE!

As I was rolling up my gear another camper arrived, Chris, who was doing the Cumbria Way so we had quite a long talk. I had some time to fill before the 4pm check in at the B&B and it was nice standing in the sun.

On the way across town.

The bed and breakfast was only about 600 metres from the entrance to the campsite – Keswick isn’t very big, but I haven’t stayed in this area before, close to the lake park near the theatre (for anyone who knows the place). Also about 100 steps from The Wainwright, one of the best pubs in town.

The outside.
The inside.
The view from the room.
The pub!

I had a lovely dinner of steak and ale pie and read my book. A lady at another table asked me what I was reading so we talked about that.

She was there with her mum and the two of them looked like they were having a whale of a time, like a two person hen’s party, laughing at everything.

I returned to hop into bed reasonably early and it’s amazing how even just one night of camping can make getting into a real bed seem like one of life’s great pleasures!

Someone’s sticker collection in a shop window.

A Windy Walk Across Matterdale Common

After a late start I finally left the cosy confines of the Royal Hotel and set out uphill (as always) and on the way to Threlkeld.

Try saying ‘Threlkeld’ out loud five times quickly. On paper it looks like a perfectly normal name for a place but I feel like an idiot when I try to say it out loud. Ridiculous. I was afraid to meet anyone along the way in case they asked me where I was going, and considered changing my destination to avoid the awkwardness but the route I’d plotted looked so good I decided to stick to my plan.

OK, so it doesn’t look very exciting on paper and I seem to have added an extra pink line, but the point is, it goes through nowhere.

The skies darkened as I headed up hill and the wind picked up. Not good, but the meteorological wizards said it wasn’t supposed to rain and I chose, against all previous experience, to believe them.

Catkins, or pussy willow. Haven’t seen this since I was a kid!

Farmland gave way to Matterdale Common, which seemed very wide but there were a few cars in the car park right before the gate, so I thought I’d probably see a few people.

I did not, in fact, see anyone.
Over a little bridge and onto the common.

Up to this point I’d thought of commons as small green bits in the middle of villages, but this is the other kind.

Can you see the tiny path in the distance? It was about 6km away.

While walking across the common could’ve been dramatically improved by a severe reduction in gale-force, freezing cold winds, it was also magnificent to be out in such beautiful, open landscape alone.

I had bought a packed lunch from the Royal Hotel so I got to enjoy another uranium-enriched curry chicken sandwich and all the accompanying bits.

I did eat my lunch crouched over in a ditch to get out of the wind, but I still enjoyed it enormously.

I don’t know how something can look so bad but taste so good.

Walking is like meditation and it’s interesting to see where my mind wanders. I spend a lot of time re-writing song lyrics to suit my situation. I wish I could remember some of them now! I’ve never thought of myself as musical so I don’t know why this is where my brain goes.

All the grass is brown, and the sky was grey. I went for a walk on an April day. 🎶

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I like doing this so much (the walking, not the song lyrics). Being in this landscape is like walking through an art gallery all day, every day. Every flower is beautiful, every mountain spectacular, and I feel like it suits me and I fit in. No matter how the weather changes it just shows the landscape in a new light and damp and misty or bright and sunny, it’s as close to perfect as anywhere I’ve ever been.

I was talking to the family yesterday about Switzerland, as that is where their son lives. Switzerland is incredible. It’s the most dramatic scenery I’ve ever seen – but it’s inaccessible to me. I’ll never be fit enough or have the skills to climb those mountains. I don’t speak the language. Here it’s just right.

The long and winding road.

Eventually I made it across the common and met my first person of the day, another solo woman who was heading to Helvellyn YHA. We had a chat and moaned about the wind before parting ways.

The only other people I saw were some guys with dirt bikes.

Walking towards Blencathra felt like coming home, I’ve walked through the valley behind it several times.

Blencathra on the horizon.

After the common it was all downhill into Threlkeld and to the Horse and Farrier, a quite fancy pub that has been going since 1688, although probably not with nachos and waffles on the menu.

My feet were a bit sore from the rocky, uneven path and my knees had a few minor twinges so I spent the late afternoon off my feet on my room then had a delicious dinner downstairs, followed by zoom with Daniel to discuss the Spanish adventure in a bit over a week.

Super low beams.

Tomorrow a walk to Keswick. Can I actually be bothered to camp? It’ll come down to the price of accommodation and the likelihood of rain. Either way, I’ll enjoy it!

Dockray: High Force and Watermillock Common

As my blister isn’t getting any better or worse, I thought I’d take it easy today and break the day into two small walks, one on either side of the village.

In the morning I climbed halfway up Gowbarrow Fell and would’ve gone higher but I wasn’t keen on trying to climb a drystone wall.

I walked up to that tiny dark clump in the middle then down again. I really should’ve checked the map properly to see if there was a way to the top.

Then I walked down the valley to the first few sections of High Force and was then told by some people that the main section was closed due to a fallen tree.

Close to Dockray
Further down.

It was another stunningly beautiful day, so I had a sandwich and cider in the sun. The sandwich was so good I order a packed lunch for my walk onward to Troutbeck tomorrow. Curried chicken – I’ve never eaten a sandwich quite this brightly coloured!

The photo doesn’t really do it justice, I feel like it was almost glow-in-the-dark yellow.

After lunch I rested my feet for a bit and had a phone call with Luke and his parents. Lea and Pete have just arrived in Lille, so they are much closer to my time zone. They are travelling around with friends of theirs and then meeting Luke and I halfway through May when we come back to the Lake District.

Next was a walk up the hill behind the pub. It looked like a Goldilocks level for me – not too steep, not too gravelly, not too busy! In fact, I didn’t see a single person between leaving the pub and getting back.

First I headed for the nearest small hill and made it to the top quite easily. The ground was mostly sphagnum moss and lumps of dry grass.

I hadn’t taken any water so I didn’t want to go too far, but I decided to head up to the next rise, then the next rise, until I realised I was up very high!

High enough to see Helvellyn in the distance. Helvellyn isn’t the highest fell, but it’s where Striding Edge is. Mum had to walk it when she was a kid because grandpa was a mountain climber and thought it was totally fine for a small child. I’ll find a photo from the internet to show you what it’s like.

Thanks but no thanks. I know my limits!

Anyhow, it was exciting to see it from a distance. But then I saw something even more exciting, a fighter jet! I saw one on my last trip, whooshing down over Coniston. This time I saw one almost skim Ullswater, it was much lower than where I was standing. It was going too fast for me to get my camera out but here’s a photo with the level it was flying.

Am I too excited about this? It seemed very thrilling at the time but maybe it was just really loud.

Anyhow, I thought it was cool, then I did manage to get a photo of a much larger airforce plane going overhead.

Also fairly low but not quite as impressive.

The whole while I was climbing the wind was getting stronger and stronger. Despite the sun it was quite cold.

In hindsight the scarf was a mistake.

But I just kept going up and up. The tufts of grass made good footholds and not carrying a bag made it all easier. In the end I made it to the top of the disappointingly-named Common Fell. Literally the worst name of all the fells. There’s fells named Dollywagon Pike, Stang, Swineside Knot, High Spy and Crinkle Crags. I manage to have my best day yet on Common Fell. Oh well. Maybe the reason no one else was there was the unassuming name?

One day I will lose a shoe. But not today!

Maybe it was because half the surface of the fell was ankle deep bog. At one point I started singing that Annie Lennox song ‘Walking On Broken Glass’ but I changed the words to ‘walking on spagnum moss’ and thought… maybe I’ve spent too much time on my own today.

The moss was a lot better than loose shale though, and I don’t mind wet feet. The softness under foot was probably quite good for my joints and I didn’t feel very tired when I got back to the hotel.

The village green.

I washed my hair then went out to sit in the sun in the beer garden. Earlier in the morning I’d had a chat to a lady from Montreal and her partner and then they (and their son) asked me if I’d like to join their table in the beer garden as I was sitting alone.

Well, you know me. I sat with them outside for an hour or so then we all went in for dinner and sat together. We talked about our journeys – the man’s father had died (at 103!) of Covid and they were taking his ashes from Scotland to Dorset, where he had wanted them buried. They had stopped in Cumbria for two nights on the way and had visited Wordsworth’s cottage this morning. A perfect time of year for celebrating the life of the man who single handedly made daffodils synonymous with the Lake District.

The man had been an artist and they showed me photographs they had taken of many of his artworks. They were all very beautiful and many were of the English countryside.

We also talked about books. Their son’s favourite genre was science fiction so we swapped authors and talked about our favourites.

All in all another delightful day spent doing things I love!

I finally got a photo of people I’ve met!

Patterdale to Dockray: A Misty Morning, Daffodils and More Dogs

Staying at the YHA meant an unlimited English breakfast and I was making the most of it after all my exertions. I had booked the following two nights at the Royal Hotel in Dockray, a village so small that no one in Patterdale (only 5 miles distant) had heard of it.

After packing my bag and using the wifi to post my last blog entry, I set off. I immediately realised my blister was going to make the day very unpleasant if I didn’t do something about it. I hobbled to the general store in Glenridding and bought some medical tape (kind of papery in texture) and wrapped my little toe. This seemed to mostly stop the stabbing pain and the blood seeping through my newly-cleaned socks.

A cloudy but still day.
The river that runs through Glenridding

The fells were shrouded in mist and the distant reaches of the lake were ghostly, which made for some lovely photos and a nice cool walk.

I had a chat to a couple who asked where I was from and told me that they’d read in the news that Melbourne had just been declared Australia’s largest city. Only a few minutes later Daniel, (with whom I’ll be doing the Camino) messaged me with a news article saying the same. How funny to only really communicate twice in the morning and both about the same piece of news from the other side of the world.

I also had quite a long chat with a lady I’d met the previous day. She had been walking in the opposite direction on the far side of the lake with her dog and husband, who had a heart condition and was looking a bit pale.

When I met her today it was just her and the dog, her husband had hurt his knee on the previous day’s walk. She was clearly an extremely active and energetic person and her husband was not, which must make holidays in places like this very difficult. She had thought to come alone but then he had insisted on coming and now was injured. We both shook our heads at his folly and talked about travel.

She had wanted to go to South America this year but the trip had been cancelled at the last minute due to unrest in one of the places that was on the itinerary. I gave her the blog address and said if she ever made it to Australia to look me up – so if you’re reading this, hello! I realised we didn’t swap names so please leave a comment if you did end up here and I’ll give you my proper details!

Most of the west side of the Ullswater Way that I saw looked a lot like this.

I stopped for lunch at the Aira Force cafe, which was lovely but crowded and swarming with screaming children. It came as a bit of a shock because I’ve hardly seen any children so far and the day had been so quiet leading up to this point. After having a delicious croque monsieur, I walked around the cafe to the toilet block only to find a car park with over 100 cars. This is where all those people came from!

Delicious, but putting cheese on top of a sandwich does make it hard to hold.

The Lake District is a bit like this. Miles of quiet countryside and then pockets of tourists all jam-packed together. I guess anyone with mobility issues, children or limited time is just going to go to the main attractions. Aira Force is the biggest (highest? Widest? I don’t know) waterfall in the Lake District (in England? Great Britain?). There were so many people I couldn’t be bothered (hence why I know nothing about it) so I walked to Dockray via the narrow road rather than up along the waterfall trail. if the weather is nice I’ll maybe go back tomorrow.

The road was really narrow and I didn’t like how fast the cars were whizzing by, so I took a boggy detour through a field and up a hill. It probably took twice as long but the views were better and it felt safer, if damper.

Despite being a relatively short day’s walking it took me ages due to all the dawdling and chatting along the water. I got to the Royal Hotel at Dockray at about 3pm, glad to be off my feet and happy to finally find a pub with a half decent cider on tap (Aspall’s). Cider isn’t as popular in the north as in the south, unfortunately, and many pubs will only have Strongbow on tap and nothing in bottles. Aspall’s isn’t really traditional but it’s nice enough and the taste reminds me of so many summer days sitting outside pubs and enjoying the sun.

The Royal Hotel

The pub seemed nice but there were no stools at the bar (always disappointing) so I grabbed a book from the shelf in the hallway and sat down to read and drink and rest. the book was very good, a bit like Bill Bryson’s style and very funny.

Dinner was pie and vegetables and I ended up chatting to a very nice couple who were sitting near me and had a beautiful two year old collie. Apparently Meena usually takes a long time to become comfortable with new people but she sidled up to me for pats after about half an hour and then stayed next to me for ages, continually blocking everyone’s path to the toilets.

That face!

After a couple of glasses of wine I was ready for bed and looking forward to a day without my huge pack!