Windermere: Cragwood Estate

From Buttermere we needed to get to Cambridge, which is pretty much at the opposite end of the country.

This would mean a bus, a bus, three trains and possibly a bus, so we decided to split the journey over two days.

This option became even more enticing when we found a relatively reasonable room rate for Cragwood, a hotel that is part of the same group as Merewood, where Mum and I first stayed on our last big trip. It was one of the loveliest hotels I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting, so finding out we could stay in the affiliated hotel, which is just over the road, was a no-brainer.

But first we had to catch the bus to Keswick.

A visit to the laundromat was in order. After four days without a washing machine we were in no state to swan about a fancy house pretending we belonged there.

Seven pounds just for a single load! Ouch. Still, it did mean visiting my favourite clematis, which grows right outside.

‘Dr Ruppel’ or so Google tells me.

The washing and drying took about an hour so we had time afterwards for a quick visit to Mrs F’s cafe for a last bowl of soup.

Luke was treated to the full Mrs F’s experience, with the lady who owns the place talking non stop to us and an American couple from the moment we entered until the moment we left.

She even remembered me from my visits a month ago, which was lovely.

The cafe is decorated in the style of her nan’s house.

Now that we were relatively clean and presentable it was back to the bus interchange. We found a park bench as we’d missed the last bus by only a couple of minutes. Fortunately we made a new friend to keep us entertained. A boxador!

There’s friendly and then there’s ‘I’ll lie on your feet before we’ve even exchanged names’.

Then we made another friend on the bus.

Bus views

The bank holiday traffic flowing the other way was a slow and steady stream – we were making our escape at the right time!

The bus stop was right outside Cragwood, which was handy. Not too far to carry my bag, which has grown heavier and heavier with new clothes, gifts, and even a chopping board that was given to me by the lady at the Booths cheese counter.

First stop was our room, which had a window seat that was bigger than my bed in our previous accommodation.

I think our bed was bigger than the room we slept in at the cottage. After a bath and getting into our newly-washed clothes, we headed out to look around.

The old part of the building had beautiful wood panelling.
A cosy sitting room.

The grounds were lovely, with a perfect striped lawn looking out over Windermere.

The last of the wisteria.

The gardens were full of rhododendrons in flower.

We got a drink from the bar and went to sit in the shade.

We had booked dinner at 7pm but when we walked in there were two women with two small children, both of whom were playing with phones that had the volume up. I don’t judge or care if people give children devices in restaurants to keep them settled, but having one, let alone two, with the volume up is so irritating that I asked if we could come back at 8pm. Fortunately they weren’t busy and didn’t mind.

We were glad we asked to change because we ended up enjoying a peaceful and delicious meal and talking to one of the waiters. He was from Valencia and had moved to the Lake District many years ago.

The food was very fancy!

I had mackerel then chicken, Luke had pigeon then pork. We both had desserts and the only problem I had was the same one we’d had throughout the Lake District – not enough icecream with the sticky toffee pudding.

Is this icecream for ants?

After dinner our waiter gave us a little sample of Kendal mint liquor, which tasted just like after dinner mints but in liquid form. Very nice but a lurid colour.

We took our last glass of wine out to the terrace.

Tomorrow is a long day of travel but I’m looking forward to seeing Andrew, his new house and his corgi, Winston!

Buttermere: Last Day!

Before I do anything else, here’s some pictures of the inside and outside of our little cottage.

Please note all doors and windows are 2/3 normal size.
The tiny windows and low ceilings definitely add to the doll house feel.
A bedroom that is barely big enough for one bed, let alone two. The beds are so small our feet hang off the ends!

Mark and Sue went off to climb Rannerdale Knotts, the home of one of England’s largest bluebell fields. Unfortunately the bluebells are mostly done here so the rest of us opted to dither around the cottage until 11:30 then walk to Buttermere for lunch.

We somehow managed to take the wrong track once again (a different wrong track this time) and had to jump the stream. It’s a track that’s about 500 metres long and we somehow are yet to find the right path.

Look at that weather!

Back to the same cafe as the previous day for a different type of pie and a different flavour of fancy lemonade.

Across the road from the Buttermere pubs is a walk that goes alongside a deep beck. We headed up and along, enjoying the shade on such a warm and bright day.

So green!

It’s (yet again) hard to capture but the side was steep and dropped away sharply. The path was fairly flat but narrow and I started to feel a bit of vertigo. It was annoying that, on such a straightforward path, I felt suddenly very anxious and had a moment of panic. Sometimes I wonder if I’d been more outdoorsy and comfortable with this sort of thing if I’d kept up the walking we’d done with Mum on our childhood holidays. We used to go to the Blue Mountains and climb down ladders on cliff faces ands scramble around. Still, I do what I’m comfortable with doing and that will have to be enough.

At the end of the path we went through a gate and onto the open hillside, just in time to see a jet zoom past.

A fairly awful photo of one of the fighter jets. I cropped a tiny section of a much larger photo so sorry for the quality but I’m amazed I got it at all.
Sometimes you don’t have to climb too high for amazing vistas.
Soaking up the sun.
Postcard views.
Poignant feelings given it’s such a stunning day but also our last proper day here.

Eventually we walked the short distance down to the road and took yet another path back through the wood and field to our cottage.

We spied two little black lambs drinking from the beck.

We have really enjoyed being here in lambing season. From our sunny spot by the kitchen window we watching little groups of lambs climbing on logs, chasing each other and annoying their mothers.

Luke leads the way.
Almost definitely the last photo of a person on a bridge.
A shaded wood with the last patch of bluebells.

Back to have a drink in the sun and relax before dinner.

Sue and I decided that if we ran a bed and breakfast she would do the greeting, the laundry and the continental breakfast, I’d do the shopping, cooking and gardening. That seemed to cover pretty much everything so we’re good to go!

Dinner was at one of the Buttermere pubs. I didn’t take any photos of food but here’s the actual, very last photo of our group and a bridge.

The Bridge Inn

I talked them all into standing by the sign and then informed them that they’d been unwittingly lured into a final bridge photo.

Luke and his uncle, Mark.

Lea managed to finally post the card she had forgotten to take to the postbox for the last week.

A last look at the lambs on the way home…

Evening over Crummock Water.

In the morning there was nothing to do but pack up. Sue, Mark, Lea and Pete left just after 9:30.

Luke and I weren’t going anywhere near as far, so we hung around until almost 11 packing our things and using the wifi. We had a chat to one of the caretakers and she said the scratching Pete and Lea heard in the roof above their bedroom was a protected colony of bats! We’d seen them fly out the previous evening but they were so small and dark we thought they were birds.

We’ve all loved our time in the Lake District and felt very fortunate to have had such stunning weather. Blue skies every day (well, for at least part of every day) and only a spot of rain overnight.

I’ve really enjoyed sharing my favourite place with Lea and Pete and, apart from a few hairy moments, the walks have been pretty right for our ability levels. The food has been great and our accommodation, while quirky, has been perfectly located. Luke and I are looking forward to a better bed tonight though!

Back on the bus!

Keswick to Buttermere

We had to check out of our lovely Keswick accommodation at 10am so there was time for a couple of hours of wandering around Keswick before moving to Buttermere, a lake in a valley to the west of Keswick.

Luke kindly let me drag him around a number of shops in which I bought nothing but we did pick up some fudge, a bottle of Kin toffee vodka and a Lake District book for Sue.

Chicken, chorizo and bacon pastie for breakfast.
Goodbye Keswick!
A last visit to the cheese counter at Booths for supplies.

The next and last stop is Buttermere. Our house is relatively remote so we need to take everything.

Mark and Sue brought their car so they are taking the bags while the rest of us take the bus. We were hoping for a double decker but ended up with the back seat on a single storey bus.

Epic views down Honister Pass.
Pete said it was the best bus ride he’d ever been on.

The bus finished at Buttermere so we walked the last bit until we saw the sign.

Our new home!
I picked a bunch of lilac for the table.
Our private gate down to Crummock Water.
Fleetwith Pike in the distance.

I went for a little walk and found two smashed glasses by the creek so I picked up all the big bits and brought them back.

We came back and took the lawn chairs out. There is a building with a bed and breakfast on the property but I’m yet to see another person.

Once the wind got up we moved to a sheltered spot.

We finished off the evening with pizza, wine and Bananagrams. Sue won two, Mark won one, and I was just happy to play.

Then we were off to bed in our tiny little beds in our tiny little rooms. I’ll post some photos of the inside of the cottage tomorrow. Goodnight!

Keswick: Ashness Bridge, Walla Crag and Castlerigg Stone Circle.

After realising last night that we were, in fact, not leaving Keswick on the following day, we decided on a plan. We were going to catch the lake ferry to Ashness Bridge and walk back to town via Walla Crag, a walk none of us had done and which seemed reasonably straightforward.

The walk from our apartment to the landing was short and we bought tickets (a steal at £2.70 each) and I took some snaps of the very photogenic row boats.

The boat ride was short but scenic.

We alighted at the first landing and walked the step road climb to Ashness Bridge. I’ve been there twice before, also on overcast days, so if my photos look very familiar that’s why. Or you’ve seen this bridge on the cover of a box of Derwent pencils.

There were a few people around but these girls had decided to have their meal break right in front of the bridge and get in the way of everyone’s photos, which was kind of annoying.

Still, the time of day and light was much better this time. Here’s my very shady photo from 2018.

We were a bit less organised today and Mark, who said he wasn’t in charge, had the route marked out on his phone. We decided to take the path that didn’t look very steep.

Through this harmless-looking, and therefore misleading, gate.

But then it got STEEP!

It’s really hard to capture steepness in a photo, but I had to use my hands on the rocks, the surface was loose gravel and there were blackberry canes, nettles and roses everywhere, which made it all a bit challenging. Mark and Sue leapt to the top like mountain goats while everyone else got caught up behind me. To be honest, if I’d been on my own I probably wouldn’t have done it but, after a couple of uncertain moments, we got up higher where the path levelled out.

Maybe, instead of anaesthetic, in hospitals they could save money and just show people photos of amazing views because it seems to make me immediately forget all the suffering I’ve endured.

Onwards and upwards..

Feeling the serenity. We did actually manage to hear a cuckoo today too!
From up high we could see the fell we walked yesterday.
We saw a bird of prey and our eyes could see more detail than this terrible image shows. We think it might have been a honey buzzard.

More dramatic views.
Negotiating a rare bit of mud.
Me in a group photo. Thanks Mark!
An unusual stile design to get to Lady’s Rake above Walla Crag.
Stunning views!

Lea loves it when I take photos of her unawares.
Cotton grass.

The back of Walla Crag is a wide moor space that is very open and covered in heather. My favourite sort of landscape, it sweeps up to some higher fells and I was dying a little inside knowing that it will have wait until next time but I guess it’ll always be there.

After a while admiring the view we headed down again.

Past a field with some fell ponies and down a long hill.

Over a bridge…
Past some sheep…

Beneath a magnificent oak…

Past more sheep…
Down a lane lined with flowers…
To the stone circle!
What a day!
Weather this good calls for one thing.

After a bit of a sit at the stone circle (which I have also photographed before… by now you may be wondering why I’m even bothering to rephotograph all these places.

When we got to the bus stop Mark and Sue decided to walk back the 30 minutes while the rest of us waited for the bus. Which, in the manner of buses everywhere, failed to arrive.

Oh well, Luke messaged Mark and they were at the pub along the way so we joined them at the…

It means ‘two dogs’.

After a drink and toilet stop we walked back to the apartment for a late lunch bite and rest before dinner.

Mark was the taxi for the evening and, as there were six of us, had to take us in two shifts to a pub in the village of Braithwaite. The pub was Mark and Sue’s recommendation.

Always nice to see the pour over the line.
Cheese sauce with garlic mushrooms on garlic bread – I’m including this photo to remind me to make this at home.

Pork belly, or ‘belly pork’ according to the waiter.

Unfortunately our lovely dinner was ruined by Luke and I sharing the news that we don’t separate coloured and white items in our laundry and I’m not sure the conversation really recovered.

Tomorrow we check out at 10 and have three hours to fill before we can check in at our Buttermere accommodation. The next place we are staying is much more remote than any of the previous so we need to pick up supplies, with cheese and wine at the top of the list!

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.