Cumbria to Cambridge

Goodbye Cragwood!

Yesterday’s journey from Cragwood to Andrew’s house went relatively smoothly apart from one train connection being cancelled.

Thrilled to be up early.

We caught the bus from Cragwood to Windermere on time but found the short train connection to Oxenholme, where our booked train tickets started, wasn’t running due to lack of staff. Luke tried to talk to the station manager behind the counter but he was on the phone and ignored us then went into his back office and shut the door.

Thankfully there was a taxi waiting outside so we jumped in and heard all about how incompetent the guy running the train station was. Apparently he leaves the station during his shifts to run personal errands and is really rude to customers all the time but there’s no one else to do the job so he just gets away with it.

We got to Oxenholme with time to spare and had some breakfast. I managed to drop a large chunk of my pie on my freshly laundered trousers.

We had to change at Preston then again at Birmingham but both other trains were on time.

Andrew met us at the station in his new (well, new to us) car. It has more buttons than any other car I’ve ever been in.

We went back to his new (to us) place in Fenstanton and said hi to his wife, Lila, and met his corgi, Winston!

After a cup of tea and tour of the house we walked to Fendrayton, the next village over and the site of a mini beer festival in the local pub.

I couldn’t help reflecting on the fact that we’d gone from the most rugged landscape in England to the most flat. Cambridgeshire is fens, land that has been largely reclaimed from wetlands. It makes cycling a dream but views aren’t precisely what you’d call inspiring.

The Three Tuns, ‘tuns’ being barrels that beer is stored in.

There were lots of people but a couple of free tables.

There were only two ciders on the list so that made life easy.
I had the sweet one first then the dry. It was so dry it verged on salty. Andrew and Luke both thought it was disgusting but I managed to drink half then changed to wine.
Baked Brie!
Crumbed halloumi and pork belly bites.
Wait… my brother is here???
No, too much hair.
Second sighting of the lovely clematis.

We sat for a while and listened to the band, who had at least two singers but neither could hold a tune. It wasn’t bad background music though and wasn’t too loud, which is the most important thing!

Back home along a new route thanks to my OS map app.
At least the landscape makes for easy post-pub journeys.

I woke up this morning to find the latest Betoota Advocate headline was about me!

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: 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!

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 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!