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!


I’d like to say we looked this happy when we woke up in the morning in our tiny shoebox hotel room, but neither of us got enough sleep and so we struggled out of bed and over to Euston station. Along with an average breakfast sandwich, I had what I hope was the worst coffee of my life, because if anything worse is ahead of me I might avoid coffee forever.

I like how people with bags on wheels take up twice the space of one person and they always seem to walk right in the middle of any walkway.
Our train was, and I am not exaggerating, 16 carriages long and we were in furthest one.

The train was on time and we enjoyed watching the scenery roll past and catching up with each other’s lives since we were last together.

We spotted lots of bluebells from the train, so lovely!

We got into Windermere on time just before lunch and dropped our bags at the information centre so we could go for a walk around town and use up the time before check in.

We had some coffee while chasing up the address details for our accommodation in Keswick then went for a walk down towards Bowness.

They spelled my name wrong!
It’s been a real trend for people to crochet letterbox decorations for the coronation.

We found a beautiful pub for lunch.

Then walked to a little lookout through some quiet woods.

Lovely weather!

Eventually we got our bags out of storage and caught the bus to Ambleside. Our Airbnb was right in the centre of town in a little alleyway called ‘The Slack’.

By the time we got into the apartment we were more exhausted than we’d been in a long, long time. After almost falling asleep a number of times we decided to go out for groceries and then to the nearest pub.

View from our front step.

We walked into the Ambleside Inn and everyone was watching football so we asked who was playing and who we should barrack for (Liverpool against Leeds, the crowd was fairly split on who to support). We bought a drink each and went into the upstairs bit. We ended up talking to a local guy who told us basically his life story and all about the area. He and his friend gave us a recommendation for a pub on the last leg of our LD trip (the Kirkstile Inn) and I showed him my fell pony photos. We ended up hugging him goodbye and he wished us a lovely holiday. Delightful!

Finally we fell into bed for a long and dreamless sleep, the best we’d had in several nights!

Goodbye Windermere

So that’s chapter one of my trip over. How quickly it goes! I thought I should record a last few snippets before closing the book on Cumbria – for now, anyway.

Auschwitz to Ambleside

While I was walking in Windermere I noticed the library had an exhibition that chronicled the lives of a group of Jewish children who had escaped Nazi Germany but also lost their parents and so were brought to Windermere to be rehabilitated before being sent to live with other families. The photos and videos were poignant and well-done. If you feel like a bit of a cry in a public space I highly recommend going.

All the children who had featured in the display had gone on to do well, one even representing England at the Melbourne Olympics.

Walking St Ravens Crags

My last big day of walking was initially well-planned. I’d decided to catch the bus up to the Kirkstone Pass, thereby cutting out some of the uphill, then walking around via St Ravens crags to the head of the Troutbeck valley then along the ridge that includes High Street and Ill Bell.

There weren’t too many people about and the day was very fair with hardly any wind.

I managed fine up to the descent down towards the pass at the top of Troutbeck. The path pretty much disappeared and I had to put my sticks away to use my hands to help lower myself down the rocks for a short way. The hillside in the photo below is the one I scrambled down.

As I was clambering down (which was actually quite fun) I had a good look at the opposite side, which I was planning to go up. It was another of those steep paths strewn with loose slate. Along the side though, I could see a man coming down the grassy slope, which seemed to be faster and easier. It was perhaps 3-400m of steep climbing to the top. I gave it a go but after 50 metres of climbing and looking back and looking up, I decided to turn back. I don’t know if I’d have done better with someone else there, or whether I’d have given up sooner. I don’t know if I’d pushed myself to get to the top whether I would’ve felt a great sense of accomplishment or just felt sick from vertigo and the adrenaline. I watched other people come down, sliding on the scree so, for better or worse, I decided to climb down the valley.

I passed a big group of men huffing and puffing their way up the slope and cheerfully pointed out that they were doing it the hard way then stopped for a chat for a moment while they caught their breath.

After I left them I didn’t see another person in the valley until I hit the farm at the end. If nothing else, the walk along the valley confirmed that my early exit and climb over the ridge a couple of days earlier had been the right move. The upper end of the valley was even more boggy than the lower end.

I felt a bit disheartened at giving up and having shoes filled with water and so decided to hurry to Troutbeck to catch a bus back to Windermere. Since the buses only ran every two hours, I had five km to go, and wasn’t sure where the bus stop was, I had to hurry. I started walking in straight lines through the sodden ground rather than picking my way around the edges, which eventually led me to putting my foot almost knee deep into actual mud (bogs are annoying but at least the water is clear). I half laughed and cursed. Fortunately it was right next to the river so I waded in and shook my foot around so at least I would be clean. In doing so I leant forward and my phone slipped out of my pocket and into the river.

At this point I hailed Past Me a hero for upgrading to the water resistant iPhone7.

Moments later I looked up to see a huge military plane swoop low over the valley ridges and pass right over my head, almost in slow motion, which really raised my spirits. I picked up speed, determined to make the bus, and emerged into the village with a good 40 minutes up my sleeve. Enough time for a pint and a bowl of chips.

Bless the ubiquity of English pubs.

When I got back to the Rum Doodle (tee hee) I discovered hot spots on my feet from all the sideways slipping and awkward walking I’d been doing for hours. My first foot issues – and on the day when I walked almost the shortest distance yet. Boo. So I had a bath, read The Ascent Of Rum Doodle and decided to spend the following day, my last in Windermere, doing not much at all so my feet could have a break. And why not enjoy my cosy attic room and claw-footed bath tub while I could?

Next: Cambridge!

A few more bluebells to tide you over😁

The Dales Way

But you haven’t finished the Cumbria Way! Yes, I know. I am thinking I will come back after Belfast (which is where I am going after Cambridge) and finish the Cumbria Way by walking from Carlisle to Keswick, then go and do the rest of the Dales Way from Burneside to Ilkley.

Yesterday I inspected my maps and decided that a good challenge would be the westernmost leg of The Dales Way. It is a long distance walk that goes from Ilkley to Bowness and takes five or six days to travel 80 miles/124 km. It is generally considered one of the easiest long distance walks in the UK.

I got the bus to a spot outside Burneside and walked to the point where I could start on The Dales Way. I’d estimated that the walk would be about 15km but I’d already done 4 just walking from the B&B to Windermere station and then down from the main road to the first DW sign. I seem to always underestimate how far I’m going to walk but then hugely overestimate how long it will take.

Apart from an amusingly-named fish and chip shop that was next to a church…

Burneside was unremarkable. Oh, the church was nice too.

Also the weather was perfect.

The Dales Way mostly follows waterways and so there aren’t any huge hills.

There were lots of lovely scenes but also the smell of cow manure and many many flies.

I ended up walking 20km/13.5 miles and it was the easiest day’s walking I’ve done so far – I was home by 3:30 and now I have to work out what to do with the rest of the day… probably plan tomorrow’s big adventure to my highest peaks yet!

I have created another Technical Masterpiece below to show my journey. The red is where I walked and the yellow is where I caught the bus. The red squiggly mess is where my B&B is in Windermere.

Most of the way was through fields and a bit of footpath walking. Two fields of cows – and close cows too. That was the worst of the walk. The best was the BLUEBELLS!

I actually swore a bit when it first came into view. Such colour! Such density! It was gorgeous and totally made my day.

Then I saw another one! It was on a different hill and it was interspersed with ferns, but it was also wonderful. I was pleased that the sun was behind a cloud so that my phone didn’t struggle to pick up the colours – well not as much as last time.