Tuesday, 8 May 2012

An Amble Round Ambleside...

...and other adventures.
At the start of this year I put together a list of 'places we want to see/visit' - some in the UK, some abroad. For the moment all fairly modest and easy to pull off - this is a serious list rather than a fantasy type thing, so no round the world cruises on there yet! Fairly high up on the UK locations was the Lake District - we pass round the edge of it on the M6 reasonably often, but hadn't been there since our honeymoon when we spent a day there visiting a friend. As our trip to the Hebrides is later this year, we decided to use the long weekend at Easter to make a trip up to Cumbria, then continuing on to Edinburgh afterwards to visit friends.
As ever with us, we decided to try to do the trip on a bit of a budget, so the car was loaded up with the tent and sleeping bags and a decent campsite hunted down just off the A66 for the first three nights. Slightly alarmingly the day before we headed off large parts of the area found themselves under a blanket of snow, much of which was still in evidence when we got there the next day!

Rather fabulously we arrived on site in brilliant sunshine to find we were the only people there - giving us the pick of the place, we chose a spot on the riverbank bordering one side of the site. A beautiful location - with fantastic views of the hills in the background....(please don't ask for details of the site by the way - due to their complete failure to enforce their own site rules regarding quiet times between 10am - 7am we won't be returning ourselves, or recommending to others - think loud noise from a group who pitched up after us until 2am and you'll get the picture. Shame as the site, facilities and location were superb).  Anyway, tent pitched up we headed off to explore - first stop Shap Abbey which proved to be fascinating - much wandering round looking at the plan of the building then trying to work out which room was where...

Shap Abbey

...an hour or do later we left with masses of photos and half a dozen eggs from the on-site hens via the honesty box. We usually try to buy eggs when we see them like that - they are usually cheaper than the supermarket and far fresher and tastier. We have two campsites we use regularly which both sell eggs from their own hens and it really is such a plus point! (and eggy bread as a camping breakfast just can't be beaten!)

From Shap we headed round to Ullswater - so beautiful! A nice tea shop with a garden was quickly identified and tea and cake consumed...well it would clearly have been rude not to!

Yum! Tea & Cake!
The following day dawned rather wetter and greyer. Undaunted though in spite of a poor nights sleep we jumped in the car and headed for Dalgarth in Eskdale - home of one end of the Ravenglass & Eskdale railway. To get there you are required to cross two of the Lake District's toughest passes - the Wrynose, which leads to the Hardnott. All the books warn you about these as being rather "challenging", let's say! I wasn't too worried, and as it turned out the roads were no worse than plenty I drive regularly in the Hebrides - single track, passing places at regular intervals, and if you leave the road be ready for a sheer drop! What we had forgotten, however, was that the clutch in our rather elderly (in miles, more than years - 153k and counting!) Citroen is well and truly at the end if it's life....just a short distance along the Wrynose pass I stopped in a passing place on a quite steep upward slope to allow oncoming traffic to continue, only to discover on trying to pull away again that I had NO drive whatsoever. Hmmm! The further we went, climbing all the way, the worse the situation became - when we found the parking spaces at the half way point I pulled in gratefully in a cloud of hot clutch fumes and we reluctantly agreed that to continue would be foolhardy in the extreme - potentially putting others as well as ourselves at risk. Turning round and retreating at least meant that we had mostly downhill stretches to do, so that was the decision. Sensible, but annoying.

View from the half way point on the Wrynose Pass

The following day we drove the short distance up the A66 to Penrith, leaving the car there for the day while we let the train take the strain! When we were on honeymoon one of the bits of train line that we travelled on was the line around the coast from Carlisle to Barrow-in-Furness, so the decision was to re-trace our steps getting off at Ravenglass to complete our plans of the day before. The Narrow Gauge railway runs from the coast inland to Dalgarth - a seven mile stretch through increasingly stunning countryside.

Ominous clouds looming overhead near Ravenglass
Many people use Dalgarth as a base for starting walks - we didn't have time for that this time round but did enjoy some spectacularly good ice cream! Back to Ravenglass and just time for a wander around the pretty village, and a beer in the pub before our train back to Penrith. Cheers!


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Pat Machin said...

We're only an hour and a half from the Lakes - and no motorways! Gorgeous area and we don't go nearly as often as we should. We love Ambleside.

Robyn said...

It's beautiful Pat - we've been talking about heading up there for years, and certainly hope to go back again at some stage!