The Wet Windy Wonderful District

Trip Start May 01, 2007
Trip End Dec 11, 2008

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

For my 25th Birthday we planned a camping trip to the Lakes District in northern England. We were meant to be meeting our friends Matt and Clare who live in London but they couldn't make it due to sickness and work commitments. However, Steve an I went and had the best time. You can tell from the photos how absolutely stunning the area is. The weekend got off to a cracker on Friday evening (my birthday) when we went out for italian dinner, followed by going to the Glasgow SECC to see Arcade Fire, a gig which I had been looking forward to for months. They were great and exceeded all expectations.

We hired a car and drove south on Saturday morning (after detouring to the post office depot to pick up a package from my Mum containing Vegemite, socks, and a Geelong key ring - nice one Mum!). I was on a high from the night before, and the drive was most enjoyable. I hadn't driven in six months, so it was a bit of a novelty.

We stopped off near Carlisle to pay a visit to Hadrians Wall. Emperor Hadrian was the leader of the Romans. After he gained control of England (and Europe!) he couldn't be bothered (or was scared?!) going north and facing the savage Scots so he built a wall to defend his territory in the south. The wall ran from the west coast to the east coast of England, approx 117 miles. It was much higher at the time than it is now, with guard towers at equal distances along the wall. It was amazing to see something so old and that was Roman. It was my first look at a proper Roman ruin. I had been waiting for this for years! We walked for a while along the wall and took lots of pictures. The wall is in the middle of nowhere and the countryside that it runs through is quite nice. We had a good walk around, taking in the area and the history. There also was a nice looking Priory built near the wall from bricks pillaged from the wall.

Once satisfied with Hadrain's Wall, we headed south past Carlisle and Penrtih to our camping site in the heart of the Lakes District . We were camping at Brotherswater, a couple of miles south of Patterdale. It's quite an isolated spot with just a pub on site which served good beer and delicious food. All that was required really! We set up our tent with a bit of a struggle cause of the rocky ground and our lack of tools. And it was dark. Not to mention the howling wind and rain, which commenced as soon as we arrived! I had the job of banging in the pegs with a rock getting soaked as I did so. Needless to say, the pegs will need replacing before we can use the tent again!
By the time we had camp set up, it was pouring down with rain and we were soaked. A quick change of clothes was made before heading to the pub to spend the evening. That night in the tent was horrendous. The wind was gale force and the rain was bucketing in sideways. Understandably we hardly had any sleep as the weather persisted all night. I thought we were going to get blown away, waking up in some far off land! In the morning though it was discovered that the tent was still firmly secured down. God bless my sturdy rock! As I stumbled out off the tent, pissed off because our boots were wet, I suddenly realised that all the agony of the previous twelve hours was worth it. Indeed we had been blown away to another place. This was one of stunning calmness and beauty, with mountains all around us. This can't be the place we were in last night!

It was a dreary day and our boots were wet so we decided to drive to some other towns and check out the scenery. We made our way up the narrow and winding Kirkstone Pass which provided amazing views over Brotherswater and Windermere. We stopped in Windermere for brunch and had a well derserved English breakfast (yum). We then drove to Sedburgh, the book town. Sedburgh is one of three 'book towns' in Britain, and is a little town that has about 6 book shops and not much else. I could have spent a lot of money in those book shops! They contained a lot of rare, first editions and old books. A book lovers dream. Yes, we bought some books! I made it my mission to find a Wainwright, new edition or old, of the area we were staying. Wainwright is a famous hiking author in the Lakes District as he made it his lifes passion to completely document all the walks in the lakes district with descriptions and beautiful hand drawn maps and sketches. I eventually picked a new edition of the Eastern Fells.

We drove to Kendal where we visited the 1657 Chocolate House. As if we could resist this one! Delicious is alll I can say really. I had a rose flavoured hot chocolate. We also sampled some famous Kendal Mint Cake before heading up the hill to Kendal Castle. We drove back to the campsite and again spent our evening in the pub.

The next day the weather was slightly better so we headed for the outdoors. We again had a delicious big breakfast before heading to Aira Force Falls. It was drizzling and muddy but amazing. Lots of rainbows were about. I couldn't come the Lakes District and not climb a hill, so we headed up Gowbarrow Fell above Aira Force. I had my Wainright guidebook so I was set. It was quite muddy and slippery but a superb walk. The Autumn colours were stunning. As we climbed, the lakes and the surrounding summits came into view. The view from the top was sensational, looking right over Ullswater. It was a great time of year to go as all the leaves and foliage were brilliant reds, oranges, yellows and browns. It was beautiful. It was a short but very worthwhile hike.

Afterwards we headed to through Keswick and the beautiful Grasmere and Ambleside for a look before searching for the ruins of an old Roman Fort - Hadrknott Fort. The Fort is siutated on one of the hills further west of Grasmere, in the middle of nowhere. Stace did some quality navigating to get us there but unfortunately the pass was ridiculously tiny, narrow and windy. Some parts were so narrow we could hardly fit through our car let alone two cars.This made for a lot of reversing when another car was met. As we had turned the clocks back the daylight is really short so we ran out of light. And it was raining. We didn't want to try and find our way back from the fort in the dark on those crazy roads! It was a great drive anyhow, and we saw some stunning locations. Back to the campsite and the pub for the night. Do you see a pattern emerging!?

Next day we were up early and headed on the road home with a last stop at Ullswater. It was a stunning day (typical seeing as we were going home!) so a few last photos were captured. Once we reached Scotland it turned grey and dreary. We got home tired but had the best time. The Lakes District is like a piece of the highland was dragged down to the south. That's probably why I liked it so much! I'm glad it wasn't summer though because I can imagine the place would be ridiculously packed. Plus it's expensive! I would definitely recommend it as a must see place in England. And most people have never heard of it.
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