Part 3 – Windermere based
It was about an hour from our base on the excellent Borrowdale site, South to our home for the next week or so. We’d done most of our packing up the night before and it was an easy going morning. We slipped off site at just after 11 and once we’d retraced our steps along that windy, windy road and got onto the B5289 to Keswick, I was happy. Although we’d really loved it here, it was exciting to be moving to pastures new. And it was such a pleasant drive along the A591 to Windermere, driving alongside Thirlmere, Grasmere, Rydal Water and passing through Ambleside, Windermere and Bowness. It genuinely must be one of the most scenic A-roads in the country.
We were in no hurry and eventually arrived at our destination not far from the Southern tip of Lake Windermere – Hill of Oaks – around 12:30. The access to the site is pretty hairy with a caravan and the site is vast – and yet you never really feel overlooked?
It was pretty quiet on site, so we had lunch and set up – this pitch is fully serviced. Bliss. There is a launderette on site and, as it was so fine, I did a quick wash in one of their amazing Speed Queen washing machines. We rigged up a line and within 30 minutes, it was pegged out. Result!
We popped out at about 18:00 to do a shop in Booths in Windermere. We had hoped to get food out, but there were queues everywhere and parking was difficult with a Bill on board, so we went back to the site and cooked pizza, from scratch (OK – the dough was frozen) on the Cadac. You can’t get much fresher than that!
We relaxed and watched all the people rolling on to site for the weekend, still steaming from the M6 and felt a little smug. We really have the bedtime routine weighed off now, too. Bill is doing very well. So far, so good.
Saturday 29 June V 🥵
A lovely quiet night saw us refreshed and hungry. The blueberry pancakes had been such a success I decided to use up some bananas and make banana ones. Also delicious!
We had decided that we would take the Windermere Ferry, which runs from Ferry Nab on the eastern shore to Ferry House on the Western shore. It’s a chain ferry and can take up to up to 18 cars and over 100 passengers and takes less than 10 minutes. And it looked like fun! So off we set. It was a shortish queue when we arrived – we imagine it might be a different story at the height of the season! But we were soon on board and rattling across the lake.
Our first lake(let) was Esthwaite Water, a very pretty little lake. and then we passed through the very pretty little village of Near Sawrey, famous for its links with Beatrix Potter. What a lovely place to live! No wonder she was so inspired to write (23 children’s stories and still popular with kids today. No mean feat.).
We stopped in Hawkshead, equally famous for its links with William Wordsworth, who was educated at the Hawkshead Grammar School and went on to write one of the most famous English poems “Daffodils” – said to be set near Ullswater, which we visited earlier in this holiday (see Part 2). We needed some cold drinks and some lunch supplies and I also wanted to get a “Get Well” card for my dear friend Steve Reading , whom we had just heard had been taken ill and hospitalised with a burst appendix, poor chap. I found a very nice bakery with a Russian baker who cooked some really interesting breads, plus the usual bakery fare. This met our lunch needs perfectly.
But the main lake of interest today was Coniston Water (the 3rd largest lake after Windermere and Ullswater). Coniston Water was made particularly famous by Sir Malcolm Campbell, in 1939, when he set the world water speed record (a stonking 141.740 mph!) in his craft Blue Bird K4. He also set various land speed records. Somewhat amazingly, he died aged 63 of natural causes – unlike many of his speedy contemporaries. His equally thrill-seeking son was killed on Coniston in 1966, during one of his attempts to exceed 300 mph. I remember it quite clearly.
We stopped alongside the east side of Coniston Water to stretch our legs with the boys. Poor Bill was only allowed down for a pee break but Ted had a nice paddle in the lake. There were lots of families making the most of the weather and the lake. At this point we realised we had forgotten the camera. I say we. All I will say is I’m not in charge of the camera. 🙂
As we were going back to the car we heard quite a loud noise but couldn’t work out what it was. As we approached our car we got chatting to the family (Mum, Dad and 6 year old boy – very cute). Dad had just been getting their kayak off the roof and somehow it had slipped and ripped his electric wing mirror off. Loud noise mystery solved. We commiserated greatly and hoped their luck improved sand that they enjoyed the rest of their day.
We spent the remainder of the day up on the moors, getting the occasional glimpse of sea as we did so. It was beautiful up there and I have only one picture to share, sadly. A ford with the clearest water ever! We later made our way back again ferry and were lucky enough to be about 8th in the queue , so we knew we’d get on the very next ferry. The Ferry Nab is very near our campsite, so we returned to the van for a cuppa and a relax, until early evening.
As we were so near the coast at this point, we decided to have an evening ride out to Grange-over Sands, which is – I guess you might say – an interesting place. It’s like a seaside town, complete with promenade but no discernible beach! It has (or rather had) an impressive Lido, which closed in 1993. There are plans to restore it and I hope they come to fruition. Great views over the incredible estuary and Morecambe Bay. The railway journey along this coast looks pretty amazing and we wished we had time to do it. Maybe one day?
But our thoughts were turning to food. Being in the North, I reckoned we’d probably be able to get a decent steak and kidney pudding at the local chippy. I was not disappointed! We called into the cleverly-named “Fish over Chips” and were rewarded with a delicious evening meal. It’s been a long time since I tasted such a delight. We ate it in the car overlooking the estuary and then returned to the van for a quiet remainder of the evening, of telly and bed.
We woke up to a very much fresher day and decided that we would use today to join up with the trip we had done along Ullswater to Patterdale. After our traditional Sunday eggs we set off. We hit really bad traffic on the outskirts of Bowness. It was rammed. In common with pretty much everyone else, we set about looking for an alternative route.
We went to Troutbeck and then decided to take the Kirkstone Pass which – drum roll! – is the highest pass in the Lake District that is open to motor vehicles. I say open – I think it must close in the winter as it’s so high. We loved it. Once we had reached Patterdale we turned round and made our way back but we had spotted an interesting road called “The Struggle. That sounded our sort of road, so off we went. There is a good account here, of what the descent to Ambleside is like, using this road. We really enjoyed it.
We had our lunch by a river, where we were joined by a very cute robin and had entertainment from a group of kayakers, who had to scramble over the rocks and then back in their kayaks. It looked like good fun. It was really very noticeably colder today – as you can see by the photo of Paul, below, sporting the dog towel to keep warm while we had lunch!
We spent the afternoon up on the moors, visiting Elter Water and then returned to the van for a cuppa. Incidentally – whilst up near Troutbeck, we saw a pub sign for The Mortal Man which we thought was worth a photo. It bears the legend
“Oh mortal man that lives by bread, what is it makes thy nose so red? Thou silly fool that looks so pale, ‘Tis drinking Sally Burkett’s ale.”
It was a lovely evening so we went for a drive up to Cartmel Fell, and – on the way back, stopped for some lovely views over Windermere. As you can see – Paul will go to some lengths to get the best shot – especially if he has remembered the camera!
I should mention that we have a holiday romance. Ted seems utterly besotted with a very pretty chocolate lab who was pitched opposite us. He was beside himself every time he met her and spent time watching her from afar. It was a very difficult moment when they packed up and went home on Sunday evening. Poor Ted. It ended the way so many holiday romances do, with a broken heart.
Mon 1st Jul
Another lovely day and we were heading South (along with many other things in my experience!). We set off – avoiding main roads as much as possible and soon, we spotted a sign for Tewitfield Locks – a name I recalled from conversations with my Dad. It is the current terminus of the Lancaster Canal. Many of the other miles to Kendal are currently un-navigable but there are ambitious plans to restore the canal from Tewitfield to Kendal – including the Tewitfield locks – a flight of 8 – which are currently in a very poor state of repair . We had to go and have a look, of course.
The path to the locks runs side by side with the M6 – I think it’s the closest to a motorway that I’ve ever walked! We met a party of ramblers walking the towpath and Bill & Ted were much admired an coo-ed over.
We called in to Booths in Carnforth, as is now traditional, for coffee and a few bits for lunch and then pressed on to Bolton le Sands – where there was more canal to be viewed and lunch to be eaten overlooking the estuary. And thence to Morecambe – a fairly “typical ” seaside town. And of COURSE we went in search of (and found) the famous statue of Eric Morecambe.
After Morecambe, we pressed on to Lancaster and went looking for the canal. Lancaster is a big University town and we found student halls of residence actually on the canal basin! Lucky students – although I bet they don’t really appreciate it.
Lancaster has a really impressive castle but – being pretty much car-bound – we could not explore it. We also saw a really prominent memorial/folly, known as the Ashton Memorial. It was built by one James Williamson, 1st Baron Ashton, in memory of his 2nd wife. It is also nicknamed the Taj Mahal of the North and he obviously loved and missed her a very great deal, it’s so impressive. And when I mention that he spent a cool £87 grand – the equivalent of well over 2 million pounds today – you’ll fully understand! Worth a visit for its views over Lancaster and Morecambe Bay.
Leaving Lancaster, we picked up the M6 to get us home quickly and, instead of going out by car tonight, we went for a stroll, on site, to the lake’s edge, where we sat and soaked up the early evening rays and Ted tried to catch some ducks.
Today, we decided to head to Ulverston – for no other reason than we just fancied it! And it gave us a chance to sing Ulverston to the tune of Glen Campbell’s “Galveston”. Great song. As we approached, we were intrigued to see what looked like a lighthouse. We took quite a few pictures – each time thinking we had the “money shot”. On researching, we found it was the “Hoad Monument” – actually built to look like a lighthouse and commemorating local big-wig, Sir John Barrow.
We called into Booths for our customary late morning coffee and then as we were driving through town we saw signs for “Canal Foot” – well that had to be investigated, didn’t it?
So glad we went and found it. It was the terminus of the Ulverston Canal – a very short waterway, not connected to the main network and used for transporting slate and coal onto bigger boats in Morecambe Bay (via the River Leven) , until the railways took over. The area has been very nicely landscaped by the local authority, who should be very proud of their handiwork. We chatted to a rather odd couple, who were magnet fishing by the top gates of the sea-lock. They were very proud to tell us about their haul, which had included, on one memorable occasion, they said – a handgun!
As we drove out of town, we noticed a pub called “The Stan Laurel”. This immediately piqued my curiosity and, upon researching, it transpired that Ulverston is the birthplace of Stan Laurel. It made you wonder how a guy from a quiet Cumbrian town could have ended up as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. We also saw that an enterprising florist had called their shop “Floral & Hardy” – nice!
We decided that we would go over Bank House Moor towards the estuary of the River Dudden and Kirkby in Furness. It was a great drive and we were amazed to see – across the fells, in the mist in the distance – the Isle of Man! I immediately contacted my friend Heidi – who is Manx – to tell her that I was waving to her. My phone actually picked up a Manx mobile phone company, too.
We drove on up the coast to pretty little Ravenglass, which has Roman connections dating back to at least the 2nd Century. Indeed, the Romans were in occupation for over 300 years. There is very little evidence today of their presence, other than the remains of a Bath House.
On the way we had caught a glimpse of the privately owned Muncaster Castle, which has been in the hands of the Pennington family for over 800 years. I found that interesting as it is the name of the wealthy land-owner in The Hired Man. Nowadays, many events are held at the castle, to help pay for its upkeep. We stopped to grab a picture on our return journey.
We returned home to the van and had our dinner and a relaxing evening.
Today was our penultimate day before we started the long journey South. I didn’t want to leave the area without a quick visit to Kendal. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed our visit, which wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to Booths – I have a loyalty card now! I also popped into B&Q to buy the boys a new toy-box as their old one had become too small.
A couple of views of Kendal
We returned to the van for lunch and then set off for Bowness, where we had booked a boat for the afternoon (well, 2 hours of it, at least!).
Parking was pretty tricky so Paul ended up dropping me, Bill and his crate near the jetty, going off to park and then returning with Ted. It was another sweaty logistical pain, but we were soon off. This boat was supplied by Bowness Bay Marina and was electric – very much quieter than our previous boat on Derwent Water!
It was a memorable afternoon, with perfect weather and perfect scenery. We had time to cruise up to Ambleside, where we got glimpses of Wray Castle and the mountains beyond and then all the back, past Bowness to Ferry Nab, where we watched the chain ferry from the water. Even Bill was able to have some time out of his crate. We all really loved it and were sad to have to hand the boat back. They very kindly said we could bring the car down on to the jetty when we left, which made life a great deal easier. An ice-cream was the finishing touch to a really lovely afternoon.
A very small selection of the many pictures we took
We decided to just relax and potter on our last day instead of haring around. We had a very leisurely breakfast, put on a load of washing, did some cleaning and a bit of packing and suchlike, in preparation for commencing our journey home. We also did a fair bit of relaxing and reading and made a last trip to Booths (Windermere) for provisions for the journey and evening meals. We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the Lakes. It hasn’t been the holiday we planned, but I think we have made the best of a bad job. We would both have been so desperately disappointed to have had to postpone or cancel. We can’t believe our luck, either. 2 weeks in the Lakes and only one night of rain and one properly gray and overcast day.
To be continued/……………