On tour at home and abroad with the Sumpners

The view below is Toad Rock, Tunbridge Wells


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Jun 20th to July 7th – The Lake District Part 2 – The First Week (23/6 to 27/6)

Part 2 – Derwent Water based

Sunday 23rd

After a lovely, peaceful night, we set off late morning, having a quick look at Bassenthwaite (gorgeous) and then on to Cockermouth – birthplace of Fletcher Christian. Indeed, there is a pub named after him. This town also had literary connections for us, being mentioned in Howard Goodall’s “The Hired Man” – another of my favourite shows. We rather liked Cockermouth, which claims to be the first town in Britain to have piloted electric lighting – although they soon went back to gas, apparently! Many people remember Cockermouth’s name because of the dreadful flooding in 2015.

Cockermouth High Street

Maryport was our next port of call – again mentioned in The Hired Man. Maryport was very nice indeed, with a small fishing fleet in a cute harbour. Ted and I spent some time on the beach, paddling and messing about in rock-pools, whilst Paul  cuddled Bill, who was jst gald to be out of his crate, poor chap.

The harbour at Maryport

View across to Scotland

The Prom

Me and Ted rock-pooling

Yesterday, we had discovered that Paul had no pants. I had got them out and put them ready to pack. He had carefully put them all away in his drawer, thinking he was doing “a good thing”. He did try and blame his lack of nether-garments on me, but I was having no truck with that! Our next port of call was Workington, and a large ASDA for pants and some lunch bits and pieces.

Workington is much more “industrial” than Cockermouth. It is (or sadly was) an iron and steel town and Henry Bessemer constructed his first “converter” here, an invention which revolutionised the steel-making industry.

We ate our rather late lunch overlooking the water at Derwent Howe – a suburb of Workington – and then pressed on along the coast to Whitehaven (another Hired Man place name). You can see where the coal mine that went out “under the sea” used to be. The “Candlestick Chimney” is a fine sight and and is on the site of the former Wellington pit, where there was a dreadful accident in 1910. A plaque on the wall below the chimney commemorates all the “Men, Women and Children” of the Whitehaven District Collieries who lost their lives in the local pits. There is a lightning rod at the top and the chimney is supposed to vent methane from the pit. A flash ignited the gases in 1984 which burnt for 5 hours! The pit was eventually closed in 1932, by the way.

Whilst there Paul spotted a gathering of Puch and other similar vintage mopeds and went over to have chat with the gents who were proudly displaying them. Paul’s first “motorbike” was a Puch Maxi. Such nostalgia.

En passant -we were also rather taken with this fetching little Citroen 3 wheeler.

Our final call that day, was St. Bees, where we got the chairs out and sat by the beach for a while, watching the world enjoying their Sunday, and eating ice-cream. We loved St Bees. It’s easy to see why it’s a popular holiday spot.

We’d enjoyed our coastal day but it was time to go back to our lovey forest spot for dinner and – eventually – bed. As we drove home, it was getting grey and misty and we knew rain was probably on its way.

Still beautiful.

Monday 24th

It had been a noisy night – it actually rained quite hard and we must all have had a disturbed night because we had all overslept. It was 09:15 when the boys let us know they were ready to start the day – unusually late for them!

We had a morning of tidying and showering and such like and then set off to meet an old friend, Cath Marcangelo. I used to work with Cath many years ago and this was to the first time I’d seen her for perhaps 30 years. We agreed to meet for lunch at the picturesquely located Cafe at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. We had such a great time and talked and reminisced for ages. She already knew Paul but it was the first time I had met her musician husband, John,  too. A very enjoyable lunch, which stretched on into the afternoon and was only cut shorter by our respective parking tickets running out. John was very helpful as both Bill and his crate had to be carried to and from the car park.

Cath runs a choir called “Committed to Rock” and invited me to go along to their rehearsal on Tuesday night, in Keswick. Larks! How could I not go?

 

After we’d said our goodbyes we picked up a couple of fresh items from Booths – which is my new discovery! It is known as the “Waitrose of the North” although I think they prefer Waitrose to be known as the “Booths of the South”! Either way, it is a fab supermarket , and once discovered, we did all our shopping at one or another of their branches. They can be found all over the North-West.

As there was still some day left, we decided it was time for another lake – this time Buttermere. It was yet another beautiful lake and I love that they are all beautiful and all slightly different. As it was so near, we decided to press on to Crummock Water, where we strapped Bill into his baby sling (donated by Beth’s sister) and went for a short walk. He is pretty heavy now so anything more than a short walk would be too much for Paul, but it was really nice to stretch our legs.

We had passed a farmhouse doing home made ice-creams on the way to the lakes and dropped in there on the way back. The hazelnut flavour was memorable.  And then it was back to Keswick and thence home via the impressive Honister Pass, which we absolutely loved. Beautiful scenery.

Tuesday 25th

Today was the turn of Ullswater – another beautiful lake. We are both so glad we came. I had very hazy memories from when I was only 8 years old and this was a first ever visit to the area for Paul. We are loving it.

Pooley Bridge, at the Northern tip of Ullswater was a pretty and bustling little village and we thought we might stop off there on the way back, but pressed on along the shore. We eventually stopped for coffee in Glenridding – and we are on holiday so it was accompanied by a piece of cake, naturally. The cafe was called Let It Brew and was just to our taste – great coffee and yummy cake. We rounded off our trip round this area of the lakes by a visit to Patterdale, beloved of walkers and also the valley from which the cute Patterdale Terrier gets its name.

We stopped and took a look at the OS map and decided our next visit would be to Thurlmere, where there was a nice circular drive around the lake. Instead of going back the way we had came (and on to Pooley Bridge) we set off across country. We were absolutely delighted to have a sighting of a couple of Hares. Paul managed to get a couple of good pics. The road we had chosen gave us good views of Helvellyn and then dropped down onto the A591. As we started our tour, we noticed that Thurlmere was very low. We were aghast to find that the road we wanted to take to complete our tour round the lake was closed UFN. Very disappointing.

We set off back to Keswick, and as the food had been nice the day before and to save the bother of cooking tonight, we went back the the Cafe at the Theatre by the Lake. Fish and Chips. Delish!

Paul, tucking in

 

Afterwards we went back to the van, where we all had a little beepy before getting ready to go and see a rehearsal of Cath’s choir at Keswick Conservative Club, which is dog friendly. We had a great evening singing along – they really make a great sound and Cath is an absolute marvel with them. SO proud of her. Gutted I didn’t take any photos.

By the time we finished there we were both hungry again, so we grabbed a quick takeaway pizza to fill us up and then home to bed.

Wednesday 26th

As we were so near the Border, we thought we couldn’t miss an opportunity to visit Scotland and so we set off, joined the M6 and hurtled North towards Carlisle. We left the M6 briefly for a quick tour round Carlisle. The Castle is very impressive and we saw the McVities factory. Now – here’s a statistic for you that will blow your mind! Every 24 hours, McVities produces over 6.5 million Custard Creams! There!! Feel free to use that any time. Carlisle was also the only UK city through which the Olympic Flame passed, twice, in 2012. It’s also the home of Eddie Stobart. I’m going to leave you wanting more! Suffice to say we really liked Carlisle.

We were also quite taken with the more modern Shaddon Mill (sadly no pics but follow the links) and its towering chimney. In its heyday, Shaddon was the biggest mill in England and had the 8th tallest chimney (Dixon’s Chimney) in the world. See? I’ve been reading up. And it was built very tall so as not to pollute the streets of Carlisle. Originally it was 305 ft tall, but in 1950 it was shortened to 290 ft. What a sight that must have been before it was truncated. It’s pretty amazing now. Having then, accidentally,  gone down a bus lane, we decided it was time to leave Carlisle and press on to Scotland. We are waiting to see if a fine will materialise.

We skipped back onto the M6 and finally crossed the border near Gretna Green. I had visited as a child (in the early 60s) and it was very different to my recollections. Back then it was a quaint tourist attraction. Today – it ‘s a BIG BUSINESS! Outlet shops, food concessions. No longer quaint that’s for sure. I bought one or two Scottish delicacies to take home including some Abernethy biscuits (one of my favourites) and some Scottish Macaroons for my friend and ex-pat Scot Steve. They are very different to English Macaroons, being more like mallow snowballs, coated in coconutty chocolate. I also bought a couple of bits for our lunch, including – reader I kid you not – a Macaroni Cheese Pie. Whatever next?!

 

The “LOVE” padlock wall at Gretna Green

 

We didn’t stay long at Gretna and decided to visit Annan. Annan is an ex boat building town and it was interesting to drive down to the old harbour/docks. So sad that industry here has collapsed.

A few views of the town

And the port/harbour

As it was nearly lunch-time, we drove down to Annan Beach, which overlooks the Solway Firth. It was a lovely afternoon so we got the chairs out and had our lunch there. We saw one chap walk out onto the sand with a strange net thing over his shoulder, and then another and yet another. Paul got talking to one of them and he told him all about it. It’s called Haaf Netting and is only practiced in a few places now, Annan being one of them. It may date back to Viking times. Haaf is Norse for “Channel”. And it’s quite hazardous – the men really have to know the tides. Fascinating stuff – the sort of thing that you see on Country File. Its strangely beautiful – considering that it’s mostly mud-flats.

As we drove back towards the M6, we saw a sign for “The Devil’s Porridge Museum” Intrigued, I looked it up. It seems that HM Factory Gretna was the largest producer of cordite in WW1. Cordite is very volatile and the stuff they made resembled porridge – hence the name. And it was actually dubbed that by Sir Arhur Conan Doyle who, after visiting wrote “The nitroglycerin on the one side and the gun-cotton on the other are kneaded into a sort of a devil’s porridge; which is the next stage of manufacture…those smiling khaki-clad girls who are swirling the stuff round in their hands would be blown to atoms in an instant if certain small changes occurred”. Wow!

We headed back down the M6 to keswick, did a quick flick round Booths and then home to relax. I got Paul some Ilkley Brewery Bitter (very drinkable. Quite hoppy and refreshing. Might be nice served chilled). Dinner, movie, bed.

Thursday 27th

It was a sort of “pottering morning” and – for a change – I made some blueberry pancakes which, served with a little Maple Syrup, really hit the spot, in combination with a strong hot coffee. I love holidays!

Freshly made blueberry pancakes

Today’s destination was the Castlerigg Stone Circle, just outside Keswick. It’s probably walkable but not with poor Bill in his current condition. We popped into Booths to grab another coffee and some picnic food and then drove to the site. It was a perfect day and the awesome view that met us brought a tear to my eye. It is PERFECT – actually more impressive than Stonehenge in my opinion. There is a certain atmosphere to the place and we loved it. If you’ve never been you’ve really missed a treat for your eyes and – somehow – your soul. It sounds odd but that’s how I felt. Uplifted! Sadly, the photos just not do it justice, but if you follow this link, there’s a cracker

We had decided that today would be the perfect day for a trip round Derwentwater. It was a quite a complex process logistically – getting us, the dogs, the crate and a few provisions – drink mainly – from the car park to the boat. It was also very sweaty!! And – to be honest – the organisation was a bit of a shambles. We rocked up, then another couple, then a gaggle of lads, then a family and then guy handing out life jackets and doing the briefings just up and disappeared, leaving us all standing in the glare of the sun. For – like – a quarter of an hour! I was a tad grumpy by the time he showed up again, but we were soon ensconced on the boat and off we went, to cries of “Rock! Rock Neville! Neville – ROCK!”.  It was a lovely – the lap takes about an hour and was very relaxing – apart from the noisy little outboard, sputtering away behind us!

We did the return to the car slightly more simply, as Paul drove the car down to the lake’s edge – bit cheeky, but we had a pretty good excuse! We then set off for home and Paul asked if it was OK if we popped up the road we had seen a couple of time on the way to the campsite. It did look interesting! And boy! Was it steep!  And then some. The road leads to Watendlath Tarn  and was so worth the trip up – even all the hairy passing manouevres! And there were quite a few of those. It’s a bonkers road! Just our cup of tea! We stopped for a photo opportunity on the way back down. Just stunning.

Watendlath Tarn

Surprise View – Derwentwater

So glad we stopped to do this, as this was our last day here. We had absolutely loved it and really did not want to leave. I was worried that our next site wouldn’t be as nice. So it was back to the site to eat and do some tidying and packing, ready for the off tomorrow.

To be continued…………