Could there be a better time to start writing about this delightfully picturesque place other than right now? You see, I’m actually here in the Lake District National Park at this very moment.
I just woke from the most delicious nap I’ve had in years. Our “cosy cabin” is warm and toasty, the logs glowing a golden orange in the wood burner. The hand built cabin is solely lit by hundreds of twinkling fairy lights. Sheep graze in the paddock below the mountain we can see from our window. A single lamb has been born, leaping and bounding beside its mother. A bird in a nearby tree hust began chirping its beautiful song. This place is perfect.
Let me just refill my G&T…
…Ahh that’s better (sorry, not sorry).
We spent the morning exploring, but regrettably, our visit has timed in with Storm Dennis hitting the UK, just one week after Storm Ciara. We did manage to visit our first “lake” here in the Lake District, that being Coniston Water, the 5th largest body of water in the national park.
As the harsh wind began to slow and the rain began to ease, we wound our way along the winding single track country lanes. In the distance we spotted a racing waterfall and had to find it. We drove straight through the town, eyes on our prize at the end of the waterfall. We found a, rather muddy, spot to ditch our car (poor Whinne! (that’s her name)) and we chucked on our boots. We found a gate which led into a small boggy paddock and followed the sound of rushing water. We had to stop when our path was interrupted by a locked gate. Of course, it didn’t stop us, “we’ll have to hop it”, Alex asserted, leading the way. We emerged from a group of trees and sure enough, we found the bottom of this tremendous waterfall. It flowed rapidly into a stream which we followed right down to Coniston Water. We followed the path by the shoreline for a while, the rain started falling heavily again and the wind forced small waves against the shore. We watched as the ducks and swans rode the waves by the ‘Bluebird Café’.
We sought shelter in the café for a while. We had a spot of lunch and a cuppa to warm up from the storm outside. Alex, predictably, had the gourmet burger and I had a warming brie and cranberry toasty. The food was lovely but I was a little disappointed to find that it wasn’t barista made coffee, they had one of the automated machines which can make any coffee the customer desires. It was a very busy café, so I can see why they use these, but I think it would really compliment the superb location of this café to have freshly made coffee onsite. With that being said, do visit the Bluebird Café for a quick bite after a morning of waterfall chasing or walking through the fells. They have a wide menu and lots of delicious homemade cakes to choose from.
We took a slight detour on the way home, instead of following the main road, we decided to take a super steep road up on to a mountain. The view was incredible. Sometimes we find it is totally worth going off the main track to find something superb for yourself. We followed the little road and, as it turned out, it ended up looping back around and sending us home anyway (rather handy!).
I then took my delicious nap, falling asleep to the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof, the wind howling around us. Alex is now taking a bath in the free-standing tub we have here at the cabin. We have decided we NEED one in our house when we finally get one!
I enjoyed the bath last night after we had unpacked for our stay and had eaten some beef stew I’d prepared earlier that day. I heated some freshly baked rolls in the wood burner and we dipped them in our hot stew. Delish. I read some of my new book, “Postscript” by Ceila Ahern, which I’m actually going to go and read some of now.
Moral of today; be spontaneous, explore where you ordinarily wouldn’t and go find something magical!
This morning I woke naturally to the sound of a bird chirping outside the little window in “hobbit hole”.
Alex laid next to me, still snoozing away. I rose quietly, grabbed my book and a cuppa and headed outside onto the veranda. I sat there, watching the same little lamb I’d watched yesterday, enjoyed my hot cup of English Breakfast Tea and read my little heart away. It wasn’t raining and the air was cold. The wind slowly began to pick up and before long my hands were getting cold. I decided to sneak back into the cabin and hop back into the warm bed!
After breakfast we got ourselves ready for the day, loaded the fire and headed out the door. Our first stop was the largest lake here in the national park Windermere. We navigated our way through floods of water in the roads. The east side of the national park had had a lot more rain than we had received in the west.
Upon arriving in Windermere, we were greeting by hundreds of other tourists, a little off putting but we continued on. I’d found a walk called “Orrest Head” and we were determined to do a few walks this trip despite the cold wintery weather! We left the car in a lay-by we found along the main road (A591 ), a little way up from the Windermere Hotel, and walked back towards the footpath.
You initially start in a grassy, yet muddy, paddock. Climb the hill right to the top (don’t forget to look behind you a few times, the view is lovely!), keep to the left by the fence line, you will come to a gate leading into a forested area. Follow this track, if there has been rain recently, this track can turn into a stream of running water so go prepared (wear your walking boots!). You will come to a turning gate and at this point you want to turn left and head up the mossy wall, rather than following the track straight. Keep following the wall until the track starts to decline. Here you will be greeted with another lovely view of Windermere. You will see another track leading further up the hill. You will know once you have reached the top. Beautiful panoramic views across lake Windermere with Scarfell pike, Bowfell and various other peaks in the backdrop. Rather nice if you ask me.
This is a great walk if you have small children, dogs or you are just bringing the family along after a morning shopping in town. It probably took us around 40 minutes there and back I’d say, maybe a bit more if you included stopping to take pictures and admiring the view.
The wind was very intense on our way down but the sun had also begun to shine so we were enjoying ourselves. We stopped at the top of the big hill and tried to let the wind catch us as we leant back into the strong gusts. It was great fun, our little “5 year old moment” as Miranda Hart would say!
From Windermere, we drove north to Ambleside, parked the car and took to exploring the little town. There are many shops, cafés and restaurants here. Our main reason for being here was to visit a waterfall I’d found on googlemaps. We had no idea what it looked like but thought ‘hey, why not?’.
We sneaked into the cosy Ambleside Tavern for a gravy dinner to warm our bones for another chilly walk! The food was good, it was busy but a nice retreat away from the bitter wind outside. After we’d finished lunch, and our cheeky beverages, we headed toward the waterfall track. There are some lay-bys here to park in but your best bet is to just park in a pay and display car park as you only get an hour in the laybys. To park in these you also need a special disk from one of the shops or hotels (I think they are free but not worth it if you aren’t there for very long!). To find the walk, head into the town centre and find the signposted public toilets. From here you will find yourself on ‘Cheapside Road’, follow the single track road up the hill and follow the “waterfalls this way” signs. You can’t really get lost from here!
We loved this waterfall and the fact that you could walk around the entire thing and cross the bridge at the very top was a bonus! The waterfall itself was racing, I think the recent rain storm helped!
I think this walk took us around an hour at a very leisurely pace, another good one for families but do remember your walking boots! We saw some people bringing their children in brand new white trainers – not ideal on this muddy track!
A big storm cloud had crept its way over us whilst we had been beneath the trees. Spots of rain began to fall so we took that as our cue to be heading back to the car. After we nipped into Tesco to top up our supplies, we followed our instincts along the little cobbold streets back towards the car. On the way I spotted a “proper” coffee machine inside Café Ghandi, so I snuck in for a sneaky coffee to enjoy on the way home. MY FIRST REAL COFFEE OF THE TRIP! It was very enjoyable and I must say the food in Café Ghandi smelt absolutely delicious. It is a vegan and vegetarian café, serving meals, coffee and delicious homemade cakes! A real little treat hidden away down a street called “The Slack” in Ambleside.
The rain really started to come down as we ran towards the car. We had done a complete circuit of Windermere up to Ambelside and were now headed back towards Coniston Water. The roads are really exciting but you have to keep your wits about you as you never know what is around the bend!
As we drove, the sun was setting and the rain in the distance was causing a strange yellow haze across the sky. It was an almost ‘end of the world’ type of scene. We drove onwards, towards the farm and as we did so a huge ominous cloud hung over us. Ahead though, all we could see was a beautiful blue sky and the sun starting to set over a mountain in the distance. When we arrived at the gate of the farm, Alex turned to me, “Shall we go up there?”, he pointed to the mountain that stood tall next to us. I looked and shrugged my shoulders, “Why not?”.
We followed the winding single track as it twirled up the mountain side. Eventually we found a spot to abandon the car. We ran across the road, which was flowing with fresh rainwater, and ran up to the peak. It wasn’t a huge mountain but it was big enough. We could see the west coastline, the mountains in the distance and the sun was still just peaking behind them.
It was incredible. The wind howled around us, Alex almost lost his beanie. We giggled like little kids and grinned until our cheeks ached. It felt so liberating. This is what we live for, moments just like this. Spontaneous and exiting. Breathtaking and beautiful.
During our travels around the world, we did things like this almost everyday.
It is hard to describe the yearning we feel. It’s like our minds are trapped in another moment, another life.
We crave exploration. Our bodies and minds need that freedom. It is almost as if we are grieving for the past 4 years. Those moments are gone. Those days are over. I won’t lie, it is really difficult to deal with emotionally.
Having said that, it was there, on that mountain top as we watched the sun disappear, that we realised we still have so many more memories to make. So many more moments to capture. We have so many dreams and so many plans. We need to stop being sad that the past 4 years are over and start looking to the future. Start planning our next adventures. Start getting excited about what is to come, rather than wishing we could go back to those wonderful moments in our past.
That moment left us feeling so grateful for the future and that we have each other.
As the night sky drew in, we drove back to the farm, the smile still painted on our faces. We just felt so happy.
We woke to the sounds of the birds outside our window again. Alex turned to me “Happy Anniversary!”.
Seven years together, four of which were spent living constantly on the road in each others pockets every day. It must be love, ha!
We had breakfast and got out earlier today. We were headed back to Coniston Water to climb ” The Old Man of Coniston”. The drive was so peaceful (everybody must have been in bed) as we glided around those country lanes. It was oddly relaxing and therapeutic. So much so we didn’t want to stop driving once we’d arrived. We just wanted to carry on driving, have you ever felt that way before?
We parked the car in the lower Walna Scar (click the link for a google map) carpark, pulled on our boots and started the climb. It was an almost vertical track right from the word go. We made our way up, slowly, taking in the sound of the stream which ran beside us. We found a little cave and stopped to have a peek!
Once you reach the top of the hill you come to a stile, hop over and continue through the paddock, shutting any gates behind you (sheep graze these fields). Eventually, you will come to a little stream with a bridge across it, very picturesque. The track is rugged and muddy. It will lead you around the side of hill/mountain that over looks the town of Coniston.
You will come to a road but we continued on the muddy track which led up and over another hill towards “The Old Man of Coniston”. On our approach we noticed that a dark cloud was hugging the entire peak. Despite this, we continued on.
The track begins to climb again and the wind started to pick up. You will meet another track which also leads to the summit. Keep following it up, you can’t go wrong.
The higher you get, the more slate you will start to see. The track becomes rough and the slate is loose under your feet (careful you don’t slip on the way back down).
You meet the old slate mine about half way up. The iron machinery looks as though it has just been left in a hurry. Sad really, what we have done to our planet.
We found an awesome tunnel though. We were so tempted to go inside but decided against it as the weather wasn’t really our friend today. Further up, if you come off the trail a little you will come across a big cave. You can see it was made from an explosion by how the rocks are situated. We did have a little wander through this, we couldn’t help ourselves, curiosity took over.
I always find it amazing how nature finds a way in these dark caves. Beautiful green plants grew on the side of the rocks creating a beautiful image.
We continued our journey upwards. The weather getting increasingly worse. The wind at this point was powerful. The clouds rushed past us. Alex almost lost his beanie AGAIN.
We stopped along the way to chat to fellow hikers. One man warned us not to go to the summit. He said he had to literally hold his dog down so that he didn’t fly off the edge. He told us that there was no visibility from the top and it was simply dangerous to be up there. We’ve had a similar experience before in New Zealand, during the Tongariro Apline Crossing, but that’s a story for another day!
We were determined to at least reach the tarn near the peak so we continued on. The weather deteriorating further the higher we climbed. The wind blew us every which way but we made it. The view was totally worth it. We sat behind a rock to shelter from the extreme wind and soaked up the view whilst having a little snack. We managed to sit here for around 3 minutes before got too cold and had to get moving again. We spotted some snow a few feet away. Yep, it was that cold!
We looked above us and the dark cloud looked even worse, we thought it was best we turned around and started heading down. We didn’t fancy a repeat of Tongariro.
Of course it is always nice to reach the summit but, if it isn’t safe, is it really worth it? We’ve climbed many mountains and I’m sure we will climb many more, it didn’t matter that we didn’t reach the top today. We still thoroughly enjoyed our walk in the mountains.
When we got back to our cosy little cabin, we had a yummy Whittard Hot Chocolate stick with marshmallows and a cheeky pot noodle (camping fave) to warm us up. This sent us into a kind of warm coma and we ended up having an afternoon nap. Living the life of luxury this trip aren’t we!
Of course, being our anniversary, we headed out to a local pub for dinner later that evening. We actually went back into Coniston to the Yewdale Inn. It was nice and relaxing. The food was just okay but it was nice to not have to cook. I did try some delicious gin though. Distilled in the Lake District, The Lakes Gin is definitely worth a try if you are in the area!
Our final day, boo!
We had to set an alarm this morning but even so, laid there for an extra 30 minutes, not wanting to leave the warm cosy bed behind.
I ended up getting up first, Alex continued to snooze for another 45 minutes, whilst I made a cuppa and sat outside reading again.
I couldn’t concentrate on my book much, I just kept looking at the wonderful view and wishing we could stay!
Once we’d got dressed and packed up, we made our last breakfast in the Cabin. Delicious bacon and eggs – yes please!
Time flew by and before long it was 11am and we had to check out.
We are a little weird and always say goodbye to the places we stay (it’s become a habit!), so we said our goodbyes and drove away.
Deciding to head out of the national park a different way, we drove up the other side of the mountain which overlooked the farm and enjoyed the glorious views one last time.
A last minute decision took us to Bowness-on-Windermere and this is when the rain started to hammer down. This rain was the worst we’d had all weekend! We had a quick look around, I managed to get a beautiful card to send to the farm we worked on in Australia and we got a drink for the road! There are lots of shops, cafés and even arcades here, so plenty to keep you busy!
The journey home took us 9 hours because we got stuck in standstill traffic on the A1. Luckily, we had the podcast, Casefile, to keep us busy! Definitely worth a listen guys, we are addicted to these true crime cases.
If you have any questions about the places mentioned in this post, please contact me on here or on Instagram @love.travel.and.coffee, I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks my loves, until next time…
…Love Travel and Coffee