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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Aysgarth Falls & the biggest cream scone ever

As the name suggests Aysgarth Falls can be found at the village of Aysgarth on the A684 between Leyburn and Hawes. The falls are well signposted from the main road as is car parking at the National Visitor centre which is where we parked.
The staff at the centre were very helpful and showed us a walk that would take in the falls from both sides of the river before heading away towards West Burton and back to the Visitor centre. 
From the car park a short walk across the road onto a well marked path that takes you down towards firstly the middle falls then the lower falls where you can get access right to the waters edge for a good photo opportunity before returning to the car park where you exit at the opposite end and follow the path to reach the higher falls and picnic area.
The walk then heads back towards the car park but you cross the river at the road bridge and head up some steps into the church yard and pick up the path that  runs alongside the opposite bank of the river. Walking along on this side gives a totally different view of the lower falls before the path takes you away from the river and towards the main road. After crossing the road you are quickly into another field, this time walking alongside a beck that is big enough for fish spotting, we saw numerous brown trout as we walked along. The path continues along the beck until you reach another road bridge, here we decided that rather than continue towards the village of West Burton we would head back towards Aysgarth, but not before we stopped for our picnic taking in the view and watching several bats feeding around us.
The walk then took us over the hills back to the church yard and back to the Visitor Centre. It was noted earlier in the day that the centre had a tea room by our youngest son who seems to have developed a love of tea rooms, so we sat at a table outside and placed our order,
A view downstream of the falls
Our picnic location for the day
The look of sheer astonishment on our daughters face when the waitress placed the cream scone on the table was one not to be missed, needless to say it was easily the biggest cream scone any of us had ever seen and needless to say it didn't get finished!!! 

About to attempt to eat the big cream scone

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Hawes..... Eventually

We have just returned from a great week staying at the caravan club site in Hawes. http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/caravanclubapps/applications/uk-caravan-sites-and-parks/SiteDetails.aspx?csid=21840
Although the week started on somewhat of a low ( entirely my fault ) it ended on a high.
We set off from home on Saturday morning and made good time heading up the A1 to Leeming Bar before heading off on the A684 through Bedale and Leyburn before reaching Hawes around lunch. We joked on our way into reception that we were 15 minutes before the earliest check in time and wondered if we would be made to wait, after being greeted by a very pleasant warden the joke turned on us as she muttered the words" sorry but we have no record of your booking".
After a few seconds of panic on our behalf and a bit of further investigation it turned out I had booked Sunday to Sunday.... For the first time ever we had arrived a whole day early. I couldn't even begin to gloat as it was me that had booked the stay.
After abit more panic and after a lot of help from the warden we were booked into another site for the night, 20 miles back down the road at Leyburn not ideal but better than having to drive back home.
So off we set slightly embarrassed but relieved we had got somewhere, what we hadn't realised was that it was the Wensleydale show at Leyburn and hence lots of traffic. To add to the drama the car decided to show it's displeasure at all the queueing on the steepest hill by slipping the clutch. 
We did however make it to the site shortly after and in between a barrage of texts off family members poking fun at my little mishap made camp for one night.
We were to be joined later in the week by Emma's parents one of which, Gordon, took every opportunity to belittle my holiday planning skills, they were staying at Skeldale house B&B in Askrigg for the second half of the week .http://www.skeldalehouse.co.uk/
So after a good week we get to Friday and the planned BBQ is a washout therefore we decide to go for a meal at the Kings Arms in Askrigg,(http://kingsarms-askrigg.co.uk/) perfect for the in laws as it was literally across the road from their B&B so they could park the car up and have a drink.
After a very nice meal and lots of spitting spider red wine ( not me as I was driving ) we parted company for our drive back to Hawes and their short stroll back to their B&B.
Can you imagine the warm glow of satisfaction I felt when on the following morning Gordon tells us how when he got back to the B&B the landlords were waiting for him with his bags packed because believe it or not .... He wasn't booked in for the Friday night!!!!
Unable to drive anywhere a night sleeping in the car looked like it was coming, but luckily for them the landlady phoned around and found them a room in the same village.
Personally I think the moral of the story is, let the wife book the holidays then it can't be your fault.
But all turned out well mainly thanks to the lovely friendly people of the area who are more than happy to help, and after a shaky start we had a fab week in the Yorkshire Dales and we will be going back..... But I'm not booking it

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

If you've never been... Go. If you've been before... Go again

If you've never been to the Lake District then go sometime soon, if you have been before, go again there will be somewhere you haven't been some fantastic view you haven't seen.
Looking out from the boat on Coniston
That is my summary of our week in the Lakes, we will be back sooner rather than later.
We as a family tend to visit the western lakes area other people prefer the northern lakes, I would suggest a base around the Coniston, Hawkshead or Windermere area that way the whole Lake District is accessible in around an hours drive and in that hour you will take in some wonderful views.
If you are lucky enough to be visiting this area here are few places I would suggest visiting.
Grizedale Forrest - located between Coniston and Windermere has walking trails, biking trails with mountain bike hire, a large go ape with a smaller junior section and a visitor centre with a cafe.
Hilltop farm Sawrey - a National Trust property, formerly owned by Beartrix Potter and said to be the inspiration for many of her famous books.
Ambleside - a nice town with plenty of shops, cafés, restaurants and a small cinema.
Grasmere - a busy village with tea rooms, cafés and hotels. A popular stop off point for walkers and visitors to the nearby Dove Cottage, former home to William Wordsworth.
Ullswater - home to the Ullswater steamers and starting point for many walks. A visit here warrants a visit to Pooley bridge at the north tip of the lake. A small village with shops and pubs next to a bridge that crosses the river Eamont just before it runs into the lake. It's a good spot for paddling and bobbing about in inflatable crafts of all shapes and sizes.
No visit to the Lakes would be complete without a visit to Lake Windermere itself and the main town of the lake Bowness on Windermere. A busy town and the main point for boat trips on the lake.
Lake Coniston - in particular Coniston jetty, the place to hire boats, kayaks and take part in various activities such as raft building .
These are just the tip of the Iceberg and are only things recommended from our own personal experience, I realise the Lakes are a vast area and I don't doubt there are places and things we haven't seen that others would recommend, it is that fact that convinced me to start blogging, so that other readers can comment on things to see and do. 
Everywhere you go there are hotels, B&Bs, holiday cottages and campsites, in short, there are no shortage of places to stay no matter what your budget ... So go on .... Visit the wonderful Lake District

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Slips, trips, falls and amazing views

This was by far the toughest walk we did in our week in the Lake District, but that said it was also the best, most rewarding and fun!
The walk started from the National Trusts Bowder Stone car park in Borrowdale.
No sooner had we parked the car than the first slip of the day happened, Isobel my daughter in her wisdom thought it would be a good idea to jump from one damp moss covered rock to another, this resulted in an early lunch as the ice pack from the cool bag was needed on a grazed shin!! Tears mopped up and half the picnic later it was time to consult the walking book for our starting instructions.
The walk sets out from the top end of the car park through a gate and along a faint trail through the trees passing to the left of a large boulder. This proved to be a good photo stop, so as I was readying my phone to take the picture my wife decides to climb the boulder to show off her rock climbing skills, just before I was ready to take the picture she slipped and gracefully slid down the boulder landing in a nice heap on the wet grass. Now as you can imagine this amused the kids no end, the only downside was that I had failed to capture the incident.
Once the laughing had subsided we continued past the old quarry face over a faint ridge and into a wooded area where the trail started to climb fairly steep in parts. The path was slippery in places especially when wrestling one of the dogs as well, which was the cause of the next fall. Archie our youngest son slipped while holding one of the dogs, Archie stopped whereas the dog didn't.. resulting in a bent finger, yet more tears and another injury stop.
The path continued uphill before levelling out for a brief spell before another steep climb to the summit of Kings How. 
At the summit the hard work is repaid many times over by the views of the valley and Derwent Water in one direction and Borrowdale in the opposite direction.
Amazing view from the summit at Kings How
At this point it was pointed out that as my eldest son was nursing an earlier scooter injury I was in fact the only member of the family without a holiday war wound, the pressure was on me for the descent!!
The descent is through more open ground and as we found at this time of year tall Bracken. At times the Bracken was taller than the children but this seemed to add to the adventure of it all for them.
There is a family in there somewhere
At points the descent is steep and slippery and at one point a couple of ramblers appeared from deep within the Bracken asking for help in finding their way, quite impressed with ourselves for not losing our way we pointed them in the right direction before following the trail back down to a road.
Perfect spot for a skimming competition
Instructions in the book said to walk along the walk a short way before heading pubs path to the right towards the Bowder Stone but we made a detour across the road to the river for a spot of stone skimming and to give the dogs a chance for a swim to cool down before joining  the path to the stone.
Once the Bowder Stone had been conquered the path leads back to the car park. From here it's a short drive or walk into Borrowdale and a chance to try out the local tea room .
The children recommend the flapjack

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Stockgyhll Force waterfall Ambleside

This is another walk from the Walks to Waterfalls book, you should by now be realising that certain members of the family love a good waterfall.
This is a walk of about 2.5 miles and at a steady pace should take you no longer than 1.5 hours.
The instructions in the book state to start out from the main car park in Ambleside which is just north of the town centre on the A591, there are plenty of other places around Ambleside to park should this be full and its not a long walk from any of the alternatives to the start point of the walk.
The walk starts from the main road at the north/top end of town close to the Salutation Hotel and leads up a lane on the left immediately after Barclays Bank and take the next lane on your left, here you will see a sign for the waterfall. Follow this sign along the track up a steady incline until you reach another and follow the Stock Ghyll upstream following the red markers.
Stockghyll force waterfall from one of the viewpoints
As you proceed you will reach a couple of view points that provide the opportunity for good photographs before reaching a fork in the path, for now ignore the path to the right and continue upstream until you reach the bridge over the waterfalls. This again is a good photo opportunity and although there wasn't a huge amount of water passing through as the weather had been so dry you can imagine what it would be like after a prolonged period of rain.
The walk now makes a U-turn back to the fork in the path you passed earlier, around this point there are some picnic benches should the kids need feeding, ours for once didn't at this point so we carried on!
At the fork you need to head of left towards a revolving gate in the wall ahead, pass through the gate along a narrow path that leads to a surfaced lane at which point you turn left and gently climb uphill along the side of the valley.
After about a kilometre you pass the entrance to Low Grove House and cross over a cattle grid at which point turn left and head through a gate down the grassy path to a bridge over Stock Ghyll.
Once over the bridge head left again alongside the water to a gate in the wall, don't go through the gate instead follow the path that goes uphill towards the farm, As you near the farm go through the gate and follow the farm track down the road. 200 metres down the road a rough tracks appears on the right, take this track. It goes through a couple of gates and follows a wall on your left.
Our two dogs Max and Pippa having a rest while we take in the view
go through  a small gated stile and walk downhill to a tiny bridge over a tiny beck through another stile this leads to a clear track on the edge of Ambleside. This leads to a quiet road which in turn heads back to Ambleside.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Orrest head view point

This walk started out from Windermere, there are carparks that are fairly central but we dropped lucky on a large layby that had a maximum 2 hour stay, plenty of time as this is only a short walk.
The walk started on a Tarmac path opposite the old bank and heads uphill zig zagging it's way towards the Blacksmiths cottage. Here you can stop and take advantage of a break in the trees which opens out a view of Lake Windermere and provides a good photo opportunity. The walk then continues up a steady incline until you reach the main viewpoint, Orrest Head.
From this point you get 360 degree views of the surrounding area but most impressive is the view of the Windermere valley and the whole lake. I've tried to get the whole lake in the picture but as I only had my phone the photo isn't the best. 
If the weather is fine this is a perfect spot to feed and water the kids whilst taking in the view.
Panoramic view of Lake Windermere from Orrest Head
The walk then heads down from Orrest Head through the fields to a road which passes a farm before heading off through a small wood and skirting around the bottom of the viewpoint and back towards Windermere.
As I said earlier this is only a short walk so it leaves plenty of time for a visit to nearby Bowness on Windermere for a spot of retail therapy or as in our case Ice creams all round, including a marzipan flavour which my daughter said was very nice!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Tom Gill Waterfall and Tarn Hows

This walk is one we found in this book purchased from Amazon.
The walk starts at the National Trust pay and display car park at Tom Gill on the A593 approx. 2 miles north of Coniston.
Tip: If the car park is full or your just to tight to pay there is a large layby about 1/2 mile further north next to Yew Tree Tarn.
From the car park head towards Tom Gill and cross the bridge and follow the sign for Tom Gill, the path heads gently uphill through the woodland alongside Tom Gill.
As the path climbs you catch glimpses of smaller cascades and soon the main waterfall comes into view and the path drops down to the right to a viewpoint of the waterfall.
After the photo stop return to the main path and continue uphill until you reach the gate and go through it.
The instructions in the book say to turn right and follow the path around Tarn Hows upon reaching the far end of the Tarn there is a bridge to cross where the path splits and if you want to follow the walk described in the book you take a path to the right.
We opted to follow the main path and do a lap of the Tarn stopping for a picnic ( as the kids couldn't possibly move another inch without food ) before returning back down the path alongside Tom Gill and to the car park.
At this point you can head right along a path that runs alongside the road towards the big layby mentioned earlier where there is access to a path that goes around Yew Tree Tarn.