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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.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Future blogs

Future posts will include holidays to Sardinia, Southern Brittany, Cyprus, Paris aswell as day trips to Derbyshire and other UK destinations.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Park Coppice

This year we returned to our favourite caravan club site, Park Coppice on the banks of Lake Coniston.
See the link below
We enjoy this site as it has direct access to the lake and has a relaxed atmosphere and you're not constantly on edge about how much noise your kids are making. The wardens are friendly and relaxed no more so than when kids are biking or scooting around site even against the one way system for cars (this action at previous sites would have caused the wardens to have a meltdown).
Obviously common sense needs to prevail.... Something our eldest son was lacking as he sped downhill on his sisters pink scooter only to be confronted by a vehicle, his bailout took him straight into the kerb where he was unceremoniously ejected from the pink scooter badly bruising his big toe and no doubt his pride!
We have always chosen to pitch up down the bottom end of the site I think the pitch number this year was 123 the picture is of the pitch we chose, we find the toilet block down here less busy than others on site and very well maintained.
The other main reason is with access to the lake down this end it's quick and easy to take the dogs out for their morning walk also it's not as far to carry the inflatable dinghy when it's time for a spot of bobbing about on the lake.
From the access road down to the lake you walk down a small hill through a gate and into the Coniston Hall campsite which particularly at weekends is busy, we enjoy walking through this campsite as it always seems to have a good atmosphere with groups camping together having barbecues, you can either cut down to the lake or walk through the campsite towards Coniston Hall and then onwards through the fields to the Coniston jetty where you will find various water sports,boat hire and a cafe.
Alternatively there is a path from the top end of the site near the reception that leads to the Ship Inn if your thirst needs quenching!
Here is the link to the Coniston Hall campsite
This is the link to the Ship Inn
There are other pubs and shops in the village of Coniston, I would recommend a visit to the The Sun
Here is the link to The Sun

The lakes cont

Our first walk of this trip was a steady stroll starting out from the White Moss car park situated on the A591 between Ambleside and Grasmere. The walk takes you along the banks of the River Rothay before crossing over the river and onto the shore of Lake Grasmere .
The path follows the shoreline before heading uphill and through woodland before returning to the lake but on a more elevated path which affords you views of the lake ( see photo of the view).
The path steadily descends back down and crosses the river before heading back to the car park.
From the car park it's a short drive to either Grasmere or Ambleside