Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A weekend in the Lakes

The easter holidays have started many firsts for the year, for example; first picnic, first barbecue and of course, first camping trip of the year. 

We have never been camping at Easter, always opting to go in the May bank holidays instead. Last Easter- which was earlier, at the end of March was a definite no no, there had still been snow in many places around the country and very cold even where there wasn't snow. This year, however Easter was almost a full month later than it was last year and Matthew had his heart set on camping and in the Lake District. I was a bit more warey we had had odd days of sunshine but nothing too warm and the past weeks it had been drizzling on and off.

Now I love camping, I love the cooking and eating outside, the peaceful beautiful surroundings and waking up to birdsong and the glow of sunlight hitting the tent in the morning I don't even mind the sound of wind and drizzle on the tent through the night, what I do mind is being so cold you can't sleep, getting drenched when you need to go out to the loos but most of all I hate putting the tent up or down in rain, I have done it before you end up as muddy and wet as the tent and very very miserable, also what would we do if it was raining? we had our dog Max so we couldn't take him any indoor attractions like the pencil museum ( I kid you not this is an actual museum in the Lakes! ) so we would end up in a pub all day everyday. I kept trying gentle persuasion to try and get Matthew to change his mind, 'the Lake District isn't known for its good weather maybe we could try somewhere down south!' But he was having none of it, and I must say on this very very rare occasion, Matthew was right! 

The weather for the easter weekend was good, Friday and Saturday being the best days and the best part of the country was the Lake District, Isle of Man and Northern Ireland. 
We had decided to stay in a place called Wasdale I hadn't heard of it before but we had talked about walking up Scafell Pike, England's tallest mountain so we did a google search to find out where was near, we found a walk that started and ended in Wasdale so we decided to go to the campsite there which was owned by the National Trust. 
Wasdale itself is stunning, the only way I can describe it and this probably does it no justice whatsoever to the village is its like a cul de sac but instead of houses blocking the road through there are mountains! The village itself doesn't have a through road, just a road that leads you to a pub, a small church, a shop and few houses, a campsite, a car park and a farm, and surrounding them to three sides there are stunning mountains. We didn't stay at the campsite that was in the village purely because we didn't know about it, ours was about a mile out of the village near Wast water, England's deepest lake. 

The campsite was in a great location you could walk to and from Scafell Pike direct from the campsite. It felt quite sheltered in the valley with lovely views of the mountains. It had a good shop on site, you could pitch up wherever you liked and even though the campsite was full you didn't feel like crammed in, all the pitches were nicely spaced out, the facilities were ok, although the showers weren't very warm. There were a couple of downside, you had to park your car away from the pitches and carry all your things, lots of which were very heavy to your pitch,  when it came to putting the tent up the air was blue and about a 4 of our tent pegs were bent so much they had to be thrown away, the ground was unbelievably hard it felt like there was a thin layer of grass and then underneath hard gravel, eventually Matthew went to the shop and found some stronger longer tent pegs which made light work of it, he got four and used the stronger ones to make the holes for the normal tent pegs, the ground also was too hard to screw in the dog lead tether so Max kept pulling it loose. Imagine getting the stuff out of the boot and carry it over to the pitch, then trying to put up a tent in rock hard ground as well as trying to pig wrangle a extremely restless Max after being in a car for hours, who'd managed to pull his lead free! It was a challenge!

On the Saturday we decided to do Scafell Pike, last year we did Snowdon and that is higher so I thought this would be fine but I really found it hard tough, especially since Matthew added on a mile walking down to Wasdale to start from there when everybody else was setting off in the other direction going straight up, he had a different walk loaded into his gps so we had to do that, I did sulk for a bit! What I hadn't taken into consideration was Snowdon was a straight path up to the top, Scafell Pike was not! It was very steep and rocky with lots of turns and a few false summits, we kept walking and passing people, then resting and they passed us again, there was 2 families doing it together with 4 adults and about 5 kids ranging from about 6 to 12 years old, they kept stopping and stroking and saying hello to Max, the sometimes waning children would be spurred on by the promise of being able to stroke Max when they got to the top! The children actually put us to shame they got to the summit before us, we saw them again a few times on the way down and later on in the pub, one of the dad's thanked us and said that they doubted they would have got to the top without Max to spur them on! He's a little mountain pooch! 

It took us about 4 hours to get to the top and then about 3 hours back down, it was a brilliant sense of achievement, the weather stayed nice although very cool on the top - there was a patch of snow that had not yet melted, and the views were fantastic. I had jelly legs on the way down and the rocky paths meant if you didn't watch were you put your feet you would slip, we soaked our feet in the stream at the end which was freezing but felt great on our tired feet. I enjoyed the walk but it was hard work and I'm not in a rush to do it again! Or Ben Nevis to make it a hat trick! 

On Easter Sunday it was a little overcast at times but we went out for the day to the nearby coastal towns of Whitehaven and St. Bees, with it being Easter Sunday there wasn't many places open in Whitehaven we walked around the harbour where we had a picnic and the pier and we took Max on a small stretch of beach. Next we went to St. Bees which was lovely it has a pebbly beach and I collected lots of driftwood to use on crafts in the future. 

On the second and third nights we went to the Wasdale head pub, as I said before it was about a mile to Wasdale from the campsite but there was a really lovely path you could go along next to the stream which brought you out behind the pub, the Wasdale head was split into a part for hotel residents and a bar / restaurant for the public there was a sheltered outside area and a beer garden behind by the stream. The pub was very busy both nights we went, not surprisingly considering it's the only pub for miles because of this they could have charged an extortionate amount and not really bothered too much about the quality, but it was reasonably priced for food and drink, lots of items In the menu were locally sourced and everything we had was delicious I recommend the lamb cobbler just the thing to warm you up as the night got cool, dogs were allowed in the bar and welcomed. It was a very lovely pub but don't forget your torch for walking back along the road to the campsite! As we walked back, because there is very little light pollution we could see the night sky in all it's glory, you can see all the different constellations. It was beautiful! 

We had a really lovely time camping and also had time to relax and read and doze. Our legs were a bit achy after the walk but we are full of lovely memories and are ready for our next camping adventure! Only 4 more days to go..! 

Thanks for reading, 
Abigail x