The Start of the Trip North
Wednesday 7th November
Today was a catch up day, Judy doing some washing and dusting and Rags raking up leaves and pottering in the greenhouse. Moe came today so we had a great natter with her too! She has agreed to be our taxi driver to Stansted for our flights to and from the Canaries and when we fly to Prague.
We are packed and ready to go!
Thursday 8th November
We had our first taste of the cold weather today. When we awoke it looked overcast but we readied ourselves for “The North Trip” and left just before 8am. Our first stop was Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood fame. We spent some time at the Visitors' Centre after having our cup of coffee and cake that we'd brought from home. We met a couple whose daughter is about to migrate to Perth with her family as she feels her children may have the chance of a better future there. On hearing that we were teachers she told us that her daughter and son in law were also and questioned us on the best places to live. We gave them our
A very old oak tree
This tree is about 500 years old. There was one that was twice this age but we didn't think we had the time to walk the distance to it.
card so that if her daughter wanted any further information she could contact us.
Soon after we left Sherwood the weather turned and it was pouring with rain and visibility dropped.
As we approached Liverpool it cleared again but the traffic was so busy in this direction that we decided to continue north rather than stop in Liverpool, our original intention. We stopped for lunch at a services stop and then continued to Blackpool where we thought it should be easy to find a room.
After a patch of blue the weather had again turned and the wind was blowing furiously. The beach promenade was lined with little hotels and we soon found one to call home for the night. It was called he Kensington Hotel and was obviously in the middle of a special event, the whole place being decked out with Xmas decorations. At his time of the year Blackpool decorates its city in lights for its annual Festival of Light, the only thing is that this finished a week ago and all that is left are the tawdry decorations hanging across all the roads and the evenings were balck, nothing open, nothing lit up!
Must be part of the lights festival. There were lots of these scenes along the road to Fleetwood.
Once rugged up we set off to explore. What a hole! Everything appeared to be closed or closing. Pubs seemed to all be snooker halls and we couldn't find one that served a meal. There were more of the amusement parlours that we had seen in Brighton but somehow these seemed shabbier and seedier. Perhaps it would seem different in summer when they are packed with holiday makers.
We eventually found a little Chinese cafe open where we enjoyed an overpriced meal. We were almost blown away on the walk home, it's incredible how strong the wind is. If the weather remains like this we might be home in less than a week!
Friday 9th November
After another filling English breakfast, this time with a porridge starter we packed up and drove through the beach promenade. There was no where to stop so we drove toward Fleetwood. This also appeared uniformly drab, treeless and brown, making us ever grateful for our beautiful home in Australia. We had a short walk on the seawall, short because the wind was whipping the waves to a frenzy and we felt crazy to be here in this weather.
This is where we stayed in Blackpool - the only night we didn't spend in a B&B.
were the next stop, very much a textile market with Nottingham lace, shirts, jumpers and other assorted goods. What we did manage to buy here were 3 lovely looking home made pies for 2 pound. We weren't quite ready to eat yet but knew we'd soon be looking for food. Rags saw some moleskins (warm trousers)but with no changerooms, decided he'd pass although he later bemoaned that he didn't make a greater effort to find a pair to fit.
From here we followed a large truck through some more quaint looking little villages to the M6. From here it wasn't long before we turned off towards the Lake District and Windemere. The landscape changed here and we could see bare mountain tops where it was obvious little grew. We'd decided to spend some time in Windemere, Rags fell in love with it almost immediately! We went to the tourist bureau and got directions to the B & B's and the first one we went to, Lynwood, the door was answered by a lovely lady called Fran. The room was also delightful so we had found a home for 2 days!
We didn't want to lose our parking near
Tawdry lights at Blackpool
That might have looked great when illuminated but they didn't look much during the daylight!
the B&B so we set off on foot. Our map showed a walk “Sherriff's Walk” to the lake so we started looking or this only to realise that what we thought was it in the map was actually a creek! Once found the walk took us through a wooded area with a carpet of fallen leaves and moss covered trees.
Eventually we came out to a road which led us to Bowness on Windemere, a speccy little village on the eastern side of Lake Windemere that reminded us of Margaret River with its interesting gift and clothing shops. We did manage to buy a gift and Rags bought some Blackpool Rock which we are munching as we write this. Nearby was Bowness Bay where the pier was and we enquired about boat trips for tomorrow before walking back along the main road in the dark.
Half a bottle of wine was awaiting us in our room so we drank this before walking to a nearby pub for a couple of drinks and tea!
Saturday 10th November
It looks as if winter is finally here. We woke up to grey skies and gentle rain which increased in
short bursts. We had planned on taking a ferry ride on Lake Windermere to the upper town of Ambleside (what a great name). Due to the rain we decided to go for a drive, this wasn't very inviting at first but then the rain stopped.
First stop was the town of Coniston on the edge of Coniston Water. It was here in 1967 that Donald Campbell died attempting to better his world water speed record which he attained earlier at Dumbelyung in Western Australia. His boat, Bluebird, was not recovered from the depths of Coniston Waters until 1997. It is now in a shed awaiting funding for it to be displayed.
A lake administered by the National Trust, Tarn Hows, was our stop for morning tea and we walked the 2-3 kms around it. The scenery was spectacular and we took many photos of the lake and the coloured foliage of the trees around. This area really lifted our spirits and we were glad that we had continued touring for the day.
The town of Ambleside was our next stop, this known as being the town Beatrice Potter lived. Here she became known for the work she
did sketching different fungi, her eye for detail and her perfection making her an expert in this field. This talent for sketching later became the basis for her future stories. Besides this the town is the centre for walking the trails in the area with many outlets selling equipment to cater for the hoards that come there.
With the sun going down soon after 4pm we returned to our room, and as we had a late lunch of fish & chips were content to have fruit and some dates we had bought, washed down with a cup of tea, for dinner. The fresh air had obviously got to us as we had one of the best night's sleep we have had .
Sunday 11th November
After a hearty breakfast we set off north, admiring the scenery even though it was raining, reaching Ullswater, the second largest lake in the district where, during a dry spell, we walked along the edge of the lake. This lake is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the Cumbria district, who are we to say otherwise?
At the southern end of the lake it is described as being with
Our B&B in Windemere
'dramatic hills & crags' and the northern end it became gentle farmland. Pooley's Bridge, a small village we passed through before hitting the M6 motorway. On sale was Kendal Mint Cake, so of course we stopped to purchase this. It is a confectionery, hard on the outside, soft on the inside, with a very strong mint flavour. It could almost be described as a mint fudge. It is used as an energy booster for walkers and has been taken to Mt Everest and other well-known treks.
Penrith was our next destination and here we bought the ingredients for our lunch at the large Morrison's Superstore before visiting the ruins of a 14th century sandstone castle. This castle was nowhere near as impressive as Carlisle Castle, the next stop. Here we walked through a castle which has been kept in good repair, until recently occupied and therefore restored and maintained by the Royal Army. This castle has looked over the city of Carlisle for the last 900 years!
A dash across the Scottish border took us to Biggar, and here we found a B&B, School Green Cottage, on our first attempt just as we entered the town. Dinner was
Photo taken from the pier at Bowness on Windemere.
at The Crown pub, Judy having Scottish salmon, Rags deciding not to have the haggis which was on the menu, but a shoulder of lamb instead. He has vowed to try the haggis before we leave Scotland.
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