Cumbrian adventures; Part 3. February Half Term. Great Langdale

Ruby the VW campervan is parked in the spectacular Langdale Valley, our home for the next three nights is the National Trust Campsite Great Langdale.

We packed away at Coniston in damp and drizzly conditions and made our way to Ambleside for provisions- I was fairly confident we wouldn’t even find a shop in Langdale valley. On the way to Ambleside we made a stop at Yew Tree Farm which was filming location for the 2009 Blockbuster, Mrs Potter.

We used the opportunity in Ambleside to visit the local butchers for some sausages and steak, (and another sausage roll) in the hope we may manage a sneaky bbq tomorrow- the weather was set to improve.

Ambleside is a pretty little town, however it was swimming in tourists – which is off putting for us, so we didn’t stay too long at all. It was then only a short drive to Great Langdale. As soon as you arrive into the valley the grandeur of the mountains that surround you almost overwhelm you. I’ve visited here before when I was young and even despite the drizzle, I was thrilled to be back with Keefy and Jazz.

Our pitch on the campsite was one of the best on site. This was because we’d booked one of only 5 electric pitches back in October. The rest of the site is a kind of free for all. Fine when it’s quiet but by the end of the weekend parts of it resembled a car park and we would not have wanted to pay to pitch up like that. There are new facilities on site including lovely hot showers in a heated block. Again, perhaps not enough for a full site, but we managed well.

We enjoyed a ploughman’s lunch whilst we waited for those clouds to dry up, which they did and we were able to have a wander to a couple of the pubs – there are 3 within 15 mins walk. I remember many a (soft) drink in the Old Dungeon Gyll Hikers Bar when I was growing up on family trips to the Lake District. But it was pretty special to be having my first alcoholic drink here – a pint of Old Peculiar for us both went down a treat.

We took the footpath half a mile along to the next pub, Sticklebarn, a National Trust run pub and restaurant and enjoyed the local Lake District Pilsner lager before heading back to Ruby for our slow cooker Beef and Tomato Stew which was delicious and a night reading (no phone signal or Wi-fi!)

Friday dawned a stunning morning, and we enjoyed a lazy morning with our first al fresco breakfast of the year, a simple beans and sausages on toast. We opted for a lower valley walk today despite the weather being smashing as we were gearing up for a BBQ and to make the most of the glorious out of season weather we felt a lunchtime feast would be best. We stopped for a couple of beers at Sticklebarn as the route passed it, before winding our way back towards the campsite. We still clocked up 3.5 miles and the views were stunning.

Keith prepared the most fantastic bbq- consisting of local steak, and pheasant sausages and venison sausages. The backdrop was stunning and rivalled the top spot on our list of the best bbq locations of all time.

We made our way back to the pub for another beer – the lure of their free wifi too much for us!

Saturday was another beautiful day. We had to keep reminding ourselves that it’s only February, and we’re in the lakes! An area that is usually more familiar with rain!

We were going to walk up and have a picnic at Blea Tarn, but from our pitch we could already see some walkers up on the top of Langdale pikes and we just couldn’t resist, so after a quick omelette for breakfast we threw together a packed lunch and set off towards Sticklebarn to begin the ascent up to Stickle Tarn. The path was surprisingly good, and therefore resembled the m25! However it was lovely to see so many families out enjoying the great British outdoors – and it was boiling!

The first stop, stickle tarn was about 1.25 miles uphill from stickle barn, but with the easy path we breezed up with no problems at all.

The next stage of our route took us over Harrison Pike, which was less easy, however the views were absolutely breathtaking. In fact Keith announced it was the best view he’d seen in England.

The route carried on towards the pike of stickle, which took us rock climbing in several places and hanging on for dear life at one point. We managed the pike of stickle, I nearly bottled it, but I was proud that I carried on, before the long steep and terrifying descent back to the start. It was a fabulous walk but really challenging, and by the time we got down dusk was starting to fall as was some drizzle. We’d made it in good time but a 5.5 mile walk still took us 6 hours!

We had a couple of beers which didn’t touch the sides and then went for an Old Peculiar at the Old Dungeon Gyll, one for the road. Dinner was chicken fajitas at Ruby which was delicious, however I’m certain that if the chicken hadn’t have defrosted during the day we may well have indulged in a meal at the Old Dungeon Gyll as their fish and chips looked amazing!

Our time in the Lake District was sadly at the end, we got up early on Sunday and made the journey back south and then east. With aching legs and rosy cheeks we are returning feeling relaxed and ready to tackle the next half term.

Until next time

Lx

Cumbrian Adventures, Part 2; February Half Term

Ruby the VW Campervan is nestled underneath the Old Man of Coniston, right in the heart of the spectacular Lake District National Park. Our home for the next three nights is Conniston Coppice Park, a Caravan and Motorhome Club site just outside of Coniston.

Our journey from Dufton was only meant to be a short one of just over an hour, however however we made a number of stops so it ended up taking us several hours. Our first stop was at the butchers in Appleby, Low Howgill’s, which were the butchers that supplied the meat to The Stag in Dufton. When Keefy couldn’t decide which meal to have on Saturday night because everything looked so tempting, I promised to cook a traditional Cumberland cassoulet using their sausages so he could eliminate that off the menu!

The butchers/deli was outstanding, I could have had everything in the shop! We picked up homemade sausage rolls for breakfast, along with lots of local Appleby cheese, sausages, bread, local Cumbrian coffee, and pork pies!

We enjoyed a wander around Appleby doing the town heritage trail before picking up some fresh veg for the greengrocers and then making our way towards Penrith for more supplies.

Shopping procured we soon crossed into the Lake District National Park passing through Grasmere and into Coniston.

It took us a while to set up as we couldn’t decide which pitch to choose! The layout of the site is lovely, with lots of individual little glades, and as such we had the opportunity to park side on, a rarity on club sites. We’ve got our own private stream running alongside the side door, it’s lovely.

We needed to get our chocks out to level up- the first time since we downsized to Ruby and as such they were buried right at the back!

Once set up we enjoyed a late lunch, a delicious ploughman’s filled with local treats from our farm shop haul this morning, before a little stroll around the huge site.

Only half of it is open at this time of year, but it stretches right down the bank to almost the edge of Coniston Water,with the majority of the pitches entirely private on their own glade.

Dinner was a homemade carbonara before settling down to watch a film on Netflix.


Tuesday arrived dry but overcast. We began our day with bacon and sausage sandwiches, and I prepared the long awaited Sausage Cassoulet in the slow cooker, before joining the Cumbrian Way which runs at the bottom of the site towards Coniston. It’s a pleasant 2 mile walk and we were rewarded with views of The Old Man of Coniston and also Coniston Moor.

The weather seemed a little unsettled so we decided not to attempt the Old Man today, we’re not a fan of starting strenuous walks with a low chance of the rewarding view! Instead we opted for a lower level walk over Consiton Moor, yewdale fell and across the Coppermines.

It was a lovely walk, still quite strenuous in areas, however we were rewarded with great views all the way.

We enjoyed a couple of beers at the Sun Hotel and then the Bull – we got to try the local Coniston Brewery Bluebird and Old Man Ale.

Another stop at the local butchers for some more local sausage and of course a sausage roll, (not as good as the Appleby one!) and then we set off back to Ruby. We were surprised to see we’d clocked up 11.5 miles, but we’d escaped the rain which started just as we finished our ruby duties – loo, water etc!

Dinner tonight was a homemade leek and potato soup, made in my compact soup maker, which made light work of it, and then sausage cassoulet which was delicious!


Wednesday~ Rain stopped play today. Well we are in the Lake District where rain is to be expected- but we decided to use it as an excuse to have a rest and therefore declared a duvet day!

We therefore stayed in bed reading and drinking tea till almost midday! It is half term and we need to recharge, so recharged we did. Better weather is possibly on its way tomorrow – however you never know in the Lakes!

We had an amazing Cumbrian brunch which Keefy cooked- all produce from the local butchers in Coniston. Those sausages were amazing!

We then decided to have a small leg stretch to the local pub in Torver – despite the driving rain which drenched us even with all our waterproofs!

We were thankful for the prime spot in front of the log fire to dry out. Just in time to get drenched for the walk back to Ruby! Still, we clocked up another 4 miles for our target of 1000 miles in 2019 and we felt not quite so lazy as we had three hours earlier.

Dinner was a lovely chicken Balti before we watched a film on Netflix.

It didn’t stop raining all night and morning so sadly we decided to leave The Old Man of Coniston for this time. Next stop just over the valley- Great Langdale National Trust Campsite. Promise of finer weather is there!

Until next time

Lx

Our annual Pilgrimage to Scotland Part 3: A quick stopover at the Lake District 

Ruby the campervan is parked up alongside  Gillside Beck- we arrived here yesterday, Friday, after a fairly longish journey from our Loch Ness Brit Stop. The reason for departing Scotland a day early is stood proudly behind us, and frankly looks scary as hell- perhaps that’s where the name Helvellyn comes from! For a couple of years now, Keith and I have talked about how we’d like to tackle Helvellyn and Striding Edge. For both of us, it’s a personal challenge. Neither of us particularly like hill walking, and I’m terrified of drops, yet I have spent hours marvelling at people’s instagram pics of Striding Edge. I just knew I had to go and give it my best foot forward. Luckily, my husband is also crazy so despite his hatred of walking up hills agreed to attempt it with me, if he weather looked ok on or way home from Scotland. 

So back in February we booked our pitch at Gillside Farm, knowing there was a hefty chance we’d cancel if weather looked bad. We’d been about internet for well over 24 hours and finally picked up 4g as passed through Fort William. Keith as driving and I checked Patterdale – well il be blowed it was only showing full sun for tomorrow. “Off we go then”, I said, feeling the colour draining from my chops! 

Gillside Farm is nestled right at the bottom of the main path from Glenriding up to Helvellyn- so on arrival we decided to check where our oath started, before prepping our rucksacks, making a packed lunch and enjoying a simply cook Murgh Kari curry for tea. The mood in the Ruby was certainly of apprehension! We watched the live election debate before calling it a night. I dreamt that we got stuck on Helvellyn! What a great dream- not! 

Saturday dawned as promised, absolutely glorious. There really is nowhere as beautiful as the Lakes in this weather! Apprehension was again strife! We moved around our daily routine almost in silence- I chucked some venison and a few bits of stray veg into the slow cooker to bubble away ready for our return. Keith packed, double packed and triple checked the rucksacks. By 09:15 we’d had our porridge and cereal bars and were ready to go. I was BRICKING it. 


The first mile is literally uphill. There is no relief from it – it is hard. Really really hard. Loads of people passed us, we were both puffing like a steam train and I was almost ready to chuck the towel in. However-the  views were stunning and that really kept us going. The views to Ullswater were sensational. 

 

After over an hour and exactly a mile- the uphillness became easier! I thought I’d suddenly become super fit but Keith declared “hurray, we are now following the contours rather than crossing them” We were rewarded with great views of Helvellyn and red tarn and actually started enjoying ourselves! 

Before we knew it we were reaching the start of Striding Edge. I gave myself one last talking to and before I know it we were across! Striding Edge if you are not familiar, is a ridge that leads to Helvellyn, England’s 3rd  highest behind Scafell and Sca. It was really, really hard- in fact a man in front of us stopped and turned round- he said he couldn’t cope with it any more- so was going to find the easier path. Keith and I (and jazz!) kept our heads down,took it very slowly and carefully and stopped regularly for photos – AND I DIDNT HAVE A PANIC ATTACK! 

I still can’t believe we walked across that ridge!!!

Getting to the other side my legs were like Jelly. Then we realised we had nasty scramble ahead to get to the summit. It wasn’t a scramble it it literally was rock climbing. Omg. 😳 However the camoradory between all the walkers was fantastic – and as we crossed the last ridge before the summit I had a tear in my eye! We’d done it! Bucket list ticked ✅




After a cheese roll or three we discovered it was as steep if not worse on the way down! Off we set, taking so much care- we even had to carry Jazz over a couple of bits as he refused and dug his claws in! Slowly we descended and 3 hours later we were back at Ruby feeling immensely proud of ourselves! 


We had a swift dram before continuing to the pub for a couple( including a Lake District Gin!!) and returning to Ruby for our venison stew.


Tomorrow we head home (sad face!) we have had a blast and couldn’t have wished for an sweet finish today. We’ve survived 10 whole days in our downsized campervan with no pop top. Ruby is working for us! Hurrah! 

Until next time 

Lx 

The Lovely Lake District- Part 2

Seeing as we had fulfilled our main objective for the trip on our first day, it was decided that days 2 and 3 would be food/drink based around our bellies! Starting as we meant to go on therefore, after a breakfast fit for kings in the beautiful dining room of our hotel, The Ennerdale Country House Hotel, we gathered our bits and pieces and intend the car in the direction of Cockermouth, our first destination of the day. Cockermouth was circled in our mapbook because it’s where all the magic happens……it’s home to Jennings Brewery 👏

   

We’d been enjoying the Cumberland Ale, and on visiting the brewery, we were able to try some of their other, equally delicious beers in their onsite pub/tea rooms.  

   

You may notice that the glasses have Marstons on- the reason for this is that Marstons have just recently bought out Jennings.. So interesting times ahead. Keith said his favourite was the “Cocky Blonde”…… Now, back to the beer….! He also liked the “Sneck Lifter” but that was a bit strong for pre 12:00 drinkies 🙂  

 We didn’t do the brewery tour as we had Jazz with us, but did stock up on some bottles of Ale to bring home. Looking forward to tucking into those sometime soon! Seeing as we still had 45 mins on our parking ticket, and the weather wasn’t brilliant, we felt it would have been rude not to have a quick look at their flagship pub, The Bush Inn, on Cockermouth’s high street (I must add, I was In charge of the wheels so had soft drinks- made up for it in the evenings though!) The Bush Inn was listed on my dog friendly app and the landlord went out of his way to make us feel welcome. It was a great place to spend half and hour- full of locals and nice to watch the world go by. 

  
Next stop was the picturesque road from Cockermouth down the side of Crummock water and onto Buttermere. We’d done this drive a couple of times before in Bluebell- it’s a lovely drive.  

Another place, another pub- as you can see the weather wasn’t so good, so it was nice to have a leisurely drive. We had a drink at The Bridge hotel, Buttermere, another dog friendly establishment and had a nice chat with another couple with a dog, and eyed up the delicious looking meals being sent out to those that were eating. We’d already made our decision to have our main meal mid afternoon at The Fox and Hounds in Ennerdale Bridge, but the prawn sandwiches and chips looked so good that we vowed to pop in tomorrow for lunch! 
   
Our final stop for the day was  The Fox and Hounds in Ennerdale Bridge. This had made its way onto our list as it was the flagship pub for The Ennderdale Brewery, brewers of the enjoyable Ennerdale Blonde we’d been enjoying at our hotel. It’s a very cosy and traditional community owned and run pub, and the food was exceptional. I had Pork belly soaked in Ennerdale beer and Keith and Cumberland Sausage ring and mash. Its a popular spot for walkers on the Coast to Coast trail, not to mention cyclists, locals and even the Ennerdale brewery  chap was there too. 

   
  

  
A fabulous afternoon was spent there- luckily we (I*) only had 3 miles to drive us back to the hotel where I rolled up the stairs into bed for a 2 hour snooze!! Bizarrely enough the only thing that woke us was the sunshine through the window- another first for The Lake District, and so we had drinks in the hotel gardens before being piggy and devouring yet another gorgeous meal!!  
     

^ a pint of Ennerdale Blonde for Keefy and a beefeaters G&T for me- well it was World Gin Day!

 ^ Lady of the manor!! Haha 
The next morning and the sun was still shining- we enjoyed another lovely breakfast, albeit a somewhat lighter affair after our major pig out yesterday. I had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and Keith tried the poached haddock in milk.  We got the best seat in the house!

Today’s plan was a picturesque drive from Grasemere to Buttermere via the Honister Pass. We took the scenic Route- The B5289 through Rosthwaite and alongside the stunning Derwentwater. Absolutely beautiful- I’ll let the pics oaint the picture so to speak… 

  
^Grasmere

 ^Looking across to Helvellyn
   
^Derwentwater – totally reminded us of Loch Lomond
   

  

  

 ^Ashness Bridge, looking over Borrowdale

   

  

  

  

  

  ^ Surprise View– looking over Derwentwater and Borrowdale. 

   
  

  

 

^Watendlath Tarn and Hamlet

   
           

^ Bowder Stone– a 30ft free standing erratic stone- fantastic!! It defied gravity!!! 

 ^Pit stop at Scafell Hotel, Rosthwaite 
   
  

           

^Honister Pass 

   

  

  

 ^Buttermere 

   

  

 ^Pit Stop- and mighty fine it was too- we had Toffee apple and Chocolate. Mmmmm🍦 

I got the inspiration for the above car tour Here and we loved it. There was lots to see, and handily located National Trust car parks at each location. We paid £4 for a parking ticket which was transferable between all car parks- a nice touch, although National Trust members can park  for free.  

We couldn’t have asked for a better finish to our short break, despite piling on a few pounds hahaha ( we ate and drank like kings and queens!!)  Keith is still raving about Cumbrian Ale- it has such a delicious creamy taste. Yum. 

So concludes another tour, as much as we enjoyed doing the hotel/car thing we missed the motorhome for sureand  are looking forward to our next proper road trip/mini break- hopefully in a couple of weeks! Just need to fix ourselves up with a couple of new bikes and we will be sorted 🚲

Stay tuned, until next time 

Lx