Monday, 30 April 2012

Four Scramble Up a Waterfall

Bit late posting this.  Life and lots of stuff has been getting in the way but more of that in another post I think.

Easter Sunday and what better activity than a walk.  Off to the Yorkshire Dales, we thought, for a rather lovely circuit around Janet's Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove.  Lots of interesting things to look at and the promise of a climb up a waterfall was just soooo exciting for the girls.

First place we got to was the beautiful Janet's Foss.  Even in very early spring with not much greenery, it is still a gorgeous and magical place.  Most definitely an enchanted place for the fairies we agreed.
Looking for Fairies on the way to Janet's Foss
Janet's Foss - a practically perfect waterfall
After resisting the urge to get into the beautiful pool at Janet's Foss we continued on to Gordale Scar.  A waterfall on another scale really.  Very imposing and impressive.
The scramble up Gordale Scar
I am pleased to report that big girl, little girl, Sallydog, and mummy all managed to get up in one piece.  Time for lunch at the top.  Watched the cloud descend while munching on sandwiches and pork pies.  Then off to walk on the limestone pavements.
Little girl scrambling up like a little mountain goat!
Walking on limestone pavement in the cloud
The cloud came down to the floor after a bit so the approach to Malham Tarn was a bit miserable really. Wet and cold and rather blustery.  We decided to head straight to the Cove instead and on the way down the weather did improve a little.  Everyone and his dog was on the top of the cove it being Easter Sunday and some seriously inappropriate attire on show too. I kid you not, there were people up there in sandals and flip flops.

Despite the crowds, Malham Cove never fails to impress so we finished off the flask of coffee and sat and watched the climbers for a while before heading back to the car and then home. A grand day out.
Climber in action at Malham Cove

Monday, 9 April 2012

Four go home

It was with heavy hearts that we loaded up and got ready to come back home.  We had such a good time in our yurt and getting out and about that it was a real wrench facing reality and coming home again.  We could easily have stayed another week there  and still found lots of things to do.

Full to bursting point car - back home again
Forgot to mention all the cute lambs we saw, the native Herdwick sheep and all of the swans.  We even saw butterflies on the warmer days!  Also spotted but not photographed were deer, woodpeckers, owls, rabbits and lots of other birds, too numerous to name.

Day 7 - Four go cycling in the forest

A return of the lovely weather meant that we could do something properly outdoorsy on our last full day at the yurt.  We decided to go the the wonderful, nearby Grizedale Forest.  Absolutely brilliant place for mountain biking at any level.

Biking girls
Amazingly, we were all back in teeshirts after wrapping up and shivering only the day before.
Checking our route
We had lots of fun mooching around the forest.  The girls again did really well on their bikes and managed some pretty demanding climbs too and whooped their way down some fun downhills.  That's the best thing about big hills; they may be a pain to cycle up but once you are at the top it's so much fun coming down again.

We met up with my parents that evening who were staying at their caravan not too far away.  We went to the Outgate Inn for a delicious meal and a few rather quaffable real ales.

Day 6 - Four recover from the storm

In the morning, I heard that lots of people went off to B&Bs because they were too cold during the night and one poor family had their tent totally trashed by the winds.  They were camped on the lake side in a spot I'd been envious of a couple of days previously - not now though.  The poor family simply left the tent and went home.
Tent trashed by the storm
It was a glorious, sunny day but oh my it was so, so, so, so cold.  Really bitterly cold.  It was still very windy and it was the wind that seemed to slice through you.  Windermere was very choppy and there were proper little waves on the shore.
Icy cold, choppy Lake Windermere
Up on the hills there was lots and lots of snow.  Looked beautiful.
Snowy lakeland 
Compared to lots of other places in the UK we got away with it pretty lightly and most of the snow was gone by the evening.  Just the odd pocket of white in the deeper recesses of the hills.  It was much worse in Derbyshire and Yorkshire.

I was really feeling the cold though and so we didn't get up to a great deal.  Just headed over to Windermere and Bowness for a look around.  Took the car ferry across and headed back around.  Had to pop into the Lakeland store to look at all the fabulous things that I didn't know I needed until I went there.  Very restrained we were though, and only got some chewy liquorice!

Day 5 - Four get caught in the snow

Brr, it was definitely a bit on the chilly side today.  Never mind, we decided to head off to Keswick to have a look around.  Lots of shops there to warm up in. Blimey it was cold, and windy and raining.... or.... gasp!....could it be starting to snow.  Yes, yes it was beginning to snow.
People fleeing from the cold, sleety weather in Keswick
Unsurprisingly, it was relatively quiet in the town.  And it was getting really cold.  We ended up getting a couple of new coats for the girls as they looked frozen and then decided to head to Booth's supermarket to stock up on a few things.  We spotted some bags of coal and decided that it would probably be a good thing to get some in as it was looking increasingly likely to be a stormy night.

On the way back we stopped off in Grasmere to go to the famous Grasmere Gingerbread Shop. It's a tiny little shop and the lady who served me was all dressed up in a victorian outfit complete with mop cap.  It was great except for the fact we had to queue outside in the increasingly heavy snow.  I still can't believe I did that.  the gingerbread is very good though and you should definitely try some if you are ever passing.

Had a quick visit to the Herdy shop too.  Their sign blew off in the night during the storm!  We headed back to the yurt.  Got the coal going in the stove and very cosy we were too.  Coal burns much longer than wood and as it was clear that it was going to be a very, very chilly night we didn't want the fire to go out if possible.  It didn't and we were toasty all night.  The wind really got up and other than around the door, we had relatively few draughts.  The yurt was in a nice sheltered spot so there was very little movement despite some very gusty wind during the night.

Day 4 - Four Go Sailing on Lake Coniston

When we were in the shop on the campsite, we were collared by a very nice National Trust lady who was looking for volunteers to help her try out a new booking and payment website for the Coniston Steam Gondola.  We agreed to help out and 20 minutes of our time earned us a free family ticket! Brilliant.  Don't you just love free stuff!  I know I do.

Now for some unknown reason, it always rains whenever we visit Coniston, and this day was no exception.  Fortunately, it was just the occasional session of light drizzle rather than the torrential downpour of our last visit.  Not bad enough to put us off anyhow.

Lunch at the Green Housekeeper Cafe, another little gem.  Free wifi and a sideline business in ecological household products. I especially liked the vintage cup and saucer I got with my tea.

After a quick look around the shops in Coniston and the emergency purchase of gloves for the girls (the good weather we had enjoyed so far was beginning to turn a lot cooler and there were grumbles and shivers from the girls), we headed off for the lakeside.
Gorgeous old rowing boats on Coniston
Coniston is a lovely lake. Every bit as nice as Windermere, albeit on a smaller scale, but it's much less commercialised here and a bit more simple.  I like it a lot and was really looking forward to our trip on the Steam Gondola
The Steam Gondola steaming to the pier
The trip was brilliant and I highly recommend it if you are ever in the area. The crew are very friendly and informative and real enthusiasts.  There weren't very many passengers on our cruise around the lake so all the children on board were able to clamber up with the captain to steer the boat and (the most fun of all) toot the steam horn a few times.

Very exciting for them all.  The captain gave an interesting commentary with lots of information about the Campbell family, Arthur Ransome (Swallows and Amazons), the various poets and artists that have lived in the area (Ruskin etc) and the history of the boat, the lake and Coniston.  It was a really good trip.
Peel Island - aka Wild Cat Island in the Swallows and Amazons
Ice Creams on the lake shore
Water walking - human sized hamster balls that float.
Not so much walking going on but lots of falling over!

Day 3 - Four go hiking to Hawkshead

The weather was lovely so we decided to follow a bridle path we spotted and head off to Hawkshead.  Girls were up for it as there was the prospect of cake once we got there.
Walking to Hawkshead
Stepping Stones
As you may remember the nation was gripped by a fear of fuel shortages and panic buying of petrol had been a bit of an issue in the day or so before we set off on hols.  It was refreshing to see that even under these ridiculous circumstances people hadn't entirely lost their sense of humour!
Funny signs around Hawkshead
We really enjoyed our walk into Hawkshead.  The bridleway took us as far as Outgate just up the road from the pub ( I later cycled down this bridleway - great fun - and fell off my bike into the river by the stepping stones pictured above!!) After that we thought we would have to walk along the road but there was a path running alongside the road which was great because it's quite a busy road with no pavements.

Once in Hawkshead, we headed for the Sun Cottage Cafe for a spot of lunch.  What a find that place was.  Gorgeous door-stopper sandwiches and the most MASSIVE cakes you have ever seen!  The photo doesn't do them justice.  They must be around 20 inches in diameter and about 8 inches high. HUMUNGOUS... and yummy
Enormous Cakes at the Sun Cottage Cafe in Hawkshead

Day 2 - Four go cycling to Ambleside

We were able to bring all of our bikes on this trip because we weren't bringing camping gear.  Mind you, it was still a real squeeze, I think because we didn't have the roof box on this time.  Or perhaps we are simply not very good at travelling light.

Anyway the girls did really well on their bikes aided by lots of bellowing from us, e.g. Keep pedalling, keep on the left, don't stop suddenly like that, keep going..... etc.  Felt a bit bad about all of this haranguing but it seems to be the norm as every other family cycling group we came across was doing all the same shouty stuff as us!

Stopped for fish and chips at Ambleside Pier.  Every bit as good as we remembered it too.

Day 1 - Four arrive and look around

When we got to the site and unloaded our stuff, we looked around the campsite. We checked out the amazing view from the shore of Lake Windermere.  You can camp right on the lake shore on this site. Imagine waking up to that amazing vista every morning.  Was a bit envious but still happy with our set back woodland spot.
View from the campsite
Sitting on a rock admiring the view above

Four Go Wild in a Yurt

Oh yes we had a simply spiffing time last week.  A wonderful Easter Break in the lovely, lovely Lake District.  As it can get rather chilly at nights this time of year we decided to do something a bit different and so booked the week in a yurt.

Our woodland yurt
We found a yurt on the gorgeous Low Wray Campsite.  The site is owned by the National Trust and is in a fantastic setting on the shores of Lake Windermere.  It's an idyllic, hidden gem of a place and we have been wanting to stay there for ages.  When we spotted the alternative camping options that are available now we didn't half get excited.  There are camping pods, tipis, yurts and even gypsy caravans available for something a bit different.  Our yurt was from the lovely people at Wild in Style who also have the gypsy caravan.

Gypsy Caravan at Low Wray
Bright and cheerful tipis
Look how cosy our yurt is!
The yurt was an 18 ft yurt, so there was plenty of room for the four of us.  There were two very comfy sofa/futons, a table and chairs, small stove for cooking and, best of all, a wood burning stove.  It's very light and airy inside too with a window at the apex.
Our view of the sky
 There was a quirky barbecue outside the yurt that looked like it was made from an old washing machine drum.  Did the job though and we enjoyed making coffee in our coffee pot on it. ( this was the only food/drink related item we had brought with us since everything you might need was already supplied)
Barbecue - making coffee and alternative brazier later on when it got chilly!
As I mentioned earlier, Low Wray is a gorgeous campsite.  It's absolutely fantastic for children.  They can roam around and go wild.  There are a couple of play areas for them and plenty of locations for den building and having a rumpus. There are lots of other children so new best friends are made almost every day.  There were loads of girls around this time which was brilliant for our two.

Making friends and building dens at Low Wray
One of the best things about the site is the space you have.  The woodland section is especially good as everyone is in their own little hollow so it's really quite private.  It's also very quiet - well, by quiet I mean there is no traffic noise, or music or modern noise.  The geese are very noisy at the moment and there are lots of woodpeckers, owls and feral children at different times.  It's not overly lit either so lots of fun going to the loo at night with torches an absolute necessity ( unless the moon is out - don't need a torch then).