Among the Lakes

From the gap between blog posts, you may have guessed I’ve not being feeling so well. I’m feeling a little better now, so will tell you about my birthday trip to the Lake District.

My friend from Newcastle joined me, and we stayed centrally in the Lakes, at a lovely B&B opposite Rydal Water. This was the view from the upstairs window:

Rydal Water

Nab Cottage B&B was previously owned by Thomas de Quincy, who wrote Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, and by Hartley Coleridge, son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. See full history here.

Nab Cottage

The current owners have kept the character and charm of the place, you can still see de Quincey’s fold-down writing desk in the corner of the sitting room:

Sitting Room, Nab Cottage

and his old Opium Den, now a TV snug, decked out bohemian style.

Opium den

Hmm… who is that drug-addled fiend?

I defy anyone not to love the Lake District, it’s that perfect blend of wildness and prettiness, water and mountain. However most of the activities there involve a lot of walking, and having M.E. makes that a bit difficult for me. I did some pre-visit research on the internet and found a couple short walks with distinctive features en route.

When you visit the Lakes in January you expect it to rain or snow all the time; but although we struggled through snow over the Pennines to arrive at the Lakes, on Saturday the sun shone, and everything glistened. My friend drove us to Little Langdale, and I kept the destination and features of the walk secret, so he would enjoy discovering it all. First we went to Slater Bridge:

Slater Bridge

A rickety-looking, but solid bridge built by the slate miners to get to and from the quarries. My friend thought it looked like a hobbit bridge:

Over Slater Bridge

We headed up to the quarries and explored the old workings:

Quarry building

I love looking at rocks, and discovering caves.

Little Langdale quarries

Maybe there’s a troll down there…

Little Langdale quarries

Finally we got to our destination: bent double through a tunnel, and into Cathedral Cave

Cathedral cave

The miners left a solid pillar to hold up the rock roof of this huge echoing cavern. There were more quarry workings through the back:

Back of Cathedral cave

It can make you a little nervous walking around here, the overhanging stone is quite oppressive, and there is always a danger of rock falls.

We headed back out of Little Langdale valley:

Little Langdale

to Herdwick sheep grazing in the sunshine:

Herdwick Sheep in Little Langdale

and real ale waiting for us at the Three Shires Inn – all the best walks end up at a pub!

As it was a short walk, we had plenty of the day left to explore the area; so we went to Elterwater. I had been here before when I was well and did stone carving, to pick up a large slab of greeney-grey slate from the quarry, I remembered how pretty the drive was then, so wanted to return. We walked along the quarry road examining the piles of slate for suitable rock souvenirs, and listening to the sound of church bells floating up to us from the chapel at Chapel Stile village:

Elterwater Quarry

We headed back to Ambleside, stopping briefly to look at the falls of Skelwith Force, and the Kirkstone Quarries yard where they were selling off slabs of slate with beautiful swirly patterns. I think we found the cheapest place for tea and cake in the Lakes in Ambleside, £3.50 for 2 teas, and a large slice of homemade cake! – at Bilbo’s café upstairs in the Lakes Runner shop.

The next day we headed North on our way out of the Lakes via Ullswater and Aira Force. The paths took us to the top of the waterfall, it was a long way down:

Over the bridge at Aira Force

There were woodland walks leading up from the falls with mossy rocks and the babbling Aira Beck:

Top of Aira Force

And another waterfall, High Force, in a deep crevasse further up the hill:

Top of High Force

It was the sort of place I would expect to see Felty Folk:

Mossy Tree by High Force

We walked back to Aira Force, and down to the bottom of the falls. It’s a 20 metre drop:

Aira Force

Of course that meant I had to walk up 20 metres of steps to get back again!

Many steps at Aira Force

Luckily, I could relax and enjoy the views over Ullswater after:

View to Ullswater

Ullswater from Pooley Bridge

It is always good to get away to a wild place every now and again – it puts life into perspective.