Sunday, 9 August 2015

Lakes 2014: Day Ten


Our last full day in the Lakes was forecast to be miserable and soggy with the occasional hint of blue sky in between downpours - and, of course, this was the most spot on weather prediction of the entire trip.

The previous day, while we'd been mooching around at Delgarth waiting for the train, we'd picked up some brochures aware of the forecast for the next day. One stood out as a real contender (especially as I ended up really enjoying being on the coast at Ravenglass) - Maryport. It stood out as it seemed a cute little coastal town which would be nice to enjoy in the dry bits and offered lots of indoor activities (mainly museums and shopping) for the soggy bits. Spot on.

So Sam drove us the 30-odd miles from Wasdale Campsite to Maryport. Bloody Maryport.


The town seemed nice enough when we pulled up; as I noted previously, I do enjoy being on the coast (I think it's down to being so landlocked the rest of the time) - it's a nice novelty. So I was in good spirits to start the day.

Sam's slightly-more-miserable-than-usual expression later turned out to be an omen.


As the heavens began to open again, we toyed with the idea of spending some time in the aquarium, but found it a bit pricey. So we decided to try out the Maritime Museum - but it was closed.

Getting increasingly soggy and miffed, we trudged up to the town centre, reasoning that I could at least get some shopping done (we were moving into our first flat in the following weeks and I had an obsession with being ready to decorate from the off). But we weren't hugely impressed with the shops on offer. Despite one, which looked lovely... and was shut.

We were really keen to check out the Senhouse Roman Museum, but given that we were now soggy and miffed (and vaguely suspicious that it would turn out to be closed anyway), we made a plan: we'd grab some lunch from Greggs, eat it in the car (with the heating on to dry out), then drive up to the Senhouse afterwards.

We ate our food, had a natter, and then decided that we weren't really all that fussed about going to the museum after all and that we'd rather go back to Wasdale and head to the pub. Which we did.

We ended up giving the Strands Inn a try - and loved it. Isn't it always the way that you find your favourite place to go on the last night.



We had some lovely food here - I had the fish and chips, and Sam had the gammon (I think; it was definitely something pig-based), finished our pop, I ummed and ahhed about buying a DVD of Terry Abraham's glorious documentary Life Of A Mountain: Scafell Pike. (I didn't in the end; I wish I had). I suggested we stay for pudding, but Sam had struggled to finish his meal as it was, and felt rough, so we headed back to camp.

It wasn't until the following day that the severe food poisoning from Sam's sandwich kicked in in earnest.

We know it was the Sandwich because later medical tests proved that it was campylobacter (plus he started being mildly symptomatic before he ate anything else - hence why he couldn't finish his food at the pub). I can't stress this enough: It Was Not From The Strands Inn.

But by some miracle, Sam managed to drive us the 183 miles home - in nearly 30c heat, with no air conditioning (which also included us getting stuck in traffic, in direct sunlight, for an hour). The man is a legend.

He even stopped once or twice to let me get some decent shots...






We got back to Shrewsbury later that day - and within half an hour, Sam was laid out, mildly delirious, with what turned out to be a 40c temperature (mercifully, his mum's a nurse and we looked after him until it subsided). It took him over 3 weeks to fully recover.

And that's why we keep saying, "Bloody Maryport."*

But other than that slightly awful end, our holiday to the Lakes was pretty magnificent. It was the longest time Sam and I had spent together, the longest I'd spent in the Lakes, and the longest I'd spent in a tent. The only thing I'd really change about it - other than the obvious thing of Sam not eating a poisoned sandwich from Maryport - is to have a break from camping at least once. It turns out 6 nights in a tent is about my limit before everything becomes uncomfortable and grumpiness sets in.

So then it's a good thing that we're staying in a cottage this time! And there's only 32 days to go.... I'd better get training!

And hopefully this time it won't take me over a year to write up 2015's Lakes adventures.

Flashback: VideoDay 1, Day 2 (am/pm), Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7, Day 8, Day 9




*Disclaimer: I'm pretty damn sure that we just caught Maryport on an off-day, and that if we saw it on a nice day, when stuff was open, and that we hadn't been unlucky with Sam's sandwich, that we'd remember it much more fondly. But that's not what happened, and given some pretty bad consequences that resulted from that poisoned sandwich, jokingly saying "bloody Maryport" is our way of looking back on the start of a very difficult period in a semi-lighthearted way.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Lakes 2014: Day Nine


So as I already mentioned on the most recent Back at Sea Level post - and as those of you who know me/follow me on social media will know - the Yeti and I recently got engaged. Which is ridiculously exciting.

What you might not know is that we already have a date for the wedding! (eek). So why am I yammering on about this at the start of a post about last year's holiday to the Lakes?  Well because Day Nine was exactly 3 years to the day before the our wedding date. That's not why we picked it, by the way, but I realised this while sorting through the photos and got pathetically excited, and so I thought I'd share.

No more wedding talk now, I promise.


The day started with a little photo-taking session on the banks of Wast Water. You don't need me to tell you that Britain's Favourite View is going to be awe-inspiring. That's a given. But as this was the first time visiting the area with a half-decent camera, I wanted to make sure that we got a fair few photos.

I'll do a big post of the photos we took that day at some point, but for now I'm sure you can get along with just the three (above, below, and one towards the end).


Then it was into the car and off to Eskdale to start the Yeti's ideal day: a ride on La'al Ratty - aka. the Ravenglass-Eskdale Railway (or RER).

The decision to do this was partly injury-based (the previous day's soggy hike had not been kind to Sam's knee, nor my ankle) and partly because the Yeti... well... likes trains.


Have you ever seen anyone so bloody happy? It's like I'm marrying the heavy metal version of Roy Cropper...



Ravenglass was pretty lovely as well. We pottered around for a little bit, exploring the beach and the the tiny town (I even saw my first Natwest rural areas mobile bank bus (or whatever it's called)).

Given how landlocked Sheffield is, I'd not seen the sea for over a year - and I'd not been on a beach for even longer, so this was additionally exciting for me. Plus, we got to see some jellyfish - massive ones too!






We had a quick nosy at some ruins of a Roman bath house...


Then headed back to Ravenglass station to get the RER back to Eskdale.

I was a woman with a plan: we were going to Eskdale so I decreed that we were going to find the famous Woolpack Inn and have a pint and dinner there before heading back to Wasdale.

...Yeah, we never actually found the Woolpack Inn (even to this day I don't know how we managed to fail on that front). So instead we ended up in the lovely beer garden of The Boot Inn, eating burgers. Which could have been way worse in the grand scheme of things.


Then it was a drive back to Wasdale campsite - stopping off for some photos on the way...


...Then a walk to Wasdale Head Inn for a few pints to round off the day (well, after I'd got us lost, of course).






Next time: Don't go to Maryport. Just don't. But definitely do go to The Strands Inn. It's awesome. 

Flashback: VideoDay 1, Day 2 (am/pm), Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6, Day 7, Day 8

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Back at Sea Level: The Big Announcement


This weekend just gone, the Yeti and I visited his family in Shropshire. It was a lovely weekend filled with mini adventures, a lot of laughs, and a lot of good food (including my first ever try of venison!).

But this bit was my favourite...



The Yeti popped The Question!

Looking out from the dam on Lake Vyrnwy (the image at the top), Sam turned to me and said "If I don't do this now, then I'll never get round to it" and produced the ring from his jacket pocket. The Romance. 

So now in addition to the PhD, training up for the Lakes, and generally surviving life, there's now a wedding to plan as well. And it will more than likely have a very subtle hill theme. Because we can.

And because Bitches Love Hills.


Lakes: July 2013

The Yeti has been my hiking buddy, navigator, and in-stream rescuer for over two years. Since before he had a beard(!). 

Together we've survived food poisoning while in the hills, my attempts at map-reading, and a daft number of injuries.

I've always loved having him by my side, ever since our first hill-walk (the Mam Tor circuit - what else!) way back in May 2013 for our one-month anniversary. Strong, smart, athletic, patient, and generally awesome company - he's everything you could ever want in a hiking partner. So I'm pretty glad that I've bagged him for keeps; on the hills and off them too. 

Lose Hill 2013 (our first hike)

Lakes 2013 - Ice cream in Grasmere

Yorkshire Dales 2015

The Wrekin 2013

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Lakes 2014: Day Eight


Given that I was a total wuss at the time (and am somehow even more wussy now), the Yeti and I didn't do the obvious thing and have a crack at Scafell Pike, despite being camped right at the foot of it.

Instead, we decided that it would be a fun idea to climb Illgill head - which made sense: it'd still be a nice little challenge, it would be a personal best for height for both of us, and would tick off another Wainwright. And, best of all, Illgill head is said to have amazing views.

So we set off fun of excitement and general good cheer.


We were aware that the clouds were massing, but a spot of light rain for an hour or so had been predicted for the day (according to the campsite's information board), so we weren't too worried on that score. We just donned our waterproofs ready for the short spell and carried on.





But the cloud did not seem happy to budge; the wind picked up a little, and the clouds descended further - as evidenced by these photos that almost look as though my camera was dying...



Telling ourselves it would soon pass - that the cloud would have lifted by the time we get to the top, ready to see the incredible view, we carried on (I mean, we would have carried on either way, but I really had my heart set on seeing that view...).

Considering I'd been hill-walking for 2 years at that point, the level of self-deception involved there was heroic.

I'm sure you can all guess what happened next...




Yep. Welcome to cloud city.

That second photo is of the Yeti at the summit. Suffice to say, we didn't see that spectacular view.

Nonetheless: it was still our biggest hill to date, still another Wainwright, still another achievement. And it was also our first time in cloud, which was actually a pretty awesome experience (even if it did mean we missed out on an ace view). Turns out those things are cold - which most of you will know, but I didn't.

Waterproofs back on (for heat if nothing else), we headed back down the hill towards Wasdale, eager to get to the famous Wasdale Head Inn for some well-earned snap.






The rain seemed to let up a little by the time we got back to the campsite to drop off Sam's rucksack - but we were so shivery by then that we ended up getting changed into some dry clothes and (after some pouting from me) driving to the pub instead of walking. What can I say? Being soggy is not fantastic for morale sometimes.


When we got back to the campsite later, full of warm comfort food and pop, we were heartened by the news from the info board that the next day was due to be sunny, lovely, and warm.

Though we experienced some trust issues with that information board for the rest of the time there.


Next time: In part due to an injury, the last day of good weather is spent on la'al Ratty and staring lovingly at Britain's Favourite View.

Flashback: VideoDay 1, Day 2 (am/pm), Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6, Day 7