Our time in the Lake District and Yorkshire dales was an opportunity to get out of the city and enjoy some of the English countryside.
We spent three days at Keswick in the Lake district which is a truly beautiful part of the country. As Keswick is on the C2C (Coast to coast walking and cycling route), it was also an opportunity to do some walking and cycling in preparation for our upcoming pilgrimage in Spain and cycling tour in the Loire Valley. Some older people might know Keswick from the pencils, particularly the coloured pencils that we used at school - the scene over Derwent Water was used on the pencil case - it is a lovely view over the lake to the rolling, wooded hills in the distance.
We enjoyed a nice 9 mile walk around the lake on a “hot” 25-27°C day (on our way, we heard a lady telling her friend that she “had not slept a wink because it was too hot” over night - perhaps 18°C) Everybody was complaining about the heat wave conditions - it wasn’t really but it was a bit humid. Despite this, we enjoyed a nice easy walk through lovely countryside. It did remind us how much we have been influenced by what we studied at school - the trees and flowers were all familiar from the novels and poetry we read at school. (Hopefully the curriculum has moved on so that Australian children learn about Australian thngs.)
The next day we hired some bikes and did an easy 20 mile ride along the C2C which was mostly along an old railway alignment beside the River Greta which runs through Keswick. As a result the ride was quite easy as well as being very pleasant. Of course we had to stop for a lunch break at a small pub along the way - a nice open sandwich and a pint of ale (for Neil anyway) - England is well set up for this sort of travelling with lots of small villages and pubs.
We also went down to Bowness and enjoyed a lovely evening cruise on Lake Windermere with Irene & Brian, our clients who collected our cricket tickets for us. It was nice to get out on the water, see all the testosterone monsters of the power boats that use the lake and to see the mansions along the shore. The warm weather was perfect for a cruise and mooring out of the wind for a glass of wine and a bite to eat made it a tough day on the tourist trail (but someone has to do it!).
From Keswick we drove through miles of fabulous dry stone walls only a little way down the road to Malham (near Skipton) in the Yorkshire dales. Malham is a small village but is also an important walking and riding centre - we were amazed at the number of cars that were parked in an overflow cark park on the Sunday.
We enjoyed a lovely walk up to Malham Cove (a significant limestone cliff with a limestone pavement at the top) and then on across the open moor lands to Malham Tarn (a lake). It seemed like there were walking tracks everywhere and people were using them. We hiked back across the moor to Gordale Scar, a gorge with a waterfall seemingly coming out of the rock, and Janet’s Foss, a quite disappointing waterfall but don’t they have fabulous names?
On the walk we were delighted to get a good view of some peregrine falcons which were raising a group of four chicks in a nest on Malham Cove - apparently the falcons are quite rare and having four chicks even rarer.
The next day we hired bikes from Settle which railway buffs will know from the Settle to Carlisle scenic railway. We didn’t take the train trip but had a very good bike ride around the district enjoying views of the dales and some of the hills in the area.
The only frustration on the ride was the inability to find a pub to serve us food - the Game Cock at Austwick told us that they were busy and would not be taking food orders for half and hour. Slow service in restaurants has been quite common - little wonder Gordon Ramsay swears a lot, we have felt like joining him on many occasions.
After Malham we had to endure a hairy ride down the motorway in pelting rain to Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds. More about them later.