Three Days in The Lakes

Craig’s parents have a caravan (what we in the South call a trailer) in the Lake District and were generous enough to let Craig and I spend a few days there. It’s a couple of hours from Stockton, but that just gave me a chance to catch up on British celebs I’d never heard of, like the cast of Celebrity Big Brother. Quick question: when did New Jersey become part of the UK? The only “celeb” I recognized was The Situation.

I imagine I enjoyed this scene more than any commuters.

Anyway, the morning after we arrived, it was sprinkling, but we decided to carry on with our plan to hike around the lake at nearby Keswick. We drove into town for breakfast first, but not even the “breakfast” places opened before 8:30 or 9. Not even the breakfast places which had their front doors wide open. In the end, we found a quick stop-cum-cafe with outdoor seating only and made do.

Craig assured me that the businesses do open at some point during the day.

Next on our pre-hike to-do list was get a map, but the tourist information office didn’t open until 9:30. Waiting at the door when we passed by at 8:30, was a large group of hikers, backpacks and wet weather gear on. We didn’t care to stand around in the drizzle for an hour, and so carried on. The boat rental people at the dock had maps for sale, so after feeding the ducks some bread Craig had picked up at breakfast, we were on our way at last.

Keswick Pier– for all your boat, map, and hungry duck needs.

It shouldn’t have been difficult: walk around the lake and stop when we got back to the starting point. However, there were some wooded areas, so we decided to gain a little elevation near Catbells, so we could have a view all the way around. We were fine until we had to turn, but not toward the ferry pier. That sounds easy enough, but we only saw the ferry sign, so we turned away from it, going in what we thought was the correct direction.

The view of Derwent Water from above the trees.

Less than a mile later, we passed a landmark which let us know we were not, in fact, going the right way, but I hate turning back. After a mile or so, it became clear that we were just getting farther and farther from where we wanted to be, with farms and narrow roads with no sidewalk our only choices if we continued on.

When we got back to our original turn away from the ferry, we immediately saw where we should have gone, so we got back only slightly later than planned. The weather had long since cleared up, which made the extra 2-ish miles we covered enjoyable rather than a slog.

In fact, despite the cold, drizzly beginnings, the only unpleasant part of the day (other than breakfast outside in the cold), was when Craig decided not only to feed some swans, but to make them work for their bread. He threw a bit of bread on the ground, forcing one to get out of the lake. Big mistake. As soon as that bit of bread was gone, the swan reared up to its full height and started hissing and coming at us.

I’m sure it would be funny to watch with sound effects on America’s Funniest Home Videos, but it was actually terrifying. I’m pretty sure it was taller than me, and absolutely sure it could have broken my arm with one vicious peck. We did what any clear-thinking adults would do– threw some bread at it and ran. I don’t think the guy behind us was too impressed with being our sacrificial lamb, though.

Craig and I in front of Derwent Water, after outrunning murderous swans, before getting lost.

Having survived a swan attack, we went for a 10 mile hike around Aira Force the next day with Paul. It was a ridge-line circuit, so there wasn’t too much ascent, which was good, since Paul is much fitter and faster than Craig or I. With all the rain the area had been having, there was a lot of bog/ mud, which I hate. I only slipped once, and that was right at the end, but I had one wet foot for most of the day, because as soon as it would dry, I would submerge it again.

Aira Force water falls– the beginning of the hike for us and the end of the journey for 99% of the people with competed with for parking space.

From there, we drove back to Middlesborough, arriving just in time to check into the hotel before Craig picked his son up for the soccer match. I stayed in and caught up on more celebrities I don’t know. There was one woman on Big Brother I had seen before, hosting a View-type show, but she didn’t rate being gossiped about. I did learn that one of the other housemates was “famous” for receiving naughty text messages from another celebrity I’d never heard of, and yet another was “famous” for being on a documentary about gold diggers. At least American celebrity reality shows can get bona fide D-list celebrities. My vacations wasn’t long enough to find out who all of these “celebrities” were. Maybe next time…