Back to Windermere/ Gummer's How
Lake District Travel Blog› entry 2 of 9 › view all entries
The dinner from the night before hadn't settled, but I feel I ought to put Malcolm and Doreen's hospitality to the test so I chase it down with cereal, a full English breakfast, orange juice and 2 coffees. Mmmmmm :)
I head back to Windermere in the car, todays intention to head over water (not in the car of course) to the south part of the lake and stroll around. I'm in rugged, fell-walking lands. I expect the company, if any at all at this fairly early Sunday morning hour, to be of the girzzled, bestubbled, rugged and unwashed hiking variety so I'm slightly shocked to be greated by two staggering, drunken 'nymphs' in danger of catching hypothermia unless they're thongs are of a special lakeland thermal variety unknown upon the drunken, tottering-morning-after streets of my adoptive city Birmingham.
No rain today, but it's cold and windy. I stroll down to Bowness again and catch the first boat of the day, I and a couple of others braving the view from the open-top deck of the boat as it saunters down the water. The wind is pretty severe and icy up there, and soon we have to concede defeat and retreat below decks, where I stare hypnotically out of the plexi-glass windows as the wind-whipped waves and spray are dashed against the ship-sides. Certain small islands are pass by mid-stream and rather impressive private shore-side residences trail past in the distance with their wooden beams, white walls and private boat houses.
There ia a groovy sub-aquatic tunnel to stroll through where fishes swim about you and Tufted Ducks put in another showing, diving down towards you to tussle with the pond-weed. All fine and well and probably more enjoyable with kids in tow to be bedazzled and shriek at the various animals, but as it was me and my camera headed out after waving goodbye to a lonely looking Conger Eel in the 'marine' section of the Aquarium.
One victim of the bad weather that had preceded my trip to the region were the famous steam trains that still run a 4 mile stretch of the scenic Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway line.
En route to The National Trust's Fell Foot Park by the lakeside I have my first close encounter with individuals whom would become my recurrent companions upon my treks... the
Fell Foot Park is pretty, but slightly eery in its out of season abandonment. Empty playgrounds, benches and swaithes of carefully cultivated grass abound where clearly there must be thronging masses of picknickers in the spring and summertime. You can feel the absence of childrens' laughter tangibly.
After recharging with a Snickers Bar and some water in a car park at the beginning of the footpath, it's a fairly unchallenging, if uneven, walk towards the peak of Gummer's How. As I near the base of the final peak the wind whipping around me is reaching very noticeable force and by the time I have clambered on to the undulating, grassy mound of the exposed peak I am getting my first experience of the full-on
I was practically blown up the final mound to the Trig Point... I struggled mightily to get in position for a photo of the top of it but the combination of the damn thing being nearly taller than me and the danger of losing my glasses to the elements if I gave up both hands to the art of photography mean that I have to bottle the shot on this occasion and start to head back down.
Back to the road, I walk another couple of miles along to a pub I've been enticed to by my guide called The Masons Arms for a bite to eat and a choice of (a couple of) it's alleged 200 beers on offer! This walk is longer than anticipated, and involving as it does many inclines and declines, begins to take its toll upon my pegs, my aunty's warnings of the day before "not to overdo things" plays around my mind as I try to forget the fact that I am now upwards of a 10 mile walk just to get back to my car, the last return boat at 15.
I settle down in the rustic warmth of the wooden-beamed, fire-hearth heated Masons Arms with my book and a bottle of locally produced Damson-plum beer, this soon being joined by wild-boar and cranberry sausages, veg and think onion gravy. Eating ANYTHING wild-boar (an animal extinct on British soil for some time, but now reintroduced and voraciously resurgent in the countryside) has been a desire harboured since childhood being a huge fan as I am of the cartoon adventures of the genocidally boar-scrunching Gauls Asterix and Obelix. The sausages are very nice, but this little dream clearly won't be satisfied until I can clasp a whole, honey-glazed and logfire roasted boar carcass between my hands, to be washed down with a pint of magic-potion! :) The Sticky Toffee Pudding here is absoluuuutely to DIE FOR!!! Just deeeelicious and worth the trek out to the pub for this alone.
A couple of hours, another pint and some drousy chapters of Conrad pass before I condede that I am faaaaar from home and ought to come up with a plan of return. I am shattered, tucked miles away from civilisation in a now pitch-black darkened valley. Hmmm?... "TAXI!" Much though I hated to admit it to myself, this was the only sensible option beyond this point without doing myself serious damage. The barman warns me the fare could be quite a stinger as the taxi has to come from Windermere to fetch me, and neither does he offer me the phone to use to call one forth. English hospitality at its finest! "No bother good man etc, etc... for I have a phone of my own." Shit, shit, shit! Not one iota of reception on my mobile out here!... okay, okay.
Nevertheless, I button and zip up, determined to tough this one out and I stroll right outta the pub.
It's raining lightly, I suddenly realise how bewitchingly, menacingly, all-consumingly pitch black life beyond the reach of a single street light or shop-window city light pollution is... darkness never falls in Birmingham, the stars do not exist there above the ochre glow of collective insomniac nightlife. Whilst this is a pretty (and pretty obvious!) observation, one minutes walk up the road I realise that dressed in black from top to toe, in the drisle and cold, and miiiiiiles away from 'home', this is a fools errand and likely to get me run over in the darkness if nothing else. I check the time on my phone... it's getting on, and, AND I HAVE TWO BARS OF SIGNAL RECEPTION!!! "Yippeeee! TAXIIIII!" I wait outside in the cold for 20 minutes.