Taking the High Ground
Coniston Travel Blog› entry 1 of 9 › view all entries
I had been totally ruthless in packing my rucsac, removing everything that I did not actually need and probably a few I did. I caught the bus into Manchester and it started to throw it down with rain, not an auspicious start and certainly not the omen I was looking for the ten days ahead! I stopped at Weatherspoons for the now traditional breakfast and after a bit of a mix-up regarding my ticket was soon hurtling towards Windermere on the train.
It had fortunately stopped raining by the time I tumbled off the train at the station and I purchased a day ticket for the bus as I was heading to Coniston, but needed to stop in Ambleside for a few bits and pieces. I had a basic plan for the next ten days; I intended to walk from Coniston, returning to Windermere keeping to the high routes and passes as far as possible. I also wanted to ‘wild’ camp most nights and keep away from camp sites where I was able. I could have actually walked from Windermere, but as I had already covered a large proportion of this route just two weeks before I was not keen to repeat this, hence the bus journey.
I restricted my stop in Ambleside to a trip to Gaynor Sports for a few essential items and then caught the bus to Coniston, honestly I never even stopped for a coffee at The Apple Pie! The bus takes a narrow little road that winds its way through the valley floor. I do not envy the drivers, it really is narrow and the bus constantly squeezes past oncoming traffic and frequently has to stop or reverse to allow vehicles to pass. Our driver did stop to chat with his colleague making the return journey which caused twenty car tailbacks in each direction and a fair amount of road rage!
The journey passes through Hawkshead village where many of the houses are painted white, and I could not help thinking back to my recent visit to Val Gardena and all the immaculately kept chalets in each of the villages. Hawkshead looked distinctly shabby in comparison, most houses were a dirty, grubby off white colour and although it still looks a pleasant village, it could be better presented. There are many pretty and charming little villages throughout Lakeland though, especially Stonethwaite; a visit to which I thoroughly recommend.
We soon arrived at Coniston and as the bus passed the turning to the Youth Hostel on the return journey, the driver allowed me to remain on and dropped me off at the relevant point. Holly How hostel was empty apart from two other arriving guests when I lugged my backpack through the door and dropped it on the floor of the comfortable looking lounge.
The staff arrived just over an hour later and I was soon booked in, getting showered, changed. I had even managed to fit the quilt into its cover without too much difficulty, the hours of secret practice before I arrived had paid off. My plans for the evening consisted of watching England versus Andorra in a World Cup footie qualifier down in the village. I had already enquired as to where the best place to watch it was, and as I was informed that ‘The Crown’ was the only pub with a television, I was left without the problem of having to make a choice. I could have watched it at the hostel, but the television was quite small, and I doubt if there would be much atmosphere, so The Crown it was.
I enjoyed a carrot and coriander soup and a Guinness before the game and watched the British Lions beat the South African Sharks before the main event. Despite being the only pub showing the game it was not particularly busy, but there was a good ‘vibe’ and I did not have to wait to get served ........... bonus!
Two further Guinness and six unanswered English goals later and I was happy and ready to return to the hostel. This is where all things good came temporarily to an end, as the curse of the hostel set in; the loud snoring guy that stays in every hostel was booked into my dorm! It took me awhile to get to sleep and whenever I woke up, yeah he was still snoring. If it had not been for the mellow feeling the Guinness had left me with I probably would have told him to shut up.