We said goodbye to our friends, after a great couple of days at High Swinside Holiday cottages and drove the short 12-mile journey to Kestrel Lodge campsite, just outside Bassenthwaite, Lake District.
We were desperate to get our new ‘short stay’ tent pitched up and hopefully, Kestrel Lodge would be the perfect place to do just that.
Kestrel lodge was still a work in progress when we visited it in May 2017. The access road was very uneven and the facilities were basic but there was an air of ambition from a family-owned campsite that clearly understands the meaning of camping. There was a communal central area with BBQ and seating, perfect for that campsite get together. There was a fairy trail loop through the adjacent wooded area, perfect for young children. There was walkable access to a local pub, perfect for the adults. Logs are available for sale, perfect for that campfire.
Campsite to ourselves.
That’s the communal area, complete with roof, in the background.
Friendly pony in the field next to our tent
So, all in all, a perfect campsite and a great base to go exploring from.
Here are some photo highlights of our trip.
Our trip to Cockermouth was a mixture of being in that tourist realm of carefree enjoyment and taking in the surrounding & atmosphere but our visit was also a reality check as we walked by a sign that indicated how high the floodwaters from the river Cocker reached in 2009 had reached. Standing next to this sign put things into perspective and we left this town a feeling of respect for how it has recovered.
Our visit to Kendal would be a full day as we planned to cycle from Kendal to Lake Windermere a distance of 27miles return, so well within our capabilities. A word of warning, though, the descent from the cycle path adjacent to the A501 is long and steep, appearing to take forever as you cycle through the town of Windermere before eventually reaching the great Lake. To be honest, it’s more about the return journey, especially after lunch, coffee, and cakes!
It was the middle of May, the sun was shining and Lake Windermere was mobbed. Too busy for us but we cycled on to a quieter spot and stopped to take in the beauty of the place. It had been a perfect day for a cycle, the journey had been relaxing and Lake Windermere was worth the effort of having to cycle back up that long steep hill.
One of the advantages of staying at Kestral Lodge is the various walks and routes to bag Wainwrights, these are two multi-hill routes that can be done from the campsite. The campsite is close to Skiddaw, a mountain 931metres to the summit is the 6th highest in England and this was our chosen walk. So off we set with directions from the campsite owner, which involved walking through waymarks. Although we have walked in England many times, coming from Scotland where access rights are yours to enjoy – as long as you do so responsibly, waymarks can take a bit of getting used to and they are not always easily found. As a result of our lack of clear route, we zig-zagged around for a mile or two before we finally found the path we were looking for.
From then on, it was straight forward. Taking us passed Skiddaw House youth hostel the highest hostel in Britain, where we stopped outside for our lunch and took in the breathtaking views. Then it was onward to Skiddaw summit.
I had noticed, on the way up, that we had reached Skiddaw House we changed direction, more or less walked in a horseshoe route and now that we were heading back down, I came up with the great idea of taking a short cut. Rather than going back via Skiddaw house, why didn’t we just cut out the long bend by taking a direct straight line and pick up the path again? I persuaded Aileen to trust my judgment and off we set.
I remained confident that we were going in the correct direction but the terrain became increasingly rough underfoot and there were regular stops to reassess where we were and review our next few steps to ensure we didn’t end up in a bog, broken ankle or reach a point where it was obvious that this shortcut was now impossible. By this point, nerves were beginning to fray and Aileen was clearly reaching the end of her tether with me. Why the f##k do I listen to him? I was also a bit concerned. I could see the path we wanted to join in the distance, although doubt would creep in when Aileen responded to my reassurance with” That’s not the path, we’re f##cking lost!”.
My main concern and a reason for why I’ll NEVER do that again was the chance that we could have injured ourselves. Stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken bone. Luckily my stubbornness and a general feeling that we would be ok got us back to the safety of the path home but lesson learned.
Later, Aileen was able to describe how she had felt. She described being aware of the vastness and silence. Feeling completely lost in a place that was throwing up lots of challenges. Waves of panic and fear were becoming overpowering and there was me with that optimistic ”we’re ok, just a bit further” persona. That must have pissed her off!
Although I still have the ability to get Aileen into dodgy situations, life would be boring otherwise 🙂