London: walking through memories

My Devon aunt and uncle – who are extremely well-travelled – went to London to Kensington Palace, and reported on Facebook about seeing Princess Diana’s dresses.  I realised that despite living in London when I was younger for about 14 years, I’d never been to Kensington Palace (or even Kensington Palace Gardens). I hadn’t even realised it was open to the public. 

A few days later Virgin trains sent me an offer of 40% off train fares.  On an impulse, I checked out how much it was going to cost to get down to London and back in a day (I’d been down to London and back in a day for work, so I knew it that a day trip from one end of the country to the other was actually OK by train – it’s really quick to get from Carlisle to London as the trains don’t stop much so you can do the trip in about 3 hours 15).  It was such a bargain I booked the tickets then and there, plus a ticket to Kensington Palace – which not only had an exhibition of Diana’s dresses but also of costumes from The Favourite, a film about Queen Anne which I was interested in seeing.  I also arranged to meet another aunt, who lives in London and who I have seen very few times since moving to Cumbria (and having three children, despite having been close to her when I was younger – she was always quite a role model for me, along with another aunt who lived in Edinburgh. They both demonstrated that you could be single and have an interesting life: that women are definitely not dependant on some man or other for their happiness… an old-fashioned view I know but my parents demonstrated that being a couple was what made life worth living…).

So at about 6.30 on a cold winter Saturday morning I was standing at Carlisle station waiting for the London train.  The train goes through all sorts of places with which I have connections: Warrington, where NWDA’s head office was; past stretches of the Grand Union canal which I dealt with when I was at British Waterways; Watford which was my home for 6 or 7 years; Wembley where I worked for Brent Council.  As we travelled further south the sky grew lighter and the snow lying on the ground heavier; it always feels as if there’s something wrong when it’s snowier and colder in the south than in the northern border counties (what I like to think of as the ‘real’ north – Manchester is two hours south of me and yet to a southern – which I was until I was 40-something – Manchester and the industrial areas around there was the north. How wrong I was!).

From Euston I decided to walk to Kensington Palace.  It was a trip through the past, without being in any sort of chronological order.  I crossed the road opposite 355 Euston Road, where Railtrack Property once had its offices; I remembered looking out of the window and seeing the demolition ball swinging and the walls coming down of a building on the northern side of the road. There’s now a swanky new office development there, with cafes and restaurants around a central square.

At Portland Street station there was still a minimarket.  I sometimes used to walk along there to buy a sandwich and a bottle of Oasis for lunch.  We’d also often have pool cars and be heading out this way by car on site visits; the office had a garage underneath which was where I parked my bike when I cycled to work, from Beckenham up through Crystal Palace, round Elephant & Castle roundabout, round Trafalgar Square, and up Charing Cross and Tottenham Court Road, racing cyclists who jumped the red lights while I virtuously stopped.

I crossed Portland Place – memories of going to see friends who worked at Broadcasting House and sometimes seeing famous faces in the canteen – and headed past various mews.  One of them had once had a building which Westminster City Council owned, which I let to Crisis at Christmas.  It’s been redeveloped now – I wasn’t even sure which mews it had been in.  At Marylebone Road I had a vague recollection of being somewhere for a London Junior Branch meeting of the RICS; I admired the shops and thought how I’d all too rarely visited this street, which was somewhere I visited I think on my very first visit to London. At the age of 6 my mother had taken me to London and we’d met a friend of hers and had lunch at the Cordon Bleu cookery school. 

As I moved further west I was reminded how cosmopolitan London is, which was one of the things I’ve always loved about it.  The Turkish restaurants changed to Lebanese and Middle Eastern on Edgware Road, the air smelling sweetly of something which I suspect may not have been totally legal, men of a middle eastern demeanour sitting outside drinking coffee, discussing matters and sometimes smoking. I was pleased to see that Seymour Leisure Centre, which I’d dealt with when I was at Westminster City Council, has had its 30 metre swimming pool restored: one of the tasks I had had was commissioning valuation work to see if part of the site could be redeveloped for residential units in order to fund the necessary repairs needed to the pool hall.  I was tempted to walk in and ask to have a look round but didn’t.  After all, it was 25 years ago or more.

I dropped down Edgware Road past shops and restaurants with signs in Arabic, to cross over into Hyde Park at Marble Arch.  Where the cinema and hotel used to be is being redeveloped, but on the whole the streetscape of this part of London had changed remarkably little since I had last walked, cycled or driven around here. 

Hyde Park was where I ran my first ever 10 km race – in just under 50 minutes, much to my surprise at the time – and plenty of runners were out today enjoying the winter sun.  A father ran past pushing a running buggy, asking his child in French if he/she were ready to go home; groups of French tourists of various ages milled around; a lady walked past in the opposite direction speaking German into her phone.  Later on as I travelled back on the tube a group of Italians was talking near me: I love the multi-culturalism of London, where everybody rubs shoulders whether they live in the capital or are visitors.

At Kensington Palace it was interesting to see where initially William & Mary (‘the Orange’ – 1066 and all that) and later George II and Queen Caroline had entertained their court, or had some private time, and to see the costumes from The Favourite.  But Diana’s dresses were, to be honest, just a bunch of evening dresses with queues of people staring at them; and the ‘Victoria revealed’ exhibition which I’d thought would be interesting wasn’t open.  The shop had some rather expensive and quite nice things to buy and the café was full.  I bought some chocolate for my kids, a book for my Mum and a couple of small gifts for my London-Aunt and then headed away, grabbing a sandwich from a nice Italian snack bar in the gardens en route, fending off the starlings who were begging for crumbs.

Funny how when I go on the tube I resort to being the person I always used to be on the tube – impatient to pass people, walking or running up escalators – and that I still mostly remember which tube lines to take where and which stations to change at.  It took me remarkably little time to get to my aunt’s in Hampstead and I spent a lovely afternoon having a long chatty catch-up with her and eating cake. In fact really that was the best part of the day and the best reason for going to London.

I was back at Euston in plenty of time for the train.  Whilst in the morning I’d been smiling to myself as I walked across London in the sunshine, now I smiled to myself as I got on my train.  I love rail travel: the mainline trains always feel quite luxurious as you speed from the bottom of the country to the top; and I’ll be home before the evening is even that old.  Coniston tomorrow.

NB. Footnote: Coniston (running round it) didn’t happen as it was -5 overnight and my car handbrake wouldn’t release. Probably just as well as Penny and I ran just over 10 miles around Ridge Woods, up the Dandy and through Gelt Woods instead and from beautifully snowing it turned to rain and ice – and conditions in the Lakes are possibly worse than up here.


Brampton: Artists’ town?

Back in February, after several hours of fascinating interviews with some amazing, interesting, people, I completed a feature for Cumbria magazine.  I was pleased with it – but the magazine then didn’t want it (despite a couple of edits on my part).  Out running today I decided I’d publish it here instead so that my efforts, and the time granted to me by the interviewees, at least see the light of day.

One of Cumbria magazine’s comments was that it was too subjective.  However it expresses the feelings many of us – particularly perhaps the creative people and the outdoors people – share about living up here, in this truly rural part of the country (England, that is – obviously Scotland has wilder and more remote parts) so far from the traffic jams and bustle of big cities. 

Sadly, Front Room will be closing in 2019, but I hope somehow someone finds a way of carrying on an ‘artists’ hub’ in the way that Nancye and Steve have started.  Please follow links to see the artists’ work!

With over 8 million visitors a year it’s no surprise that the Lake District is well-known and also that people tend to associate Cumbria with the Lake District.  The areas outside the National Park are relatively unknown in comparison and yet the Eden valley is a beautiful, fertile corridor which leads at its southern end into the glorious Yorkshire Dales (another National Park); the west coast has miles of unspoilt beaches, an interesting industrial past, and views out over the Irish sea; and the north-east corner of the county has Hadrian’s Wall.

Brampton is the main town for this corner of the county and not only is it situated just a couple of miles south of Hadrian’s Wall amongst stunning rugged countryside – from the Moot or the Ridge on the edge of the town you can see to Scotland, the Northern Pennines, the Lake District fells and the Solway plain, and the countryside has a wild character of its own – but it is full of surprises which are not obvious to a visitor and which only reveal themselves once you live there and start to look around and explore.

Hidden in sandstone cottages in the lanes around Brampton, or living in the centre of the town ‘hidden in clear sight’ is a wealth of talented artists and craftspeople.  Some are little known locally because they exhibit further afield in the big cities, either because that is where the more affluent markets are or because they have moved to the area from those big cities and still have contacts there.  But dig under the surface and it becomes clear that for decades artists have been choosing to live in this area.  The landscapes around provide them with inspiration; the town is well-located and accessible for reaching further afield.

The local Howard family has been influential in the area for centuries, and notably George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle (1843-1911), was a talented artist and pre-Raphaelite.  When he commissioned Philip Webb to design St. Martin’s church in Brampton, the windows were designed by his friend Burne-Jones and executed in the William Morris studio (as an aside, the only stable block Philip Webb ever designed was at the Four Gables estate on the edge of Brampton: the house being designed by Webb for the Earl’s factor).  The Earl was a man who believed ‘art’ was a vital part of life which should be encouraged.  He was an inspiring mentor to his grand-daughter, renowned artist Winifred Nicholson, whose home was near Lanercost and who in turn became a mentor to her grand-daughter, painter Rafaele Appleby.  Rafaele still lives locally and her studio has a large panoramic window with an incredible view of the north Pennines.  She says on her website “I work in my studio on Hadrian’s Wall with views of the Cumbrian fells to the south… Paintings and pastel drawings are often inspired by, but not limited to, the nature around me”.

Rafaele’s comments are echoed by many of the other artists.  Painter Rachel Gibson, who has lived in the area almost 50 years after growing up in Berkshire and then studying in Newcastle, says she “loves the openness; the fells; how wild, rugged and empty the area is” and how history has become nature.  Hadrian’s Wall is as much a part of the landscape as the trees and hills.  She also uses nature more fundamentally with her use of pigment from Florence Mine in Egremont, West Cumbria: subtle colours of the earth also used by other artists to echo colours used by Fell shepherds or the hand prints of Elizabethan miners throughout Cumbria.  In this now quiet countryside the remains of mine workings, like the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall, have begun to merge back into the landscape, the noise and fuss of the industrial age no more than a whisper, revealed only by the route of disused railways and empty stone ruins at Forest Head and through Geltsdale.

An artist who lives outside Brampton in the hills of the northern Pennines is another painter, Carol McDermott: although she’s keen to point out that despite the isolation there is also a wood turner, a fine art print maker and a guitar maker in her village.  Like Rachel, she moved to the area after training and living elsewhere: for her living up in the hills and being able to see the stars at night became important.  Again she loves the untamed ruggedness of the area and gets much of her inspiration from the landscape, for example when walking the dog.  Despite living somewhere quite remote, she says “the internet connects you to the world.  I have Facebook friends in America and Germany.  I don’t feel isolated at all”.

Carol expressed the view that creative people are more empathetic than most and that she’s become accustomed to ‘tuning in’ and going with the flow.  For her, being a painter is her language – art speaks for her.  Gillian Naylor would agree:  she says that for her “the answer comes in a visual image”; that her paintings tell a story and are ‘visual philosophy’.   Gillian is originally from Wasdale but made the comment that “this area pulls you in… and then you stay because it’s interesting”.  She loves the feeling of connection to people from the past; the sense of being a continuation of history. Gillian is working with Rafaele Appleby and Kenyan-based Sophie Walbeoffe on a project based around locations in Cumbria where Wordsworth wrote his poems, and perhaps not surprisingly loves Lanercost Priory with its deep-rooted history: its connection to Edward I, Robert the Bruce, the Dacre and (again) Howard families.  Like Carol, for Gillian it was necessary to be able to balance bringing up children with working as an artist: she found that balance in Brampton where she has ‘found her flock of people’.  Both Carol and Gillian echo words of Winifred Nicholson, who wrote about balancing bringing up children with being an artist and also about art as a means of communication.

Other artists have grown up locally and flown the nest, to return later in life.  After a ‘feral childhood’ near Bewcastle with two artist parents, painter and felt-sculpture maker Ness Bamkin moved away but now lives in the centre of Brampton and works in the Art department at William Howard secondary school, in addition to creating her own artworks; self-styled Arts Photographer Tricia Meynell, another well-known name in local art circles, also teaches at the school.  Photographer Paul Stewart, on the other hand, was a student at William Howard school, has travelled extensively and lives abroad.  He now frequently comes home and says “It was the return to the region that was inspirational. After 30 years I’d forgotten how beautiful it was and that it was as exotic as any tropical jungle or far away place that I had visited on my travels.  Photographing the region again… was a real reward. It was a rediscovery of the nooks and crannies that I enjoyed as a child but now saw with a mature eye.”  Paul’s photographs of Brampton and of ‘nooks and crannies’ such as the marsh area off Black Path are hauntingly evocative, and his words again echo some of Winifred Nicholson’s, who wrote about obtaining as much inspiration from the flowers of Cumberland as from those of more exotic countries.

And then there are the more recent incomers, who find themselves, as Gillian Naylor did, pulled into the area almost as if by an unseen force.  Ceramicist Carolyn Marr “enjoys incorporating locally-found materials into [her] pieces” and points out that there are several different networks for artists and craftspeople locally.  Nancye Church was going to buy a property in Cockermouth but it fell through and she happened to be told about Brampton through contacts in Malta.  Now Nancye not only makes her jewellery here and takes some of her inspiration from Hadrian’s Wall, but opening The Front Room in Brampton and putting on exhibitions of local artists’ work has provided a year-round focal point for the sector.

Other focal points include the Abstract Gallery at New Mills Trout Farm and exhibitions in Off the Wall coffee shop.  Local arts groups should also be remembered, with The Hut (a former World War I gym building from Eastriggs at Gretna, and previously used by the White House School) providing a wide range of groups and classes and artist Trish Parry, originally from Manchester, running courses from her home at Milton.

And with that sense of circles within history and of only three degrees of separation which is so prevalent in Cumbria, perhaps The Front Room is a sort of reincarnation of Li Yuan-Chia’s ‘Museum’ up at Banks.  A prominent Taiwanese artist, Li was friends with Winifred Nicholson and chose to live near Brampton and Hadrian’s Wall and then attracted a wide variety of artists to exhibit in his space.   Some were or became household names, amongst them Paul Nash, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Andy Goldsworthy and Jenny Cowan.  Are we now, at The Front Room, seeing artists who will be similarly well-known in the future?

Wild Ennerdale

It was a rather dreary October morning when Tim and Tricia C. came to fetch Mark (from across the road), Bella (my daughter) and me in order to drive down to Ennerdale for the Ennerdale trail race.  I realised with surprise that it had been 6 years since I last ran this particular race, organised by High Terrain Events.  I had done the 15-mile route just two weeks after running/walking Kielder marathon – after one of the wettest summers I had ever know, that October had provided glorious sunny autumnal days, and at the end of the race I sat in a deckchair in the sun, drinking a coffee, soaking up the warmth and admiring the view.  Partners and children waiting for runners to complete the race had splashed in the lake in a beach area near to the finish.

Today however was completely different.  As we drove further west the weather deteriorated until there was a persistent chilly rain.  We passed the pub in Ennerdale Bridge where Penny & Tim O. had stayed overnight in their camper van and headed towards the lake, Tim C. thinking he’d drop us off and then go to find somewhere to park.  In fact we were incredibly lucky and got one of the last spaces in the car park by the Scout Hut.

There was the normal milling around before the race began, drinking coffee, getting cold outside and too hot inside, and going to the loo numerous times: and then it was time for the 25km race to begin.  The last time I had done the race all 3 distances had taken place on the same day – this time the 50km ultra (two laps around the lake and up to Black Sail YHA) had taken place the day before.  15 minutes after the 25km runners started, those of us doing the 10km set off.

Ennerdale-Water-mapThe first half of the route is relatively easy and level.  You head around the lake in a clockwise (south-easterly) direction, wending your way on a fairly narrow path with the lake on your right and trees on your left, until you reach Bowness Knott car park (please note we were going in the opposite direction to that shown on the map above).  At Bowness Knott you get on to a forest road which again stays parallel to the edge of the lake.  The land ownership around here is a mixture of National Trust, Forestry Commission and Unitied Utilities, and they’re doing very little in the way of management in order to allow it to be as wild as possible and for nature to get its own way (Wild Ennerdale).

Following the floods of recent years, bridges have been repaired and replaced across the rivers at the eastern end of the lake and Penny was telling me how they had had to work out a solution which fitted with wild Ennerdale but also allowed for flood water.  The bridges are therefore concrete, so water can just wash over them.  We stopped for a photo at this end of the lake: as this was a race I didn’t keep stopping and taking photos like I normally would, hence fewer photos in this blogpost.20181021_1110101.jpg

We now have quite a collection of the two of us looking into the camera with a lake in the background.  This time of course the hills can’t be seen clearly – the rain was persisting and the views were non-existent.

As the path turns up the south-western side of the lake, it wriggles through trees and over/through streams and becomes very rocky.  I love this bit and like the good friend I am (not), as I saw the chance to overtake a few people who were slightly more hesitant on the potentially slippery rocks, my competitive instinct arose.  I left Penny behind – something she has never done to me in all the times we have run together.  I have no excuses – I was enjoying myself.

It’s quite a demanding section as you need to pick a good line through the rocks and make sure you don’t slip and fall.  At one point I slipped into a stream – however by then I was so wet anyway it didn’t really make any difference.  The streams were running quite high and fast with all the rain and they cross the path at relatively frequent intervals.

There’s a bit of a clamber up and over Angler’s Crag, and marshalls were there to make sure you don’t fall in – there’s a significant drop down to the lake.  I knew by now that I wasn’t too far from the end.  As I overtook a couple more people, I wondered if they would overtake me back on the flatter section – always a spur to keep you running!

The beach where previously families with children had been splashing didn’t exist today as the water level was so high, and as I crossed the river Ehen evidence of the water pipeline which is being installed from Thirlmere to Ennerdale was all around to my left, the natural landscape a temporary muddy construction site, the large blue pipes lying on the ground ready to be buried.  I could hear someone coming up behind me, which spurred me on to keep running – and as I headed over the finish line even managed to put on a bit of a sprint.

And there was my daughter, soaking wet and cold and desperate to get home to the warmth: but it was nice to see a family face waiting for me.  Hanging around in the cold and wet is always far worse than running in the cold and wet – I always feel appreciative of the marshalls who stand on the course making sure runners are OK and cheering us on, but who are slowly getting colder and colder waiting for us all to run past. I was so wet I could just have swum across the lake and it would have made little difference, but at least I was warm from running.

We had all run well and as we travelled back in the car chatted happily and debated which run to do next – a night run may well be on the cards.  Penny and I still have Coniston, Ullswater and Windermere to do, the aim being to complete them within the year of starting the ‘runs round the biggest lakes’, which I think means the end of April… it means one 14 mile, and three 20 mile runs (we’re going to split Windermere into two so that we can do the off-road 40 miles route but over two days…).

Wild Ennerdale is a beautiful run – and all off road – and one I’d happily do again.  But I have to admit it is far more beautiful on a sunny day!

And here are some of the official photos (purchased by Mark Britton) as we run along the forest road… Tricia looking happy and fit; me looking worried; Mark already semi-clothed despite the weather; and Penny smiling nicely at the camera.  That pink jacket of mine does not go with that purple top………




Bassenthwaite is one of my favourite lakes.  It doesn’t have the deathly darkness of Wastwater; it doesn’t have the choppy deepness of Ullswater; and it doesn’t have the pollution of people that Windermere has.  It’s not too deep, but still counts as one of the largest of the Lake District lakes – and is, of course, the only one which is officially a lake (as opposed to a mere, water, tarn, etc.).

I have a long-held ambition to do the Bassenthwaite triathlon but as I’m not back into triathlon training yet – and it will be a few years before I am, before I can leave all three children without parental supervision of any form in order to train at all three disciplines regularly – running around Bassenthwaite was something I was looking forward to.  I had no idea whether there were trails or whether we’d have to run alongside the wiggly and potentially dangerous A591 and the dual carriageway of the A66 but Penny assured me that she’d checked the map and it looked as if we’d be able to run off-road nearly all the way round.

As it turned out she was right, and in fact not only did we find trails where she had expected them but also some which weren’t marked on the map (there was one which we got on to and we weren’t quite sure whether it was private land or not, but there were no signs saying ‘keep out’/’private’/’trespassers will be prosecuted’ etc. so we hoped that it was at least open enough that a couple of runners weren’t going to be a problem).

We decided we’d do the trickiest bit first – the bit at the bottom of the lake, where there was a possibility that the path would be diverted due to the pipeline work (Thirlmere to Ennerdale pipeline) and where we would then possibly have to head steeply uphill to avoid the A591.  We parked at Braithwaite, crossed over the A66 and set out towards the lake.

Almost immediately it wasn’t clear where the path went but a kindly local asked what we were looking for and told us we needed to head through the field – the path led straight through the plants!  It then meandered through some fields and over little bridges, all quite clear to follow.

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When we got to the A591 there was only a short way to run on the road before we started climbing a forest track up towards the Osprey viewpoint.  We weren’t quite sure if we could have turned off before this, but thought doing so would take us through Calvert Trust land and that we might not be too popular.  It was worth the climb anyway – the Bassenthwaite 30th Sept. 2018 (4)view from the Osprey viewpoint was superb, and was followed by a brilliant descent down through Dodd Woods to the Saw Mill tea room (we didn’t stop for tea but it was useful to be able to use the loo and adjust clothing – Penny was wearing a pair of shorts under her leggings and getting far too hot!).

We then crossed back over the road to run around Mire House and along to St Bega’s church.  Having taken off some layers of clothing, it then got windy, rainy and chilly and we needed to put them back on again!  It was to end up being like that all day.

I hadn’t been to St Bega’s before, although I’ve driven past it loads of times.  It’s a really sweet little church with stunning views across the lake – and when we got to the other side we were able to look back and see it again.

This side of the lake the run route is really varied – from St. Bega’s we ran across fields of cows, through woods and came out by the lake at Bowness Bay.  As I have friends who live near Bowness on Windermere I wondered where the name came from – this is what Wikipedia tells us:  ‘Bowness’ (originally ‘Bulnes’) means ” ‘the headland where the bull grazes’, from OE ‘bula’, ‘bull’ and OE ‘næss’ ‘headland’, perhaps referring to the keeping of the parish bull.

There were a lot of stiles and gates but it was a lovely place to run, and then just before an activity centre where people were enjoying themselves in dinghys and on paddleboards, the path turned to a boardwalk through the trees.

There were then signs saying ‘Armathwaite Hall 1.5 miles’ so we knew we were getting towards the top of the lake.  At one point the path wasn’t clear, but purely because a stile was hidden by a tree!  Again we ran past cows and some sheep, and then through a wood.  We could hear the road ahead and knew we were basically at the top of the lake (is that the head, or is where the river enters the head?).

This was where we found a path alongside the lake through more trees, which wasn’t marked on our maps.  It was a gravelled path and clearly quite well-maintained, and a relief rather than running on the quite narrow B5291.  We crossed over the bridge where the river Derwent leaves the lake on its journey towards Cockermouth and Workington, pausing to watch the ducks.  The sun had come out again and it was yet another of those ‘good to be alive’ moments which happen so frequently being out and about in this gorgeous countryside.

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The track down the western side of the lake is then not the most exciting, except when it dips in and out of nature reserves (more unexpected but welcome paths which we hadn’t seen marked on maps), but it’s great that it’s there and it’s a good, level track which means you can get some steady running in (something I need to do more of – I’m getting into stop-start habits which is fine for social runs but not much good in a race).  The track runs parallel to the A66 and is an awful lot nicer than being on a pavement alongside the dual carriageway – thank you Cumbria County Council for building it!  But boo-hoo to all the contractors who left rubbish behind – there were road cones, disused vehicle batteries and empty cement buckets in the woods next to the road!

The path takes you through a tunnel under the road and you then come out in Powter How.  I’ve only just realised that (according to the map on the computer) this is the home of Bedrock Gin!  If only I’d known… except that we would never have made it back.  We knew by this point that we only had a couple of miles to go, but they were all on road – also despite being just about at the bottom of the lake, we had had to run quite a bit further south just because the paths don’t exist to cross all the rivers and streams which go into the lake at its southern point.  So the last bit was a bit of a slog, but eventually we saw the car (hooray!).  I even managed to speed up a bit to get to the car, and was pleased to see from MapMyRun that we had run 14.5 miles.

A short trip to Threlkeld where the brilliant community coffee shop was still open (and served us soup even though officially they had stopped serving food) and then back home.

I think this was possibly my favourite of all the lakes so far: it was as beautiful as the others (in places it was very similar to Thirlmere) and it was trail nearly all the way round.  Derwentwater was another stunning one, but there was less variation in the trail; Haweswater would have been the very best of all if the track on the eastern side was runnable.

I think there are now just 5 to go: Coniston, Ullswater, Windermere, Esthwaite Water and Ennerdale Water.  Even though I know Ullswater and Windermere are going to be really long I’m looking forward to them.

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They call this work?…

You know when you really want to work for a particular organisation… and then you get a job with them… and sometimes it can turn out to be rubbish (and all your gut feelings in the interview process will have been saying ‘no, don’t do it!’).  On the other hand it can work – as British Waterways did for me.

I love history, so working for English Heritage was on my list of desirable employers.  Furthermore, although the job was in Newcastle – about 45 miles or a 1 hr 15 min train journey away – it was part-time and from the job description looked perfect.

It is – or has been so far, and I’ve been there nearly 3 months – indeed a fantastic job.  I love the contrast of travelling from rural Brampton into bustling Newcastle – a city which is not too big nor too small, and where I work in a wonky old building with stories to tell, down near the Quayside.  I walked along the river at lunchtime today in the sun, the wind blowing my hair in my face and creating froth on the river, everything glistening in the unexpected warmth.

It’s the sort of job where you do extra bits, on your non-working days, just because you can and you want to.  So on Monday when some colleagues asked me to check some of our ‘free sites’ (ones you don’t have to pay to enter) – they tempted me by suggesting I could do them as a run – I didn’t need any persuading (and fortunately the sun was out and it was a lovely warm day as well).

After my weekly yoga class – held in the northern Pennines with a fantastic view over towards the Lake District fells – I drove to Birdoswald Roman Fort.  As I felt I had plenty of time and hadn’t had any breakfast, I headed into the (new) cafe, with its huge window providing a lovely view over the valley, and had a capuccino and a cherry scone.  Then it was time to start running.

I love the river crossing near ‘Birdos’.  Having gone east to Harrow’s Scar and the mile castle there, you drop down a very steep track towards Willowford Bridge.  Yew trees and Rowans lined the path, their bright red berries enticing.  When you get over the river – by an attractive modern bridge which curves upwards, higher on the western bank than on the east – you see the footings for the Roman Willowford bridge, including an interesting interpretation panel which shows how and why we now think there may have been, over the centuries, three different bridges there.  Today in Newcastle near the Swing Bridge was an interpretation panel linking the two – the Romans may have had a stone bridge across the Tyne of a similar design to that at Willowford.

I ran on to Poltross Burn, crossing the railway (that always feels a bit daring and dangerous, even though you’re allowed to!) en route.  As I stood at Poltross Burn milecastle, trying to imagine the Roman soldiers sleeping in barracks with slopey floors and also trying to imagine how squashed it must have been, a train went past.  What would the Romans have looked out on?  Certainly not on trains – I wonder what they would make of them.  The railway viaduct soars across the burn and it made me wonder how Hadrian’s Wall had crossed the burn – presumably if it had been culverted there would still be signs of that (there are none as far as I’m aware).

As I was far too early to meet my colleagues and had only covered a very short distance, I decided to turn round and run back to the car.

At Willowford the sheep looked at me askance.  My initial thought was ‘nobody told them not to walk on the wall’; my second was how some of them were acting like a group of Roman sentries, challenging me about who I was and what I was doing there.  I even started writing a poem in my head…

Believe it or not, although I enjoyed running along the wall I did actually do some work as well – there are photos of less interesting things like bits of fence that need repairing, which have been sent over to the relevant people.  But this is my job – dealing with and wandering around historic sites and buildings.  Just how lucky am I to be using my surveying* skills and experience in such amazing surroudings.



There are several different types of surveyor.  When I started surveying, I trained as what was then called a General Practice Surveyor.  Basically we’re the type who know a little bit about building construction, but mostly know how to value buildings and what the laws are in relation to them, including laws about selling them, granting leases and getting more rent out of tenants and so forth.  We tend also to know a bit about planning and building use and therefore about development.  Anything we don’t know about in detail, we’ll know who to ask.  In some countries we’d be called Commercial Real Estate professionals.

The ones who know all about buildings are building surveyors.  They sort of overlap building/structural engineers and architects, and some of them are very good at managing projects – they can talk to builders in their own language.  Others become expert at things related to building construction like damp, or foundations, or rights of light.  If you want someone to tell you whether or not your house is going to fall down, you need a building surveyor.  For a while I wanted to be a building surveyor as I enjoyed getting out on site in hard hat and wellies and clambering up ladders.  I still love seeing a building being dismantled and coming back together again, and trying to work out what was built when and why… 





Two lakes, nine miles, lots of rain

Penny had been on holiday to Cornwall with her husband to celebrate her 50th birthday.  A teenager, busy on a mobile phone, hadn’t seen her and had knocked her off her bike.  Several cracked ribs, a 7/8th broken elbow and various bruises later (just in time for the party with her twin sister) had set back the running a bit… but after a few weeks she felt well enough to give Buttermere and possibly Loweswater a go.

As my birthday is mid-September, I’d had a birthday dinner the night before and been up late drinking prosecco and chatting.  I did not feel great the next morning.  So there we were – one recuperating from injuries and one recuperating from a hangover.

We squeezed into what was almost the last space in the National Trust car park in Buttermere. I’m impressed by their new parking machines, where if you’re a member you can just scan your card and get a ticket: no having to find some cash and then get the money back.  It was a bit drizzly and started raining properly as we headed towards the ‘start line’ at the north western end of the lake.  As we ran along the southern side of the lake it got steadily heavier.  It didn’t deter plenty of walkers though: at only about 4 miles round, and fairly level, it’s a popular route with those who don’t want to scramble over scree or get above the tree line.

The southern part of the lake wends its way through the trees, until you come out at the river crossing and a farm.  The cows were looking as wet and bedraggled as we were.  I did take a photo of one but the poor thing did not look particularly attractive, whereas Penny managed somehow not to look such a mess – probably because she’s got a hat on and her hair tied back, whereas the cow and I both had curly loose locks.  It was warm however, which meant we got some strange looks from walkers wrapped up well against the elements – who were these strange women running along in t-shirts?

Probably the northern side of the lake is the more interesting, as not only do you get a variety of terrain but there is even a rock tunnel to run through.  This was, apparently (according to the National Trust website), carved out by a Manchester Mill Owner.  They don’t tell us why – presumably to continue the path.  We arrived back at the village after 4.5 wet but pleasant miles, with, rewardingly, only a tiny bit on road.  The rain, having drenched us, decided now to stop… typical!

Having completed a circuit of Crummock Water, the ‘twin’ lake to Buttermere just slightly further down the valley, earlier in the year, we headed now to Loweswater.  This was a bit of an unknown quantity to us both – probably the last time either of us had been there was several years ago when we were doing a bike ride (I think it may even have been pre-child-no.3 so that’s 8 or 9 years ago at least).  We decided to park in the lay-by where, all those years ago, we had stopped to get a photo of us with our bikes: it was about half way along what was potentially a road-based stretch of the circuit of the lake.

A short run along the road took us to a larger lay-by which was an official car park, where we turned off the road and ran down past some tents.  What looked as if it was meant to be a bridle path the other side of a couple of fields turned out in fact to be a lane which rose quite steeply up the side of the hill at the western end of the lake.  As we looked ahead I commented that it looked as if Loweswater was in the same valley as Crummock Water and Buttermere.  This was confirmed when we looked at the map later, though the valley sort of turns a southerly corner from Loweswater round to Crummock Water.

The southern side of the lake provided a lovely run amongst the trees, and we also discovered a National Trust bothy.  What an amazing place it would be to stay, particularly if it was a summer like we have had this year: kids could cycle in the woods, you could swim in the lake… though in fact in the height of summer you might not want to as Loweswater has particularly high nitrate levels and therefore a lot of blue green algae.  No sign of that on this dull day though.

Loweswater 2nd Sept. 2018 (1)Loweswater 2nd Sept. 2018 (2)Loweswater 2nd Sept. 2018 (3)

There seemed to be no option but to run along the road once we got to the car park at the eastern end of the lake, but then about a third of the way back along the northern shore there’s an old track signposted towards Mosser.  This is presumably quite a historic route which might once have been quite popular, directly up over the hills instead of around them.  We went up and up and I was beginning to wonder if we’d missed the turning to get back to the beginning.  Eventually however a finger post directed us down a grassy track and past a farm and presently we were back at the car park, only 100m or so away from the lay-by the car was parked in.

And finally the weather had brightened up a bit, and my bedraggled locks were dry – just curlier than ever.  We headed back towards Penrith, stopping en route at the Lakes Distillery for a well-deserved and extremely pleasant lunch.  That’s what this is all about: celebrating the fantastic county we live in with its glorious scenery, great food and good friends!



Wast Water – 7/16

As Penny said as we had nearly finished our run around Wast Water, “you’d think it would be easy to run round lakes”.  It’s not: too many of them do not in fact have a nice trail all the way around and despite what you may think many of them are not flat either.

Wast Water was perhaps in a way the most challenging of the lot so far.  Not in terms of fitness or distance, or even hills – at least not the way we ran round it.  It’s a lake which holds a sinister fascination for me: somehow the water always seems infinitessimally black and The Screes glower over the water menacingly.  Today was no exception: there was low-lying cloud on the fell tops and it was grey and threatening rain in the valley.

We approached from Gosforth and parked just off the road in a gravelly layby.  There was then a couple of miles to run to the National Trust campsite at Wasdale Head, where you get on to the path that takes you round the lake.  I had been told by two friends – one who grew up in Wasdale – that it would be better to go up hill on the southern side of the lake – up over Illgill Head and Whin Rigg.  However the map clearly shows a path along the lake shore… We met a very friendly National Trust man in the car park, who told us that if we were going to follow the lake path over the screes we needed to be very careful – a lot of the rocks were slippery and some of the boulders were enormous.  He thought we’d be better off going up to the hill top and along, even if it was further, and said that the lake shore route started off OK but got a lot, lot worse…

We had a bit of a dilemma.  Penny needed to be home in order to go to a retirement do with her husband and despite an early start we knew that often these runs were taking far more time than a straightforward route would… as so often happens, we decided that we’d go with the challenge and stick by the lake.  The worst bit to start with was the ferns, which had all grown quite high and were wet, and were often hiding holes or rocks in the path.  Then we met the first bit of scree: it seemed OK and we wondered if the friendly National Trust man had been worrying too much.  After all, Penny had admitted to him that she was about to turn 50 and I had said I was nearly 60 (well, I am nearer to 60 than to 50, but yes I was doing it for effect (and I think my daughter’s bad…)) so perhaps he just thought we were two vulnerable middle-aged women?

The penultimate area of scree was a different matter however: the rocks really were bigger and it was a case of 5 points of contact – both feet, both hands and quite often bum as well as it was easier to sit and swing your legs round in places.  We were conscious that we didn’t want to slip, in particular not to slip and cause an avalanche of rocks which would hurtle us into the cold, deep, dark water along with them.  When I created a small rock fall my heart skipped a beat or two.

Then looming ahead of us we saw another area of scree.  Some of the boulders were enormous, and although some helpful person (or persons) had created small cairns every-so-often – I think to show the best route through – there was no obvious path, and it seemed to go on for ever.  At one point Penny said what I was thinking – that if there was any more scree after this she would scream.  The landscape was barren: a bit of moss, lots of lichen; raindrop-bejewelled cobwebs; the odd slug.  Even the hardy fellside sheep hadn’t attempted to cross this scree.


Fortunately there wasn’t any more and after what I am sure was extremely good exercise in terms of twisting and turning your whole body, we got back to the path and to the lovely curly oak trees that seem to be a feature of this valley.  As we headed up to the western end of the lake where the River Irt leaves the lake, we saw a Sellafield Fire and Rescue Service truck, a pump and a large pipe: for some reason they were pumping water out of the lake and then back into the river a little further along, avoiding a rather stagnant shallow-looking area.

Wast Water 21st July 2018 (14)
From the western end

From here we ran along the river and then over a lovely old packhorse bridge and through Low Wood, passing the YHA at Wasdale Hall.  What an amazing building for a YHA, with an amazing view.  My guess is that it’s an Arts and Crafts building but if anyone reading this knows its history, let me know!


A short mile or so along the road and we were back at the car, where a man stowing some diving kit in the boot of his truck asked if we were the two girls who had been seen scrambling over the scree on the opposite side of the lake.  We owned up and had a chat with him about how deep the lake was and how there had been a few deaths there: but also how some divers had created a gnomes’ garden at the bottom, which had once had a white picket fence, garden gnomes and table and deckchairs!  The lake is not that wide but is the deepest in the Lake District (79m or 258 feet – the amazing thing is that whilst the surface is 200 feet above sea level, its bottom is then 50 feet below), and we had been able to hear people’s voices from this side when we’d been scrambling on the other side.

There wasn’t time to stop for lunch properly, but we went back via Gosforth where the village store has a delicious range of freshly made sandwiches on various different types of bread, and a good selection of drinks.  It was a pity we didn’t have time to visit the Hungry Parrot eatery upstairs.  There are also public loos in the car park – always useful to know!

We had run 8 miles (13 km) in three hours – but according to Strava about 1 hour 20 of that had not been running time.  It was yet another run around a lake where it had turned into a micro-adventure: and we both agreed that we would go back and do it again, but this time up over Illgill Head and Whin Rigg.  Those screes were an achievement but neither of us would recommend them to anyone else.  The National Trust man and my friends were quite right.

Wast Water 21st July 2018 (21)
The scree from the opposite side… not a path in sight (and the rocks are a lot bigger close up).




Rydal Water and Grasmere

I am afraid to say that I only have hazy memories of running around Rydal Water and Grasmere.

Son no. 1 had arrived back from France at 2 a.m. in the morning, and whilst I had tried to get some sleep before he arrived, I was so afraid of missing the alarm and not being in time to meet him that I had not even managed a short nap.  I had also had no breakfast (whilst I can’t run on a full stomach, nor can I run on empty) and it was a very hot day, right in the middle of the recent heatwave.

We parked on the edge of Grasmere on the roadside, partly as it was free and neither Penny nor I had any change on us for the pay and display car parks!  Grasmere was – not surprisingly for a hot, dry, sunny, summer Saturday – busy and as we took to the road in a westerly direction around the lake, we ran past lots of walkers.  I was already struggling and dying to get off the road, so it seemed to take forever before we found the gate to the path which takes you round the lake.

Everywhere was busy: these two lakes are small and shallow and with the hot weather we’d been having the water was warm: perfect for swimming and splashing around in, and I was soon wishing I was doing just that rather than running.  However the scenery was pretty and neither lake is very big, so it was hardly any time at all before we’d left Grasmere to run alongside the river Rothay towards Rydal Water.

Unfortunately there was a bit of road on the northern side of Rydal Water (and I was glad we didn’t try running along the shore in the normal way we have of trying to keep off-road at almost any cost – it got very narrow and was inhabited by geese) before we were back on to footpaths from White Moss car park.  We could have run on a trail along the northern edge of the lake if we’d crossed the road and gone up hill a bit, but I was not running at all well and felt rubbish – and I was also holding Penny back, who wanted to get home in time to see the football (England were playing someone in the World Cup).

Photographic memories ran through my head of bringing the children down here about 6 years ago: Edward a stocky toddler being held by David in the water; the other two splashing about; a week when we were lucky with the weather and spent a lot of time outdoors and in lakes.

The paths run through Penny Rock Woods – rather appropriately – before, if you want to circumnavigate both lakes, you have to come back out on the road again.  We past the Daffodil Spa Hotel and Wordsworth’s Cottage – both on my ‘to visit sometime’ list – before turning left to get back into the centre of Grasmere.  There was just time for a sandwich, a piece of cake and a drink – we opted for the Grasmere Tea Gardens, with its lovely balcony overlooking the river, although there’s of course plenty of choice in the village – before getting back to Penrith in time for Penny to dash home for the football.

Meanwhile I went into a deserted ‘Go Outdoors’ to buy new running socks for Alex, and found that I could get an enormous discount by being a member, having English Heritage membership and also having a Duke of Edinburgh ‘parent’ card.  I’ll be going there again!


Miles for Matt – Derwentwater

It was a gloriously sunny day at the end of April when Penny and I headed down to Keswick for our next ’round a lake’ challenge of the 16.  The London Marathon had taken place just 6 days earlier at which Lake District chef Matt Campbell had, sadly, died.  Runners all over the country were running the three and a half miles of the race that he had missed in tribute to him.

We parked in the Theatre by the Lake car park.  I love it here: the lake is shallow enough for paddling or swimming; there is usually a buzz of people around; and the theatre itself extended its cafe a few years ago (the theatre is great too: I don’t go there as often as I mean to, but I always enjoy it when I do).  We ran along the eastern shore past the families piling into boats and dog-walkers heading off around the lake, a couple of other female runners just ahead of us.   As we ran we suggested that perhaps this should be our ‘miles for Matt’: far further than the ones he missed, but there seemed to be something appropriate about running in the Lake District.  Who knows: perhaps he even used this lake path for his own training.

You can see how much I was enjoying this run from my broad grin as I run towards the camera – I think it shows even though I’m so small in the photo.  It’s a beautiful lake and it was an absolutely fantastic day to go with it – and everything was still green as we hadn’t yet had our headwave!

Heading further south towards the end of the lake, you have to cross the road to run through some woods, coming out near the Lodore Falls Hotel (in April undergoing a lot of refurbishment work including the development of a Spa – due to open Autumn 2018 – mental note to check it out) where you cross back over the road to get back down to the lakeside.  You’re more or less at the opposite end of the lake now, and after a stony beach area, we left the families behind to cross over the river which enters the lake here having descended from the fells.

It’s completely understandable why this is such a popular lake – it was stunningly beautiful but also the path around most of it is also fairly easy to follow, and there are frequent ‘beach’ areas which are mostly quite accessible from the various lanes in the area.  As we got over to the western side again there were many people out enjoying the sunshine and the fresh air; walking, running, or just soaking up the lovely weather and enjoying the views.

You run past various activities centres – which made me think of booking the children on to some mini-adventures in the holidays – along the shore, in and out of trees along what is a relatively flat path.  At one point we were tagging a male runner: we eventually passed him, thinking he might overtake us back, but had soon left him far behind.  Later a younger male runner zoomed past us into Portinscale, soon leaving us behind: as the three of ran past a boat hire place the man hiring out boats said something about loony runners – I shouted back ‘but happy!’…

The only downside to the run is that by the time you reach Portinscale at the northern end of the lake you need to run on road for a while – though you pass several tempting-looking cafes, including one situated in some woods – before then joining a stony track which takes you back into the middle of Keswick.  The last couple of miles along here and back through the middle of Keswick you feel a long way from the lake, and are dodging pedestrians: but otherwise we had run 16 very enjoyable km (almost 10 miles).  Another one for the ‘Head Torches’ group to try out if we could somehow be dropped at the Theatre by the Lake and picked up from Portinscale.

We went into the Theatre Cafe and treated ourselves to some of their lovely food and drink: after all when you’ve completed a run you deserve a treat!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Back home, I donated some money via JustGiving to Matt Campbell’s appeal for the Brathay Trust.  He had wanted to raise £2,500: at the time of writing this he has raised almost 15,000% of that (£371,000).  There is a tribute to him on the Brathay Trust page: Tribute to Matt Campbell


Haweswater – 2/16

I had completely forgotten that I had said I’d go running with my friend Penny on Friday 13th April – instead she stayed at work late and I went out drinking prosecco at another friend’s exhibition opening.  As it turned out it was the right decision however, as Friday was rather a rainy day and Saturday 14th, when we ended up running, was glorious.

I hadn’t really been to Haweswater properly before.  I’d driven as far as the hotel to fetch a soaking wet ex-husband (when he was still my husband) when he was training for the Lakeland 50; I’d cycled through nearby Bampton; and I’d read the novel about the building of the dam and flooding of the village of Mardale (and not really thought that much of it – the novel, that is).  So this was the first time I’d actually seen the lake properly ‘up close and personal’ as it were.

I should perhaps explain why I was here, about to run 10 miles around a lake I hardly knew, and feeling a little the worse for wear from prosecco consumption.  Penny turns 50 this year and wanted a challenge.  After thinking about it for a while she decided that her challenge would be running round all 16 of the largest lake district lakes.  As we’ve been running partners, on and off, for several years now – we became friends because we started going running together some work lunchtimes – I got roped in too.  And actually to be honest I’d probably have been a bit disappointed if I hadn’t been, even though the longest run looks as if it’s going to be 40 miles around Windermere…

Hence the 2/16 in the title – Crummock Water was 1/16 when we did Buttermere Trail Race a couple of weeks ago (in fact Penny has also run Brotherswater recently so I suppose strictly this should be 3/16 but I think I’ll number them according to when I do them and write them up).

We parked at Burn Banks, a village which was built as a temporary village for dam workers.  The temporary houses (which apparently had cast iron frames, which you’d imagine would go rusty) mostly look as they’ve now been replaced – either reclad or completely replaced – some in particular now providing rather fine residences.  In some ways it would be a lovely place to live – in other ways it might be a bit too remote and potentially cut off in hard winters.

Burn Banks is at the north-east end of the lake, the end where the dam is and where the road heads out into ‘the rest of the world’ along a beautiful valley which the river Lowther flows through.  The walk along this northern shore of the Lake is actually part of the Coast to Coast walk so it’s well-waymarked and easy to follow.  You start running along by the trees – we thought we spotted a red squirrel though he was so still it was difficult to tell, but I don’t think it was just an overgrown pinecone.  There’s a also a deer fence though we didn’t see any deer in this particular area of lakeshore.


There are absolutely loads of waterfalls and streams to cross over; as we’d had a fair amount of rain recently the rocks were a bit slippy in some places.  The water was sparklingly clean; I would really like to have swum or paddled in some of it, though of course it would still be freezing cold at this time of year (there is still snow high up on the fells) and also you’re not allowed to as they try to prevent any type of dirt getting into the lake at all – obviously it means fewer chemicals needed to treat it for the folk in Manchester to drink if they don’t have too much contamination.

My overindulgence in prosecco had gone along with not having any supper, so I was beginning to feel a bit wobbly by here (already!).  Hooray for raspberry flapjacks!  Flapjacks and cheese bagels are probably my go-to food for long runs: if I eat too much I just end up feeling uncomfortable if not downright ill, but nor is running on a completely empty stomach (well, 2 coffees) much good either.

We met a few people coming in the other direction, mostly male.  Penny commented that she felt she should carry a survey with her “are you single?  do you live round here?” etc. – we both have estranged husbands and recovering broken hearts and it shows that it was a light-hearted happy sort of day that we were joking about how to find the next men in our lives… but this was the sort of day when people generally were in a good mood, so everyone we met had the potential to be a friend.

A lovely stony descent – my favourite sort of running as it’s about the only time I’m faster than Penny – and we came down to the southern end of Haweswater and our halfway mark.  Here a path which we guessed might be quite an old path is marked by upright stones, and several small rivers flow into the lake.  One had loads of tiny tadpoles spilling around the stones: I tried not to tread on any but it wasn’t that easy to miss them as you had to step into the water whether or not you wanted to.  One of the rivers flows down from Blea Tarn which is in a corrie up towards High Street which looms in the background; one down from the quaintly-named Small Water.

Haweswater 14th April (14)

We sat on some warm stones overlooking the popular car park, ate flapjack, drank water and watched cyclists coming down from the pass.  Some had those motorbike-type tyres which must be a complete pain on the road; another had a self-built tricycle with the two wheels at the front rather than the back.  We had a chat to him as we jogged past him, as he was putting his bike into the back of his car – but I’m still not totally clear why he wanted two wheels at the front rather than the back.  He said he’d been working on the bike 5 hours a day, every day.  It’ll be interesting to see if it makes it into the shops…  I think he was pleased we showed some interest though, and he gave us a friendly wave when he passed us not long afterwards as we tried to find the path.

Haweswater 14th April (16)

The map seemed to show a path along this other side of the lake, and we could see what looked like a path from the road.  In the end we got off the road and tried to follow a trail, but it’s not to be recommended; it was on quite a camber when we could find it, had fallen away in places and then further along the lake was overgrown with brambles.  However we did see a deer and there were daffodils and primroses popping up all over the place and in quite surprising places.  It was no surprise finally to get to a gate and find there was a sign on it saying the path was closed for health and safety reasons!  They could do with taking down the signage and the remains of footbridges though really so that idiots like Penny and I who spot what looks like a path from the road, are not tempted to try to follow it.  It reminded me of when I was working in the Pyrenees and trying to find new routes for holiday makers – one time we got in a stream and followed it as the path had completely vanished.

The last few miles were on road – and downhill – so we were able to keep up a steady pace, though neither of us is a keen roadrunner and we would far prefer being on trails.  As we ran through the trees back to the car park we met a (male) runner we had been past earlier – he had gone round the lake in the other direction to us, and taken the road for the first half (we recognised him because he had an orange top, his dog had a matching orange jacket, and he had a nice smile).  “Oh yes”, he said “that path has been closed for two or three years”.  It’s a pity as it would be lovely to be able to get around the entire lake without having to go on the road.  You can just spot him in the photo below.

Haweswater 14th April (17)So there we were, finally back at the car after a ridiculously long amount of time, as we’d walked probably a good 4 miles or so of the run.  But we could say we’d done it – we had run, or attempted to, round all of Haweswater.  The first half would be a great run for the Head Torches bunch…

We celebrated by trying to go to the Mill Cafe at Morland for lunch, or whatever you call lunch when it’s almost tea-time, but they had stopped serving – so instead we went somewhere I have been meaning to go for ages, and which was absolutely stunning (though they were only serving drinks and cakes): Larch Cottage Nursery.  The italio-phile in me absolutely loved it, and it was the perfect afternoon for lazing around having tea and cake and then doing a bit of window shopping.  I shall be going there again…

And my mood of despondency which I’d woken up in had completely lifted.  Hooray for running, friendship, nature, sunshine and cake!