Thursday, 17 January 2013

Fairfield Horseshoe in the Lake District, Cumbria

One thing both Tim and I wanted to do was get some walking in. Given the options up north we were spoilt for choice and decided on the Lake District. Given how unpredictable the weather had been we figured we'd just drive up and see what it was like when we arrived.

An early start driving through the mist saw us arrive in the Lake District around 9am, although we could have been anywhere to be honest, we couldn't see anything. Even driving alongside Lake Windermere on the way up to Ambleside the lake was completely hidden from view.

We found our hostel pretty easily and dumped our stuff before asking the guy in reception how the weather was and what he figured was a decent walk for the day. I had an old book with walking trails but asking a local which was the best route in the area seemed the best option. Given it had been so damp he suggested we didn't attempt Scafell, but the Fairfield Horseshoe which was much closer anyway.

Apparently the weather had been similar the previous day and was expected to be sunny once you rose above the mist line. Yesterday this had been around Low Sweden Bridge along the track, so we were hoping for the same today.

Walking north through the town centre of Ambleside, we saw a few other hikers but it looked like it would be a quiet day out in the hills. Heading up to Nook End Farm there was no one else on the path and it looked like we were to have millionaires' hiking for a while, with no one else in sight.

Little bridge house in Ambleside

More misty than it looks here

Possibly Low Sweden Bridge area

Still in the mist

As we moved up the path, the mist started to lift so we assumed we were around the Low Sweden Bridge area and we were pretty sure that by the time we'd risen above the mist we had reached High Brock Crags. Even though we had a map we weren't overly sure but some of the places we were sure of: Low Pike at 508m and High Pike at 656m. The former where we figured we were making good time and the latter where we realised we weren't after taking a power nap in the, what had now become, glorious sunshine. Not often you get rosy red cheeks in January because of the sun.

Carrying on we wound our way round to Dove Crag at 792m and only now were we reaching halfway as we got to the middle of the horseshoe. We had great views looking down into the valley watching the Rydal Beck fall away out of sight into the mist, and waterfalls which we could hear in the distance.

Following the ridge round we passed Great Rigg at 766m and then Heron Pike at 512m so we knew we were slowly but surely descending. At this stage the mist started to come in with a vengeance and it seemed to take forever before we reached the Lord Crag and Nab Scar area, from where it was basically straight down the slopes via winding paths and steep steps, leading back into the thick mist and down into the tiny village of Rydal. From here it was just a short one mile walk back into Ambleside where we rewarded ourselves with a well earned pint after our 11 mile walk.

Ah, sunshine

Slowly coming above the list line

Right by the pot of gold

Heading up towards Low Pike

Moving on up to High Pike

Still a long way to go

High Pike

Approaching Dove Crag, looking down into the valley

Walking along Heron Pike on the return side of the horseshoe

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Yorkshire's East Coast - Scarborough, Robin Hood's Bay and Whitby

A little less travelling today and we were lucky enough to have the weather on our side. What started off as a misty morning turned out to be a glorious day and we were welcomed by blue skies with not a cloud in sight when we parked up in Scarborough.

With it being winter, a lot of the places of interest are closed but with a crisp, clear day and sunshine there was nothing to stop us walking around and seeing what we could. Starting off at the Rotunda Museum, we crossed over the bridge to the Esplanade before reaching the south side of the promenade. With the sea breeze in our faces we slowly made our way north.

With only a week in the UK, I wanted to get as much stereotypical British grub in Tim's face so our first port of call was the chippy, thankfully we found one on the promenade that was open. Quality portion and possibly even better than the ones we had within an hour of Tim getting off the plane two days previous.

Feeling nourished, we continued along the promenade, stopping off at the arcades. Table hockey is popular enough in Holland but the two pence slot machines were a bit of a novelty and we happily chucked a couple quid in, unfortunately we got nowhere near to the tacky green bracelet we were chasing.

Continuing along the promenade, we followed the way until we reached the east pier and the lighthouse at the end. Great views of Scarborough's beach front and up to the castle on the hill, which was our next stop. Once at the top, we had even better views of the surrounding area, however the castle itself was closed. Perhaps a trip in the summer is in order.

Walking back into town we passed St. Mary's Church, home to Anne Bronte's grave and then back through the old town to the car. Even though it was a great day, we had to get moving if we were to get to Whitby before it got dark.

Scarborough Beachfront

Grub's up

View from the pier

View up to the Rotunda

Lighthouse at the pier's end

Scarborough from the castle walls

St. Mary's Church

Following the A171 up to Whitby, it wasn't long before we got to our turn off for Robin Hood's Bay. If you thought Scarborough was dead, then this gorgeous little village was even more so, with even the famous Smugglers pub out of commission for the day. However, we were lucky enough for The Bay Hotel pub to still be open so we had a quiet pint in there while chatting to those who had been out and about walking through the Moors that day and looking out to sea and the view of the beautiful coast.

View up to the pub


With the light beginning to fade, we left the pub and headed to Whitby. Driving down alongside the river Esk, we had great views of Whitby Abbey on our right hand side before once again parking up. Luck was on our side here, as we managed to get some of Whitby's fabled rock for Tim, just as the store was closing. Not even 15:30 and the place was shutting up for the day.

Ambling down the west pier, we headed all the way out so that we had great views of the town and the oncoming sunset. There was a small contingent of photographers and producers right at the end too, turned out they were filming a new Morrison's advertisement which was basically a boat coming in, exciting stuff. Watch out for that coming to a screen new you soon.

Heading back into town, the wind was beginning to pick up and by now the sun had gone and dusk had well and truly set in. We manage to find a little tea shop along the cobbled street just below the Abbey and treated ourselves to some cake and tea, a most appropriate way to end our day out along the east coast.

River Esk running into Whitby

Along the promenade

Whitby Abbey

Sunsetting over town

Looking back along the piers

Wonderful views and perfect weather were a real bonus for us today, but wouldn't mind revisiting during the summer months. Homeward bound then to prepare ourselves for a couple days out in the Lakes for some hiking and hill passes.

Monday, 14 January 2013

A Day Out With Shakespeare, Stratford-Upon-Avon

After a relaxing December at home it was time to get back into the swing of things and get out and about, only this time round I decided to spend some time going to places in the UK. Having had a great week away last October in Holland with my friend Tim as my guide, it was time for me to return the favour as he came over for a week.

This was a chance for me to show off some of the highlights of Yorkshire and beyond and for me to reacquaint myself with my own surroundings and revisit towns and places I haven't been to in years, starting with Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The drive down wasn't too taxing and there was loads of parking throughout the town. The leisure centre and the old site for the visitor centre providing the cheapest parking and only a couple minutes to the town centre.

Having not been here since I was a little boy, it was all as new to me as it was to Tim. We did a quick loop of the centre before deciding to walk to Anne Hathaway's cottage first and then make our way back to town. On our way to the track we went past the Clock Tower but unfortunately it was surrounded by scaffolding. The walk was pretty much a straight shot from the town centre right up to her front door, probably even easier to access now than 500 years ago.

Clock Tower

Anne Hathaway's Cottage

We slowly ambled back to the town and being with a man of the Continent, it wasn't too long before we sat down and people watched with some coffee, taking in the beautiful surroundings we found ourselves in. Once refreshed we managed to get in the majority of the sights before the rain came.

Walking through the town we saw William Shakespeare's birth house, Hall's Croft and took a stroll along the river Avon and the Waterside area past the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) building. Even though the skies were grey, you could imagine how gorgeous it would look in sunny summer months, not to mention how busy it must get.

Local pub with traditional Tudor architecture

View down the Avon

RSC from behind

RSC from the front

William Shakespeare's birthplace

More old architecture

 Along the way we also dropped into the Holy Trinity Church, the oldest building in Stratford and the resting place of both William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. For a small fee you can visit the graves within the church, but it is only a couple quid and helps to maintain the church so you know it's going to a good cause.

Holy Trinity Church

Inside the church

Shakespeare's grave

With so much to fit in we didn't have time to stay the night and see a performance but at least we saw some people dressed up in old traditional garb. Whether they were on their way to work or just liked it I couldn't say.

Having walked full circle again we found ourselves sitting down with some tea, scones, jam and clotted cream, a real treat and one I know Tim enjoyed before heading to one of the many nearby pubs for some warmth from the cold and a local pint.

One of many pubs throughout the town centre

A relaxing day of sightseeing really and an enjoyable start to what promised to be a busy week. Next stop a coastal drive along Yorkshire's east coast from Scarborough to Whitby.