A birthday in the Lake District

Back in January it was my 25th birthday, which I saw in with some drinks and a sleepover with friends. The next day we had pancakes in our pyjamas and when I eventually got dressed, I visited family and went for a nice meal with Steve. A week later, he drove me to the Lake District as a present to spend the weekend away and best of all, Magnus came too! Our first dog friendly holiday.

The journey took almost 9 hours due to leaving late and lots of traffic. Magnus was so good – he slept almost the whole way on the back seat! We stopped off a couple of times to stretch our legs and eat sandwiches. It was long dark by the time we arrived near Penrith and it had begun to snow. This made me really excited as i’ve been longing for snow all winter and living in the south of England, it’s not often I get to see much of it. I looked out of the window and could see the silhouettes of the peaks around us. I’d never been this far north in the UK before and have never really seen a english mountain, I couldn’t wait to see what the darkness was hiding the next day, I knew it would be beautiful.

We arrived at Monkhouse Hill Cottages quite late and the owners had left our keys in a envelope. We unpacked the car in the snow and entered the warmth of our home for the weekend. A cute upside down cottage with the beds downstairs and the living area and kitchen upstairs with a log fire and stone walls! We were shattered from our drive so we went straight to bed.

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We awoke next morning with the sky switching from sunshine to snow, after a bit of a crap nights sleep – the house was so creaky! It made creepy sounds in the night and a couple of times Magnus barked as though something was wrong which made us feel a little creeped out. (I’m a really light sleeper – I wear earplugs quite a lot so don’t let this put you off the cottages, they were amazing!) We got dressed and Steve had to go and change a tire on the car as we’d got a flat pulling into the courtyard of the cottages the night before. After a breakfast which included some yummy homemade cakes left by the owners of the cottage, we pulled on our hiking clothes and drove to find fuel. We came across Caldbeck which was the cutest town. We pulled up at the village shop which had a old looking petrol pump outside – i’ve never seen a petrol station like this! Steve went into the shop and admitted to me that we needed oil too. The shop owner loved the car and was doing his best to help us with some oil. The people around there were all so nice! I felt like I was not in England, with the stunning snowy mountains around us when we’d driven from green flat fields and sun. It was freezing but a tall young postman came into the shop with the shortest shorts i’ve ever seen, showing off the tattoos on his legs – this place was giving me such amusement with all it’s quirks! We chatted to the shop owners for a while and then had to find the garage they recommended to us to get some oil. This garage owner was lovely too – topping us up for £2 and sending us on our way. We then decided to drive to Keswick to buy a backpack – as the one i’d bought for the trip didn’t arrive in time and it was getting too late to do much else with only a few hours of daylight left.

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The drive was stunning and I was glued to the window the whole time, with on-off snow falling, I felt a little anxious out in the middle of nowhere in a 31 year old car that had already given us a flat tyre and had drank all of its oil once already this trip. We eventually arrived in Kesick which someone had joked with us that we’d have no trouble buying a backpack in… I’ve never such a place with such an abundance of hiking and outdoor shops – what a wonderful place! Steve bought me a Gregory backpack in the sale at George Fisher for a great price and I was super chuffed with it. I also bought some earplugs for sleeping in the creaky cottage! We went for lunch in a dog friendly pub and I had the nicest mushroom casserole – I could eat it forever! Then we made the trip ‘home’ for a cosy evening in.

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The next morning we pulled on our hiking clothes again, this time with every intention of going for a hike. We began to drive to Keswick so we could walk in the nearby woods along the base of the mountains as the weather was too tricky for novices like us and with a dog to find much elevation. We didn’t get very far as snow had made the roads tricky, so we decided to pull over where we were and start walking! We eventually came to Caldbeck where we found ourselves at the little shop again and they gave us some good tips for hikes in the area. After stopping in a dog friendly tea room for a cuppa, we started our walk. I had the most enjoyable day, loving every moment. I felt like it was reinforcing my growing desire to spend as much time outdoors as possible, reconnecting me with my younger self, when i’d often find myself wandering around the orchards surrounding my aunts house or taking other peoples dogs for long walks to anywhere.

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Our walk took us up through some beautiful woodland, across farmers fields full of sheep, across rivers and bridges and along cute country roads. We had some beautiful views from higher up across the district and it remained sunny till sundown. I was missing the Lake District before I had even left, wishing I could stay longer surrounded by all of this beauty. We hiked for a few hours and both of us and Magnus were feeling the tired but happy feelings that a good day of exercise brings, the last bit back up a steep hill to the car in the snow were the most difficult, the temperature was plummeting and I was looking forward to a huge pub meal by a fire.

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We met such lovely people while walking who lived in the area and recommended us a great pub for the evening so once we were home and spruced up and a little rested we drove to the pub in the next village. It was called The Old Crown in the village of Hesket Newmarket – if you ever are in the area then we really recommend it. It was small, friendly and more importantly dog friendly! Magnus has already had his dinner and happily slept by our feet as we dined. It was reasonably priced and the food was good old home cooked pub food, I had a lovely fruit crumble after a huge steak and chips – the perfect end to a perfect day.

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Once we had eaten we decided to drive back to where we had left the car for our walk earlier, as it was really open and the sky was crystal clear. We’d heard that temperature were expected to drop to minus 10 in the area that night but that didn’t deter us from a opportunity to take some shots of the sky. I have never seen so many stars with the naked eye. It’s such a shame that light pollution exists – as we never truly experience the beauty of the sky at night, but here it was quite remote, you could see the glow from surrounding Carlisle and Penrith but it was as remote as we could get with the roads as tricky as they were. We didn’t stay longer than 15 minutes as it so cold and we were definitely not dressed for it! But i’m really happy with how this picture turned out.

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The next day it was sadly time to leave, we packed up the car, said goodbye to our little home for the weekend and made our way to Carlisle to get the car tyre fixed for the long drive home. Luckily the drive home was a bit more scenic as we drove through the peaks and snow and it was a lot quicker than the journey up. I’m completely in love with this part of England now and I can’t wait to go back!

 

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