A Very British Bank Holiday

Correct me if I’m wrong but, is there really anything Brits love more than a bank holiday weekend. A whole three days off work and an excuse to get away from it all.  Well that’s if the weather is nice. It’s always a gamble and since this bank holiday just gone was a wash out, I thought I’d get you up to date with how we spent the first May bank holiday with my sister and her partner.

I’ve loved to Lakes since I first set foot in them a few years back and I’ve been trying to drag my rather reluctant family (we were never too outdoorsy people) to there ever since. I fail to believe that anyone does not instantly fall in love with the dramatic fells and winding roads that the Lakes has to offer. However, as always is with these things, we we’re left booking things last minute and a few days before the bank holiday, everywhere in the Lakes was either sold out or out of our budget. Either way we settled on this gorgeous cottage in Kirkby Stephen, which is situated between the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales.

We checked out the weather for the days ahead (spoiler: it wasn’t great) and agreed we would spend the Saturday showing my sister the highlights of the Lakes and the Sunday, we would plan some kind of walking route. For the whirlwind highlights tour, me and Troy chose to show our fellow Lakes novices around Keswick and Ambleside. Keswick was packed as usual but the market was on in the town centre and we had a lovely time wandering around the different outdoors shops and admittedly, looking for a rather long time for somewhere to grab some dinner – all the best places were full to the brim. And a few pints later, we merrily made our way down to Ambleside for a wander (but mainly for the ice-cream I’d promised my sister).

Delicious ice cream delivered as promised from the Old Bridge House Fudge Shop and a  long look at the Fjallraven Trekking tights later, we retired back to Kirkby Stephen to get some sleep for the day ahead. 

Troy and I decided that Haystacks from from Gatesgarth would be a good introduction to walking in the Lakes for a beginner/novice hiker. We had previously done this walk a few years ago and have committed it to memory for it is such a beautiful round, full of variation and dramatic views. We didn’t quite go all the way to Fleetwith Pike on this visit, but none the less, I think you can capture the most interesting aspects of the walk without ascending this part of the trail.

From Gatesgarth Farm we headed back out of the car park towards a small wood which marked the start of our ascent. After a quick steep climb around the wood we were merrily on our way across Buttermere Fell towards Haystacks.

Bluebells cascading Buttermere Fell.

The beautiful spring bluebells were out in force and paved to way while we steadily made our way through the walk. It was almost a beautifully clear day except for the occasional dark cloud that quickly passed. Wind picked up as we reached Scarth Gap and we rested for a while before attempting the short and easy scramble up to the summit of Haystacks.

A few fake summits later and after some words of motivation, we all reached the summit together. Packed lunched were quickly scranned whilst sheltering from the increasing wind. It was particularly chilly for a sunny May day but the views didnt disappoint and we could see a long way past Buttermere.

We headed on from the summit of Haystacks (after visiting both iron summit posts for good measure to ensure we really had reached the summit) towards the Inominate tarn. Haystacks has always been one of my favourite places and the tarn at the top is in equal parts serene and a little eerie. Will full bellies and enjoying the peaceful quiet that drifted over us we made our way past Green Crag towards Arnscale Beck before heading down the long path to Warnscale Bottom and back to our starting point for more ice cream (I know, there’s a theme here!).

On our way we passed this small cluster of trees which appeared to have an area of dead/petrified ones. If anyone knows what caused this, then please send answers on a post card!

That evening we enjoyed a great Indian in Kirby Stephen before crashing out on the sofa satisfied with our days efforts. The following morning we said our goodbye and headed in opposite ways across the country. Troy and I took the opportunity to visit Bowness-on-Windermere. It was drizzly and a bit chilly and we didn’t quite fancy another walk in the wind and the rain. Despite the amount of time we have spent in the Lakes, we’ve never taken the ferry across Windermere so we got our tourist hats on and enjoyed a beautiful ride across to Ambleside for some brunch.

We came across a great brunch place down one of the side streets in Ambleside called Kysty which I 100% recommend. A ginger ale and crumpet waffle later, we headed back to reality ready for work on Monday.

What’s your favourite thing to get up to on the bank holiday?


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