A week in The Lakes

When we told people we were going to the Lake District, everyone waxed lyrical about its beauty. I thought there was no way it could live up to the hype. Not for the first time, I was proved wrong.

Photo collage of the Lake District

Tom walking on Wanna Scar Road in the Lake District

Rusty cycling Honister Pass in the Late District
Riding in to Buttermere

We spent a week making plans more ambitious than our legs could keep up with, climbing peaks and pedalling over passes. We had the odd reassuring comment from weathered old cyclists along the lines of “not bad for southern softies” and spent our evenings flaked out on the couch and poring over maps for the next day’s adventures.

We stayed in the quiet Eskdale Valley, complete with grand hills, whistling steam trains, classic pubs, and very few tourists. A week here is just long enough to fall in love with the place and realise how soon we need to return and explore more. We will be back.

Lake District view

Rusty with her bike

PS Thank you Tom for taking all the holiday snaps! My life would be a blank memory card without you.

Nice day for a wight walk

Sunflower in a field

After doing the Randonnee last weekend, I thought I was plenty prepared for Walking the Wight.  So now I feel a little sheepish in admitting to hobbling around the house since arriving home a few hours ago, nursing sugary tea and tiffin cake.  Whenever I stand up for a tea top-up, my legs quickly remind me that I walked 26.5miles today (and yes, that final 1/2 mile has to be counted.)

Walk the Wight is a big annual event on the Island calendar, with thousands of walkers trekking across fields, through forests, and over downs, to raise money for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice.  This year was the 21st in its illustrious history, originally started by two local guys and now drawing crowds over 8000.  I don’t know the official count this year, but with sunny skies and light breezes, it seemed that everyone was out soaking it all up.

We had the best weather in years, with a misty morning start at Bembridge.   We walked with the sun at our backs, amongst crowds of people strolling on morning-fresh legs and gently chatting.  And with blue skies all day, the Mountbatten’s sunflower emblem seemed particularly fitting.

Bryony walking the Wight wild amongst garlic

People walking the wight in Brighstone Forest

Walk the Wight Brook Down

The fresh legs didn’t last, and the moan-to-chat ratio was a little higher by the end of the day.  But, chivvied on by friendly faces, local ice cream and the end in sight, we made it up over Tennyson Down and in to the cheery finish at Alum Bay.  Across the Island in 8 hours = muscle ache and a proud grin.

Goodbye sunshine

The clocks have fallen back. Undoubtedly, the extra hour has been greatly appreciated; the day has seemed elongated and full (baking and reading to accompany homework.) This weekend always seems to herald the beginning of life without sunshine however. Dark in the morning on the way to work. Dark coming home as well. Fluorescent gear will come out of the cupboard. Will hope not to get run down on quiet and gloomy country roads…

Thankfully, it’s been half term with some pretty fantastic autumnal weather (bright, blustery and beautiful) with the chance to get out on the bike and on foot. Although weekends will provide some respite, and outdoor activities will be planned into the school week, there won’t be so much sunshine for me for the next few months.

Goodbye sunshine, you’re great.

Sunday discovery

One pleasure in living on this beautiful Island is knowing almost every road.  We can set off on our bikes and simply make up the route as we go, knowing almost every tiny country lane across this corner of England.  But, occasionally we discover a little pocket of the place that is brand new to us, and we marvel that it has remained hidden from us for so long.  Today we set off on foot along the coastal path from Yarmouth to Newtown; a perfect amble through woodland and meadows before reaching the top of a hill to breathtaking (and brand new!) views of Newtown creek, the New Forest, and the Downs.  Autumn has truly fallen, and I am loving every windy, bonfire-infused minute of it.

Late summer in Newtown

Today was the first time I felt us nearing the end of summer. After my birthday, the end of August seems to swing in so fast. There was a sniff of autumn in the air, from a neighbour’s bonfire, which feels so different from that hunger-inducing smell of a barbecue in July.

We walked around Newtown this afternoon, after the sun made a welcome late appearance.  As still as a millpond, the bay looked like a boat village, with all the sea dog holidaymakers.

Is it too soon to start getting excited about autumn?  Soup and bread, knitting patterns, seed catalogues…

We haven’t been out on the allotment since Tom sprained his ankle last week.  I console myself with the (possibly misplaced) idea that there is little we can plant at the moment anyway.  Almost all of the weeds are now cleared, so that feels like enough of an achievement for now.  Besides, that mound of soil has waited this long, it can wait another week.