Guest Post: May Bank Holiday

Ok, so as Kelly has had such a busy bank holiday weekend with catching up on essays and working at various places, she decided to not accompany her dad and I on are outdoor adventures this weekend.

Making the most of the forecast good weather and long days we decided to try and get some photographic time in.
The plan for the grand day out part 1 for Saturday was for me to head off for the first open water swim of the season, which I duly did. Turned out the water was not quite so warm as hoped for and a little choppy!! But never mind, first dip done and sorted. From Ellerton Lakes we headed up the A66, making one little stop at the Cross Lanes Organic Farm Shop and Café well swimming makes you hungry and we had heard that they served the best bacon sandwich around. I can confirm that in fact that bit is true! The bacon was delicious and the roll packed full of it ….so much so I couldn’t manage the last couple of bites and had to share them …begrudgingly admittedly. Having tried a piece of the scone from a work colleague we met there I can heartedly recommend them as well….i must confess I wasn’t as enamoured of the coffee and if I stop again will choose tea! The farm shop is well stocked though with lots of local meat and vegetable products as well as eco friendly cleaning products. Its almost a shame its so close to home to warrant breaking a journey up.

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Fully replete we continued across to the lakes, worrying about the grey skies overhead but as normal the Lake District has its own micro climate and proved to be pleasantly sunny with a light breeze when we got there. We did encounter the obligatory bank holiday traffic but even this didn’t put a damper on the day out and just went with the flow.
1 First port of call was a quarry near Coniston , Colin had encountered on one of his walks around the area. Finding the junction we drove up a beautiful winding lane, fortunately not meeting any traffic coming back down it. Sadly the car park (free unbelievably for the Lakes!) was full bar for one small space which had a lovely deep puddle conveniently placed for passengers….sorry Colin!
Taking a walk around the outer edge of the quarry, Colin was able to get some idea of the shots he wanted to take and to laugh at me sideways stepping to the edges….well it was very high and I hate heights – you never know do you? After having my knees knocking watching some people bouldering along the quarry sides we went back to Doris and made a nice cup of tea and gathered up the kit he needed and went along to where he wanted the first shots to be. Getting bored of these and seeing some climbers down in the bottom of the quarry Colin thought it would be a marvellous idea to take some shots from down there or at least halfway down. Scrambling our way down the slate strewn ‘path’ we reached half way past the rusted out cars that looked like they had been pushed over the edges a very long time ago…. Rubber tyres take a long time to perish compared to the rest of the vehicle. What was amazing and in my mind, quite thoughtless and pointless was the amount of rubbish that has just been left lying around, its careless and unnecessary and I don’t see why people cant just dispose of it properly instead of littering (sorry rant over, off my soapbox!). Whilst Colin was getting his shots I went off on an explore and was brave enough to peer through some of the caves that were dotted about and watching climbers heading up one of the quarry walls. Finally we were ready to scramble back up and after all that effort it was time for another cup of tea and an explore with the camera to check out the fairy glen that was visible through the quarry….
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Leaving the quarry with a promise to come back and maybe stay over in Doris we headed to Coniston to recce a jetty I had spotted whilst taking part in the Lakeland Trails Coniston run last year. Sadly this wasn’t quite what was needed by Colin, so another cup of tea and a bite to eat we left Coniston with the intention of stopping off at Amblesidefor a drink to make full use of our full day out pass granted by Kelly. Unfortunately, parking at Ambleside wasn’t available so we drove straight through with the plan to stop at Windermere…..again thwarted by a lack of parking we managed to find a space in Bowness and had a quick mooch round and stopped for a cold drink before deciding to head home.
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Sunday morning the grand adventure was starting at the Leyburn Food Festival which at £8 an adult to get into I wondered why we had come again! It’s been a few years but the food stalls haven’t really changed, it doesn’t seem to have got any bigger and unless you are there all day and enjoy the local ales and jazz bands to my mind is not worth the entrance fee. We got our hands stamped so we could re-enter and headed into Leyburn itself. I managed to get some nice old fashioned butter knives which I was really pleased to find and stopped for a cup of tea in one of the few coffee shops in the town.
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We decided not to go back to the festival and headed for the Druids Folly, a faux ‘Stonehenge’ of the North created by William Danby of nearby Swinton Hall in 1820. The structure sits deep within a private forest and includes a large stone table, a sheltered cave and an altar stone. The temple is approximately 100 feet long and 50 feet wide, with some of the stones standing over 10 feet high. A pleasant and easy woodland walk is available along with the Bivouac Café and Glamping centre, (insert link) where we had a lovely late lunch (all this fresh air makes me hungry!). Heading home it was lovely to see the beautiful rolling landscape of the dales and you forget how lovely it is so close to home.
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Day 3 of the Bank Holiday dawned again to glorious sunshine and a family breakfast was called for as we hadn’t spent much time together recently and Colin had baked another gorgeous fresh loaf of bread which we had toasted. Todays plan was to hunt for a bluebell wood which was proving elusive due to the lengthy winter and delayed sping/summer start. We had been told that Kilplin Hall was a likely spot on their woodland walk so that’s where Monday’s adventure started.

Kiplin Hall is located near Scorton, Brompton on Swale and is Jacobean historic house a Grade I listed building. Why is it that you never visit places close on your own doorstep?? We had a lovely mooch through the woods, following a very easy and accessible path for a short walk, ending up with stroll around the lake. Colin headed back into the woods while I brewed up and it was so lovely sitting in the glorious sunshine just doing nothing, a rare treat!

My request for the day to offset the bluebell hunting was to go to Lickety Splits in Seaham, a 60’s American style diner ice cream parlour. A slight detour I know but at least the sun was shining and being in Doris you end up never really being in a hurry.

Upon arrival in Seaham, somewhere we had never been before, it was a pleasant surprise to find a free car park…albeit about a half mile walk from the main drag. Heading into town, everywhere was really busy with lots of families milling about on the beach (which looked quite pebbly from the top but maybe when the tide is out it’s a bit sandier!). The clue to the location of the ice cream parlour was the huge queue outside and a bright red mini VW camper van. Deciding that as we had come this way for the ice cream I started to queue while Colin went in search of a sandwich….listening to the people around me it was going to be a very long wait……….an hour later (and that’s with people opting out of queuing) we got to the front and read the very extensive menu. Making our selections, Minty Monroe for me and Warm Apple Pie sundae for Colin with a can of Mountain Dew each we managed to get a booth and sit in to savour……unfortunately I presume because they were so busy we were ‘gently’ encouraged to leave by them removing our sundae glasses as soon as we finished and then asking if they could spray the table…taking the hint we left. Thankfully we had the half mile walk back to Doris to walk off some of the ice cream and cream sitting heavily in our tummies….however by the time we got back to Doris I was desperate for something savoury (most unlike me I know people will say!) so managed to grab a couple of bags of crisps from the ice cream van in the car park…….
Leaving Seaham we sat in traffic for about 45 minutes before finally managing to get onto the A19 to head up for Newcastle and Hadrians Wall.
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Parking in Housesteads car park we asked how far it was to Sycamore Gap and were assured it was only about a mile and ¾ away…….thinking that was fine we had loads of time before sunset we set off along the wall. The plan being that I would run to where we needed to be and run back to Colin, however as he has such long legs and walks so darn quickly and I run so darn slowly there wasn’t any running back involved, there was a lot of stops to take photos though as the views were absolutely amazing, simply stunning in every direction. It was so easy to picture the roman guards walking the wall on sentry duty and the slaves building the wall. It was a very privileged feeling to be running by the side of it to be honest and I would love the opportunity to run more of it, how they got the stones up the hills is an amazing feat.
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When we got to the Sycamore Gap, it was nearing 7pm and we were concerned about timing for walking all the way back to collect the equipment and for me to change and to get back in time for sunset. Fortunately 2 climbers were just finishing up and explained how they were parked about a mile in the other direction and kindly gave me a lift back to Doris so I could get her closer and save some time. This meant we were able to get the kettle on and have something to eat before being back at the tree for the sun setting. Unfortunately we also realised we had forgotten the tripod – improvising well Colin used his rucksack! Just as Colin took the final shots, the last walkers were heading towards us and I realised as we were talking to them that one of them was Charlie Hunnan, Jax from Sons of Anarchy for those that don’t know or Byker Grove for the much older ones among us! At least I am 99% sure it was him! Due to my shyness and not wanting to intrude I didn’t ask for a photo you will just have to take my word for it!

Final cups of tea and flasks made for the journey home, we set off, wishing inside the bed was fitted and that we could have stayed out but next time we hopefully will be.
All in all, a fabulous bank holiday weekend, made better of course by it being the first one in years that the sun has actually shone all weekend and only marred by Kelly not being able to join us for one of our last long weekends together before her university adventures begin…………

You never know I may be allowed to guest blog again, although Kelly may need to give me a word limit!

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