The Retirees go Abroad – The Lakes District – Keswick

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Monday and we have planned a trip to the Lakes District with a stay at Keswick where we will meet Joe and Sue Scanlan, former neighbours from Toowoomba. Things do not get off to a good start. There is a problem with the Amex card and Kerry has dropped her IPhone smashing her screen. This throws out our plans and we end up having to travel to Sheffield to have the phone repaired.

In Sheffield we go to a modern shopping centre on the outskirts. It is huge or at least the car park is huge. We get the phone fixed but it is still a long trip to Keswick along a minor road the A66 which takes us into the Lakes District through Penrith. This brings us onto a road repair that has traffic backed up for miles. It turns out to be a hole in the road under repair but abandoned for the day by the workmen leaving the traffic to sort itself out. This caused over half an hour of stop start traffic and we did not get into Keswick before 4.00pm.

We are staying in a B&B called Hall Garth. It is a three story home in a street of three story homes most of which are B&Bs with no vacancy signs in the window. Our room is pleasant and the B&B well located within an easy walk of the town centre. So we use the rest of the afternoon to check out the centre and meet up with Joe and Sue.

We finally meet up and have dinner at a local pizza restaurant before going home. The B&B breakfast the next morning is big enough for two people but it sets us up for the day. We have planned to walk along the old Keswick rail line toward Thekeld, turning off to go to the Castlerigg Stone Circle returning to the town via Spring Farm. The walk along the old rail line is very interesting. They have pulled up the rail line but the bridges are still in place with new decking. The path is crossed by the river as it winds through the valley and it is very romantic to stroll along listening to the river and seeing the sun reflecting through the trees. The path is crossed by a major overpass which according to the plaque below won the prize as the best engineered concrete overpass in 1999.

Once we leave the path we walk through cow paddocks before reaching a road where we made our way up to the stones. Before we could reach the stones we encountered a gallery with photography of the remoter parts of the district. Stunning photography. Outside in the courtyard an old man sits in the sun looking proudly on at his restored 1927 Sunbeam motor bike with its acetylene gas lamp for a head light. The stones sit atop a hill and although not as large as Stone Henge they are just as old. It was constructed as a part of a megalithic tradition that lasted from 3,300 to 900 BC, during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Ages. Every year, thousands of tourists travel to the site. This plateau forms the raised centre of a natural amphitheatre created by the surrounding fells and from within the circle it is possible to see some of the highest peaks in Cumbria: Helvellyn, Skiddaw, Grasmoor and Blencathra.

We depart across a style and down a lane cross over some more fields through some gates and finally down a steep path to the cafe of Spring Farm where we have lunch and recover after over three hours in the field.

After a rest we go home for a cup of tea and a lie down. Soon we are up again to take a tour on the hop on hop off bus. But the bus is not typical. Whilst it is a double decker the buses go different routes and there is not one route viewing the highlights. So we travel out to Seatoller where we hop off and our bus turns around going back to Keswick.

Seatoller was once the home to the mine workers at Hollister Slate Mine and since the closure of the mine there is not much there.  Attractions around the mine complex include a visitor centre, underground tours of the workings, and England’s first via ferrata, where participants use a safety harness to scale a cliff path.

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We had hoped to catch a smaller no 77 bus to travel up through the hills and back around to Keswick but the damned thing did not turn up until it was too late for us to get back to Keswick for dinner with Joe and Sue so with heavy hearts we returned to Keswick without going beyond Seatoller. But we made it to the Pheasant Inn for dinner and a good thing too. On the way home we found the hotel with the longest name “The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas” in memory of a 17th century jurist born in Keswick and formerly until 2000 the Police Station and Magistrates court.

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