While Nikki’s cousin Mark was visiting, we popped into Chester’s Grosvenor Museum.
Nothing unusual there, we go there all the time, to take part in the Chester Globetrotters meeting.
But that’s in the lecture theatre, and this time we decided to actually peruse the museum itself.
An amazing exhibition called End of the season, talked about North Wales holidays in the late 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s.
All about how they became an institution, but inevitably fell by the wayside.
Most of my childhood holidays were off this kind, so I found it fascinating.
Made me think though. The adventure season is coming to an end.
Pretty much from the beginning of April, until sometime in September each year, I celebrate what I call the UK adventure season.
I still go on overseas trips, but I try to do as many adventure weekends away in the UK as I can to make the most of the UK weather.
And I realise that this years is coming to an end…
So, the final 3 adventures I did, are captured in brief bellow. Have a a look and see what you think.
Remember, April isn’t far away, and its just a question of getting out and doing it.
Return to Hartington Hall YHA and the Peak district.
Earlier in the year, I visited Hartington Hall youth hostel (a solo trip, I walked from Buxton).
At the time I went, while Nikki was Skiing.
I enjoyed it so much, that we decided to visit it together and have a weekend in the lakes.
Most of our weekends, begin with a walk.
The reason for this is simple. Instead of a 2 day weekend break, we normally take the Friday off, get up really early and do the first of 3 walks then.
We found a cracking circular walk on walking world that took in Mam Tor and Castleton among other places.
Reaching the top and catching site of paragliders was pretty amazing.
We leave the walk, and make for Hartington, and our home for the weekend.
The little village is really nice, and on Friday evening has a van which sells chips.
With a bag of chips, I sit by the lake/pond in the centre of town.
After checking into the youth hostel and getting cleaned up, we have dinner and a few drinks in the hostel bar.
Our second day, and we choose a walk called the Hartington Lollipop.
I wasn’t too enthusiastic, and considered it a bit of a “filler in” type of walk.
I couldn’t have been more wrong, we wandered along rivers and meadows, and the weather was fantastic the whole time.
We stopped along the way at this little pub called the Watts Russel Arms (strange name, but brilliant pub).
Inside, the landlord had an extensive book collection for guests to look at, which he talked me through.
It was so nice, that we stayed for a 2nd drink.
Farther along, we reached a spot which seemed vaguely familiar.
Then I remembered. Last year I went to the YHA association AGM and gave a talk on social media for walking groups.
After lunch, we’d gone out on a walk and Graham and I had extended it. I remember realising I’d lost my wallet at a rest stop.
When I came back (to an area packed with walkers) it was still there.
I gave the children who found it £2 (which apart from cards, was all the money that was in it 🙂
Wandering back through open fields, its a perfect day and I’m looking forward to another evening relaxing with Nikki.
Our room was quite cosy, but with central heating and an on-suite bathroom for £32 per night represented amazing value.
It’s one of those things where although the room is really nice, I spend practically no time in it apart from sleeping and getting ready, as I’m always out either walking, dining out or drinking in friendly pubs.
After a quick shower and changing into Rohan Goa’s (well I did anyway) we head into town, have dinner in the Devonshire Arms and a couple of drinks later at the Charles Cotton hotel.
But nothings perfect, and now the disappointing part.
After a fantastic breakfast at the Youth Hostel, we head out for the day.
This time were doing a walk from Monyash. I hadn’t been here, since Frank and I walked the Limeston way all those years ago.
Back then, we’d walked all day and arrived at the campsite. We couldn’t find anywhere to book in, until we found a sign that said “go to pub”.
We found the farmer in the pub, paid him and went back to set up our tent.
Back at the pub, we had dinner. It was so busy that I remember we had to eat it on plates standing up.
In the morning, there was a cafe that served breakfast. With far too many customers to fit inside, I’ll always remember a lovely Sunday morning with perfect sunshine and about 30 people sitting out on the flags drinking tea and eating bacon butty’s 🙂
But in actual fact, the place was rather empty. The circular walk we had planned just involved walking through fields in appalling weather.
So bad in fact that after a drink in the pub at the halfway point, we just walked back along the road to our starting point.
On the way, I saw this, which lifted my spirits.
I dont know if you can see, but its a recycle bin that’s meant to say clothes and shoes.
Instead, someone has rubbed our some letters and the sign now says “clothes and hoes” !
But this kind of mixed fortune is what makes a weekend away that bit more fun.
And as you’ll see from the following section, considering the good look we’ve had throughout the adventure season, we’ve more then compensated for the bad luck we were due.
Lake district Bank holiday.
Our next trip is back to the lake district and the beautifull town of Keswick that Lee Sawbridge introduced me too 25 years ago.
We’ve had some good and bad luck with camping over bank holidays in the lakes previously, but were confident this time it would be ok.
The campsite on the lake at Keswick is without doubt the best one I’ve stayed at in this country.
Up early on Friday, breakfast and coffee in the car, we head for Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England.
We’d had a good crack at it earlier in the year, but the weather had turned us back.
So looking at the weather above, it wasn’t sunny but it was quite nice for the UK.
And it lasted for about the first 20 minutes of the walk, then the heavens opened for the rest of the day.
I like to think I look “windswept” in this photo on the top.
But I’m told by Nikki I just look bedraggled and soaking wet.
I’m not one for standing on top of peaks and chatting so barely a minute later, were off back down the hill.
Back to our camp-site.
We didn’t have the spot we wanted and the ground was soaking.
Like I said, fortune is overdue to give us some bad luck !.
But when the cloud clears, you can see the view from our front porch on the tent.
It’s a lovely site, as you can see, there are quad bikes and boats parked so its all about adventure.
A new restaurant in Keswick sells Mexican and Tapas, (Bar Es) so there was no real question where we were going for dinner.
Couple of pints in the Royal Oak (which for 20 years I’ve known as the Keswick Lodge) for old times sake.
The following day, we head out early and get breakfast at a cafe in the town.
We wander around the shops, and I see a shop selling axes and other bushcraft stuff.
There’s an exhibition on at Keswick museum about Alfred Wainwright, one of my heroes so we spend a couple of hours in there.
In the photo above, you can see Wainwright’s “haversack” and tweed jacket which he wore on his 13 year exploration of the lakes.
If you were seen out in gear like that today, you’d be called a lunatic and told to go home !.
At lunchtime we decide to wander around the lake.
Not exactly Anapurna, but a nice walk all the same, and a stop at the halfway point of the Mary Mount for a drink (a pint obviously).
We head back into town for a treat at the Keswickian chippy (probably the best in-shore chippy in the UK).
Nikki wants to get ready and relax before dinner with a glass of wine in the tent.
I realise there’s an old cinema there, so have other plans.
With the Man from Uncle showing 20 mins later, I take my leave off Nikki and head off to watch the film (its a small place, and after paying my money, I’m given something that looks like a bus ticket 🙂
Film was quite good, and all the better for being shown in a traditional cinema atmosphere.
I head back, get cleaned up, and this time, its Italian for dinner and a few drinks around the town.
Up early, we have breakfast on the hill, as we head for the peak of Skiddaw. A cracking mountain that overlooks Keswick.
I’m really looking forward to it, as last time I was hear, I met Sir Chris Bonnington (one of my personal heroes and one of the proudest moments of my life).
A lot steeper than I remember (but last time we broke the trip up with an overnight at Skiddaw house).
Another foul day, but ultimately, we reach the top.
Dinner and drinks again in the town, up early the next morning (thanks to the numb skull we were camped next too), we pack our gear and head for home.
Long weekend in Anglesy and Snowdonia.
I honestly think that if my brother lived in France, I’d see more of him.
It’s one of those classic situations, where my home town of Manchester is so “near” that something comes up and I can always go “next week”.
In fairness though, I also think the pace of life, is much faster now (or feels that way) than its ever been. I finish work for the weekend on Friday evening sometimes, and in a blink its Sunday morning !.
Brilliant news, was that David and his lovely wife Leigh had got a cottage in Anglesey for a week, and invited us to join them for the weekend.
Not wanting to wast a single minute of the weekend, we once again took Friday off work, had toast and coffee in the car, and headed straight to North Wales for an exciting day walk.
On the way, we stop at Fitzpatricks cafe in Bethesda which along with its amazing food and atmosphere, was really popular with bikers, as it had a motorbike in the window.
From here, we continue to the Ogwen valley but the cloud cover is really bad, so we decide on a low level walk, around some lakes.
Our first circuit was around Cwm Idwal, where we spotted a woman in a bathing costume swimming in the lake (I thought for a moment that we might have to rescue here, and wasn’t really sure how we would do it 🙂
We move to our 2nd lake, Llyn Ogwen with superb views of the Ogwen valley and Treffan where there are superb hills, which I’m determined to return and climb (so much so, that I bought a special map from Fitzpatricks).
We briefly make a stop off in Bangor and have a revelation.
Most of the places I go back to and visit, are much more run down than they were when I was last there x years ago.
In this case, the whole town has been done up, and the grim pub I remember visiting is now an up market shop !.
With the days adventures complete, we drive across to Anglesey to meet up with Dave and Leigh. The cottage can only be described as superb, with en-suit rooms, massive tv, opulent kitchen, and an amazing view across the straits back to Bangor.
We get showered and changed in our beautiful room, then spend an hour catching up with David & Leigh.
There’s a nice pub nearby on the waterfront, so we head to the Gazzelle for dinner.
After an amazing chilli and brilliant company we head back to the cottage. Everyone is going to bed, but I realise that the original Fast and the furious film is on ITV, so I decide to stay up and watch it.
It’s been that long since I watched normal tv, that I’d forgotten, its stops every 25 mins, for the adverts.
I just couldn’t deal with that, so I went to bed !.
I get up bright and early, and start work on various projects on my laptop (the wifi coverage was superb).
A bit of a lazy morning, we decide were going to visit South Stack lighthouse (a favourite venue of my mother when she was alive).
The first leg, was arriving at the RSPB sanctuary on the top, overlooking the lighthouse (we had some really nice coffee).
The place has special meaning for Nikki and I. We came here 3 years ago with the walking group.
I think its the first time’s we realised we were fond of each other.
When we walked down to the lighthouse, and crossed the bridge onto the Island, I saw this spectacular view back across the cliffs.
I get a bit sick of constantly being charged to visit National Trust sites (I know they cost money and all the rest of it, but sometimes I’ve paid £5 to visit a farmyard and get a cup of coffee).
When I was told there was an entrance fee for the lighthouse I wasn’t impressed.
But I thought it was just to be allowed on the Island. I didn’t realise you got a tour of the whole facility (including a walk to the top of the lighthouse), and they had a really good museum as well.
On the way back, we nip to the supermarket to get supplies for the evening.
Dave and Leigh are here for a whole week, but we’ve only got one day, so we leave them to go back, so we can continue exploring.
We find a nice pub and have a couple of drinks, then since were on holiday, visit the town of Menai bridge and get some chips.
We follow a path through some woods to the coastline of Anglesey.
Years ago, I camped out between the 2 bridges for nearly a week with a budget of £15. All the memories come flooding back.
As we continue along, we pass under the Menai bridge, and I get the photo I’m delighted with.
Back to the cottage, we cook dinner and have a relaxing evening.
In the morning, its breakfast on the terrace, and up early for me and Nikki.
Dave and Leigh are going to get the train up to the top of Snowdon.
Nikki and I area going to walk up, using a route we’ve not used before (well, we’ve walked down it, but never up).
From here, we’ll all meet up at the cafe on the top. Quite an exciting co-ordinated plan, and I’m really looking forward to it.
We were worried about congestion, as the tour of Britain would be passing through here on the same day, but needn’t have worried.
We park up in Llanberis and hit the trail.
I’ve given us two and a half hours to get to to the top, and I realise three and a half would have been better.
Like the Para’s marching to Goose Green, we blast off up the hill (well, kind off. I was puffing and panting for most off it).
Cloud cover is very low that day, and within an hour, it looks like this.
It’s all very nice when mountaineers answer the question “why do you climb” with “because its there” but the reality is its nice to have something to look at as well, and this wasn’t doing much for me.
Anyway, we have a date with destiny (well, David and Leigh actually) so no time for contemplation.
Then Nikki mentions that the trains have been going up every half hour at first, but we haven’t heard one in over an hour.
And then, 150 metres from the top, I get a text from Dave.
The f***ing train has broken down (my words, not his) and his train (behind it) has been cancelled.
Back down the hill we go at a much faster pace.
We get back to Llanberris, and I get to see the the ramblers bar at the Padern lake hotel, the mountain photograph ship and Pete’s Eats.
All the things I remember from my youth.
The end of a brilliant weekend, and the end of another fantastic UK adventure season.
Near and far, the search for adventure continues…