Lakes of Love (Extended Wet & Wild Weekend at Ullswater)

Just got back from them Lakes of District fame, they certainly were as wet as the pictures claim. Essentially landscape porn for the less exploited senses but that’s alright as we all entered accepting the terms & conditions. We all knew we’d gone on holiday by mistake and the only thing worse than being from London is finding out there’s no such place as Penrith Tea Rooms & all the pub scenes from Bruce Robinson’s quotastic boozefest Withnail & I were filmed in Milton Keynes AAAAARGGGHH!!1^£&*”#

By cheating in driving halfway up the back of Hellin into Martindale we could’ve been accused of going for the briefly very steep yet sexy vantage point. Alas all se7en of us made it (the four Manger ladies comprising my ladylove’s mother, two sisters and their respective suitors). Wasn’t sure if that Giant Jenga game-shaped monument atop said hilltop wasn’t a case of add a rock every time a new walker reaches the summit & if so grave pity the unlucky bugger who becomes trapped under-stone-pile of his own achievement with no heroic yappy-type dog or companion to carefully reassemble him loose. Whilst clambering and roving around Ullswater it struck me how miniature and insignificant the model of man can appear and how that is probably a lesson we would more often do well to remember.

Celestial Intervention like heaven's outside boghouse light

Today driving home the scenic route we attracted rather too much negative attention in a souped-up Subaru with engine revs like Obelix’s rumbling stomach amped up to Motohead’s PA. Regular rambling folk who ironically seem pretty skimpish on the jibba-jabba from my experience don’t seem to appreciate being reminded they’re traipsing down a narrow country lane towards speeding blocks of molten alloys in what is probably a loveless marriage and perpetual drizzle with visibility equivalent to that of Prince Philip in a sauna full of fruit bats. Still dramatic and impressionable scenery where the mists cleared to reveal sadly no Gorillas but instead white deathmasks which appeared to be stuck over various floating hawthorn hedgerows but remembering Robert Plant’s advice (“If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow – don’t be alarmed now“) I quickly realised they were but a different breed of hardy sheep (known as Herdwick) to the ones we’re used to encountering among Middle Earth.

We stopped for lunch at the Tower Hill Barn Pub as featured in Beatrix Potter’s renowned Tales of Jemima Puddleduck written over a century ago but considering she didn’t drink; {and therefore failed to live(r) up to her Christian name – Dylan Thomas surely gave juggling pint glasses a go} it seems to be more inspired by the animals outside & around the pub where Beatrix seemed more interested in dictating their gossipy twee fun club. A shame really as I entrust all my heroes to become as flawed and irreversibly washed out as the rest of us regardless of their time of death (the best anecdote the landlord could muster involved her chasing a ball into the neighbour’s field opposite damaging the dry-stone wall which are pretty much impossible to maintain anyroad – oh how she must’ve been quite the card).

The landlord showed me a photograph of the pub as taken by a concentration camp survivor upon his return in 1946 who probably ended up finding the village’s contrast with his ordeal so extreme that he became overburdened by his newfound freedom and killed himself to finally silence the endless torturous cries of anguish. Or maybe he just shrugged and chuckled sagely.

Mine's a pitcher of sunchaser with ice on the rocks

As the largest of the national parks the lakes seem to host a steady trickle of seasoned trekkers throughout the winter months with ramshackle slate buildings protected by heritage and rustic charm (awww heck even the stormy gales just can’t stay mad at ‘em and the valley shielding the worst of the elements don’t seem to hurt either). Most every pub is a fair couple o hundred years old as well offering decent ale, chipbowls a-go-go, warming fireside until your toes wiggle back to life and first incarnation sci-fi literature (might wanna ring ahead for that last one). Oh and they’re all called Traveller’s Rest or some slight variant thereof which seems a fairly safe assumption rather like calling your pub Drinker’s Piss.

Until next time

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