Tag Archives: england

Lake District Bank Holiday Loveliness

29 Aug

It was August Bank Holiday weekend, and for the third year running that meant an escape to the Lakes.

I stayed in my lovely vegan B&B Fox Hall in Kendal, which is always a pleasure, and being looked after by Sylvia and Chris always does me the world of good. It’s only 30 mins from the central Lakes so a great location for me.

I headed over on Saturday morning. The weather wasn’t great, and the Lakes were absolutely heaving. My original plan was to head into Keswick to have lunch at The Lakeland Pedlar, but Keswick was so busy and it was chucking down with rain so everyone was driving about like a nutter, that I thought I would give it a miss. I drove down to Grasmere, which was much quieter, and had a lovely bowl of soup and gf bread at Greens instead.

I then drove over to Elterwater where I parked up and walked along the Cumbria Way to Skelwith Bridge to have a coffee at Chesters by the River. Chesters make a pretty amazing coffee – probably my second favourite. First place goes to Flat White Durham mostly because I adore the barista boys and girls that work there, they are such sweeties. After coffee it was a walk in the rain back to the car, and then over to Fox Hall to check in and chill out.

Sunday morning was mixed – there were showers and the high peaks were covered in cloud. A friend from the NE drove over to join me for a walk. We set off from Grasmere and walked up to Easedale Tarn. The original plan was to head up Sergeant Man, but the cloud was right down and my walking companion was struggling a bit so we had lunch at Stickle Tarn, and then headed across the ridge to Silver How before descending to Grasmere.

It was was a really nice day’s walking, and I really enjoyed myself. We headed over to Chesters after the walk for a coffee, and some cake for my walking companion.

Bank Holiday monday dawned with torrential rain and cloud down to floor level. Frankly, it was vile.

 

I was meant to be meeting Amy for a walk. Amy now lives in St Bees, but used to live in the NE and walked with our Ramblers group. We met up, but decided the weather was far too disgusting for the walk we had originally planned so we cut the walk short and spent 2 hours in a coffee shop instead having a catch up and watching the vile weather out of the window.

After Amy headed home I went into Ambleside for a wander around the shops and a short walk in the rain. Then it was back to Fox Hall to get showered and changed before heading out for a meal. I had booked dinner at Lancrigg, the vegetarian country house hotel in Grasmere. I was thinking about booking there for Christmas this year, but wanted to go for a meal to see what the food was like before I did so.

Sadly, I was very disappointed with the food. Despite mentioning on several occasions that I was vegan and allergic to wheat I still ended up sick the next day, so can only assume that dairy or wheat some sneaked into my meal somewhere. I had the falafel for starter, which turned up with sourdough bread and had to be sent back. When it arrived back without sourdough bread it was ok, too heavy on the mint in my opinion. My main course was puy lentil shepherds pie. It was dull and too heavy on the celery – I hate celery and it was all I could taste. I make a better puy lentil shepherds pie myself, and it came with rather dull steamed veg. The portion was small and it was very disappointing. For dessert I chose the chocolate, toffee nut sundae. I was given some melted chocolate ice-cream in a glass – there was no toffee or nut as far as I could tell, just a lot of melted cheap chocolate ice cream with ice crystals in it – and they charged £6 for this?! The meal came to £30 for the three courses, and no alcohol (I don’t drink). It was exceptionally overpriced for the quality of food, and I was very, very disappointed. It was useful to go because it meant that I realised I did not want to book in for Christmas there at all. Such a shame as this was my birthday ‘treat’ meal out.

On Tuesday the weather was much much better, but it was also the day I was going home. Boooo hiss!

I decided to walk in Patterdale on the way home, so drove over to Cow Bridge and parked up the car. The walk I had planned was Dove Crag and Little Hart Crag: about 8 miles. It was magnificent.

 

It was pretty windy on the top, but I managed to hunker down behind a dry stone wall so that I could enjoy the view with my lunch. The view from the top was great because I could look down the valley to Patterdale, but also in the other direction I could look over to the Langdales, and Ambleside and Windermere – the Lake District really was laid out all around me. Fantastic.

Sadly, it was then time to go home, but I can’t be too sad because after 1 day to clean my clothes I’m off again tomorrow down to Hay-on-Wye for a night, and then on to Pembrokeshire again!

Hurrah for holidays!

 

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Craster to Warkworh, Northumberland

12 Aug

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Gorgeous day for hiking. The sun shone, the views were spectacular, what more could you ask for?

We met at Warkworth and car shared up to Craster, where we joined the Northumberland Coastal path and headed south to Howick, then Boulmer, then Alnmouth (where we paused for lunch and an ice-cream) then onwards for the final 4 miles down the fantastic sandy beach to Warkworth.

Today it felt like summer might finally be here. 

Lakes Long Weekend

30 Jul

After a very, very busy July with work, I booked in a long weekend in the Lake District to recover. 🙂

So, on Friday Sean and I headed off for the Langdale Valley. We were booked to be staying on the National Trust campsite at the bottom of the Langdale Valley. Daniel and Nicola, also from Darlington Dales and Hills, were joining us and the plan was for a long weekend of big walks.

Sean and I arrived at lunch time, got the tents up in glorious sunshine, and decided to have an afternoon ramble up Lingmoor Fell and down to Chapel Stile before heading back along the valley to the campsite.

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It was hot going in the sunshine, but the views of Crinkle Crags and the Langdale Pikes was absolutely stunning. We really enjoyed the walk, how could you not wish such fabulous weather and scenery. When we got back we sat in the sun for a while before getting a shower and changed and walking down the road to the Sticklebarn pub.

Last year I was really pleased with the Sticklebarn because it did an amazing vegan curry. Unfortunately, it looks like the place has been bought by the National Trust who have completely changed the menu, and now there is nothing vegan on it. 😦 I ended up with a salad, some peanuts and some chips for tea, which was disappointing. However, despite the food disaster we had a nice evening there people watching.

We got back to the campsite at 11, just as Nicola was finishing putting up her tent. Unfortunately Daniel decided not to come because he was suffering from both a bad back and a cold. It was late and had started to drizzle, so there was just enough time to wish Nicola goodnight and head off to bed.

The next morning the weather was damp and drizzly. This was the view from my tent:

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I had breakfast, got myself together, and the three of us set off for St Bees to visit Andy and Amy, former members of Darlington Dales and Hills who moved to Cumbria a few months ago. The plan was to see their fabulous new cottage and have a walk along the coast with them.

Sean decided to drive to St Bees over the most terrifying mountain passes, with steep gradients and tight hairpin bends. It was fabulous scenery but a bit scary in such wet and grey weather. It was still raining when we arrived at St Bees, and was blowing a gale on the coast. However, undeterred we set off with Andy and Amy on our walk. The walk was really nice, and followed the first section of the Coast to Coast path for several miles. As we walked the weather got better and better, and by the time we arrived back in St Bees the weather was glorious!

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After having a reviving cuppa at Andy and Amy’s house we left them in peace and headed back to Great Langdale for a shower and then into Ambleside for dinner. 

We went to Zeferellis for dinner. Zeferellis is a vegetarian restaurant with lots of vegan options. The restaurant was busy when we arrived, but they suggested we went upstairs to eat in the Jazz Cafe. The menu was just about the same, but it was more informal and there was a great jazz band to enjoy whilst we ate. It ended up being a fantastic evening, with excellent food, and great music. We stayed all evening, long after we finished eating. I really enjoyed Zeferellis and plan to eat there again when I go back to the Lakes in August.

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After a night of extensive rain Sunday was big walk day, and I took the three of us up to Stickle Tarn and then up Pavey Arc, Harrison Stickle and Pike of Stickle before looping around and coming back down the Cumbria Way. The weather when we set off was wet, but just like the day before, improved as the walk continued.

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By the time we were heading down at the end of the day the weather was pretty nice. We got back to the campsite and had a quick shower before heading to Chesters on the River and Skelworth Bridge for coffee and in Nicola and Sean’s case huge slabs of cake!

Sadly Nicola had to go home then, but Sean and I continued into Ambleside, dodged the rain showers for a bit, and then had dinner at a Thai restaurant in town who had an early evening meal deal on. After dinner we had a coffee in Esquires before driving back to the campsite. It was still fairly early so we walked to the Old Dungeon Gyll Hotel for a few drinks before bed. We sat outside under a canopy and watched the rain absolutely hammer down. 

It rained heavily all night, and was still raining as we packed down the tents. After several days of big walks we decided to have a slightly more gentle day today, and with improving weather I took Sean on one of my favourite walks around Loughrigg from Elterwater. 

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We dodged the showers all day, but managed to stay mostly dry. The walk took us right past Chesters so we stopped there for lunch and a coffee, sitting in the warm sunshine, before finishing he walk about 2.30pm. 

It was an absolutely fantastic weekend. I had a fabulous time and despite the weather being really mixed, with rather too much rain, I think it would have been difficult to have have a better time. I’m back in the Lakes for the August Bank Holiday weekend and really cannot wait to get up in the hills there again.

Narrow Boats and Lunar Landscapes

24 Jun

This weekend we had 20 members of the Darlington Dales and Hills in North Yorkshire for wet weekend!

We headed down on Friday night through awful storms and roads that were flooding all around us. What is it with the weather this summer? We were staying in Clapham near Ingleton in North Yorkshire, and when we arrived it was absolutely pouring down and the river running through the village was threatening to burst it’s banks.

We unpacked and after a quick one in the local pub, headed back to The Old Manor House to unpack and have a few drinks in the bar there. 

The next morning we got up fairly early and headed to Skipton where we had hired two canal boats; ‘Bill’ & ‘Ben’, for the day and evening, on the Leeds to Liverpool canal.

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We had a fantastic time on the canals all day, chugging along enjoying the view and drinking lots of cups of coffee.
 
The next day we went out for a hike in Crummackdale. Enclosed on three sides by pale-grey escarpments, the walled fields and green lanes of Crummackdale are ringed by an almost lunar landscape, scoured by a glacier 15,000 years ago. The weather was really mixed: plenty of rain, plenty of sun, and moody skies all day, but the walking was fantastic.
 
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School Trip

26 May

Friday 25th May, for ‘team building’, 16 over-excited women high on sugar and one very patient male tour-guide, hopped on the bus in Durham (and Newcastle) and headed out for a day’s adventure in Northumberland, and what a day for it, the weather was absolutely glorious!

Lisa and Lidsay at the back of the bus – caffeine and excitement, a dangerous combination!

First stop, once we were all on the bus, was Craster Shoreline Cafe for tea and cakes! Sadly nothing vegan or wheat-free on their menu, so it was just coffee for me (and a Nakd bar I’d sneaked into my handbag) whilst everyone else munched on huge homemade scones. All the windows were wide open and we had glorious views of the sparkling sea whilst we enjoyed our morning coffee break.

Craster Harbour

After the trip to the tea shop we wandered through Craster. Some of the group dropped into the kipper shop to buy some famous traditional smoked kippers, whilst the rest of us walked along the coast to Dunstanburgh Castle

Walking along the path to the castle.

After our stroll we all got back on the bus and drove up the coast to Seahouses where we were having lunch. Lunch was arranged at the Bamburgh Castle Inn. Alex, our fab tour guide from Northern Secrets had made sure there was something I can eat so we sat down to a massive 2 course lunch. I had homemade tomato soup to start (delicious) followed by a lovely salad (lettuce, tomato, carrot, cucumber, apple, pear, olives and pineapple). Everyone really enjoyed their lunch but were completely defeated by the portions, especially since they had all been eating scones about an hour before!

Keeping it glam on the boat!

After lunch we headed down to the harbour and joined the Billy Shiels boat trip (Glad Tidings IV) to go over to the Farne Islands to see the seals and the birds. The boat trip takes you around some of the islands where you can see the birds nesting on the cliffs and flying or floating all around you. They also take you to see the grey seal colony. After 45 minutes of sailing around they land on one of the islands so that you can go and look at the nesting birds.

Looking back to the mainland with Bamburgh Castle

The birds are pretty tame, and will happily sit there on their nest whilst you get up really close. A lot of the birds had chicks in their nest that you could see too. The puffins live in burrows, and are quite shy, so they tend to scuttle into their puffin-holes when you get close, they are so funny. I love their orange feet, I think they look like they are wearing wellies! (gum boots for my US readers)

The terns are the most aggressive of the birds. They nest really close to the paths and shriek at you if they think you are getting too close (it must be very stressful for them) they will also dive-bomb you if they are really pissed with you, so we were all recommended to wear a hat. Even so, they still had a go at everyone. It made me laugh so hard to see everyone ducking and scuttling along as the birds dived at them. L was particularly bothered by them and one bit her ear whilst she shrieked, “It bit me Bee, it bit my ear! It’s like Hitchcocks fucking Birds!” I nearly wet myself I was laughing so hard!

The bird on the left was sitting on an egg, when she stood up slightly you could see the chick was beginning to hatch out. The bird on the right was giving her snuggles, probably telling her what a clever mummy she was.

Can you see the chicks in the nest with her? She was grooming them whilst we photographed her. Isn’t her plumage gorgeous?

We caught the boat back to the mainland at 4.30pm and were back at the coach in Seahouses by 5pm. After a quick pause for a 99 ice-cream and a photo we headed home, a lot more quiet than we had been on the way there. We’d had a fabulous day out with Northern Secrets, and couldn’t have wished for better weather.

Jerveaux Abbey

22 May

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The DD&H had a lovely ramble in Wensleydale on Sunday 20th May. A fairly gentle 8.5 mile circular, which took in the ruins of Jerveaux Abbey, and for the rest of the group Brymor Ice-cream parlour. I just talked to the gorgeous cows instead. Considering the amount of ice-cream they were dishing out, there weren’t many cows in the fields surrounding the farm. I hope they weren’t all locked in a barn somewhere!

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The day before our hike in North Yorkshire I had a very enjoyable Saturday. I had a great long run on the treadmill (8 miles), and then went through to the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle to attend the UK Green Film Festival showing of Vegucated, which I really enjoyed. If you get a chance to see it, I highly recommend it.

Tomorrow (Wednesday 30th) is my workmate L’s birthday so I have been spending the evening cooking up a storm (vanilla cake and choc-choc chip cookies in a glass jar with chocolate ganache), seriously naughty!

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Treats in London

17 May

It’s been a ridiculously busy week, so apologies for being so tardy in posting on my blog.

This last weekend was a little holiday for me, after a busy Spring with lots of travel. I used my Hilton Honors points to treat myself to a lovely weekend in The Bentley Hotel in London. This was a really lovely hotel, located in Knightsbridge, a short walk from the Gloucester Road tub in a neighbourhood populated by lovely shops and coffee bars. It was really nice to stay somewhere luxurious and be pampered. I don’t think I would have been able to have afforded to stay here otherwise, so it really was quite a treat.

The reason for heading down to London was to attend the VIP Closing Ceremonies of the World Burlesque Games at Madam Jojos. But was also to do a bit of shopping, a bit of sight seeing, a lot of eating, and general pampering and relaxation.

We arrived on Saturday lunchtime, dumped the cases and headed for Portobello Market. We spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the stalls and people watching. After spending all afternoon exploring we headed to 222 Veggie Vegan for dinner.

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I’d wanted to eat at this restaurant for a while, and seeing as it was only a short walk from our hotel we decided to try it out.

We arrived about 6pm to find all of the tables with reservations on them! We thought our luck was out, butthe restaurant managed to fit us in seeing as it was early, so if you want to eat here my recommendation is to book (or go early like we did). L ordered the vegan roast and I ordered the mushroom and spinach raclette, which was a combination of spinach and tofu cottage cheese on a bed of roast potatoes, topped with sautéed oyster mushrooms and a light creamy sauce. It was delicious, I nearly licked the plate.

After the quality of the main course we both decided to have dessert. L chose the Spice Island Pie, cashew and almond cream flavoured with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg on a crunchy nut and coconut base. Sweetened with agave nectar, and I chose the raw Chocolate Torte. Again, both were absolutely delicious!

After our yummy meal, we walked back to the hotel. The housekeeping staff had been in to turn down the bed and put out chocolate and fruit for us (told you this hotel was posh). We let our dinner go down a bit and headed down to the hotel gym, followed by a session in the sauna. Fantastic!

Sunday we got up and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the hotel before heading to Spitalfields market. A bit of shopping, and then a stop at Rainforest Creations for one of their yummy salad boxes full of raw food goodies. I chose the Rainforest Box, which for £6 is an absolute bargain!

Later, after hitting the Up Market for a bit more shopping, we met up with one of L’s friends from her time studying at SOAS and went for an early curry dinner on Brick Lane. The food in the restaurant we chose was average, but cheap and filling, so no complaints really.

After filling up on veggie curry we headed back to the lovely hotel to get ready to head into Soho.

So, after getting glommed up we caught the Tube to Piccadilly and dropped into Jewel, a cocktail bar, for a couple of pre-night out drinkies.

I don’t drink so I opted for a ‘virgin’ Ginger Mocktail (fresh lime and ginger, topped with Schweppes ginger beer and a dash of grenadine) and L chose to go for a Cosmopolitan. After knocking back our drinks, we headed to Madam Jojos for the main event.

It was a fantastic evening, great people watching, and great entertainment. I would definitely go again, and seeing as they are planning a 10 day affair for 2013 next years looks like it is going to be bigger and even better!

On Monday we didn’t need to get the train home until 8pm that evening so we had the whole day to play. The down-side was that the weather was absolutely disgusting: rain and very cold!

We headed for the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square to attend the Freud Exhibition, which was very busy, but interesting. After that we went to Neal’s Yard to World Food Cafe for lunch.

I chose the meal of the day, which was baked shitake mushrooms with pine nuts, leeks, zucchini and celeriac puree. It was fantastic, probably the nicest meal that I ate all weekend (and that is saying something!), again, it was plate lickable! However, the service there was a bit slow. Not really a problem as we were in no rush and happily spent about 2 hours there watching people rushing about in the rain! We finished off with one of their hot chocolates (divine!) and then made our way back to the station to collect our luggage.

We finished our trip off with a visit to Drink, Shop & Do which is a fun and kitsch cafe just around the corner from Kings Cross Station where we drank tea and relaxed in the quiet cafe before heading into the chaos of the station to catch our train.

The whole weekend was brilliant. Exhausting, but brilliant. Can we do it again please?