We had planned a drive round to see some of the sights we enjoyed last time and were rewarded with glorious weather. We headed south towards Ullswater stopping at the peaceful Glencoyne Bay to admire the view. Then 1500 feet up the 1:8 hill over the Kirkstone Pass. We decide to take the minor road down to Ambleside and the shores of Lake Windemere. The road is called the Struggle but nothing ventured. We take advantage of the National Trust membership to park at Fell Foot, on the shores of Lake Windemere, near Newby Bridge. Last time we came we were forced back to the car by heavy rain after a few minutes. This is a lovely spot with families enjoying the school holidays and the lake.
Somehow we find ourselves hiring a kayak. Whose silly idea was this? Oh, it appears to have been mine! I have to fill in a form as the responsible adult of the party – in other words the one who had their reading glasses with them. I have to state the ages of other members of my party; ‘ancient’ seems to be sufficient. We were squeezed into life jackets. ‘Have we kayaked before?’, we are asked. The fisherman of my acquaintance has not but I have. I neglect to mention that it was more than forty years ago. A few practice strokes with the paddle and we are let loose on Lake Windermere. We debate the relative risks of taking our valuables with us (we might capsize) or leaving them with the kayak man (they might get stolen) and opt for the former. We choose the quieter end of the lake, taking careful note of warnings of weirs and faster currents. Paddling for 45 minutes is actually quite hard work but I am determined to get value for what was quite a lot of money. I am not quite sure what I am doing wrong but I manage to soak all my below the waist clothing to the skin. It is incredibly hot but even so I do not dry off on the walk back to the car. We decide to cope with the situation by my removing my trousers, covering myself up with my jumper and sitting on my plastic rain poncho. It really is rather too hot for sitting on plastic but needs must.
As we leave the car park we witness an interesting incident where a van towing a trailer designed to hold canoes is being driven, fairly badly, out of the car park. The driver misjudges the turn and then has to reverse. As she (and I hate to admit it was a she) was incapable of going forwards there is really no hope of her going backwards and so it proves. Chris restrains himself from offering to help and after several abortive forward and back motions her colleagues unhitch the trailer and manoeuvre it manually. Astonishingly she has managed to avoid hitting any of the parked cars in the process but the anticipation that she might do so was entertaining.
Not wanting to retrace our steps, we drive home the slightly longer way through the Grizedale Forest. A sign warns us of delays due to road works and suggests we seek another route. At this stage there isn’t really another route so we proceed, only to find that the promised ‘long delays’ are non-existent. A little further on a fellow motorist coming in the opposite direction suggests we turn round because the road is blocked by an accident. Again we ignore the warning and again our decision is vindicated as the road is not remotely closed. Back at the site I have to get from car to van without anyone noticing I am imperfectly dressed. We manage this with the use of car and caravan doors and Chris wielding my coat like a matador. This of course serves only to attract the attention of any passing caravaners.