18th October 2012 - 3rd November 2012

The Lake District
Thursday 18th October 2012
Park Coppice Caravan Club Site, Coniston, 54 21 04 N, 03 04 92 W, (185 Miles).

We were up early this morning and left Cannock Chase at 9:15 am to drive to PC World at New Oscott, Sutton Coldfield, to collect the lap-top before continuing our journey to the Lake District. Having three junctions to choose from to join the M6 we elected to drive to Great Barr, the nearest one, but one of the busiest parts of the motorway network, by choice we would have joined at Stoke-on-Trent our usual preference. We only stopped once at Charnock Richard Services between Junctions 27-28 in Lancashire for a “comfort break”, and to stretch our legs, we also picked up a 8 piece chicken (and fries) family bucket at KFC, which we ate in the comfort of the motorhome, we weren’t greedy though. . . we have left 4 pieces for tonight (no fries left though)! We arrived at Coniston at 2:46 pm our first visit to this site, which is situated in 63 acres of National Trust woodland with all the pitches grouped in open glades (better than the regimented straight lines of the normal CC sites) and there’s access from the bottom of the site across a field to Coniston Water. A longer drive than we normally do, backtracking almost18 mile to PC World not helping, however the traffic wasn’t too bad and the weather was dry, apart from a rain shower while we were in the services. 280 pitches all hardstanding and the site is quiet so we had the choice of pitches, choosing one in a glade not too far from the amenities, which was flat, so we didn’t need to use the ramps. As is our habit after we arrive at a site (even on short drives) we relaxed for the rest of the day, we will explore tomorrow, weather permitting.
Park Coppice Caravan Club Site.
Park Coppice Caravan Club Site.

Friday 19th October 2012
The only problem with pitching under trees, the Chinese water torture on the roof when it rains and the wind blows, still, unlike the two previous nights, no road traffic noise whatsoever and thinking of Kingsbury no aircraft noise either. It must have been quiet, we got up late! Late morning it had stopped raining and the cloud’s began to break up and we decided to walk down to Coniston Water. At five miles long, and with a maximum depth of 184 feet, Coniston Water is the third largest of the lakes and where Donald Campbell died on 4th January 1967 trying to break the world water speed record. It was all downhill to the small gate which exits the camp site and then walking across a flat field, following the track to the lake where we joined the lakeside path and a short distance to a small marina near Torver, managing to photograph an early winter visitor a Greylag Goose on its own amongst a flock of grazing Canadian Geese before retracing our steps to the camp site.
Coniston Water.
Coniston Water.

I then made two phone calls, the first to the garage we went to in Worcester in September for the “Fiat spare wheel re-call”. We thought that by visiting a Commercial dealer, they photographing our spare wheel in the garage, hence not requiring the re-work and taking all the required details, we would not receive any more reminder letters, wrong, Michael (on our behalf) received a “recorded delivery” reminder from Fiat yesterday. The Warranty Administrator remembered us and cannot understand why we have received another letter, he is going to re-submit the details, he also said it was the second phone call he had had on the same subject today and in that instance the customer had had the re-work done. So what chance to we have? The second phone call was to PC World and their Complaints Department, I was over 20 minutes on the phone and had to repeat the basis of the complaint to three different people, in the end we did have a result, they are going to re-imburse £50. We then spent time “playing catch-up” with the work we had put on the Sony laptop and copying it over to the Samsung and I haven’t done any major editing of photographs since the 18th September which I need to do. Friday night is . . . Fish & Chip night, yes, a Fish & Chip van visits the camp site on a Friday night, very nice they were too.

Saturday 20th October 2012
A walk this afternoon in warm sunshine to the village of Coniston which is approximately 2.5 miles away. Again exiting the camp site at the bottom we followed the “The Cumbria Way” through a camping area belonging to the National Trust and past a house with very peculiar (and ugly) chimneys, which we now know is Coniston Hall parts of which date back to the 16th century and is now used as part farmhouse and sailing club headquarters.
Coniston Hall.
Coniston Hall.

We reached a sign post which said Coniston Village one way and Coniston Pier the other both a ¼ mile away, we chose the village first as we needed milk and we browsed around the village shops before walking to the pier. I saw an unusual bird on the way there and the first time I have seen one since 1979 on the Nefyn Peninsula in Wales, a Blackbird with white markings on it's face. known as Leucism, or partial albino, unfortunately Jenny missed it and I was unable to get a photograph. We then walked down to the pier and had a cup of tea in the Bluebird Café as we watched the rebuilt Victorian steam-powered Gondola which sails the lake arrive at the pier.
Coniston Steam Gondola.
Coniston Steam Gondola.

We then strolled back to the camp site, just in time to listen to the football results, I wish I hadn’t bothered.

Sunday 21st October 2012
A relaxed morning reading (and cleaning) before having a walk this afternoon in brilliant sunshine. We decided to walk towards the Torver marina that we went to on Friday and continue further along the “Cumbria Way” alongside the water. We stopped when we arrived at another jetty and I didn’t realise until Jenny held on to me that the greatest part of it was floating and I hadn’t bought my Kwells with me, it certainly didn’t help in taking photographs from it! After walking for another 20 minutes we returned to the camp site by the same route, a cup of tea and a piece of Stollen (bought for Christmas) was welcome.
Coniston Walk.
Coniston Walk.

Monday 22nd October 2012
A relaxed day, which gave me the opportunity to edit some of the photographs I have taken in the past few weeks, which I didn’t want to do on the old Sony laptop with the earlier version of Adobe Elements and I did manage to get them almost up to date, that was until Rhiain texted me and asked me for some of the photographs that I took of Kura at Black Knowle before they left!

Tuesday 23rd October 2012
Can’t believe this weather, woke up again this morning with the temperature outside in double figures, the fourth day in a row. Requiring both bread & milk we thought we would walk again into Coniston to the small Co-operative supermarket in the centre of the village and knowing exactly where the shop was this time in relationship to the shore line we were able to “cut a corner” and shorten the distance, nevertheless it was still a walk of almost 3 miles. We enjoyed the cup of tea at the Bluebird Café “On The Lake” on Saturday so we decided that today we would have lunch there, sitting in the outside section surrounded by glass partitions it was very comfortable and we both chose a Beefburger with salad it was delicious. After lunch we had a further walk along the Northern part of the lake before walking back to the camp site and this time (see Sunday) we had a cup of Coffee AND Stollen. Tomorrow we move to a Caravan Club Site about 45 miles away, a camp site without an amenity block so we will be using our own facilities nor does it have Internet and as it is “miles from anywhere”, I don’t know when we will be able to update the website next, unless we can “tether” Jenny’s 3G network, be patient!

Wednesday 24th October 2012
Dockray Meadow Caravan Club Site, 54 34 21 N, 03 25 08 W, (48 Miles)

We left Coniston at 11:00 am for the short drive to Lamplugh an easy drive, despite me turning down to the car park in Grasmere and having to turn around and Betty wanting us to drive down two narrow roads to the camp site instead of the correct one, for once (may be more than once) we ignored her and followed the instructions in the Caravan Club handbook, which definitely said turn at the Lamplugh Tip Public House (strange name for a pub, true though it was closed and it looks as though they were re-building it). The handbook states this is “one of the best kept secrets on the network” probably true, it is a very pretty site with a small stream running alongside and a view of the fells above, there are also Red Squirrels on the site; hopefully we will be able to see and photograph them while we are here. With the site being fairly quiet we soon found a pitch and I walked to reception to tell them the pitch number we were on and ask whether they did a newspaper service, they don’t, however there is a caravan park directly opposite which does, they also have a little shop which will be useful. With the weather still warm we thought we would take the opportunity this afternoon to go for a walk (the weather is set to change and be much colder and wetter on Friday), but not having a map of the area, (we forgot to borrow them from Lichfield Library), we relied on looking at the map in the information room and trying to memorise a route. We succeeded, walking up a farm track, through a farm yard and through numerous gates and stiles and Cogra Tarn (pool) our destination was just below us.
Cogra Moss Tarn.
Cogra Moss Tarn.

Jenny managed to get stung by a nettle on her knee on the way across a field, which wouldn’t have been unusual but it must have been the only clump of them in the whole of the Lake District, (I exaggerate, but do you get the point?) Skirting the tarn we reached the gravel drive the access for fly fishermen who fish for trout here and descended to a lane, which by a rather winding route led back to the camp site, passing a public footpath on the way which we think would have been very much quicker.

Thursday 25th October 2012
With the weather still warm (but not as warm) we decided to have another walk towards the fells today. Jenny visited reception when she went to the other camp site this morning for the newspaper and bought back copies of local walks, I actually thought she had decided to go on one of them without me she was so long away, but then she was talking to two other ladies, the one at “The Inglenook” and Shirley our site manager, it would have served her right if I had burnt her porridge! The walk we decided to do was a circular walk through “Lamplugh Fells” which was not dis-similar to the one we did yesterday, however we started off by taking the public footpath we missed yesterday, then wished we hadn’t, as we got close to a farm the ground got wetter and muddier, not helped by the Swaledale Sheep which were in the same field. We eventually reached the track up to the tarn we went to yesterday and very conveniently there was a bench looking out over the water which we sat on to eat our lunch. We continued on walking the length of the tarn until the track narrowed and started to climb steeply, my left leg then decided that it had walked enough and didn’t want the extra exertion of going uphill, although we were still high enough to be able to see the Isle of Man and the Solway Forth with the mountains of Galloway on the horizon, reluctantly we therefore walked back along the track.
Cumbria and Solway Firth.
Cumbria and Solway Firth.

Approaching the lower section of the track we didn’t want to traipse back through the mud near the farm so we took the longer route along the lane to reach the camp site and although we didn’t complete the circular walk we still managed to walk over 4 mile today in dry conditions so we weren’t too disappointed.

Friday 26th October 2012
The coldest night so far this autumn and I forgot to set the thermostat for the heater when we went to bed, plus we had intended to put the outside “thermo screen” on the outside of the windscreen and “we” forgot that too! Needless to say it was colder than normal in the motor home last night and we have decided to change the duvet from the summer weight to the winter weight, (we never had put both together to make a winter one). We were having a cup of tea in bed when the electricity went off, had we put too much heat on? Then through the bedroom window we noticed the man next door “playing” with his plug and then another and another, I didn’t bother, it was obvious the power was off on the whole of the site. Well it looks like we are going to have to use gas for a time as when Jenny went to the shop at the “Inglenook” the lady told her a cable had broken and it would be some time before the power was switched back on as the engineers had to locate a new cable. Now I don’t know how far the local B&Q is put surely a farmer in the locality would have a bit of wire in his barn! The problem we find with the gas heating even when on the thermostat, it still gets far too warm and we have to switch it off, not a bad thing I suppose. After several walks in the last few days we decided to have a lazy day, Jenny still baked though, mince pies (it’s never too early), scones and a chocolate cake and we read, watched tele’ and I edited some of the recent photographs. The power eventually came back on at 2:30 pm.

Saturday 27th October 2012
Housework this morning, Jenny giving the inside of the motorhome a “spruce up” while I cleaned the windows and kept out of the way! Grand Prix F1 qualifying from India was on at lunchtime so we watched that before we went for a walk. Digressing slightly, I have now finished reading the biography of Bernie Ecclestone called “No Angel”, what a fantastic read, Jenny is reading it now. Back to the walk, we were going on the Murton Fell/Knock Murton walk, however we got out of the campsite and along the road and we (actually I) forgot the map and directions, “never mind” I said, “ I remember them”. Digressing again, Five engineers from the power company were digging a hole near the electric power post they were “playing” with yesterday, 4 vans and a car, yes 4 vans and a car, oh, plus a man with digger, no wonder they are increasing the cost of power, nothing wrong with the power though, one of the engineers had dropped a 20 pence piece yesterday when he was up the ladder!!! Back once more to our walk, minus map, we got to where I remember. . . “immediately past the last house turn left over a stile”, fine, no not fine, there was no stile, we carried on up the road for another mile, still no stile, we therefore decided to return to the campsite; past the engineers who were all looking pleased, they had obviously found the 20 pence piece and were now filling in the hole. one of them was on his mobile phone, I presume telling head-office of their luck and suggesting they no longer need to increase prices to cover the loss. Looking at the guide when we got back, my memory wasn’t playing tricks (this time), we had followed the guide to the letter, wonder who stole the stile? Those Red Squirrels are being elusive around the camp site we haven’t spotted one yet, although I did see a Treecreeper on an Oak tree near us and we also saw (and heard) a Stonechat on Thursday, I may walk around the camp site tomorrow and see if I can see them.

Sunday 28th October 2012
Well it started to rain last night at about 6:00 pm and it is still raining now Sunday evening at 7:45 pm, so other than top up with fresh water and empty the grey waste we have hardly been out of the motorhome for most of the day. As is usual when the Grand Prix is recorded by the BBC for showing later in the day, we avoided listening to any news this morning in case we heard the result; thank goodness the next one is live from Abu Dhabi. In fact we prefer now to listen to “Magic” rather than Radio 2, because we don’t like the Sunday morning programs.

Monday 29th October 2012
It’s stopped raining, in fact when we got up this morning the sun was just creeping over the top of the fells and it was very pleasant even though the temperature was only just creeping up to 5 degrees c. It didn’t last, while Jenny went for a newspaper, milk and eggs it became very misty although by lunchtime it had cleared. I woke up in the middle of the night with a thought, we intended leaving our next camp site on Sunday and driving to the Midlands, whoops, the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix starts at 12:10 pm and we don’t want to miss it. A change of plans was required and we organised it this morning, we are now going to stay at Grange-over-Sands until Tuesday, which only entails a short drive from our next stop near Keswick and then we will drive to Lichfield on Tuesday morning. Mid-afternoon I decided to go Red Squirrel “hunting” around the camp site with my camera and eureka I spotted one in the trees along the side of the stream (which with the rain is now a raging torrent) and luckily he (or she) was very obliging and posed on a branch in the open for me, I must say when I saw it on the laptop later I was very pleased with it.
Red Squirrel.
Red Squirrel.

Tuesday 30th October 2012
* * * Happy Birthday to Michael’s Partner Sharon, XX * * *

Low Manesty Caravan Club Site, near Keswick, 54 33 54 N, 03 09 34 W, (28 Miles).

We were lucky this morning, timing our departure with a break in the incessant rain, emptying the grey waste and filling up with fresh water without getting wet. We did need to top up with food for the next few days as we will be staying on a camp site which is not near a town of any size and we have now run out of bread (no loss really, as Jenny baked one) and fresh fruit. Passing on the outskirts of Cockermouth we went into the town and parked at Sainsbury’s, not the biggest of car parks, but we were able to find two spaces to park in, despite an old lady of about a hundred saying “you can’t park there”, we smiled and parked! Finally having a decent phone signal, I stayed behind, whilst Jenny shopped. I want to cancel our mobile internet, with Jenny now having 3gig of download per month we can “tether” her iPhone to the laptop as a “personal hotspot” it makes the “dongle” redundant and we will save £10.17 per month, I wasted my time though, waiting for O2 to answer for over 5 minutes before I gave up. We were soon on our way to Low Manesty and arrived just after twelve noon and were warmly welcomed by the manager Joan who gave us a map of the site with the vacant pitches highlighted and we found a lovely spot in view of the lake (Derwentwater) through the trees, like Dockray Meadow this site has no amenities building so as before we shall be using our own bathroom. Pity it had started to rain heavy again, we would have liked to have walked down to the lake; instead we have spent the rest of the day reading and relaxing.

Wednesday 31st October 2012
A day of very heavy rain we have stayed in the Motorhome.

Thursday 1st November 2012
Despite it being very cold I went outside this morning and the sun was shining, and through the forest I could see low cloud below the tops of the fells, a photo opportunity not to be missed, I just left Jenny in the shower and scarpered! It got better, I walked out of the camp site, walked along the track towards the lake and I noticed that there was snow on some of the higher hills. Unfortunately what I didn’t realise was that the track was going to be so wet and muddy and by wet I mean 2 to 3 inches of water and I only had my normal shoes on; still I did manage 4 shots before returning for breakfast. With the low sun really showing the surrounding area to its best, I finished breakfast, left Jenny to do the washing up, donned my wellie’s and walked back to the lake. I was lucky enough to take some photographs of reflections in the lake before a slight breeze rippled the surface.

However with the light being perfect for photographs of the fells, water and autumn colours of bracken and trees, I was spoilt for choice. I was so enthralled with the scene and not knowing how long the dry weather would last I couldn’t let Jenny miss it, so I walked back to the motorhome to fetch her and we both walked through the marsh on the boardwalk around the lake to the bridge over the River Derwent (how many rivers of that name are there?) before walking back to the motorhome, a great unplanned walk. As we wanted to plan the next few weeks, Jenny decided to ring Good Hope Hospital to see whether her appointment was going to be in November, she was informed that the letter was sent out on the 29th October and her appointment is for the 5th November, yes, Monday! We needed to get into action, Jenny walked up to reception for them to cancel our reservation at Meathop Fell at Grange-over-Sands on Sunday, meanwhile I booked at hire car for Monday morning and when Jenny returned we booked a stay at Kingsbury Water Park from Sunday night and where we will stay for 8 days. All we need do now is work out where to stop for 3 hours on our way back to the Midlands to watch the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix. The weather forecast for the next few days is not good, in fact this afternoon looks as though it will be as good as it gets, so we decided to walk around the lake to Lodore Falls which is about 1½ miles away. The falls are formed by the beck from Watenlath Tarn and cascade over huge boulders for about 100 feet, reputed to be spectacular after periods of heavy rain, they dry to a trickle in dry weather, so we were obviously visiting at the right time. They were quite remarkable and I took several photographs which hopefully will do them justice, it’s just a shame, because of my leg problem, I couldn’t (Jenny wouldn’t let me) get to some of the more precarious places to take the photo’s.
Watenlath Beck
Watenlath Beck

Another great walk and when we returned we enjoyed a cup of hot Cocoa, we then had fun making up our own Lamb Curry recipe, I got a simple recipe off the internet, went through the ingredients, Jenny got all our spice jars out, sorted out the one’s we had and substituted others for ones we hadn’t and mixed them altogether, it was delicious!

Friday 2nd November 2012
Jenny was up first this morning and found that the power was off, the problem at Dockray Meadow immediately sprung to mind, however, this time it was only our electricity that was off, as the red light was off on the EHU (Electric Hook Up) pillar and the light was on for the adjacent pitch, when we investigated further we also found our consumer unit had also “tripped”. The lady next door allowed me to “switch” our plugs and it verified that the EHU had definitely “tripped” as well, once again we put the gas heating on, although the temperature had only dropped to 14 degrees C during the night we still needed the hot water for our showers. Jenny went up to reception at 9:00 am and caught John the manager before he started his “rounds” who immediately drove down on his John Deere “Gator” to switch us back on, problem sorted although we don’t know what caused it. It’s been another extremely wet day again and we haven’t been out of the motorhome, it did give me time to edit the photos I have taken in the last few days, watch both of the Grand Prix F1practice’s and read, whilst Jenny read and knitted, made some more Mince Pies (yes, the others have gone already) and baked a Ginger Cake.

Saturday 3rd November 2012
We had a lovely walk along the lake this morning between 3rd practice and qualifying of the Grand Prix, taking the opportunity whilst it was dry and there was at least some sun out. We walked down to the lake to an un-named bay near Abbott’s Bay which had great views over Derwentwater to Keswick and the impressive mountains of Skiddaw and Blencathra in the background with a covering of snow on the summits.
Derwentwater and Skiddaw.
Derwentwater and Skiddaw.

We remembered the last time when we stayed at Troutbeck in April 2010 and walked part way up Blencathra to the snow line and Jenny just had to start throwing snowballs, I don’t think I could reach that far now. We had intended to go for another walk this afternoon, but, yes you’ve guessed it it’s started to rain again but a least I was able to get some decent photographs this morning and continued where I left off yesterday, editing photographs, whilst Jenny finished off the Fisherman’s rib jumper she has been knitting.