We ran over the Scottish border back into England just above Carlisle. Time was running late. We had already abandoned any idea of visiting York this trip; there was also no time to properly visit any of the major sites along Hadrian's wall. But we figured we just might get a chance to stand on the Wall somewhere, so we asked directions and turned off the motorway and went looking.
Several miles later along a very winding, narrow, overhung-with-stone-walls-and-hedgerows byway (we hadn't seen anything yet), we arrived at the remains of a mile castle along Hadrian's Wall. We were overjoyed. It was so cool. AND, as a special bonus, we passed by the remains of Lanercost Priory -- picturesque ruins with a still-functioning Church of England parish attached. We got there just in time to pay our admission fee and roam over the ruins. It was way, way cool. And the honey-and-ginger ice cream they sell there was a treat.
The sun was setting as we girded ourselves to complete our journey into the Lake District. We arrived at Bowness on Windermere about 8:30 or so that night, and checked into Chapel House, a hostel operated by the Methodist Church of Bowness. Ah, real beds and hot showers! Room to spread wet tents! For breakfast the next morning, we finally cooked up those pork-and-apple sausages and the haggis slices we bought in Scotland. The sausages were fantastic, and the haggis t'weren't bad. (There seems to be a "vegetarian haggis" out there, though such a thing couldn't use a sheep's stomach for a skin -- probably edible plastic, I'm guessing -- which would make it a baggis, wouldn't it?)
The next morning, we left early for Scafell Pike. We had at least one crew member who wasn't feeling real well, and most of the crew slept on the way over. Which was a shame, because they missed one of the most amazing road trips I have ever undertaken. We turned up Little Langdale onto one of the minor roads across the Lake District. Roads here have NO shoulders, are only one lane wide (with the occasional wide spot designated a "passing place"). There are hairpin turns, often associated with grades of up to 30%. We drove as fast as we dared in our mini-vans through mist and drizzle. It took us an hour and a half to go maybe 25 miles.
Halfway over, we stopped at the site of Hardknott Castle, a Roman outpost. There was a plaque by the side of the road, but no telling the foundations of Hardknott from the various stone walls enclosing sheep. Plus it was raining and soggy, so we didn't stay long. When we got to Scafell Pike, we realized that nobody wanted to repeat the experience of Ben Nevis. We decided to return to Bowness and skip church the next morning, hoping for clearer weather. Back in Ambleside (an adjacent village to Bowness and Windermere -- the whole thing is like Gatlinburg, stuffed with tourists -- though less fake looking), we discovered that I, too, had a bent rim and flat tire. So the loch monster got one tire and the ghosts of Hardknott Castle the other. No more margin for error, now, and the trip not a third done!
We went shopping in Bowness, did laundry in Windermere, and I dropped in on the Methodist Women's garden party (moved indoors due to rain) to talk shop with the Methodist pastor and eat strawberries and cream with the ladies. Turns out Rev. Hall once pastored (via a pulpit exchange) a congregation that I also had once pastored. Truly a small world.
Sunday, June 5, we took the long way around to Scafell Pike, but launched our assault on the summit. The day was overcast, but not foul. As we reached the higher elevations, though, rain began to fall. We paused just below the final ascent because one crew member was feeling ill. We ate lunch under a dining fly and/or in the lee of a huge boulder.
Thereafter, half the crew began their descent, while the other half hiked on up to the peak, scrambling up over scree and boulders the last hundred feet or so. As the half that left early began their descent, the sun started to come out. It was a beautiful day for a hike, all in all. (See earlier post RE crew leader's constipation, which was the illness in question as it turned out.)
We left the Lake District immediately after the ascent of Scafell Pike and headed for Wales, arriving about 11:30 p.m. in Bethesda at Yr Hen Neuadd ("The Old Hall").
The people of the Lake District were wonderful, and I'd love to wander around more dales and bag some peaks. Dodging tourists is a problem, though.
Next: Among the Cymry.