Continuing our 2020 Social Distance Summer
Road Trip, we left Wales and headed north to
Scotland, but we had to reach the border first
and decided to spend a night in the Lake District
on our way north to break up the journey.
The journey from Wales to the Lake District was
long and uneventful. 200 miles in a VW Camper
at 55mph is quite a slog, but we are used to
long durations on the road and somehow in
the camper it never seems as bad as being in a
car. Maybe that’s because the camper feels like
being at home? At least you can pull over pretty
much whenever you like and make a cuppa!
On arrival at the Lake District, we hit
Windermere. We aren’t staying here, but it’s the
starting point for a road through the mountains
that I have wanted to drive ever since coming
to this location by accident four years ago; the
For those who know the Lake District well
enough, you may know there are two places
One of them is close to Penrith and has a
campsite, the other is near to Windermere and
doesn’t! Four years ago I drove to the wrong
Troutbeck and haven’t been able to live it down.
The Kirkstone pass pretty much runs between
the two, but we weren’t brave enough to take
on the pass last time we visited (first time towing
the camping trailer and didn’t know if we would
make it!… bearing in mind one of the roads on
the pass is called “The Struggle!” and so we took
the long way round instead.
From the Windermere side of the pass in
the south, it’s a long uphill jaunt along harsh
mountain roads with tall, threatening, exposed
rock faces, narrow sections and tight bends.
After what seems like a lifetime with my foot
flat on the throttle (I don’t dare back off incase
we can’t get going again!) we make it up to the
summit of the road, which is surrounded by
even taller mountain peaks and rocky landscape
The area is partly submerged in cloud, but there
is a cafe at the top and there are bikers gathered
(cars too) who have been enjoying the twisty
The road back down the other side towards the
North is very similar; steep, twisty and narrow!
One main difference now is the pedal choice.
Instead of the right one being hard to the floor,
I am covering and pumping the middle one in
the hope that we don’t get brake fade! (That’s
a story for another day!) The route down treats
you to magnificent views over Ullswater in the
distance and when you do eventually reach it,
the road follows the undulating contours of the
shoreline, providing a few places along the way
where you can stop and enjoy the views over
the water, maybe even have a paddle.
We don’t stop as we are keen to get a decent
pitch secured for the night and head to our
campsite at Troutbeck Head. To get to the site
from Ullswater you have to climb the hill at Aira
Force waterfall, which is understated at steep.
Don’t forget to look in your mirrors to appreciate
the stunning views!
We have visited Aira Force waterfall in the past.
It’s a very popular National Trust attraction and
has a sizeable car park, but on a day with decent
weather it gets extremely busy.
Here’s a top tip: Visit the waterfall on a really rainy
day. It will be virtually empty and the falls will be
even more spectacular! Just make sure you pack
your waterproofs as you will get wet!
After checking into the site and enjoying a
cuppa, we head back out down to Ullswater and
see if we can find a spot to stop on the shoreline
to let Ruby (our springer spaniel) have a paddle.
It’s rammed. It’s summer, it’s the school holidays
and people have been in a covid lockdown for
We follow the road around Ullswater and
up to Penrith to get some supplies. If you’re in
the area, this is a great spot to pick up essentials
before heading off into the wilderness for a few
nights. Within 5 minutes of each other, there
is a Morrisons, an Aldi and a Booths! There’s
also a Pets At Home and a Go Outdoors. So
everyone, including travelling pets, should be
well catered for.
With stocks of essential supplies and the fridge
filled with dog food (should really be cold
alcoholic beverages in there), we head back
down to Ullswater again and Bingo!.. The crowds
and families have now left as it’s tea time, so we
park up and head down to the shore. I pack a
towel and my swim shorts… just in case.
When we get down there, the views are
simply stunning. There are some beautiful and
picturesque places in the UK, but this has got
to be up there. It is hard to believe that we are
still in England, this could easily be the Italian
lakes! The sun is shining on the mountains on
the other side of Ullswater, which is flat calm and
quiet. Ruby needs no persuasion and is straight
in the water. I follow in my flip flops… wow! That
is seriously cold!!
Feeling brave, or possibly just delirious from
driving all day, I don my swim shorts and head
in. After 5 mins of walking up and down up to
my waist with excuses about how it’s too cold
and how I will develop hypothermia, I go for the
dunk. I’m in. It’s freezing! As I paddle I start to
loosen up and feel the refreshing water washing
over me. After 5 minutes or so I realise that the
water is so cold it is making my skin tingle and
I feel bits of me going numb. I carry on a while
before making the decision to get out whilst I
am not shivering with teeth chattering together
like one of those wind up toys!
I dried myself off and we headed back to the
camper. Ruby got to have her favourite towel
dry and we head back to base at the campsite
for dinner. We have a short walk in some nearby
footpaths before the sun goes down and head
to bed in preparation of another long day that
will take us further north and across the border
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