(written by Nancy)
We started the day with another full English breakfast – and a bowl of cereal and some yogurt. After all that we were well fortified for the Lake District. We started the day with a 14% climb up to Castlerigg Stone Circle, a circle of stones thought to be anywhere from 4-4500 years old. It is up on the top of a hill, where there are great views of the surrounding valleys and the high mountains. It is thought to be the oldest stone circle in Britain and possibly the oldest in all of Europe. No one is quite sure what the purpose of the circle is but it is thought to have been used for ceremonial purposes.
After leaving the stone circle we made our way back down to the main road south for a bit and ten took a turn that took us around Lake Thirlmere on a very quiet road. It was very scenic, and we saw several Saturday bunch riders out, enjoying the non-rainy day – no sunshine but no rain, which I guess counts as a good weather day in the Lakes District. We made our way through Grasmere, where we stopped briefly at the Dove Cottage, former home of William Wadsworth and his family.
From Grasmere to Ambleside, the next major town south, there was wall to wall traffic coming into the Lake District. Traffic was at a standstill on the other side of the road for much of the way – we were glad to be going the other direction today. We stopped for a coffee and scone in Ambleside at a nice little café right on the main road. I used all of the cream that came with my scone, slathering it on both sides of my scone. After eating it all up I realized Dave had hardly touched his cream – what a waste of some good cream! I tried to eat some of his just with my knife but he finally pushed it out of reach.
We continued our way south on A591, the main road. There were quite a few ups and downs – the ups were pretty steep so we spent a lot of time in our granny gears. Thankfully the traffic was pretty polite, waiting behind us as we huffed and puffed up the hills until there was a safe place to pass. There were lots of people about – we finally saw a sign indicating that there was some kind of walking festival this weekend so perhaps that explains all of the traffic, though I expect most weekends are pretty busy up here.
We knew of one campground in Kendal but were trying to see if we could get a bit further south today to reduce the mileage for tomorrow. We made it to Kendal about 2:00 and stopped in the tourist information center to see if they had any information about campgrounds further up the road. The staff in the center gave Dave a list of campgrounds and told us of one about 5 miles or so up the road in Sedgwick where we could put up our tent. So we picked up some things for snacks and dinner and made our way through some country lanes to the small village of Sedgwick.
After stopping to ask an older lady out for a stroll (like most in this area, she was wearing hiking boots and carrying a walking pole) where we might find the caravan park we came to the entrance to the park a few kilometers south of the village and saw the dreaded “no tents” sign. We rode in to the park to see if they really were going to enforce that rule or if they would take a more neighbourly approach. Well, unfortunately they opted for the rules approach and would not take tents. Obviously it was a bit frustrating, given that we had been sent there by the tourist information office. All seems a bit ridiculous to me, especially as tents generally have less impact on a site but there was no point in arguing.
After a bit of discussion Dave used his charm to get the folks at the park to call another site to see if they would take tents. Yes, they would but they were apparently full. Hmm, but that manager at that park suggested another place in the village that would take tents, the maize maze. Hmm, all sounded a bit suspicious to me and I thought we should just keep riding south to find something but Dave wanted to go back into the village and give it a try.
Well, it turns out this maize maze is at a working farm where they do in fact take tents. You are technically supposed to be a caravan club member but they let us pretend to be members for the day. The camp area is just behind the farm buildings – basically a big grassy yard between the farm buildings and the next field of corn. The maze, made out of maize, looks pretty neat – we didn’t go through it but there were quite a few folks here when we arrived. Apparently they just switched from their summer program and are now only open Saturdays and Sundays.
We have access to the public toilets in the farm area but there are no showers so we just got a sponge bath today and it might be an interesting trek in the middle of the night to use the facilities…. No power at our spot but the owners are very nice and offered to charge the phone in their office so that is good. There is also a spare plug by one of the caravan sites (there are only about 10 sites) so we can use that to make hot water with the immersion heater. So, not a fancy site but actually it turned out much better than it was looking there for awhile!
It was very hot and sunny when we set up the tent but the fog now seems to have rolled in so it is getting a bit cooler. I think we will have a wet tent in the morning. Tomorrow we are headed toward Slaidburn – it’s not too far but it looks like there are some hills between here and there. We may go a bit beyond there to another campground but after today we will probably call them to first check to see if they take low-class folks like us in tents.