We love the part of the Newlands Valley where we’re staying, but we wanted to see more of the Lake District, too, so we set out on an “hour-long” driving tour of the area. (I knew we’d stop a lot along the way, so I was figuring on closer to 4 hours, rather than 1.)
The route we were following passed just by the end of the lane to our hotel, which was convenient, and the first stop was at the same pass where we stopped the other evening on our way to dinner. (I got the driving tour from Rick Steves’ Great Britain book.) We stopped again at the pass to look around a bit, and while being buffeted by the strong winds, we also got our feet completely soaked. I don’t know if it was rain, runoff, or springs, but almost every inch of the mountain pass was squishy and wet. Very wet. Our ankles got wet from sinking in to the spongy bracken. It was strange — with the elevation, the strong winds, and the fact that we hadn’t seen rain in days, I didn’t expect wet conditions at all. (I had rain boots in the car, and we didn’t even put them on.) We did get to see some spectacular views, though. And lots of sheep.
And then, with mushy socks, we drove down the other side of the pass to Buttermere. We continued on, past many sheep, and beyond our dinner destination from the other night, and found a place to stop and explore the shore of the lake.
We parked the car and strolled down the woodland path to the lake. It had a gravelly shore, beautiful views, and a lot of tranquility. Dan showed the boys how to skip stones on the water while I sat and took tons of pictures. We sat, and played, and relaxed, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The boys waded in until the water poured into their boots, and often we wouldn’t see another person pass by for 15 minutes or more. It was lovely.
Eventually, though, the kids got cold, and we headed back to the car and the rest of our journey. We drove along the lake (more sheep!) and up and over Honister Pass (stopping to pick up lunch at England’s last functioning slate mine) which was gorgeous. We headed down through Borrowdale and we were looking for our next landmark when — pop — flat tire!
We had no phone service, no Internet service, and our GPS couldn’t see enough satellites to plan a route. The kids were wet, tired and getting cranky. And . . . our rental didn’t come with a spare. So, we headed out again, very slowly, found a GPS signal and limped the 7 miles back to our bed & breakfast, past another beautiful lake. (Luckily, “limping home” and normal driving on these roads is almost indistinguishable.)
We made it back, and started on working on getting another tire for the car. While we got it sorted out (over the phone with roadside assistance) we had tea and scones, and our wonderful hosts offered to give us a ride if we needed one. (As it turns out, someone is going to come out in the morning and fix it here.)
We had to cut our driving tour short, and our schedule was completely off for the day, but we put the kids down for naps, because they were really worn out. By the time they laid down, though, it was almost 6, and by the time they got up, it was 8 — and we still had to figure out dinner. Our hosts saved the day with ham sandwiches, and we sat and visited with the other guests in the lounge until much too late in the evening (and we got to hear a lot about how much everyone loves our accents).
It was a great adventure, some fun exploration, and a great day, flat tire and all.