In search of a bird, a view and a cheese.

In search of a bird, a view and a cheese
I had the idea of visiting the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust’s Martin Mere reserve, and stopping off at Liverpool maybe, to ride the Ferris wheel.
"Jules" I said, "How about going to Martin Mere?".
"I was thinking of that too, and we could overnight somewhere, and meet Mel at Hawes", said Jules.
This seemed like a good idea, so I got the job of looking for a place to stop. We usually use Premier Inn or the like because we know the bedrooms are disable friendly, and the beds are quite comfy. The only budget hotels ‘oop norf’ were at Kendal, and the best placed (and cheapest luckily) was a Travelodge just south west of Kendal.

When Jules discovered that we were staying at Kendal, she suggested skipping Martin Mere and to spend the day in the Lake District. I did a quick feasibility study in my head and decided that we needed two nights away, so I came up with plan ‘C’ and have two nights away, and do both Martin Mere and the Lake District.

Now we’ve got that lot organised, I guess I’d better do the photos.

Day one – A 2 hour plus drive to Martin Mere, with a tiny detour near the end of the journey to bag a geocache. We left home after the morning rush hour, and got to Martin Mere at lunch time.

420 Mere Side Cafe(teria)
Mere side Cafe

We’ve been coming here to see the birds for 25 years or so, and we’ve eaten many nice meals here. This is the new cafe and the food was poor, and we had to eat it quickly in case it got warm!

423 Whooper Swans - Cygnus cygnus
Adult Whooper Swans

447 Whooper Swans - Cygnus cygnus
Juvenile Whooper Swan

507 Male Pintail - Anas acuta
Male Pintail

452 Adult Greylag geese
Greylag Goose

499 Birds on The Mere
The Mere with a stack of wild fowl

We spent a couple of hours in an unheated hide, (there is only one heated hide, but the views aren’t so good from there. Heated hides are very rare in the UK), and we had a very nice time. The species numbers were down this visit, but that’s why birding is fun – the poorer days make the better days extra special, and the birds are so pretty that a few less doesn’t spoil the fun. Another 2 hour drive saw us at the Travelodge hotel just south of Kendal in the Lake District, Cumbria.

Day 2. Monday had been very overcast, but we awoke Tuesday Morning to a beautifully sunny winters day. Without more ado, we set off to view a small corner of the nearby Lake District. We took a ‘B’ road west to Lake Windermere bagging a geocache on the way.

526 The road from Crook to Windermere
A country road on the way to Lake Windermere.

A quick look at Windermere from the ferry point and then we headed north. We had chosen a route away from the main roads, and one road up, and another down, would bring us back to the top of Windermere.

528 Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere from the ferry point at Bowness-on-Windermere

538 Townend Farm Buldings
17th century farm buildings, still in use at Townend Farm The farmhouse opposite these buildings is owned or managed by the National Trust but we didn’t go in there. We came through here for a geocache, but a telephone engineer had the junction box in pieces, and we suspected the geocache was hidden behind the box.

We went to the top of Kirkstone Pass and turned left towards Ambleside, and nabbed a geocache half a mile from the pass. We were going to follow the road back to Lake Windermere as I mentioned earlier, but the sun was still quite low, very very bright and full in our eyes, so we decided to skip the route south, after bagging the geocache, and go north to Ulswater instead.

557 Kirkstone Pass from below Pets Quarry
Kirkstone Pass from the Ambleside Road
The high point is where the buildings are, which is a pub of course.

561 Brothers Water lake
Heading north and down the Kirkstone Pass road towards Brothers Water

We stopped for a photoshoot beside Ulswater, and then drove all along the northern edge to the end of the lake at Pooley Bridge. we turned around there after a quick look at the map, and decided to back-track a bit, head north, then west, until we were above Thirlmere, and then head south to that lake for a late picnic lunch.

567 Patterdale hillside
Knobbly bit of hillside at Patterdale

575 Ulswater
Ulswater

581 Ulswater
Ulswater

583 Ulswater
The road around Ulswater

585 The Sun Inn beside Eamont River at Pooley Bridge
The end of our Ulswater drive at Pooley Bridge and Eamont River

590 Tree on the edge of Bram Crag
A tree on the edge of Bram Crag, 2 1/2 km from Thirlmere.

596 Thirlmere
Thirlmere from our salad picnic spot

610 Fungi on log
Fungi on a section of tree trunk
It was a thick slice of a trunk, which would have made a nice, albeit thick, coffee table. Found this near a geocache, one of three that we got, but there were another twenty around the lake, and more up in the hills. Today was a touring potter, but we collected seven geocaches during the day’s drive which made a nice mix of activities.

From Thirlmere we headed south past Grasmere and Rydal Water (wasn’t that something to do with the film ‘Grease’?) and on to Lake Windermere.

616 Lake Windermere sunset
This delightful sunset greeted us at Windermere.

Back to the Travelodge for soup and crackers, and so ended a delightful day. It was successful on three fronts, because we saw some beautiful places and got some nice photos; got several geocaches, and this was a diet day, which passed without any temptations to be otherwise.

Day 3. We awoke to a beautiful sunrise, and another beautiful sunny winters day, except today it followed a frosty night. A return trip to the road north of Windermere to get a geocache, and then we picked up the cross country road from Kendal to Hawes.

623 Sunrise at the Kendal Travelodge
The sunrise from the entrance to our Travelodge Hotel.
Did I mention that it was very comfy? The Travelodge, not the sunset! It didn’t have a restaurant close by, so no hot breakfast, but my food supplier had organised and packed all our meals in advance. Today was a non diet day, so Wendsleydale Creamery, here we come.

Jules was i/c of geocache selection and navigation, and we stopped first at a geocache outside a caravan site. We didn’t find the geocache which we suspected was at a stone construction called a pinfold. It was used in the olden times to keep stray animals in, and there was a charge made against the owner to get them back. If they weren’t claimed then they were sold. The owner of a caravan site, where the pinfold is, came out and asked if we were lost, so we told him we’d stopped to look at the pinfold, which he promptly told us all about. We got chatting of course, and he told us about the division of the counties (we thought we were in Yorkshire, but it isn’t in Yorkshire any more) and about living and working in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. He was very interesting, but had to go when some workman arrived to do a job for him, and we left too, having given up on the pinfold geocache, but we got some geocaches further along our route.

626 Frost in a field at Garsdale Bridge
A touch of frost at Garsdale New Bridge geocache.

629 Wendsleydale Creamery
The restaurant at Wendsleydale Creamery
It doesn’t look very inviting in this photo, but when you are there it feels fine, and the food is delicious, and quite upmarket, although the prices aren’t. They have a cafeteria for people who don’t have time to chill out and enjoy the service.

We came here for the cheese, and to meet up with our niece, Mel, so we spent a lot of time in the tourist shop, the cheese shop, and the restaurant. In fact, we went to the restaurant twice, and finished the day with a jam and scone tea, before leaving as the sun was just setting.

638 Cumbrian Sunset
A Cumbrian sunset from the M6 Motorway,
The beautiful clear skies lasted to the end, but we had another nice sunset to round off the day. Jules’s turn to do the first stint of driving, so I photo-doodled as we drove south towards home.

As I write this, we are four days away from Xmas, so I’ll wish you all a fab time in what ever festivities you enjoy at this time of year, and may 2015 be very good to you. Now, where’s the wrapping paper?

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