It’s half term and the Wulf family needs an adventure fix. Off we set in our van (Cali) up to Keswick for a couple of days. We’ve got a few ideas in our heads and various bits of kit with us: picnic, wellies and walking boots, our Innov8 Mudclaws (boy have they had good use this winter... the only running shoe for all this mud!), swimming togs , climbing harnesses, head torches – all set for a spot of adventure! Let’s start with Cat Bells shall we? A great little summit for kids with a good path, great views and a walk along the shore of Derwent Water on the way back to the car.
Hmmm, as we approach
the A66 the weather is getting worse rather than better. We carry on regardless, glimpsing views of
Blencathra as its snowy ridges swirl in and out of the mist. No sooner than we have parked up, we find
ourselves drawn into the woods, rather than up the mountain, as it is now
pouring with rain. The kids are far too
busy building their dens to eat a sandwich, so Jan and I sit in our group bivvy
and laugh at ourselves sat here on this steep, mossy, wooded slope with a
delicate orange layer of fabric between us and the rain. Soon the kids join us and tuck in too. Once the rain eases, we head down to the
shore... the kids are leading us away from our summit plans. Never mind – let them lead the way today!
There is something spellbinding about being here on this wind still day. Shingle beaches, logs and rocks
half-submerged become islands, boats, horses...
Away from the crowds, we take our time and let the children lead the way, gazing out over the mirror still water as the light seems to improve and the weather disperses.
We head into town, to eye out the new year bargains and enjoy the delights of the lovely Old Friars Sweetie shop www.friarsofkeswick.co.uk/about-us - where we feast our eyes on every beautiful display before helping the kids choose some jelly beans from every flavour you can imagine! Oscar tried ‘sizzling cinnamon’ this time, as well as ‘green tea’! Kirsten went for ‘ice-cream parlour mix’, ‘water melon’ and ‘candy floss’ to name a few! Jan and I chose cappuccino chocolate buttons... .
OK folks, time for a swim now – as much as we love our local Settle pool, coming to the Keswick Leisure Centre is a real treat, with its wave machine, waterfalls and big tube slide, which spits you out violently so that you get a good dunking before finding your feet and surfacing.
Day 2 – it’s still raining, but mild. Let’s get up Latrigg Fell – it’s described as Keswick’s own personal fell, and only a third of its towering neighbour, Skiddaw, most of which is hidden in cloud this morning. Luckily, the clouds part when we reach the top, and we are treated to a great view of the town and Derwent Water. Beneath us, the car park is out of sight. We watch as three walkers head down the path which winds around the slope, but decide to take a bearing and head straight for the van. Oscar and I are sent ahead into the mist, and we turn our little navigation exercise into a fun ‘leap-frogging’ technique. It’s always surprising when you take a bearing... if you try beforehand to point where you THINK you might be heading, it just shows how important the bearing is, and how you really have to trust your skills and your compass (unless your compass needle is being affected by a mobile phone in your top pocket or by magnetic rock in the area but none of that here!) – Oscar is impressed that our bearing leads us straight to our goal, and we definitely got there more quickly than if we had gone round on the path. All very small-scale, but perfect for getting the kids excited about navigation!
We’re off to the Keswick Climbing Wall, at the Adventure Centre at Goosewell Farm. I had not realised it was just opposite Castlerigg Stone Circle – we absolutely have to have a quick look at that. It’s been five years since we last stopped at this impressive prehistoric site. Of course, nothing has changed , and why should it have? These ancient stones have stood here for four to five thousand years, and remain firmly in place, set on this unique, grassy plateau surrounded by high mountains in every direction you look. Just a little further down the road, we reach the climbing wall: www.keswickadventurecentre.co.uk. The kids love the climbing holds – from turtles to aliens, and they surprise us with the number of routes they achieve, as well as having a go on the bouldering wall, where a (very nice) young lady is working hard at problems whilst Oscar and Kirsten look on with total admiration. Soon they are trying to copy this future champion, attempting sitting starts and hanging upside down from the lowest overhangs! I like this place – great facilities (indoor picnic area, a comfy sofa for a rest whilst watching the climbing and nice toilets too), friendly and vigilant staff, and Oscar is most impressed that he is old enough to try archery here too, so we’ll be back soon.
It’s time to head home, but there’s one last mission – Jan is hankering after a good, long training run, so we drop him and his trusty mudclaws off in Ingleton, from where he makes his own way home, over Ingleborough, through Crummackdale, Wharfe and Feizor before descending to Settle from Giggleswick Scar. In true German style, he arrives home exactly three hours later, just as he said he would. Nice one Jan. My turn tomorrow. Now where shall I head?