The one where I spent a fabulous Easter in the Lake District – Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of my Easter break blog. In the last post, I talked about my epic trek up Blencathra, the descent of which broke me. The following day, I managed a wander into Keswick – shuffling rather than walking – to look round the gift shops while every single part of me ached. It was a fairly relaxing low-key day but we had another walk planned for the Wednesday.

When we’d visited the Tourist Information Office and found out about the Festival of Lights, we also learned about the Keswick to Threlkeld walk along the old railway line so decided to give it a try, especially as being a former railway line meant it was going to be flat. I definitely wasn’t ready for another hill!

The weather wasn’t the best – cool, dull, with scattered showers, but it was a lovely walk. Starting from Fitz Park and finishing at the village of Threlkeld beneath Blencathra, it’s a 5.5km walk (3.5 miles) each way although there are variations making it longer/more challenging.

The route is for walkers and cyclists and is a smooth path throughout so would suit wheelchair/mobility scooter users. It’s nice and varied, going through woodland, passing fields, running alongside and over the River Greta, with bridges, tunnels and a couple of waterfalls. I loved the wooden seats at various points, some adult-sized and some lower for children, to take in the views.

Despite being the Easter holidays, it wasn’t particularly busy – the weather probably putting many off – so it was a lovely peaceful walk.

I confess that my muscles were really aching by the time we got to the end and an incline into Threlkeld village and I was also really cold at this point but didn’t have any more layers with me. I was looking forward to some lunch and warming up in the village hall. Unfortunately, we hesitated too long at the entrance as to whether to go inside with the dog or keep her outside on the terrace with her being wet. A couple behind us snuck past us… and nabbed the last table inside so that was the decision made. You snooze, you lose!

The café at the village halls set up as a community interest project owned by the charity who owns and manages the village hall. The staff were really friendly and there looked to be a delicious array of cakes. I went for a hot chocolate and a pancake and bacon stack planning to return for cake, but I was full after them so didn’t get to sample the baked goods.

I quite like a circular route and, as there were signs for Castlerigg Stone Circle, I suggested we go back via there instead of the way we’d come. I didn’t really think this decision through as it meant a lot of walking uphill, but it was through lovely countryside.

I love the stone circle and it’s fabulous that you can move among the stones, but it never ceases to amaze me how oblivious people can be when they’re at a public place like this. Everyone wants to take photos and you know that you’re going to need to be very patient and very lucky to catch even a section of the stones with no people in the frame, but I was amazed to see a cyclist wearing bright colours ride into the middle of the circle, prop his bike up against one stone, then plonk himself in front of another and whip out a sketch pad, right at the point when several people were trying to take photos. I’m happy for him that he’ll have got himself a lovely sketch, but did he really need to have his bike in everyone else’s shots instead of securing it to the fence?

Anyway, with some patience, hubby managed to get a couple of lovely partial pics without other people in and we treated ourselves to an ice cream for the journey home because we were very thirsty and decided that ice cream was going to solve that as well as drive the daughter mad because she’d stayed at the cottage (allegedly to revise) instead of getting some fresh air.

As you know, I love bears. There’s a man in Portinscale who carves wooden bears and there were quite a few on our walk in gardens and outside businesses which I loved seeing.

We reckon our whole walk was a little over 8 miles and I was particularly proud of managing that two days after Blencathra, although it was good to get back to the holiday cottage and sit down for a bit!

The following day – Thursday 6th April – was publication day for Summer Nights at The Starfish Café. I wanted to visit Hill Top in Near Sawrey – the first of many farms Beatrix Potter bought in the National Park. I’ve been several times before but this was very much a research visit because the first book in my Escape to the Lakes series, The Start of Something Wonderful – features Hill Top. I’d picked up a lot of information from the guide book I’d bought on a previous visit, but had a few details I wanted to check for accuracy.

As we were the first in, I couldn’t resist a quick pose in the entrance with my book before the rest of the visitors arrived.

Beatrix Potter and her husband William Heelis set up their marital home elsewhere in Near Sawrey in a beautiful house called Castle Cottage, just a short walk from Hill Top so Beatrix Potter could visit each day and do her writing and drawing there.

We drove to the village of Hawkshead for some lunch and were amazed by how quiet it was there, despite the sun now being out. At the recommendation of a local who was out cleaning her car, we took a visit to the church – St Michael and All Angels Church. We’ve never been there before but it had a beautiful graveyard, stunning views across the village and countryside beyond, and lots of pretty daffodils. Wordsworth would have been impressed.

We caught the ferry across to Windermere and returned to the holiday cottage ready for a celebratory meal in our favourite pub, The Royal Oak. But there was time for a quick photoshoot in Fitz Park first.

Thank you to everyone who helped make publication day really special with all the lovely congratulations messages. It was amazing to have another Top 100 entry. I will never take those for granted and am surprised and thrilled every time it happens.

That brings me to the end of the first week but I have more to tell you with week 2 so watch this space for another post coming soon. In the meantime, I don’t normally like to do teasers but this is too good an opportunity to miss as tomorrow I have two exciting pieces of news to share with you so they’ll come first and I’ll return to my Lakes visit shortly after that.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

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