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Windermere, May 2005
Mountain Biking
Lake District

A week in the lakes with the Liz, William and George.

Sun 29 May 2005
We set off late, around lunchtime, as Liz had to mark and deliver some A level papers before we went. This is obviously the time to travel on a bank holiday weekend as we didn't hit any traffic problems and the boys were happy so we didn't need to stop. We stayed in a static caravan in the White Cross Bay Leisure Park, a couple of miles north of Bowness. We got settled into the caravan and then explored the site. It is an idylic setting on the shores of Windermere, but they haven't made the most of it - there's no access to the lake except for a small bit of shore near the marina and the kids playground needs a lot of imagination. William enjoyed cycling around the roads and even found some offroad through the woods. After tea we headed into Bowness for an evening wander.

Mon 30 May 2005
We got going reasonably early and headed for Langdale. The weather forecast was good so we hoped to climb Harrison Stickle. We parked at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and set off up Mill Ghyll. The path is quite rough but both boys tackled it well. I think William would have been happier going at his pace rather than George's, but we were still at Stickle Tarn only an hour and a half after setting off. We had an early lunch and considered Jack's Rake on Pavey Ark, but it would have been a bit much for George. William had a brief paddle, but it was a bit cold. Just over another hour's walking took us to the top of Harrison Stickle
and amazing clear views in all directions. We sat on the summit for a while, looked down to our tiny car and watched a pair of Red Admiral butterflies flitting around.

The descent down the ridge south of Dungeon Ghyll had some steep and rough sections but the boys still did well. Within two hours we were supping drinks / licking icecreams outside the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.

4.5 km, 640 m ascent, 5:20.

George fell asleep in the car so we went back to the caravan before a nice pub meal in Grasmere.

Tue 31 May 2005
After a bit of shopping in Ambleside (and a quick look in some of the many gear shops) we headed to Grizedale for some mountain biking. William had his own bike and we hired two bikes and a trailer. There are no flat routes at Grizedale so it was tricky to find something I thought William would cope with - he'd only been riding without stablisers for a couple of months and never gone very far. I also wanted to avoid roads. I opted for some short, sharp climbing to start with, then a gently undulating track along the top, before a gentle downhill to finish. The man handing out the bikes assumed both boys were going in the trailer. "He'll struggle with no gears", he commented when I told him that William was riding his little bike.

We set off confidently and soon reached the first hill - a steep gravel track across a field. William coped really well, hopping off on the steepest bit and pushing his bike at a run. He was on and off his bike as we zig-zagged up through the forest and reached a bridleway that would take us steeply to the top. This was clearly un-ridable for any of us (me with a trailer). I set off up the exposed strata of slate and began to wonder if this was a good plan. Liz went ahead and called back that it soon levelled off. I knew from the map that this could only be temporary but it was enough encouragement for William and me. It was hard work pushing up the rough track to climb 70 metres in 0.7 kilometers. Then we were back on the forest roads. The climb continued but rideable now and we soon topped out at 270m (170m above the start).

The next 4 km were great with clear views of Coniston and the fells to the north and east. The forest road traversed the top with gentle ups and downs. William loved it. He was cautious on the downhills and steadily tested how fast he could go. George fell asleep. There was some interesting evidence of some new singletrack trails, due to open in the autumn. To finish, we descended the valley, back to the visitor centre.

10 km, 250 m ascent, 2:30.

We returned round the south end of Windermere before fish and chips in Bowness.

Wed 1 Jun 2005
The rain came. We went swimming in the morning, then to the Brockhole National Park Visitor Centre. The boys ran around in the rain and George washed his face in the lake.

Thu 2 Jun 2005
The weather was still rough so we headed for the coast for a wild walk on the beach at Walney Island, then a visit to the Dock Museum in Barrow. Later on it cleared up a bit and we went for a spin in a motorboat on Windermere.

Fri 3 Jun 2005
Unsettled weather so we opted for a walk close by. From Troutbeck up to Wansfell Pike, along the ridge to the summit of Wansfell and back. We were in and out of the cloud as we went along the ridge and the rain started just as we were heading down. It was heavy for a while but the boys just ran faster and it had cleared up enough for us to be drying out before we got down.

6 km, 380 m ascent, 3:30.

Another shopping trip to Ambleside, then a drive down to Lindale to visit Dick and Sue Courchee.

Sat 4 Jun 2005
Wet again but a straightforward journey home.

William's Mountain Walking Log - A list of all the mountains William has climbed.

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