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Pleased with the success of our first weekend away in our new van, we wanted to go a little further. The next time we could get away was the following weekend – Friday 29th July… As we had joined the Camping & Caravanning Club when we had hired a caravan, it seemed sensible to make use of the membership. I logged on to their website and browsed for available places… We had ruled out the south west as we were in the middle of school holidays and guessed it would be mayhem down there. The lakes looked like a good idea, and the weather forecast seemed reasonable too. Troutbeck C & CC site had pitches available for the weekend… click, that was booked. The few days soon passed, I had made a couple of trips up to the caravan in the mean time checking things.. giving it a polish… doing all the man stuff and Friday morning we were ready to go. We went down to where the caravan is stored, loaded up, hitched up and set off up the M6 the 122 miles to Troutbeck. The tow up there was uneventful… even the tow up Shap passed easily and the weather was better than forecast. The torque remap done a couple of months earlier before we bought the caravan improved the towing capability of the Freelander and once we had got on the M60 it was almost like towing with an auto. The TD4 engine in the Freelander was the same engine as installed in the MG-Z and some BMW’s so a mild torque remap wasn’t going to shorten the life of the engine…. at least that is what I was told.

We arrived at the site and were greeted by the wardens. We booked in and were asked if we wanted the top end or the lower field. We opted for the top end. The warden waked down with us following in the car and he showed us pitch number 6 at the top of a ramp leading down to the lower field.

The view from our pitch over the lower field

We decided to set off and stock up on some local produce…. so a quick trip into Keswick was in order to visit some of the shops. That evening, while Sue was preparing dinner, I decided to have a go at setting up the TV. I set up the Status aerial pointing in the same direction as the ones on the static caravans, lowered the TV down and turned it on… pushed the auto tune button and waited…. and waited…. eventually it cam up with “No Channels Found” What!!!…. I rotated the ariel a bit and pushed the tune button…. again “No Channels Found”. Sue kind of suspected something was amis… with the amount of harumphing I was doing and the fact I was out side having a long thinking cigar….. I came back in…. it was going dark and I could see at least three other caravans where they were watching TV. I do not like things that don’t work… and this was not going to beat me. While we sat having dinner, we watched an elderly gentleman who had arrived about an hour earlier open his gas locker and pull out a long pole. He clipped a small aluminium aerial to it hoisted it skywards and clamped it to his jockey wheel. The window opened and he passed a lead through to his wife. A few second later a tv flickered on and I could see a blue screen…. he came outside, twisted his aerial round and the tv burst into life with a clear picture. Bugger… what had he got that I hadn’t? I sat there for a while…. got it!… I left what I was eating and dived in to the wardrobe, my hand was a blur as I cranked the little handle round on the bottom of the aerial. A stood in front of the TV and pushed the tune button once again… 1…2 …5 …11…. 29 TV Channels found. “What was it?” Sue inquired. “Vertically polarised signals..” I replied rather quietly… I’m suppose to be reasonably intelligent why hadn’t I reasoned that out logically! The last time I had that was at the launch of BBC2 years ago and my farther nearly launching the TV through the lounge window because he could not tune it in.

The following morning we were both woken with a start…. a car revving its watsits off at 5:00 in the morning! What the….F. Sue looked out of the side window “Its someone

The top of the ramp

towing a caravan up the ramp” by the time she had said “ramp” the car had now made its third attempt to get up… with its wheels spinning and showering small stones everywhere…. by the time they were rattling off the side of the caravan I was dressed and out. As much as I would have liked to have a quiet word with the chap for pebbledashing the side of the caravan with stones, he was gone, leaving a 30 foot bare

The 30 foot long tracks… you can just see the hitch cover of our caravan on the right

streak in the gravel where he had continued spinning his wheels. By this time I had been joined by a number of people from the bottom field and a some one from a couple of other caravans that had also received some pebble dashing. I went back in to put another layer on and make a coffee… I thought I might need it before inspecting the damage to our caravan.

The sound of the stones hitting the van was actually much worse that the actual damage. Thankfully, the Freelander protected the side of the caravan, and the only thing that seemed to actually take any impact was the fibreglass cover on the A frame and the gas locker door. So at 5:45 in the morning, I was stood in front of the caravan with a cup of coffee in one hand and a polishing cloth in the other, polishing out the marks, which thankfully had not even chipped the gel coat. I was amazed though at the  number of other caravanners that stopped by even at that early hour just to complain about the chap and check out any potential damage he may have caused.

You can beat catching up on the news with a nice cup of coffee sat in the sun

As we were up early, we decided to go into Keswick for a look round the shops. As it was Saturday, there should be a market on as well. It was a lovely clear morning. We had nothing else planned for the day so we would see what developed.

After consulting a guide book, and doing a bit more people watching, we decided to drive to Ullswater and take a trip on one of the boats that steam up and down the lake. Ullswater is called “England’s most beautiful lake” and not without reason. Even the drive there and around part of the lake shore was beautiful.  As the weather was still being kind… which is unusual for the Lake District where the locals say “if you can’t see the fells its raining… if you can see’em its going to rain” we had warm sunshine. We parked in the car park next to the tourist information in Glenridding and head inside to find out more. As it was so nice, we wondered about walking round the shore line of the lake following the footpath… then looking at the map realised just how far it was! We were given a leaflet for the steamer and a map showing the ‘short’ walk from Howtown back to Glenridding.

Waiting on the beach for the Steamer at Glenridding

On the Steamer, I kept looking at the route we would walk back, it wasn’t too far, but the Steamer kept on sailing and an hour later, what didn’t seem too far looking at a map, now looked like an awful long way. Maybe the chap in the tourist centre had over estimated our skills. I am not built like a racing snake… more for comfort! As we were getting off the Steamer, Sue and I said at the same time… “its a long way to walk back” realising we were not best equipped for a long hike. By the time we had decided not to attempt to walk back, the steamer had already departed for further up the lake. OK, what to do now… it was another 90 minutes before the next Steamer could take us back to Glenridding. Looking at the map, we spotted salvation… a hotel with a bar and food – the Howtown Hotel. An hour was passed sitting in the back garden of the hotel with a cool drink, watching the walkers on the fell behind negotiate the rocky outcrops while the sheep seem to just part easily out of their way.

Leaving Howtown on the steamer

After a leisurely lunch, we wandered back to the quay at Howtown and joined the queue. There were quite a number of people there that had been on the same trip out as we had, that were talking of walking back… so we weren’t the only ones to take the easy option. The sail back was lovely, the sun had moved round and the clouds were being gently propelled over the fells by a light breeze.

Glenridding in the distance

All too soon our Lake District weekend was over and it was time to head back south to Manchester…. and plan for the next trip.


PS I’ll leave you with a few more pictures taken from Ullswater.