Sunday, 3 September 2017

Spirit Trail Day 1 & 2- Hello Stranger...

Well, we did it, we finally met. After around 5 years chatting on social media and several months of intense planning for the trip I finally met my hiking partner for the next 2 weeks.  Karen is absolutely lovely though frankly I'm just pleased she didn't turn out to be a 20 stone biker named Barry from Milton Keynes.

There was no time to mess around with slow introductions - within an hour of her arrival we were off to Ulverston for the start of our trek and a meeting with the lovely guys at Shed 1 Distillery.   They're often asked why they don't do distillery tours - the answer is quite simple - you see that photo below - it's an aerial photo of their distillery.  The entire distillery.  There's a reason they're called Shed 1 and it's because despite winning awards for their excellent gins, they distil everything in a 25 litre still in the shed in their back garden.


We had a fabulous time sampling 3 of their brews and learning all about the botanicals they use and where they source them (mainly Cumbria).  Our trip was beginning very well indeed...



From there it was over to Cumbria Crystal who have very kindly agreed to give us two absolutely beautiful crystal goblets for our trip - the perfect G&T demands the perfect glass.  You can find them in Ulverston opposite Booth's and the factory shop is open 7 days a week.  If you visit Mon - Fri you can watch the experts blowing the glass in the factory - but please do remember it's a working factory and the glass blowers are performing an immensely skilled task so it's best not to distract them.






Their finished products are unashamedly top end and can be seen in all the British embassies around the world as well as in James Bond films and Downton Abbey (amongst many others).  Here's the VERY best bit though - from October through to 22nd December you can book to go in and blow your own crystal bauble for your Christmas tree.  How cool is that?  We already have our session booked!  You can book yours HERE - do it soon as they're bound to sell out really quickly.

The crystal goblets are absolutely beautiful and I know they will be perfect for our many G&Ts - we've got them wrapped up like footballs so we don't damage them!


After all of that excitement it was time to check into our hotel for the night - Virginia House in the centre of Ulverston.  This little gem has a well deserved reputation for fine dining and the fact that it has one of the best gin bars in Cumbria didn't influence our decision at all.  Honest...

Craig and Louise are the perfect hosts and the food was absolutely superb - really imaginative and utterly delicious.  I mean this in a really good way, but the whole thing was like getting to taste all the amazing food they make in a Masterchef final.




Following such a fine feed - and perhaps the occasional gin (just to be polite!) we slept like logs and devoured a huge breakfast this morning before setting off.  Craig and Louise waved us off and, as we took our very first steps, the very first drops of rain began to fall...


So how was the first hike?  Well, it rained. And rained.  And then rained a little more.  There was also a howling gale as we made our way up over the back of Hoad Hill - but the problem with putting two resolutely positive people together is that we refused to acknowledge that we were either cold or wet.  "Well it could be worse..."  "And at least it's not..." were the main topics of conversation

"At least there are no bears..."
"At least it's not snowing..."

The first day was just a short hop to Greenodd as I had a commitment to honour with the Arthur Ransome Trust - I was reading a chapter in a marathon reading of Swallows and Amazons.  Such a shame the weather wasn't playing ball, but it was still an excellent event!


Tomorrow we're back on the road again so join us (or even watch out for us!) as we make our way from Greenodd to Cartmel.  Here's hoping for sunnier skies!

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