Friday, 17 November 2017

5 Ways to explore the Lake District

Back in the day, when this blog first began, it was very much focused on exploring the different fells on foot but we decided to make 2017 the year we did something different.  It's not that we got bored with hiking, far from it, it's just that different modes of transport offer different views and different experiences and we love them all.  We've also met up with some utterly fab people who are proving that exploring the fells isn't just a passtime for those with 2 healthy legs.

1. Bikes and electric bikes

I am a fair weather, unashamed, not too hilly cyclist.  I love my bike but I'm never going to be one of those Lycra clad lovelies you see pounding their way up Hard Knott Pass, so we stick to relatively flat places like Thirlmere and Grizedale.  If your legs are really feeling the train, or you don't have your own bike, then fear not for there is an entire network of cycle hire places around Morecambe Bay (also blissfully non hilly) or there's Velo Bikes in Grizedale where we borrowed a couple of ebikes from last week. (And there's tons of other fab ideas for exploring Morecambe Bay here and here)

For a few blissful hours I understood a little of what it felt like to be Laura Trott - not that I'd ever catch her even with electric assistance, but it was wonderful to zoom up hills with hardly any effort and polish off a 21 mile bike ride in under two hours and still be able to talk at the end of it.

Ebikes from Velo bikes in Grizedale
2.  On foot

To be fair, I end up exploring on foot even when I'm riding a bike as I push it up so many hills.  Nothing will ever replace my love of hiking but it's always fun escaping the crowds and exploring some of the less visited spots.  One of my favourite walks this year was the day we spent around Ennerdale Water - it was a glorious day, the heather was in full bloom and we hardly saw another soul once we left the car park.  Perfect.


3.  On the water

2017 was the year we cracked out the kayaks - and the canoes!  Fed up of walking and cycling around the lakes we thought it was about time we got out onto the lakes, so we booked a day's kayaking with Distant Horizons on Ullswater.  They gave us all the tuition we needed and kept a close eye on us all day, which was perhaps as well...  We had so much fun that we went back for a go on their canoes a few weeks later.  I wanted to love the kayaks more but I found the canoes a lot more comfortable - plus there was more room for a picnic in there...

(I bought the adventures as a Christmas gift for Steve - if you fancy it you can find the vouchers here.)


4.  IN the water

I turned 50 this year and my middle aged crisis took the form of wetsuits.  I figured it was about time to return to my swimming roots and start splashing around.  Steve was rather less gung-ho about this than I was but we ended up having several wonderful adventures hiking to a lake or tarn, going for a swim and then enjoying a BBQ on the shores.  Admittedly the photo below is in Consiton Water which didn't require much of a hike, but it was a lot of fun!

Strange aquatic mammal spotted in Consiton Water
5.  In a Terrain Hopper

It's easy to see the fells as just something for those on two legs but, as my awesome friend Debs proves, there's ways of exploring the hills even if you're not a gnarly hairy hiker.  (Like Deb's husband Andy...) 😀

My name is Debbie and I live in Cumbria. In 2011 I was diagnosed with spinal degeneration and have since used a wheelchair. 

Before this, I had always been a keen hill walker. My husband Andy and I enjoyed long-distance treks,we’d completed a few together, including Coast to Coast, Dales Way and Cumbria Way. 

Dabs out and about on her Terrain Hopper
Following the diagnosis, I began investigating all terrain wheelchairs which could get me back out into the hills. I found one called a TerrainHopper, a 4x4 all terrain wheelchair and it was with this that Andy and I completed the Coast to Coast walk, from St Bees to Robin Hoods Bay in 2015.  Last year we published our first book, 'In the Spirit of Wainwright', which is a guide to the route we took across the county. 

In 2016, we devised a new long-distance route from Semerwater, North Yorkshire to 
Bassenwaite in Cumbria. This is a trek of 81 miles, and is entirely all terrain wheelchair accessible. 

At present time we are developing a new long distance through the Lakeland passes. We
don’t know as yet if it is possible to do – but that’s part of the fun! We enjoy trying new,
different routes, hoping to make the inaccessible accessible.

Being able to get back out into the hills has given me my life back. I can now enjoy being 
back outside with my family and friends. I work with The Outdoor Guide with Julia Bradbury to promote wheel friendly walks. (http://theoutdoorguide.co.uk/tog-friends/mobility-access-tog/)  Our aim is to encourage other people with disabilities to  get outdoors.

For more information about the TerrainHopper, please visit http://www.terrainhopper.com/