It all started when I added to my bucket list ‘a trip to Blackpool with a group of our friends.’ This one line sparked all sorts of arguments, ‘its too cold’, ‘I’ve never liked Blackpool’, ‘there’s nothing new there’… etc. etc. What it did give birth to, was a plan for us all to make the effort and plan a trip away together.
One fine evening, we got the terrific news that one of our friends was expecting a babe and this fuelled the couple to push us all into actually making a decision and putting this plan of ours to take a trip together into action. We had many a whatsapp conversation about going to the Lake District, having a relaxing weekend, going on walks in the countryside… but it wasn’t until said friends with babe on-the-way found a last minute deal (a seriously AMAZING deal by Lake District standards) and gave us the ultimatum to book that we all finally committed.
They had found a cottage up in the hills by Coniston, called The Coppermines. I knew of the place from when I had looked into a family getaway last year. There were eight of us going (9 including bump) and the cottage had enough rooms to cater for us all. For a two night stay in June, it worked out at £120 per couple and considering how amazing the weather had been that month. We all jumped at the opportunity to take some time out from our chaotic lives.
The price we paid, was for a last minute, off-peak season weekend stay. We were staying in the ‘Fairsnape’ a 5 bed 2 bath cottage. The bedrooms were a mix of doubles, twins and a bunk bed room.
We had all planned to meet at the cottage on the Friday night, so each couple could drive up after work and not have to sacrifice any time off. Mo and I finished our shifts, raced home and filled the car with all the things we may need, topped up with copious bags of food. We got in the car and set the sat nav up with the address and we were off.
The drive to the Lakes is one we know quite well. Although in the past, we tend to head towards the main tourist point, Windemere. We were excited to explore a new area. By the time we got to the Lakes, it was dark and we were completely relying on the sat nav to navigate us round, as it was impossible to see any local signs or landmarks as we drove through the blackness.
Driving down a somewhat quiet road, lady sat nav, all of a sudden, announced ‘turn left’. Left, was onto this gravel covered, narrow track. We were sceptical, but we had nothing else to go off, so we took it. We then proceeded to be taken up the side of this very steep hill, using the narrowest of roads with turns so sharp, around houses and walls that even Mo, (who is a usually super confident driver), was starting to get worried.
The lighting was non existent, I continuously felt as though we were going to fall off the edge and with every corner we turned, I tried to push away thoughts of us having to navigate back down. Then we realised the sat nav was taking us to a dead end.
We eventually got to a point where the dirt track no longer looked like a road and was steeper then all the others. At this point we decided we were going to consult our friends, as this trek up a side of this mountain was raising alarm bells in both of our minds, to the point where we were too scared to even talk to each other!! We got through to one of our mates, who had made it and it turned out the dirt track was in fact, the drive way up. Figures!
They walked down to reassure us, a wise move, as Mo and I were totally elated knowing that we were not going to be stranded on the side of a mountain, in our car for the rest of the night. We cautiously drove up the driveway and ran into the safety of the cottage.
By 11ish that night, we had all managed to arrive – each couple more traumatised than the last, by the death-drive up. But we were safe and warm, cars offloaded, food stored away in the fridge and bags taken up to our rooms. We called it a night semi-early-ish so we could be up bright and breezy the next day.
As usual, on Saturday morning I was up at the crack of dawn. The sun was beaming in through the curtains, so I went down to take a look outside. What. A. View. It was spectacular, TOTALLY worth the death-drive up here.
The large country kitchen had a wall of bi-folding doors, which concertina’d open out to a patio area with a large outdoor dining table – all of which looked out over a view of the beautiful countryside and Lake Coniston below. I dusted off one of the deck chairs and sat, basking in the sun, until the others gradually awoke.
One by one, they started to emerge and pretty soon, breakfast was in full swing. We had come well-prepared, with everything but the kitchen sink, so we had no problem making ourselves at home here.
We were extremely lucky that the weather was glorious. We didn’t make any kind of plans as we were all so content taking our time and soaking in the sun and enjoying each others’ company. We leisurely ate our breakfast, sat and chatted and then decided to get ready and walk down to the lakeside.
The trek down the side of this hill was wonderful in the daytime, wild flowers, cute cottages, great views and good exercise! We leisurely strolled towards the Lake, stopping at a few local shops along the way, one definitely worth a visit, The Coniston Fudge Company. I mean who can resist freshly made fudge??
The Lakeside was bustling with people taking full advantage of the great weather. Straight ahead of us was a jetty and we were in time to take the gondola steam-boat ride round, which we all thought would be a nice way to pass some time. Its not the cheapest of things to do and as we hopped onto the first boat we saw, (there weren’t any other tourist ones I could see around), I don’t know whether this was in fact the best deal going. However, we all enjoyed laying back and cruising along the waters. We sat at the back of the boat, little tip if you do the same – watch out for the light dusting of black particles (soot??) which spurt out every so often from the chimney.
After a lovely sail around, we started feeling peckish and popped in for afternoon teas, coffees and ice creams at The Bluebird Café. Ice cream was divine. Perfect for a warm day.
After re-fuelling, we headed back up to spend the rest of our time enjoying the cottage and making full use of the wonderful patio by starting up a barbecue. We had called ahead to check if they had a barbecue there, which they did, but I have to admit it wasn’t in the best of states. As a self catering cottage, I didn’t expect it to be perfect. If you do decide to use the ones they have, I would probably suggest bringing some foil to cover the spots that are looking worse for wear, or bring your own disposable grills to use instead, as we did. We took over a number of disposable barbecues just in case, but we did end up using them instead (we thought it would save us some cleaning time too).
The cupboard in the hallway housed a number of games and puzzles, which I got super excited about. I did attempt a puzzle, however, some lovely previous guest had decided to mix up the pieces from the various different boxes and unfortunately I wasn’t patient enough to sort out what was what from the 6+ puzzles they had (sigh). Luckily, we had also planned ahead with entertainment and brought our own games.
At the start of the trip, we had all laughed at each other over the amount of stuff we had brought with us. By the end of the trip, we realised we did in fact need and use it all! I’ve knocked up a separate post on our ad-hoc list of things we took over, in case you are thinking of a similar trip.
It wasn’t until late Sunday afternoon that we all packed up and returned to our homes. The trip was so much better than we expected it would be and we are all excited about repeating the whole experience next year… Of course, next time with the added bonus of a tiny new member to our group 🙂