This was always going to be an interesting experience - we were going away with another family who were new to hostelling and to fellwalking, so many things were going to be different - the planning, the sharing of responsibility, the scope of what we deemed to be achievable given the ages and inexperience of the younger members of our group.
Things started to get interesting right from the off... after getting everybody settled in the cars we pulled out of the driveway but couldn't get out of the Close, as our adjoining neighbours had set their property alight and there was a fire-engine blocking the exit. Thankfully nobody was hurt and there was little damage, due to the quick response of the Fire Service. The car's trip-computer couldn't calculate the journey-stats, but the sad fact was that we'd covered ten metres in 40 minutes.
The Thursday afternoon journey up the standard A5/M6 route was frustrating, there being many hold-ups due to accidents/roadworks/bad weather, but after a few extra hours we arrived at Ings to sample the delights of the Little Chef. From there it was but a short trip to Windermere YHA, where we were assigned a couple of family-dorms that were by far the smallest that I'd ever stayed in. I think that if I had been new to family-hostelling I'd have been put off for life by this, as there wasn't even enough space between the bunks to walk without clattering the steps. Thankfully our friends were tolerant and the matter didn't become a major issue, but in future I think we'll be asking about dorm-sizes before making a booking. That was all that was poor about the hostel. We dined there on the Friday evening and had all of our breakfasts there, and all of the meals were of good quality. The staff were very helpful and all of our kids liked the place, so all was well.
Friday dawned grey and damp but the outlook was good, so we stayed with the original plan of having a simple walk as a test of what we could achieve as a group. We chose to walk from the hostel towards the Garburn Pass, and at Garburn Nook we would have the option to bag Sallows and perhaps Sour Howes before we returned. Nothing too high and risky, but the prospect of fairly good views and some easy snow underfoot was sufficient incentive for the kids to get excited.
The first leg was a bit of road-walking. The daffodils were just waking up...
Daffs in the woods
... as we headed towards Town End:
The approach to Town End
From Town End we took the footpath down to the two bridges over Trout Beck where we had a few minutes of rest and play:
The first bridge
The second bridge
From there we walked up the slope to the A592 and made our way along it to a delightful mossy-walled bridleway that went up beside The Howe:
The rising path gave us ever-wider views of the fells surrounding the lowly Troutbeck Tongue:
Caudale Moor, Thornthwaite Crag, Froswick and Ill Bell surrounding Troutbeck Tongue
There was some interesting cut wood lying around:
A bit further up we got a better view of Troutbeck Tongue:
... and we found some woods where we might find friendly bears, according to one member of our party...
Approaching the lair of the friendly bears
... who thought it was a good idea to hold hands with someone, just in case the bears weren't feeling that friendly after all:
Bear-hunters - formidable and fearsome, and yet casual and relaxed. It's an interesting tactic, IMO
We made it unscathed to Garburn Nook and then headed up the track to the ridge:
Geoff looks on as the others tackle the track to the ridge
While the others got comfy at the ridge, us blokes took a short stroll to the top of Sallows, from where we got a fair view of Sour Howes:
Sour Howes from Sallows
Geoff reaches the top of Sallows
The view from the top of Sallows
Back at the ridge we prepped for a split in our party. Ella nipped off alone to bag Sallows and would join us blokes on the easy trudge to Sour Howes, while the others returned to the Garburn Road, having achieved enough for the day.
We encountered some patchy yet deep snow on the way to Sour Howes:
Ella in the snow, making snowballs to chuck at Geoff
Geoff gets his revenge 🙂
The final pic of the day was of Windermere from the slopes of Sour Howes:
We caught up with the others on the Garburn Road and retraced our route until we reached the end of the bridleway. Instead of going via the two bridges we stuck to the road, crossed Church Bridge and went back via Low Fold and Town End.
The kids had really enjoyed the adventure and hadn't struggled at all, which was good news. Back at the hostel we had a lazy evening and a good meal while figuring out what to do for the next day.
To be continued...