Through the Viewfinder
And What Alice Found There
Back in October Greg and I decided to buy ourselves a boat. I have to admit it was a bit of an impulse buy and because of the time of year that we bought it we were instantly faced with a load of bad weather, so the boat was safely stored away to use on a sunny day. Christmas and New Year then came along bringing another round of rubbish weather until finally last weekend a sunny spell was forecast for Sunday. We seized this opportunity and decided to finally take our vessel out on it's long overdue maiden voyage, and what better place to start than beautiful Ullswater...
We decided to name our boat Beatrix as both of us loved Beatrix Potter's stories as children, and she's such a well-known name in the Lake District that it seemed quite appropriate. So last Sunday we packed Beatrix into the car for the very first time and headed out to Ullswater in the early hours of the morning. We parked in the National Trust car park at Glencoyne Bay and took the boat over to the beach running along the lake shore. Being a dingy we don't need any special equipment for transporting Beatrix (like a trailer or roof rack) - instead she packs up nicely into her own little carry case complete with handles for easy carrying - it's pretty heavy though so it's easier if two people do the carrying! If anyone's interested in the exact type of boat we bought it's the Intex Mariner 3 - designed as a fishing dinghy it's incredibly well made, very tough, and has a hard floor which enables you to stand up in the boat once on the water.
Anyway, once on the beach we unloaded all the equipment and began to inflate each section of the boat using the pump that came with it. This was surprisingly easy and took us no more than 10 minutes, which is pretty good for this size boat! It also comes with two inflatable seat cushions which you can slot in wherever you like (or you don't have to use them at all) which were easy enough to blow up manually without the pump. We then slotted the oars into place on each side of the boat in specially designed catches to avoid you ever losing an oar into the water - very clever! Finally we donned our life jackets and we were ready to go.
Before jumping in we took a few moments to appreciate the views. The lake was so calm and still that the mountains were reflected as though in a mirror. It was so quiet all around with not another soul in sight and the sun was just beginning to rise over the peaks creating a soft orange glow in the sky. It was beautiful, and such a perfect day for our maiden voyage. After months of anticipation we climbed aboard Beatrix for the first time and rowed off into the sunrise...
What an amazing morning we had - we were the only people around for at least the first 45 minutes except one photographer we spotted on the shore (possibly getting some photos of us in our amazing boat - who knows)! The sky was constantly changing colour and the clouds finally lifted to reveal a gorgeous blue. The sun bounced off the mountains lighting up the snowy tops and the oranges hues of the trees glowed brightly in the morning light. We quickly got into the rhythm of rowing and took it in turns, heading out into the centre of the lake before deciding to steer in the direction of a small island known as Norfolk Island. We didn't moor Beatrix at this island as it was pretty rocky so instead we just rowed around the perimeter looking out for wildlife - there were lots of cute birds to see! We then headed away towards the southern end of the lake where we caught our first glimpse of the Ullswater Steamer setting out on it's morning run. We let the boat pass by and then had fun staying on board as the waves it created rocked us here, there and everywhere! Once the water had calmed down again another island came into view so we rowed off in that direction to explore...
The island is officially named Wall Holm on OS Maps but I decided to name it Isle of Alice. We pulled up alongside the rocky shore, with Greg clinging onto the slippery, mossy bank while I quickly hopped out to conquer the island. It was tiny but really beautiful. Being only accessible by boat it would make the most perfect, tranquil picnic spot and is so peaceful that you could easily have a little snooze on the grass. With stunning views of the surrounding peaks this little rocky outcrop certainly did not disappoint, and after snapping some gorgeous photos I soon hopped back in the boat for more exploring (not before slipping on the moss and nearly falling in the lake, but oh well).
We rowed around for another half an hour or so, slowly making our way back in the direction of the car park and making the most of our last moments on the water for our first trip out. Finally we landed back in Glencoyne Bay, deflated and packed up the boat, then sat having a picnic in the car trying to warm up our toes. Once we'd finished eating it was only 12 noon and we didn't feel ready to call it a day yet, so instead we threw on our hiking boots and decided to tick off another Wainwright while we had some decent weather! We followed the beautiful shoreline path known as the Ullswater Way and headed in the direction of Glenridding Dodd - a small fell overlooking Ullswater and the lovely little village of Glenridding. The walk itself was quite nice but the hardest part was finding the path at the beginning. According to OS Maps there was a route going up next to a large laybay, which pretty much headed straight for the summit. However, once we got to the layby the path was nowhere to be seen. After a short while of wandering up and down, almost going up someones garden path, and seeing a few other confused walkers, we eventually got out the GPS version of OS Maps which showed us the path was in fact next to us but very well hidden by fallen trees and overgrown plants! Once we'd got past the first very boggy and overgrown section of the footpath the rest wasn't so bad and eventually it opened out onto a grassy fellside with lovely views looking back to the lake.
The summit was small and rocky but again had great views, including the very snowy Helvellyn range looming above us. After a short while enjoying the sunshine on the top we took a different route down a grassy path which led us straight into Glenridding, where we then joined back up with the Ullswater Way and followed this footpath back to the car park at the bay. After completing this hike I'm now up to 104 Wainwrights - still not quite halfway but slowly getting there!
Overall, we had a really great day out and it made a nice change to do something different and enjoy the lakes from another perspective. It's safe to say we both fell very much in love with little Beatrix and we can't wait to take her out on the water again as soon as possible, so watch this space for more boating stories!
If anyone wants to give our hiking route a go up Glenridding Dodd, see the map below: