Through the Viewfinder
And What Alice Found There
A couple of weeks ago my friend Abbie, who I lived with throughout our time at uni, came to stay with me in Kendal for the weekend. After living together for 3 years we became pretty close friends and since graduating we've spoken to each other almost every day! After 6 months of not seeing each other I was really excited to be reunited and decided to plan a fun weekend to help make the most of our short time together...
With only 2 full days before Abbie had to head back to Grimsby I tried to think of fun things we could do, both indoors and outdoors (because you never know what the weather will be doing around here). Day one we decided to get up early and head over to Tarn Hows - one of my favourite low level walks in the Lakes. On the drive over it started to hail so once we got parked we decided to sit and wait 5 minutes in the hope that it would stop. And in true Lake District style it quickly went from dark and gloomy to sunshine and blue skies! We spent the first half an hour or so at the bird watching station by the car park in Tarn Hows. It's only small and most people don't seem to even notice it's there meaning I'm usually the only person sat watching all the birds with a front row seat! Although the feeders were (disappointingly) empty we still managed to spot some wildlife - robins, blue tits, great tits - we were even lucky enough to see a Jay and we thought we heard a woodpecker too! Eventually we set off towards the tarns to begin the walk.
We followed the paths anti-clockwise around the tarns. This is my usual route, I don't know why but I don't think I've ever gone round clockwise! It's such a lovely walk with winding paths along the shore of the tarns, surrounded by looming snow capped mountains just calling out to be climbed! There's a National Trust car park at the beginning of the trail, and also one a bit further along towards Yew Tree Tarn, with plenty of spaces. The tarns also make a great base for climbing some of the surrounding fells.
We followed the path through the woods past the little cabin, all the way around through the woods on the opposite side. It was a chilly morning but the weather stayed nice for us which was lucky. By the time we reached the car we both agreed we were ready for something to eat so we headed back towards Windermere to see what food we could find.
Living so close to Windermere I don't often go there for day trips or to eat in cafes as it's usually so packed with tourists that I tend to stay away and go up in the fells where it's quieter! It was a nice change to go and have a wander round and we found a really nice little cafe called The Pig where we decided to have lunch. It was decorated in quite an industrial style inside with a different cactus on each table! It was really cute! We both had soup to warm us up and then moved on to our next stop - Levens Deer Park.
Levens Deer Park is a walk I have often done in the evening as it's so close to home and is always so quiet! It's just a bonus that you get to see the deer as you wander through the forest - always a magical sight. I usually just walk on one side of the river, going along as far as the path goes then turning around and coming back the same way. However, me and Abbie decided to see if there was a route that looped all the way around so Abbie could see the park from both sides of the river. Each side is quite different - the right hand side is more forest and is more under cover of the trees, whereas the opposite side is a lot more open with rolling fields gently sloping down to the riverside. We set off along the forest side first and within minutes of entering the park we spotted some deer. It appeared to be a little family with a young male showing off some impressive antlers, a few females, and a lot of young babies. It was lovely to see them together sitting in the afternoon sun. We carried on following the path (which turned out to be extremely muddy) and went all the way to the end - I had never been that far before! There was a small sign roughly showing where the paths on each side of the river were, and we decided to try leaving the park, walking along the road, and hoping we could re-enter on the other side of the river - if we managed to cross it! After what felt like an age of following the road (with some lovely snowdrops growing on the banking) we eventually discovered a pedestrian underpass that went below the dual carriageway. Off we went and coming out the other side we also realised we had ended up on the opposite side of the river - success! Now all we had to do was find our way back into the deer park...
We wandered along some country lanes, bird watching as we went, and eventually found a sign post for the deer park. Once we were back in we headed across more muddy fields until we came to a stile in the wall. As we were crossing we suddenly noticed a small group of deer really close to the wall. We watched them for a while before they spotted us and ran away into the cover of the trees. The rest of the walk back along the open side of the park was nice and easy, and we soon stumbled across the main herd of deer grazing all over the fields - it was beautiful. Finally, after walking for what felt like hours we got back to the car and headed home before a meal at Pizza Express followed by cocktails in Palomas.
On day 2 (and sadly Abbie's final full day in Kendal) we decided to have a bit of a lie in, and as the forecast wasn't great I decided to try one of my indoor activities that I had planned - the Lakes Aquarium. I had totally forgotten this little aquarium even existed! I've visited there before many many years ago when I was younger but I couldn't really remember what it was like, so it would be like a new experience for both of us. The entrance to the aquarium is on the west shore of Lake Windermere, opposite Fell Foot Park. There's a car park outside which is only £3.50 for 10 hours parking, meaning you could park there as your base and spend the entire day exploring the surrounding areas! The aquarium itself cost £6.95 each for an adult, but your ticket is valid all day and allows you to come and go as you please, and go around the exhibits as many times as you like! We made our way around, through the different themed zones - Amazon, Asia, Africa, even the Lake District had it's own section! One of my favourite parts was seeing the otters, and the seahorses were beautiful to watch too. We spent a good hour and a half wandering around before getting a bite to eat in the cafe there. The setting was really cute by the railway line, with gorgeous views of Lake Windermere.
After lunch we nipped over to Fell Foot as I wanted to show Abbie where I could take her in summer for a day by the lake, and then we headed up to Gummers Howe for a quick walk before heading home again. Gummers Howe is another of my favourite walks around here - it's one of those that you can go up after work as it doesn't take long, but it offers one of the best views of Lake Windermere! It's so stunning up there, I could spend all day sitting on the grass looking out over the landscape. It makes me feel so lucky to live around here - I wouldn't change it for the world!
Unfortunately, a fun day trip out was almost ruined by a slightly chaotic drive home. On the way back my car engine heated up to the maximum temperature meaning I had to swiftly pull over and call the AA out before my car burst into flames. After waiting by the side of the road for an hour we eventually got rescued, and once back in Kendal we were certainly ready for some more food! We headed to Romney's pub (a handy 2 minute walk from my house) and feasted on a well deserved carvery and a glass of wine to finish off the weekend.
The next morning Abbie headed home and I went off to work. It had been a great catch up, and we managed to fit in a fair amount in the short space of time we had. It was fun to do some more touristy things than normal and it was also a nice change to spend some time outdoors but not in the mountains. However, the weekend went far too quickly and I already can't wait for the next time we meet up to see what other adventures we can have together...