What’s a couple to do for Christmas when the kids are all spending it elsewhere, when we don’t buy each other gifts, and we don’t observe the holiday (or anything else) in a religious manner?
We run away. We go exploring. We get out of Dodge.
Brian and I found a self catering cottage in Pooley Bridge, which is a tiny little village in England’s Lake District. We booked it, packed up the car with our hiking gear, a few books, my camera and some warm clothes, and off we went. Four and a half days tucked away in the lakes and hills of north western England for Christmas? Brilliant!
The weather was WET. There were record floods all over the news for the whole country. Railway tracks were washing out, rivers were jumping their banks and roads were closed all over England and Scotland with more rain in the forecast for the next few days to come. We figured that was perfect hiking weather. That’s what water proof boots are for.
Hats, scarves, water proof jackets and gloves on, we walked out the front door of the cottage and were at the river trail in two minutes.
Do you know about the “Freedom to Roam” law in Britain? Essentially, it means the public has access to footpaths even if they cross through a farmer’s field, as long as you stay on the trail and don’t cause damage (There are exceptions). Anyway, what it meant for us during our hike was that we took a walk along the river path and had to cross through several stiles between fields filled with sheep.
We stayed on the path and put the “waterproof” feature of our boots to the test. Mine failed.
Luckily they still seem to be mud-proof though. This particular bog was fun to cross.
We hop-hop-hopped from grassy bit to grassy bit and only got mud up to our ankles. It could have been much worse.
Still, the mud and rain were worth it. How long do you think that standing stone has been there? Five hundred years? A thousand? It’s a mystery lost to time. I wonder who the people were who planted it there? Were there more in this field? We’ll never know. The sheep aren’t talking.
We made it about a mile and a half before we had to turn back. We finally got to a field that was nearly flat and the trail was covered with a few inches of water. After returning to the bridge we continued to Ulls Water Lake where this river originates.
The water was high, the wind was whipping the waves against the shore, and we could barely stand upright it was so strong.
In good weather there is a steamer boat for tours. I suppose we’ll have to try again next time because you couldn’t pay me enough to be out on the lake on that tiny boat with the wind raging like that. I’ll keep my muddy feet planted on the shore, thank you.
Our hike done for the day we stopped in the pub for a hot dinner, then cozied up in our little ancient cottage next to the fireplace with the heaters turned way up. We had no internet, no phone reception, and very limited TV reception. The one channel that worked that evening was showing the Muppets Christmas Carol, one of my favorites.
And that is how we spent our perfect Christmas Eve. Nontraditional, unplanned, disconnected and with a little adventure thrown in. Just the way we like it.