Doughnut’s First Swim!

It was the first outing of my orange tow float, and to celebrate this momentous occasion I walked 1.5 hours to Stickle Tarn, in the Langdales (and 1.5 hours back) to test it out!

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At Stickle Tarn

On a particular down day I decided that my swim kit just wasn’t complete without a tow float. I had read that COWS who swim at Derwentwater had asked swimmers to don a tow float so tourist boaters could see swimmers. For the sake of safety I decided to buy a Lomo tow float with pouch (other brands are available). It was only £19 including postage and arrived not two days after I ordered it. I was very happy with my purchase and was excited to test it out.

So when an impromptu break to the Lake District beckoned, the tow float came with me, along with a brand new Regatta rucksack. All this swim kit needs to be carried and the rucksack I had just wasn’t adequate.

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Regatta Rucksack

Our walk started from The National Trust Stickle Ghyll car park off the B5343 (nearest postcode LA22 9JX). David and I, didn’t know how long it would take to walk the route with a swim and picnic, so we paid for all day parking at £7.00. While David calibrated his steady cam I sat and enjoyed the woodland birds visiting the feeders a NT volunteer had put up. I even saw a yellowhammer but was unable to photograph it due to the poor zoom on my S6!

We followed a path from the north end of the car park. Passed a gate which traversed towards Stickle Ghyll and a path that had been stone pitched, that led steeply upwards. There were many plunge pools that looked inviting along the route.

We crossed a bridge which overlooked a hydroelectric scheme, that harnessed the power of the ghyll, from there the path steadily gained height. There were many scrambles which I wasn’t too happy about. However I manged to scale the rocks and overcame the stepping stones across the turbulent ghyll, before we took the final steps towards the tarn.

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Stickle Tarn

The summits of Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark and Pike O’ Stickle once formed the outer rim of a volcano. Many a climber has enjoyed ascending Jake’s Rake. I preferred to sink my body into cold 14°C waters. It was an ancient volcano after all!

I lasted about 15 minutes in the water before I decided to call it a day. While I looked the part, my technique let me down, with turbulent waters I struggled. The water was cold, and the wind that chopped the waters was equally as cold. I suffered badly from shivers on land afterwards. The tow float had a good swim and remained visible. Also the pouch with dry bag kept my phone dry (which I used to measure my swim), even after a capsize! David kindly filmed me swimming, the result can be seen above.

Once warmed up and had lunch we took the descent back to the car park. However we missed the boulder crossing at the ghyll and ended up looking for a way across further down. David found a site he thought was broach-able. For his long legs it was, but I failed in this leap of faith and hit the side of the ghyll. David reached for my left arm and as he kept a hold of me, to stop me from falling down the waterfall, I felt my tendons twist. I managed to climb onto dry land, having taken an impromptu dip in the ghyll. My boots were soaked and I was in the water up to my knees. I had just got dry, and now I was wet again! Add to that a throbbing wrist and I could be forgiven for giving up on the remaining plans for the day. However I did not. I fought the injury to go on a second swim that day.

I am happy to report that the remaining journey down the ghyll was uneventful. Thankfully there were free toilets at the car park and I managed to change into fresh swimwear.  I will write about about my second swim of the day in my next post.

Have you visited Stickle Tarn, or had an unexpected swim? Fallen into fast flowing water?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

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Just a Little Stroll Then..?

With Christmas done and dusted for another year and both having the week off work, David and I decided to travel to North Wales for a day trip.

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Llyn Gwynant at sunset

We returned to Llyn Gwynant and the surrounding area. I found a moderate walk on the National Trust website that overlooked Llyn Dinas.

20161228_111053-2It was a beautiful winters day. The rugged Snowdonian landscape looked like Martian terrain in the golden light.

It was pretty evident that many people had also decided on visiting Snowdonia National Park, rows upon rows of parked cars lined the verges. Luckily we managed to find parking ourselves (outside Caffi Gwynant Café) before we embarked on our walk.

The first part of the walk began on the Watkin Path, deemed by some to be the hardest path towards Snowdon, due to loss of defined path and loose scree near the top.

The walk meanders through ancient oak woodland, before approaching Cwm Llan, with well defined paths that follow the fast flowing Afon Cwm Llan waterfalls.

Somehow we missed a turning, (there weren’t many way-markers,) so we continued along the path in front of us which wound through the valley. We past a commemoration plaque stating the opening of the route in 1892 by the then Prime Minister, William Gladstone, then on towards the old ruins of a slate quarry before the path drew steadily upwards.

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Ruined quarry buildings

By this time we knew we had taken the wrong path, and had walked further than we ought, but as the path was not too steep we decided to keep going.

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David on the path to Snowdon

On our walk we saw many other people traipsing the same path towards Snowdon, and drawing higher, we heard the whooo of a train from the Snowdon Mountain Railway (even though they say on their website that they are closed!) Perhaps it was a phantom train? As the summit of Snowdon came into view, I could see the train station and visitor centre. It was quite exciting being on a walk we had not planned.

At some 800m above sea level, David and I sat down to have lunch. We pondered on how much further it was to the top and would we get there before sunset. We also had to consider our ability. I am not the best walker/climber. So we decided not to aim for the summit but to go to the ridge and see what was on the other side.

We found Llyn Llydaw on the other side, stretching out far below us. I was ecstatic. Llydaw is one of the llyn’s I want to swim in 2017!

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Llyn Llydaw

From the ridge we turned back and started our descent. It took us another good two hours to walk back to the car park. We were both buoyed by the walk, amazed that we had managed to get 3/4 of the way up the tallest mountain in England and Wales. Today however, we are stiff and sore.

Accidentally taking the path towards Snowdon has made me realise that maybe some tarns in the Lake District are not so unachievable as I believed. Roll on spring/summer 2017!

Have you managed to climb Snowdon? If so what path did you chose, apparently there at six paths?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

Broken Bones, New Friends and Anniversaries!

I haven’t written a blog in a while.

Life has been mainly about work and life back home, doing lots of cooking and writing the new novel. 🙂

This week saw the eighth anniversary of the first meeting of David and I… time passes so quickly! For our anniversary David bought two Gouldian Finches (males). I named them Spectrum (Purple and yellow chest) and Aura (white and yellow chest). I love them, though Chocolate and Romeo have not accepted them into the new aviary as yet! Time will tell!

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For our dinner we ordered in a Saffron curry. We both had a Shahi, but as David had chicken I had the vegetarian option. We are both very full now.

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I have been doing a lot of treadmill exercises since David and I have moved into the new house. Everyday, for 20-30 minutes I have been sweating buckets! I have been eating healthily, lots of salad and I think I have lost weight. My work trousers have indeed become looser. I do not stand on the scales for fear I will revert back to my obsessive teenage years!! (It is so easily done.) Though having the curry tonight (we have not had one in a while) and a nice glass of wine, I am feeling rather swollen lol, and add to the fact that I will not be able to do too much exercise this week, due to me having dislocated/broken my little toe, I fear I will start to put back the pounds I have lost!

Dislocated/broken your toe? I hear you asking! Well it seemed quite innocuous at the time. I was getting ready for bed on a Sunday, it was almost 12 am! I was preparing myself for the working week ahead and since we have a mattress that likes to shift from time to time, I went to shift it back again. This act was fine and the mattress fitted into place and then I went to walk around the bed to my side and *bang!* my foot caught one of David’s shoes under the bed! I smarted at the impact, bent down and looked at my little toe, it seemed queer, out of place. So my instinctual action was to bend it back into place. It clicked, so hopefully it is in its correct alignment! I did not think much at the time, save for the pain and then ‘popping’ it back into place! I hope I have not done any lasting damage? I complained to David and then went to bed with a red, hot and swollen toe! I wanted more comfort! 😦

Monday came too quickly and I had work all day, I had to go otherwise I would’t get paid! The bruising seemed to get worse as time went on! (Sorry for the not so well manicured toes!)

20140304_162432😦 Sadly and licking my wounds. I tottered to work with a bandaged toe. I have had broken toes before so know what it’s like, but it doesn’t make it any easier when you have to walk 10 minutes to the bus stop, fight your way onto the bus and then more walking to the university buildings the lectures are in!

I have managed two days of going to work with a limp but thankfully Wednesday is my day off and I expect to just rest up! I will probably listen to more Hans Zimmer and try and continue some more novel writing! I have written 27,000 words already but most of it is the plan!! I am excited to progress but there is a lot of research and planning to do for some of the scenes, so it will probably be painstakingly slow!