The Lake District is fast becoming my favourite place in the UK – screen-saver-worthy scenery, innumerable country walks and hikes and the chance to go on boat trips without worrying about sharks… (just me?). So I was thrilled when my boyfriend announced my birthday present was a weekend in Dockray, near Ullswater in the Lakes.
We stayed at The Royal Hotel in Dockray, which was lovely, except for one thing. A thing I am going to call Tea Drinker Prejudice (TDP?). Who’s first thought in the morning is ‘time for a cuppa!’? I know that’s not just me. Far less of you would say your first thought is ‘time for a coffee.’ Tea is an English tradition and a fundamental part of my life, and no, I’m not being dramatic.
So imagine my dismay when we approached the breakfast buffet on our first morning to see a coffee urn without so much as a tea bag in sight. Deep breaths, I thought, they must serve it in pots. The waiter over to the table after I’d sat down with my somewhat less caffeinated orange juice to ask ‘white or brown toast?’ I must have looked perplexed but he didn’t notice and went off to get our toast before I had a chance to ask for tea. Meanwhile, I shot daggers at Dom happily sipping his black coffee (ew, I know). Rest assured, I got my tea before the caffeine withdrawal headaches set in (I have a problem, I know), but the same thing happened the next day. In future, I will take a flask with me.
Apart from the TDP, the hotel was perfect. We fell in love with Penrith, the small town nearby. An Aldi, a Booths, a Morrisons and a Spoons – what more could you want? It was also a lovely old market town with brick roads and a clock tower. I was quick to text my mum with my heart-wrenching dilemma that Dom and I want to move there in 10 years time – ‘but I don’t know how I would cope being 200 miles from home’ – expecting a very upset reply about her not knowing how she would cope either. Her reply was somewhat disappointing – ‘Nice x’. Thanks mum, miss you too x
Fresh air could not have come at a better time after exam and deadline season, but sadly, rain came with it. It didn’t stop us getting on the Ullswater steamer. We’d planned to get the steamer from Aira Force to Glenridding, but were put off by the FIVE POUND minimum car park charge for a minimum of two hours (come on National Trust, think of the students!). So we found some cheaper parking in Glenridding and were going to do the trip the other way round.
I nearly refused to get on the boat when we were told the captain had decided he couldn’t dock at Aira Force because the winds were too strong. Reminding myself that there were no sharks in Ullswater and that I am a good swimmer, I got on board. We did the round trip instead.
Gingerly, Dom and I made our way to the deck of the boat where we were met with rain and wind. At the front of the boat, disaster struck when a massive wave hit me from behind, soaking my phone. Without looking back, I ran back inside with thoughts of whether or not I had insurance for water damage running through my mind. It was only when I sat down to dry my darling iPhone that I looked up to see Dom, who had been stood next to me on the top deck, soaked from head to toe… millennials and technology ‘ey?!
On the second day we managed to see Aira Force waterfall. It was a little like going to see the Tegenungan waterfall in Bali, steep steps, panting. Similar, except I was weighed down by four layers and clutching a flask of tea instead of a bottle of water. It was incredible, though. We didn’t stop long before we had to hike back up to the road. After a massive breakfast of scrambled egg on toast, this was a challenge. I won’t lie, I had heart palpitations which were made worse when I saw children as young as four doing the same climb. Brilliant.
Food-wise, we added to our vast list of Wetherspoons we have visited by going to the one in Penrith twice. In other achievements, I tried haggis and bacon for the first time. One, a daring try, one that people are shocked I had never eaten. I didn’t like either, but the haggis was my favourite. I am also proud to say that, for the first time on a visit to the Lake District, I did not burn my clutch out once! I’d like to thank Charlie, my Citreon C1, for being so determined in third gear.