Torver to Coniston

In researching an alternative start to my walk on Wednesday I came across a car park I wasn’t familiar with and a quick search on the internet revealed:

This car park is above the village and is on the site of the long dismantled Coniston Railway station. This car park is ideal for those wishing to walk the Coniston Fells or ascend to the summit of the “Old Man” as it lies at the foot of the Walner Scar road, a popular access point to the fells. It is also possible to walk to Torver along the line of the railway from here.

The last sentence was duly noted and so today we decided to explore the route on bike and foot. We parked at the church in Torver and accessed the new cycle path via the car park at the rear of the Church House Inn.

The track is easy cycling in the main with only a very short 60 metre section on the road and as it follows the old railway line the gradient is perfect.

We had to walk some muddy sections

There are a number of gates along the route so the lead changed hands several times as we courteously held them open for each other.

Passing a lovely cottage

Megan and William rode their bikes and Mummy, Togo and I ran along behind. The route was just over 4 km long and took us forty minutes to complete.

Nearing Coniston

It was lunchtime when we arrived in Coniston so we headed straight for Meadowdore Café where we sat outside and enjoyed a lovely lunch on a table with an umbrella. We lingered for ice cream and coffee and waited for a brief rain shower to pass.

Quenching our thirst!

We had planned to head for the playground but decided that all the equipment would now be wet so decided instead to return to the car along the same route. As I ran along behind the children I was glad I hadn’t given in to temptation and ordered a large slice of chocolate fudge cake as pudding.

The sun was shining again as we reached the car so William and I had a kickabout with the football in the empty car park whilst Megan wrote in her notebook.

We returned to Holly Bank Barn after a short diversion along the east side of Coniston Water to reconnoitre a plan for tomorrow…

Pieces of eight!!

It’s Megan’s long awaited birthday – the days having been on the count down since our arrival in Cumbria.

This morning Megan and William were early to rise (and I mean EARLY) filled with excitement.  I had to pretend to be asleep a couple of times to keep them in their room, especially as I knew what was lurking beneath the pile of colourful wrapping paper.

By 6:15 it was no longer possible to contain the excitement…


Megan was very lucky and got exactly what she wanted but the stars of the show this year had to be the Karaoke machine (an upgrade to the microphone that was on the list) and the chemistry set.  The spinning plates have been challenging us all but we hope to have mastered them soon.  Here are a few snaps..

Let the singing begin!!!
Ready to make an explosion!!
A mad scientist indeed!!

A birthday wouldn’t be a birthday without cake.  I had planned to create something different this year using icing however Megan turned her nose up at my trial run.

The trial run…

She politely advised me that whilst it looked nice she didn’t like the taste of the icing and requested the old faithful chocolate cake with smarties and chocolate fingers so that’s what she got!!

The real Birthday Cake!!!

For the first time this holiday we had a very lazy day at the barn today playing with Megan’s new toys and mastering the soundtrack to Moana.  If you haven’t heard it yet you soon will – check back in later when we upload the video footage!!!

We only managed to get Megan out of her pajamas at tea time with the promise of a Red Lion dinner!!

Birthday curry at the Red Lion
The Birthday Girl!

Happy Birthday Megan!  You are growing up so fast and it is lovely to see you shine in everything you do.  Whether its singing, spinning or a scientist – we have no doubt your future will be bright and we will continue to enjoy watching you grow.

Wray Castle

Today, Daddy was having a day off for good behaviour and was heading into the hills with Togo.  This left Megan, William and I to fend for ourselves and gave us the perfect opportunity to explore a National Trust property without having to worry about Togo.  A bit of research later and we decided on Wray Castle, located just to the south of Ambleside on the bank on Lake Windermere.

We dropped Daddy off in Coniston and made our way to the castle.  Having been warned about its popularity and the car park filling up fast we were there nice and early and had a sneaky play on the children’s play area before the doors opened.

The entrance to the castle
Waiting for the doors to open

Once inside, the place had been transformed into a series of rooms with different activities for children, including a Peter Rabbit zone, dressing up and role play areas.  Have a look for yourselves…

Peter Rabbit Zone..

Entering Peter’s rabbit warren – with fear and trepidation
Mr McGreggor’s garden
Peter Rabbit
Lilly Bobtail
Peter and Lilly in Owl’s nest

Dressing up and role play…

Princess Megan
Knight William
Catching fish on Windermere

Playing games…

Table tennis

And we even managed a spot of camping…

Our campsite
Cooking tea
It was a starry night – look out for shooting stars
Bed time!

Wray Castle was a big hit with Megan and William.  We would definitely return again – perhaps next time we could arrive by bike or boat to make for an even more exciting adventure!  But for now its farewell as we head off to the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel to meet Daddy after his exciting mountain day.

Farewell Wray Castle… till next time!!

Ullswater boat and hike

In a last minute change to our original plans we got up early and made the journey to Glenridding for the start of the days adventure.  We were greeted by totally calm water, the remnants of the wispy clouds hanging over the lake and the boats being prepped for the day ahead.

Calm and tranquil Ullswater
Perfect reflection
Raising the flag

This was Megan and William’s maiden voyage and they were very excited to hop aboard.  I am not sure Togo shared their enthusiasm.

The views along the route were spectacular, the only ripples being caused by our boat.

Leaving Glenridding pier


Enjoying their first boat trip
Shame we weren’t flying the Jolly Roger to match William’s pirate patch
Atmospheric morning shot

It wasn’t long before we disembarked and started heading back along the lakeside on foot where we were treated to equally spectacular views.

Perching on a boulder

It was an exceptionally muggy day and we all took advantage of the frequent stream crossings to cool down.

Cooling off in the stream

William, who was suffering more than most, took it one step further and dunked his whole head in the water!!!

The lake path was rather undulating but easy to follow.

Following the lake path

We even spotted some wildlife en-route (Grannie Annie look away now).  I will defer to Grandad Morgan to advise on the correct terminology for the flora and fauna in the picture…

A local lizard on some starry moss

We paused for lunch alongside the lake before continuing our journey and were soon rewarded with views of Glenridding.  I think the mountain rising up behind the lake is Fairfield (but don’t quote me!!).

Glenridding with Fairfield in the background

Leaving the lake side we paused briefly at Side Farm for a well deserved ice cream and then followed the path back to our start point.  Another brilliant day in the Lakes and great to enjoy a new area.

Cathedral Cavern from Tilberthwaite

Today we ventured to Tilberthwaite to re-visit Cathedral Cavern – a walk introduced to us by Tony during our visit to Cumbria last Christmas.

After walking along the road and through the farm, we paused for a family selfie in the same spot as last year.

Family selfie

We decided to take a more direct route to the caves but this proved rather challenging underfoot avoiding boggy areas.  Lesson learnt – follow Tony’s route to the letter next time!!  It did however allow us time to appreciate the views.

Sibling love – or is it a neck brace!?!
view towards Pike of Blisco
Handsome Daddy!!!
William marveling at the cave formation

The caves were as spectacular as I remember and Megan, William and I scrambled up to the next level.  We found the entrance to the tunnel and it was here I realised my error in not bringing a torch.  I tried to persuade Megan and William to enter the tunnel using the torch on my mobile and we got as far as the point the path split before turning back.  Next time……

Scrambling upwards

Having brought a packed lunch with us we decided against a trip to the Three Shires Inn, Little Langdale on this occasion.  Our return journey was uneventful although we took a slightly different route and took the path on the eastern edge of the deep quarry rather than remaining on the road.  This was a lovely route and we were able to cut back to the road using a national trust access gate.  A detour I would repeat.

Another great day on the fells and another lucky day with the weather, which held off until we were back in the car on our return journey.

Coniston Epic Events 3.8km open water swim

Boom….  Smashed it.  The timings on the photo are from my watch which I forgot to stop when I got out of the water so reckon my actual time will be closer to 1hr 11.  

Really pleased with my swim.  I started right at the back but soon realised I needed to move forward.  Only got whacked in the head once as I moved up through the crowds.  My wetsuit felt perfect and I felt really strong.  I tried to start slow and end strong and I certainly made a dash for the finish line for the last 300m or so.

I had predicted a finish time of 1hr 30 based on my pool training so delighted to come in well under that.  Will update post with official results and a few more photos in due course!!

Official time: 1hr 11min 24 secs.  I was 120th overall, 38th female and 12th in my age group.  Pleased with that!!

Ulverston Canal

Having scoffed a hearty brunch and sheltered at the barn whilst the rain forecast for the morning passed we headed into Ulverston at lunchtime to give Megan and William the chance to cycle their bikes down the canal whilst Lay and I walked behind with Togo.

They certainly don’t hang around on their bikes now so it wasn’t long before we were at the sea.  We paused briefly for an energy boost and a couple of selfies…

Me and my boy x
Family Harker

Before heading back we paused to admire the view back up the canal.  I am not sure in all the times I have been to the end of the canal I have ever appreciated the view towards Ulverson.  A great picture I am sure you will agree.

Triathlon training – bike

So…. the triathlon training has started.  Dusted off my bike and cycled from Holly Bank Barn to Brantwood and back along the shore of Lake Coniston.  A scenic and undulating route but good to be back out on the bike again.  Have lost my bike fitness since Paris 2016 but I did OK.  It will be a challenge to run 5km straight after.  Will give that a go in the near future!!

Coniston open water swim

Today we combined a family walk from Torver with a swim in Lake Coniston.  I needed to get some more practice in before the 3.8km event on Sunday and wanted to check out the temperature in the lake so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
It was hard going into the wind and the lake was surprisingly choppy.  Special thanks to the support crew wgo carried my clothes and patiently followed my slow progress.  It may have been my slowest swim yet but I enjoyed the experience and didn’t want to burn out before Sunday.

Sighting… where is that jetty???
Megan and William following the shoreline – quite literally!!
My support crew

My next swim will be on Sunday for the 3.8km epic events open water swim in Lake Coniston.  I am as ready as I am going to be…. bring it on!!!

Sea swimming

Today I quite literally took the plunge and went sea swimming in Southsea with the Portsmouth Triathletes Club.

We met at their beach hut opposite the coffee cup cafe where I got changed into my wetsuit.

The general aim for most folk is to swim to the blocks and back.  I had no idea how far this was but did learn that the tide was working in my favour today and it was going to be harder work swimming to the blocks than back.  

There wasn’t much communication prior to the start and so I just followed everyone else and headed into the water just after 6pm.  I had Megan and Lay with me as support crew which helped alot.

Lay managed to capture some video of me swimming.  I have the pink rainbow hat on….

I found swimming in the sea challenging.  First going against the tide was hard work and sighting with a slight swell was tricky.  This was only my second time swimming in a wetsuit.  I found the extra buoyancy strange as I seemed to perch more on the surface of the water than I am used to and also found my shoulders ached where the neoprene resrricted my movement slightly.  I will focus on the fit in this area next time as I may not have pulled the suit up enough.  I was not especially keen on the salt water in my mouth but I think this is something I could get used to.  There were long weeds to contend with too , one especially large mass I just had to swim right through.  Luckily I saw no jellyfish on this occasion as I gather they can be problematic.

I wore Lays Garmin 910xt today which I have hijacked for the purpose of recording my open water swims.  This tells me I swam 1500m in total in 36 mins.  Those of you with Garmin connect access can see the full details of my swim on there.

Would I do it again?  Yes – I need the open water practice.  Will I carry on after the Coniston Swim?  Well I think the jury is out on that one.  I think I favour pool training at the moment and will pick up open water training on a needs must basis!!!