With Bumble re-homed in the man cave I was itching to get on the water. Hatching a plan for Bumbles first outing with a Lake District weekend. With the van loaded we headed for our first night and a pub stop over at The Pheasant Inn, Bassenthwaite. Pub stops are a great idea, a balance between wild camping and camp sites. With no campsite fees to pay, you normally just agree to have drinks and a meal in the pub.
The Pheasant Inn also offered a personal connection as Mark’s Grandmother had worked there many years ago. This beautiful old Coaching Inn dates back to the 1600’s. Nestled near woods at the edge of the fells and Bassenthwaite Lake, with Keswick only a few miles away. We scanned the walls full of old photo’s to try and spot Gran but sadly with no joy.
Bassenthwaite requires a permit for paddling, which for £6.00 you can pick up from the Tourist Information Centre at Keswick or from local pubs and hotels. I was going to wing it to be honest but him indoors always insists we do the right thing. So, permits in hand we drove 5 minutes to our get in at a car park underneath the A66. The main road in and out of the Lake District.
It is early morning and as the mist lifts we are treated to a mirror finish lake with amazing views. Bassenthwaite Lake is 6.4km long and 0.7km wide, giving you that feeling of gliding through a Norwegian Fford.
The lake lies in the shadow of the giant Skiddaw, one of the Wainwrights we had done in a complete white out one winter. This weekend though is all about me getting used to Bumble.
As Mark enjoyed the views I focused on my paddling. This Tiderace was comfortable and light to paddle, but with the lake so still, I was taking it easy and relishing in the silence around me. There wasn’t a sole on the lake apart from us.
With a decent 15km under my belt we headed back to the car park for lunch. As soon as we get out a Park Ranger arrives and asks if we have our permits. Mark showed our permits, whilst giving me a smug “I told you so” look!
Still, I get my own back as I talk him into having a go in Bumble. I like him to try the things I do, honest that’s the only reason! It’s not the right volume for him but it’s good for him to understand how different this boat is to the plastic tourers he paddles. Sitting in the cockpit, he wobbles like hell and only a foot from the side when he bails.
“No no no, I don’t like it, Lynne get me out quick, pull me back in”
“Mark, if you reach your arm out you can touch the bank and get out”
Leaving Bassenthwaite, we head for a night at Ambleside, Bumbles First Outing has been a relaxing and very successful day. I would highly recommend this lake to anyone. It’s less populated than the other lakes, has stunning views and the parking and launching is easy. But do get a permit!
After a night in Ambleside, we headed to Windermere on Sunday morning to get more distance in. Windemere is probably the most popular location at the Lake District. Launching from the Ferry slipway, we are again treated to calm conditions. Windermere is 10.5 miles long so would give more time in the cockpit and a good test of the comfort.
We headed across to the far shore, away from the steamers and passing the mouth of the River Brathay. I felt confident, slicing my turns and put some speed down, the more I paddle the more I learn. The west shore has some hidden gems and quieter coves to explore so feels a lot less touristy.
Paddling past Belle Isle, the largest of 18 islands on the lake. It is also the only one to be inhabited. A Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War in 1774, Island House was built by Architect John Plaw. The house and island belonged to the Curlew family who renamed it Belle Isle after their daughter Isabella. Descendants of Isabella lived on the island until 1993.
The south of the lake is popular for Jet ski’s, so a chance to play in their wake as they passed us en route to our lunch stop near the Royal Windermere Yacht Club.
Refreshed and super happy, we continued past the Boat Club, for some window shopping at Windermere Canoe Kayak. Mark rolled his eyes thinking ‘please god don’t let her buy another boat’
Empty handed and with his wallet still full it was time to head back, with more glorious views ahead of us this had been a great paddle. I wasn’t at risk of breaking the speed limit though I did record a decent speed of 7.4mph.
As we approached the end of our trip Mark threw down the gauntlet.
“Right lets see if you can roll it”
“Erm…I’m tired and I haven’t got a drysuit on”
“Stop making excuses and get the bloody thing over”
So as he graciously stands in the water just incase I have a problem, I do a few rolls. Not all were successful. I know my technique is right, but with my brain telling my body I am tired, I have some failed attempts. I felt annoyed with myself afterwards to be honest. Still, as we arrive at our get out I am super happy with Bumble. I had covered another 20km and got to know it a little more.
With Bumble safely back on the van and after a chat with a fellow paddler at the car park, our great 2 days came to an end. It was time to head home. Our Lake District weekend had come to an end.
It had been a relaxing weekend and I felt reassured I had made the right choice. I was still to get out on the sea in it, but I knew that opportunity was not far away.