Sunday, 13 May 2012

A bunny, a plane, a hike and a pint.


When we lived "darn sarf" we lived very near to Farnborough and every other year would pack a picnic, find a spot on the nearby heathland and enjoy the free spectacle of the airshow.  We thought we'd left all that behind when we moved up here but turns out Windermere has an airshow too, or rather, had an airshow as last year appears to have been their last, at least for now.  In our quest to be cheapskates and find a free viewing spot we also found a wonderful walk and a sublime little pub whose chips rank my top 5 "best pub chips ever", and let me tell you, I'm very fussy about my chips.

But first the walk.  We started off from a layby just south of Near Sawrey and the Beatrix Potter fans amongst you will immediately know why there's a bunny involved.  Near Sawrey is the site of Hill Top farm where the amazing Beatrix Potter lived.  I confess I didn't know an awful lot about her before our move here, but she really was a remarkable woman and if it weren't for her we probably wouldn't have much of a Lake District, a National Trust or many Herdwick Sheep.  I'm a big fan of strong minded women who don't do as they're told and the more I find out about her, the more I like her.  Hill Top is now owned by the National Trust and their car park is usually chocca but further down the road are a few laybys where you should find a space.

The footpath out of Near Sawrey is clearly signposted and heads gently up towards Moss Eccles Tarn, Wise Een Tarn and on into the woods.  Once up there you're spoilt for choice as there are many criss crossing routes through the woods.  It's certainly worth taking a detour out to Latterbarrow to enjoy the spectacular 360 degree views as you pop up out of the woods and onto the summit.  When you're done admiring the views my suggestion is to head back into the woods and aim for The Heald; a lovely wooded footpath which on hot days will keep you cool and on wet days will keep you dry.  Well, drier than you'd be on an exposed fell anyway.

As you wander along The Heald fabulous views will bob in and out of sight as the trees part and then regroup.  The trig point is almost hidden amongst enormous ferns, but there are loads of perfect picnic spots nearby for a very picturesque lunch.  The last of the top viewing points is at Scale Ivy Intakes and if you climb to the top of the small hills there you'll find the remains of an old farmbuilding - just so you know, I have first dibs if it's ever up for sale.  We watched most of the airshow from Scale Ivy Intakes and I'm not about to diss Farnborough airshow, but there is something quite spectacular about watching the Red Arrows group and swoop over the fells.

Once the excitement of the walk/ airshow is over it's time to head back to Near Sawry for a well earned pie and pint.  Now I don't think I've recommended any eating or drinking establishments thus far on my blog so this one must be really special, and it is.  Perched on a corner of the road you'll find Tower Bank Arms, and it is every bit as fabulous as it looks.  Be warned, you'll probably need to book ahead if you want dinner as it's a very popular spot.  The food is stunning and well priced and they have real proper cider on tap - the sort they have to disappear off into the basement to get.  And the chips, well, don't get me started on the chips; they are by FAR the very best chips within at least a 20 mile radius, if not further.

As I'd cunningly arranged for Steve to drive home I availed myself of a couple of pints of their local brew to wash down my huge and delightful dinner and then settled into the car for my chauffeur driven drive home.  A perfect end to a lovely day.