Monday, 3 December 2012

Legless in the Lakes (Day 2)

Twinkly Hayes Garden World
Let's face it, it was going to happen sooner rather than later so it may as well be today.  You can't consider a week long visit for a non-hiker without a trip to a garden centre, so today we kicked off with garden centre number one.  Garden centres, you know the places; vast buildings choc full of clothes, pets, food, scented candles, toys, games, sweets, gadgets, gizmos and, at this time of year, lots of Christmas decorations.  Not sure where those people seeking things of a horticultural nature go, but the modern "garden centre" probably isn't it.  Long time readers will know that, given the choice, I would normally opt for a day spent listening to fingernails being scraped down blackboards than a day spent shopping, but needs must and all that. So, in the true spirit of the season "Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to Hayes we go".

At this time of year the place is impossible to miss; a vast empire of twinkling lights, fake snow and Christmas trees, but the parking is easy and the cafe well stocked with assorted goodies.  Never underestimate the enormity of the emporium; it takes several days to explore properly, in fact I'm pretty sure I spotted Rannulph Feinnes & his party preparing for their next antarctic expedition by navigating around the Edinburgh Woollen Mill with only a sextant and a few tins of Pemmican between them and oblivion.

Am I the only person that always feels utterly inadequate when visiting a garden centre?  To start with I meander along aisles of green and verdant house plants sitting smug on the shelves and silently mocking me as I pass by, perhaps I should wreak my revenge and buy one, that'll teach it.  In my house I'd give to 3 weeks, 4 tops, before it's a shriveled wreck begging to be returned to whence it came or dispatched without further ado to meet it's maker with dignity.  And, however well prepared I am, I'm always, apparently, one season out of sync.  Just as I'm thinking it's OK to be getting to grips with chrissy decs and the like I find that they're now "so last week" and it's time for me to be planting spring bulbs.  After a lovely lunch we made our way back to the car park past a group of people cursing friends, neighbours and Christmas in general as they bought "Joy to the World" and "Peace to all Mankind" table decorations...
Slippy slidey Grasmere.

Deciding we needed some fresh air I ran through a list of nearby towns we could visit:  Ambleside - too hilly, Bowness - too busy and too hilly, Grasmere - just right!  It's not just hiking that needs to be considered when exploring the lakes with someone with mobility problems; the gradient of the towns and proximity of the car parks to the shops needs to be considered too.  So off we toddled.  For those reading this at some point in the future let me remind you that today, 3rd Dec 2012, was very cold with a little ice and slushy snow kicking about in the mid lakes area.

We were soon at Grasmere and I have to say I was most disappointed to see that many businesses hadn't bothered to clear the pavement in front of their shop/ cafe/ hotel.  My mum is a determined soul but can't take the risk of slipping over so although Grasmere was perfect from a topographical perspective, it was hopeless from a "Dancing on Ice" perspective.  Considering the vast number of elderly visitors that area of the lakes receives every year I was more than a little surprised.  After a little driving around we found a quiet corner to park in just a short walk from the wonderful Herdy shop, but we dared not venture any further, at least not on foot anyway.

My fav view of my fav fell. Was a wee bit cloudier than
this today.
Given the poor conditions underfoot our final leg today was a drive along Thirlmere, a right fork along Back Lane to the foot of the beautiful Blencathra, a sharp left to Keswick and loop back down Thirlmere to Ambleside arriving late enough to enjoy their spectacular chrissy lights. It was a lovely day but it was a real shame that we couldn't venture far from the car unless we were indoors.  I've a feeling there will be another garden centre involved tomorrow, so I'd better sign off now and fortify myself with a large, and possibly gin related, nightcap.  And, if you've got any suggestions for places we could visit, please feel free to add them below.


  1. My parents, still able to drive themselves, have commented on how the pavements ares still full of ice. I hearditwas because if you clean them you are responsible and so can be sued for any subsquent falls.
    Loved the article. 'Fraid I hate Hayes. Been aroung long enough to remember when it sold plants!

  2. Well, you could head to Orton and the fab Choc Shop for morning coffee, then up to Kirkby Stephen for a look round the very interesting church plus antique shops, coffee shops etc. Then down through the Eden Valley to Appleby for some quirky shops and an easy, level walk alongside the R. Eden. Along the A66 and back down the motorway.

  3. Thanks Alvina, I was really surprised about the pavements, if each local business just cleared the bit in front of their shop then the whole of Grasmere would have been pretty much clear.

    As for plants - if we need anything for the garden we generall nip up to Abi & Tom at Halecat Fabulous stuff AND they know what they're talking about and are full of useful advice for folks like me. :-)

  4. Jill - that sounds fabulous - thank you! May give that a go today!