Friday, 15 September 2017

Spirit Trail - The Finale

After all that excitement I'm now sat at home with one minor blister (it got a bit gory for a while but is improving now) and slightly aching legs - the sort of ache that says you've done a long walk but you could crack on again if you needed to.

For those that have followed our whole journey - THANK YOU - we really appreciate all the reads, likes and retweets and we've been blown away by the number of people who've taken an interest in what we've been doing.  This all began as me having a mad idea on a fell so I can't quite believe we've actually done it.  To be fair, out of all the mad ideas I've had on fells this is probably the only one that could work in reality - the others generally involve the use of ray guns, personal shields or teleporters.

I would say I'll miss going out in the hills and drinking gin every day but I plan to spend most of the next 4 days doing exactly that!  I will miss all the wonderful people we met along the way though - people who took the time to meet with us and allow us to sample their wonderful drinks, and I definitely plan to keep in touch with as many as I can.
The lovely folks from Virginia House on Day 1

So, what's next I hear you ask?  Well first of all me and Karen need to get our book written so expect to see that sometime between Easter and Summer 2018.  We got along famously during our trek but, as we both said to each other, we rarely spend that much time alone with our husbands, never mind a virtual stranger, so we're both enjoying a bit of a breather today (plus I'm sure Karen is enjoying a break from my ear splitting snoring!)

The success of this project has spurred me on to develop other ideas so, if you're a hiking friend of mine, watch out - I may be descending on your in-box with a harebrained hiking idea for 2018 - I have plenty of ideas brewing, now all I need is a suitable victim (oops!) companion. 😀

When the credits roll at the end of a movie the audience generally ignore them as they race for the exit but PLEASE spend a moment to take a look through our credits - we honestly could not have completed this adventure without their support.  I wasn't able to add all the fancy clickly links when we were on the road, but I can now, so all you have to do is click on them the links below to give them a "like" and a "follow" - in each case the first link is to their website - THANK YOU!  😊

Literally gin made in a shed in their back garden - love them to bits!

The make stunning crystal for James Bond & Downton Abbey & they're in the heart of Ulverston

Beautiful food, comfortable rooms and a VERY well stocked gin parlour - I'm amazed we left...

South Lakes Ecology

Who took the time to tell us what juniper looked like and why it's important for more than making gin

Kin Vodka
Kin Vodka on Facebook
Kin Vodka on Instagram

Judith has SO much passion for what she does and never misses an order - even when she was flooded out during Storm Desmond

Unsworths Brewery
Unsworths Brewery on Facebook

One of two guest ales on our trail - just to make sure we kept our fluid levels up...

Hydroflask on Facebook
Hydroflask on Instagram

Kept our tea so hot we could drink it all day!

Gilpins Gin
Gilpins on Facebook
Gilpins on Instagram

We didn't meet but they were super supportive & a very fine gin!

Cowmire Hall

Properly traditional & very lovely.

Crumble Cottages
Crumble Cottages on Facebook
Crumble Cottages on Instagram
Sadly timings meant we couldn't stay here but they did give us tea and biscuits!

Kendal Mintcake Liqueur
Also make Lakeland Moon Gin

Super green, super tasty and divine in cocktails.  The one night we almost can't remember...

Kendal Hostel
Kendal Hostel on Facebook

Our first experience of hostel and very lovely it was too!

Sally's Cottages - The Hideaway Windermere
Sally's Cottages on Facebook
Sally's Cottages on Instagram
After our first very wet day it was wonderful to come "home"

Gingerbread Vodka
Mint Drinks on Facebook

A lovely late discovery

Dodd's Restaurant
Dodd's on Facebook

Fantastic fresh cooked food in the heart of Ambleside

Ginger Bakers
Ginger Bakers on Facebook

Bakers of the best brownies on the planet. Fact.

Armathwaite Hall
Armathwaite Hall on Facebook
Armathwaite Hall on Twitter
So luxuriously perfect I'm amazed they let me in!

Herdy on Facebook
Herdy on Instagram

Because how can you not love a Herdy?

Keswick Brewing Company
Keswick Brewing Company on Facebook

Our second guest ale and home to the utterly awesome Twizy!

Windermere Lake Cruises
Windermere Lake Cruises on Facebook
Windermere Lake Cruises on Instagram

For saving our legs after a very wet hike!

Lakes Distillery
Lakes Distillery on Facebook
Lakes Distillery on Instagram

Brewers of whisky, gin AND vodka - and a fab bistro too!

The Rum Story Whitehaven
The Rum Story on Facebook

A wonderful surprise at the end of a very long trail

And for now, that's all folks!  THANK YOU for following and sharing in our adventure - we'll let you know when the book comes out!

CumbrianRambler on Facebook
CumbrianRambler on Instagram

The nut job who wades through bogs in the pouring rain for fun!

LadyHiker on Facebook
Karen Guttridge on Instagram

Who loves the sunshine and pulls a mean pint!

DON'T FORGET OUR THREE BOOKS - perfect as a pressie or just to treat yourself!  Click HERE to learn more!

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Thursday, 14 September 2017

Day 13 - The Neverending Story

Chippy tea
It would be very easy to say that the Spirit Trail is over, but the reality is it's only just begun.  Me & Karen have completed the inaugural lap and, once we've got our book sorted (looking like an ebook just now unless any of you know any publishers) we sincerely hope that you'll be following in our footsteps, visiting some of the quieter corners of Cumbria and discovering for yourselves the amazing drinks we've enjoyed along the way.  I'll do a proper "end of term" blog tomorrow to properly credit all of the producers who took the time to meet with us - those we made appointments with and those who fed us when we just dropped in on them (I'm looking at you Ginger Bakers!) - but for now, what happened on the final day?

We finished off day 12 with a chippy tea on Whitehaven Harbour and, rather than celebrate our success until the wee small hours, we were both tucked up in bed for another early night - honestly, this really hasn't been the drunken fest everyone appears to think it was.  I am far to old to hike with a hangover and drinking before we hit the trails would just have been silly (actually, I take it back - there was one minor hangover and I know exactly who to blame - this time I'm looking at you Kendal Mint Cake Liqueur - their cocktails are divine but lethal!)

Anyway, following an entertaining night in a B&B which shall remain nameless but appears to have considered the 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers as "How to run a B&B" training videos (the full story will be in the book!) we ventured down to The Rum Story in heart of Whitehaven.

I was properly surprised by how big the place is - it looks just like a shop front and a small alleyway from the street but opens up, and up, and up inside.  It is really cheap to go around (£5.95 for adults) and there is loads to see and do.  Very imaginative and interactive it takes you through the history of Jefferson's rum and around the world in 3 floors of videos, information boards and rainforests.

Of course, by the time we finished, we were really keen to sample some of the rum and it didn't disappoint - it was great to finish off with something different and with such a long and fascinating history.  (I headed home with a tub of rum butter, a miniature of rum and a hunk of tea bread just in the interests of conducting full and proper research!)

Happy that our mission was complete we headed for Whitehaven harbour - I absolutely adore the harbour and it was great to visit on such a gloriously sunny day.  We've had our fair share of showers this past week but seeing as most of the producers we met with rely on Cumbrian water, that's perhaps just as well.

Whitehaven Harbour
We hopped on the coast train from Whitehaven (where it was fab to meet another Twitter friend (Not) Posh Dave - this entire adventure wouldn't have happened without social media and I love it when I meet folks in person) and the weather was perfect for enjoying the views all the way back around the coast to Ulverston and our starting point.

View from the train
Black Combe

Where it all began
Neither of us can believe how quickly it's raced past - we've had amazing highs as well as an assortment of challenging moments but we got through them all and never got lost once (well, apart from the very start when I took us down the wrong street in Ulverston less then 5 minutes after leaving Virginia House).  I'll do a proper round up tomorrow because right now I can hear the bath calling to me - for now I shall leave you with our first and last selfies and, if you want to know all the details of what happened inbetween these two photos, you'll have to buy the book!  😊

"What the hell are we getting into?!"

With the lovely Louise at The Rum Story

I'll put a full set of clicky links on here tomorrow but below is a list of all of our supporters ALL of whom deserve a "like" and a "follow" - we really do appreciate every last ounce of support we've received.

DON'T FORGET OUR THREE BOOKS - perfect as a pressie or just to treat yourself!  Click HERE to learn more!

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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Spirit Trail Day 12 - The end is nigh!

Nearly done!  Our inaugural lap of the
#SpiritTrail is coming to a close - neither of us can quite believe how the time has flown.

Today we started in Cockermouth (I'll wait while you finish sniggering) and followed the route of the River Derwent all the way to Workington.

Karen was in an extra special good mood on account of the fact that a) the heater in our room was stuck on "super nova" setting so we were super toasty/ roasting like pigs in blankets all night and b) there was blue sky!  We'd both put our rucksack covers and waterproofs on at the start of the walk - an age old way of guaranteeing fine weather, we really should have tried it earlier in the trek!

Both of us have noticed how much fitter we've got during the past 2 weeks. We were far from couch potatoes before but today we hoovered up the 12 miles to Workington - the slowest part was dragging Karen past the shops, especially after she spotted Debenhams.

I'll be honest, I'm no fan of shopping but my motivation for pushing on was driven by nothing more than a desire to see the sea - honestly I'm like an over excited 5 year old when it comes to the draw of crashing waves.  It may sound cute but trust me, it gets tiring after a while - there are old family cine films of me on the beach aged around 2 or 3 and each time someone lets go of my hand I waddle straight towards the sea, I literally had to be tethered to avoid causing an incident. I may have forgotten to mention that to Karen...

Our sea seeing duties completed we headed back for the train to Whitehaven - if you follow in our footsteps and prefer to walk there is a beautiful stretch of coastal path you could take instead.

Once collapsed in my hotel room (ok, maybe the 12 mile hike wasn't such a breeze after all) I realised that all our hikes were now done - tomorrow we are meeting the fab folks at The Rum Story and then heading home.  We shall be celebrating our achievement with a chippy tea later but, for now, I've decided to celebrate with a glass of Lakes Distillery whisky in my beautiful Cumbria Crystal glass - which I still can't believe has made it this far intact!

Click here for Cumbria Crystal

Click here for Lakes Distillery
And if you happen to be near Whitehaven tomorrow (14th September) do pop along to The Rum Story to say hello - we'll be there around lunchtime. 😀

As always PLEASE spare a moment to support our supporters - give them a "like" and a "follow" and we'll love you forever!

DON'T FORGET OUR THREE BOOKS - perfect as a pressie or just to treat yourself!  Click HERE to learn more!

Click on the pic to learn more!