Friday, 1 June 2018

Teenage Kicks in Cumbria

Entertaining teenagers is not for the fainthearted - especially if, like us, you don't have kids and therefore have no real "hands on" experience.  This week we looked after our nephews (aged 11 and 13 so one of them isn't technically a teenager but if you know any 11 year olds you'll know the teen years start early these days) and our remit for the three full days we had them was to a) keep them alive, b) keep them entertained and c) wear them out.  Well, challenge accepted - and if you have teenagers and aren't sure how to keep them entertained in Cumbria, here's what we did.

Day 1

AM - scare them silly at Go Ape in Grizedale.  Actually, scare everyone silly at Go Ape. Yes it's commercial but we did the High Ropes course and found it good value for money - our session began at 11am and we weren't done until 2:30pm.  There's a great variety of challenges and the blustering bravado beforehand was soon replaced with shrieks and "Yeah, I'm not scared, I'm just checking you're OK" moments.  The giant Tarzan Swing is properly scary but the whole event was brilliant fun for us all.

Insider tip:  Smother yourself in insect repellent before you start - there are quite a few midges in the woods and you're likely to get bitten as you queue for some of the activities.

PM - wear them out properly on mountain bikes.  Grizedale is great for cycling and there are loads of excellent tracks and trails with something to suit everyone from the novice who just wants a nice tootle around a forest to the hard core black runs for the experts. We hired bikes from Grizedale Mountain Bikes and they were really good value for money - they give you a map with plenty of routes to choose from and lots of support before you head off.

Insider tip:  If you're worried about keeping up with the kids hire an electric bike for yourselves - a little more money but worth it for flying up all the hills with ease!

Day 2

PM Kayaking - for some strange reason they didn't bounce out of bed the next day so we had an easy morning before heading to Ullswater for a spot of sea kayaking.  We've used Distant Horizons in the past and we love them - lovely folks who will totally cater to your individual requirements.  Our instructor, Rob, was superb and had plenty of ideas and activities for keeping the nephews engaged and entertained.  There were plenty of cries of "My arms are SO tired" but I just ignored them - is that what I'm supposed to do?

Insider tip:  If you can't see something on the Distant Horizons website that suits you do drop them a line or give them a call, there's a very good chance they can sort something that will be absolutely perfect for you.

Evening BBQ - although there are many superb places to eat out in Cumbria, surely there is nothing better than eating outdoors?  Food just tastes better outdoors, doesn't it?  All we took was a large disposable BBQ, a few burgers, sausages and buns and a sense of adventure (plus a couple of beers for the grown ups!)  Unfortunately we picked the only rainy evening in the middle of a month long dry spell, but we set up camp under a tree and enjoyed it anyway.  The boys skimmed stones and had rock throwing competitions while I tended to the burgers and sneakily supped the spare bottle of beer (Steve was driving anyway!)

Insider tip:  Check the weather forecast before you set off and do make sure you take everything away with you when you're done.  The boys had fun throwing cups of water over the BBQ, generating huge clouds of steam, so we could cool it and pack it,

Day 3

All day - hiking in the hills!  You can't entertain folks in Cumbria without taking them out in the hills now, can you?  As our nephews aren't used to the great outdoors and as it was another blazing hot day we veered away from the high peaks and instead headed up through the woods alongside Derwent Water to the top of Walla Crag.  The views from the top are spectacular and there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy your sarnies.  We headed down via Ashness Bridge where I put my feet up while the boys (and I'm including Steve in this) played silly devils in the stream.  As well as the hike we also spotted a stone fly exoskeleton, a wood wasp and assorted other butterflies and birds.

Insider tip:  It doesn't have to be big to be fun so don't feel you have to tackle the high peaks - plus there's pretty good mobile signal up there but it's always a good idea to download bird, flower and insect ID apps into your phone so you can put names to the things you spot along the way.

As we drove home for dinner the car was silent (apart from the sound of scorn being poured upon our choice of music!) - I'm still not sure if having kids around keeps you young or makes you feel really, really old, but either way it was excellent fun and I can't wait for them to come back up.

And, once you're done wearing them out, take a look at our bookshelf and pick yourself a nice book to read - they are FULL of fascinating facts and hidden corners to explore - plus a couple of them will direct you to the nearest pubs & distilleries.  Click hereor below, for a browse!

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