Monday, 17 June 2019

Cumbria - More than just fells...

This week The Guardian ran a lovely article, much shared across social media, all about exploring the Cumbrian coast by train and how there's more to the county than the Lake District.  Well, I'm not knocking them, I'm just glad they finally noticed... 😉

We've been banging on for ages about the fact that the Lake District only accounts for 1/3 of the county and that there is so much else to explore.  This week we teamed up with those lovely folks at Vantage Motor Group - Toyota Morecambe Dealership who gave us a brand spanking new Toyota Rav 4 to play with so we could get out there and really have some fun - on the two days we had to play we decided to explore an amazing beach and a wonderful forest full of hidden surprises.

Day 1 Silecroft Beach

Easily one of my favourite beaches in the county - I  mean, just look at it, it's gorgeous!

View through the rear window of the Rav 4
Silecroft has SO much going for it - miles of golden sand (at low tide), a great little beach cafe serving top notch ice creams, toilets, and plenty of free parking.  Just a short walk away in the village centre is The Miners Arms, a traditional English village pub and if you fancy stretching your legs then beautiful Black Combe is right next door with a clear and easy to follow route leading up from the village.

Plenty of parking

We parked up, full of plans for adventures but I'll be brutally honest, we were both absolutely exhausted at the end of one of the most insane weeks of our lives - it wasn't just the royal visit, it was all the things we had to move around to fit it in, plus all the arrangements, recce walks and nervous energy burned up along the way.  So we decided to test out some of the other capabilities of the Rav4 - we'd popped a duvet and pillows in the back to mock up creating a bed as we thought it would make for a few fun photos.  The problem was that after we set up the bed to take the photos we both climbed in and fell fast asleep for an hour or so!  (Yes, it must be my age - I'm 52 tomorrow!!)

On the plus side, we're happy to report that should you choose to use your Rav 4 for a spot of camping, it will be absolutely perfect.  We even found a way to open the tailgate without leaving the car (so *that's* what selfie sticks are for!)

Given that it was such a beautiful sunny day, we really didn't want to go home so we nipped into nearby Millom to pick up a picnic and settled in to enjoy the sunset.

Plenty of room for a picnic

Perfect sunset
 Day 2 - Grizedale Forest

Feeling somewhat ashamed that we'd been loaned a proper "action and adventure" car and all we'd done thus far was take a kip in the back of it, we decided to up the ante on day 2 and headed for Grizedale Forest.  The guys at Vantage had fitted a bike rack to the top of the car for us so Steve popped the bikes into place and off we went (I would say that you need to be pretty tall or have a stool/ steps around to help with that part.)

 Despite the fact that we'd brought my bike with us, I honestly couldn't face a ride so while Steve jumped on his bike and zoomed off, I took a nice gentle 3 mile walk up to the visitors centre.  We both managed to spot plenty of the fabulous art scattered around the forest on our travels.


Of course as well as all the art, Grizedale forest is well known for its adventure activities and we saw plenty of those too.

So I'm happy to report that (for once!) The Guardian is correct - there *is* a lot more to Cumbria than the lakes, so it was a very good job we had a "go anywhere" vehicle allowing us explore it all.

The Rav 4

So, what was the car like?  Well we have an older Rav 4 so the driving experience wasn't massively different - although the car was an awful lot cleaner than ours (sorry Vantage - but there's always something more fun to do than cleaning the car!) .  There were oodles of safety features that left us feeling reassuringly safe and we were definitely comfortable - I especially liked the two setting heat warmers as I have a dodgy back and find them a godsend even in summer.  And I know this is a tiny thing, but I was very taken by the lovely blue stitching around the interior - it all felt very luxurious.

We were both impressed with how surprisingly nippy it was and the fact that you really couldn't tell when it switched from electric to 'regular engine'.  I think we also demonstrated that there is plenty of room in the back for sleeping (and storage!) and the rack space on top means you have everything you need for a perfect adventure weekend away.

Our car was loaned to us by Vantage Motor Group- Toyota Morecambe Dealership and I'm sure they'd be delighted to book you in for a test drive (or a test snooze!) any time you fancy.

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