Tuesday, 27 April 2021

The best benches in Cumbria

Yes, I'm back blogging!  It's been a while I know but, to be brutally honest, like many folks, 2020/21 pretty much kicked the stuffing out of me and it was hard to find things to write about that were chirpy and positive when we were stuck indoors all winter, but now we are out and about and things are looking up (at least for now!)

What better way to bounce back than with a quick blog about benches?  I flipping love a good bench - who doesn't?  Actually, I'll tell you who, because benches are more controversial than you'd think.  One of the most important things we can do to help the older population is to help them keep walking - it's great exercise, plus it's a social activity, giving them a chance to meet and talk to other people, thus staving off loneliness. But, in order to encourage them out more, we need to give them more benches to sit on, where they can pause and catch their breath, and the problem with that is that in many urban areas they are actively removing benches as they are a natural gathering point for ne'er do wells and rowdy youths.

Tis true, I found out about it a few years ago when I was working just outside Preston.  As per usual I'd packed my sarnies and headed out at lunchtime to a nearby park, planning to sit and eat my lunch in the sunshine, but this lovely park didn't have one single bench - so I asked why and that's when I found out about the conundrum.  Scary isn't it?  I wish I had an answer, but maybe highlighting it so more folks are aware and talking about it is the best first thing I can do.

And now - onto my favourite benches in Cumbria... (Yeah, I know you'll disagree, but that's part of the fun.  Plus I am not including *that* bench on Friar's Crag as it's already too popular by far! 😀 )

1. The one with the view of Blencathra

A friend recently stumbled upon this bench and reminded me of this fabulous walk - it's pretty out of the way but the view is utterly spectacular.  Don't be fooled by the idyllic image though, after we left this bench we got a little bit lost in a very big bog, and I had a proper dodgy old pair of walking boots on and had to wring my socks out at the end.  Still a great bench though!

2. The one on Scout Scar

I love Scout Scar - it's utterly perfect for a family walk with free parking nearby and an easily accesible walk along the ridge.  You can just do a tiny toddle to a bench for lunch, or wander around the scar for the entire afternoon, admiring the far reaching 360 degree views.  There are loads a juniper bushes up there too, in case you fancy brewing your own gin.

3. The surprise bench

If there's one thing better than a bench, then it's a surprise bench - a beautiful bench that pops up when you least expect it.  I pretty much literally stumbled across this one on an 'off the beaten track' kind of yomp around the hills near Millom.  The town often gets a bad rap, but I have a huge soft spot for it, and who wouldn't with benches like this?

4. The one that requires a bit of effort

How's this for a bench with a view?  You can find this beauty half way up The Band, and it was absolutely flipping perishing the day we took that pic.  We'd been testing out a small stove that was supposed to brew up water in super quick time, but took so long that I half froze to death and vowed to only travel with flasks of hot tea in the future.

5. The Royal Bench

This bench was so good that we took William and Kate to see it, and they loved it too!  You can find it above the shores of Ullswater, although it is a little off the main path.  You get amazing views of Helvellyn and the boats tootling too and fro along Ullswater.  I can't promise that you'll always bump into a member of the royal family up there, but you never know.

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