September proved to be the most glorious month of the year so far, and offered those of us without school-age kids (or totally child-free like myself!) the opportunity for a fabulous late-summer break.
Way back in June or something, Jon and I had booked a week in the Lake District, with the optimistic view that we might be able to get one or two good walks in. As it was, we had the most amazing time - walks every day, and swimming every day, mostly in different lakes.
Jon hadn't swum for years, and rarely outdoors in the UK, so it was a bit of a challenge for him. Not to mention the cold water and stony conditions underfoot, my freewheeling habit of getting changed wherever we happened to be - no matter if it was right next to a busy footpath on Windermere - with only the most basic attempts at modesty.
By the end of the week he was well into it, and had even bought a pair of swim shoes to accompany his brand new trunks!
Our lodgings in Ambleside had a west-facing terrace outside the french windows, and we took advantage of the great weather to eat every meal there, or chill out with a glass of wine or a beer every night before eating out.
Breakfast was a little bit parky one or two mornings but a hot cup of coffee generally solved the problem - once we'd been out and bought a filter cup and some filters. Would you believe it - a self-catering cottage with NO COFFEE MAKING FACILITIES! You can imagine the tone of what I wrote in the visitor's book.
We also decided to try and drink as many different beers as possible throughout the week, and we got almost up to 30! Testament to the amazing range available - also incredible that almost all of them were very local brews.
Our walks ranged from six-mile strolls to the tough 14-mile route up and around the Fairfield Horseshoe (below) - well worth the effort though, for the amazing views - and we came across some unexpectedly beautiful bridges (this pedestrian one above, just upstream from Skelwith Bridge). By halfway through the week we were planning our walks not just around pubs, but also with swimming opportunities in mind.
I think the little-known Loughrigg Tarn (below) was my favourite swim, with Rydal Water (pic below that) not far behind. Rydal lost points because of the busy road on the far side, which rather spoiled the peaceful setting, but Loughrigg was a hidden beauty, peaceful and clear and welcoming. It was so quiet we could hear what the three lads fishing on the other side of the lake were talking about - nothing particularly inspiring, mostly fishing, as you might expect!
We walked right up to Easedale Tarn (below) and swam there too - it was most certainly the coldest of the swims and although I'd brought my goggles with me for once, I decided that swimming with my face under water was not really a good idea as it was so dark and deep I'd rather not know about it!
We had bought a pack of six slices of Grasmere gingerbread before we began our climb, and we ate four of them after this swim. I rather like the pic of us above - Jon looks like he's having second thoughts about hooking up with the crazy woman who throws herself into any bit of water at the first chance.
And on that note, I leave you with a photo of another swim: Coniston Water. Never swum so much in one week in the UK!