As winter weather batters the north this week, a little over a fortnight ago I enjoyed unseasonable balmy temperatures during a ‘late season’ Cumbria camping trip.
The other half and I packed the bell tent and headed for Scotgate Holiday Park in Braithwaite, near Keswick. This is not really my kind of site, but it is well placed for the attractions of the town, not least the The Dog and Gun.
It has the most heavenly loos and showers, too, eagerly used by folk keen to wash off the effort of climbing the fine, neighbouring fells. The heating is so effective in the shower block that my better half was convinced the loo seats had heating elements of their own.
Despite its manicured, level pitches, I still managed to get the car stuck on the most pathetic pimple of an incline. Unseasonably warm it may have been, but this area had still received a recent, characteristic dump of rainfall.
Waking on Saturday morning I found bees buzzing around the tent doorway… in November. The ground was still borderline boggy, no foundations afforded by a night time frost.
Clear skies and autumnal colour equals a wander with the camera, though.
We strolled through the village and the plantations bordering Thornthwaite Forest. Mapless, we set off along the wrong bank of Coledale Back and followed a path that may have been ploughed by the feet of portaging canoeists.
It was nice to amble, though. With no fixed destination we took our time trying to frame the blaze of seasonal colour before the gales finally arrive and break the tenuous leaf stems.
I dug into memories of this area and recalled a path to the east. Perhaps we could join this trail and head back to the village or, better still, plot a course to Keswick for lunch and ale.
Conditions deteriorated, though. Our unofficial path vanished into a wall of slimy boulders breaking through moss upholstery. I gingerly led the first pitch but flailed on the slippery patina.
We retraced our steps.
Heading east, we followed cycle-friendly back roads and then a path to Portinscale and the very familiar Cumbria Way to the bustle of a Keswick that had just dressed in its festive best.