Iceland Countdown

The count down to my Icelandic adventure begins! In just under 42 hours I will be on my way to the land of volcanoes, geothermal pools, northern lights, epic waterfalls and furry Icelandic horses- I can’t wait to explore this amazing country! I have also heard that the Icelanders have an odd obsession with hot dogs, so hoping I come across a few hot dog stands along the way..

Be sure to check out my Iceland post full of photos and quick tips in a few days or so!  I will tell you about the places I explored and hopefully the hidden gems…that’s if I can find them first!

 

Lake District Adventures

The lake district is one of my favourite places. Having been for the first time in January with a friend, we decided to visit during May as the weather hadn’t been great for us in Jan, so our adventures had been limited. On the first trip we visited Ullswater, which is said to be England’s most beautiful lake, and If you head towards Gleenridding village by car, you end up driving so close to the lake that you get these amazing views of the surrounding mountains by the water. There are some stop off places along the road where you can wander about to enjoy the comings and goings upon the lake below. The beautiful sun rays breaking through the clouds in the distance onto the water and mountains was the perfect photo opportunity…

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Ullswater Lake

Just before Glenridding there is a turning, that takes you up to one of the most popular waterfall attractions in the lake district- Aira Force waterfall. It’s a small climb to the force, under a canopy of trees, you walk following the river rushing over large Boulder rocks. A pleasant walk, with lots of picnic places and mossy areas to chose from to take a rest and eat some sarnies! As you become closer to the force, you begin to hear the noise of falling water, and the spray becomes visible in the air.. and then there’s a sharp corner and the force is just above you, it has this wonderful arched bridge over the drop, where you can cross and look down at the force. When you get the sun streaming through you catch a glimpse of rainbow light against the waterfall- it’s magical!

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Aira Force

As we explored those areas on our last trip, we wanted to be a bit more adventurous this time around as the weather was much more promising. whilst travelling up to the lakes, it was the best day of the long weekend we planned to stay, so our thoughts turned to climbing Helvellyn- one of the largest mountain peaks in England! We hadn’t researched at all really, and possibly underestimated how big it really was, as I had never even climbed a mountain before! (The occasional Box hill/Devils Dyke walk with the dog is the highest I’ve been above sea level…pathetic really)! We didn’t begin until 1pm, and starting from Glenriding village car park, we began the hike, which was going to take about 5 and half hours! Half way up (which we didn’t know at the time and actually thought we were getting to the top) i was knackered! So if you’re anything like me, I was stopping every 5 minutes for breath as the gradient was awfully steep, but as i did, i would look back down below for the view, and it was awesome. Reaching the half way point was a crucial few minutes, as I felt that I couldn’t go on once I had laid eyes on the summit, as it was still so far away! However I wanted to finish it (not knowing at the time that the Striding Edge part of the hike coming up was the trickiest part, and that someone had actually died falling to his death on that trail)! It was over whelming how difficult Striding edge was to climb, the sharp slate like jagged rocks sticking out, with no path to follow, you find yourself completely stuck, figuring out which is the least dangerous way to go. I was practically on hands and feet for that hour of the hike, and towards the end as you get closer to the summit it is a vertical climb upwards, which was the most terrifying experience, but pumped me full of adrenaline!

After four hours of climbing, we finally made it to the top! A massive achievement and an experience that i will never forget, and to top it off the weather was absolutely incredible giving some breathtaking views.

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Halfway up Helvellyn – looking onto Ullswater lake

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Striding Edge- Helvellyn

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Looking across the lake and Summit- Helvellyn

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Last stride to the Summit- Helvellyn

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On top of the world- Conquered Helvellyn!!

After the Helvellyn hike on the first day, we were both a little too stiff and drained to do much else extreme. I was keen to explore more waterfalls, having been impressed by Aira force last time, so I researched ‘best waterfalls in the Lake District’ and we ended up visiting a few. Stock Ghyll force was just a short walk from the Ambleside village center, a known path to may as there were signs indicating to the waterfalls. It was a spectacular 70 foot waterfall, surrounded by leafy green trees, and with the sun streaming through it made for the perfect summertime walk. The force tumbles down to the center of Ambleside where there are a series of smaller waterfalls on the way, and as you make your way down there is a lovely area with a bench by the side of the river next to a bridge where you can sit and take in sounds of the waterfall.

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Stock Ghyll Force

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On the bridge overlooking Stock Ghyll Force

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View from the bench looking onto the river

Another great waterfall find was Colwith Force- this took a little longer to find as the sign posting for this was minimal. It’s also well hidden, and there aren’t many people around, but we found a lovely couple at one point who helped us in the right direction. Colwith Force on the River Brathay drops in several stages down a total height of about 40 feet, it was quite a wide force, and again the scenery surrounding was well worth the visit.

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Colwith Force

The best adventure of the trip, was coming across a completely secluded lake- lake Wast Water was by far the most impressive lake of all in my eyes. We had seen most of the large lakes such as Windermere, Coniston Water, Ullswater , Derwent Water (near keswick), but Wast Water wasn’t like these lakes as there wasn’t a village or touristy place in sight. Only the odd person here or there, in the same situation as us – having found this lake, wanted to make the most of it’s peacefulness and stillness.

20150525_190627Panorama of lake Wast Water