Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Lake District

This weekend was one of many adventures!

I started my Friday morning at around 8:30 am, and got ready to go horseback riding in the beautiful English countryside. I was going with nine other Harlaxton friends. I ate the hostel breakfast and then waited for our cab outside. It wasn't as cold as I thought that it would be. The view from our hostel was amazing! You could see the snow capped mountains across the lake, and there were ducks waddling around the dock. When the cab arrived we hopped in and drove 30 minutes or so to the equestrian place. The driver drove so fast and I could barely take in the views of all of the mountains and green pastures that we were passing. When we arrived we paid our fare and went into their office to sign some waivers and to get suited up to ride. We went outside so that they could assign us horses. I was given "Indie", a beautiful black Gelding. I hopped up and was told to ride him into their riding barn. I rode him in and tried to get him to stop, but he was so stubborn. Someone finally helped me get him to stand in one place while the other 9 from our group were getting saddled up. Once everybody was in the barn the staff went over the basic commands and movements that you need to know while riding English saddle. We began to warm up starting with a basic walk circling the barn. Indie was first. He had to be first. He just wanted to go! So I led the group around the barn. We were instructed "stop", and to begin trotting. I love trotting! Everything that I had learned from prior lessons came back to me so quickly! We did that a few times and then split up into two groups and headed for the trail. It took about 20 minutes down the paved roads to get to the trail. Our guide kept saying "Mind the drain" so that we wouldn't ride over them. Also a few cars passed by us while we were on the road. It was a little frightening. The view on the way down was spectacular. When we got to the trail we trotted a little bit. Then one of our group members fell off of the horse while we were trotting and fell into the mud. We stopped and the guide told me to block off the trail with Indie while she went back to make sure that she was ok. She was fine, just very muddy! We rode back up the hill and dismounted. I knew that my legs would be hurting in a few days as soon as I swung my leg to the other side of the horse. It was totally worth it though! Two other friends and I took a cab back to the hostel to find our other friend and prepared to go into downtown Ambleside and to go on a short hike through the forest to find Stock Ghyll Force Waterfall.

We walked through town and stopped in a few shops. We asked the concierge in the Best Western how we could get to the waterfall. We found the road and hiked up the hill until the trail started. The first water fall that we saw was pretty cool even though it was sort of a short one. I got really close to the edge of the bank in order to get a good shot, and it was worth it. As we hiked further up the trail it began to get muddier and muddier. There were mini waterfalls dripping down the steps we were climbing. I was happy when we finally reached the waterfall after slushing through all of the puddles and mud. The falls were beautiful. We took some pictures and then decided to go back down on the other side of the falls. This was a mistake. It was even muddier on that side. We slid down the trail and tried to avoid the really deep mud puddles.

We finally made it back to town and sat down at a local pub for a quick snack and a nice break for our legs. Afterwards we found the local Tesco and purchased groceries to make our own dinner back at the hostel. We purchased items for two dinners and between four people we spent around 5 pounds for two dinners! We would be having chicken and pasta for the first night, and tacos and quiche for the second night. We went back to the hostel, relaxed and then began cooking our meal. It was delicious.

The next morning I went ghyll scrambling. Ghyll scrambling is basically climbing up waterfalls. I walked outside of the hostel and the guides instructed us to put on the layers and helmets that they were distributing. Then we got on a small bus and drove about 20 minutes into the countryside. As we approached the side of a mountain the guide turned around and told me that that was what we would be climbing up. I was already really intimidated and nervous about climbing a waterfall, and then I saw the enormous rocks that we would probably be climbing. We split our group into two groups of about 10 and made our way to the cold water. Our guide got in, and somehow I was in the water right behind him. The water was so cold because of all of the melting snow! He told us to try and make our way up the stream. Stepping carefully on the rocks at first, I embarked on this great adventure. As we got further upstream I became more confident. We approached a waterfall that was at least two times bigger than me, and the guide decided that we would be free climbing the rock without water running down it. I was so scared, especially because I was the first one to climb it. I made it to the top, and looked down at everyone, and they looked terrified! I told them that it wasn’t that bad. I waited for everyone to make it to the top, and then the guide told me to lead everybody until we got to the next waterfall, he would be bringing up the rear. At the next waterfall he told us that we needed to step with confidence and walk right up it. Once again I was the first one to go. I literally just walked up the waterfall, it was amazing! I waited at the top until the whole group made it up, and we continued on. The next crazy thing that we did was climb a long tree trunk across a deeper part of the stream to the bank. We climbed many other smaller waterfalls until we made it to a stopping point where we exited the stream and had to hop a fence. Did I mention that there were sheep all over this mountain that we were climbing up? We walked the rest of the way up on the trail and saw the biggest waterfall and then walked all the way down on the trail back to the bus. Ghyll scrambling was such an adventure! I wish that I could go every weekend! I have not had that much fun in a while!

When we got back to the hostel, we had about an hour until we had to be back outside to go canoeing. Our groups split off into threes and we began our next adventure out on Lake Windermere, the lake right outside of our hostel. We ventured out into the lake stopping often to create our own little “canoe island” (hooking up 6 canoes to each other). Then two of my friends and their other canoeing companion decided to take a nice little swim in the freezing cold lake. Our canoe was too far away to see what happened, but we saw the aftermath. Their canoe was completely upside-down in the water, and three little dots were in the water. The two guides rushed over and spent about 10 minutes trying to get them out of the water and drain their canoe. When they were finally resituated they all paddled back over to the group that was holding onto a nearby dock to keep from drifting too far away. I could see the look of terror on my friend’s face. We finished up our excursion and brought the canoes back onto shore. The girls that fell into the lake were told to run inside, take everything off and to hit the warm showers. I was really concerned that they were in that cold water for so long! They were all fine after a couple of warm showers and a nice nap in warm blankets. We cooked our dinner and then went back into town for the night with most of our group from Harlaxton. 

On the way back we briefly stopped in Manchester. There were so many people still wearing Manchester United Jerseys and Scarves despite their recent defeat. We didn’t do very much in Manchester, everybody was sore from our adventures in Lake District.

Even though I was sore from all of our Adventures, I still wish that I could have my experiences from the Lake District every weekend. If you ever have the chance to go Ghyll Scrambling, do it!

-Lauren Wirth

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