Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Ospreys have not landed March 2nd
  Some years ago a pair of Ospreys set up home on Bassenthwaite in the Lake District and produced families. A web cam was set up near the nest and pictures were relayed to the visitor centre at Whinlatter.  Across the lake a view point was set up in Dodd Wood, complete with powerful telescopes. All was well until a couple of years ago when Mrs.Osprey decided to upgrade her living quarters and move to a new nest in the woods behind the viewing point. No more web cam: telescopes  still useful for watching the birds fishing. Whinlatter is a good centre for activities though, cycle tracks through the plantations, walks and adventure playgrounds for  children and those of us who never grew up. Parking cost £6.40 strange amount.
Today's walk is from Whinlatter centre, there are six of us so it is a sexgadgie, a fine name for such a handsome group.
We arranged to meet at "The Coffee Lounge", a pleasant cafe in the first car park you come to driving into Keswick on the A66.
(Directions from Newcastle: follow the A69 to Carlisle, the M6 south to Penrith and the A66 west to Keswick.To get to Whinlatter continue on the A66 past Keswick, turn left through Braithwaite and after a couple of miles the Whinlatter centre is on the right.)
Back in the cafe. Brian and Dave ordered bacon rolls, feeling porky after my week in the Czech Republic, I opted for a cup of tea and was joined by Harry. We sat at a separate table, like kids left outside the pub with a bottle of lemonade and a bag of crisps as they ate what looked like delicious bacon sandwiches. Brian, who is a bit of a bacon butty connoiseur maintains the Coffee Lounge serves one of the finest bacon sandwiches in the north, so for service, nice staff and quality I award it 5 flitches, and will partake next time.
 A map could well be useful on this walk. OS Outdoor Leisure 4, the English Lake North West Area is recommended and the centre is at   GR208 245.
 As you look at Whinlatter centre there is a set of steps cut into the hillside on the right. Take them and follow the footpath through the plantation, starting north, turning westand following a forest track to the fence. Once over this obstacle turn right up the hill until you find a sheep track leading west across Whinlatter Fell. Follow the path along the ridge and admire the views. The path turns towards the north and goes downhill to Aiken Plantation. Through the plantation, turn left for a short stretch  on a forest road, turn north and find a crossing point for Aiken Beck and rejoin the forest track.
On a sunny bank facing the south we stopped for pies, sandwiches, coffee and merry banter.

This photograph won the Ringwood Hampshire Photographic Society prize for pictures of Grisedale Pike taken on March 2nd 2012.

Lunch time for gadgies.

After lunch we followed the forest track in a north west direction until we found a footpath leading north to the edge of the plantation. Once across the fence we turned south west and walked up Graystones, stopped a moment and walked back down again, a bit like the Grand old Duke of York. Back at the spot where we had emerged from the plantation we continued on the footpath up to Broom Fell and along to Lord's Seat.
  I have mentioned before the deep philosophical conversations that take place on these walks and of course today was no exception. Having discussed the RSC's production of  The Taming of the Shrew which has been on in Newcastle, and the National Theatres Comedy of Errors being broadcast by the magic of satellite TV at the Tyneside Cinema we moved on to films, Wittgenstein, Richard Dawkins and God. But mostly we laughed about first dates. Dave had taken a girl to the pictures when he was in junior school, Ben fantasised about a girl he called Pam the Superb, I must have been a very late developer! But we all knew about small shops with issues of Health and Efficiency* on display. Black and white photographs of bikinied young ladies holding very large beachballs and with navels air brushed out. And the shops had packets of Durex to giggle about. Such days of innocence. The punmeister told us that his wife had informed him Davy Jones** was dead  but he wasn't too  sure until he saw her face. "Now I'm a believer". How we laughed.

                                  Ray, Ben(with Rohan sunglasses) Dave and Brian
                                    by the cairn on Lord's Seat.
From Lord's Seat  we followed a path south, turning east then south again until it joined a forest trail which meandered back to the centre. We watched the birds feeding for a while before walking back to the cars.

Chaffinches on one of the centre feeders.

Those of us who did not have a bacon butty in the morning were allowed an extra sandwich at the end of the walk.

After the walk we went to the Horse and Farrier at Threlkeld. A lovely hotel with 1688 over the door, a fine range of Jennings beers inside, including one with the name "Tizzie Wizzie", it was served in a pink glass. There was also a competition being held for the world's most unsmiling barman. Perhaps he had supported JamesII.

Outdoor GPS
* Health and Efficiency Officially  a magazine for outdoor pursuits and health benefiting exercise it was really an incredibly soft porn magazine. By today's standards it was very mild, so I am told. Definitely not top shelf material.
** Davy Jones. One of "The Monkees" an artificial pop group made by an American TV company as an answer to the Beatles. Their TV show was a half hour of fun, rather like "A Hard Day's Night" but in colour. Not a bad band, they had several good hits before disbanding. Davy Jones real claim to fame however was appearing as Ena Sharples' grandson in Coronation Street.

There will be no blog next week as I am going with the gadgette and the gadgiebabes on holiday to Madeira. Brian has promised to write up their adventures and I shall write about the levada, a popular Madeiran dance,