I used to go to Cumbria a lot when I was little, as my mam’s family all live there, and we used to go and stay with my nana. I don’t go half so often these days, so the prospect of going to stay with my mam’s cousin for a few days was too good to pass up.
The chief reason we were there was my cousin’s wedding, which was great fun: it was a lovely day and it was great to catch up with family. It did mean, however, that my mam and I were both pretty hungover on the Sunday, so we didn’t get very far, driving out to Seascale for a bit of fresh air. I did have some unicorn ice cream though.
We also had a bit of a walk around the small village of Gosforth, which has a surprising amount of history. St Mary’s Church has two tenth century ‘Hogback’ Viking tombstones, while the ancient sandstone cross is the tallest such cross in England and bears a variety of pagan and Christian symbols.
By Monday we were feeling better, but in typical fashion, the weather was worse. This didn’t stop us going out for the day, though. (I must confess here that it almost stopped me – it was only at my mam’s insistence that we went out to do something).
Our destination of choice was the Ratty, formally known as the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. I was last here as a small child over twenty years ago. Naturally, things have changed a great deal since then, although I did find that I actually remembered some of it.
A specially exciting part of the journey was travelling past the mill where my ancestors used to live and work.
Luckily the weather wasn’t so bad that the journey was miserable, although we were freezing by the time we got to Ravenglass and had to have a cup of tea, which we had to drink hurriedly in order to catch the next train back.
Next we headed out to Wasdale and past Wast Water, England’s deepest lake (which happens to be next to the highest mountain, Scafell Pike). This was terrifying. Many of the mountains in Cumbria are quite bleak, which I usually like, but this was ridiculous. The glowering cliff seemed actively malevolent and the road runs uncomfortably close to the edge of the water. I had visions of the car sinking into the lake, which appeared positively gleeful at the prospect of claiming an unwilling victim.
I had a bit of a Withnail and I moment as we reached the end of the road and parked at the village green – the village which seemed to consist of one solitary house. We then had to head along a dirt track in the rain as bemused sheep watched. It all seemed to be worth it in the end though when we reached St Olaf’s Church. It’s a lovely little place: the roof beams are thought to have come from Viking ships.
On our last day we visited Keswick where it absolutely poured down and my mam and I had to borrow her cousin’s cagoules, neither of us possessing anything sturdy enough to cope with the Cumbrian weather.
Despite the rain, both of us had a good time. It’s rare that I get to go to Cumbria now but in spite of the weather it’s a great place to visit. There are so many things I’d love to see – maybe next time!