Our first family activity holiday of the year was a great success, with Glaramara providing the adventurous activities. Here is a wonderful holiday diary from the Sale family:
After a long drive we arrived to a very warm welcome from Kathy and the Derwentwater team. The kids immediately started exploring, going up the beautiful waterfall paths, and we got even more excited when we met Tom, our instructor from Glaramara, who talked us through his plans for the 4 half-day sessions of adventure activities. We have 3 kids (aged 13, 10 & 8) and the eldest is visually impaired, but nothing phased Tom.
We also got off to a great start with the very tasty hostel dinner (and after our first day of activities we realised why the meals are so substantial: people who stay here burn serious calories!) and throughout the week the cooked breakfasts and packed lunches far exceeded our expectations.
So what did we get up to?
Day 1 am: rock climbing and abseiling. Great location but that can be applied to the whole week. Tom taught us how to tie the necessary knots and to safely belay each other. Everyone successfully completed 3 different climbs.
Day 1 pm: down to the lake to meet John and Ann of Plattyplus. Life jackets on and a choice of kayak / canoes, which we decided to pair up in. As we toured the lake, John provided a very informative and entertaining natural history commentary, and he guided us safely through the wake of the passing launch: we managed not to capsize! We were all now tired and ready to put an even bigger dent in the hearty hostel dinners.
Day 2 am: into the ‘Jaws of Borrowdale’ to find Tom at the Glaramara Activity Centre, starting us off with 30 minutes of competitive orienteering, racing each other to locate 20 codes around the grounds. Next up was archery, with everyone hitting the target once or twice. Then we built 2 coracles (adults versus kids) in which we would later race across the river.
Day 2 pm: after lunch it was into warm suits and waterproofs (provided by Glaramara), dragging our coracles to the water. Most stayed upright, though I did manage an early capsize and a face plant in the chilly waters! Wet, we now marched up to a rocky section of cascades, ready to try ghyll scrambling. We all loved this. Clambering over rocks and through shallow waters warmed us up, while the odd waterfall or deep pool crossing cooled us off again!
All of the activities were a fantastic challenge for the whole family, and we gained a great sense of achievement together. Everything was done in a very relaxed, safe, and fun way, and we unanimously declared it ‘our best holiday ever’.
We booked one extra night at the hostel so that we could attempt some proper hill walking: from the hostel there are fantastic views and walking options in every direction. All of the hostel staff are very knowledgeable and keen to help, and so with their advice we decided on a Cat Bells walk: just right for us on Day 3.
And then… for the cherry on top of this cracking holiday, Dad (me), wannabee ultra trail runner, even got to meet legendary US trail runner and author Scott Jurek (Scott was staying at the hostel for the High Terrain trail running weekend and the Bob Graham Round).
Thanks to the great Derwentwater team, and to John of Plattyplus and Tom of Glaramara for a fantastic family holiday. I think you’ll be seeing more of us at Derwentwater!
We really enjoyed having the Sale family to stay – thank you for this great report.
On the weekend of 11th – 13th April, all round Derwentwater Independent Hostel people were literally running, skipping, and jumping with excitement!
We were already excited that Thornthwaite-based company High Terrain Events were holding a trail running weekend at the hostel, a first for us, but we never expected to host quite so many mountain-running legends in one room, or to become the base for a successful Bob Graham Round attempt.
Barrow House has a long and close association with long-distance mountain running, with Bob Graham, the man who completed a pioneering circuit of 42 Lakeland peaks in under 24 hours in 1932, running a hotel here from 1943 to 1961. This feat, which starts and finishes at Moot Hall in Keswick, became known as the Bob Graham Round, and there is a memorial cairn commemorating Bob Graham at the top of our grounds, just by the side of the road to Ashness Bridge.
The Barrow House-Bob Graham connection is inspiring enough, but High Terrain provided living inspiration for their 15 participants in the form of Maryport-based 2013 World Trail Running Champion Ricky Lightfoot, as well as an unexpected visit from American ultra-distance running legends Rickey Gates and Scott Jurek. On top of this, GB mountain runner Martin Cox and local Bob Graham Round record holder Billy Bland (fastest round at 13 hours 53 minutes way back in 1982) joined the group for an amazing question and answer session on Saturday evening. The participants were over the moon, with one of them exclaiming, 'it’s like going to play football in the park with your mates and then Pele coming along to join in'.
Over the weekend Ricky Lightfoot led some of the training sessions for the participants, providing specific advice on downhill running and difficult terrain, but he also made some swift arrangements with his American friends, turning the weekend into a really gripping Bob Graham Round experience.
With a good forecast for Sunday 13th April, the best wishes of Billy Bland, and the promise of support from Ricky and High Terrain, Scott Jurek and Rickey Gates decided to make a Bob Graham Round attempt, starting their epic run at 3.10 am from Moot Hall.
So there was inspiration all round, with Scott Jurek tweeting: 'got a little inspiration and motivation yesterday for the UK classic Bob Graham Round. Ran the Coledale Horseshoe Fell Race (8.5 miles, 3,000' ascent), then had an evening talk at Derwentwater Independent Hostel (Bob Graham's old home) with BGR record holder Bill Bland. His record has stood for over 31 years, at 13:53!'
However, the pair did not find it easy, demonstrating the enormous challenge of the round. Scott reported: 'We cut it real close in the end, with only 16 minutes to spare, but we did it! Quite possibly one of the most difficult courses I have done in my life, but so beautiful'. Congratulations to everyone involved!
We are really looking forward to seeing High Terrain Events at Barrow House again, this time for another trail running weekend on 23rd-25th May and the 3 x 3000 80 km Ultra-Trail Race on 4th October. So far it has been high praise indeed for High Terrain.
OnMal and Anna celebrated their wedding at the hostel, with spring flowers and ceilidh dancing warming up a chilly day. Mal’s family live locally and Anna’s family have stayed here previously, and we were delighted to welcome the rest of their friends and family to Derwentwater.
Mal and Anna met through the mountaineering club at Edinburgh University, and their love of walking, climbing, skiing, and outdoor camaraderie shone through the weekend, from the post-ceremony fancy-dress fell run to the wonderful idea of naming the dining tables after ‘mountains which are special to us, and which we had fun climbing together, from Scottish hills during our time in Edinburgh, to those further afield in the Alps and New Zealand’.
The ceremony itself took place in the dining room, where Anna was played in by two of her best friends: Alice on Clarsach (Celtic harp) and Jo on violin, playing Loch Roag, a piece that Alice learned while she lived on the Isle of Lewis. Mal and Anna told us: ‘we chose a humanist ceremony because it reflects our outlook on life, and from attending friends’ humanist ceremonies we were struck by how personal they could be. We also wanted to have a ceilidh in the evening because we have had loads of great ceilidhs with friends over the years. The Cumbrian ceilidh band, Rascal Fayre, was recommended to us by a friend, and we were lucky that they didn't seem to mind enthusiasm over skill!’
Mal’s mother decorated the hostel beautifully with spring flowers and Anna’s mother made some rather special Damson Gin, both of which we were able to enjoy in the week after the wedding. The happy couple told us how much they valued having ‘a relaxed venue where all of our guests could stay, and where we didn’t have to conform to a standard wedding package. Everyone loved the amazing location and view, how friendly and helpful the staff were, and how nice it was to have everyone staying in the same place’. We too were delighted to be the venue for Mal and Anna’s wedding, and we send them our very best wishes and congratulations.
If you see a new face cycling along the Borrowdale Road on a beautiful Bobbin bicycle then it is likely to be our new seasonal assistant, Eve Miller. We are really happy that Eve is joining us for the season, and we have been asking her lots of questions! Here are some of her answers…
Where were you born? Where did you spend your childhood?
I grew up in a rather insignificant town north of Glasgow.
What were you doing before you came to DIH?
I’ve done a few hostel seasons in the Lake District and before that I was at university.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
In my spare time I like to go climbing & walking, with the very occasional fell run.
What is on your kitchen play list?
Room Full of Mirrors are a good local band to have on.
Name some of your favourite places to go in the Lake District
Shepherd’s Cafu00e9 (at High Lodore Farm in Borrowdale) is a good spot when it’s sunny, and when there’s the possibility of a climb what could be better?
What is your favourite savoury thing to cook? What is your favourite/signature thing to bake?
I love to cook Thai food as it’s my favourite to eat, and I have been told my chocolate brownies are amazing.
Name some of your favourite films
I love Wes Anderson films but I do have a soft spot for the John Hughes classics.
The Ipswich geographers managed to keep smiling, despite the pouring rain. Here they are at the Bowder Stone: can you spot the geographer on top?!
The Ipswich School Geographers are a really impressive bunch: for five days of their Easter Holiday they followed a remarkable itinerary, with each day looking something like this:
08.30: pre-excursion preparation (theories, background information, and planning)
09.00: hypothesis testing and data collection in a variety of environments (all day)
19.00: evening meal
20.00: tasks and write-up related to the excursion
21.00: discussion, presentations, and briefings for the next day
22.00: sometimes they were still working…
22.45: and so to bed!
The excursions included the following studies:
A study of glaciation in Borrowdale
1. Surprise View (half hour walk from hostel): geological controls on ice erosion
2. Watendlath: rock bar and diffluence channel
3. Rosthwaite: the How, former lake bed, and moraines
4. Borrowdale: ice marginal channel (side of Castle Crag), hanging valley and Lodore Falls
River and melt-water study
1. Study of the Swindale Beck and Sink Beck
2. Delta, kame and melt-water channels of the Pennine Scarp
3. The Appleby pyramids
Rural transect study
1. Characteristics of rural settlements along a transect towards the A66
2. Study of Penrith
Urban change in Whitehaven/Grasmere
1. Whitehaven harbour developments
2. Rebranding Whitehaven
3. Grasmere tourism study
Richard Welbourne, in his twenty fifth year of leading geography field trips, kindly wrote an account of the visit:
'We have been coming here for 10 years now, as the hostel is an excellent central base for our excursions. It is also a considerable bonus to see red squirrels from the dining room, and to be able to wander down to the lake.
The group of 20 students from the Lower Sixth studied the glacial landforms of Borrowdale, river processes on the Pennine Scarp, tourism in Grasmere, and the rural economy of the Eden Valley.
After getting drenched on our first day and putting almost everything in the drying room, the weather did improve. The best day for weather was the river studies day, which was ideal for our exam specification.
The students worked hard on their report-back assignments in the evening, and all the tasks were geared to answering exam questions. In any free time we used the facilities in the hostel (if only there was an A Level in table tennis!), as well as travelling into Keswick.
The friendly staff and excellent food and accommodation make this an ideal location for our work.'
Thank you for your report Richard, and we look forward to seeing another great group from Ipswich next year.