11 February – 11 March 2020
Temporarily homeless, we headed first to catch up with Nat & Ian in the chilly and windswept North East. Never able to resist the opportunity to make a mere 3-hour drive last for 7-hours we drove north via the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales. There had been some snow higher up and occasional spells of sunshine made for magical views. We did take a scenic route too far at one point though, a minor road which climbed into the snow forcing us to retreat to clearer roads. On the way we saw a traditional mole-catcher’s work tally hanging from a fence, something we hadn’t seen in years.
We had planned for this period by renting AirBNB cottages in 3 different locations, a week each. We didn’t care how small they were – the only criteria were a bath and a real fire! After catching up with Nat & Ian we headed off into the teeth of Storm Dennis for the lovely little village of Dent in the Yorkshire Dales – a cobbled main-street, 2 pubs, a village store and a coupe of tea-rooms for walkers. Our cottage next to the store had lovely views down Dentdale and across the flooded football field to the river.
It rained all week, at one point cutting the village off for the day, but we still braved a couple of walks, safe in the knowledge that a hot bath and cosy log-burning stove awaited us.
From Dent we drove south to Tideswell in the Peak District, marvelling at the flooded Ribble valley on route, the tops of telegraph poles just visible above the water. Tideswell turned out to be a bigger but still pretty village, well situated between Bakewell and Buxton and home to the Cathedral of the Lakes which still has bell-ringing practice on a Friday night. And yes of course we visited Bakewell to sample some of its favourite tart. The weather ranged from bright and sunny, through torrential rain to a fall of snow.
We managed a nice walk, sampled some lovely local real ale in traditional pubs, and best of all, had a visit from Trevor & Maggie who parked overnight in a nearby pub Britstop on their way from Portugal to visit family in Glasgow.
Last of the three cottages was in a tiny village of High Lorton near Cockermouth on the edge of the Lake District. Nat & Ian joined us for a few days. We discovered the joys of Turkish food in Cockermouth and got in a couple of decent walks despite the wet February weather – although Nat & Ian outdid us by venturing onto the icy tops for their own mini-adventure.
We drove over to Ambleside to visit our very favourite pub where Danny & Ian had a local pork pie each, a ritual of theirs.
We also made the most of the deep bath and our last log burning stove for a long time.
At the end of our three wet weeks of rural bliss we drove to Liverpool airport for a flying visit to Northern Ireland for a quick family visit. Concerns about coronavirus had been growing and we were fortunate enough to get some hand sanitiser and antiseptic wipes at the airport, things we had been unable to get anywhere in Cockermouth. It all felt a bit weird.
We had just enough time in Ireland to meet our next-to-newest “great”, the incredibly cute Olle and managed to fit in a pint of Guinness in a pub preparing for what is likely to be the quietest St Patrick’s night in history.
Then we travelled back through an abnormally quiet Belfast International airport. Needless to say the antiseptic wipes were well used. After a packed flight we picked up the car and booked into a Premier Inn for the night 2 miles from our rented-out house. Why, we have no idea ! Next – Coronavirus changes everything.