The Peak District and The Lake District are two parts of England where if visited you wonder why you would ever go abroad. Rolling hills, wildlife in abundance, quaint villages and enough country walks and campsites to keep you busy forever. I was lucky enough to grow up in one with my mum and visit the other on a regular basis with my dad. Many a weekend was spent ambling through Ambleside and winding my way around Lake Windermere and never a dull moment, especially with all those outdoor shops…
So when I was offered a free spot on a weekend canoeing around Ullswater Lake with Wilderness Canoe, I jumped at the chance and couldn’t wait to escape the city for some proper fresh air and an action packed weekend of canoeing, cooking and wild camping.
I got the train to Newark and then dad, without needing an excuse to visit the Lakes again, drove me the rest of the way and hiked and camped while I canoed all weekend. I was to be canoeing with a random bunch of 8 people, including Matt, our fun loving, mega experienced guide. Naturally we all got on very well, clearly all being outdoor, adventure loving types.
Matt supplied all the equipment, including brand new top of the range paddles which sliced through the water like a knife. We met in a layby packed up our stuff in waterproof bags and headed onto the water, the weather was perfect, with the hills and valleys reflecting on the water. The first day was spent leisurely canoeing across Ullswater, stopping for lunch when it started to rain (the weather didn’t stay perfect) and before we stopped in the afternoon to set up camp we played a few canoeing style games… losers had to put up the tents and carry heavy boxes to site. I didn’t lose.
Along with a brilliant day canoeing the day got better when I discovered what we were having for lunch, no ordinary boil in a bag camp food here, Matt must have been a chef in another life and cooked us up a treat for every meal. So brilliant in fact I have written a separate post about it. (Updated soon)
We cooked up food, sang a few songs, played a few games and had a good laugh before heading to bed in our luxury tipis. The night was cold, but with my thermals and thick sleeping bag I slept pretty well.
I was woken up to the sound of rattling pans and shouts of ‘tea? Coffee? Hot chocolate?’… better than at home. We all raced to the lakes edge to freshen up with Icy cold lake water splashed on our faces before tucking into more delicious food and packing up our wildcamp site for the night.
Day two was again filled with blue skys and we started the day with a short but intense trek up to the top of Hallin Fell before getting back into the canoes and slowly heading back to the start point, learning a few new skills along the way. I think I have just about mastered J – stroke but need to work on my Indian stroke for future hunting trips through the waters.
It was a brilliant fun filled weekend, I learnt new canoeing skills, met some great people, ate some delicious food, trekked up a small mountain and camped in the wild … all in a weekend’s fun before I caught the train back to London before work on Monday morning.
Matt was a fantastic guide and teacher, willing to help as little or as much as you want and full of useful knowledge about the area. He has over 20 years’ experience as a canoeing instructor and can offer anything from short weekend trips to longer trips canoeing down white water rivers in Switzerland. I know where my next canoeing trip will be to… can’t wait.