Preferring to lie in the shade, under my favorite bush, July and August are not months for this cat to venture into the Lake District.
If the exercise bug strikes, there is always space and tranquility to be found on the edge of the county with the Cumbrian Coastal Way, with its varied history alongside stunning land and beach scenery, there is has something for everyone.
Add to that the allure of the eastern hills and walks in and around the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and why would locals or discerning visitors need to beat the crowds in Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere and Keswick?
But I will be returning to the lakes next month as I have four American friends visiting and need to sort out my day trip to the Cumbria Cat Lakes itinerary.
I have two stock routes, both of which include the central lakes, one my northern route and one for the south with both start and finish in West Cumbria, the location of this favorite bush.
The two routes share a common start: Cockermouth then the Vale of Lorton, past Crummock and Buttermere and over Honister Pass to Borrowdale where we divert to Ashness Bridge for the iconic bridge photo with Derwentwater, Bassenthwaite and the looming Skiddaw.
Then to Keswick. Here’s a chance to grab a saucer of milk and a stroll up Friars Crag, checking out the Theater by The Lake deals en route before heading back on the A591 to Grasmere and Ambleside.
This is where the route diverges: the southern route takes us west into the beautiful Langdales before the long drive over the passes of Wrynose and Hardknott where I can regale visitors with tales of the Roman legions marching towards Ravenglass, our next destination, and be thankful I have a trusty 4×4!.
Wish we had no more time to look at the beautiful miniature steam locomotives of La’al Ratty before heading south taking detours to the coast for hopefully, weather permitting, see the Isle of Man, before returning inland to catch Coniston and Hawkshead and the ferry to Bowness.
Taking the Lyth Valley we can join the A65 before, for me, the brisk jog on the M6 through Tebay Gorge to exit at Junction 40 to take the A66 West.
This final leg takes us past Blencathra and Lake Bassenthwaite, where of course I’ll tell them it’s the only lake in the Lake District, before finishing the route south to West Cumbria.
The northern route breaks off just beyond the Ambleside side to the Struggle to Kirkstone pass before descending towards Brotherswater to Glenridding where I could drop off Americans who can take the steamer to Pooley Bridge where I can spend an hour exploring one of my favorite little corners of the Lakes.
Then head north for a quick dog ride via the A66 to Mungrisdale, Hesket Newmarket and Caldbeck before hitting the road to Wigton where there are simply magnificent views over the Solway Plain and Scotland .
We end this with a dash to Silloth via Abbeytown before a gentle drive along the coast past Allonby.
The beauty of these two routes is that they offer a glimpse of all that Cumbria has to offer, from high passes to windswept shores, and jewel-like lakes with more than a little insight into the long history of our wonderful county.
And, for me, a chance to have the strange saucer of milk, a fish lunch, afternoon tea at the widest variety of inns and cafes, and a shopping corner.
Is Waberthwaite’s Dry Smoked Bacon the best in the world? Or a real Cumberland sausage from a real butcher who each has their own secret recipe of spices and peppers? How about Grasmere’s Gingerbread or Kendal’s Mint Cake? How about Hawkshead Brewery versus Hesket Newmarket’s infamous Dorothy Ales? And where is the best ice cream?
And as for those who live in memory views? I have a bedroom adorned with photographs I’ve taken around the world, from Bali to Falmouth, from Guadeloupe to the Mississippi Delta, and from Seville to Rome and Boston, but what better than that of Ashness Bridge or rowing boats floating on Derwentwater?
The Lake District and the areas around it have much to offer visitors and locals alike. And remember, only take souvenirs and, of course, a selection of the best food you can buy.
About Cumbria Cat
Born in Cumberland and from 2023 will be back in Cumberland, having spent most of the past 50 years in a place called Cumbria, this cat has exhausted all nine lives plus a few more.
Always happy to curl up on a friendly ride, we prefer a local ride and not one that wants to descend on the county to change it into something it isn’t. After all, you might think that Cumbria/Cumberland/Westmorland is a land forged by nature – glaciers, rivers, the decay of volcanic rocks or sedimentary layers – but, in reality, the Cumbria we know today has been forged by generations of people, farmers, miners, quarries and foresters.
This cat is a local moggy, not a Burmese, Ocicat, or Persian, and although I’ve walked around the block a few times, every time I hop I find myself standing in my home county . I am passionate about the region, its people, past, present and future, and those who come to admire what is dear to us, be it the lakes and mountains, the wild shores, the vibrant communities or the history as rich and diverse than anywhere in the world.
Then, alongside nuclear power and Kendal Mint cake, we’d have something we could whip our neighbors to the south, something that would bring a wealth bonus to cash-strapped northern England and Cumbria in particular.