July 18, 2012 Leave a comment
There’s a certain romanticism attached to a cabin in the woods. People retreat to them to write a novel or an album forged on a broken heart. Mention to people that you’re staying in one and they’ll go all glassy-eyed and tell you how jealous they are. It’s the solitude and isolation they are seeking.
Stepping out of the car into a huge puddle and a face full of midges brings that romanticism back to down to earth. Tramping through boggy, soggy, slug-infested woodland with all your worldly belongings stung across your back drags the romanticism so low that it’s hanging out with Mephistopheles.
The one we’re staying in is somewhere near Haverthwaite, Cumbria. It’s off a road, down a track and just off a lay-by. I couldn’t tell you exactly where it is and would definitely struggle to find it again as it is so well concealed.
Looking like a summer house from someone’s back garden, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but was much bigger, with a pair of bunk beds, stove, table and bits of furniture. The wetness of the day and the surrounding area meant that cooking outside was going to be out of the question. After a brief orientation of the site and marking of our territory, we headed out for a low-level circular walk, taking in a bit of the local scenery around Backbarrow and Haverthwaite.
Did I mention it has been wet? Well all the rain had encouraged major growth in the grass and at times the path was hard to see and follow. This was made even worse when the path had turned into a torrent of mud and sludge, passable only by wading through. This is when I wished I’d worn my gaiters like OP.
While the wet weather has been bad for a lot of birds and animals that eat insects, for others it’s been a time to thrive. We came across loads of slugs brazenly slugging across fields, oozing up grasses and generally looking horrid. (Is there any other creature so universally unloved that even the French won’t eat them?) However, one pleasant bonus was the amount of wild orchids we passed which added a dash of colour into the carpet of green.
The walk took us through a lot of woodland, a railway, across rivers in spate, and along the old Ulverston road. This now runs into a field, stopping being a road only because grass now grows over it. The new road is the A590 and was diverted many years ago. Now cars whizz where as just a midge flight away cows chew the cud on what was once the main road through the village. It’s a slight diversion on the circular route but was necessary as it’s the way to the only pub within walking distance of the cabin.
The pub is the Anglers Arms and we sit outside for the first pint as I wring out my wet socks. I’m wearing some new Berghaus boots. Light, leather, Gore-Tex lined, hi-tech walking boots to keep your feet dry and cosy on your walk. No amount of shoe technology is going to keep your feet dry if the water comes in over the top! We soon move inside and sample one, two, three, then four pints of the Thwaites’ ales. Every time we looked around to leave, the rain started sheeting down. The pub was lovely and very welcoming. We should’ve probably stayed for tea, but concious we should finish the last of the walk, we stumbled off with beer sloshing in our bellies.
I’ve never walked through wet woodland after four pints before and probably never will again. While I’m confident I never said “are we nearly there yet?” I certainly thought it. Occasionally the views were pretty nice but it was three miles of slippy truddgery before we made it back to ‘civilisation’.
We made it back to the cabin as light was fading and fired up the wood-burning stove, which was not only a blessing for drying out but slaked my ever-present need to burn something. We came prepared for tea with ingredients for a chilli and a tin of hot dogs. OP fired up his Trangia stove for the cooking and we poached the hot dogs in the chilli (out of necessity, we only had the one pan) while sipping more beer. Neither of us had had chilli dogs before but if this isn’t how they’re always cooked, then I think we’ve stumbled upon a great recipe. The food tasted how food always tastes after eight miles and a few beers – GREAT! After that it was a case of listening to music laced with banjos (appropriate given the surroundings) and told wild tales. Always great preparation for our hike up Old Man of Coniston the next day. But that’s for another post.