Updated: Aug 17
Hope you've all missed us whilst we've been on a brief sabbatical, but we're back, and ready to jump into a very busy month full of weddings with some amazing couples.
Whilst, unfortunately, I can't take you all with me, I can tell you some of the things we got up to, and the adventures myself and Rachel managed to go on whilst we were away, and give you some insight into the weeks proceedings, so sit comfortably, grab a drink and I'll shoot straight into some of my personal highlights from the week!
So, our adventure starts on the 31st of July, where we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the wedding of Dee and Mike (HUGE congratulations to them both, but we'll explore the day's action in a later blog). Once we'd wrapped up, and finished snapping away, It was time to head up to Bowness on Windermere, in a very tightly packed little Mini, ready to unwind and snap a silly amount of pictures.
On the Sunday after settling in, and unpacking, we decided we hadn't been far enough north, and after a full English planned to go up to Scotland, more specifically Gretna Green, which is JUST over the border, and off the Kirkstone Pass, between Ambleside and Pooley Bridge, which boasted some fantastic views, and nice windy roads, perfect for the Mini! Those of you that have heard of Gretna Green will know it's got a bit of a reputation for being a wedding hotspot, where historically, lots of couples would run away for a shotgun wedding.
As you'll all know,, I'm no stranger to a wedding, and even if it was completely unplanned, I definitely wanted to grab some pictures. it was definitely on the hit list for the week, seeing as we were so close, and it was packed with such history. Sadly, there weren't any weddings happening on the day, and despite several hints from Rachel, I decided today wasn't the right time, as the chapel was shut, and I hadn't packed my suit for the occasion.
On the next day was where the fun really began and set the tone for the rest of the week. Now, whilst the lakes is renowned for hiking, steep climbs and picturesque walks, exercise isn't really on my agenda, and not particularly my idea of a holiday. However. I do very much enjoy driving, and there are some incredible roads that offer just the same stunning views that can be had on foot, that are just about accessible in a 4X4 or a vehicle equipped with a fully stocked Bear Grills. Turns out though, they're not quite as suitable for a low to the ground Mini Cooper S full of camera equipment.
Having completed the smoothly tarmacked Kirkstone pass, which proudly boasted being the highest road in the UK the day before, I was feeling confident about another road Rachel had selected which claimed to be the STEEPEST road in the UK, the Hard Knott Pass.
Now, let me reiterate, Steep, is a bit of an understatement where the Hard Knott pass is concerned, and most of the cars in front of me were 4X4 vehicles, with beefy tyres and experienced off-road drivers at the wheel.
Nevertheless, I'd started driving along the Hard Knott pass, which was a single track road, with no opportunity to turn around, with a slightly petrified girlfriend clinging on to the door handle for dear life, having regretted googling roads in the Lake District. Needless to say, I was committed, so we physically had to follow the road to the end, with no apparent idea where the road ended. To add insult to injury, there was a complete lack of phone signal, not a single bar for what turned out to be an eventful 35-mile trek.
Imagine a steep road, double the steepness in your head, then add tight U-turns halfway up that steep hill, add loose gravel and sheer drops either side into the mix, and then you've probably just about imagined what we were dealing with. Oh, and with oncoming traffic, and various large rocks and sheep periodically dotted at the roadside for good measure too.
All this aside, the views at the top were stunning. The lake district, in general, is just breathtaking, and it doesn't matter where you visit, or which direction you look in, the view is always astounding.
I am pleased to report we did manage to complete the Hard Knott pass, with the Mini doing us proud, and safely taking us up and over the mountains, and along the roads that snaked down between the hills and past the various free-roaming sheep that were conveniently walking down the centre of what I'm loosely referring to as a road.
I still have no idea where the road ended up taking us, but I do know despite how difficult it was, it was definitely worth the trip.
Still with no phone signal, and the satnav not having a clue where we were, we made it safely back to Bowness in one piece, wherein the evening at the apartment we were staying in, I managed to cross off one of my bucket list photos. Star trails!
The following days were filled with more of the same, and I can proudly say, I successfully completed the Kirkstone pass, "the struggle" (which is essentially on the Kirkstone pass, but with an attitude problem!), the Hard Knott Pass, and the Honister Pass, which was recommended to me by a friend who lives in the area. All were equally fun for different reasons, and all were packed with Instagram worthy views around every single corner, which you'll no doubt see on our social media over the coming weeks!
Towards the end of the week, we had planned one last road trip to a farm shop we'd heard of called Low Sizergh Barn Farm Shop & Café, which had lots of artisan foods from the area, and the opportunity to fill the car with lots of goodies before heading back to Rugby.
This turned out to be the most eventful trip of the week by far, and after we punched in the postcode for the farm shop, we headed off, looking forward to buying some local produce.
So, we departed, following the directions of the satnav to the letter, making sure we took each turn correctly as it told us to go down a gravel track.
Now, as you've read, narrow, and single track roads in the Lake District are not uncommon in the slightest, so initially, when we turned onto a very tight farm track we weren't too worried, but as we passed a series of confused hikers and arrived at a gate, it was apparent, the sat nav hadn't got a clue where we were going.
The gate we arrived at was clearly the entrance to a farmers field, and that was confirmed when Rachel opened said gate, only to be greeted by the 100 or so baffled sheep approaching her to say hello.
Regardless, the sat nav was telling me to follow this "road" through the fields to the elusive farm shop. To me, it made sense we'd have to go through a few fields to reach our destination, after all, farm shops do tend to have fields attached to them, right?
Earlier on in the blog, I mentioned "roads" or lack thereof in the lakes, but what we were trundling along would have been a challenge for even a tractor, let alone a mini. We ploughed through it must of been 3, maybe 4 fields that were home to either very angry sheep, or cows, that look a hell of a lot bigger close up than you'd think!
At this point, I'd love to tell you we arrived at the shop, to be welcomed by a happy farmer offering me a range of burgers, sausages, bread and cheeses for my troubles, but the reality of the story is, that once we'd apparently "arrived" at our destination, we were in the middle of nowhere. Where for the first time in our entire week-long stay, it had started to rain. Heavily.
We somehow managed to navigate our way out of the area, reaching civilisation and back on to main roads, where Rachel finally got out the good old fashioned map.
You'll be pleased to know, after our brief encounter with agriculture we made it to the farm shop. Where was it....?
Off a duel carriageway!
I've waffled on enough for one week now though, I really hoped you enjoyed reading about our break, but we've got a busy month coming up with lots and lots of weddings, so I'll be back next week to talk about some of this months proceedings.
We also had the absolute pleasure of attending the wedding of Garry and Darcie yesterday too, so we'll also get a blog together for that too very soon!
Peace, Love and Photos.