Castle and Hill

Muncaster Castle

We all felt drained and grumpy Monday morning. There’d been a wedding reception and people were getting into taxis in the courtyard our room was facing or into their rooms until about midnight, the latter upsetting Merlin so he let us know about the stranger-danger by our door through his sharp bark. Thank you lad.

I ended up sitting with him in the dark for about 45 mins preempting any reaction everytime I heard something with soothing words and a chest rub and a treat if he stayed calm.

Breakfast at 9am was okay. Not the best, but hotel breakfasts are rarely ever really good. At least I got me a porridge.

Rich then chilled a bit in the room whilst I sat with the boy by the sea. Funny how he is so much more chilled outside lying near me, watching people and dogs walk past. Only occasionally getting up to say hello to someone.

Hopped into the car around 1pm to drive the 30mins to Muncaster to visit the castle we had seen on the way to St Bees.

The grounds were vast and we walked through the managed arboretum style garden for a good 30mins before heading towards the castle right on time for the bird of prey show. They even had an area for people with dogs to sit a little bit further at the back.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to one of those shows and it was quite impressive how those majestic beasts shoot over your head or fly by.

The walk and the birds had lifted our spirits. Headed to the café for coffee and lunch then walked slowly back to the car.

Chilled in the beer garden of the hotel for a while with cold drinks, then ordered take away from a place in nearby Whitehaven and munched our dirty meat loaded pizzas sitting by the sea. Nice end to a chilled day.

In Amongst the Mountains

Early start on Tuesday with breakfast at 7:30am leaving 8:30am for Buttermere. Clouds were hanging low as we made the hour long journey mostly on narrow country roads. They were empty though at this time of the day so the journey was pleasant enough.

Parked up at the National Trust car park and already it was two thirds full. You gotta be early in this place.

Twice I had been here before to scale the impressive mountains all around this deep valley and there is something about it I just love and makes me come back time and again.

Today we were aiming for the lowest Wainwright here: Rannerdale Knotts. A good choice as all other hills had their tops still in the cloud. At 355m a tiddler but a good hill to do for Merlin.

A steep but easy grassy path led ever upwards with the gradient easing as we reached the eastern end of Rannerdale Knotts’ long ridge. It had been a bit hard work though. Merlin had been pulling on the lead like a steam train trying to get to and eat the bits of sheep poo that were lying around everywhere. Almost every other step there was a “Leave it!” and a pull on the lead or a “drop!” if the pull had been too late.

Looking back down to Buttermere
On the long ridge to Rannerdale Knotts’ top

This wasn’t quite what we had in mind when wishing many times for a doggy companion on our walks. We felt a bit stupid and thought back on when we were without our fur baby seeing handlers being pulled in all directions by their dog, thinking how they failed in training their dog. Welcome to the other side, haha.

We will try and show him better options to make walks more fun for all of us. We really have to, UK hills are littered with sheep droppings. Add it to the list 🙂.

An hour in or so Merlin kind of got the message and more often than not he walked right past the freshest, biggest, smelliest of turds without any interest at all. Maybe he was getting used to it and we just have to do more walks like this with him?

Really enjoyed the rocky last bit to the top. That was more like it. Then a break at the summit soaking in what there was of a view. Lovely little hill this, easy to get to and prime spot for marvelling at the two lakes and surrounding mountains.

Who’s a mountain boy?
Summit of Rannerdale Knotts
Crummock Water and Mellbreak on the left

The way down was a steep stony path. With Merlin pulling we took no chances and kinda leap frogged down. One going down a little bit ahead. The other letting go of the lead, the one at the bottom catching the dog. Worked a treat whilst there were no sheep in sight.

Had left over pizza for lunch back at the car and changed footwear, then walked the short bit into the village for (fantastic!) local ice cream and coffees at the Sykes farm shop.

By now the sun had fought off most of the clounds cleared the view up to the hill tops. First Mellbreak, then Fleetwith Pike, Red Pike, Haystacks and Robinson. The whole glorious vista for us.

Clouds clearing over Crummock Water

Wandered over to Lake Buttermere to allow Merlin a well earned splash and some off lead time which he enjoyed as much as he always does, bouncing around and jumping in and out of the shallow water. Happiness is.

Drove back 2pm. Inside I was crying a little bit. Leaving so early when the weather is great and the mountains are there on a plate. You just have to go and get them. But Merlin is still too young at 9 months and Rich was feeling a bit crappy with a cold starting to take grip. Guess we’ll have to come back then.

Back at the hotel 4:20pm. Showers and a needed snooze for Rich and the dog, me watching over Merlin so he wouldn’t kick off at any noise. And he did really well, just lazily squinting at me when people stomped past the door. Result!

Walked the 15mins into St Bees for dinner at the Queen’s Hotel around 7pm. They had told us yesterday we wouldn’t need to book but we’re now fully booked for food. Errr… ok. So we booked at our hotel for 8pm and walked back after a drink.

Food coming out as we sat didn’t look that appealing and the people at the table next to us complained about the food and left most of it on their plates. Huh. Without much of a choice we still ordered. I had fish & chips which was alright. Bit dry and lacking in flavour, Rich’s Cumberland sausage was actually quite nice, but the mash definitely warmed up and a bit crusty around the edges. It was edible, but that was it.

Looked up more places for dinner whilst we finished our drink so we can book them all in advance. Not fancying eating at our hotel again.

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