We lie in on Thursday and take a lazy morning, with pancakes on the window seat looking out over the valley. In this, our little bubble away from everything, all is forgotten: school, work, exams, stress. Here none of this exists: just the valley and the fells; just the trickling of water and the bleating of lambs; just the breeze through the final daffodils, and the tranquility of an almost deserted landscape.
I want to take Grant through Seatoller, the first place I stayed in the Lakes, so we head out in the afternoon and take the right turn after crossing the bridge out of Grange instead of the left turn to Keswick. We take the beautiful drive to Seatoller, squealing at the bounding lambs.
I challenge G (and the SEAT) to the Honister Pass, to which they take immediately. This is a more-than-challenging piece of road with some – interesting, shall we say, moments, but is also huge amounts of fun. After the final 25% decline, which G drives down grinning from ear to ear, we pause to take in the view and the road we’ve just travelled.
G finds a branch and… well…
We spend twenty minutes or so talking to sheep, giggling and exploring. G insists I photograph the car.
Eventually we head off, despite the fact that I’ve forgotten where the road actually takes us, how to get back round to Manesty – and the map. Sheila the SatNav is reluctant to find a signal, and besides – where’s the sense of adventure if you have a machine telling you where to go? So we drive onwards into the depths of the northern fells.
The road takes us to Buttermere, a beautiful lake I don’t know particularly well yet, and eventually we find a signpost directing back to Keswick. This road is less steep but much more narrow, and I film some of our journey from the front seat. At one point we have to slow to a crawl as Herdwick sheep cross our path, trotting down the road and hopping up on to the bank out of our way when they finally see fit.
Radio One provides a fantastic soundtrack as we reach the peak of the road and find a place to stop overlooking the route back to Keswick in the far distance, and a stunning waterfall which I fail to photograph adequately. The view is one of the most stunning we’ve seen, and for a few minutes it is as if we are the only people to have ever discovered this place.
I attempt a chat with a sheep…
…who proceeds to trot away from me, much to G’s amusement. And, despite our reluctance, we concede to the fact that we are still under-21 and decide that this is the perfect place to take a selfie (or ten).
We wind our way back to Keswick, G enjoying the roads enormously, and stop off at the Co-Op for wine and pizza ingredients. I film our whole journey back home, but we fail to keep it together and end up giggling most of the way. The rain kicks in just as we pull up to the gates of Manesty, and we spend our last evening pizza making with the sound system blaring and drinking a little too much wine too quickly – and it is perfect.
The following morning we struggle out of bed to pack and prepare for our journey home. I am sad to say goodbye to this beautiful world that has been so completely ours; I have not prepared myself for our return to what I see as ‘the real world’. “Promise me we’ll come back,” I say to G.
We pack up completely and have the cottage inspected (we pass) before heading off. We drive down to Grange and wander by the river for half an hour, photographing and talking.
We drive to Keswick for a final bit of shopping and to grab some supplies for the journey, before heading to Grasmere on the understanding that we can’t possibly make it back to Norfolk without at least two bags of Grasmere gingerbread. We take coffee in the cafe by the river, desperately trying to find reasons not to leave. I have to buy Mum a tea-towel. We speak to the owner of a chocolate shop who used to live in Norfolk, bizarrely; he asks us if a baby in a pram in the corner is ours – a strange moment for an 18 and 20 year old couple only together for four months, but we laugh. Herdwick souvenir bags are for sale with the phrases ‘I love ewe’ and ‘I’m fab-ewe-lous’ plastered across them are difficult to resist but we manage, leaving only with some bags of confectionary. I find Mum’s tea-towel and we agree that it’s time to leave.
Driving away is hard, but it seems to take mere minutes before we are out of the Lakes, flicking endlessly between radio stations to find a decent song. We stop only briefly; traffic is good on a Friday afternoon and conversation flows as easily as it did the first time we met on the last day of August. It is almost impossible to believe that was just over seven months ago.
Suddenly the roads are flat, and not nearly as fun. The sun is setting on our holiday, and we are at home in what seems like no time. We tell parents everything in the kitchen, and collapse asleep, everything over and back to normal as if the last five days never happened – but safe in the knowledge that they are immortalised in memory, photograph and, now, rose-tint prose.