The weather is less good today so I, having spread out our Lake District map across the living room and planned out a conveniently circular route, suggest we go to Grasmere for gingerbread, and perhaps to walk to Easedale Tarn for lunch. Attempting to find a parking space proves even more difficult than usual, so we end up taking a drive around the lake – which gives G a real taste of Lakes roads with some 20% inclines! On our second drive around the town however we find a space and, as the sun seems to be trying to break through the clouds, decide to head up the path to Easedale.
We follow another group up the road and then take a path off to the left, crossing a bridge (on which I nearly slip over: “twenty points!”) and spot a waterfall in the distance: Sourmilk Ghyll.
We follow the path towards the waterfall, pausing for pictures and puns, quieting down as we passed a young man sketching the view. The route is rocky and feels more adventurous than it is, with incredible views everywhere we look.
We reach the waterfall but continue to climb up so we can get closer. All sorts of people have paused here, from families to solitary walkers to old couples, but we are the youngest here. As if we need to prove this further, we climb the rocks at the edge of the pool and perch as close to the water as feels safe.
Given the opportunity, I finally work out long-exposure shots and practise whilst we eat lunch. The water, nourished by overnight rain, is rapid but gentle, loud but inviting, and to sit so close is thrilling.
Unfortunately we haven’t much time before we need to head back down so we can’t go any further – this time. We rush down the rocky path to get back to the car, only to find that parked next to it is none other than a Series 1 Jaguar E-Type. I didn’t believe in ‘love at first sight’ until I see G’s face.
photo courtesy of G
He takes photos for a while until the owners of the car appear – or so we assume. G and the man talk whilst his wife begins packing things away. “She’s beautiful,” croons G, and although I’m not anywhere near as much of a ‘car person’ as he (despite his efforts to change this) I can see that this is a truly stunning machine. The man replies offhand, “You can drive it if you like.” – I honestly think that G is about to pass out, before he is handed a business card to a company which hires out classic Jags – you can even get hotel breaks complete with classic car. The couple are clearly fanatics, ‘trying the car out before they decided whether to buy one’, as well as having any number of classics in their garage. G himself has a Morris Minor Traveller by the name of Merlin, and of course it turns out that Morrises are one of their favourite types of car. I perch in the boot of our trusty SEAT, rolling my eyes knowingly to the seemingly long-suffering wife.
We spend another hour in Grasmere purchasing the suitably famous gingerbread and wandering around the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden. It is the winter of daffodil season but I’m glad to have seen it in bloom, if only in part. We spot a Morris Minor and a ’30s classic G doesn’t know.
We leave Grasmere and head to Ullswater, aiming for Aira Force which I visited back in October and want to show G. This route takes us over the incredible Kirkstone Pass, where G is finally able to really put the car ‘through her paces’. We thoroughly enjoy ourselves on the almost totally abandoned and unbelievable stretch of road. The sense of total liberty, which is both so very adult and so very childish, is overwhelming and utterly beautiful.
We park, eventually, and wander through the woodland towards the Force. We spot snow atop the mountains but Ullswater glistens as we walk hand in hand. We hear Aira before we spot it, the crashing of water unlike anything I have ever heard.
We stand on the bridge above the Force and look down, following the water’s endless path, and then dash down the steps to take in the foot of the fall, the water tumbling timelessly, older than we will ever be and yet still fiercely continuing.
I am reminded of Coleridge’s Kubla Kahn: