With all the Rio excitement, Team Derwentwater, now headed by new manager Tim Butcher, have been synchronised sweeping, time trial toilet cleaning, and heavyweight hoovering with extra energy, spurred on by supportive messages from guests and friends.
Oscillating between on-screen and real life, we’ve also had Southampton Scouts doing Masterchef in the self-catering kitchen, with Tim as chief taster, and several ‘Swallows and Amazons’ adventures on the lake.
‘Ama-zons, Ama-zons, Amazons forever, Ama-zons!’ Olympic calls from the wilderness beyond Rio? No! These are calls from Derwent Water, on screen or in real life, from the adventures of children this summer. The new film ‘Swallows and Amazons’, which features lots of familiar locations around Derwent Water, aided by our local watersports friends Platty+, is now on general release, but we have also seen lots of families having their own adventures on the lake, including several of our staff. Nicola and her brother’s family rafted canoes together from Platty+, and our new manager, Tim Butcher, and his family, have been making the most of their kayaks.
Platty+ provide affordable hire, an entertaining website, and very friendly expert tuition (if required), and they are only a 20 minute walk from the hostel (towards Lodore Falls Hotel, at the southern end of the lake), so we can highly recommend them! If you watch until the very end of the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ film then you will see Platty+ (John and Sarah Platt) credited, as well as Penny Webb from the National Trust. http://plattyplus.co.uk/
At the end of July, a new sight appeared in our grounds: some speedy-looking rowing boats. These boats were all the way from Boston Rowing Club in Lincolnshire, where they normally go up and down the River Witham.
The Boston RC training weekend was hosted by the local Lakeland Rowing Club, who currently do not have enough space for storing and launching visiting boats, but we were very happy to accommodate the boats on our grass.
Boston Rowing Club, established in 1856, is a very large and successful club, and it was a great opportunity for the relatively new Lakeland Rowing Club to train with them and try out their boats. It was particularly exciting for the Lakeland Juniors to row in an eight for the first time, especially as this was the same type of boat, the Italian made Filippi, that competed in the Rio Olympics.
The Boston RC training camp was a great success, with many thanks going to Lakeland RC, and we have our fingers crossed that Lakeland RC will be successful in their appeal for a permanent launch and storage space on the lakeshore. It would be great to meet more rowing clubs in the future.
On Thursday 4th August a Tudor courtier walked through the door with a picture of Neil Armstrong, humming a Beatles tune and admiring the Georgian features in our dining room. It was as though 500 years of history had been concertinaed into one room! This was the scene for a History-themed Setting the Scene, one of a series of creative sessions provided by Theatre by the Lake, run with support from Amy’s Care for people living with dementia and their carers. One of the activity assistants, Rachel Agnew, wrote a report of the visit:
‘This week (4th August) Setting the Scene went on the road, with a visit to Barrow House. This eighteenth century mansion made the perfect backdrop for our History themed session. Katy, our lovely host, gave everyone some delicious chocolate cake. She told us about the unique history of the building and how it had been created for a young bachelor, Joseph Pocklington. Wealthy and eccentric Joseph had even steepened the flowing waterfall that we could see from the window.
Beginning the activities, we passed around photographs of famous people and events from history; from this we discovered that a few members of the group remembered the day of the Queen’s coronation. As always with Setting the Scene, music by Elvis and The Beatles led to much laughter and dancing, there were some wonderful impressions of the King of rock & roll. Afterwards, we played a spin game on the subject of Henry VIII and his wives. By taking part in the game we learned interesting facts about each historical figure and the Tudor court. Eileen shared a rhyme from her school days about this infamous King. Reassuringly, unlike Queen Catherine, our group agreed that they would rather have a drink the night before their execution than practise placing their heads on the block. After a sing-song, the group dabbled in a bit of Morris dancing; this went very well - we were swept away by the moves and enthusiasm of the participants – it was a wonderful end to this week’s session.’
It was a pleasure to host Setting the Scene and I really enjoyed joining in with the joyful singing and Morris dancing at the end of the session: what a lovely way to finish a morning at work. If you want to want to find out more about Amy’s Care, you can see their website here:http://www.amys-care.co.uk/
In the middle of August I spent a night at Skiddaw House, high up amongst the northern fells and the heather. Skiddaw House is only 9 miles from us, but every time I go it feels like an adventure, heading higher and higher up the Glenderaterra Valley, rounding the crags of Lonscale, and finally arriving in the peaceful enclosure of the hostel.
You can only get to Skiddaw House by foot or bike, and I chose to run there along the Glenderaterra Valley, moving closer and closer towards the enticing purple slopes of Great Calva.
The wardens, Suzy and Martin, are keen fell runners, with experience of running remote hostels (for instance, they were wardens at Black Sail, running over the fells or cycling down the valley to get anywhere) and they’ve devised some great challenges. Here are the details from their website www.skiddawhouse.co.uk:
Skyline Challenge (run or walk): Starting and finishing at Skiddaw House (470m), visit the summits of Great Calva (690m), Blencathra (868m), Blease Fell (804m), Lonscale Fell (714m), Little Man (865m), Skiddaw (931m), and Bakestall (673m), in any order and using any route. Guests staying at the hostel who complete the challenge in 7 hours or less will be rewarded with a free drink from our bar. Keen runners can aim for the top of the leader board!
The Cloven Stone Challenge: 2.25 miles, 500ft ascent. A dash to the cloven stone and back from the hostel gate. Let us know when you are about to set off and we'll time you. There will be a prize at the end of the season (31st October) for the fastest man and woman.
I was keen to try the Skyline Challenge, and I had a wonderful morning on the fells (despite the low cloud and rain), arriving back at the hostel to find lots of biscuits waiting for me: thank you Suzy and Martin!
Then I started ambling back down to Keswick, looking at everything that had been obscured by cloud during my run. Having spent several hours in thick white nothingness, unable to see more than a few metres, the clarity was dazzling, and I walked along really slowly, focusing one by one on the sharp, stark fells, the white ribbons of water, and the steely grey glimpses of Tewet Tarn and Derwent Water.
Some stretches of my walk home were also very sociable. First I bumped into Mark Padgett, who is publishing a book about the history of Skiddaw House, then I was greeted near the Skiddaw path by one of our lovely regular families (they are working their way through the Wainwright fells). Finally, a fellow Keswick AC member caught up with me near the bottom of Latrigg, asking if I was ok (normally people see me running, not walking!): 'Yes, very ok, just bimbling along happily and admiring the views'.
Just let us know if you are interested in walking/running/cycling between Derwentwater and Skiddaw House, and we will happily help with route advice. You are also welcome to leave your car here while you go to Skiddaw House. Oh, and if you beat my time for the Skyline Challenge then you can have a drink from our bar too!
Katy (staff member at Derwentwater Independent Hostel).