When we woke up this morning it was unfortunately raining. We had originally planned on doing a long hike, starting early (around 6) but because of the rain, we opted against it and in the end, I’m glad we did. It was nice to break up the trip and not have to do a hard push on the feet or in the car. Instead, we did a little push by heading out in the car towards the area where the hike was going to take place— in case we were inspired by something new. In other words, it was a day to get lost in the Lake District. We headed off and after only a few miles, we were driving up and down extremely steep inclines. We had been upgraded somehow to a 4WD vehicle and as I may have mentioned earlier on, at times because of the narrow roads, I had wished we had a smaller car. My mind was changed when we hit the hills. We climbed and climbed and was it worth it- the views in the Lake District are phenomenal. Just phenomenal. Rolling hills, fells, pastures, sheep, waterfalls, rivers, stone bridges… like a painted picture. Here is an idea:
We also found an old Roman ruin that we just had to check out– only about 50 yards from the road. We walked up and stood in a rounded area that we later found out was the “spa” area. It was a very cool and large ruin— they had signage that told you exactly what you were looking at:
Another interesting thing about driving in England (at least in the country and not on the main highways such as M6) is that because the roads are so narrow, every once in a while you’ll see a little tiny pull out just a nice little half circle cut out that can barely fit 1/2 of a car. They’re used when cars want to drive past each other since most of the roads are too narrow for two cars- so in some spots one of the cars may have to reverse to a pull out so that the car coming the opposite direction can pass… very cool. I guess what I learned in my walkable cities and next generation buildings grad school class was correct- narrow roads slow down cars and save lives (although I’m not sure that a lack of sidewalks has the same effect when combined with narrow roads).
We continued on our drive and found a little pub on the side of the road that said it was also a pizzeria. We were elated with joy to say the least as the food we had eaten the previous few days was not stellar– we walked in and took a look at the menu and Andrew decided to order a margherita pizza; simple, delicious, perfect. He ordered and the waiter said, actually, our pizza cook has today off- we serve pizza all the other days. Bummed but trying not to show it, Andrew asked what he would recommend- he said the ribs and wings were delicious as was the tatie pot; a local dish that was more like a stew made with mutton (sheep meat). Andrew said ok, we’ll take both. We ordered drinks (me a cider, Andrew an ale) and then walked to the table where I scolded Andrew for asking the waiter for his opinion because once that happens, Andrew can’t say no– he’s too nice. If the waiter had said, “the pig snout is fantastic,” Andrew would have ordered that! 🙂 I had a Bulmer’s Cider. It was fantastic.
The food was ok. I wish I wasn’t a picky eater and in most cases, I would say I am not.. but when it comes to country English food, I think I am. the ribs were good but sheep meat which I just don’t have a taste for… the wings were pretty tasty although it seems like the spices used in English cooking are off (at least compared with what I typically eat in the US). It’s almost as if there is a lot of spice but odd spices– odd to me, but completely natural to anyone English I would imagine. Then the tatie pot came… it was a large porcelain bowl that had a thick stew with gravy in it– it had chunks of lamb, carrots, potatoes, and black pudding chunks, all together in a crust. Visually, pretty good looking. I had about two potatoes and gave up- I’m not a gravy person (lame, I know). Andrew was more of a trooper and ate a good portion of the dish including a small bite of the black pudding. For those of you who don’t know what black pudding is… it is sometimes more commonly referred to as blood pudding. It is blood mixed with any number of fillers (fat, meat, grain, etc) that is cooked until it becomes gelatinous or the consistency of pudding. Apparently it is a popular dish as we saw a lot of it at the rest stops we took breaks at on our drives. That was Andrew’s first and last visit with blood/black pudding. If you’re interested in making your own tatie pot; I went ahead and found you a recipe.
After lunch, we headed out down the road for a while until we came to a little tea shop that doubled with an antique store… we decided to stop for some caffeine and perhaps something with a little substance that I would be willing to eat. The women who worked there were lovely; so sweet and so kind. Andrew ordered a latte, I ordered a mocha, and we ordered a caramel shortbread square to share. Once we sat down, we saw they had a tomato basil mozz baguette on their menu and also ordered that… I love that combo! The baguette came out and had been toasted with a few chunks of fresh tomato and melted cheese and spinklings of dried crumbled basil- delicious. the caramel square was TO DIE FOR. So good! We thanked them both and headed over to the antique store.
The antique store wasn’t huge but it was a cute little shop with knick knacks and candies. I was surprised to see they had Willow Tree figures. Before we headed back to the road, we picked up some mint cakes as suggested by one of the wedding guests in Salcombe. It’s a small mint fudge almost- tastes like a giant mint candy but the consistency is of fudge— pretty tasty indeed. Then it was back to the road. We continued on down the road until we got to the coast where the tide was obviously out:
We hung a left and saw a sign for Muncaster Castle which we decided, what the heck, let’s go check it out. We parked and walked over to the main entrance where we paid the entrance fee and picked up an audio player so we could go on the castle tour. The castle wasn’t huge but it was really nice and it was fun to walk around and get lost in the rooms and look at all the books and articles and pictures and beds inside. Here’s the castle:
As soon as we exited the castle, we saw a group of people standing around and a staff woman with a bucket who was talking– and about 30 herons. Apparently it was “Heron Happy Hour” where they feed the Herons and they all come up close so you can see them and take pictures. How cool!
Muncaster Castle was also special because the grounds were home to the headquarters of the World Owl Trust. There must have been 30 species of Owls– from all over the world; big ones, small ones, colored ones; loud ones; some with big eyebrows, some sleeping… just amazing:
We did a little more walking around the gardens on the Muncaster Castle Grounds before we decided to head out so we could get back to our campsite before dark and walk to the local pub for dinner. The drive back was beautiful of course and we made it back to our pod with light to spare, we dropped some things off and grabbed our packs and walked out of the campgroound and about 10 minutes down the road to Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and Hiker’s Bar.
It was fairly crowded but we were able to find a table and we pulled up a seat and ordered dinner and drinks at the bar as we found was typical in the country portions of England… there’s not table service per se, you order up at the bar or counter and then they’ll bring you the food out. Most of the dishes were seafood or lamb, so I opted for a children’s meal (chicken bits which was just chicken nuggets) and a bowl of their house soup; potato leak. The soup was DELICIOUS. I had a Thatcher’s Cider. Andrew ordered the fish and chips and got a huge piece of fish which he said was delicious (and he cleaned his plate so I can vouch for him). After a dinner of good food and good conversation, we walked on back to our ecopods and headed to bed.