Our Travel blog
Saturday 7 May
We set out early today as we are heading to Glasgow . We went via Windermere through the Kirkstone pass on the narrow A529 and alongside Lake Ullswater to join the M6 at Penrith. And what a glorious route it is. As it was early Saturday morning traffic was light and we played leapfrog with a French Motor home as we vied to get the viewing spots large enough to accommodate us. With rare foresight we'd prepared breakfast for the journey so 10 minutes out of Windermere we parked up under Red Screes looking across the path to the ridge beyond and down into the valley.
It was a beautiful spot to stop. Two ewes, each with a tiny lamb in orbit kept us company. We ate rolls, drank coffee and lingered a while to breathe in the spectacular views. Rocky outcrops wore wigs of moss and grass, rivulets ran down lonesome hills and trickled into the streams below and it was all wrapped up in a myriad of greens and browns dotted with battleship grey sheep and runners in dayglo panting their way over fell and dale. Further along some of the higher peaks still had a capping of snow. It was all very fetching and the stop meant we could drink in the surroundings without running the risk of scraping Mavis down a stone wall or flattening a cyclist. It also meant Alison was spared Ray's running commentary on sights she'd just missed.
The French motorhome whizzed by as we'd made sure there wasn't room in our little haven and thus truly satisfied in mind, body and inter-racial rivalry we sped on. The next spot was nabbed by our rivals in a haze of Gallic smugness but at the ample Kinock Pass car park we made our own détente by the universal language of motorhomers - the slightly shy wave.
Coming down from the pass the road fringed Ullswater along its Western shore. With the sun out it felt like driving around an Italian lake or The French Rivera in a 1960's film, probably featuring Sophia Loren. Ullswater showed signs of coming to life with canoes and small dinghies being launched and an air of busyness about it. For a while we kept pace with a steamer chugging through the lake before we branched left and onto the M6.
After our recent adventures on the motorway we were relieved to find this stretch meandered pleasantly, and soon we were on the M74, dropping down from high ground towards Glasgow. Our site is in Strathclyde Park, which hosts Strathclyde Loch, some water sports facilities, the remains of a Roman Fort and bath house and M&D Amusement Park which boasts that it's Scotland's first theme park. It looked very compact and rather worn but then we were seeing it from the wrong side, as it were and judging by its popularity over the weekend it must be doing something right.
While parking at the site we had one of those restrained disagreements couples have where neither party wants to upset the other so frustrations simmer. Fortunately we're quick to clear the air, especially as the main reason was our inability to understand the others parking instructions. This was largely because we'd never bothered to explain what all the frantic arm waving and odd pointing the other party could see in the rear view mirror was intended to convey. With that sorted and not wanting to waste a breezy but dry afternoon we walked through the park and headed uphill towards the nearby suburb of Bellshill, on the outskirts of Motherwell, to get some groceries. The route lead us into an estate where whippet thin teens in mis-matched tracksuits lurked, pudgy toddlers trailed busy mums and stern faced women in quilted jackets and determined looks marched along exchanging news. We passed a grim, forbidding pub in which serious drinkers nursed pints behind chickenwire covered windows and and skirted cheerless armour plated shops. The school was a riot of primary colours behind heavy duty fencing. Nevertheless everyone we encountered on the more welcoming Main Street and in Tesco's were friendly so we grabbed a reviving cup of tea and Ray threw away his I Spy book of estate cliches.
We walked back on a different route through well trodden but wild and informal parkland. It made a refreshing change from formal Victorian parks favoured by many cities. The path wound through glades of gorse, straggling briar's and mature trees. At one point a railway viaduct seemed to burst out of dense foliage over a deep gorge where far below the river made its tumbling way to the loch. The route was longer on the way back but worth it; at times we felt as remote as one can in a city the size of Glasgow and returning to Mavis we relaxed with the now obligatory cuppa.
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