Tue 10 Sep - Keswick / Lake District, England

From salt to fresh water...

We liked Blackpool a lot and were sorry to be leaving after just 24 hours, but we still managed to see more in the morning before our lunchtime check out. We have got packing down to a fine art, it takes no more than perhaps 10 minutes if we have a car, 15 without. Reason: boots go separately and stay in the car.

Continental breakfast at Ibis Styles was great. Good cereals, juice, fruit, nice bread and ham, cheese and a Nutella treat for Di.

By 8.30am we were ready for more exploring. This is how we ended up walking.

We soon noticed that we had hit low tide - later confirming it was at its ebb at 9.25am. Hard to believe that the water level drops nearly 8 metres but more obvious when we see North Pier "standing" on the beach.

Hans wanted to go to the water's edge, and just to be on the safe side went bare foot. Di preferred to stay a bit closer to the pier.

Near the water's edge, but not too close. Better have a healthy respect for the tide as we have heard some horror stories about people getting caught out due to sudden bursts of water.

North Pier from the sand.

A real bit of beach, if only for a few hours each day.

Di looked a bit concerned about all the gaps in boards and rust visible from this angle.

There were workers using this lift to pull bits of old pipe and planking off the pier...also the wind was howling so flaked off pieces of paint etc were flying in the air and landed on the sand.

Shoes back on and we headed northwards to explore further. We found a Blackpool Beach Patrol headquarters, situated away from the main tourist areas and on an upper even with no stair or ramp access to the beach. There was a car parked outside, but no other vehicle or surf life saving equipment visible. Right...

This board told the handful of punters who bother to walk this way about some critical information on tides etc. Again might be more helpful if it was more sensibly located.

Some ramps to the upper promenade level, which is 3 tiers at this end of Blackpool. Very gritty, paint flaking, wiring exposed. Needs some TLC. Quite a bit in fact...

More faded glory hotels at the end mixed in with some aged care residences and apartments for locals.

The ugliest building in Blackpool has to be...the Hilton. Totally out of place and size with the rest of the buildings along the Promenade. Di kept muttering about "somebody being shot..."

Then she muttered some more about her pet peeve - paying 20p to pee. Don't get her started...

We were being buffeted by the wind so we headed inland a block looking for a coffee place. Far more run down and cheap places here, including lots of cheap eats and junk shops. A good name for this junk shop - for those who know the BBC TV show "Steptoe and Son" who were junk collectors, this is "Mom".
We found a nice little diner, and ordered a coffee and a tea. Both were surprisingly good and the place had free wifi. So we sat for a while and chatted to the lesbian waitress/coffee maker who was a mad Man U fan with "Sir Alex" tattooed into her forearm. Not sure what her girl friend's tats said... She worked there as well.
An old lady came in to collect her shopping from yesterday. She had clearly been in the wars - with a swollen closed black eye, 4 stitches in her eyebrow and plenty of facial abrasions. Di chatted. Poor thing had tripped on her front step next door yesterday and spent most of the day in hospital being fixed. She was back to collect her shopping and have a coffee. She even apologized for looking the way she looked...??

We were due to check out by 12 noon and so wandered back in the direction of our hotel. We were not sure why they needed this many phone boxes - a super hero convention?

Hans thought that he would step in and see what happened... May come out as Superman... Right...

Back at hotel around to 11.30am, including a small detour into a HUGE Poundland, just because...of course we bought £6 worth of stuff.

We checked out, dropped our bags in the car and moved the car to another level in case any baddies had seen us mucking around with our luggage in the boot. Better to be safe than sorry... then back on the streets for another hour, and some lunch as we had paid for car parking until 1.30pm... And we didn't really want to leave this lovely, rundown, from a gone era, beachside resort... Just loved it.

Hans vowed that fish and chips was required as part of any British seaside experience, but was dissuaded when we walked past a hot roast meat place doing rolls and very good business. 2 Gammon Barms with stuffing and apple sauce (ie: 2 hot ham white rolls).

And of course we had to picnic at the seaside (despite the howling gale). The English really know their weather well and have these great huts with seating on all sides near the beach so we chose the sunny protected side and only had to worry about hungry birds.

Yummy rolls and a nice location, but do you see the shadows of the birds? And the one in the air? Hitchcock anyone?

We did one final walk out onto our favourite faded glory North Pier. These speakers were everywhere playing constant crooning music. "Volare", "That's Amore" and then one that Di knew all the words of - "Hello Dolly" (she sang along, but she's no Barbara Streisand). Perfectly daggy music for such a daggy place.

Hans was trying out one of the rusty rotting benches, which just had to be done. Behind him you can see how the incoming tide and wind have whipped the water to white caps and we really understood how people may drown in this shallow water.

There seemed to be 4 guys doing maintenance work on the deck of the pier (aside from those doing major work underneath this morning). The North Pier is already 150 years old and we hope that the guys' work keeps it alive for another 150 years but we have our doubts...and the rust takes over control... Here we are looking right down at the end of the North Pier.

They are gradually replacing some less than firm boards, which were still quite a few. Our hotel was the white building on the right at the end of the pier. Great location.

Our parking ran out of time so just after 1pm we were on the road again for the 2 hours drive north east to Keswick at the northern end of the Lakes District.

It took us a while to find Greenbank Guest House, outside of Keswick and near Borrowdale, but we were delighted with its location as there seem to be walking paths everywhere we looked - and also these cute black sheep. Of course we sang "baa baa black sheep".

Janet, our host welcomed us with tea and biscuits, chatted about all the walks we could do from here, then encouraged us to start walking almost straight away - a quick "orientation" walk for this afternoon. She suggested "the duck boards" (?) that would take just over an hour and gave us detailed directions on a laminated sheet but basically her instructions were go left, left and then left.
A very good suggestion as the weather looked perfect. So we quickly unpacked just a little bit, changed into boots and headed out about 4pm for a short walk through the fields.
Di was "on fire"...

We found the gravel path towards the river and realized it was a popular route when we kept meeting people coming the other way. We crossed the little bridge you see in the background and then a short while later veered left where the path became a little muddier.

A view from the bridge towards Keswick. We are in a valley, with a lake and surrounded by 800 foot "mountains" on each side. Very picturesque.

Ahhh - now we understand "duck boards" - a boardwalk over the marshes where the ducks live.

We kept following the path, kept turning left and reached the little hamlet of Grange (we think). Yep - definitely ducks here...and Hans...

Our dinner options locally are limited. We checked a few cafes and found closing hours were around 5.30pm or 6pm latest. We figured we might have a later large afternoon tea one day in lieu of dinner because prices and menus looked reasonable, whilst a local formal restaurant wanted £34 each!

By this time, it was already nearly 6pm so no luck today. We went back to our room to plan a bit of grocery shopping and research a dinner option in Keswick. Had to be Asian food, we miss it so much.

Golden Hills Chinese restaurant showed up on TripAdvisor as a reasonable option and was in downtown Keswick near the Co-op supermarket. So we did a quick shop at Co-op for breakfast and lunch provisions, left our car in their car park and then went to this local Chinese nearby, which turned out to be an excellent choice.

The Chinese food we ordered was as good as home, including sizzling king prawns with ginger and shallots. A nice meal with authentic green tea and a lovely chatty Hong Kong / British waitress - made it a nice meal out. Just don't do the £ to $ conversion, as it makes it a bit expensive (but worth it to make Di so happy!)

Back to Greenbank Guest House by 7.30pm to call it quits. It turned out to be a big day after all and we took it easy in our room for the rest of the evening. Good night.


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