Part 1

At the time of writing, Bob and I should be enjoying our honeymoon on safari in Africa. Alas our wedding has been postponed until July 2021 and as our retirements have been formally announced with a family party and a lovely Magenta afternoon tea, we decided to take a little road trip to the Lake District to mark the occasion. 

So we set off from Chepstow in our motorhome Ronnie Rapido with Boris the BMW adventure bike on a trailer behind ready for some exploring in Cumbria. 

I was at University in Lancaster, so I am familiar with the popular Lakeland places, but Bob had never been before and was excited to discover the area and to ride the famous Hardnott and Wrynose passes. 

One of the joys of taking your home with you, is that you can make a leisurely journey and stop wherever you want. We decided to head north through Wales rather than hit the motorway and stop overnight in Chester as neither of us had been there before. What a lovely place! 

We also had a passenger for this first part of the trip – my daughter Mary, who fancied it as a cheap way to get up to Manchester to see her boyfriend! She is always entertaining company and because she likes to research places of interest and “things to do” wherever she visits, makes an excellent tour guide! 

So we spent a very pleasant and sunny day visiting the famous clock, the cathedral and Roman amphitheater, walking the castle walls, doing a bit of shopping and eating ice cream by the beautiful River Dee. 

We stayed overnight on a pretty little farm just outside the city and next morning, after depositing Mary at the station to catch the Manchester train, we headed north again bound for Coniston. 

After a pleasant and leisurely drive through the beautiful Lancashire and Cumbrian countryside, we set up camp in a pretty coppice alongside Coniston Water. 

Coniston is the 5th largest lake and is where Donald Campbell died while driving his jet-engined boat Bluebird. He was 46. The 12-year-old boat was making more than 300 m.p.h. when it somersaulted 50 feet in the air and fell nose first. 

On the edge of the lake is the Bluebird Cafe where we can recommend the “posh fish finger butty” and the afternoon tea. When we were there, the scene was idyllic with little sail boats bobbing prettily while the sunshine glinted on the still water. A lovely afternoon spent contemplating the beauty of nature and our splendid countryside. 

Other highlights of the trip included an exhilarating day on the motorbike taking in the steep and winding passes through the hills. The scenery around Buttermere is breathtakingly beautiful and the Hardnott and Honister passes did not disappoint. 

For those not familiar with this part of the UK, we heartily recommend a trip. If motorhomeing is not your thing, there are many options from pitching tents behind big boulders on open hillsides to 5 star spa hotels 

with spectacular lakeside views – something for everyone! 

We spent some time in the busy commercial areas of Ambleside, Windermere, Keswick and Bowness – always good places to get good ice cream and of course if you need to buy any outdoor clothing for pretty much any activity, there are literally dozens of shops. 

Our preference as always is to get away from the “hoi polloi” and immerse ourselves in the peace and quiet of the beautiful surroundings. There are plenty of stunning places to picnic in the shadow of impressive rocks or at the side of a serene lake and somehow the sheer beauty of the place means the weather really doesn’t matter. 

For Bob the petrol head, the Lakeland Motor Museum was a must see attraction and we spent a happy few hours mooching around the impressive displays before heading off towards the west coast to see a glorious sunset over Morecambe Bay. 

All in all a pretty successful first retirement road trip!

Do let us know if you have found this account interesting and feel free to share your own travel experiences with us.