For the Bank holiday weekend myself and Andy750x decided to head up to The Lake District and have a bit of an adventure concentrating on some quality caching with caves, boating, and wild swimming on the agenda! I’d left booking the campsite a bit late and everything central was fully booked apart from one campsite, Sykeside. It turned out to be an excellent choice however as the facilities were brilliant and it’s definitely a campsite we would recommend for anyone planning on heading out that way.
We arrived extremely early and after pitching the tent headed off for a little explore around some local caches which I’d ear marked. I thought it’d be best to start as we meant to go on with a true adventure and a cache called Treasure Island which was just north of the campsite and a very rare terrain/difficulty rating: 1d/5t. The cache is hidden on a little island on Ullswater. Now, you COULD get a boat and paddle to the island. Or you could swim to it. Those who read my blog entry about our adventure kayaking on the River Nene know that me and water don’t go together! I was so annoyed at myself that at my age I still couldn’t swim that towards the end of last year I took some group swimming lessons and actually learned. I followed that with some practice and was soon confident. I’d measured the distance to “Treasure Island” from the shore as being about 200ft and reckoned I would make it. It was a 1.5 mile walk to the shore opposite the island which was beautiful and very scenic, however our route down the bank to it included navigating some ferns, gorse bushes, and brambles, but we got there in the end.
So we stood on the shore debating whether we were brave enough to wild swim in open water. My biggest fear was not being able to see what was beneath whilst coming across. If there was a random huge rock in the middle of the lake I might crack my knee on it or I might hit something when I reached the island. Even with those thoughts in my mind I still wanted to go for it. The plan was that I would swim across (“Ladies first” and all that! ;-)) and then Andy would come and join me. So I got changed into my swimming gear and made my way across!!!!!
I’d been planning the swim for a while and knew that once I got across onto the island I’d need a GPS, pen and camera so I’d ordered a dry bag so that I could carry the necessary bits across. This worked perfectly and there wasn’t a single drip of water inside. It also filled with air as I swam across and acted as a bit of a buoyancy aid.
Looking back at the island I could see Andy and could tell he was thinking “I don’t want to go!!!!!” but he knew the deal and came across to join me. Lol!
Andy didn’t quite make it across as successfully as me as when navigating from the first part of the island he slipped on a rock and landed flat in the water. Ouch. He soldiered on though and joined me so that we could find the cache. Our find was slightly dampened by the fact that I’d bent down and noticed the state of Andy’s leg and the blood pouring out. I did a quick first aid job on it and we headed back to shore together for a better fix. I know you’re reading this thinking “Poor Andy” but he’s totally used to it. Every time we have an adventure he gets injured. So much so that it’s a compulsory part of the adventure now. Hehe!
We found a slightly better way back which I’d spotted from on the island. We walked along the shore and then climbed up ‘Silver Point’ for a bonus cache PUTTING YOU IN THE PICTURE – SILVER POINT where there was a lovely view of Treasure Island. We stopped for a snack before heading uphill and back to the car victorious!
Our next stop was the must-see place in The Lakes: Cathedral Cavern which as expected has a cache there too. To get to the cavern we passed by A Fordable Fun River Brathay which is in a lovely little spot overlooking the river with a cache which Andy found.
We took the slight climb uphill and soon arrived at the entrance to the famous Cathedral Cavern.
The main chamber is forty feet high and lit by two windows giving the cathedral effect. There’s a large pool of water in the cavern with little fishes in, however we were VERY surprised to see a goldfish in the water!!!!!
There’s a tunnel around the back which a guy who was also visiting told us went back 400m and was pitch black inside. He said he used to explore and visit here a lot when he was younger. He also camped in the cavern with climber friends. You could see holes a short sections of rope embedded in the walls and as we left a couple of climbers entered the chamber.
We carried on a circular walk back to the car by passing Slater’s Bridge.
The cache was a little distance from the bridge and a short scramble down a steep bank. I did the retrieving and let out a bit of a “Yelp!” once I found the cache as whilst moving the rock camo a huge frog jumped from on top of the container and sat watching me!!! He really made me jump! Lol! I was careful not to squash him when I replaced the rocks.
The area here is rich with quarries, adits, and mine entrances so we had a bit of an explore around to see what we could find even though there weren’t any caches placed for them.
At first we found “Black hole” which was just up from Cathedral Cavern. We had a look around the main entrance which looked like it stretched quite far back. Sadly people had used it as a bit of a landfill site though and dumped a lot of rubbish there.
Next we headed closer to Coniston and parked near Yewdale Beck where there is some very interesting slate-art built into the walls so that it collects light in different ways.
If you follow the road back from here towards Coniston you can see remains from the old mining buildings on the right-hand side. We went for an explore here which I believe to be Penny Rigg Quarry.
After our exploration and recon of mines and entrances in the area for further research we headed into Coniston because a quick check on my phone revealed that the South Lakes Webcam Coniston (Cumbria) webcam cache was working (Sometimes it gets a bit stuck) so we rushed on to the corner for a quick photo!
St. Herbert’s Island
The following day included more watery adventures as we made our way to St. Herbert’s Island on Derwent Water. The island was named after an Anglo-Saxon priest and hermit who once lived on island. This time around I managed to stay (relatively) dry as we hired a rowing boat. We arrived super early to beat the muggles and were the second crew out onto the lake.
Andy volunteered to do the rowing and I was the navigator. As we had to row backwards it was my job to guide him in a straight line as he kept veering a bit wonky. Hehe! It was nearly a mile from the launch to the island and Andy was a little bit out of practice, but once he’d got his arms in sync we were soon whizzing along the lake. It was such a beautiful day for a boat trip too.
We were soon landed on the island slightly behind a father with his two children who told us to throw him our rope so that he could pull us in. How nice We did that and then pulled ourselves in.
We made our way along the island which had beautiful trees and well walked paths. The cache was an instant find for Andy whilst the GPS was still counting down!
We explored the island a little more before heading back to the boats and away from the island destined for Friar’s Crag.
Friar’s Crag wasn’t a “Boat only” cache, but we decided that as we had the boat and there was a place to land we’d do it while we were at it.
At Friar’s Crag was a traditional cache and a virtual, George Hodgson. The virtual seemed simple, just find George Hodgson and find out who he was. It actually took absolutely ages and the information was in a place you’d never expect, so much so that we only JUST managed to get enough information to pass the requirements. I can’t say what it is as it’d give it away, but it really is a must-visit cache which was more than worthy of a favourite point.
After returning our boat just in the nick of time we headed off to Keswick for a bit of a touristy walk around before finishing our day with a trip to Rydal Caves. I’d seen the photos on Geocaching.com that others had taken and thought that they were definitely worthy of a visit. The cache was hidden outside of the caves, but we went for an explore inside first. It was fun getting inside as you had to hop across stepping stones across a huge pool of water. Not a particularly deep cave, but definitely worthy of a visit.
On the path leading back to the car we spotted a tiny little frog on the ground, he hopped around and we helped steer him to safety and onto the grass so that no-one stepped on him. I was just pleased that this one wasn’t sitting on top of the cache ready to make me jump like the last frog was. Hehe!
Honister Slate Mine
On the Saturday morning we took a drive to Honister to visit Honnister Slate Mines for a tour. Conveniently there was also an earthcache outside!
Before the tour they kitted us out with hard hats and torches and then led us deep into the mine for the history and information about it’s present use. It’s the only working mine in the country and produces Honister Slate which is unique in that it lasts over 400 years. Compare that with something like Spanish slate which lasts ~25 years, and Welsh slate with lasts ~100 years and you soon realise it’s pretty incredible stuff. It’s a tour that we would highly recommend.
Once we finished the tour we had lunch in the car. There was a black dog who wandered around the cafe and outside in the car park which I think belongs to one of the workers. He sat outside the whole time asking for some of my lunch. He was so cute, a bit of chicken may have fallen in his mouth!
Our next destination was The Bowder Stone. This 2000 ton, 30ft stone rests delicately balanced on the ground. There’s a bit of a mystery surrounding how it got there as it’s not a local rock and so there’s a theory that it travelled to this point from Scotland by ice age glaciers. We found a traditional cache and an earthcache here. Another fascinating, and mysterious place.
I’d seen photos of Aira Force waterfall online and didn’t think it was particularly spectacular in comparison to those which we’d seen during our trip to Yorkshire. We had a few minutes to spare and were passing so we stopped off to get the cache there. It turned out to be a really beautiful location with a lovely circular walk all the way around. It was just one of those waterfalls that was hard to photograph and do it justice. The whole area was a beautiful little woodland and almost as impressive as the fall were a couple of “money trees” around the woods. People must have been pushing coins in for years and the second one that we came across looked almost like it had scales as there were so many coins!
We’d completed our d/t matrix in 2011 and then the d/t rating of one cache was changed which left a hole in it. Earlier this year we headed out and grabbed the one that we needed to complete our grid again! NineSquared is a challenge cache which requires that you’ve completed your d/t matrix with all 81 combinations before you’re able to log a find. The cache itself was positioned in a lovely area of The Lakes called Side Pike which required an ascent to get to. So we set off early in the sunshine to grab the challenge.
The path up to the top was well worn and easy to navigate and we soon hit “The Squeeze” that many people had spoke about in their logs. We both slid through quite easily and it wasn’t as bad as we had expected. Good fun though!
There were lovely views of Blea Tarn which we were treated to on the way up. Once we got to a certain point the GPS was pointing straight up. Andy was convinced he’d spotted a path up to the cache despite the lovely well worn path that I said we should check out first, but Andy was certain. So up we clambered through ferns and over rocks. Then I checked the logs on the GPS. “Nobody has mentioned taking a crazy path up!” I said. And that was enough convincing that myself and “Mountain Goat Andy” as I now call him should head back and take the nice path up and around to the top. Since I had made him climb up a waterfall on our Peak District trip he’s been telling everyone about it at every opportunity, so it’s time for my revenge now!
Once we were near GZ it did take a little while for us to find the cache despite others saying it was an “Easy find” (Always the way, eh?) But it was really rewarding once we had found it and we timed a photo so that we could include my 81 d/t geocoin as well. A great challenge cache which fitted so well with the challenge requirements. The views on the way down were just as good as those had been on the way up.
Swallows and Amazons
Not content with just one wild swim in The Lakes, I had another planned for the 2d/5t Swallows and Amazons. Treasure Island was a good swimming cache to start off with because the swim was just a few hundred feet. To swim to Swallows and Amazons was double that distance. We made our way to a suitable launch point and assessed the distance from the shore to the island and it wasn’t massively far so I changed into my recently purchased wet suit and made my way across!
The island was very cool and mysterious. Like St. Herbert’s island there were well walked paths and the island was very well kept. There were a few people having a picnic on it when I arrived and I did get a few funny looks as muggles watched me do the swim. Lol! The cache itself was a really easy find and spoilers were available on the cache page which we’d studied before hand. It was then just a matter of lowering back into the water and swimming back across!
Great fun!!! I think I can definitely say that I’ve got my water wings now after my two wild swims. There was one more swimming cache that I had planned if we had enough time, Crusoe’s Grave which looked to be about a 600ft swim. We didn’t have quite enough time to fit that one in too, but I’d definitely give it a go next time if we don’t have a kayak by then!
Such a fantastic trip in The Lake District which completely shows why our National Parks are some of my most favourite places to cache. We found 34 caches over the 5 days that we were there and had the most awesome adventure.