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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog begun in 2012 about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.

I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps.

Around 2018 I tried a new way of writing my family's and my own UK travel adventures. Britain is a brilliant place for a staycation, mini-break and day trips. It's also a fantastic place to explore so I've begun to write up reports of places that are easy to reach by public transport. And when they are not that easy to reach I'll offer some tips on how to get there.

See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Perfect mountan hideaway

Pete, Nicola, Lola and Nell love to travel but stay off planes to keep their carbon footprint down. Here's how they satisfy their passion for travel

The Wasdale Head Inn looks like a tiny white Lakeland cottage nestling in the flat green valley below the big mountains that ring it. But it's a mecca for anyone passing through this valley thanks to its micro-brewery, rooms and self catering apartments and a walkers/climbers equipment shop. As we stomp through the rain – Nell slithering in wellies as her feet have suddenly grown – the word INN in huge font gets pleasingly nearer... We will be happy here, no doubt.

And we are – the first day it's good enough weather to see that only the tops are in cloud – so we set out to climb Lingmell. There's a pretty walk along Moses Trod (good name eh with hints of tradition, poetry and anticipation?) with the river on the right but as we climb up the hillside it's obvious that we are approaching from an awkward angle. Quick change of plans and we swerve left and up the fell to the place where four paths cross. Here, there's a teeny tarn the kids start throwing rocks into (not sure this is a good thing but they are happy and recharging) while I look around for a mountain to climb. Eenie, meenie, minie, mo... There's so many tops we could be in the Pyrennes, Alps or Nepal...

Most people go up Scafell Pike (England's biggest) but we are so close to Great Gable here – it's top is just 300m up which is an hour long staircase climb. Or something like that, and soon we huff and puff ourselves to the top, which is a bit cloudy cheating us of the stunning Wasdale Head view we should have. Not that it matters at all – the kids have climbed their second big mountain – and the views as we descend Great Gable are sublime. Even when the cloud wafts out the big picture Nell is enchanted by being inside cloud. It's like flying, but more DIY.

The next day Pete walks off his stiffness by doing five tops, Pillar etc, up the other, less crowded valley, and we all celebrate with chocolate cake and pasta when he makes it down: contented albeit 50. A proper happy birthday to be alone in the mountains contemplating...

The Wasdale Head Inn is not a chi-chi place. It's the birthplace for British climbing so is filled with climbing memorabilia – ice picks, photos of men in tweed and weather reports. It feels very male with its wooden panelled rooms (and no hot water while we are there in our apartment), but it hums with anticipation and adventure, and we all want to go back soon.

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