47DON: The Return to Sawrey

Over the years I have often described my 30th birthday as my most enjoyable ever.  The memory is a little hazy now as to precisely what happened but our best reconstruction of it is that on the day, or perhaps a day or two before, we had a visit from Margaretís cousin Dinah and met for the first time her husband Alan.  It was arranged that we would all go to the Porthole in Windermere for my birthday meal.  That definitely took place on Monday, 18th April 1977.  We gathered at the Albert and then moved on to the Porthole. I donít remember much about the meal except it was a very jolly affair and we cadged a bottle of English wine that had been left behind on another table as the diners didnít like it.

Afterwards we all went back across the ferry to the Sawrey Hotel where festivities continued.  Eventually it dawned on me that as I had far too much to drink to drive and Margaret, although sober as she was carrying Jamie, was not yet driving, we had better stay the night.  The Landlord was himself well-oiled and was having a private party in his quarters but he told us we could use room number 7 as no-one was in it.  The barman went to bed and left the four of us plus another couple (Peter-Jimmy and his wife) whom Alan knew slightly, with an honesty arrangement which I am proud to say we used liberally but not fraudulently.  Needless to say, we went to bed very late.

The next morning after breakfast we went to pay for room number 7 but the landlord was quite perplexed and insisted that he didnít have anyone staying in room number 7.  We reminded him of the conversation we had had with him the previous night.  Whether or not he remembered, he was happy enough to take our money- not surprising considering the bar bill.

Thirty years later, it came as a lovely surprise to learn that Dinah and Alan planned to take us back to the Sawrey Hotel as a 60th celebration.  It was of course, not possible to arrange it for my actual birthday so 10th October was picked as the target date.

Dinah and Alan joined us at Cracalt the day before which by happy coincidence was our wedding anniversary so we got off to a good celebratory start.  Then on the 10th we left for the ferry.  It was a beautiful morning, the lake was still and it was no burden to have to wait for a couple of ferries before we managed to embark.  

The Marina at the Chandlers

Windermere from Ferry Nab

Once across, we soon reached the Sawrey Hotel.  The rooms were not ready but that didnít matter as we were planning to go for a walk.  I was in Blue Peter mode- ďhereís one I prepared earlierĒ- namely BB0710 Latterbarrow.

Arrival at the Sawrey Hotel

Sawrey Washing!


Moss Eccles Tarn

We climbed up past Moss Eccles Tarn (spotting Sawrey washing en-route) and then Wise Een tarn, enjoying beautiful autumn weather and spectacular views.  

Wise Een Tarn

Picnic in the woods

After picnicking in the woods we crossed the awful, devastated fields that had once been woodland but now look like the aftermath of the Somme.

In contrast once at Latterbarrow summit, the views are magnificent- the whole panorama of Southern Lakeland from Coniston Old Man round to Yoke.

After a team picture and a coffee stop, we retraced our steps through the battlefield and descended alongside Belle Grange Beck.  The path is quite steep and laid with stones that were extremely greasy so it was a bit of a challenge.  In the lower reaches it looked more like Aladdinís cave with cold coins strewn everywhere.  Unfortunately fallen leaves are not legal tender, no matter how golden. At the bottom we followed the lakeside track until taking the bridle path back over to Sawrey, descending into the setting sun.  A superb outing of 7.8 miles and 1,535 feet of climbing.

Team picture on Latterbarrow

Sawrey Sunset

Festivities resumed in the evening.  

The Sawrey Hotel puts on a decent pint of Hawkshead in the Claife bar where we half expected to see Peter-Jimmy.   

In fact, Alan had tracked him down. However, now approaching four score and ten, the prospect of returning to meet up with people he didnít really remember was understandably trumped by the second birthday party of a grandson.  

The Sawrey restaurant, indeed the whole hotel, seems little changed in 30 years.

Claife bar

Over the fireplace is an intriguing relief depicting some story of biblical or mythical times but I canít work it out.  

Can you?

The restaurant provides a splendid hearty dinner of good home cooking in which you can choose two starters then your main course followed by sweet and finally a choice of cakes of cheese.  Just the job for an evening stroll to burn off the calories, or, in our case, another trip to the Claife bar.

Sadly the fine weather did not continue to the next morning.  It was drizzly at best so we abandoned the idea of another walk (a reprise of BB0602).  Nevertheless, even in the wet, the countryside looked magnificent as we drove across to Coniston and down the lake to return to Kendal via the Greenodd and the A590.

It might not have been as wild a visit to Sawrey as 30 years previously, but it certainly was a wonderful addition to the still ongoing 60th celebrations!

Don, 11th October 2007




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