A small digression from birding reports as it was my wife Sarah's birthday last week end and she wanted to go to the Lake District to get away from chores at home. She booked a guest house for bed and breakfast in Ambleside and we used this as a base to do a couple of short walks and drives.
On the first day we visited Skelwith Bridge and did a triangular walking route around Elter Water and back. After passing the Skelwith Force waterfall the wonderful Langdale Pikes could be seen as we walked along a flat section of the "Cumbria Way' path running alongside the River Brathay.
We stopped at the small village of Elterwater for a quick drink in the Britannia Inn before heading for Colwith Force (which we nearly couldn't find) and then back to the car at Skelwith Bridge.
Along the way Sarah managed to spot a Redstart, but with only a landscape lens on my camera there was no chance of a decent photograph.
From Stagshaw we ambled down to the water's edge at Waterhead taking in a coffee at one of the cafés whilst watching the ducks and Mute Swans with cygnets, before returning to the guest house In the afternoon we visited Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's 17th century farmhouse at Near Sawrey which is close to Hawkshead and which has been preserved as a time capsule of her life and some belongings.
After tea in Ambleside, we had a very pleasant evening meander around the Roman fort remains of Galava at the north end of Windermere. It's mainly just the foundations but is still very interesting and shows the layout of the settlement very well. Along the River Brathay we saw Sand Martins, a Grey Heron, a brood of Canada Geese and some Swans with cygnets as well as a Jay raiding an irate Mistle Thrush's nest.
On the last day of our mini-break we went off in search of Stockghyll Force, a waterfall along the course of Stock Ghyll which flows into Ambleside from the north west. We first came to a tall weir-type structure and wondered whether that was what they were calling the waterfall, but soon realised that there was something a lot larger and more impressive further up the steep-sided gorge. We did see the compulsory Dipper and Grey Wagtails here though.
Crossing the bridge at the waterfall we descended back into Ambleside and explored the town a little more, including the small Bridge House which was built over Stock Ghyll more than 300 years ago, as a summer house and apple store for Ambleside Hall.
All in all we had a great time on our three-day minibreak - we should do this more often!