Isis CC Summer Holiday

Ten people, three cars, one cottage...lots of fun!

Saturday: White Water Tubing

As we drove across to Teesdale on Saturday morning the blue skies and sunshine of the Lake District were left behind us as the clouds darkened and we all began to regret wearing shorts. For our car the journey consisted of a lot of singing to Rhianna (which I think Chris enjoyed the most) and trying to keep up with the speed demon we all call Rach!

After a small detour we arrived at the car park and the extremely comprehensive wetsuit fitting process begun, well he held them up against us! I'm not convinced the heights and weights e-mailed in advance were entirely necessary?! Once we had all donned buoyancy aids, helmets, neoprene socks and a pair of webbed gloves we were ready to pick up our tubes and go. It seemed the best way of carrying them was on your head so that's what we did.

On entering the water we practised steering (using the handy webbed gloves- which were also great for high fives!) and began to drag ourselves along. The first few sections were gentle and then we came to our first drop. Everyone stayed in their tube and we bumped along happily. There were times when getting into the Eddies proved to be a problem but we soon learnt that grabbing the nearest person's foot was helpful (even if they didn't happen to be from Isis!) I even had a little grab of the instructor at one point, although I'm not sure that was anything to do with the tubing! Rach got told off, Gwyl stood up on his tube, I got stuck on a number of rocks, Jen and Lynds hitched on to me and made me drag them along and we were all in great spirits. Finally we came to the best section with larger drops and faster water. One at a time we went down, some staying in but most falling out in a backwards slow motion flip! Even after watching the three people in front of me fall out I was convinced that I wouldn't so it was quite a shock to find myself in the water. I ran the final rapid without a tube and was hauled back in on a tow line. Good work, Calvert! Helen was the official photographer, Alice and Lynds were shouting advice from the bank and Liam appeared to be stuck on the other side of the river. It was great fun watching everyone go down and we all wished we could have a second turn.

Finally we came to the end and were given the opportunity to jump from the bank into the waterfall pool below (really really far below!) I decided that it would be best if someone stayed with Helen while she took the photos so sadly couldn't jump! Everyone else went with no hesitation and all survived to tell the tale.

It was an amazing few hours, who knew you could have so much fun in a rubber ring?! Thanks for organising it all for us Jen. You're the best!


Sunday: Via Ferrata

Today was the earliest start of all. The sun emerged over the hills over the lake while we had brekky. Carried by talented drivers Lynds, Rachel and Liam, we passed rolling hills which had gradually fewer trees and more sheep, and were getting pretty high up. At the destination there was a daunting cliff face close by, which was to be the location for the Via Ferrata (Italian for "iron road").

We suited up with harnesses before a bus trip up a really narrow, winding cliff path and a walk through a dark mine tunnel, and then we were told how to traverse the course by the friendly guide, Adam. The key part was, "do it right or you will die". He said that more than once. The course itself was a scrambling, climbing route along the cliff face with metal bars secured into the rock to either hold or stand on, followed by a long wire bridge and a cargo net climb. The hand-holds were comfortably within reach... mostly. Although harnesses were secured to a safety cable the whole way, to put you in your place there was still the view of the valley, so very far below, with what looked like miniature cars cruising along. Everyone found a different part the hardest but the "bridge" was just nasty, and more like a tightrope apart from the slightly helpful extra cables to hold on to. It was not helped when the other jokers on the thing at the same time thought to make it more challenging by wobbling it six ways to Sunday!

After a few amazing hours of fun and a trek up the last steps we were at the summit with a sweet view of mountains all around, and Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain, silhouetted in the distance. Some of the best tea ever was had by all at a tea room in Hawkshead before the party returned to Calvert Cottage for Uno. What a day.


Monday: Hellvelyn

We gathered at the base of Helvellyn and with 50mph winds and rain forecast, the Isis spirit for adventure through adversity was strong. We left Rach, Alice and Lynds to the lower level climbs who looked slightly smug in their minimal waterproofs and we started up. The initial climb was steep to say the least resulting in the annual treat of topless Gwylim with only rucksack straps to preserve his modesty. As we headed higher and higher into the clouds Ullswater faded into the distance. Having put the worlds to right, we started our scramble along striding edge and found the 50pmh winds we had been promised. We sheltered in a crevice for some lunch and received the odd glance with our mixed selection of pot noodles, soup and a whole iceberg lettuce. The rain then hit and we were all in waterproofs in record time, our other life of rapid changes in car parks was clearly a useful skill. We scrambled the last few sections and found the top, had the obligatory photo, walked 10m further and then found the actual peak. Our championing photo with generic fog background possibly does our hike an injustice but we were there!

We started our descent and due to the fog, gale and rain missed our turning and set off on a slightly more scenic route. We looked at the map, decided we knew better and descended a half scree/half grass slope with grace and elegance with my buttocks forming a grass sled track for others to follow in the future. Jen descended like a gazelle, only for it to turn out she had a bladder based motivation. A restock on chocolate and we carried along the valley to find a disused dam with a huge crater. We meandered our way back through the valley with some classic walking games including "I spy with my little eye something beginning with R...Rock", classic. Finally Glen Ridding came back into focus and we re-grouped with our low level companions. Another peak conquered Isis style!


Monday: Ullswater

On discovering l am slightly terrified of heights (or at least dangling from a great height!) after climbing the Via Ferrata, l decided it would probably be in everyone's best interests if l gave climbing Helvellyn a miss! Although i'm sure l could have made it, there would definitely have been some form of tantrum/crying fit and more than likely it would be dark by the time we descended!! Rach had conquered Helvellyn before and Alice has done more than enough mountain climbing in her time so it was decided we would have our own mini adventure.

Rach pulled out her trusty map and showed us a 7.5 mile route around Ullswater which also meant we got to go on a boat! Having waved off the mountain climbers, we made our way to the pier. 40 mins later and now slightly deaf (two fighter jets flew low over the lake - looked awesome) we started our amble around Ullswater. After l had asked for the fourth time if we had walked a mile yet, Alice decided it was lunchtime so we stopped (barely 10 mins in) for peanut butter & jam sarnies. The intrepid adventurers were soon off again - we still hadn't gone a mile when l decided to have a running commentary on our adventure. Renamed as Bear Grylls (Rach), David Attenborough (Me) and Bill Oddy (Alice), we scampered over rocks, branches and overtook fellow wanderers all the time being chased by zombies!

Bear bravely led the way, followed by Dave tripping over many, many rocks and Bill shouting 'lift, lift' (meaning my feet). Eventually, after making our way up & down a few hills (Me: oh FFS another one!? Alice: 1,2,1,2,1,2...) we could see Glen Ridding across the lake! Alice and l were so happy we started singing our special version of 'They'll be coming around the mountain'...verses included 'picking knickers out of bums', 'flies flapping around us' and 'We are happy cos we're nearly home'....then Rach broke the bad news...yes, we could see Glen Ridding and even the shop our ice cream was waiting for us in, but unless we swam across we still had to walk around the lake! There was silence!

We trundled on, a quick pit stop for me to adjust my underwear (potentially flashing nearby walkers), a picture of Alice's sweaty back and then Rach spotted a sign for a tea room! Hell yes we were stopping!! After a well earned cuppa, we walked the last 20 mins feeling refreshed and more than ready for our ice cream! Thankfully we survived the zombies and lived happily ever after... The End.

Oh not quite - whilst waiting for the others, Rach decided to teach Alice a few balance moves in the car park...l got to watch them perform synchronised leg extensions and wibble wobble around like slightly loony ballerinas! A great end to what was an awesome day...thanks ladies.


Tuesday: Wild Swimming in the Tarn

I got up early on Tuesday and wandered into the garden in my bare feet to watch the sun slowly creep up over the hills. It was a lovely start to our final full day. I popped inside and set the table for a family- style breakfast, feeling a little like a house elf creeping around with boxes of cereal and cutlery. One by one everyone came down and we had toast and cereal and more Uno, until we decided to go for a wander to Winderemere. We pootled off over the fields in search of the aquarium, which had little more to offer than local fish and the promise of an otter, so we were soon back at the cottage.

Gwyl and Su had to leave early so Adam and Rach chaperoned them to the train station and brought back some supplies, including a BBQ, which we took up o the tarn on the hill. It was lovely and quiet and the water was like glass...until we arrived. We went for a swim in the rather chilly water, which was fine as long as you didn't try to put your feet down, and then we had a BBQ on the shore watching over the water until the sun slowly dipped.

Once back at the cottage we played Uno and drank until the darkness fell and the stars came out. Thanks to the lack of light pollution we could see so many stars that it was breathtaking. We stood outside with our necks craning back trying to take them all in, spotting two shooting stars and a couple of satellites.

Relaxing, peaceful, beautiful. Just what a holiday should be.

- Jen

Photos by Jen.