After our fill of Buttermere, it was time to load up the car and drive again. Just as we had done a few days before, we took a route out of the Lake District National Park and played tourists as we drove to our next base back in the Park at Coniston Village, alongside Coniston Water. We had some fun along the way at a castle, watching birds of prey, and getting over a couple of white knuckle mountain passes in our rental car obviously not designed for those conditions.
Here are some photos and videos from the day…
Muncaster Castle is also the home of the Hawk and Owl Center with numerous science-based displays for education and a wonderful demonstration of these magnificent birds for entertainment.
All SatNav applications directed us from Muncaster Castle to Coniston on a long southerly route, but I wanted to visit a couple of the famous Lake District mountain passes that I had heard about: Hardknott Pass (“the steepest road in England,” with a 33% average grade) and Wrynose Pass (a 25% average grade). It was a decision I was glad not to regret and something I won’t try again in the future without a proper vehicle. Our little Ford hybrid struggled mightily up the steep, winding, single-track road, and began to emit burning smells that I can only guess the source.
With great relief, we finally made it to Coniston, and found the town decked out in colorful bunting to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Coniston was the home of John Ruskin, a fascinating 19th Century figure of many talents.
We took some time on the next day to visit the town’s museum and learned a lot more about him. I particularly love his thoughts on mountains: “the beginning and end of all natural scenery.”
The museum also had a nice presentation about Donald Campbell, who remains the only person to set both world land speed and water speed records in the same year (1964).
Sadly, in another water speed record attempt a few years later, “fate was to strike,” (video) as his Bluebird K7 crashed on the calm waters of Coniston. It was a sobering reminder of the need for all of us to celebrate each and every day, and to honor those who risk their lives to extend our mortal boundaries.
We finished the day with a hike around the town and the local area.
The hike was a good warm up for what was going to be our challenge the next day: climbing another one of the famous Lake District peaks: the Old Man of Coniston (the summit on the left).