Welcome to my latest hair-brained idea-the Lake District on Cuthbert the crutches, that was quite the experience. If you want my honest advice I would not do it again with Cuthbert in tow despite how much they tried to help.
So let’s go from the beginning
Firstly, it’s a long way-I know I did check the map before left but it’s a whole different ball game when you actually make the journey.
I started my journey by taking the 2 flights of stairs down from my flat to get my taxi, this was like climbing a mountain in itself. Carrying anything more than just a rucksack on crutches is a questionable move so by the end I was shattered and wobbly but the taxi driver came to my rescue and I made it to Euston station in just about one piece.
Upon entering the station again it was a scramble on the crutches with my bags but the extremely helpful people from Passenger Assistance came to my rescue. However, I was then taken hostage with 40 minutes to go before my train. I had envisioned a leisurely coffee and breakfast in the station whist waiting for my friend and our train. Cleary I had forgotten about the luggage and crutches as even without any bags, how was I going to carry my coffee……. magically grow a third arm? Who knows I was clearly losing it from my knackering morning.
So anyway I got side-tracked by the thought of caffeine. The Passenger Assistance staff got me to their office with an array of seats to I made myself at home. The next thing I know, they want me on the buggy so I can get on the train with another half an hour to go. I delayed them until my friend arrived so at least she knew where I was (after my very questionable directions to the passenger assistance office, as expected from me… the Geographer). So onto the buggy which I was grateful for as of course our seats were on the furthest carriage and the furthest train so very relieved to have VIP treatment.
The train was packed which meant heading to and from the toilet on our 5 hour journey I definitely managed to take out our fellow passengers’ knee caps whilst wobbling down the narrow carriage aisle on crutches.
Next challenge, changing trains. The fun just kept coming. We were provided with ramps on and off the trains which were both a help and hindrance. You know my balance is dodgy on level ground so throw a steep gradient in there and it was really fun. It felt like I took 10 minutes to muster the courage to face the gradient getting off the train. Onto the platform to head to our next train. The platform had the slightest of slopes which made me feel like I was heading straight onto the train tracks but I did manage to make it on board our second and final train.
Okay, we made it to Windermere without any other breakages (just). Next our accommodation was a 20 minute walk from the station-this was not happening on crutches so a 7 minute bus trip was needed (feeling ridiculous as usually this would be a straightforward walk). So as we were on the bus we decided to go down to Lake Windermere (a further 10 minute walk from our accommodation). Little did I know this would be down a very steep hill- I know it was naivety on my part as we were in the Lake District, which is known for its mountains, so I should have been better prepared. So we had our lunch by the lake, very pretty except we were surrounded by a ton of tourists and even more geese made it interesting.
Next was to finally get to our accommodation, oh lord what an epic effort. To clarify this should a short 10 minute walk uphill from the lakeside. In reality this was a steep hill with a rucksack, weighing a ton, pulling me back down the hill. I am extremely grateful to my friend for lugging my other bag (along with her own) up that hill. I have not previously done more than just moving round the house on crutches so my arms did not know what hit them. In reality the only way for me to get up the hill was to use my injured leg and partially put weight through it as my arms were not up to the battle of letting me just use my left leg. Somehow (with stops every 5 minutes) after what felt like hours we made it to the accommodation to find 2 flights of stairs-ah the fun doesn’t stop. So finally got there and I crashed and sent my friend to do the food shop (sounds like a great trip for her so far but I promise she had a lovely time).
That evening we decided to go out for a pre dinner walk and try to find a way down to the lake which avoided the tourists and geese. So back down the hill… this time the route was less steep and crowded and no bags so an improvement but again I was forced to put some weight on my injured leg as I didn’t want to go flying down the hill. To our intense frustration despite our efforts all other access to the Lake was private so we couldn’t get through. The only answer-wine. At least we found a pub to help us with this. So next (after only 1 glass of wine-anymore and I would not have any hope), we had to come BACK UP THE HILL and TWO FLIGHTS OF STAIRS to our accommodation. If the downhill was a struggle the uphill after wine was a whole new challenge. Every time I put any weight through my injured leg I heard my Doctor telling me off so would then manage about three hops without putting weight on it before my arms screamed at me and I had to give in. WE GOT THERE.
The next day my friend was keen to do something together so a boat trip it was. This was lovely (once we made it down the dreaded hill to the Lake) but a great way for me to see more views as climbing the mountains was off the cards and so nice to spend time with my friend. At the first stop on the boat trip my friend headed off on a hike and I continued onto the next stop. Here the town was a mile from the lakeside so there was no way I was doing a 20 minute walk on crutches! I found a lovely bench by the lakeside for my lunch and did some lovely people watching with a view (seeing people out and about living their lives was so lovely and great for my recent cabin fever). I wish I could have joined my friend as the scenery was stunning and being in nature makes me so happy but I will be back on two legs. I WILL BE BACK.
After the boat trip it was back up the hill SO MUCH FUN. At least the hordes of tourists cleared out the way when they saw my shambolic self, wobbling toward them so I had a clear route to my destination. And crash onto the sofa phew! However all these long crutch sessions had another consequence on top of the dead arms, blisters ah so fun. I was popping Nurofen like smarties at the end of each day but it was worth it
Our last day in Windermere meant only one thing, back on with the bags, feeling like a overburdened turtle we headed back down my favourite hill. My friend had finally discovered a way to get to the lake which escaped the tourists and geese-hooray. The downside, it was a mile and a half away there and back. Oh boy here we go. Thankfully once we were down the hill it was flat and there were plenty of benches to crash onto for a breather to allow my arms to recover marginally so they were not complete jelly. Once again I had to resort to using my injured right leg as the one leg life was just not getting me anywhere and I was conscious of going at the pace of a snail in superglue along the lakeside for my friend so had to do all I could to keep moving. It felt like we had completed marathon distances when we finally got back but it was worth it for a change of scene
Onto our next stop to the West of the Lakes on the coast-Seascale. We were staying in lovely woodland cabin… in the middle of nowhere surrounded by sheep, chickens and mountains. Idyllic apart from the minor hiccup that the toilet was outside and accessed via some deep gravel so a battle on crutches. In addition the main bedroom was up a very steep staircase (code word for ladder) so it was the (very comfortable) sofa-bed for me or I would have risked breaking the other leg. This is the perfect location for escaping and spending your days out in nature walking and exploring the lakes. It was not so much the perfect location for staying put with a broken knee. No WIFI and no people watching options so it was the sheep and chickens for entertainment (yes I did resort to naming the sheep- Daphne, Daisy (who I quickly realised was male so had a name change to Donald) and Dennis.
My friends left me for a full day hike (10 am to 7pm) so my day consisted of reading, attempting a nap- the cabin had no curtains over its lovely huge windows so it was sunrise wake up calls all round just what we needed from a holiday. Between the reading and napping were missions to the bathroom and chatting to my new non-human friends. I was so excited to have my friends back after their day out and they were knackered from their long hike but I just waited patiently for them to cook me dinner. I felt very two faced as at the end of the day my leg would be sore so I would be absolutely no help getting dinner then the next minute I would be frustrated with myself so walk around making a cup of tea so my friends had no idea which way I was going next, couch potato or sprightly Sally who chose to ignore her doctors’ advice.
The next day we took a team trip to Wast Water. One of my friends headed off on another hike my other friend was exhausted from the hike the day before so I had company! Hooray! It was lovely to have a change of scene and we had some great people watching opportunities with families spending the day by the lake with swimming, kayaking and paddle-boarding to entertain us. It was all great when I could stay seated until I needed to loo. The only option was a nature wee in some deep ferns and bracken. Crouching was a real challenge and I definitely felt my knee crunching on the way down and up but needs must and all my friends will tell you how much water I drink. This meant I had to be extremely strict with myself to stop drinking after 9 pm to avoid a midnight hop to the loo back at our cabin. I am pleased to report I succeeded and did not need any pitch black bathroom hopathons.
Our last day involved a long drive and train journey home so was a long journey. We had a lunch stop at another lake which was a 5 minute walk from the car park. However, this 5 minute walk included giant dodgy steps, tree roots and a pebbly beach so this trip has kept me and my crutches guessing to the very end. We stopped at services on the road and I had to use the disabled lift to access the services. The lift with a door which weighed a tonne so was nigh on impossible to open. We made it to the station where again we had passenger assistance. However there was no buggy waiting for us this time, just a friendly lady to carry my bag (so not sure how helpful it was but hey ho!) Thankfully our return train was a lot less busy so no one lost their knee caps and we made it back to London. At St Pancreas, I had a lovely man waiting for me with a wheelchair which was a relief as it was miles to the exit. However he quickly got me to a taxi rank with my bags loaded onboard before I had a chance to explain I wanted an Uber so my only option was to spend a tonne on my taxi home! Finally home after 12 hours travelling and a long day.
This trip on crutches made me realize how difficult and inaccessible these trips are for those less mobile than myself and despite the fact the trip was very frustrating and difficult and my desperate wish to be out walking with my pals I was very grateful to know the crutches were temporary and that I would have future opportunities to visit and walk in the Lakes. P.S. sorry for the length of this post I had to occupy myself on a weekend from the sofa so if you made it this far, thank you so much.