This is the third & final post in a series about our big adventure in the Lake District with Wild Living Expert, Ben McNutt – you can read the first instalments here: Wild Living with Piri Allergy at Woodsmoke and Ecotherapy & Tree Climbing at Woodmoke with Piri Allergy.
After our “day off” on Wednesday, having enjoyed the sheer luxury of hot showers, proper toilets and comfortable beds we met up with Boss Ben in a different location to put our newly honed tracking skills to use! It took the kids a little while to settle back into the right frame of mind for concentrating on tracks and listening to what Boss Ben was teaching them. I must admit I feared that we were going to be in for a bit of a tough day but they soon got back into the swing of things and, after a quick lesson in how to escape sinking sand, it was noses to the ground to spot and identify animal tracks.
Of course the sandy river bank provided us with some very different tracks to the woodland paths we had explored previously – Boss Ben has a pretty much encyclopedic knowledge of animal tracks so not only were we identifying “dogs” or “birds” but more often than not he was able to tell us exactly which breed of bird had left the tracks. Again, I was really impressed at how quickly the kids began to not just spot but also to identify the different tracks in the sand. Ben had a really good go at using a key to distinguish between different types of birds too!
Ben and Chloe were thoroughly entertained by the sinking sand and couldn’t resist messing about with it as we walked along – of course it’s all fun and games until someone gets stuck isn’t it? Typically Chloe managed to sink herself over the top of her wellies and had to be rescued by Boss Ben who also got a good old sock full of soggy sand in the process. Unsurprisingly the sinking sand lost it’s appeal after that! (For future reference, if you are ever stuck in sinking sand, Boss Ben explained you should lean back to spread out your weight across the sand and swim yourself out backwards – fighting and wriggling just makes the situation worse!)
After lunch we made our way to another secret woodland location which Boss Ben uses as part of his Woodsmoke camps where we spent the afternoon making slingshots (much to the joy of Ben and Dave!) before taking a long walk through the woods to find a cave, a beautifully clear stream and even a very high tree swing!
We walked for miles, the big two never complained once and even Amy managed with just a few piggy backs! They were so busy exploring that they just didn’t notice how far we’d travelled!
At the end of our long day of exploring we went back to our hotel for the final time to get clean & warm ready for our last night in the woods the following day!
Friday morning arrived cold and grey. Not just a bit grey but full on fog grey. We met Boss Ben as planned at Gummer’s How – although it felt like a mountain, strictly speaking Gummer’s How is a big hill and one which is described a “great first family walk”. It’s only 1.5 miles but with the climb it obviously feels much further. Ben and Chloe shot off up the hill like little mountain goats, I found it considerably more tricky – in part due to my own lack of fitness but more just through a lack of confidence in myself to be able to “scramble” up the path to the summit! Of course holding hands with Amy made it even more nerve-wracking at times and I can’t say she was particularly loving the walk which had been made slippy by the poor weather.
Ben and Chloe thought it was hilarious that they were basically “in the clouds” when we reach the top of Gummer’s How but, as luck would have it, whilst we stopped for a snack and a drink, the clouds shifted and we were treated to glorious views of Windemere which made the climb absolutely worth it.
By the time we had made our way down Gummer’s How I’d decided I quite liked the rambling and scrambling but would definitely prefer to be doing it in nicer weather in future! (That said, it would probably have been much busier up there which might have spoiled the enjoyment somewhat!
After our walk it was time to head back to our Woodsmoke Base Camp and I won’t deny feeling really happy to be back there! Despite the basic facilities, after a few nights away, I had really missed our idyllic woodland home! We had a lazy afternoon pottering around putting the tree tent back up again, setting up our camp for the night, sheltering from the rain and hunting for Easter eggs in the woods.
We spent the final night of our trip under canvas. Boss Ben did suggest a full on sticks and leaves shelter but that really was a step too far for me! Amy and Chloe were a little nervous about the idea of camping in a proper tent but we explained it really wasn’t going to be that much different to sleeping in the boathouse and that if they could manage it we would have a look at getting a tent of our own and camping at Just So Festival later this year! That was enough to convince them to brave it! We stayed up reasonably late and all went to bed together as the tent had been pitched quite a way from the campfire and I didn’t think it was fair to expect them to settle to sleep on their own the way they had done in the boathouse when we were only metres away. Aside from the faff of getting dressed for a 2am wee – we slept incredibly well and woke at a fairly reasonable time with the help of the birds singing outside. Saturday morning was all about getting the tents down, packing up the last of our things and enjoying one last campfire breakfast before getting into Boss Ben’s truck for a last bouncy ride through the woods back to civilisation.
Our trip to Woodsmoke was amazing. One which we had been incredibly apprehensive about and one which had caused much amusement amongst our friends who really didn’t think we would hack it but hell, we loved it. This is in no small part down to Boss Ben who made sure that we ate like kings and made everything fun. Dave and I both said as we were driving home that it was a real shame we wouldn’t see Boss Ben again as after such an intense week of living in each other’s pockets you learn such a lot about each other. The kids are still talking about our Woodsmoke adventure two months later.
Although this is the last post about our adventures at Woodsmoke, we had more Piri Allergy adventures over the course of the bank holiday weekend which I will be sharing with your soon. In the meantime keep an eye on the Piri Hub, my instagram and youtube for more updates!
*This post forms part of a paid collaboration with Piri Allergy*