Into The Lake

Leaving aside the unending battle of the location of the North-South* division line; The Lake District is a REALLY LONG way away from the south of what most people describe as our “tiny island”. So far, in fact, that we decided to make an overnight stop after 3 hours of driving last night, and there was still over 2 hours to go to reach our destination.

We had to make it to the campsite before midday as this was purported, by the owner, to be at which time he would have to start turning people away for it being full. This was fairly understandable as we had chosen the cheapest campsite in the whole area. I mean what more do you need than a toilet, shower, kitchen sink and an area to plant yourself for a weeks holiday? We did make it, and met up with Scott and Angus who had arrived the night before. Matt and Kate also turned up for a natter which was ace. I had also strong armed one of my oldest friends to join us. Edd had driven up from London to the Lakes Friday night and must have arrived ludicrously late putting our incomplete journey to shame.

Edd had recently received for his birthday his own kayak so this was a great chance to put it into action. I had also liberated my old sea scout groups Canadian canoe for the week. Atop the van, it made us look like real adventurers and gave me an excuse to use my new roof bars.

After a bit of lunch and a catch up, we left Angus to sleep the day away while we took our watercraft down to the lake. (to be fair, Angus had been up at 4 am to make a sunrise photo-montage) We had great fun getting onto the water with Scott in front, Aimi & Kayto in the middle and me at the back. We had been a little worried how Kayto would react to being in a boat, but he seemed to be totally chilled out, just looking around and generally getting in the way, which was nothing unusual.

We meandered around the shallow marshy areas of the lake and made sure we got out of the way of the steamer boats cruising around. It was a really nice day and with three of us paddling, we made some good ground. We headed down the shoreline towards Keswick and set ourselves a goal of reaching one of the islands. It wasn’t that far away but felt quite remote one we had landed. There was evidence of others having done the same with a fire pit and circle of logs to sit on. This would make a great mini adventure one day to sleep on this island! Being reasonably afraid of water, we knew we could let Kayto off the lead and wander around, he stayed close.

Returning to the mainland, and hoisting the canoe up onto the van was more effort than I thought it would be. We were more tired from the trip than we realised. Paddling is not a movement I have much practise in doing and therefore, limited endurance in my muscles.

Back at the campsite we gorged ourselves on a big tomato-pasta dish I cooked. This was about the time that Simon turned up. He was only coming up for a few days and, unlike the others, had not driven up on Friday night. He had set out at 9 am this morning and had suffered a 7 hour drive to reach us, losing the days activities. Still, it was good to see him as he arrived with Beer and a huge home farm grown courgette. This was added to the pasta dish for bulk and tastiness.

The last of the tribe to appear were the most local, Killian and Emily. I was glad they made an appearance because I had several van batteries to give them. I have now suffered the practical reality of using a car/van starter battery as my leisure battery. It turns out after a little research that they are made differently and one cannot do the others job. I had uneducatedly reasoned that if a car battery could supply 650 amps for 5 seconds it could supply 5 amps for 100 hours. This had resulted in deteriorating performance of the starter battery by the buildup of sulphates on the plates. I then totally finished them off by accidentally leaving my fridge running all night and completely draining them flat.

This was the day before the trip north and also, in Banbury, far far away from Bedford, where I was supposed to be picking Aimi and Kayto up that evening. I phoned the local Halfords, hoping that they stocked a suitable battery for the world’s most popular van. I was in luck. But I couldn’t just drive over and get it, the van was going NOWHERE. Luckily I managed to convince the assistant to bring it over to me in his car. I was so lucky that he was obliging; without his help I would have had a tremendously hard time walking a 25 kg battery from Halfords back to the van.

However, they did only have one battery and the van takes 2 (although why, I’m not sure). So once I had removed the dead batteries, I installed the one good new one. The negative terminals just joined up the batteries directly but the positive ones went off to different parts of the van. It was a bit of a gamble and after installing the new battery to one set of these connections, I tried my luck and turned on the van. It made all the usual beeps and clicks I expected but when the ignition was turned, nothing happened. Clearly the other positive terminal needed a power source. I couldn’t reconnect the old battery, so I got some old heavy duty electric shower power cable and jimmy-rigged a connection. I had no idea how much power would need to travel this cable so I made it as thick as I could. Luckily this time, the van did start and my modification worked.

I hoped that Emily’s dad could have a look at the batteries I had brought. Emily said he had a load of instruments and special chargers that may be able to revive it. With any luck I wouldn’t have to buy another battery. But for now, I’d run on one and hope for the best.

*North/South divide has been been definitively decided in Scotland of all places…