So, work finally came to an emotional end with a week of leaving drinks, well wishing, handing over of responsibilities and the occasional man-hug. With 6+ months of no responsibilities and adventures ahead of us we were both surprised that the over-riding emotion of our last day was that of sadness and anxiety. Sadness to be leaving two great work places and a city that is easily one of the best in the world! Anxiety that we were doing the right thing, that we were not going to work for the next 6 months, that we were leaving the opportunity for career growth and progress behind to travel (hopefully not aimlessly) around Europe.
Some of the questions filtering through our minds were:
- Are we going to be able to put up with each other in a 2.4x6m space for 6 months?
- If we hate it, will we have given up a great opportunity to live and progress in our careers in London?
- Is Vanlife really that great?
- Will we get robbed and loose everything?
- Were we going to FREEZE in the north of England and regret leaving our unbelievably warm flat (we didn’t need to use the heater once in winter!
After a whirlwind packing session of the van and spring-clean of the flat we WERE OFF! Our first destination was the Lakes District in the north of England, a place of spectacular natural beauty located approx. 5-6 hours north of London. A land of peaks, grassy meadows, many sheep……. Lakes and stone fences awaited us. Throughout our stay in the UK numerous people had raved about the Lakes District as a place to go and so we were eager to get there and see what all the fuss was about.
Coming into the Lakes District we were blown away by how beautiful & green everything was. The farmers of yesteryear had gone to great lengths to build stone fences that stretched as far as the eye could see; some were even built up and along impossibly steep ridges and mountain faces.
We arrived at Sykeside Camping ground just before dark excited about our next few days, the adventures ahead and our first proper night in Barry (the van nickname). The anxiety and sadness of leaving London was slowly starting to fade. One of our good friends was supposed to meet us at Sykeside to stay the night and go mountain biking with us the following day; however, his car had shat the bed halfway to the lakes district resulting in it needing to be towed back to Newcastle. We thanked our lucky stars that Barry had held together thus far and not caused us any problems.
Day 1 in the Lakes turned out to be a bit of a flop despite our best intentions. Waking up to a blue bird day the plan was to mountain bike the loop track from Peterdale/Glenridding to the Peak of Helvellyn (the third highest peak in the Lakes District). Unfortunately after assembling the bikes we realized that someone had lost a part of the rear brake on Hana’s Bike (I wonder who that could have been……). To get the part we would need to drive to a half hour to Ambleside and part with an arm and a leg.
Ambleside turned out to be a quaint little town where every second shop was a sports / outdoor store. We made the most of it, stocking up on local produce and picnicking by Thirlmere reservoir.
We ended the day with a boxing session in the camping ground car park, cooking our first roast in the van and preparing for what would be an early morning assault on Helvellyn.