It was May 1/2 term, and I'd spent pretty much all of it in front of the computer working, either on The Mud Life or catching up on school stuff, my other job. As it was Sunday, my last day of freedom before school, Muddy Madam and I decided that we needed a little road trip to clear our heads and focus on the week ahead.
Armed with a full tank of diesel, a couple of bananas and a Klean Kanteen of water we set of for Lake Semerwater which lies in the heart of Raydale in Wensleydale near the beautiful village of Hawes, North Yorkshire.
As we were about to leave Muddy Towers, Sally traffic (Radio 2) informed us that the M6 around Chorley and Preston was fairly snarled up, so I decided to take the scenic route which saw us travel along the M65, the A59 towards Gisburn were we turned left onto the A682, left again on the A65 at Long Preston then followed the B roads to Hawes.
It was a great drive as, unexpectedly, the roads were fairly clear as most other travellers had parked up outside cozy country pubs.
Usually can't remember what I ate for breakfast most days, but I can look at a map for a destination and remember every little detail, and after a couple hours on the road we found Semerwater without a problem.
Parking up on the shore I immediately began cursing, I'd left Muddy Towers totally unprepared for our excursion, I didn't bring the Cobb, the Ghillie Kettle - nowt, well except for the bananas.
Semerwater was first brought to my attention via Campervan Overnight Camping on Facebook - it's a brilliant page that tells you where you can camp overnight in a camper van, generally for free. One of the members shared a few photos of their overnight stay, whilst a few others warned that the water level can rise quite a lot during the night, so be careful how close you decide to sleep from the waters edge!
If you check the website, you'll read that Semerwater is the largest Glacial Lake in the old North Riding of Yorkshire and is the source of the shortest river in the Country - the River Bain. For a small charge, the Lake is ideal for coarse and wild brown trout fishing, canoeing, sailing and windsurfing or just park up and enjoy the views and have a picnic.
It isn't a huge lake, but it's in a fantastic location, and the best thing about it is that there's a couple of places on the foreshore on which you can park up and enjoy the views and even camp overnight in tents or a camper van. Prices for parking range from £1.20 for a couple of hours to £2.70 for a whole day, and between £3.00 and £9.00 for overnight camping - brilliant value I'm sure you'll agree.
After parking up I lifted the tailgate to provide some shade, by this stage the sun was strong, and with hardly any breeze I was getting a little agitated, I don't 'do' heat very well, but the rest of the visitors seemed happy enough. There were around 7 other vehicles park up, there were children smashing in the water, a canoeist, windsurfer and a family out in a old powerboat waterskiing.
As Muddy Madam found a pair of wellies that I always keep in the back of Deux Smurf and went for a paddle, I went for a meander with my Pentax K3-II. There wasn't much to photograph,only birds and beautiful scenery.
Back at Deux Smurf, Muddy Madam was still paddling and reporting that it was quite slippery underfoot, it didn't help that her size 7 feet were fighting to control the size 11 Grubs wellies!
Back on dry land, she used the ever useful Autow Boot Pull to remove the wellies and we sat in the back of Deux Smurf for a while enjoying the tranquility whilst pondering life's mysteries. We also mulled over buying a small trailer that we could fill with our camping gear and attach to Deux Smurf when adventure beckons, or even a fully fledged camper van like a VW T25 Syncro.
One thing is for sure, next time we'll be more prepared, in fact as soon as I've finished writing this I'll set about creating list (I like writing lists). A list full of stuff that I'll put in a box ready for those impromptu escapes, like the Cobb BBQ and accessories, kettles and utensils... it won't be exhaustive, just the basics.
After just a couple of hours we set off and decided on a different way home, this time we headed for the M6 through Hornby towards Lancaster because one of our favourite pubs, the Plough Inn at Galgate, is only 5 minutes from junction 33 off the M6. It serves seriously good food and we've always left totally satisfied and suitably stuffed and today it didn't disappoint, a great end to a great day.