Monday Mooch...

"Why not kill an abundance of birds with 1 stone."  I thought to myself as Muddy Madam and I were getting ready for our annual trek to Kendal for the ROK trade show.  After the show not only could we drive a few lanes, but we could park up by Lake Windermere and go for a quick paddle in Wenona as well as testing a few products for our review pages.  

That week we had had the wonderful 2016 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian on test with a pair of roof bars fitted so that we could take Wenona out of a paddle.  So, after fitting Thule's Portage Kit to the roof bars, I set about packing the necessities for an afternoons mini adventure: the Pop-Up BBQ from Silverpoint, my Ghillie Kettle and numerous other bits and pieces.

This years ROK was particularly well attended with another room being added to accommodate the varied companies selling their wares, of which I'm hoping to bring you details of soon.  It may come as no surprise, but Muddy Madam can't 'alf talk, and after spending longer than planned at ROK, we left later than I wanted to.  By this time it was around 4pm, and all the lanes that I'd planned to drive weren't exactly closely grouped, so I opted to drive Ashes Lane as it was only a quick detour from the B5284 that would take us straight to the ferry that crosses Lake Windermere.

The first part of Ashes Lane is quite overgrown, but I managed to squeeze the L200 though, though I did clench my bum cheeks on more than one occasion when I could hear the scratchy branches trying to create battle scares along the side of the Barbarian. (Sorry Keir!)

Once you get to the first gate however, the lane opens up and you follow the ruts through a large field with a herd of quite friendly cows.  As you can see from the photos, the ground is packed, and If I'm being honest, with the exception of a few tiny steps, it could be tackled in most 2wd saloons, but that isn't the point.

After going through the second gate, the lane narrows again, this time with with stone-brick walls on either side, and again, due to the overgrown hedges it became a little scratchy at times.  

Once you reach the third gate you're home free.  We quickly made our way onto the B5284 and headed towards the ferry that crosses Lake Windermere.

It's been quite a while since I caught the ferry, and it's certainly had a few price increases in that time.  £4.20 each way may sound expensive, but when you consider the alternative, it ain't too bad.

Here's a quick history lesson with a little help from www.cumbria.gov.uk.

'The Windermere Ferry has been operating for more than 500 years. The original craft were rowed across the lake, later ferries were steam driven and the most recent ones have had diesel engines. The current ferry 'Mallard' is the largest so far; a modern craft which carries up to 18 cars and over 100 passengers.

The ferry takes people, vehicles, horses and cycles across the lake, reducing traffic on the surrounding narrow roads and easing congestion and pollution. It also links the busy eastern shore of the lake and the peaceful countryside between Windermere and Coniston on the west, where there are many attractions and facilities for walking, riding and cycling.

In the summer months there is a minibus service between Ferry House and Hawkshead, calling at Beatrix Potter's Hilltop House. The ferry offers the opportunity to leave the car behind, cross the lake on foot and catch the bus, relaxing all the while and enjoying the scenery while someone else does all the work.'

There you go, I hope you now feel enriched and educated.  Debarking the ferry, we took the next right which is a single track lane that takes you along the the lakeshore and has plenty of places to park. 

After finding a suitable spot, we parked up on the lakeshore, unpacked the pop-up BBQ and Ghillie Kettle and started preparing our tea.

Unfortunately, the big buffoon (yours truly) who packed had forgotten to include any matches, or any other type of fire starting equipment, luckily Stephan from Silverpoint who was at the show gave me his spare firesteel, which worked a treat, what didn't was the Flamers fire starter, I reckon it needed an actual flame to get it going.  Luckily, we had some of Vango's Bio-Ethano Gel Fuel to hand, so using Stephan's firesteel again we had fire! 

It was really a very pleasant evening, eating sausage butties and sipping piping hot mugs of coffee by Lake Windermere.  It wasn't long however before the wind picked up and the temperature dropped, so we began packing, or in other words, chucking everything in the back of the pickup!

After spending another £4.20 on the return trip, we took the B5074 towards the A590 then the M6.  Although you can read about the Series 5 L200's on-road handling elsewhere on The Mud Life, I have to say that it's a bloomin' good truck to drive in a spirited manner, even with hardly any weight in the back and a 16ft canoe strapped on the roof.

Being honest, I preferred it over both the new Toyota Hilux and the Ford Ranger, though I'm not sure if I liked it over the M-Sport version of the Ranger, but that's a different beast altogether.  Whether or not it will keep its crown after I've driven the all-new Isuzu AT35 built by Arctic trucks in a few months time we'll have to wait and see, but for now, the L200 is my favourite standard pickup and I was actually quite sad to give it back!