A casual squint at the map was my first mistake of the day.
Choosing the nearest direct route from our cosy holiday cottage in Ambleside to the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in the Western Lake District was my second.
I'd visited the railway as a teenager and my memories of it had become enshrined as something magical that must be revisited. Have you ever noticed how time can make an occasion seem much more perfect than it probably was? I visualised the railway as the perfect day out. I'd tried to take the family there on previous Lake District holidays, but had always been talked out of it. This time there was to be no escape...
What I've learned about the world
What looks like the quickest route on a map is not necessarily the best one to take.
What I've learned about the world:
When negotiating a hairy hair-pin bend whilst driving down the side of a mountain and trying to see the way forward, the triangular side/front window of a Citreon Xsara looks less like a mistake and more like a liability.
Oh, and what I've learned about the world
Steam pours past our open windows and a fantastic little journey through a beautiful landscape of fields, forests and hillsides begins. At last I begin to remember why I've wanted to come back for over twenty years...
We decide to take a saunter along the narrow road and head out into the countryside. Turning right at the Brook House Inn, we find a path that leads us past a little church called St Catherine's and on towards a riverside walk. We sneak under a small bridge (which seems to have been built solely to re-enact the story of "The Billy Goats Gruff") and onto a pebbly riverside. Throwing stones into the water becomes our focus for the next half hour. We move across stepping stones to the middle of the river, hopping from stone to stone until we reach a perfect little island, full of flat pebbles with which to skim the surface of the river. Almost without realising it, we are having a "this is the life" moment...