5, 5 & 5 on the 555
Posted on February 1, 2016
This post is a bit of an aside to what we normally write about but it’s not completely left field. It’s about a very specific type of journey. Back in November we decided that when the somewhere-nowhere Facebook page reached 555 likes, we would take a day out on the 555 bus, travelling from Kendal in the South Lakes to Keswick, and on the return journey, stop five times.
The 555 journey would take us through the centre of the Lake District. And on our return breaks, the plan was to stop in a pub and sample a different locally brewed ale. In each pub we would ask the person who served us about their own special ‘somewhere’. Five stops, five pints and five somewheres, all on a day out on the 555.
We know the Lake District well, it being where we live, but viewing the scenery from the top deck of a bus, for a long length of the A591, would be a first. As would a fun but less-than-healthy pub crawl.
On December 5th 2015, rains fell like they never had before in Cumbria (see our blog on Storm Desmond). Just north of Grasmere, beyond Dunmail Raise, the flood waters cut into the A591, undermined it, and badly damaged a large section where half the road disappeared. It was declared impassable.
So it happened that when we reached our 555th Facebook like, the 555’s route along the A591 had been curtailed. Our journey on the 555 changed – not only did it become shorter, but it also took on a new significance. This journey became redolent with memories of the floods and their lasting impact. When we did head out, we were compelled to get as far as we could, so from Grasmere we walked along the strangely quiet and completely empty road until we reached the ‘Closed’ signs.
Many people’s journeys now between Grasmere and Keswick, or indeed between Ambleside or Windermere and Keswick, are at least an hour longer than they used to be. While the quietness of the road may be a good thing for walkers, it’s a nightmare for most of the people who live there.
Many businesses are feeling the effects and in Grasmere some hotels have closed and others have been forced to let staff go. There is frustration by an apparent lack of urgency from the government about fixing the road, with the end of May as the projected date for it to reopen (meaning the block will still be in place for what should be a busy Easter season). This is an ongoing problem and a debate that’s rumbling on - on the streets, in pubs, in houses and on Facebook. The feeling that somehow the north is getting a poor deal is coming out with questions such as: ‘Why was Dawlish mended so much more quickly?’ We won’t go into it in detail here but there is a petition and if enough people sign it this will help to put pressure on the government to allocate resources and do what it takes to prioritise work on this road. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/119324
Back to our walk and our 555 journey ...
We chose to do our 555 journey a couple of weeks ago when we had a meeting in Grasmere with Stuart Palmer, Forestry Adviser for the National Trust, to talk about The Long View, and, specifically, about trees (read more about our conversation about trees and age on The Long View blog here). That way we could start the day off with a serious 'work event', have a walk, and gently finish with a stop-start bus ride. Not to mention good conversations with the friends and strangers we met on the way and a variety of (very good) ales. Harriet decided to experiment with a bit of poetry as a reflection on the day. The poem below contains a verse for each stopping point, and below that there's a list of where we stopped and what we learnt (and the ales we supped).
The 5 Stops on the 555
1 Tweedies Bar in Grasmere. We were served by Rachel, whose somewhere is St Austell.
Ales: Loweswater Gold, New Zealand Pale Ale
2 Royal Oak in Ambleside. We were served by Rachel, whose somewhere is Camden, and joined by a friend Jane, who brought news about the Mertz barn in Elterwater.
Ales: Greene King IPA, Derwent Gold
3 Elleray Hotel, Windermere. We were served by Caroline, whose somewhere is Biskey Howe.
Ales: Windermere Pale Ale, Monumental Blonde
4 Eagle and Child, Staveley. We were served by Katy, whose somewhere is 'with trees, together, in a wood or forest', maybe Grizedale or Whinlatter.
Ales: Dent Fell Ranger, Barngates Cracker
5 (after a link journey on the train) Station Inn, Oxenholme/Kendal. We were served by Holly, whose somewhere is South Korea.
Ales: Blonde Witch, White Witch
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Folding in the land: a 7-day walk between treefolds
... slowed down and marinated until the textures of bigger things are revealed
The Pace of Life: Slowing Down and Creating Legacies
The Lake District: A World Heritage Site