I have been to the Lake District numerous times and will always have fond memories of the time I lived there; the long walks starting from the caravan; the various Easter egg hunt around the campsite and falling unceremoniously into Lake Coniston. Yes, I really did do that. Not one of my better moments I have to say. However, I was determined that this time I would explore the Lakes in style by driving an old ex-army defender around this beautiful part of the world for the day!
So that’s how we ended up spending our first wedding anniversary and it was a great adventure. My thinking was that it did count as a ‘paper’ present for this anniversary as we had to follow a map, made out of paper. It was possibly a tenuous link but so worth it! We started the morning by swapping cars with Kankku and having a sit down chat with one of their staff. They were fantastic and let us know all about the route. I was just happy it was following a rally driving map and not an actual map as I am not so great on reading those, thinking north is always straight ahead of me has hampered this. somewhat.
However, it meant I couldn’t hog the driving although I’m not sure if the instructor thought I would be driving when he was explaining where to open gates and looking at me – I soon put him straight with my enthusiasm for driving! or maybe I just scared him. Regardless, it was really helpful to go through the route and the whole experience started of fantastically, mainly due to the Kankku staff and then being able to clamber into the car. Well I may have had to jump a bit as it was quite high but I made it, almost elegantly…almost.
I thought I would let Luke drive first to see how difficult it was and let him deal with any hiccups, I am nice like that. We judderred away from the Kankku office and roared through Ambleside before the rally map told us to turn left and we got our first taste of off-roading down a rocky, windy, narrow path. It was awesome.
It was smooth driving at the start, well as smooth as off-roading can be, until Luke tried to see what gear did what. There was then an awkward half an hour when I tried to resist telling him I told him he shouldn’t have messed with the gears, as he struggled to get the gears back to their original setting, which just happened to be the only one the car appeared to like as it wouldn’t drive properly in any of the other gears. Finally the gears were correct and after avoiding a large group of somewhat elderly rambler we were off again. With my map reading skills and Luke’s newly acquired driving skills nothing could stop us.
That is until we got to the next gate. We began to build a system of one opening, the other driving, then the other one closing and running after the car to jump back in. This worked brilliantly until it was my turn to drive through one gate, that was also up a hill. Luke, well lets blame him why not?, wasn’t quick enough with the gate. This meant I had to do a hill start. Ordinarily no problem, however due to my height I was already sat on the edge of the seat to reach the pedals when we were on the flat. Throw in a very step hill and it proved a problematic combination. I slipped the clutch quite a few times trying to drive standing up and in the end admitted defeat. Luke then had to get it through the gate. Although he didn’t need to look so smug about it.
It was then off for a picnic at a lovely viewpoint. We sat on the benches in the back and enjoyed home-made sandwiches by yours truly , treats and a flask of coffee. Perfect! you really can’t beat a picnic in the back of an old army defender looking out over the gorgeous Lake District. After refuelling the adventure began again with some more tricky terrains, a few slides in the mud and then a point where some sheep nearly attacked….One minute the hill was empty, the next a gang of angry-looking sheep had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Luckily the defender proved quite nifty and we made our escape.
It was then near the end of the day we got to enjoy one of the highlights, driving through a ford! Would it be too deep? Would we disappear like the Vicar of Dibley when she jumped into that puddle?
No, we made it and headed back to Kankku to reluctantly hand them back their defender… well I guess we got our car back but still I wanted to keep the defender. The whole experience is something I would highly recommend. What a great way to see the Lake District from a very different angle!