Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Storm Desmond - Edinburgh and the Lake District

We decided months ago that we'd like to do a short break before Christmas to really get in the Christmas mood. So we booked the ferry and hotels and then looked forward to our trip until it finally arrived the first weekend in December.

The first night of our short pre-Christmas break was in Edinburgh. The weather was reasonable when we arrived but, just as we were setting off on the tram to go into the city centre, the rain started. We wanted to have a look in the shops along Princes Street, which we did, though the rain never stopped lashing down the whole time. The water was running along the footpaths like a river and every street corner was flooded. I was wearing an ordinary pair of boots that very soon were soaked through so my feet were squelching.

One of the shops we visited was Jenners; a large department store. Most of the department stores in Northern Ireland have gone so it was lovely to go into the beautiful old building and be greeted by all the Christmas decorations. In the middle of the shop there was a huge tree that reached up to the glass roof. I would guess it was forty five feet high! The husband and I stood leaning over one of the balconies trying to work out how on earth they managed to get the tree into that position.

After Jenners, where we bought a lovely set of white houses Christmas lights, we went for coffee. Just to Costa. At least it got us out of the rain for another wee while. We had booked to go to a concert in Greyfriars Kirk so we had to brave the elements again to try and find where to go. We knew it wasn't far away but got a bit lost before eventually coming across it. The concert was called A Boy Was Born: Music for Christmas performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus.

I managed to get my feet dried while listening to the beautiful music but once the concert was over we had to head back to the hotel. Actually the rain wasn't quite so heavy by this time though it was turning to sleet and snow! Nothing too bad and by the time we got up on Friday morning the weather was fine.

We started our journey to the Lake District, in Cumbria, where we were to spend the next two nights. Before booking into the hotel at Skelwith Bridge we called into Chesters, right next door, for coffee, key lime pie and chocolate cake. Our intention was to visit Chesters on each of the days we were staying there.

After coffee  we had a bit of a drive about, including a stop in Hawkshead to look at the lovely shops there. We planned to visit their Christmas market the next day and could see where they were getting things arranged for it.

But all our plans had to change when the rain started late on Friday afternoon, shortly after we booked into the hotel. More than a month's rain fell in about twenty four hours! Of course we didn't realise how bad it was until we were in the dining room for breakfast on Saturday morning. We could hear people talking about the flooding and roads being closed.

As soon as we'd finished breakfast we got coats and boots on and went out to investigate.  The hotel is beside a river though, thankfully, it is on a raised site. Chesters is also beside the river - in fact it is called Chesters by the River - and we could see that they wouldn't be opening that day. We also realised there was no way we would be able to go to the Christmas market in Hawkshead.

We retreated back to the hotel and amused ourselves with reading books and I managed to get a lot of work done on my poncho.

After a while we just had to go out again and see what was happening. The water level was continuing to rise.

In the photo below you can just see Chesters right at the back on the right. Just below middle on the very right hand side is a picnic table. As you can see the water had risen until the top of the table was only about six inches above the water. Later on the table disappeared completely below the water when it rose about another foot.

We walked up the side of the river to see the waterfall and then back down the other side. My coat let water in as well as my good waterproof(!) boots.

That was enough getting wet for one day so we settled down for the evening in the hotel. Here it is, you can see how it is on higher ground than the surrounding houses. Later that evening the river burst its banks and the road outside the hotel became part of the river.

We decided to stay an extra night in the Lake District rather than brave the floods to get back to Scotland and risk damaging the car.

Finally the rain stopped though many of the roads were still closed. We spent Sunday doing a lot of walking. First of all we talked up by the river again and carried on to Elterwater.

You can see how much quieter the river had become within a few hours of the rain ceasing. The picnic tables re-appeared though Chesters didn't open that day either.

This bridge had been submerged the day before.

There is a lovely path the whole way from Skelwith Bridge to Elterwater but in places we had to climbed back onto the road because it was too flooded.

The scenery is stunning here no matter what time of year you visit and no matter what the weather is like.

Swans and ducks made the most of the swollen river.

I loved the way these sheep walked single-file along the path to find a better place to graze.

In places the water had left a lot of debris on the path.

This is the tiny village of Elterwater.

A cup of Earl Grey tea later and we headed back down to Skelwith Bridge.

The husband had to get as far into the river as possible to take pictures.

Later we walked to Ambleside to see what the road was like. This should have been our way out of the Lake District when we were leaving. There were still some badly flooded parts of the road but it was passable. Then, just before you turn onto the bridge to get into Ambleside, we could see why the road was closed.

The bridge was completely submerged still.

So this was our road! There was someone canoeing on it; just because he could.

By Monday morning we were able to get back to Cairnryan, for the ferry, by taking some very roundabout ways to get there. I was so relieved to get home again with nothing worse than a few soakings! We really enjoyed our wee break though, despite the awful weather. I feel so sorry for the poor people who live in places that are prone to flooding. I don't think I could live somewhere like that.

Well, I'm sorry I haven't been able to get reading or commenting on any of your blogs for what seems like a very long time. Hopefully, after Christmas, things will get back to normal. They would need to!!

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.