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Guest blog: Fiona Quinn

Having walked, cycled and paddle boarded from Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) over the past 18 months, I can quite honestly say that I love a big adventure. Exploring somewhere new, traveling under my own steam and meeting new people (not to mention all the well earned cake stops).

While it can often sound romantic, the day to day is far less so. A simple and uncomfortable life. Waking at the crack of dawn and seeking out food. Often down to my last Nakd bar with no idea where I’ll get lunch. Then there’s the monotony of putting one foot in front of the other, while of course knowing that a 20 mile route will take me 8 hours to walk, rather than 2 hours on a bike or less than 1 in a car.

But out of the simplicity, the lack of emails, the lack of worrying about anything except food, miles and sleep, from getting down to my most basic needs I begin to appreciate the little things.

A warm bath, a comfy place to read in front of a fire with a cup of tea, a big comfy bed with silky sheets and a duvet that gives me a big hug. Life’s little luxuries, when they can be found, are treasured.

For all its hardships, adventure fuels something in me. It reminds me what I’m capable of; when push comes to shove I know I can make it through anything.

I think it’s this mix of fuelling my fire and appreciating what I have, that I love so much about adventure. Getting outside often, even if it’s just for a weekend ramble, reminds me of this and helps to keep my life balanced and happy.

A weekend dose of adventure

looking over ullswater

While walking 993 miles the length of Britain last spring, I came south into the Lake District for the first time in my life and instantly fell in love. The mix of stunning mountains and calm lakes made for the perfect setting to any adventure. Add to that, during those initial weeks last year, I had nothing but glorious sunshine.

As I came through the Lakes I started off by following the Northern section of the Ullswater Way, which loops around Ullswater Lake, before heading down towards Windermere and beyond. That section of the Ullswater Way was just simply stunning. Incredible views, varied terrain and a slightly challenging but not at all technical route.

This past weekend I was delighted to be heading back with a friend, getting a little fix of adventure for two days, this time checking out the south section of the Ullswater Way. Ensuring a balanced adventure we mixed the wind tunnel-esque weather with the luxury of a nights stay at Another Place, The Lake. Situated on the edge of the lake, it was the perfect base from which to hike south, but also to get a cheeky paddle in too.

It turns out the southern section of the Ullswater Way that runs along the lake is very flat. Whilst this makes it easily accessible and keeps you close to the lake, I prefer more varied routes and so would recommend the northern section for dramatic views and a more interesting hike. So long as the weather’s not too blustery (it stops running if the wind is too strong), the Ullswater Steamer is a great way to get back to your start point after hiking half of the loop around the lake.

Back at the hotel, after a quick dip in the pool and a warm shower we headed to the hotel’s Rampsbeck Restaurant for dinner. With a nice mix of veggie and meat dishes available I opted for a sweet potato tagine, which was satisfyingly tasty, followed by a lovely strawberry verrine.

sup ullswater

The following day my friend and I launched our SUP boards from the hotel along with a few other guests. Having spent 2.5 months at sea this summer paddle boarding LEJOG, it was nice to be paddling with a group of people rather than on my own, enjoying their company and messing about on the boards. With it’s own stretch of shoreline, the hotel is a great spot from which to explore the lake, paddling between the calm bays and the slightly more challenging conditions further out.

There’s always something nice about getting out on the water. Even if you adopt a kneel-down paddle boarding approach like my friend or opt for a wild swim instead, it’s calming and refreshing in a way I don’t get through anything else.

Once dried off we headed for the hotel’s library to finish like all weekend adventures should, snuggled up with tea, cake and a good book.

About Fiona Quinn

This summer Fiona Quinn became the first person to iSUP LEJOG, and in so doing become the first woman to complete a length of Britain triathlon. She shares her stories through talks and writing, and is now planning her next adventure. Follow her journey on @FionaLQuinn.

Book now for your last minute break in The Lake District, to explore Ullswater and stay at Another Place, The Lake.