In 2012 we organised our first Regency Runners Ramble with the aim of taking a bunch of our ladies to a bunkhouse for a weekend of, well … rambling. The location we picked was Ambleside Backpackers in the Lake District and, as we loved it so much that first time, we went back there for the 2013 and 2014 rambles too. Rather amusingly, on one of those weekends we were asked by a fellow resident of the bunkhouse, when he saw us take our weary walking legs to the lounge with a glass of something cold in hand, whether we were a running club or rather a drinking club with a running problem.
Having pretty much exhausted all the routes out of Ambleside (some of us have fond memories of the infamous horsehoe walk whether it was in glorious sunshine, prevailing winds where the only way we could read the map was to lie it flat on the ground, or in pouring rain where we couldn’t make out the walker in front of us never mind admire the view), in 2015 we took the Ramble to Yorkshire, then the Peak District and this year saw us at The Workhouse bunkhouse in Llanyflin, mid-Wales, which was indeed a workhouse back in the day and interestingly had a museum on-site.
On the drive there on Friday afternoon, when we weren’t too far from our destination, a fellow rambler said to the occupants of our car – “I don’t see any hills, it looks like we will be going on some gentle walks.” But two days later my shouting glutes and calves can definitely confirm that there were hills!
Following a two hour drive, we were met by a bunkhouse that was perfectly rustic. Bunkbeds with 12 other occupants in a room may not be for everyone but we were more than happy with our home for the weekend especially as I had brought ear plugs and an eye mask (I’ve learnt from previous years, girls can snore).
Being the penultimate car to arrive, we found that the rest of the ramblers had already made themselves at home with the fridge well stocked with booze and the kitchen counter laden with cake from the bakers amongst us. Arguably too much cake for one weekend but we needed to carb load and refuel for walks and, to be honest, there is no such thing as too much cake. We even ate cake for breakfast – banana bread is practically one of your five a day.
The next morning we woke to glorious sunshine. Having breakfasted, dressed, applied sunscreen and packed our lunchtime sandwiches, we were ready to ramble. We had a 10 mile walk planned and all in all it went tremendously well apart from going slightly off course at one point and walking down a hill and through a gate only to be met with a landmark we’d past almost an hour earlier! But none of us minded too much because rambling is what we’re here for and we managed to reroute without retracing our steps too much. Also, as as we tend to have the same ladies that come each year, it’s great to walk alongside them and catch up as well as getting to know the first timers.
As this weekend is a holiday from cooking too, on Saturday night we basically took over the restaurant of a local pub who set out a long table for all of us. After the meal and back at the bunkhouse we decided that it would be an excellent idea to test out its fire pit. Who needs men to light a fire? We nailed it first time. There is something quite mesmerising about sitting around a camp fire sharing stories and, in our case, being a bit silly (the prosecco was a big contributing factor to this). As one fellow rambler put it, on this weekend we didn’t only exercise our leg muscles but our chuckle muscles too.
Sunday morning was a slower start than Saturday but by 10:15 we all pretty much packed and ready to head off (not before finishing the rest of the cake). We were making our way to Lake Vyrnwy for that day’s walk, apparently it’s the must-see if you’re in this part of the world and it didn’t disappoint. Almost five miles in length it was built in the 1880s as a reservoir to supply Liverpool with fresh water. We parked the cars and took a gentle walk to the waterfall where we sat on the bank enjoying the beautiful sunshine and dipping our feet in the cool water. We found a perfect spot for lunch at a tea room on the lake before getting back in our cars and heading home.
For me, this is such a special weekend that I look forward to every year. Having some time out to enjoy fresh air and the countryside with a lovely group of ladies is indeed a tonic from our busy lives.
Next year there is talk of taking the ramble abroad with Maderia even being mentioned but we’ll more than likely have it in the Yorkshire Dales. Watch this space!