Day 151 & 152. Sunday 17th & Monday 18th September. Ulverston to Flookburgh.
It was a long day walking from Walney Island to Ulverston, just over 20 miles but it was pleasant enough, mostly walking up the west side of Morecambe Bay along the waters edge. Apart from the occasional greeting to a passer by I spent most of the day listening to my audio book so I was lost in thought for much of the walk. One of the girls at the wake I gatecrashed last night had encouraged me to stop for an ice cream at Roy's Ices, the best ice cream around she said, I did and it was very good. To be honest, ice cream is ice cream to me, I'm not sure I could tell a good one from a bad one but every time I have one these days, it sets my teeth in edge so I often don't bother...
I had also noticed on my map that there was a Budist Temple just south of Ulverston and I was intrigued, having never visited one before this was a must stop.
What an incredible place, a stunning building set in the grounds of a country estate which I accessed from the Bay through an ancient forrest. Everything about the place was calming and tranquil, thinking back I should have visited and then camped by the waters edge so I could visit again the following day to really savour the experience. I'm sure it was a pure coincidence that the audio book I've been listening to for the past few days is called 'Breath', The new science of a lost art by the author James Nestor. A fascinating book about how we have lost the ability to breath correctly and as a consequence, so many other things go wrong for us both physically and mentally. I highly recommend you read the book, it's mind blowing... we breath in and out 22,000 times every day and you wouldn't believe how badly we do it, seriously, read the book. I've heard and read many times that to meditate can help us to settle our minds but meditation is something I've never been able to do, no matter how hard I try, my mind is soon racing with thoughts I can't seem to control so I give in. To sit and focus on my breathing however and practice various breathing techniques, I have realised that I have actually, by accident, started the process of meditation, I can create a calm state and by focusing solely on my breathing, I have been able to quieten my mind. I'm not quite sure what comes next but at least once a day I try to sit quietly and concentrate fully on my breathing, it feels good but I can't say yet if it's having any real positive impact on me.
I entered the Budist Temple and was greeted by a lady who explained a little about the building and about the inspiration of the creator of the temple, the late Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche. I explained about the book I'd been listening to and she invited me to sit in the temple and practice one of my breathing techniques, to see I felt any different afterwards. Just like sitting in a church, the building was especially peaceful but there was something else. I sat for about twenty minutes in bare feet, on a chair rather than cross legged on the floor and concentrated on one of the breathing techniques I'd been practising for the past few weeks. I can't fully explain how I felt, suffice it to say that I felt more calm and relaxed than I can ever remember feeling. When I'd finished the lady explained that our outer peace depends on our inner peace and vice versa and many people claim that just by seeing the temple and the blessed statues inside, they feel as though they have received profound blessings that lead to an overwhelming experience of inner peace.
I don't know about that and I can't explain exactly how I was feeling but I'm intrigued, I want to learn more about Budism and about the art of meditation, there's definitely something in it because I was definitely feeling something. An overwhelming calm in my mind and my body.
I left the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre and walked up to the main road to walk into Ulverston as I'd seen a campsite marked on my map and I'd been told about a 'lamp festival' taking place that night in the town.
My peace and tranquility was soon to be shattered, the touring campsite accepted caravans and motorhomes and you could even fix a canvas awning to the side of your caravan if you wanted but no tents !!! 🤬 I walked a further three miles across fields and down country lanes to the only other campsite in the area, I asked a lady through her living room window how much for a pitch. "15 quid for a tent love"... "yeah ok then, I need a shower so that'll do" I replied. "Oh sorry love, we haven't got any showers, we're having some built though" !!! 🤬😡😖 I walked away...
Another two miles and I was back on the waters edge at the Bay Horse Hotel & Restaurant, the pub !!! 21 miles walked, I was knackered and my peaceful and relaxed mind had buggered right off, I needed a beer and there was no way I was walking the 3 miles back to town for the lantern festival. I'd noticed that there was some nice grassed areas down by the water so I didn't have far to go to pitch up so I sat in the bar with my bare feet on the cool tiles and chatted to the locals. I got chatting to a lovely couple from Liverpool, an ex-navy chap who very kindly logged on to my fundraiser and donated and while chatting the landlady came over and asked me to follow her out back !!! She took me up to a flat that was attached to the pub which had recently been vacated which she very kindly said I could use for the night. What a lovely lady, I was so tired, I had a shower and hit the bed, I was out like a light.
The Bay Horse Inn was formerly a 17th century coaching inn where travellers would rest before making the treacherous journey by horse drawn coach across the sands to Lancaster. For over 200 years travellers have risked their lives crossing between Lancaster and the Furness Peninsula. If the Inn was haunted, the ghosts never woke me up, I slept right through without waking until the sun was coming through my window !!!
I walked up to Ulverston in the morning and was met by the D.C. of the lodge who kindly interrupted his decorating duties at home to show me around.
I then had a walk round the town, the birthplace of one half of the comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy. Stan Laurel, Arthur Stanley Jefferson was born in Ulverston in 1890 and did you know that during their long careers, they made 107 films ?? There are three museums dedicated to them, one here, one in Hardy's birthplace in Harlem, Georgia and the third one is in Solingen in Germany where the duo were known as Dick und Doof (Fat and Dumb)... in fact, they were known by many names all over the world, many countries calling them 'Thin one and Thick One' or 'The Fat One and Skinny One'.
I never did find them very funny so I never bothered going into the museum. I grabbed a sandwich and a drink from the local shop and sat on the bench by the statue watching plenty of tourist posing by the statue, they were clearly very well liked.
I walked up around the mud flats and eventually arrived down at Flookburgh where I booked into a Haven campsite. I'd heard a couple of news reports about the remnants of Hurricane Lee which was due to strike the UK that night and the following day so I decided to sit it out on a decent campsite, I figured that would be the safe option. It was only £11.50 a night, there was a great swimming pool and a decent bar/restaurant where I could sit and watch the rugby and catch up on some admin.
I nearly fell out with the kids in the reception who wouldn't let me book in as the computer said no !!! I'd have to go away and come back tomorrow morning to book in when the computer would let them complete the transaction. Before I completely lost my shit, I convinced the exceptional dim young lady to book me in for the following day instead which she promptly did which was a right result as I paid for one night and when I walked out of the reception my paperwork said my checkout was in two days time... two nights for the price of one, I like that style of incompetence.
Talking about leg dragging mouth breathers !!! Do you remember The Harry Enfield and Chums skit, The Slobs ? Wayne and Waynetta Slob, Waynetta always screaming 'I'm smoking a bloody fag' and 'I want a brown baby'... well... they have relatives and decendents everywhere.
I pitched my tent very carefully on the highest piece of grass on the camping field, knowing we were in for a deluge of rain, I had a hot shower and headed for the bar. After the rugby had finished at about 10pm I headed back to my tent to find the Geordie relatives of Wayne and Waynetta had pitched their family sized tent so close to my tent, one of their guide lines crossed one of mine !! I climbed into my tent listening to the dad who was very clearly pissed, screaming at his kids which by the voices, I deduced there were three brats. The baby never stopped crying, a little girl was constantly complaining that she had seen a rat and dad kept telling her 'to stop being fookin stoopid man' and to 'shut fookin up man unless she wanted a slappin' !!! Ten minutes later, lying there at ground level, over the sound of him gobbing off, I heard them... the rats !!! Next minute, he's out of the tent with a very bright torch, with Mrs and kids following trying to shoo away the rats which had invaded their open fronted kitchen tent. He was screaming at the kids to pick all the food up as the rats were clearly invading for it, the kids were screaming and in all the chaos I could still hear the rats squeaking... I've no idea how many rats there were but by the screaming, I'm guessing there were a few. It all calmed down when the rats had legged it back into the woods until 'the Slobs' got back into their tent. When they had left the tent to see off the rats they had obviously left the tent flap open so when they got back in, a rat was in there with the baby, which was still screaming !!! Understandably, the kids and Mrs Slob were going wild while Mr Slob was attempting to beat the rat to death with, I assumed the torch as the light display I could see through the canvas of my tent was similar to that of a 1990's acid house rave. It was bedlam !!!
I fell asleep, ear plugs firmly in place to quieten my throwback neighbours and the wind which was forecast to pick up through the night and at 3am I was woken by an almighty crash somewhere very close outside. I lay for a while listening but nothing, apart from the wind, not a sound coming from next door...
The view from my side door the next morning !!! The open fronted kitchen tent was gone and the contents of their kitchen was everywhere...
What can I say ? These morons walk amongst us... who in their right mind would decide to go camping with 3 young kids, one a baby, in a tent, with an open fronted kitchen tent, when the tail end of a hurricane was forecast to hit ??? The mind boggles...
I swam the next day, chilled out in the club house with my ever worsening foot elevated, my left foot was getting more and more painful every day and I didn't know what to do about it. I had new boots, decent insoles and I wasn't overdoing the waking so why was it getting worse... I'd have to book in to see someone but first I needed to get a train down to Garstang, I'd been invited to a meeting and I had guests inbound from Lincolnshire on their motorbikes.