Wonderful Windermere

Group outside Windermere CentreIn June this year some of our church family made a return visit to the Lake District, following a very successful church holiday there last year. The group were led by minister Stephen Thornton, and were based at the Windermere Centre, the national training centre for the URC.  Those who went were asked for their reflections on the trip, and here are some of their comments:

From Stephen Thornton:

Assembling with minibusThe Windermere Centre is our ‘home in the Lakes’ for all who are part of the United Reformed Church.  So we went – 25 of us – and had a very special time.

For me it was a great privilege to lead people over the peaks; to see the views – stunning; to share in fun in the evenings; and to hold evening prayers, getting to know the Celtic saints.

It made all the blood, sweat and tears involved in establishing the Centre worthwhile, and it was a good indication to us all as to what is required of us as Christians, in fellowship, determination and dedication.

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From John Johnstone:

Harrison Stickle walkTwenty five of us this time, family and friends of Fleet URC, arrived by car, minibus and train at the Windermere Centre for fellowship, and to go walking.  Some went further and higher than others.  The weather was beautiful, with the clearest of skies.  Any view was seen in all its glory.  The friendliness and good fellowship was matched by the catering and hospitality of the Centre staff.  This, and the hospitality of those at Carver Church with their Curry Supper, helped make our time in and around Windermere under Stephen’s leadership a very happy and inspiring time.

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From Christine Blanchard:

Windermere viewOn Tuesday we climbed Harrison Stickle and Pike Stickle, going step by step, up and down steep rocky inclines.  We had wonderful views from high places and a frequent helping hand.

On Wednesday most of us, young and older, walked to Blade Fell, through cool shady meadows with friendly inclines offering beautiful views to all.

On Thursday the tougher of us followed Stephen on another climb, while the rest of the fellowship formed small groups to explore places of interest around the Lakes.

The Windermere Centre was comfortable, the food delicious, packed lunches provided every day, and we had devotions in a Chapel room every evening.

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From Pam Hasted:

The perfect weather meant that the views were excellent and far reaching.  Windermere viewpoints could have been Switzerland without the snow – fantastic. Cumbrian ViewPhotographs just give a jog to the memory – being there is totally different – the feel of God’s world.

I have only done the lower walks and sightseeing from roads before.  To have the advantage of an experienced leader to venture further – a great experience – many thanks – a view from a totally different perspective.  I did get a bit concerned walking across a boggy plain where the birds were silent – but then we found the obvious path down.

The history of Carver (Hall and Church) was very interesting, and on speaking to locals who used the hall for yoga, they had not heard about it – so I hope I spread the word.

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From Rodney Frampton:

I am sure that most of us go on holiday filled with trepidation, confident that realisation will never match expectation.  We just know that the Tour Manager will only talk to people with hyphenated names; that you will need the coordination of formation dancers to negotiate the bedroom; that Relaxationthe hot water will pass like a squall in the night; that the waitress will take her vacation during dinner, the mattress will contain at least four lumps of granite, and that the weather was always better last week!

There are poor offerings for a nit-picker on a Fleet URC tour.

The weather was glorious, the views were breathtaking.  The packed lunches were monstrous and the optional excursions didn’t cost more than an MP’s duck house.  But I have to admit that the in-house photographer was more persistent than a nightclub rose seller!

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From Sandra Smith:

Taking a breakDragging very tired legs uphill and yet another boulder.  Sun beating down.  Why did I come on this trip?  Stephen saying “not far now” and half an hour later it’s still “not far now”!  Camaraderie of fellow climbers.  Welcome rest on top.  Enjoying a Mars bar without feeling guilty.  Oh the view!  Clear green hillsides/valleys shadowed into gentle undulating folds.  Low flying jets whizzing past.  Hardwick sheep and their lovely black lambs.  Thirst-quenching cups of tea at journey’s end.  Scrumptious butterscotch sauce.  Cambrian Indian feast.  Brainteaser quiz.  Laughter-filled Channel Island cricket.  Calm reflection at day’s end.  Celtic saints.

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From Colin and Wendy Short:

These are my impressions of my first visit to the Lake District: On top of the worldThe stone walled houses, with their neat gardens and peace.  I was impressed by the well-organised bus services to the outlying parts of the area.

The beautiful lakes and surrounding hills were very impressive to Wendy and me; also seeing Wordsworth’s house and his grave, together with Beatrix Potter’s home and garden.

Climbing the hills during the walks was quite inspiring.

To finish off this account of the holiday we must mention the food provided by the Centre, which was excellent.

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From Mike Blanchard:

We all had a wonderful time at Windermere.  On our first day we climbed Harrison Stickle and Pike Stickle and we enjoyed every minute of it.  We climbed up over 2,000 feet (over 600 m), often over 2-3 m diameter boulders, as we climbed up the mountainside.

CragOn the second day we had a relaxing stroll over some hills which gave us a grand view to Lake Windermere.

On our third day we walked to the ‘Lion and Lamb’ at Grasmere, and Helm Crag, where our route took us along the bottom of a valley, then up to the ridge of the valley, then along the ridge all the way back to our starting point.

Our Minister, Stephen, celebrated devotions in the Chapel every evening, and our last celebration, on Thursday evening, included Holy Communion.

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From Pat Newton:

Channel Island CricketWhat a brilliant week!  Time spent with old friends, and some new ones made, and time with God.

“For the beauty of the earth
For the beauty of the skies
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.”

Thank you everyone, especially Stephen.

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(See the Gallery for some more photos from this holiday.)

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