Today was the day for Aria Force.
Roger had been before on a previous visit so knew what to expect. Me, I had no clue, but the word ‘force’ kind of had menacing tone to it I thought. He does like to keep me guessing, never telling me too much. I think he likes to see my reaction when we reach our destination
The drive to it wasn’t too long. When we are driving to a swim spot I always look to see how far away we are, I shouldn’t really because it just makes me more nervous the closer we get.
Rogers memory was quite vague when it came to the parking, we drove on down the hill, passing a car park on the side of the road, in favour of parking at the bottom in the National Trust car park.
On the way down Ullswater came into view. WOW! It looked beautiful, the sun was shining on it and the trees looked gorgeous. We were planning on dipping in there after the fairy pools in Aria Force.
The car park at the bottom was absolutely rammed, not a space in sight, certainly not one that would fit Bertha, so off we went back up the hill where we luckily found a spot in the car park.
We got ourselves prepared and packed our swim bags and started the trek across the field and down the hill to the river.
Well, what a river! It was amazing. There was a pool at the top and there were quite a few people just watching it in amazement. After all of the rain we had – from the Buttermere Beating day – the river was flowing quite fast.
I followed Roger down a path on the right hand side of the river, we passed a few people on their way up, I think you could cross over at the top and go down or up the other side of the river depending on whether you started at the top or bottom.
I was in heaven – apart from knowing that at some point, I knew not when, I would be getting in there somewhere. I was surrounded by trees, I love trees, they are on solid ground. The sun was shining through the canopies and it was just heartlifting. I find I get quite emotional when in areas of such beauty. Nature is so amazing it can take my breath away. I’d much rather be outside than inside on the sofa watching Telly – that’s not to say I don’t do that, I do, just not often. I just look around and try and take it all in and tell myself how lucky I am that I am able to see it all and to experience it, I just want to make the most of every minute I’m amongst it. My memories are my ‘go to’ place when I’m stuck in front of my two computer screens for 8 hours a day.
As we were walking down the path, it was a little wet at times, we stopped to look at the river and some of the drops and waterfalls. There’s no stopping water, it always finds a way doesn’t it. We eventually came to a bigger clearing, there were more people here and there were benches and a path leading down with a handrail that didn’t install a lot of confidence. We carried on walking down the path to have look – at what, I didn’t know.
Well, I soon did! Oh My Goodness!! A waterfall! A raging torrent of a waterfall! Angry water, swirling and bubbling in the fairy pool! Hang on a minute – fairy pool – that’s what we were here for, to get in that! No way, na ah, not a chance, not in a million. The End. Full stop.
But it wasn’t – of course, we are talking Roger Taylor here. Off we went, back up the pathway of steps and made our way to one of the benches to deposit our stuff and get changed. Now, I got changed, it seemed the thing to do, but I’m not sure why I did, packed up our bags and headed back down again.
This time walking down the steps in our cossies we got some odd looks, can’t imagine why!
When we got to the bottom we climbed over the rocks to reach the waters edge, except Roger was so keen to get there he left me to it, he’d thought I wasn’t going to try. He was right.
Roger got in, the noise was deafening and it was pretty scary I have to say seeing someone, not just anyone, someone you care about, getting voluntarily into angry water. He went out a little way, people had stopped to watch with a “Look Mummy, there’s a man in the water” theme going on. I just stood there on the rocks, terrified he was going to get washed away, there was no way I could have saved him. He had a smile on his face which was encouraging, he was taking some photos (that’s the reason for the smile, two of his favourite things, photography and water) and then made his way back to the rocks where he got out. He was absolutely buzzing from the thrill and the danger and he has since said it made him feel alive. I’m sure it did, but I have to say I felt pretty alive watching him with my heart in my mouth!
We clambered back over the rocks and went and stood on the bridge to watch it for a few minutes. It really was relentless. Water like this needs your full respect.
We made our way back up the steps again but this time we carried on walking with our robies and swim feet on, all the while looking for a place to get into one of the fairy pools we had passed on the way down. Each one we came across I had little mini panics, to me it all looked dangerous. The getting in, out, the while you’re in there, all of it. I kept making excuses but eventually Roger found one and I had run out of excuses. Rog picked his way to the edge and got in, I watched and followed. Flippin’ ‘Eck it was Jolly cold – around 13 apparently! But, I got in and Oh boy, as always, I was glad I did. The place was just Magical, I fully expected to see actual fairies dancing around on the moss in the dappled sunlight and under the ferns. It wasn’t too deep if I stayed on the edge, I wasn’t too keen about going in the middle, I had visions of being swept away over the rocks, even with my buoyant bum!
We did this in three other fairy pools while making our way back up the river. The last one drew incredulation from a family that was standing by the edge. They couldn’t quite believe we were actually going to get in (neither could I but i wasn’t going to let on). It’s amazing the difference it makes to getting in when someone is watching. I was talking as if I’d been doing it all my life!! “Oh yes, it’s about 13 degrees” she says, splash, in I go! Haha!
As I was getting out of the last one an older lady was walking by with her family and she stopped and just said to me how amazing and adventurous I was for doing something like that and how she would have loved to have done that when she was younger. That really touched me, made me feel absolutely bloody fantastic, humble and another reason stacking up with all the others for doing this crazy thing. This crazy and Wonderful thing that makes you feel incredibly free and empowered.
We finished at the top and had a look at the pool that was there but decided not to push our luck. We’d had a fantastic time and it was time to get back to Bertha and trundle on down to Ullswater.
This we did, easily finding a parking spot right near the waters edge. We crossed the road and a bit of grass where a family had set up their tent, with their children, dog and canoe. We said hello to the dog – of course – who was a little trepidatious of the water, he would only go so far – I was on his side. It wasn’t too deep, perfect for me, so we walked out a bit and then plunged. It’s amazing how each body of water gives you a different feeling, I quite liked Ullswater, it felt brighter than Derwent, I think because there seemed to be more life going on around it, in it and on it.
We didn’t stay long in here before going back to Bertha for a well earned nap and then onwards, back to the campsite via the Kirkstone Pass all the while taking in the stunning views and scenery.
Photo credit: Roger Taylor Photography (instagram – @rogertaylorphotography)