A Weekend in the Lake District

Hey folks. My apologies for the delayed blog posts, I’m a month behind! Hopefully I can catch up. It’s harder than I thought to keep it updated

Day 1

On the train to Windermere I met a dog and we quickly became friends. Afterwards I made friends with it’s human and he gave me advice on hiking in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, which I would do to in a couple weeks. 

I got into Windermere around 6pm. It was raining quite a lot. I had no plans, I sort of thought I could just go easily find a place to camp. However, Windermere was a much bigger town than I thought. After a bit of worrying about where I’d spend the night -especially because the sun was setting soon – I found a BnB that wasn’t too expensive. I got some simple Indian Food for dinner after I got my room.

Day 2 

Woke up around 6. Got served a simple breakfast and then packed up, meditated, and checked out.

I went to the Windermere Visitors Centre (which had closed by the time I made it to the town the previous night) And got a recommendation on where to wildcamp for the night. Then I took a bus to Ambleside. And from there, started the days hike.

The hike I chose was Up Wansfell Pike, to Troutbeck, and back to Ambleside. The link will give you a better idea of what the hike was like, but here are some of my photos:

Stream at the start of the hikeSame stream further upGuy blocking my picture turns into a pretty cool subjectRainbow in the mountainsView of the mountainsLake WindermereAnother view of the mountains

After the hike I wandered around Ambleside, which is a town mostly composed of hiking stores and cafes, I loved it! I bought some hiking and camping equipment for the evening, and found a cafe that served amazing apple pie. Doing some cubing there. 

I took a bus to Keswick, and walked up to Castlerigg Stone Circle. I took a few pictures, and then wandered around and ended up setting up camp in a random field that didn’t look like it was frequently used. 

Castlerigg Stone Circle and another Rainbow

Day 3

I woke up to the rain. I made myself porridge for breakfast in my campstove, and had a lot of trouble cleaning it afterwards. This on top of the rain and being cold made me quite miserable, seems silly looking back on it. I had trouble taking down my tent and packing up. But eventually managed it. 

I walked down to Keswick and got a second breakfast and hot chocolate at a cafe. I warmed up and took off my thermal base layers. After eating I left the cafe, but quickly realized I had no plan for the day. And it seemed like it was going to rain the whole day. I ended up going into another cafe, and staying there for several hours. Cubing and reading. I felt that I wouldn’t have enjoyed hiking in the dreary weather.

I went to a cheese shop and then a grocery store. Then got a hostel room for the night, where I cooked a much better dinner than I had had the night before. Nicely priced hostel too, only $17 for the night.

Conclusion

I really liked the Lake District, it’s absolutely beautiful there. And I could easily see spending a week or more there. However, you need to prepare for bad weather. As it was, I’m glad I got one good day of hiking in. And it was definitely a worthwhile experience.

Couple of Itinerary changes

Just a quick update: I decided not to stay at Wat Pah Nanachat as long. And just got off of a week there. I’m thinking now of going to Vietnam and or Lao with the extra time. 

This was for a couple reasons: 

A: I’ve been in and out of monasteries for the past 2 and a half months, and honestly feeling kind of tired of it. Especially when I’m groing tired of some parts of the tradition itself.

B: With only 6 weeks in South-East Asia, spending half the time in one monastery seemed like kind of a waste.

That’s all folks! Off to Chiang Mai for a week now. I’ll do my best to catch up on blog posts.

2 Weeks at The Forest Hermitage

Ajahn Manapo walked with me from the retreat house to the Hermitage, just a 10 minute walk. Once there he gave me the orientation and schedule.

Schedule:

  1. 5:20 – Morning bell. Walking meditation.
  2. 6:00 – Morning puja – meditation and chanting.
  3. 7:00 – Tea.
  4. 7:30 – Chores.
  5. 8:15 – Free time.
  6. 10:30 – Help with meal prep.
  7. 11:00 – Meal offering. Then Cleanup.
  8. 3:00 – Work period. 
  9. 4:30/5 – Personal practice. Time for a walk.
  10. 7:20 – Walking meditation.
  11. 8:00 – Evening puja.
  12. 9:00 – Personal practice, bed. 

On the night I got there was a dhamma talk after the puja. Ajahn Manapo ended up giving the same talk as one on the retreat. As I was the only one there who’d heard it.

The Forest Hermitage was stricter than the other monasteries I’ve been to. Zero allowables, only one meal a day, etc. It’s quite small as well, which I liked. Only 2 monks, 1 Samenera (Novice) and 1 Anagarika (very beginning of training) 

I had more trouble with only one meal during my stay at the Hermitage than I did during the retreat – I tended to take way too much at the meal. Some days feeling very stuffed afterwards. And only managed to even start figuring out the right amount a couple days before I left. Probably because I was excerising and generally more active, running every other day and doing bodyweight excerises on the other days. Thankfully all the food was vegetarian. So I never had to worry about not being able to eat anything. 

I had some interesting meditation experiences as well. At one point I sat in the cold in just my T-shirt and pants under a tree. After working throught the sensations of cold (and pain) I focused on the breath, it got subtler and subtler until I felt like I wasn’t breathing at all. Worried, I opened my eyes and took in a big breath. Later on I asked Ajahn Manapo about it and he said not to worry, the body is still breathing, and that it’s actually a good sign. 

I also had a lot of trouble at the monastery. For about 4-5 days I was extremely homesick. Missing my family, and my girlfriend, missing my puppy, and my cats. My friends, my house, you name it. Without a phone to talk to any of them (the humans)  At one point during my stay, about halfway through, I was feeling really bad and got really fed up with all the rituals and observances that I almost left. But I stayed. And I’m glad I did. 

I barely ever talked to the Abbot, Ajahn Khemmadhammo, and have the impression that he didn’t like me much. He seemed kind of cold to me. I did talk to Ajahn Manapo a lot though. As well as the Anagarika, Ross. 

My stay at the Forest Hermitage was certainly beneficial. I’m glad I went, I’m glad I stayed. But I’m also glad I left. I’ve started growing a little tired of the amount of bowing and chanting and general devotional practices in this tradition. And am thinking of starting to look for others.