Driving in the mist

Around 9 pm last night, Robin, one of our guests, rang the bell to our apartment. It wasn’t good news: her toe had swollen, was oozing pus, and needed medical attention. At that time, of course, the local surgery had already closed for the day, so it was matter of either heading out to A&E or speaking to medical staff on NHS24.

It took me a little while to find the number for the Kendal A&E as this was no longer advertised in the local telephone directory! And when I finally found it, the number had become a switchboard number, which meant that I could not speak to anyone at A&E or NHS24 directly. We had no choice but to either phone NHS24 on an expensive national call number or to drive directly to A&E in Kendal.

Having experienced the Kendal A&E first hand a number of times, I thought that this would be the best port of call. After all, the toe needed seeing to anyway, and talking to someone over the telephone at NHS24 wasn’t going to fix the problem. Robin agreed, so by 9:20 pm, we were on our way.

We reached the hospital around 9:35 pm, and by 10:20 pm, we were done. I had waited for Robin while she had her toe seen to, and was hopeful that we might reach Blenheim Lodge within the next 15 minutes, as that is how long it takes to drive from Bowness-on-Windermere to Kendal. Unfortunately, last night’s weather was heavily blighted by intermittent mist that was at times foggy in its density, and it took longer than anticipated to reach home.

Blind bat that I am, I could first of all not see the correct turn-off for Windermere as we came out onto the turn-off for the South Kendal road. Then, having made that mistake and corrected myself, I missed the Windermere road altogether and ended up heading towards the M6 and Lancaster. This was NOT a good call, as I was almost certain that we could not make a U-turn along the way.

With both Robin and I keeping a sharp look-out for non-existent U-turn signs, we finally came upon a road sign that said ‘Barrow and Milnthorpe’. I knew that Barrow was about 45 minutes from Blenheim Lodge, but at least I recognised the name, so I took the turning. Trundling along at a comfortable pace, and keeping our eyes peeled for signs along the way, we finally saw one that said ‘Newby Bridge’. Newby Bridge is about 4 miles from Bowness-on-Windermere and I was thankful that I had finally found a place name close to Blenheim Lodge that I recognised.

Newby Bridge is near Bowness-on-Windermere. Close by Newby Bridge is High Dam at Finsthwaite village, a lovely tarn which one may well have to one’s self during an afternoon walk unlike some more populous Lakeland waters, where sightseers gather. (Photo courtesy of www.cumbriaphoto.co.uk.)

All this time, the intermittent mist had rendered the unlit narrow and windy roads pitch black. I literally could not see farther than 10 feet in front of me at times because of huge banks of fog. Saying a prayer as I drove carefully along unfamiliar roads, I finally spotted a sign that said ‘Bowness-on-Windermere’. Praise God! At last, here was a sign that pointed home.

Thus, it was with a considerably relieved spirit that I turned onto a narrow road that I had never travelled before. The mist had now become fog for much of the way, and there were dips that I could not see in the dark. Driving slowly, we followed the signposts that read ‘Bowness-on-Windermere’. The original sign had indicated that a distance of 9.5 miles from where we were. (I don’t know where we were!) However, after what seemed like ages, I still did not recognise the road we were on, nor could Robin and I see another sign for Bowness.

This was when I decided to tell Robin a story of how I was once driving through thick fog and driving rain in Yorkshire, where I could not even see a single foot ahead of me. My friend and I had had the loan of a car from another friend, and I was unused to driving it. I had also not driven in a long time; and the last time I drove, I had been driving in Singapore a year ago.

With both my friend and I praying hard, I suddenly felt as if the steering wheel – and indeed the whole driving experience – had been overtaken by another pair of hands. Of course my hands were still on the steering wheel, but it was as if someone else was driving. A few minutes later, with both of us still quite unable to make out much in the rain and fog, we thought we saw a turn-off to the left leading to our destination. Thus I veered left and then hit the brakes hard.

At this point, a sudden break in the fog enabled us to get our bearings from nearby signs. Imagine how shocked my friend and I were when we found that we had stopped quite literally at the edge of a deep hole the width of our car. I believe that the Lord had taken over my driving then, and that He had saved us from great harm.

So, back to my original tale. Robin and I continued to trundle slowly along a fog-filled road that was sometimes relieved by clear skies for very short stretches – something to be thankful about. However, I still did not recognise the road, and when I saw a sign that said ‘Lyth Valley’, I really thought that I had taken a wrong turning somehow; although how I could have managed that, I could not be sure, as I was certain that I had followed the road as it wound its way up and down vale. Soon, though, I saw a hotel, and decided to go in and ask for directions.

This photo shows a view looking across the Lyth Valley in Crosthwaite. The picturesque Lyth Valley is on the outskirts of Bowness-on-Windermere; but on a dark foggy night, it took us close to 30 minutes to drive from the Lyth Valley to Blenheim Lodge. (Photo courtesy of www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2618447 © Copyright Martin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)

I was so pleased when I found out that I was definitely on the right road and only about six miles from Bowness. The twisty road continued to wind up and down dale, and I was never more glad to see the lights of Bowness-on-Windermere ahead of us after another 25 minutes of driving. We finally reached Blenheim Lodge at 11:30 pm, slightly more than an hour after we had left the hospital.

Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’

Visit our website: www.blenheim-lodge.com

Email: enquiries@blenheim-lodge.com

Telephone: 00 44 (0)15394 43440

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