I was on my fifth throw when the farmer drove past slowly.
Until then it had just been me and a collection of birds eyeing me from the slate roof, quizzically. The farmer adopted the same look as the housemartins, so I smiled and waved. Just another strange tourist in the Lake District - albeit this one was throwing imaginary cricket balls.
I was limbering up my boundary arm because I had stumbled across something really rather special. SMALL and special. The smallness of it in the epic landscape of the Lake District being the exciting part. Maybe, just maybe I had discovered Britain's smallest high street.
Which is why at 8am in the morning I was standing at the corner of the Outgate Inn halfway between Ambleside and Hawkshead, warming up my shoulders, because in my head what better way to judge something's arbitrary smallness or not, than to be able to throw a ball it's entire length.
It was at that point the farmer arrived.
After deciding I didn't want local alarm to spread to the local policeman, I decided to apply size test number two. The much more conventional pacing it out.
Outgate is 67 paces from end to empty end, because it is a High Street with no shops. A street with maybe five houses in total, all looking thick and hard and handsome. Houses you just know would be cool inside in summer and roaringly warm when the weather inevitably turned. It was 47 paces to the large clump of daffodils and a few less to the red phone box. I walked it three times to be sure. It really was that small.
Which got me thinking. Was this ACTUALLY the smallest High Street in Britain and if the farmer came back would he share my excitement?
It turned out my wife Nikki didn’t share my excitement either. So we left the Lake District not knowing if it fact the tiny settlement of Outgate, more locally known for being at ‘the other end’ of the road to the popular Drunken Duck Inn, could in fact be on the map in its own right, with a High Street to be seen and photographed in, but not have imaginary cricket balls thrown down it.
Pay a visit for yourself. This is an area of the Lake District that’s just off the beaten track and away from the madding crowds of Ambleside. Stay at the lovely Ambleside Salutation Hotel & Spa, BW Premier Collection, then take the footpath from Hawkshead ferry and you’ll soon find yourself in Outgate. Make sure you stop for a pint of two of the local bitter at the Outgate Inn and enjoy the unbeatable classic pub food.