What’s up, mate? Been a long since I wrote a blog. Just out from a month-long lockdown and am feeling as free as a bird. Now that London is under the Tier 2 restrictions, traveling to certain parts of the country is made available. On the occasion of our 1st Anniversary and the end of the lockdown, my husband and I planned a short getaway to this beautiful county in Cumbria called Lake District National Park.
Lake District is also known as the ‘Lake land’ and it lies in the North-western region of England. It is one of the most popular holiday destinations and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017. It is considered to be the wettest place in England. It is mainly surrounded by lakes, forests and mountains also referred to as fells. It is home to several famous poets and authors of the era like William Wordsworth, John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, etc.
History of the National Park.
The Lake District National Park is one of a family of 15 National Parks. The others are the Brecon Beacons, the Cairngorms, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Loch Lomond and Trossachs, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, Pembrokeshire Coast, Snowdonia, South Downs, the Yorkshire Dales, the Broads, and the New Forest.
The Lake District National Park is owned and safeguarded by numerous institutions and organizations like The National Trust, United Utilities, Forestry Commission, and other private landowners.
Tourism is the major source of income followed by agriculture and mining. Tourism in the Lake District began in the late eighteenth century. Before then it was considered a wild and desolate place. Later, the aristocrats felt safer to travel to the Lake District than Europe since it was relatively closer to home.
As the railways reached Windermere in 1847, followed by further lines to Keswick and Lakeside at the south end of Windermere it opened opportunities for many more people to do day trips from cities like Manchester, Liverpool, and Newcastle.
White Cross Bay (near Windermere town), is now one of the largest holiday sites in the Lake District. However, between 1939 and 1946 (during World war II) it was an aircraft factory where Sunderland flying boats were produced. The location was ideal due to two factors. The lake was big enough for the planes to take off and it was out of range for the bombers from Mainland Europe. After the war, however, the local council asked the Short Brothers to restore the site to its original condition. No trace of the factory now remains.
“The loveliest spot that man hath found.”
One cannot deny it, Lake District is truly one of the beguiling locations in Northern UK. It is a region of incredible beauty famous for its stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, and cultural heritage. The area consists of beautiful towns and villages, ancient woodlands and forest, river valleys (dales), lakes, mountains (fells), streams (beck), ghylls, and simply stunning coastlines.
Summary of My Tour.
The entire trip was curated by Viator a TripAdvisor company. All the tours and transfers were arranged by The Mountain Goat an award-winning No.1 Lake District Tour specialist. They were established in 1972 and got their name from a customer commenting that their buses climbed the Lakeland fells like A Mountain Goat.
Day 1: London – Windermere took us around 3.5 hrs by train. Our stay was arranged at hotel Lindeth Howe, once owned by Beatrix Potter. The hotel is inspired by the works and collections of Beatrix Potter’s books. It is a 34 room hotel located near Bowness Pier with a 10-minute driving distance from Windermere station. Social distancing and hygiene measures are well taken care of. The food is delicious and well presented.
Day 2: Started our day by visiting a Victorian neo-gothic revived castle namely Wray Castle. The castle is sitting on the shores of Lake Windermere with turrets, towers, and informal grounds. The castle was built by Dr. James Dawson, a retired Liverpool surgeon for his wife using his wife’s inheritance allegedly without her knowledge.
Further, we proceed to Hawkshead a small and quaint medieval village in Cumbria. One of the beautiful churches called St Michael and All Angel’s church is located in a fine position overlooking the village with a great view of the fells. The small town has lots of cafes and inns nearby to enjoy some good coffee and grab a quick bite. That’s exactly what we did. 🙂 A quick bite and coffee at a small cafe called Ginny’s Teapot. Also not to miss out, this a pure vegetarian cafe.
The next stop was a popular tourist attraction and a picturesque tarn in the Lake District area. It is called Tarn Hows. It is a beautiful spot that cannot be missed.
Every little corner in Lake District is spectacular. It is a pleasure watching every spot you come across while traveling. The Lake District is formed by 16 major lakes and many other water bodies.
We finally ended our day by cruising on Lake Windermere. It is the largest natural lake in England at 10.5 miles long, one mile wide, and 220 feet deep. The newly launched boat (Swift) sailed from Ambleside pier to Bowness pier in 30 minutes.
Day 3: The most awaited day, as it was covering 10 spectacular lakes of Lake District with other towns and beauty spots. Started our day early, covering the ten lakes in order were Windermere, Rydall Water, Grasmere, Thirlmere, Bassenthwaite lake, Ennerdale Water, Buttermere, Crummock Water, Ullswater, Brothers Water.
The 5 major spots were Ullswater – 2nd largest lake, Castlerigg Stone Circle – Stonehenge-like stone circle surrounded by stunning views of fells, Ashness Bridge – the most photographed bridge in Lake District boosting over mesmerizing views of Derwentwater, Honister Slate mine – located at the head of Honister pass and home to iconic Westmorland green slate, Grasmere – famous for Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread & William Wordsworth.
On our way, we also visited the small town of Keswick. This pretty market town offers a wide range of attractions for visitors, from shops and restaurants to museums with a difference, and boating trips around lake Derwentwater.
This was the best day as we could experience nature at its truly best. With views of snow-capped mountains, narrow roads meandering between the valleys, and a lucky chance to see a brilliant sunset near the Kirkstone pass, making it a perfect moment to remember.
Day 4: It was time to say goodbye to this amazing place. Missing it already and reminiscing the wonderful landscapes and panoramas.
“You may leave the Lake District, but once you’ve been, it’ll never leave you…”
So apt. Mere words or pictures cannot do justice to the splendor of this place. One must definitely put this on their travel bucket list. You never know what’s around the next corner: an unforgettable view, a moody fell, a translucent lake.
After visiting this gem, I now realize why this has been every poet’s favorite. Many of William Wordsworth’s poems are inspired by the places he was surrounded with.
Farming and Animal Husbandry
Can you guess who else survives the harsh winters of this environment? It’s the Herdwick sheep. Yes, they love the Lake District as much as we do. They were brought over by the Vikings in 800 A.D. They are one of a kind and symbol of the Lake District. Herdwick sheep are often referred to as the ‘Guardians of the Fells’. One interesting fact about these breeds is that the fleece gradually lightens after they are born. The development of the sheep is from jet black to dark brown to very light grey.
The Herdwick sheep came close to extinction in the early 19th Century after they fell out of favor with the farmers. Their wool is too coarse to be knitted into clothes. However, Beatrix Potter acquired 14 farms during her lifetime and left it to the national trust with one condition – the farms will be used solely for the raising of Herdwick sheep. The sheep were thus brought back from the brink and are now raised purely for their meat. Herdwick sheep meat is a local delicacy and is known to have a unique earthy flavor.
The Lake District is also home to the Belted Galloway cows. They are gentle creatures with wonderful faces and a unique white belt around their waist. They are gentle on their feet which means they don’t damage or disturb the land when they move around.
Lake District is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Luring landscapes, mightiest mountains, deepest lakes, there is no better backdrop for your selfies. This definitely is a place to be.
Even though I am back from my trip, I am still reminiscing the serenity of lakes, tranquil towns, snow-peaked mountains, and the grazing sheep on the lush green valleys. This is one of my most memorable trips.