The Lake District
On Easter weekend 2003, Carol and I vacationed in England's Lake District with our good friends, Richard and Maureen Montgomery. We had first visited this beautiful area with Rich and Maureen the previous October but we were only able to stay two nights on that occasion. This time, we booked four nights and did some serious walking, climbing, exploring, eating and wine sampling, much of which is documented here.
We left Langtoft on Wednesday morning at about 8:00am and after just one stop for coffee at Scotch Corner on the A1, we made it to Keswick, Cumbria just after noon. We had lunch outside at the Bank Tavern and did a little shopping before heading towards The Kirkstile Inn near Loweswater, our destination for the first two nights of our holiday. We did the 1/2 hour winding road experience to make our way to this beautiful little inn nestled deep in the Cumbrian Mountains. After checking in, we took a walk towards Crummock Water, a nearby lake, and though we strayed from the path a bit and ended up having to scale one of the many rock walls we encountered, we eventually found our way to the water's edge and we relaxed there for quite a while, just listening to the sound of the waves lapping at the shore. It was remarkably warm for April in England (76 degrees) and we spent as much time outdoors as we could the first couple days. That evening, we had dinner right there at Kirkstile Inn and it was a relaxing end to our first day.
After breakfast on Thursday, we drove back up to Keswick to take a shot at a fairly challenging walk on and around Cat Bells, one of the mountains surrounding this beautiful village. We got on the wrong path initially and instead of the gentle upward slope we were expecting, our way was leading us up a very severe grade, quite a challenge for us. Maureen then realized we had taken a bad turn but before we reversed our course, we decided to continue upwards for a while, slowly and with occasional pauses, but ever upwards. After some time, the others were content to stop but I wanted to go just a bit further and they indulged me by having a rest while I went on. I didn't reach the summit (that would have taken an hour from there) but I went up quite a ways and the changing views of Derwent Water and Keswick below were amazing and I truly enjoyed the climb. I really wish now that I'd have found a way to continue to the top but as of this writing, I doubt if we'll get back to the Lakes for me to fulfill that fantasy. After our less ambitious walk around the mountain, we stopped again in Keswick and picked up a couple bottles of wines to have on a crusty bread and cheese picnic we had planned for that afternoon. We walked to Loweswater, another lake near the inn and did just that on a perfect April afternoon. Though my companions were giving me a hard time earlier about bring two bottles on the picnic, by the time we finished the second bottle they were wishing I'd brought a third. I must admit, so was I.
On Friday, we drove to Hawkshead, the small village made famous by Beatrix Potter of Peter Rabbit fame and that we had briefly visited on our first trip to the Lakes. We found our way to the Red Lion Inn, the pub we'd booked for our last two nights and after checking in, we had lunch there. That afternoon, we took our most ambitious walk; the six plus mile trek to Tarn Hows, a mountain lake Carol had read about and really wanted to see. The walk was rugged and grueling and it took us over four hours (with a rest or two along the way) to complete the circuit. That evening, we were all really tired and we enjoyed a quiet dinner at the Red Lion.
Our last full day started with a short drive to Coniston Water for a steam powered gondola trip around that lake. It was fascinating to see the mountains from the water and we enjoyed sitting for a change while the scenery was brought to us. After lunch at The King's Head, another pub in Hawkshead, Maureen and I went for another walk while Carol did some shopping and Rich took a nap. This walk took us to Esthwaite Water, the small lake near Hawkshead and through Grizedale Forest. This was a much more manageable walk and the 3 1/2 miles only took Maureen and me an hour and forty minutes. The weather had cooled off some by Saturday and it was nice to get back to the pub for a pint before dinner.
On Easter morning, Carol and I took an early walk to see the incredible amount of daffodils blooming all around Hawkshead. We also visited St. Michael's church an hour or so before services were scheduled to start, just to have a look. Like all the village churches we experienced in England, it was very beautiful and inviting. We wished we could have stayed for the service but we were planning to head home that morning.
We decided to take the M2 motorway home and it was so windy that afternoon, Rich could barely keep his car on the road. We did make it home safely and in time to have a pint at the Waggon and Horses as we closed out a great weekend.
I think this was one of the best vacations Carol and I have had. It included many of the things that we love most about England, not the least of which, our dear friends, Rich and Maureen. The villages we visited on this trip, the locals we met and our hosts at the inn and pub were all that we've come to expect here. Add to that the spectacular vistas we experienced, the walks, the shopping and the restful and beautiful sights we saw and you can begin to understand why the Lake District will always be one of our great memories. Thanks to Rich, Maureen and all the wonderful folks we encountered along the way for making this a great holiday.
Check out the Kirkstile Inn at http://www.kirkstile.com/ and the Red Lion at www.redlionhawkshead.co.uk.
For information on Keswick, follow this link: www.keswick.org and for Hawkshead, http://www.hawkshead-village.co.uk/
For general information on all the great things to see and do in The Lake District, this is a very good site: www.edgeguide.co.uk/cumbria/index.html.
By the way, if you look closely at the picture to the right, you can see Carol and me peeking out the window of our room at the Red Lion.