I came to the Lake District with a long list of homes to see and a chart showing which places were open when. All except two houses were closed at least one day a week, and a few of the houses (as opposed to the gardens) didn’t open until noon or later. We used this chart to determine the order of our explorations.
Rydal Mount, William Wordsworth’s home from 1813 until his death in 1850, became our first destination. It's not too far from Ambleside for us to hike, which meant we could get there by taking a cruise on Lake Windermere, one of the activities on every tourist’s must-do list. Here’s a view of the lake from the boat.
And here is Mr. M on the boat. There were at least three different kinds of boats that made the circuit from Bowness to Ambleside and back, and we rode (sailed?) on all three of them at one time or another. (After the novelty wore off, we switched to the bus.)
The boats dock in Waterhead, and you walk up the hill to Ambleside. Here’s a picture of Waterhead.
We stopped at an information center (or I suppose I should say centre ) and got a map and directions from the helpful young man there. And if you guessed we weren’t able to follow the map or directions, you’d be right! We ended up walking along the main road which was less than desirable. For one thing, the traffic was on the “wrong” side of the street, so you’d have cars coming up behind you when you didn’t expect it. And while the nice young man in the information centre told me the cars drove rather slowly, I have to conclude his definition of “slowly” and mine are vastly different. (Unless we were on a completely different road than the one he was referring to—with our directional issues, that’s always possible.)
The other problem with walking along the road was that the sidewalk (or pavement as the Brits seem to call it) kept switching sides, so we had to switch sides, too. But we kept looking the wrong direction—that driving on the left thing—when crossing the street, so it took a real team effort and some panicked arm-grabbing to insure one or the other of us wasn’t flattened by a car.
And did I mention it was raining? But you probably already guessed that.
We persevered and successfully made it to Rydal Mount. Here I am in front of the house to prove it.
Parts of the house date from the 16th century with an addition in 1750, so I was very interested in the house itself, though of course it is much smaller than the houses my heroes inhabit . (But I may have to introduce a cottage into one of my books, now that I’ve toured a few.)
The gardens were lovely, but the docent warned us that the paths might be slippery and told us we were welcome to come back the next day, if the weather was better, and they would let us in at no cost. But Mr. M and I had places to be the next day, so we took our chances and trod carefully. Here’s a picture of me with Rydal Water in the background. They call the smaller lakes “water.” According to the Rydal Mount brochure, Lake Windermere is the largest lake in the Lake District, and Rydal Water, the smallest. Both are visible from the house.
As to my “glamorous” appearance, above... No one would ever call me a fashionista, but I would like to say that I normally would not pair a red hat (and red purse, which you—blessedly—can’t see in this shot) with a “berry” raincoat, but I forgot about the red hat—which was the only color available when I needed it (ditto for the purse)—when I bought the raincoat. The contrast will be more painful in the photos where the sun is actually shining.
After we left Rydal Mount, we went back down the hill and stopped at Rydal Hall, which the man we paid our admissions to at Rydal Mount had told me was a Georgian building.
The building isn’t open to the public, but the gardens and grounds are. The gardens are early 20th century, but I think you could pretend otherwise.
After wandering around Rydal Hall, we headed back…and made an almost fatal error. We’d seen one of those “public footpath” signs on our way, and, sadly, we are apparently slow learners. We wanted to get away from the rushing cars and darting from one side of the road to the other, so we opened the gate and went into the field. In retrospect, I believe Mr. M had suggested we follow some walkers who’d left the road earlier, but I thought if we did, we’d end up on the wrong side of the river (which I figured out later was the River Rothay).
So here we were, facing an unmarked field, no signs of a path in view. Studying the Ordinance Map now, I think perhaps we were supposed to cross the field at a diagonal and then we might have encountered some stepping stones on which to cross the river. Which sounds like a Very Bad Idea anyway. And with all the rain, the stepping stones, if there were any, might have been submerged. So we bumbled along through one field after another, hoping we weren’t doing any damage and, if the field owner came upon us, praying he’d take pity on the poor, demented Americans. We had to ford a small stream, and then we followed the river, looking longingly across it at the path we were supposed to be on. I was afraid we’d come to the end of our trek and find ourselves stuck, blocked by a barbed wire fence or rushing water, and have to retrace our steps.
But, mirabile dictu!, we came upon a gate at last that let us onto a paved path from which we could find our way back to Waterhead.
We even had a rainbow to look at on our sail back to Bowness.