I am not a fan of tours. I, rightly or wrongly, think I’ll be crammed in with a bunch of Americans to see stuff that doesn’t fit my (perhaps narrow) interests. For example, Brantwood, John Ruskin’s home, is in the Lake District, but it’s Victorian. If I had unlimited time, I might visit it, but with a tight schedule, it doesn’t’ make the cut. Wray Castle, also Victorian, also not on the list.
But I wanted to see Muncaster Castle and taking one of the Mountain Goat tours was the only way to do that, so we reluctantly signed up for this tour. I’m so glad we did! It was well worth the time and price. And somewhere along the line—maybe when we were signing up—I learned that only about 10 percent of visitors to the Lake District are Americans. I do know the woman who took our reservation said they get a lot of older British folks who don’t want to drive. According to Malcolm, our guide/driver, they have a number of repeat customers. And since each guide has his or her own interests, the basic tour outline gets embellished in many different ways. You can learn different things even if you take the same tour again, but with a different driver. (Mr. M. thought Malcolm’s “bias” was economics.)
The Mountain Goat van picked us up at our B&B. We happened to be the first of Malcolm’s stops, so we sat up front and got a chance to chat with him a little. I can’t remember where he was from originally—not, I think, the Lake District, but somewhere in northern England—but he spent 30 years teaching elementary school in Scotland. Doing Mountain Goat tours is his retirement job. He told us many of the guides are retired from other careers.
Once our van was full—only two other Americans aboard—we headed out. I couldn’t remember why I took this photo.
Until I looked at the closer shot.
Not too far into the trip, we stopped for a coffee break.
and photo shoot.
We think this lake is Elterwater.
Mr. M has a telephoto function on his camera.
We took the tour on Tuesday, the day after the big rain. We had a little rain during the tour and a little flooding, and the clouds were low so we didn’t get the great views we would have had on a clear day, but we did get to see a lot.
As we drove along, Malcolm pointed out small streams that had formed because of all the rain.
You may have to look closely to see them. There’s one on the left, just above the rocks, and another, longer one on the right. Here are some more that are much easier to spot.
There’s a heron—though it may be hard to see—in the center of the picture, just below the fence. He—or she—was the reason I took the shot. And above the fence to the left, the things that might look a little like dogs with dark coats and white faces are Herdwick sheep.
I realized that we’d encountered a few of these little impromptu streams on our hikes. I think they form because the ground is so rocky, the water just runs off any way it can after a rainstorm. Here’s another view, just because I like it.
Malcolm stopped the van again so those of us eager to take pictures could get out and do so. I took the opportunity to get a shot of two cars that had passed us while we were stopped. Notice the width of the road. And I think the water on the right might be the River Duddon.
Here’s a front view of our Mountain Goat. Mr. M is looking at me, I think indicating that I should stop taking pictures and get into the van, for goodness sakes. The balding fellow in the red jacket is our guide, Malcolm.
More of our Mountain Goat adventure to come.