We successfully navigated PIccadilly station and got on the correct train—and the correct part of the train, as it divided up the line and if we hadn’t sat in the back three cars, we would have ended up somewhere besides Windermere. Mr. M had paid for reserved seats, having learned his lesson on our trip to Bath (or perhaps it was Brighton) two years ago. As it turned out, seat reservations weren’t necessary on the trip up, but we were very happy to have them on the trip back as the train was very full. (Partly with people who’d gotten confused and hopped on the wrong train.)
Why the Lake District? It was actually Mr. M’s idea. He was a college English major and had wanted to stop by and see Wordsworth’s haunts when he was passing through England after his stint in the Peace Corps, but had been afraid to show up with no hotel reservation. (I was an English major, too, but I confess I didn’t take that much of an interest in Wordsworth and the rest of the Romantic poets until I started writing Regencies.) Since what he most wanted to do was hike, he figured we should go while we were still relatively spry .
I wanted to hike, too, but once I started researching the area, I quickly amassed a list of historic homes to visit. A rather long list. I’ll confess I was a little concerned Mr. M would get a tad cranky if I dragged him all over looking at spoons and teapots and doorknobs. But I needn’t have worried. One of our first stops was a tourist information center where it quickly became apparent that my list was far too ambitious. We discovered that unless you were willing to drive—which we most definitely weren’t—it wasn’t that easy to get around. There were buses, but fewer in the off season—September 3 was the magic date this year—and trains, but it looked as if some of my desired destinations would just take too long to get to. So I had to regretfully cross Mirehouse and Dalemain off my list. But I still had plenty of places to see—and I found a book of the Lake District historic homes that I’m planning to order.
We made our base of operations Bowness, staying at Dene House, a lovely bed and breakfast conveniently located to the pier, shops, and restaurants. Here’s Mr. M standing out front. Breakfast came with our stay, and I think Mr. M was the only one who regularly ordered the full English breakfast—fried egg, English bacon, sausage, grilled tomato, mushrooms, baked beans, and black pudding. (Black pudding was the item most avoided.)
Here are some shots I took of Bowness and Windermere on one of our bus rides. The first was taken from the top—open—deck on a double decker bus. As we drove along, I noticed the trees had been trimmed so the bus could pass by—the lower branches were shorter, and the upper branches stuck out over the bus so the trees had a sort of scooped out look. One of the bus drivers told me later that the buses themselves did the “trimming.”
In this next picture, I was sitting in the front seat on the top of the bus—that’s why there’s the yellow/orange bar. This time we went for a little warmth and the enclosed area. The Lakes were much chillier than we were used to. I think the temperature was 70 or 80 degrees F when we left DC; it was around 50 F in the Lakes. We wore every layer we had.
Another shot from the open top. [Oops! I'm working on a later blog post now, and I've just realized the picture below is Ambleside, LOL!]
We managed to get a couple of hikes in the first day—and we started off as we seemed to go on, by getting lost. It took two helpful people to get us on the right path. We definitely should have bought an Ordinance map at the beginning of our trip, rather than as we were leaving the Lakes. Here’s Mr. M at the beginning of the hike.
This trail was in Windermere. It took us to the top of Queen Adelaide’s Hill and gave us our first view of Lake Windermere—and our first encounter with the ever-present sheep.
The rain kept starting and stopping, but we were prepared with raincoats and hats.
Our second scramble was in Bowness on Brant Fell. Many of the “public footpaths” are just a sign pointing you to a field. We couldn’t discern an actual path. We wanted to be good hikers and stay where we were supposed to, but all too often we couldn’t figure out where we were supposed to stay. But we did try not to bother the sheep, not that the sheep looked like they cared who wandered by them.
That’s Lake Windermere. You can probably also tell that the ground was very rocky.
In this last picture you may be able to see a bit of rainbow next to me. I think we must have seen more rainbows on this trip that we’ve seen in our entire lives.
Mr. M was also eager to explore some English pubs and taste the local ales. His first opportunity was at the Hole in the Wall.
Here’s a close up of its sign. As you can see, it’s an historic site, so I was interested, too.
Our first day was a bit gray, so here are a couple pictures we took of Bowness pier on a sunnier day. This is where we caught the boat for Ambleside and the bus for Windermere Station. I think I must have taken these on Wednesday morning. We had sun over the weekend, too, but then the place was jammed with people.