Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Lake District - a photographers dream or nightmare

When we wake this morning we can hear the wind howling all around the building. It is decidedly chilly and the wind chill takes the temperature down by about 6 degrees! Still, the water in the shower is hot and runs hard and fast, so I am happy! After a lovely big steak and (8) veges dinner last night, we are not very hungry this morning and settle for a much smaller breakfast than the cooked feasts we had been fed at the New Kent Hotel in Blackpool. Michael cooks up a bowl of porridge and I settle for buttered toast.

Laura has a whole range of tourist and other local literature here for us to use. Michael wants to do one of the long walks through the Lake District and I certainly don't want to miss any of the scenery. With the wind as strong as it is, we opt for a day's drive to see some of the lakes and the areas around them. We head back towards Penrith (we are just under 9 miles out in the country through hamlets with names like Langwathby and Skirwith) before turning south-west towards Ullswater - the second largest of the lakes.

From here we drive along its length, calling in at Aria Force to have a look at the Falls before climbing up and over the Kirkstone Pass to the towns along Lake Windemere - the largest lake. This whole area reminds me of Montville and Maleny, or the Blue Mountains - not because of the scenery or setting but because of all the craft shops and eateries, because of the incredible traffic congestion, because of the lack of adequate parking and the sheer numbers of people walking around enjoying the atmosphere. And this is the low season! But to be fair, it was Mothering Day here in the UK and I suspect that there were many families out giving mum a day to remember! We pull over to a highlighted viewing spot, squeezing between the column of traffic, to take a photo and find another photographer who tells us he has been waiting ofr two hours for the cloud to lift and the sun to shine on the hills and water for the perfect photo - is that dedication or madness??

We continue through the prettiest scenery around the lakes, and today I don't even mind the S bends that are coupled with dips and rises. The climbs up and down vary in steepness with the greatest being 14%. Steep enough and it keeps the traffic to a slow pace allowing plenty of time for oohs and ahs as we turn one corner to get fantastic views across the lakes and then the next corner to see wondrous mountain scapes. Ahh - the geographer in me just loves it as does the photographer (although to be honest, Michael has the camera far more often than me!)

Just when I think we have seen the prettiest scene possible, we take another turn and there is one that at the least equals the last one, if not bettering it. Trouble is that I am running out of ways to say that without repeating myself. So if it sounds like I have already said it, I probably have. So what - you will just have to live with it! The english language has only so many ways to describe beauty!

We are now on the opposite side of the lakes to what we need to be, so we cross Lake Windemere from Hawkeshead back to Ambleside on the punt (ferry) where Michael is asked to take a photo of another Aussie traveller, John. Make sure you send us an email John so we can email you the pics!!

We end up at Coniston for an excellent late lunch at the Coniston Arms Hotel. We started with a pizza base garic bread before Michael tucked into a hearty Homemade Steak and Kidney Pie and I hasthe Fisherman's Crumble. Excellent fare and lovely and hot - just when we were really needing it. The number of amblers (that's hikers or walkers to the uninitiated) is phenomenal. And at 4:30 pm on a Sunday afternoon, many of them have found their way into the Coniston Arms!! The place is literally jumping. Still, the service is great and we don't have to wait long for our meals.

Our final stop for the day is in Gracemere where Wordsworth lived and has immortalised in much of his writings. A visit to the cemetery in the local church not only show us his grave, but the whole Wordsworth clan. a family that prays together - stays together?!!

On our way towards Keswick to go back to Penrith, we pass a sign for the Castlerigg Stone Circle. Now, we are not turing Druid or anything, but these are just the most amazing places. This one pre-dates the formalised Druid activity by about 2,000 years - yep, that is NOT a typo. Anyway, despite following the road all the waym, we do not find it and as it is almost dark, decide we will come back through here another day to have a look - I mean, it is only 17 miles from Penrith, so to us c-r-a-z-y Aussies, it is almost next door!

It is a slower trip back to Skirwith in the dark, but we manage, getting lost not once! The wind is dropping and so is the temperature. It is almost 7 pm when we pull in to The Smithy and thankfully the heaters (on timers) are on and the cottage is nice and toasty. Too full for dinner, so it is a coffee and a jaffa cake biccy or three. A train trip tomorrow - tell you about it next time we meet in the blog! Ciao.

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