Lake District

We set off for the Lake District in April. England, this year, had just recorded its wettest winter on record and hadn’t yet decided about spring. Needless to say then, it was raining when we left, then it rained some more, stopped briefly, then rained again. Luckily, or unluckily for my husband, we had prepaid the trip and it was non refundable. That and the fact this trip had been recommended by a teenager who had visited the Lake District the previous summer was still something my husband had not gotten over. It began innocently enough with a common question we asked all returning students/staff, “how was your summer?” One student replied, “Wonderful“. I visited the most beautiful place on earth, “he said. Visions of Shangri La passed before my eyes when the student said the Lake District. Just four hours from home here in East Anglia I had to go.
We arrived by train in Bowness-on-Windemere and despite the weather walked the half mile to the B & B. There we were greeted by a ray of sunshine, our host. He was a cross between Mr. Rogers and Jim Carey but with a British accent. With a bigger than life smile, he was bursting with good will and information. As soon as we were settled in our room we headed down the hill towards the lake. Everything from the sky to lake was in subtle shades of gray reminiscent of a Turner painting. We found a path around the lake, marked by the Natural Trust giving thanks to Beatrix Potter and we were on our way.
The next day, a light mist being our constant companion, my husband and I decided to take a bus tour around the lake. The bus driver tried to talk us out it, “after all” he said, you won’t be able to see the mountains” To his surprise, we boarded anyway since it was dry on the bus. The bus trundled along through the fog, making its way up the hills which gradually changed into mountains. In areas where the fog was lighter the presence of the color green became evident. The hills and mountains were blanketed by grass and moss which glistened from the mist. Ancient trees of enormous height, whose tops vanished under the fog, filled the landscape. And oh, did I mention the sheep. Idyllic.
Returning to Bowness, slightly dryer but not because of the weather, we decided to take up an offer by one of the local restaurants for a dinner and movie. Our choice of movies was between Captain American II and Noah’s Ark. Hmmm. We decided on Captain American. Not only did we enjoy the movie, but the dinner afterwards was delicious.
On Sunday, our last full on day on the lake but without a break in the rain, we could delay our hike no longer. We ferried across the lake to hike up the hill where we had been told a good place for coffee would be the reward for endeavors. It was now, not only raining, but chilly. We left the ferry along with our fellow shipmates and began our hike up the hill. Old moss covered trees along the trail provided shelter while a stream ran down a hill towards the lake. A mass of daffodils, probably the decedents of the ones that inspired Wordsworth’s famous poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, covered the area.
Eventually, we made up the hill and were delighted to find an old tavern. We walked into the lobby which was full of books and magazines on shelves and tables surrounded by comfortable high back chairs. From there we entered the restaurant which was packed with patrons, all in various stages of comfort. A general sense of unhurriedness permeated the place and even our waiter gave the impression that we had all the time in the world. There was a fire burning in the fireplace which sat in the middle of the room and we were lucky enough to get a table near it. We ordered and the food turned out to be as good as the place was inviting. Leaning back in my chair I felt at ease and at one with my surroundings, a feeling I seldom experience when traveling. Eventually, warmed through and through, we braved the walk back down the hill.
That evening we tried a Thai place for which my husband would later remark served the best curry he had ever tasted. There was a wait for the restaurant, so we took the opportunity visit the lake again. We weaved our way through the large swans and sea gulls walking along the pier expecting hand outs from the tourists. The weather was now clearer and we were finally able to see down the lake. And with that another color was added to the palette, blue. The blue of the sky, the sun setting between the hills at a distant, the lake itself speckled with sail boats; my husband and I leaned into each other as we took in the view. On our way back to the restaurant a duck stepped into the middle of the road, stopping traffic. Immediately, several tourist ran over and starting snapping pictures. You would have thought it was Jamima Puddle-Duck out looking for a place to nest. I think if Beatrix Potter had seen this it would have brought a smile to her face.
The next morning we headed out. The train, once again, took us through the rolling hills of the area which shimmering from continuous rain looked numinous. Eventually, as the train continued it forward trek, we left the district behind. I felt my mood and I sighed audibly as I gave thanks to my teen aged tour agent.


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