it seemed that the cities of Manchester, Blackpool and Liverpool didn’t have much to offer other than traffic congestion and frustration so we bypassed these noteworthy places and drove straight to the Lake District. So, the Beatles and Cilla Black will just have to wait for another time.
Ruth Minahan had suggested a B&B in an old farmouse at a hamlet called High Wray which is just out of Ambleside. We called to see if any rooms were available and then drove up to look at it after lunch. The house was built sometime in the early 1600’s. The date on the cupboard in the sitting room shows 1628. The house was so charming that we decided to stay for a couple of nights without even asking the price. The doors are about my shoulder height and I have to be careful to duck my head through each one. The oak beams in the walls and ceilings are all crooked and none of the walls are square. It is run by a very nice lady named Sheila and is on an operating farm. As I am typing this, Sheila’s husband is drenching a lot of long haired high country sheep in the pens outside our bedroom window.
Befiore finding the B&B, we had driven through Windemere and Ambleside to Grassmere where we had lunch. These are the biggest towns in the Lake District and are very’ ‘touristy’. They are pleasant enough place but have a lot of people in the streets. They are however great places for buying backpacks and anoraks!
We drove across to the village of Hawks Head for dinner – about 2 miles away from the B&B. After becoming accustomed to kilometres, miles seem to tick over much more slowly on the car speedo.
Our GPS made it easy, although we have found that we need to be careful to enter the right destination. On our day into Wales, we had mistaken the name of a village that we intended to visit and couldn’t work out why the GPS was guiding us through a lot of narrow country lanes and announced that we had reached our destination at a little road junction by a fence and a sign post in the middle of nowhere. One little letter can make such a difference!
There were a choice of four pubs at Hawks Head and somehow, we managed to pick the best one – The Queens Head. We had a superb dinner with a nice bottle of South African Wine. We were back at the B&B before dark.
Today, we spent the day touring around the quieter parts of the district. We started by driving across to Coniston where Donald Campbell had attempted to make / break the world record for speed on water. He died in 1967 when his boat the ‘Bluebird’ flipped at 320 mph on the lake. Nowadays, the fastest thing on the lake is the steam launch owned by the National Trust.
Then we drove to Keswick on Derwent Water and called in on the Pencil Museum where the famous Derwent pencils are made. When she was a girl, Jill always wanted a set of 72 Derwents but she was only ever allowed to have a box of 36. I only ever managed to aquire a dozen of their poorer cousins; the Lakeland pencil. Apparently the first pencils in the world were made here after the discovery of graphite in the nearby hills.
A quick check at an Internet Café showed that one of my clients has paid an invoice so we are solvent again. Britain seems to me to be quite an expensive place and we are using money faster than I had expected. Dinner at a pub with a bottle of cheap wine can run to as much as 45 Pounds (AUD$120).
After leaving Keswick, we drove down to Borrowdale, across the Borowdale Pass and then along to Buttermere for lunch. The pass is very rugged and has an expansive old slate mine. The valley to Buttermere is very scenic – a bit reminiscent of the country near the start of the Routeburn Track in NZ (sans trees). We found another beaut pub (Fish Hotel) where we stopped for lunch and a pint of the local brew – Haystacks.
There were a lot more parking spots along the road today and it is a lot easier to take more photos. Jill reckons that I have too many of this area in comparison to other places we have been, however the nice sunny weather and the spectacular scenery makes it more attractive to take pictures.
After Buttermere (between Buttermere Lake and Crummock Water) we continued on through Low Lorton and over the Whinlatter Pass to Braithwaite. All along the way, we had stunning mountain scenery. We finished the day by returning to the B&B through Troutbeck and alongside Ullswater via the Kirkstone Pass (Jill says boring old hills but I see stunnimg walking country and back to Ambleside.
I really wish that I had a couple of weeks here and could do some local walks. They would take me through hills and high country to little tarns and great views over lakes and valleys. Maybe one day?????.
Now its back to Hawkes Head to try another pub for dinner – tonight at the Kings Head.