Our roadtrip through the UK with the inlaws was just about coming to an end but we had saved the best until last – the Lakes District. Ade and I have been to the UK a couple of times, but never to this part of England, and I was very excited by what we might find.
We arrived at The Old Posting House in Deanscales, just outside Cockermouth, early afternoon and were greeted by two dogs trying to jump out the upstairs window to greet us – this was definitely going to be interesting.
The B&B is set above the local pub which is run by one of the funniest publicans I have come across, just don’t ask him about sites to see in the Lakes District, as a Yorkshire man, he’s more likely to tell you about Whitby than Windermere.
The B&B boasts big, clean rooms and nice ensuites, topped off by good, and of course huge, breakfasts. The pub below has a nice atmosphere and doesn’t get too crowded or loud at night. (The Wednesday night pub quiz pulls in a good crowd and is well worth the effort – even if all the questions are skewed to English guests.)
Our first day in the Lakes District and where else do you go but Lake Windermere of course. As the largest lake in the district, it is the most popular.
A quick word of warning here, apparently the Lakes District is visited by 15 million tourists every year. Yep, almost three quarters of Australia’s population heads to this small pocket of England every year. Driving through the towns, the reasons are obvious, but as Adrian exclaimed when we were driving through Keswick “has there been an outbreak of ebola virus and this has been designated the only safe spot?”
Mick, the publican and B and B owner, recommended we detour past Buttermere on our way to Windermere, so we took the long way past Lowes Water and onto Buttermere. This would have to be one of the most spectacular lakes. It helped that the lake was so still the mountains behind were clearly reflected in the mirror-like waters.
From Buttermere we took the short route to Ambleside. The road winds its way high up into the mountains and then along a single narrow laneway, cutting through the bright green carpet-like grasses of the hills and past a beautiful waterfall.
We finally made our way to Windermere, through Keswick and Ambleside – past William Wordsworth’s place (he was born in Cockermouth, but lived in Ambleside, though to be honest, it seems like every second town in the Lakes District has some claim on Wordsworth).
After a short stop in Windermere, which is actually not that close to the Lake (we know, we tried to walk it but soon gave up as it was too far) we took the car ferry across Lake Windermere to Sawrey. At just 4pounds the ferry crossing is a fantastic way to get across the lake to visit Top Hill and Beatrix Potter’s House.
It’s easy to see where Beatrix Potter got her inspiration. Top Hill is a gorgeous little village and she had beautiful views across the rooftops and the meadows. In every corner of the house and through the windows, you can see images from Potter’s books come to life.
The house remains much as it did when Potter lived there, complete with her old furniture and artwork so you can get a real sense of how she lived.
After a full breakfast we set out for Waswater, I had read somewhere that this lake was voted the most picturesque view in England by ITV viewers in 2007 so we headed to Waswater with a view to heading through the centre of the Lakes District to Ambleside.
The drive to Waswater was interesting, though it did feel at times like we were driving through someone’s private farm as the sheep meandered past us. And of course then there was the sign which warned us to “Tek care, lambs on ‘t road” – gotta love the English language!
Waswater is beautiful, I’m not sure that it’s any better than Buttermere, but the landscape is certainly interesting – craggy rocks and green hills. At the end of the lake is a little “village” Wasdale Head, which has a sizeable Inn that boasts it is the home of the world’s biggest liar! What a claim, not sure what he lied about, but it obviously left an impression on the town! That is, of course, if it’s true! The town is also famous for its many rock walls – hundreds of metres of rock walls all across the mountains.
We took what looked like a shortcut on our Tomtom, but soon discovered why this wasn’t the recommended route from Waswater to Ambleside. It was somewhat hair raising to say the least – steep roads through some of the most spectacular mountains, all in a single lane, we hoped beyond hope no one was coming from the other direction.
The views were out of this world. Green carpeted hillsides teeming with goats, and the odd stream. It is well worth the drive and must be some of the most remote land in England.
The lane winds its way past Scafell Pike, the highest mountain range in England, and is a popular spot for hikers. While there aren’t too many cars in this part of the world, we did encounter the odd car heading toward us and had to put the reversing skills to the test to let cars past, fortunately that only happened on the flats and not as we were traipsing up or down the hairpin bends!
Ullswater Lake is the second largest lake in the District and so is meant to be another popular spot with tourists, while the town was quite cute, the lake wasn’t nearly as impressive as Buttemere or Windermere. But again, the drive from Ambleside to the lake was very interesting and included a cameo appearance by some Highland cows – we hadn’t expected to see any outside Scotland!
The Lakes District has been home to many famous authors – Wordsworth, Potter and Coleridge– and it’s easy to see why. The stunning surrounds and tranquil countryside would be an incredibly inspiring place to live.
We stayed at The Old Posting House.
We were here for two nights.
Was it long enough? I could move here, so no, not really, but we packed in a lot in the time that we were here!
Highlights: Every corner, every meadow, every lake!