As my parents live in West Yorkshire, a few hours’ drive can see me in the Lake District National Park and so I try to get up there as often as I can. Although not quite as mountainous and epic as Scotland, I find the Lakes have a charm of their own and a dramatic landscape in their own right; especially when darker clouds roll across the skies and create a moody, mysterious vista.
The Lake District National Park was created in 1951, less than a month after the Peak District was named the UK’s first National Park, and it is well known for its associations with poets and writers – William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter amongst them. It contains the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, and the longest and deepest lakes in England, Windermere and Wastwater respectively.
Lake Windermere is entirely natural, a ribbon lake formed in a glacial trough at the end of the last ice age. It is approximately 17km long and contains 18 little islands, some of which are privately owned; what wouldn’t I give to own one of them!
The bustling village of Windermere lies about 1 mile from the lake edge, and after a tasty lunch of hot steak sandwiches with Stilton and salad at a little cafe, my friend and I headed out of the village towards the main road and followed it north until we reached the church of St Mary’s. What I love most about buildings in the Lakes is that most of them seem to have grown out of the rock itself – there is often little or no pointing between the stonework, making it look like a giant dry stone wall.
After we passed the church we turned down a little footpath that took us past some huge houses and gardens, which we glimpsed in between gaps and over gates within the high stone walls. In shadier places these walls were covered in ferns and liverworts, with herb robert and poppies growing at the bases.
Eventually, after wandering down a country lane, we arrived near some playing fields with a footpath that took us down to the lakeside. Luckily the weather remained bright and sunny and as we reached the shore we were greeted by the sound of waves gently crashing and the sight of the sun reflecting off the surface of the water. It was beautiful.
Here we found a convenient rock to sit on while we shared home-made chocolate brownies with caramel, cranberry, and hazelnuts on top, and a bottle of sparkling elderflower. Quite a few dog walkers wandered along the path or walked to the end of the little wooden piers, and one or two dogs came over to say hello and look pleadingly at us and then the brownies.
We continued walking along the footpath which began to climb upwards through a patch of National Trust woodland, following a stream which fed into the lake. When we reached the main road we decided to continue upwards to see if we could get a good view from higher up. A short way up, we came to a viewpoint and car park, complete with ice cream van, so we sat eating locally made ice-cream whilst looking at the views.
Afterwards, reluctantly, we headed back towards Windermere village to look around the shops and enjoy a coffee before heading off home. A lovely day out really doesn’t have to cost that much.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Rachel Bates is an Ecologist currently living in Kent.[/author_info] [/author]