I went to the lakes! A short trip that did wonders for me. It is said that Nature heals, and I know that is true. I know because I’ve experienced it again and again. It does indeed feel like magic. Just a few days in the Lake District, that place I’ve been wanting to visit for years and I feel invigorated, inspired and certain of myself once again.
This of course comes as no surprise, with this place having been the muse for so many literary geniuses. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Ruskin – and while to a different, younger audience, one mustn’t forget Beatrix Potter. And, I cannot stop myself from mentioning a young singer, writer, and definitely poet, Taylor Swift, and her song, the lakes.
Take me to the lakes where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong, and my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse
Windermere. The largest lake in England, also the name given to the little village where I stayed. It can be confusing indeed – to say I’ve stayed in Windermere when that can refer to the biggest lake in the country. It is also known as the south side of the Lake District. If I could, I would have explored the whole thing – but there are three things you need to explore this Natural Park – money, time and a car. Oh, I envy those retired people I encountered in my walks and hikes, how time and likely money isn’t indeed a problem for them. Travelling in the UK is expensive, I have limited days off and I do not drive here… Windermere has a train station, and that is why I decided to stay there for my first visit. And hopefully, this post and my next ones will prove that it is possible to visit the Lake District without a car.
The accommodation comes at premium prices too, so I stayed only three nights – which is really nothing. I would have stayed a month if I could. I’d soak in all of that beauty, all of that Nature, I’d walk miles and miles, until my legs couldn’t stand anymore. It is when I feel the freest – relying on myself, on my body, just me and nothing else around. Oh, I tasted freedom walking often with no human being in sight. Only green, the mountains, the valleys. The sheep, the cows. The reflection of the daylight in the quiet waters of the lake.
I’m so glad to start October in such a joyful mood. These few days gave me exactly what I needed to survive what will be months of a busy schedule. But I’m ready to accept my limitations and put myself first. Cause Nature didn’t put us here for this. I don’t believe it for one second.
On my first day, I walked 20.6Km, I let myself follow the signalled paths without too much of a care in the world. The views, the scenery – my photos won’t make it any justice. Still, I hope it can somehow leave you with the same sense of peacefulness I was filled with when I felt so free.
For my first day in Windermere, below was my itinerary. As you can see I covered an extensive area – all on foot, using a ferry and then a bus back to the town of Windermere. Google Maps isn’t giving you a perfect representation of my walk – there were paths for walkers, not yet covered by it. What I find quite interesting is that walking 20 Km in nature is not the same as walking 20km in a day in London or New York. Not as tiring. Not when you’re surrounded by the same material you are made of.
I cannot talk about all of it in this post. It would be endless – as I saw so much! I’ll be covering the first part of my day – from the hotel where I was staying to Claife Viewing Station.
Where I stayed
I stayed in Jerichos, a Boutique Guest House, only a 7 minutes walk from the train station. It was one of the most cost-friendly options with the best reviews on Booking.com. I highly recommend it. It has character, being an old Victorian house, the room was cosy, clean, nicely decorated, with heating, a flat TV that I never used, a good shower and a selection of teas, coffee and delicious hot chocolate with a kettle. Breakfast is ordered and cooked for you, which I prefer to self-service catering.
Elleray Wood & Orrest Head – my first view of the lake
I arrived late the previous night, and from where I was staying you can’t really see the lake. So my walk that day would start walking up Elleray Wood to Orrest Head – a high point of 238m. While you go up there you get to be immersed in Elleray forest, surrounded by green, the chant of birds, and the sights of old as-time trees. A huge plus – there is a path accessible to wheelchairs. At the top of this summit, you have a magnificent view of the lake Windermere.
Enjoying the walk is part of the experience. Of course, we want to get to the top and be rewarded by the magnificent view awaiting us. But what about all of this wild nature surrounding us? The morning light was casting interesting shadows and tones in the woods.
And finally, you get to the top – my first view of the lake. Simply stunning. Famous British fellwalker and guidebook author and illustrator, creator of one of the most renowned reference work on the Lake District, Alfred Wainwright, wrote about this place:
…quite suddenly, we emerged from the shadows of the trees and were on a bare headland, and, as though a curtain had dramastically been torn aside, beheld a truly magnificient view… this was truthAlfred Wainwright, 1930
On the way to Queen’s Adelaide Hill
I descended back to the main road, the sound of cars, of civilisation, becoming a major nuisance for me. My next stop was another viewpoint, Queen’s Adelaide Hill, a low effort climb (you barely noticed there is one) and also offers a great view to the lake.
If you keep following the signage, you will be led through the perfect footpaths. And then, you’re rewarded with another great view, this time though you are definitely closer to the water.
Crossing the lake Windermere
I continued the walk in the direction of Bowness-on-Windermere, the other lake town where you got to go anyways if you want to catch a cruise. I’ve ignored Google Maps here and take the route signalled by the wooden plates.
I wasn’t meaning to take a cruise that day – I was looking to get a ferry to Far Sawrey, and for that, you’ve got to walk south a bit more to get to Bowness Nab terminal. The ferry only costs £1 per person and it takes only 10 minutes to cross the small stretch of water to the other side of the lake. We did have to wait for almost forty minutes for each departure… but well I was entertained by a nice dog that had taken a liking to me.
To the Claife Viewing Station
This was one of the first monuments created in the Lake District for the sole purpose of entertaining a new wave of tourists arriving in the region in the late 1790s. Before then, the Lake District was regarded as a wild place, not attractive at all. But Thomas West published a guidebook to the Lakes in 1778 that was about to change this – and as it became almost impossible for wealthy tourists to complete Grand Tour in Europe, due to the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars, the rich and privileged flocked to the Lakes. the windows were tinted with coloured glass to recreate the landscape under different seasonal conditions. In the 1830s and 40s, parties and dances were held here! It’s quite difficult to imagine this nowadays as during the 19th century, it deteriorated and became the ruin that it’s today.
But definitely one of the best viewing points to the lake, only made even more magical knowing the history of this place.
This is all for now, but definitely more to come.