Lake District

Trip Start Mar 14, 2012
Trip End Jun 15, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Cumbria,
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Faff's ramblings

On the morning of Thursday 17 May, we had a full English breakfast at the hotel and packed our bags. We got picked up in the rain by Taffy, to drive us to the airport. We got a photo by the Fairy Bridge, and drove on to the airport. We got our flight back to the mainland on a small plane again. It was a quick flight back to Liverpool. We grabbed the car and drove from Liverpool towards the Lake District. We drove past exits for the city of Preston, from which I believe early Prestons got their name, who we are likely descended from :) We drove to Kirkby Lonsdale to see the grave of several Prestons - Christopher Preston and his wife Mary, their daughter Isabella and son Achilles. Christopher and Mary are my 7th-great-grandparents, and Isabella and Achilles are my 7th-great-aunt-and-uncle (I am descended from their sister Anne). Achilles was a Captain in the army and served in the Army that expelled the French from Canada, and also during the whole of the American War of Independence. I took a few pics and had my little solemn moment, and placed a little posy of wild purple Forget-Me-Nots at the foot of the grave.

We drove on to Windermere in the Lake District, and checked in to our B&B, which was in a beautiful old three-storey stone house. We were in a room on the third floor, in the roof space :) It was recommended by our host to go to Hill Top Farm (Beatrix Potter's first Lake District house she bought herself, see by ferry, so we drove down to Lake Windermere and got the ferry across the lake. It was really beautiful :) We drove to Hill Top Farm and parked the car. The house has timed tickets, and we had 30 minutes before entry, which was not enough time for lunch. We went to a little teahouse and got coffee and hot chocolate and pikelets with syrup, and Dan went back to the ticket office and delayed our entry time by 25 minutes. The teahouse had a beautiful view overlooking countryside and woods and a small lake, and we went outside after our coffee to look at the view. As we were leaving the teahouse, I saw a bunny on the lawn and named him Peter Rabbit in honour of Beatrix Potter :)

We walked up to the Hill Top Farm house, and there were cute little information cards stuck into the soil in a vegetable garden leading up to the house, with information about carrots and lettuce and such, and I think it said that carrots aren't good for bunnies. The garden was used by Beatrix in some of her stories and pictures :) The house was quite small, but very cute. We did a self-guided tour of the house, but there were people in every room to answer questions :) The house was dimly lit to show how it would have been lit back in the day. We saw some paintings by Beatrix, Bertram (her brother), Rupert (her father) and Helen (her mother). We saw her dolls and a dolls house (used in one of her stories), and her furniture and china. We saw her writing room, which she used because it got the most light through the window. Her writing desk was in the room, and one of her rejection letters. There was also a letter to a friend. It was a very nice and sweet house :) We went out into the garden, and I saw another two bunnies in a small yard behind the garden. Then I saw three baby bunnies underneath a tree in the yard! I filmed them a bit because they were so adorable, and I thought that maybe all the bunnies were pets, but then I saw one of them hop away through the fence. I think they lived under a tree near a hedge by the fence.

We left Hill Top to go to Hawkshead, but we saw a sign shortly after we left the car park saying 'Lakeside', so we followed that, and came across a beautiful glassy lake (the one we could see from the teahouse) called Esthwaite Water. We parked the car on the side of the road and walked down to the lake. It was beautiful! There was a partly-completed Beatrix Potter path around the lake because she used to walk there, and there were some signs already up showing animals she used in her stories (like Jemima Puddleduck, a duck) with information about the animals. It was all very sweet. The lake was stunning, with beautiful reflections. Dan was having a field day with his cameras! I had a nice walk around some of the lake. We got back in the car and drove towards Hawkshead, but we saw signs to Tarn Hows, which Dan had heard was beautiful. So we followed the signs and drove there, and there was a stunning lake and woods. We drove on to Hawkshead, but there wasn't really much there, just a few Beatrix Potter-themed stores.

We then drove to Grasmere, which I had heard is beautiful. There were stunning fields (with lots of black lambies!) and peaks and woods, and the most glassy lake! :) We parked pretty-much on the road (and a little on someone's driveway) to take photos because it was so stunning! We drove to the other side of the lake and further along to Rydal Water, which was also beautiful - beautiful reflections. We parked just off the road near a hotel's driveway to take photos. We were making the most of the gorgeous weather, in case it wasn't around the next day!

We drove to Ambleside for dinner and went to a restaurant called Lucy's that Dan had read about. We hadn't had lunch that day, so we got starters and mains. They were delicious! One of the starters was a mezze plate with lots of prosciutto-type meats and cheese and hummus and crackers, and it was served on slate! Our travel card didn't work in their machine, so I used my credit card, and I was shocked when I saw that it was $98 for the meals, but the waiter reminded me that that was 98 Australian dollars, not 98 pounds :P We went back to the car to get the camera bag out, and as Dan was putting it on his back, the laptop fell out through the open side zip and landed on the footpath! Dan and I just stood there staring at it in shock, with our mouths agape! I had seen it land right on one of its back corners. Dan picked it up, but was too scared to check if it still worked or not because he didn't want to ruin our nice walk to the top of Lake Windermere we were just about to have! We walked up the road to the lake, and it was beautiful and glassy. Dan got some nice photos. We had a nice walk back to the car (a different route to the way we had walked to the lake) and drove back to Windermere, and when we got to our room we checked the laptop, and it still worked!

Ultimate cultural experience of the day: visiting the grave of my ancestors in Kirkby Lonsdale, visiting Hill Top Farm house, and seeing the stunning lakes.

On the morning of Friday 18 May, we checked to see if the laptop still worked, again (just in case), and it did :) The only damage was a bit of a dent on the corner that it landed on! We had gotten up early to go for a nice walk :) We went for a walk through Windermere and up Orrest Head, to see the view. It was a nice walk through some woods (and a little mud!) and farmland, and at the top there were stunning views of fields and peaks and Lake Windermere. It was an overcast morning so it was sort of hazy, and a little foggy and misty :) We walked back to the B&B and had breakfast (I had waffles).
We decided to go to a little town called Keswick to go for a nice walk. On the drive to Keswick, we drove past Dove Cottage, which was William Wordsworth's house in Grasmere. When we got to Keswick, we got walk information from the Information Office. We walked down to the lake (Derwentwater) and a got small pedestrian ferry down the lake to a stop called Ashness Gate. We got off the boat and walked along the road and then up a side road to Ashness Bridge, which was a small arched stone bridge over a stream. Dan took some photos and I filmed a little. We walked up into a moor-type field to get a nice view of the lake. We thought that what we walked up to was a place called Surprise View, which we had seen in some brochures.

We walked back down to the road and down to the lake to walk along the shore back to Keswick. We had read that we could walk along the road if the tide was too high. We saw some people walking along the road, but there were some people on the shore, so we decided to try walking along the shore. The shore was just all gravelly pumicestones that was really thick, and it felt and sounded like we were walking in a really thick layer of Coco Pops :P We walked along for about 10 minutes and then saw that we couldn't go all the way because the tide was too high. We walked back to where we had come down to the shore and passed some locals along the way (we assumed they were locals because they had dogs). We walked up along the road, but further along we saw that the locals had gotten beyond the point we couldn't because there was a path we hadn't seen that cut through the little woods between the road and the lake. We continued walking along the road - it was still a pleasant walk :) We got back into town and saw a nice-looking little vegetarian cafe. We had lunch there, including a chocolate milkshake that I think was actually made from carob as opposed to chocolate! It wasn't pleasant. But the rest of the food was :)
We got back in the car to drive to Buttermere. We had been told that it had nice scenery, and there was a drive through a mountain pass. As we were driving from Keswick, we decided to drive up the side road we'd walked up to get to Ashness Bridge because we had seen cars go by when we were there, so we were wondering what was further up the road. We soon found out - Surprise View! What we thought had been Surprise View in fact was not :P There was a really beautiful view over Derwentwater from there (what is with waterways in England named 'Derwent' being stunning?).

We drove back down to the road and continued on our drive. We got to the pass (Honister Pass) and it was spectacular! - high peaks, desolate slopes, slate rocks cascading down some of them, and a beautiful clear stream racing over pebbles. Needless to say, Dan was a little snap-happy, and I also filmed a little. We continued to Buttermere, and decided to go through the next pass to get back to Keswick and head back to Windermere. It was also a beautiful pass - narrow roads along slope/cliff edges, and sheep on the road on occasions.

We saw a sign for Castlerigg Stone Circle (the Lake District's Stone Henge, see, and we drove along the road to find it and saw cars parked on the side of the road. We stopped to have a look. It was lucky the cars had been parked there, otherwise we would not have known the stone circle was there, because there was no sign there. We could see the stone circle in the field. We walked down to it and walked around it - it is 4500 years old! It was just in the middle of a field with sheep roaming around!

We drove back to Keswick and then on back to Windermere via Ambleside. Just south of Ambleside, I could see Wray Castle across the lake, which is where Beatrix Potter stayed on holiday once. It's not a 'real' castle, it was built in 1840 by a retired surgeon. When we got back to the B&B, I looked at a genealogy page online that the Parents had sent, and I saw Furness Abbey listed - I had seen that in a brochure that day, and I saw on the genealogy page that it was once owned by the Preston family, the "Prestons of the Abbey"! I googled and saw that their house still exists (although smaller now) as a tavern, and it was a hotel before that (see We decided to go to see it the next morning because it was only a 45 minute drive south. We found a place down the street to have dinner, and it was very nice. I had a nice peppercorn sauce with my steak :) Back at the B&B, I saw a book that was called 'Beatrix Potter: a journal', and I thought it was very sweet and interesting and awesome! It had loads of pictures and letters and bits and bobs that you can lift up and pull out and such :) (Dan subsequently bought it for me for my birthday :) )

Ultimate cultural experience of the day: driving and walking around the Lake District, and visiting Castlerigg Stone Circle.

On the morning of Saturday 19 May, we got up early and drove to Barrow-in-Furness. We found the Abbey Tavern/Furness Abbey Hotel, and we got out and got a photo of me standing in front of it, in the rain. We drove by the Abbey ruins (see and then drove back to Windermere. We had a full English breakfast back at the B&B and then packed our luggage and checked out. We began our drive to the border area through the Lake District as opposed to heading a bit south and driving on the motorway. When we were driving near Troutbeck, we saw a few cars stopped in front of us leading up a hill, and we could see the top of a bus trying to do a u-turn. People were getting out of their cars to see what was going on and to tell other drivers what was happening. We were told there was an accident further along the road involving a bus (a different one) and that the road was blocked. We drove up the road a little further towards the u-turning bus to do a u-turn, and we saw that the bus that was u-turning in front of us was basically horizontal across the road and had not much room to continue the u-turn (now more like a 50-point turn) because of hedges and such on both sides of the road. We followed the cars that had been in front of us to see if they knew a different route, but they were heading south, so we decided to go via Kendal to the motorway. There was still beautiful scenery heading north along the motorway.

We drove through the town/city of Carlisle to look for a place for lunch before going to a little village called Burgh-by-Sands, which we had read had some remnants of Hadrian's Wall, and that there was an Edward I statue in the village green (we weren't sure exactly where that was) and a monument to him where he had died of dysentery in a field just north of the village during a war against Scotland in 1307 (I had seen where the monument was using google maps). We didn't see any places to eat in Carlisle and there was a lot of traffic heading through town because of roadworks, so we decided to try our luck at the Greyhound Inn in Burgh-by-Sands. We had a google satellite map up on the laptop so we could see where things were located in Burgh-by-Sands (something tom-tom doesn't really do), which is how we knew about the Greyhound Inn. We drove past St Michael's Church in the village, which I had read had remnants of Hadrian's Wall, and that when Edward I died he had been laid out in the church. We found the Greyhound Inn, and the village green with the Edward I statue was right next door! :) We had a nice pub lunch - Dan had fish and I had a steak-and-ale pie and chips - for our last meal in England. We used free wifi to look for where Hadrian's Wall was, but it wasn't really very helpful. I asked the bartender girl and she said there was no visible parts of the Wall in the village, it's all underground there, and the best place was Newcastle (on the other side of the country!). We had seen a few places listed sort of nearby, like Birdoswald (part of Hadrian's Wall and a fort). We got photos of me with the Edward I statue, and then we drove up to St Michael's Church. I walked in the churchyard past some very old graves and inside the church, which was also, obviously, very old.

We drove up the road to walk to the Edward I monument (I had seen pics and google maps of it, so I knew whereabouts it was, in the middle of a field). We could see the monument in the field in the distance, and it looked so lonely and desolate. We began to walk along a muddy farm driveway, and managed to manoeuvre around the worst mud and puddles. We continued on after the driveway a little further and got to a stile over the fence into the field. We saw lots of wet mud on the other side of the fence, but saw a few stones to step on and that some of the mud had dried a little because it had been trodden on (obviously by other sightseers), so we decided to keep going. We manoeuvred over the mud and began to walk through the field. There were mainly black-and-white dairy cattle and Jersey cows in the field, so I wasn't as scared of them as I would have been of beef cattle (they seem more aggressive). We walked through the field to the monument and took a few photos and filmed a little. But then we noticed that the cows had all started to stare right at us and to move closer. So we decided to hightail it outta there because it was pretty menacing! We didn't get to do a circle of the monument to see around it and all the plaques. The cows sort of followed behind us a little and kind of encircled the monument after we had left. We manoeuvered over the mud and walked back to the car.

We decided to go to Brampton to see Naworth Castle because the Lord Dacres had lived there and we are descended from the 6th Baron Dacre. On the way to Brampton we saw a sign for Birdoswald and Hadrian's Wall. We found the castle and got some photos in front of it (it's not open to the public as a tourist place, but it can be hired, and is now owned by the ancient and powerful Howard family, as is Arundel Castle). We saw a woman leading two horses down one of the roads at the castle, along with a border collie and a sheep that was trotting down the road like a horse, and it looked funny because the sheep was so obedient and it was like the sheep thought it was a horse :P

We drove back to the sign for Birdoswald, drove through Brampton and past an old Abbey that has some ruins at the back of it (which I have since discovered is Lanercost Priory). We saw people parked by the road and stopped, and there were remnants of what we assumed was part of Hadrian's Wall and some sort of fort that they had every Roman mile along the Wall. It was hard to tell if it was part of the Wall because it is a stone wall and there are lots of stone walls (fences) all throughout England, including where Hadrian's Wall is! :P (I have since discovered that it was part of Hadrian's Wall, called Leahill Turret 51B). We drove further along the road to find Birdoswald, and saw the wall start again and assumed it was Hadrian's Wall, especially because it was different to other stone walls in that it was more than five stones thick. We parked, walked up the hill and looked at the Wall, but decided not to go into the Birdoswald fort. We went back to the car and gave someone our ticket for parking that we had only used 15 minutes of, and began driving back along the road, and I filmed the Wall as we were driving. We got the directions to head to Edinburgh up on tom-tom and headed towards the border. I saw a sign saying 'Welcome to Scotland' and was excited, but sad to leave England.

Ultimate cultural experience of the day: visiting ancestral places, seeing ancestral monuments, and seeing and touching Hadrian's Wall.

Dan's perspective

- The Lake District is incredibly picturesque, with many little quaint 'villages' to visit. 
- The driving is awesome, lots of windy narrow roads and beautiful views.
- Sensational walks for all levels.
- See the lakes on a good day (read: no wind) and you will see the lakes flat and glassy, which produces some of the most amazing reflections I have ever seen - just look at the pictures!!
- This area is a must-see on any UK driving itinerary, I can't recommend it enough.

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