The Hills Are Alive with Sheep and Wool Socks!

Trip Start Jan 07, 2010
Trip End May 01, 2010

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Thursday, March 11, 2010

We left for the Lake District, speccifically the Hawkshead, Ambleside area, at 6:15pm on Thursday evening and spent 5 hours on the bus and arrived at the youth hostel at a little after 11pm. Seven other girls and I stayed in a lovely lilac room on rock hard beds that night and woke up at 8am on Friday and had a good buffet breakfast- provided by the hostel. 

We walked about a mile to get to the nearest town, Hawkshead, and check out the chops and restaurants after breakfast.  Later that day we rode at bus to Ambleside, and hopped on a boat that traveled around Lake Windemere.  (Mere=Lake)

It was such a pretty and serene area.  It was a long, narrow lake, so when we arrived at the other end, we stopped to take a break.  My friend Molly decided to risk her life (and make fun of me) by holding a piece of bread in her hand and running through a mass of birds!  (Some people live their lives more on the edge than others, that's for sure!)  I decided to play it safe and grab some ice cream with my friends Ali and Alex- which we finished on the boat… or tried to finish while a Japanese family of about 30 tried to get our attention to take picture- clapping and snapping to get our attention to look up- maybe they wanted proof that Americans are unhealthy people who only eat junk food…?  Nevertheless, it was interesting and funny.  We survived the paparazzi boat ride and ran to the bus stop- afraid that we would miss the last bus that would return us to Hawkshead!  Not to worry, though, we caught it!  My training finally had a purpose as I ran to the bus stop! (A very dramatic and touristy scene… especially in my purple shoes, purple socks-pulled over my black leggings-which had my grey shorts worn overtop- the runner’s look, of course! And blue jacket, hobo grey stocking hat and purple drawstring bag!  I was practically in camouflage!) 

When we returned to Hawkshead around 5pm, my friends went to eat at a restaurant, but I, not being very hungry, decided to head back to the hostel to shower and sleep (I was stuffy and cloudy headed- in a fog- kind of like the Claritin Clear commercials).  But on my trek back, I bypassed a church that I had noticed earlier and decided to venture thought the graveyard and church-, which was peaceful in the afternoon light.  It was actually very nice, and stress-free as I wandered around by myself, which as I thought about it in the moment, was the first time I had truly been by myself when traveling.  I embraced this time alone and embraced my short-lived independence as I walked through the hills and returned, alone, to the hostel.  (Bypassing the cutest little lambs, ever!)  I felt like Hilary Swank in "P.S. I Love You" when she is wandering through the Irish hills and runs into Gerard Butler (her future husband) and that is their meet-cute (the moment in movies when couples first meet, where the spark is first sparked- this was learned from the England/LA movie – 'The Holiday’).  So I walked this walk with a skip in my step, ready at any moment for Gerard Butler to come along the path from the other direction, but no such luck, just a bunch of sheep…

This “independent” and fresh-aired Friday was completed by journaling, talking with friends (What? Me? Talking?) and best of all: about 5 episodes of “The Office”!!!  Nothing indicates a good than hours with Michael Scott, Dwight and Jim J

Saturday, the big day! The day of epic escapades! The day in which I would embody the strength of my ancestors, the same strength they used as they climbed the many mountains of… actually, I don’t think my ancestors trekked any mountains… well, I’m sure at some point, some distant great aunt did… but anyways, at 9am we set off for the place where we were to meet up with our instructors- some people kayaked and rock climbed during the day, but the two activities that I signed up for were a mountain hike in the morning and ghyll (a local word for waterfall) scrambling.  We started the morning hiking up, up, up, up, up (you get the idea) past sheep and sheep droppings.  I will add, though, that I thought I was well practiced in the act of mountain climbing and I also felt that I had great form- thank you to the massive hill at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire that I typically climb between 2-4 times a day!  We were more than 1,000 feet above sea level when we reached the top of the mountain (well, almost…) and saw a frozen lake!  It was such a gorgeous surprise as we had no idea that it was up there. (Note: the FROZEN lake is where the water of the waterfall originated, the waterfall that I would later climb…)

We then made our journey downward after singing songs from “The Sound of Music”, the hills were alive with the sound of music and many other beautifully sung songs at high altitudes.  My friend Ali, chose to sing Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” the majority of the way up, while I chose the popular “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”.  I will also add that I made many references to “The Lord of the Rings”, obviously, secretly labeling our guide as Gollum, myself as Frodo, and Sam for whoever was at the tail end.  I also told people not to worry about the threat of the sheep or Orcs because Legalos would save us.  Okay, okay, back to our journey downward… this was much more painful on the shins, ankles and knees and with every step I thanked my awesome orthopedic surgeon- Dr. Shelbourne for reconstructing my ACL.  And with every step I cursed the fact that I didn’t think to bring a sled with me!  Eventually, though, we did return to level ground at ground level!  Successful climb, and not one attack of Orcs!

After engulfing our lunch we suited up in waterproof gear for our afternoon adventure: Ghyll Scrambling! (Basically, crawling up a mountain with water running the opposite way and making the rocks nice and slippery!)  This was the most fun I’ve had in a really long time!  We had a great guide named Charlie, whom I was very happy was the mountain man directing us and giving us a boost because all the other guides were much slighter than me!  We made jumps and lunges, and pull-ups and risks every step of the way!  When we came to the last bit of the trek, after about 2 and a half hours on a massive playground, we got to climb vertically up a waterfall- this was just like normal rock climbing with the added factor of close to freezing water! (Remember, this water is from the iced-over lake!)  Charlie went up and set the rope up, which he dropped down and we attached to our harness and then we were on our way- immediately splashed with water and quickly climbing the slippery, icy wall! It was so cool.  My friend Ali and I were the first ones up, and we sat at the top of the waterfall- barely able to believe that we were, in fact, sitting at the top of a waterfall we just climbed, looking out at the valleys and mountains of England!  It was such an amazing moment!  But the adventure is not over yet, folks!

As we, again, walked down the steep face of the mountain (my shins are loving me at this point!) our guide pointed out a deep pool that we had passed earlier in the climb up the waterfall.  If we wanted we could jump in this pool- note, the water was from an ice-covered lake!  My friend Ali was immediately on board jumped right on in!  I, stood there, in a slight debate, knowing that I would truly regret this moment when I was 80, if I chose not to jump.  So I took the polar plunge in an English waterfall!  Talk about wicked cool!  Yes, it was quite chilly- everyone that jumped immediately bobbed up to the surface with a shocked face and crawled out faster than they have likely crawled out of any pool!  After, my group all took the plunge (and the ONLY group that got to take the plunge!) we squished down the mountain in our soaking wet gear, reveling in our recent thrill.  Not to worry everyone, we all had an extra change of clothes!  But, because one girl forgot extra pants, I handed over my yoga pants and wore my running shorts with mid-shin wool socks, purple shoes, an old sweatshirt and hobo stocking hat.  (I don’t think anyone copied this look the next day…)  My friends and I got dropped off in Hawkshead and ate at a restaurant called The Red Lion, which actually contained no lions, but dogs! (Dogs are welcomed everywhere, it seems, in the Lake District, restaurants, stores- as long as they are on a leash!  I wish I could take my dogs out to eat!)  After enjoying our warm, cheap, super quick meal we stopped at the grocery store to pick up our friends Ben & Jerry and headed back to the hostel (still in shorts) in the dark- we are amazing speed walkers- but really, it wasn’t that scary as it was such a peaceful, pretty evening.  That night, let’s just say, we slept very well…

We awoke Sunday morning at 8am for breakfast and headed back to Harlaxton on the bus, but not before taking in some of the freshest air I’ve ever inhaled! (First hand nature, much better than second hand smoke!)

It was a fantastic, awesome weekend filled with views of indescribable nature scenes that are not even comparable through the lens of a camera.  But please, still enjoy the pictures, but make it a goal to come here some time in the future for some great small towns, adorable lambs and exploring!

Stay in touch! Miss you all so much!


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jessi_van_50 on

Another great adventure. Love you, Mom

jessi_van_50 on

Great pictures once again. I was waiting to see you after you jumped in the lake!

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