Saturday, October 21, 2017

Scenes from England's Lake District

The story of how Meredith and I ended up hiking in England instead of in New Hampshire is a "turning lemons into lemonade" tale. In short, the hike we had planned to New Hampshire in June, and had to cancel because I got lyme disease, somehow morphed into a trip to England's Lake District!

It's impossible for me include the many wonderful experiences we had in a blog post.  So I will just share a few lines from my journal with complementary photos.  I hope you enjoy this brief overview.

(Virginia and Meredith on Holme Fell)


After breakfast, we started hiking right from the hotel, uphill through a forest.  When we reached the top of the woods, a stone wall and meadow lay beyond.  The drizzle that pattered on leaves above, became a heavy rain and we all donned rain gear before we went into the open.

(Covered in waterproof clothes from head to toe)

We hiked up Hampsfell through the rain past cows oblivious to the weather.  We were so thrilled to be hiking in England, that we didn't mind the rain either.  Clouds began to rise, but had a tough time.  Sheep wandered through the bracken and we dodged "boggy bits." 

While I stopped to readjust my gear, my hiking pole, which leaned against me, tipped over and fell directly into a fresh cow pie. Tom, our guide, Meredith, and I broke into peals of laughter.  I tried to clean the pole off in wet grass, and then saw a good puddle where I could wash it. This helped, but it was no secret that the puddle sat on top of rich farm earth made from similar contents as a cow pie....

We crossed a few fields and were excited to come upon the outline of farms in the valley below.


We came across every imaginable gate: some with latches, others with a hook, some with a bar attached across the top, or a ring that swung over a latch.  Meredith and I felt like James Herriot opening and closing gates.  We appreciated that we had the privilege of walking across farm properties, and everyone was very careful about closing gates.


Anne, our driver, met us at a crossroads with lunch.  Then she drove us a few miles to where we could park at a farm and walk over the moors.  We began up an old road through a field.  Up and up we went as the farmstead below appeared smaller and smaller.

A moor is defined as a place without trees, but with sheep, heather, and bogs.  The landscape became desolate.  The path was barely discernible and Tom told us vivid stories of people getting lost up here.  We saw no one.

We walked for miles on the moors, dodging wet spots and admiring the hills.  Eventually, we came upon cows and stone walls with a view of Coniston Water below, changes that signaled our passing out of the moors.

(Virginia amidst heather whose flowers have gone by)


We began today's hike directly from last night's hotel through woods, as we had from the previous hotel the day before.  The sun was shining!  Again our path opened onto a meadow. In the distance, we could see the charming little village of Finnsthwaite. 

I had been interested to see what flowers bloomed here at this time of year.  We had just missed seeing the heather in bloom, but village residents had no shortage of cultivated flowers in gardens and pots.

Tom told us that the mailboxes have the initials of the current monarch.  This one has ER for Queen Elizabeth.  The oldest one that we saw had GR, for King George!

Near gardens and on the farms, we heard birdsong everywhere.  I was determined to get a good picture of an English robin.  This little guy sang his heart out while I took a few pictures.  If we did not hear birds, we heard the mooing of cows or silence.  We all remarked on the quiet.


Everything sparkled this morning after last night's hard rain!  How perfect for our hike up Holme Fell, the highest point of this trip.  Both Tom and Anne led hikes today, so that we could have a choice of going over the mountain or around the mountain.  Meredith and I chose to go over the mountain with Anne, as did two others of our group.

(sunny morning on Coniston Water)

The trail was a steady uphill with open woods and views.  We could not stop expounding on the clear atmosphere and perfect weather. At the summit, we had 360-degree views to mountains all around, in various earth tones and blues beyond.  We have been so impressed with the variety of landscape that we have seen at intervals of just ten miles a day.

(view of Langdale Pikes from Holme Fell)

On the way down, we crossed golden grasses and headed into the trees.  Anne said that she comes here often to hike and camp.  At the base of the mountain we met up with the rest of our group, who had enjoyed their more-level hike around the fell.

Our destination from Holme Fell was The Three Shires Inn in Little Langdale.  A view of green fields, stone walls going on forever up the mountainsides, along with farms, sheep, singing birds, and quaint houses and barns, came closer and closer to us, until we could see our inn among the buildings in the distance.

I was particularly charmed by a road in Little Langdale where a sign read, "not recommended for cars," as a small jeep come up the hill, and warned bicyclists to go slowly around the sharp turns.  We would find time in the morning to walk this narrow paved road between two high stone walls, but now it was time for a shower, clean clothes, and relaxation, before dinner!

( Meredith relaxes at the Three Shires after another day on the trail)

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