I think the Lake District must be the most beautiful place in Britain.
The untainted beauty of green hills, sparkling lakes and those cool, moss-covered glens is staggering. It isn’t wildly impressive—like, say, the Alps—but it’s peaceful and charming and refreshing to the soul. It’s the kind of place that makes one think of fairies, or Beatrix Potter (for good reason), or all those lovely daydreams that made you come to England in the first place.
Of all the Lake District locations I visited, the area around Lake Windermere was the one I kept coming back to. There was nothing thrilling to see or do, no great events or venues to draw me, just the simple beauty of nature and the quiet culture that has grown up around the lake. It’s a touristy place, fully of cheesy gift shops and overpriced food, but there’s a reason everybody comes here.
The first trip was solo, when I went out on my own to have a lark exploring a place I’d only read about. I rode on a lake cruise, took an antique train to nowhere, and wandered aimlessly around getting my bearings.
The second time, I went with fellow Capernwray volunteers, when we took a spontaneous day trip to walk Orrest Head. This is a pretty tame little hill (though I will admit to getting a bit winded on the steepest parts). When we set off it was cloudy, but not wet. The clouds gave everything a dim, gloomy appearance that was quite atmospheric. We walked a path covered in ancient trees with gnarled and searching roots, carpets of moss, low-hanging branches, and dark craggy rocks jutting out of the landscape.
Every now and again the isolated trail would break out into the open, where we’d get a view of farther fields and hills, with sheep grazing and faraway villages we didn’t know the names of. After a while it began to rain, a slight drizzle which turned distinctly wet. By the time we reached the summit there was so much mist that we weren’t able to see more than a few feet over the edge, so the view was less than impressive. But I’ll not soon forget how good our bars of chocolate tasted when we ate them in the cold rain! We then trekked downhill into the forest, and there was so much mud one of my dear friends slipped flat on her back and gave the most satisfying squeal. We were happy to reach the warm dry car, but the adventure was a blast.
I travelled up there again when a group from school went on a tour of Beatrix Potter sites. Bowness-on-Windermere is the home of The World of Beatrix Potter, a fabulous attraction (especially for those who grew up with tales of Squirrel Nutkin and the Two Bad Mice). Motoring around the lake in our minibus, stopping for cream tea at the welcome center, admiring the flowers that were just coming into bloom in all the country gardens, eating our packed lunches at a jaw-dropping scenic overlook…it was all part of a wonderful adventure.
This is an area that I’d love to return to again and again. It has so much to offer. Don’t go if you’re in the mood for hopping nightlife or a world of entertainment, but if you’re longing to get away from a fast-paced lifestyle, or bask in the beauty of nature, or explore Beatrix Potter sites, or do some hillwalking, or just get some delicious fish and chips while looking out at the water, this is the place for you.
Put Windermere on your itinerary. You won’t regret it!