Sunday, February 1, 2009

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Transportation Adventures in the Lake District

Cumbria is England's Lake District, close to the border with Scotland, in the Northwestern part of the country.  Several movies have been filmed there and scores of authors have been inspired by its natural beauty (Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth, etc).  Okay, enough of that.

The earliest train to the Lake District was at 9:45 on Saturday, which in our opinion, was wasting half the morning, but that was the best we could get.  And the bus didn't go out there until 5PM anyway.  We had researched which town to go to in the Lake District and Kendal seemed to be the best.  So there we went!  Its only 45 minutes or so by train from Preston.  We got there-- Kendal is an adorable little town (actually, I haven't met a small English town yet that wasn't adorable or I haven't liked).

Kendal from the rail station.

Cool alleyway in Kendal.

Bridge over the Kent River.  Source of water meant to fool us into thinking there's a LAKE in Kendal.

Anglican (or Methodist, I can't remember) Church in Kendal.

Ruins of some kind at the top of a hill in Kendal.  We wanted to make it up there and investigate, but didn't have time.

The main point of our excursion to the Lake District was to, well, see LAKES.  After walking around Kendal for an hour or so, it became apparent there was no lake within walking distance of Kendal.  Yes, its the "Gateway to the Lake District," but it doesn't have a lake.  We knew Windermere had England's largest natural lake, so we elected to find a bus and go there, as it was only 8 km away.  And to our joy, the bus we found was a double-decker one! Obviously, we rode on the top deck.  So we were on the top deck careening around hairpin curves.  Fun, fun!
We made it to Windermere and found a tourist information centre (Kendal would do well to have one of these).  We asked how to get to the lake and they told us that the World of Beatrix Potter museum had just re-opened that day and it was on the way down there.  Unfortunately, Hilltop, her home just across the lake, was closed during the winter.  So we went to the museum, and were probably the oldest ones in there.  The museum was mostly very life-like depictions of Beatrix Potter's stories.  Diaramas, displays, etc. But they had an interesting section about her life...she raised champion sheep and even judged them! SCORE!  But apparently the love story in the movie Miss Potter never happened, but I guess that happens in the movies...

I think thats Jemima Puddleduck.

A fox!

We finally made it down to Lake Windermere, and it was pretty spectacular.  I'm pretty sure Lake Barkley is bigger, but this is England! Can't beat that!  Right around the beach area is pretty tourist trap-y, so we tried to avoid that and hiked around the other side, where there were far fewer people.

Dock at the beach at Windermere.

The dock again.

Getting away from the touristy part of the lake.  And yes, that is snow on that mountain/hill.


Lots of very aggressive swans.  They wanted to be fed.

A robin! A real English robin!

The Roundhouse on the privately owned Belle Isle.  Apparently William Wordsworth pitched a fit when it was built.  I think its quite pretty!

The water was SO clear.  If it had been warmer, I would have had my jeans rolled up to my knees and my shoes and socks off.

In front of the Roundhouse at Lake Windermere.

Boats on Lake Windermere.

It was starting to get dark, so we headed back to the bus station in Windermere.  This is where the real fun starts.  We managed to get to Kendal, but by then it was DARK.  We knew we had to cross the bridge to get back to the rail station, but could not, for the life of us, find the bridge OR the rail station.  We asked a variety of different people how to get back to the station and got a variety of answers.  We wandered around for about 45 minutes in the dark, in a foreign country. AWESOME.  Everything was well lit, so we were perfectly safe-- just confused.  We eventually made it back to the station and got on the first train towards Preston.  The first stop was Oxenholme, where they made us get off.  There was some work being done on the lines, so the train couldn't operate between Oxenholme and Lancaster.  So they put us on a coach (charter bus) and took us to Lancaster.  Thirty minutes later, we got to the Lancaster station and got on another train to Preston.  And we made it there in one piece. Whew.
All the pictures are up here.

No comments: