Planning a good weekend to make the English Lakes District with Mike and Celine took several iterations, but we managed to get there in the end. The Lakes District in Cumbria are host to glacial lakes and some of the highest mountains in the British Isles. Just months before we climbed Scafell Pike as a part of the 3 Peaks Challenge. Now we would get to see it during the day.
Mike and Celine live nearby in Hawick, so for them it was a quick trip to pick us up Carlisle and then onto accommodation near Kendal. Mike and Celine were a lot more organised than that. They had already set up camp, a double sleeper complete with BBQ and all the mod cons. Our paltry one and a half man orange tent which had only really seen action at Wimbledon and Glastonbury looked a lot lighter.
The campground was like most in the UK, with working showers and toilet blocks, but no cooking facilities. A patch of land in the middle of a paddock cost about £25 per night. Our location was complete with a screaming toddler in the tee-pee next door. Her name was Martha.
The morning dew cut quite a chill. So much for the last of summer. The sheep in the paddock next door had just been shorn of their fleeces. Still, the sun was out and it was glorious. We drove (a rare mode of transport for us in this country) to Windermere for groceries a sit by the lake and inhale probably the best pie in the UK at Huddleston’s Butchers. It was still nothing on the pies back home. The region also boasts an ice-cream known as Thunder and Lightening, not to dissimilar to Hokey Pokey – with chocolate ripple. Windermere itself is home to the Beatrix Potter stories, her home in the charming English Countryside.
Meandering through the countryside and hills, the area was dotted with small villages and little walks up into the hills. We came across several pubs and eventually settled on one at Glennriding. Before an ale, we chose to be responsible drivers when hiring a boat on Ullswater. Mike was prepared with his fishing rod and tackle for a spot of trawling, but unfortunately not the best lighting conditions, or fish in the lake as it seemed.
Back to the campground, we fried up everything that was put on ice. Some thawed well enough to eat raw, other items left in the hot car too long. We continued long into the night drinking huddled in sleeping bags and swapping stories. For the meantime Martha was mute. We probably kept her up.
Martha’s revenge was cold with an early wake up call preceding the cockerel. It was enough to get us packed and ready. Our tent was relatively easier to dismantle. Mike and Celine opted for a staged decommissioning and we would come back later in the day (when we weren’t taking up space in the car).
A drive to the Honister Slate Mine was an amazing excursion into the high country. Sheets of the stuff was piled high waiting to be made into roofing tiles and cheeseboards. Staircases were carved high into the passes across the tussock and into the distance. Thick growths of heather was seen coloring the hills with a purple haze.
Today, we didn’t have the time for a longer hike unfortunately. Rather, taking the opportunity for an English tea with a spot of milk in a garden before boarding the train back from Carlisle.
The Lakes is definitely the natural gem in the English Crown. Visiting the UK without coming here is the equivalent to visiting New Zealand without seeing the Southern Alps.