The sparkling lakes glistened with the setting sun as my train sped through the Lake District National Park in England; I couldn’t help but admire the spectacularly green rolling hills dotted with small white sheep that were in turn spotted with a dot of blue or red color to mark their owner.
After the hustle and bustle of London I chose to spend several days hiking, walking, and boating around the Lake District. This area made me instantly feel like I was entering a Jane Austen novel – truly! The lush green countryside is right in line with how I’ve always pictured England from reading books like Pride and Prejudice (an obsessive favorite) and Jane Eyre. These books set the stage in my mind for traveling through this region and prepared me for my first day – cruising the waters of the Lake District!
The Amsterdam series last week was a hit so this week’s series on the Lake District National Park in Northern England will explore a few choice things I found while staying for a week in the Lake Windermere area.
I really wanted to just clear my lungs and go explore the first day in town so I bought a boat ticket and walked the 20 minutes from Windermere town center to the lakeside. That’s important to note – Windermere has two areas, one close to the waterside (and pricey) and the main town area a minimum 20 minute moderately hard walk (only on the way back – downhill going!). I didn’t know that but still would have chosen to stay in the budget accommodation anyway so it all worked out.
Windermere at the Lake’s edge is a hub of tourism – so very, very touristy in August and it’s pretty unavoidable for this region. But, I found that grabbing an ice cream cone from the homemade ice cream shops liberally dotting the shoreline made me all the more agreeable to elbow through the crowds and make my way to the docks for a 30 minute boat ride (less than GBP10 round trip) to Ambelside, a smaller and more consumable little town further up Lake Windermere.
The boat ride is gorgeous. I’m nearing the end of my trip and as such I’m actually (and quite surprisingly) finding myself less frugal…I want to end strong. Although at some stage of the trip I would have considered skipping a boat ride in the UK because of the awful exchange rate right now with the USD, I am really glad that I chose to get out on the Lake – it’s a fantastic way to feel like a pinprick of life in the midst of the vast green surrounding hills and mountains.
The scale is amazing and the hillside is spectacularly green…all the seats on the open-top boats have a fantastic view and I cruised across the waters with the cold wind pinking my cheeks while I tuned in and out of the crew’s mini history lesson of the region.
Even on a backpacker budget or a tight travel budget it would be insane to let the costs inhibit a boat ride on the Lakes…it is the Lakes District after all and on the water is the best way to immediately tune out the tourists and just breath in the fresh air.
One of the funniest/do-they-know-what’s-happening-moments occurred on the boat trip back from Ambelside. As I was nosily studying all of the families in passing smaller boats I caught sight of a train of children in small individual boats. They were all strung together in a line of four small boats with two eight year old sized children in each boat. Now, the adult was at the head of the parade with a motored boat heading for shore and the smaller boats began to parade past as the life-jacketed and enthusiastic kids waved excitedly, nearly tipping themselves in the process.
But the kids in the last boat weren’t waving. Both little kids were using small buckets to haul overflowing buckets of water out of their distinctly sinking boat. Unsure of what to do, a group from our boat told the captain and then we watched – thankfully the parade of children were very close to shore and all made it out…but the kids in the last boat were dripping wet and yet, in the careless fashion of children, seemingly unfazed by the fact that they nearly swan the last 200 meters of Lake Windermere…interesting.
Check out the rest of the Lake District National Park Series:
Take a Video Tour of Lake District – A short three minute introduction to this gorgeous region!
Playing in Sheep Pastures – Hiking and walks around Windermere
Charming Walks in England – Exploring Ambleside and the nearby waterfall
…and more photos from the Lake District region