Saturday, November 9, 2019

Two cousins take on the United Kingdom - Ten Lakes Spectacular tour

Before long our last day in the Lakes was upon us - three days in this beautiful part of the country is NOT enough!   Even though public transit in the Lakes is pretty good you still can't see everything so that is why we booked a tour.  I was glad that Joanne picked the Ten Lakes Spectacular as I had been on the tour the previous year and really enjoyed it.

After being picked up at the bus stop just a couple of minutes' walk from our bed and breakfast we were on our way.  We were the last ones on as Ambleside is the last stop before that particular tour begins.  A nice young man kindly gave up his seat (without being asked) so Joanne and I could sit together.  

The scenery was fantastic as we drove over the Kirkstone pass...


Our first stop was Ullswater where we had a quick look around.  There is passenger boat service from here but unfortunately not for our tour group.  It was great for a "comfort stop" and time for a few quick photos.





Then it was back on the bus for our next stop which was a visit to Matterdale church.  This beautiful little church dates from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.



This photo is rather dark but the 17th-century rails in front of the altar were to keep the animals out!

We were able to roam a bit on our next stop which was Castlerigg Stone Circle.  This is one of Britain's oldest stone circles dating back three thousand years.  What is even more amazing as that the rocks used are not native to the area.



Maybe not as impressive as Stonehenge but in a much prettier setting in my personal opinion.



We couldn't dawdle too long as we had a booking on the noon sailing on Derwentwater.  Fun fact:  only one lake in the Lake District is actually referred to as a lake. (Bassenthwaite)   The others' names end with "mere" or "water".







It was an enjoyable cruise but as that was my third time (last year and before that in 1997 on a walking holiday) I think I am done!!! 

Time for lunch!  We were dropped in the middle of the town of Keswick where we had cornish pasties for lunch and Joanne canoodled with an owl. 





Back on the bus...


and off to the Surprise View which has a stunning view over Derwentwater. 


Then it was over the Honister Pass and a stop at a slate mine for a comfort break.  The views from here were amazing.  The slate mine which had operated since the late 19th century (although slate had been mined from this area since the 17th century) closed in 1981.  In 1997 local entrepreneur Mark Weir bought it and not only continued to mine the slate (for more high-end items) but turned it into an adventure centre where harnessed tourists can scale the nearby cliff walks in a group, visit the underground mine as well as explore the visitor centre.  I used the loo!  



Above is a slate replica of the Bridge House in Ambleside. 



I was feeling a bit of a scallywag in this picture as I had just walked past a sign that said "do not go beyond this sign" or some such thing.  I am not one of those idiots that jumps fences for a selfie but this looked pretty safe to me! 

Then we wound our way down the pass where our final stop of the day was in Grasmere.  While everyone else rushed off to get some of the famous gingerbread and pay their respects to William Wordsworth grave (we had "been there, done that" two days previously) we snooped around the wonderful gift shop in Grasmere's garden centre where the bus had parked.  

Okay the tour says ten lakes - where are they all?  Well we saw ten lakes even if from a distance.  What a beautiful day!!!!  

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Two cousins take on the United Kingdom - Beatrix Potter and a Sentimental Journey

After another one of Pam's delicious cooked breakfasts at the Holme Lea guest house in Ambleside in the Lake District of England, Joanne and I caught a #505 bus to the village of Hawkshead.  No double-decker bus on this run ..a smaller bus was needed for the narrow roads in this area.  After getting off the bus we had a quick look around Hawkshead (mainly a snoop in a couple of gift shops) and then hopped on the Mountain Goat bus that would drop us right outside Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's home.

Beatrix Potter


Who is Beatrix Potter you ask?  Beatrix Potter is the author of the famous Peter Rabbit stories and just so much more.  Back in the days when upper-class Victorian ladies were supposed to wait until a suitable man came along (the sooner, the better), get married, have babies and well... that was about it, Ms Potter did so much more.  Not only did she write 30 books (she bought Hill Top with earnings from her books; a woman buying her own house at the time was unheard of and probably a bit scandalous as well) but she was a prize-winning breeder of Herdwick sheep and very interested in land preservation.  She bought several farms to save the land from development.  Upon her death in 1943 she left almost all her property to the National Trust.  The Lake District and those of us who love her "little books" (as she called them) are eternally grateful for the life of this woman.

Of course, when we were dropped off we had to pose at the adorable bus stop! (yes I have the same picture from when I was there last year)





As you can see the countryside around Hill Top isn't too shabby!



Above are some views of the village of Near Sawrey where Hill Top is located.

We then toured the house; I had visited last year but was game to see it again.


Joanne outside Hill Top





Quite a few of Ms Potter's books (such as the Tales of Jemima Puddle-Duck and the Tales of Tom Kitten) were written here at Hill Top and maybe at this very desk.


The view back in the early 20th century would be a lot different than this view!


The bedroom of Beatrix Potter.  Fact:  Beatrix didn't trust this new fangled thing called electricity so it was never installed while she lived there.  She married local solicitor William Heelis in 1913 and even though she  lived at nearby Castle Cottage (where I went to a picnic last year) she still walked over to write at Hill Top.


The garden of Hill Top

I enjoyed my second visit to Hill Top as much as the first time.

After catching the Mountain Top bus (it does a loop picking up passengers from the cross Windermere ferry and going as far as Coniston) back to Hawkshead we had a quick look around.




We popped into the Beatrix Potter gallery to have a look.  The gallery features some of her original drawings and watercolours and is a must-see for Beatrix Potter fans.

A sentimental journey


Then it was time for lunch!  This one was going to be a very special lunch.  My Auntie Marge and Uncle Tony (Joanne's parents) had their honeymoon at the Drunken Duck pub outside of Ambleside back in the summer of 1944.   I was lucky enough to accompany my aunt and uncle on a day trip to the Lake District in 1992 and we had lunch here but this was Joanne's first visit.  As no public transport runs anywhere near the pub we took a taxi there.

How did the Drunken Duck get its name?  A Victorian landlady found her ducks lying at the crossroads, presumably dead.  When she began to pluck them she discovered that they were still alive but drunk from the beer that had steeped into their feeding trough!

Here is a blast from the past....how the pub sign looked in 1992 and a picture I took that day of my aunt and uncle in front of the pub.



And how it was last May....


I looked the old sign better!!!


Here is Joanne outside the pub holding up a picture of her mom and dad standing outside the pub in 1944!!!




And here is a picture of me posing by the sign in 1992.  I wish I had looked at these pictures before going so we could have posed the same way...



As you can see, the scenery around the Drunken Duck is stunning.

It was a very special lunch for both of us but especially for Joanne as her parents aren't with us anymore here on earth  - but I am sure they were with us that day!

The interior was rather nice as well.




Originally we had thought we could go for an evening meal but we took a look at the menu and thought "hmmm...maybe not".  It was very expensive.  After Uncle Tony passed away Joanne was going through his clothes and found 40 pounds in his jacket pocket.  She had to exchange them at a bank for newere notes (his last visit was in 2002) but she said this money was designated for a meal at the Drunken Duck.




Cheers to Uncle Tony and Auntie Marge!


We both ordered gin and tonics and Whitby scampi and chips.  Thanks, Uncle Tony; we know you would have approved!

A taxi had been arranged (same driver) to take us to nearby Tarn Hows (pronounced "haws")
as once again it is impossible to get to without public transport.  This was Auntie Marge's favourite place in the lakes.  The word Tarn is Norse for "small mountain lake" and Haws translates to hill or mound.


Here is my Auntie Marge (my second mom) at Tarn Hows in October of 1992.

We arranged with our driver to come back in an hour or so. (we agreed on a specific time which I can't remember now)

Off through the fence below and down to the lake which had a lovely walking path.  You could walk the entire way around the lake but we didn't think we could do that in an hour so we just enjoyed the scenery.  It is a beautiful area and we had it practically to ourselves as it's a bit off "the beaten path".









Then we sat down (thank goodness for that bench) and waited and waited....I finally texted the driver and asked where he was.  And waited...and then he texted me he was nearly there and sure enough less than five minutes later there he was.  There weren't many people around but I was eyeballing possible cars we could possibly "hitch" with so it was certainly a relief when he pulled up. He was only fifteen minutes late but when you are sitting in the middle of pretty much nowhere facing a walk down a narrow winding road you get a bit nervous!  He drove us back to Hawkshead where we got the bus back to Ambleside and our bed and breakfast.

What a wonderful day!! 

Two cousins take on the United Kingdom - Ten Lakes Spectacular tour

Before long our last day in the Lakes was upon us - three days in this beautiful part of the country is NOT enough!   Even though public tr...