Fun and Frustration in England Lake District

Trip Start Mar 15, 2008
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Trip End Oct 02, 2009


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, July 4, 2009

So, we set off to do something we'd been anticipating for quite a while. We visited a national park in England called the 'Lakes District’, which often spoken of by our English friends as a beautiful place to go, a ‘must visit’ in England. While they call the Lakes District a national park, it’s interesting to note, size wise, we probably could’ve driven the length and or width of it in less than and hour and a half.

We set off to see the Lakes District, driving down through low mountains and lush greenery. One of the great joys of driving in England is the tiny one lane roads that wind through the tall overhanging arch of trees, past the ancient fields and in between the interweaving shrubs and hedges. The Lakes District afforded us plenty of opportunities to do that and see more of the greenery that is rare to an Australian’s eyes.

We started on the outskirts of the District, visiting a circle of standing stones in an isolated field. The stones were, it is theorised, placed on the spot in the field over 3000 years ago by large fore-headed men with stone axes as a sort of pagan calendar. While the stone circle was similar in design to Stonehenge, it wasn’t quite as impressive: the stones were simply in a circle, quite a bit smaller than those at Stonehenge and were taken from the local fields (those at Stonehenge were taken from costal Wales, hundreds of miles away). But it was interesting to see something that was handled by men over 3000 years ago.

Next, we drove into the middle of the Lakes District, to a town called Keswick. This is when the roaming beauty of the so-called ‘national park’ took a turn for the worst. Dare I say the words ‘tourist hell’? You know those images you often see in American cartoons where the family decides to have a weekend away; they drive into the ‘countryside’, to the quiet serene lake, only to discover a million people speeding around in cars, boats and caravans, the noise worse than the city and the smog choking the natural surroundings? Well… unfortunately… I can safely say that the roads in this little town were busier than many in central London at times, and at one point it took us nearly five minutes to turn onto one road due to the thicket of traffic speeding by. There was a lovely lake there, some quaint shops and relaxing-looking cafes, and, the thing that Leah had really wanted to see, which was the Beatrix Potter museum. Unfortunately, the one thing we couldn’t find was a car park. Suffice to say, we found a thousand or more car parking spaces, trouble was there were always cars parked in them. So we had no choice, after cruising around for ages, but to leave.

Leah was kind of miffed about it all, but we weren’t going to quit yet. We wanted to visit Beatrix Potter’s house, about half an hour away from Keswick, so we drove around, for what seemed like longer than half an hour looking for things like signs and such to find our way to the house. After not finding anything we stopped in a town and asked. Long story short, we found it eventually, quite a bit later than we’d liked. The house was a fair way away from anything, which was good because we were actually able to find a car park and get to the house.

It was very cool to see the Beatrix Potter house; she lived there in her later life and purchased the property with hear earnings as a children’s novelist. It was a really idyllic English house with creeping vines and a nice garden and much of the original furniture from the period. You could see the influence the house and garden had on Potter’s work as well.

After visiting the house Leah was a little more appeased. It was starting to get late, so we took a drive around some of the aforementioned little one lane roads, weaving through the aforementioned lush greenery. It was all very nice, although not particularly anything we hadn’t seen in other places in the UK. As we headed back to our tent, we surmised that the Lakes District had not lived up to all its pomp and ceremony. But we’d only spent a single day there, so perhaps had not been given a considerable enough look at all the area had to offer. I think we clearly felt frustrated by all the traffic of people, the clogging of cars and tourism; by going to a national park we’d really hoped to be escaping the hustle and bustle.
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