I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
Like with all good things, they come to an end 🙁 and I said goodbye to Glasgow taking my last Scottish train journey from Crossmyloof to East Kilbride to be met by my old friend and Maltese Muffin to start our drive to the Lake District where we had rented a cottage for a week on the outskirts of Keswick.
Arriving in glorious sunshine, we walked Muffin along the shady banks of the River Greta and explored the delights of Keswick, before returning to base at Gin O’Clock to enjoy some fine Scottish handcrafted Rock Rose gin and hummus whilst taking in a sensory overload of the stunning Lake District.
It’s not surprising that some great writer’s waxed lyrical about the Lake District. William Wordsworth described it as “the loveliest spot that man hath found.” It is very easy to be captivated by the verdant vales, the bubbling brooks flowing into the tarns and the majestic mountains which together cover 2,362 km2 (912 sq miles) of Cumbria. The Lake District National Park with its rich, multi-layered geological history dates back half a billion years and offers stunning panoramic vistas for miles around. Views that dramatically change with the constantly changing weather conditions.
The rugged terrain of this challenging landscape means that farming is centered around sheep and beef. The Herdwick sheep, which gives birth to black lambs, were reputedly brought to the UK by the Vikings. Their numbers had started to decline when Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top Farm in Sawrey in 1905. She went on to buy a total of 4000 acres of fell farmland to ensure that it would never be developed, where she exclusively bred Herdwick sheep and saved the breed from extinction. The Rough Fell and Swaledale sheep also share the lush grazing of the hills and dales.
Scafell Pike at 978 meters, is the highest mountain in England, but given that my list of Must Do Walks were mostly short and flat, with a pub and the end, I thought I would leave the heights of Scafell Pike to the fit, regular hill walkers.
A completely flat walk took us to the beach at St. Bees on a beautiful day. The tide was out exposing a spectacular expanse of sand. A great place to fly a kite and put the wind beneath Muffin’s paws.
A circular walk to and from the National Trust’s Sticklebarn pub was one of my highlights. There is a very gradual incline towards the end of the short walk before it gradually slopes back down. There are variations of many of the walks to accommodate the length and the degree of difficulty, so it is always best to check before setting out.
I developed a soft spot for Keswick’s own Derwentwater lake, which was on our doorstep and the Lake District’s third largest lake. Taking a stroll along the path around its shores on more than one occasion, before and after Storm Hector. First to Friars Crag, following in the footsteps of John Ruskin who once described Keswick as a place almost too beautiful to live in. If you feel you can’t quite make the full 10-mile walk, you can always wait to be ‘rescued’ by one of the launches which regularly stop at the 8 landing stations dotted around the lake.
My most challenging walk and the only time I used walking poles was at Latrigg, the most southerly top of the Skiddaw massif. Skiddaw, for me, was a peak too far and having already walked four miles, I puffed my way up part of the fell at Lattrig in the drizzle. I will have to go back on a better day to appreciate the true majesty of one the most stunning panoramic views in the Lake District.
If I had started a love affair with Glasgow a week before, I was unfaithful in the Lake District. During a week of almost totally unblemished weather, apart from Storm Hector, we only managed to scratch the surface of this treasure chest of panoramic and breathtaking views that the Lake District has to offer in bucolic bucketloads. I will return.