Unfortunately there are no mountains or even hills in Florida. The Lake District in England on the other hand, offers a welcomed change for us regarding the landscape. In today’s article I am going to tell you what we did in England, how we survived those freezing temperatures and what makes the Lake District so special.
Why we decided to visit England just in the dead of winter, I do not remember exactly. BUT, even at this merciless season, the Lake District shows off its beautiful, but also treacherous side.
That is an excellent question. Why do we travel to England and not to Germany to our family and friends? Some may already know, that my husband is English. That is why we still have family on the island and of course, we want to see them, too. Last time we’ve visited our second home was in November 2017. Also a cold season… memo to me: “Next time, we should stop by during spring or summer.”
I have come to know and love England and especially London, since my school trip in 2005. I felt right at home in the land of the Celts and am still fascinated by the stories and myths that surround this country. No wonder that I married an Englishman.
ON THE WAY TO OUR SECOND HOME
On January 18, 2019, we drove to Miami International Airport inkluding our doggo. Luckily we’ve planed three hours in total for everything. Because first, we needed twice as long to get to the airport due to traffic jam. Second, because of the unnecessary government shutdown the security staff at the airport was heavily understaffed. It was a hot mess at the airport. So many people were just waiting in line for security. Just wait … there is more. Since we travel with our dog, we had to go to another check-in counter, where an extremely accurate employee wasted 30 minutes of our lives. I tell you, she was looking for a mistake and was highly motivated in finding one. But we were super prepared and everything worked out. On the subject of “Traveling with a dog” I am going to write a separate post, because it is pretty detailed and does not quite fit at this point.
I was getting more and more worried, that we would not make it to our gate in time. At the security checkpoint, the queues were neverending long and travelers were annoyed. Rightly so. We did not even wait in line for two minutes, when we suddenly heard two airport workers talking about a third security area to go to, if you need to go to gates XY. And we actually needed to go to one of those gates. So, off we went to the other end of the terminal … where else? As we suspected, there was hardly any hustle going on there. After about ten minutes, we actually got through security. But don’t assume that the employees at the airport made an announcement or something similar in order to let people know about this „secret“ security checkpoint… they really don’t care. Travelers are late or extremely stressed. All this could have been easily avoided by making a simple corresponding announcement. I have no words for this.
We flew from Miami directly to Paris. Once we’ve arrived we picked up our rental car without any problems and drove to the Eurotunnel, wich is located in Coquelles. There you go through the French and English passport control. Afterwards you drive onto the train and lean back. Within 25 minutes you are in England. Crazy… I know.
The Eurotunnel is with its 31 miles (50 Kilometers) the longest underwater tunnel in the world. On average, the tunnel is located 130 feet (40 meters) below sea level, where the deepest point is 264 feet (75 meters).
Once we arrived in Folkestone, England we have to drive on the left handed side of the road and under no circumstances too fast! That is going to cost you. With the cruise control all set, it took us about two hours til London, where we spent the night in a hotel. It was a long day and we needed to rest. The next morning we overslept like two hours even though we set our alarm clock. Amazing how the body just takes the sleep you need. Regardless of meetings you might have. Our dog slept the whole time as well. She is such a lazy puppy and probably did not want to go out into the cold. Fair enough. In the afternoon we finally headed for the Lake District.
Six hours later we reached our destination. We spent the entire week with family and friends. Whereby we really enjoyed nature and the famous English pub culture.
THE LAKE DISTRICT
The Lake District National Park is located in northwest England in County Cumbria. I have been in the national park, which covers an area of 583,747 acres, four times by now. I am truly enchanted every single time. There is so much to discover and my vivid imagination gets particularly inspired. I wouldn’t be surprised if I encountered elves or leprechauns in the forest, or watching mythical creatures emerge from the vast lakes. Apperently I am not the only one who feels that way. The poet William Wordsworth was so enthusiastic about this region that he wrote several poems about this magical landscape. Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit (quite enchanting), also found her inspiration in the Lake District. She even owned land there and, after her death, bequeath it to the National Trust. Thus, the land could be preserved in its natural origin.
The people in the Lake District have a very deep connection to this landscape and have fortunately recognized early on, that this enchanting nature must be protected from industrial and commercial use. Because of this, most of the Lake District was declared a National Park in 1951. otherwise, this wonderfully varied landscape wouldn’t have been preserved in its full splendor until today, let alone accessible.
Since July 2017, the “Lakes” – as the locals like to call this area – belong to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
WHAT MAKES THE LAKE DISTRICT SO SPECIAL?
I suppose, apart from the fantastic landscape that strangely reminds me of New Zealand, the Lake District offers something for everyone. There are 834 miles of trails to explore, more than 150 mountains and hills to climb and 16 huge lakes invite you to a boat trip or even a dive.
Due to the high number of mountains, this region is actually called the “English Switzerland”. There are four mountains at over 2950 feet above sea level, making it one of the highest elevations in England. At 3208 feet, Scafell Pike is the highest mountain.
The formation of the deep blue lakes is also a special feature, because through the existing volcanic rock, water can not drain-away. As a result of heavy rainfall over time, the deep valleys of the district were filled with water and formed 16 large bodies of water. That’s why, strictly speaking, there is only one official lake. This is the Bassenthwaite Lake. All the other lakes are waters, meres or tarns.
Farm animals as well as the wild animals seem to feel well here. I give you a 100% guarantee that you will see sheep. There are more than enough of them there. In March and April you will even see many lambs jumping around in the fields. But also cows, goats, horses and even alpacas are part of the landscape of the region.
By the way, gourmets are not missing out here either. In the Lake District there are four restaurants that have been awarded a Michelin star. It refers to:
- L ‘Enclume in Cartmel
- Forest Side in Grasmere
- Gilpin Hotel and Lake House in Windermere
- The Samling in Windermere
I really don’t know why English cuisine has such a bad reputation. I have always dined here deliciously. I love Fish and Ships, Mince Pies must never be missing for Christmas, and Fudge is a gift from heaven. So dare to dine in the restaurants and pubs. What could be more comfortable than having a cup of tea by the fireplace during the cold season and watching the dancing flames?
During summertime, the British pubs are extremely busy and you have to drink your beer outside in front of the pub. But you are never alone. I guarantee you that.
RIGHT TO ROAM
It is thanks to the author Henry Irwin Jenkinson, among others, that you can now roam across the meadows and fields. Not just in the Lake District, but throughout the kingdom. Incidentally, Mr. Jenkinson is the author of “Practical Guide To The English Lake District.” Private lands may therefore be entered in order to walk and hike or observe wildlife. However, you can not go cycling or horseback riding everywhere. In addition, one must follow some rules, which are self-explanatory. Such as closing gates to keep cattle and such on their fields and keeping the nature clean.
HIKING IN TEBAY
In Tebay we made our first little hike and this should be the most adventurous. Everything started quite harmless. We walked across the meadows along the River Lune and then directly through the forest. Partly the “way” was very narrow and precipitous. Good footwear is a MUST. In winter as well as in summer.
In undertakings like this, I always find the peaceful silence the most relaxing. Humans in harmony with nature. Until, a fighter jet swept over our heads! Our dog was so scared by the loud noise, that she just ran off. Luckily, my husband has good reflexes and managed to catch her, just before she would have rattled down the slope.
The Royal Air Force uses the vast area of the Lake District in order to train tactical maneuvers.
On our way back, the trail became increasingly muddy. My feet were no longer dry from this point on. The last couple hundred feet we walked on a paddock. It was extremely muddy. About 60 feet in front of the gate, someone (I do not want to say who) actually got stuck in the mud. I am not even kidding. First with one foot, then with the other. As a result, the unlucky person lost balance and fell right into the mud in slow motion. Loud laughter, tears in our eyes and stupid looking horses made the whole situation one of the most funniest events in a long time.
HIKING IN RYDAL
One of my highlights of our trip was our nearly three-hour hike in Rydal. Despite the icy temperatures of -3 degrees Celsius, we went on our way. Hiking boots with a good profile are highly recommended, especially in winter.
The hike started very moderately on solid ground along Rydal Water. After only a few minutes we reached the Rydal Cave. It is a man-made cave. About 200 years ago, roofing slate was removed here and taken to the villages. Entering the cave is not necessarily recommended, as chunks come off the ceiling occasionally. Personally, the view from the outside was sufficient.
After a while we left a quite some feet in altitude behind us and were now surrounded by snow. The solid ground became more adventurous. At some point we reached a stone staircase that we needed to climb. This staircase was pretty icy, so you had to be very careful. The snow was getting deeper and deeper and the steep climb became more exhausting. By the way, from that point on, I was not cold anymore.
The beautiful view that waited on the top for us was definitely worth the effort. At the top of the fell we had a little snack and then descended to the back of the mountain. That was very relaxed and not so steep. However, the sun shone on the back of the fell all day. This means that the snow was already melted away and it was quite muddy sometimes. Déjà-vu. Like rabbits, we jumped over these muddy parts very quickly. We had to laugh very hard by doing so and we were super pleased with ourselves, because we didn’t got stuck in mud. Yes we are true city people.
TOURISM IN LAKE DISTRICT
Every year millions of tourists from all over the world come to the Lake District to enjoy the pristine landscape and get to know the history and culture of this region.
Tourism is indeed the main source of income here. In 2017 alone, around 19 million visitors spent 1.4 million pounds.
In addition to the wonderfully peaceful area in Cumbria, there are also several cute villages worth visiting. These tiny villages are even so cute, that instead of numbers houses have actual names. Here it is worthwhile to go shopping in the local shops, since everything is produced here in the region. The locals are also super friendly and positive.
In my opinion one of the most beautiful villages in the entire Lake District is located in the east of the National Park. I was lucky enough to spend most of my time in Askham. The hiking trails are simply dreamy and you can enjoy the scenery while being on a steamboat ride on nearby Ullswater.
The Punch Bowl Pub in Askham serves good English food. Furthermore there is always fire dancing in the fireplace and they never run out of beer. During spring, the meadows are covered with a sea of daffodils and young lambs jump around the vast fields. You have to experience it for yourself.
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.
by William Wordsworth (excerpt)
Once a week you get tasty home made dishes in the Village Hall. The food is prepared by talented volunteers from the village. The revenue ends up 100 percent in the village fund.
TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
- Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread
- Kennedys fine Chocolates
- Birds of Prey
- Lowther Castle and Gardens
- Askham Hall
- Alpaca Shop
- The Toffee Fudge Shop
After a week we drove back to London and spent the night in a hotel right by the Themse. The next morning we used the Eurotunnel again to get to France. Unfortunately it was raining all day, so we couldn’t really enjoy Paris as much as we wanted to. Nevertheless, we managed to check out the Eiffel Tower. Afterwards we did a little sightseeing tour with our rental car. We maneuvered ourselves through the chaotic Parisian traffic. Always watch out what happens in front of you, otherwise you lose! Thanks to my husband, who somehow got us through this traffic mess. I was totally overwhelmed with the driving skills of the French. That was too much for me. Especially with the knowledge that the deductible is 3,000 euros. No, thanks 😉
We were, once again, encouraged in our decision to move to England after our time in Miami Beach over.
I hope I could give you a good impression of the Lake District and its beauty. If you are going to visit the Lakes, please let me know how you liked it.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me