Amidst a fresh sprinkling of mid-December snow, with piles of warm clothes, we braced ourselves for a long drive. Nearly six hours north of London, nestled close to the Scottish border, and the Irish Sea, lies the English Lake District.  Lakeland as it’s been coined, has provided the inspirational landscape for centuries of literary greats, with the Romantic poet William Wordsworth, and the children’s writer and creator of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter being some of the most famous.

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As one of a limited number of UK National Parks, I had wanted to visit the lakes for years, but as British roads are not the best I just couldn’t face the drive. And every time it came to the crunch of booking a trip I faced the sad dilemma that in same travel time – and with the help of a plane – I could instead reach the sunnier climes of Europe, and a small stretch further the Caribbean! Oh and the weather ‘Up North’ (what Londoners call anywhere north of the M25) is noturiously iffy.

December is certainly not a peak period in the Lakes as it’s not a ski destination. But I love visiting places when they are considered out-of-season, because sharing wild adventures with hoards of other tourists dampens the appeal. So our photos may look a little bleak, but they show a snap-shot of one of Britain’s most rugged protected lands in the middle fo winter. Unfortunately I was experiencing a nasty cold that annoyingly hit just the day before we left London, so what we expected to be 5 days of hiking, turned out a little more chilled. I thought I’d share a few snapshots from the trip to give people a taste of a part of Britain less often seen in Instagram.

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Castlerigg Stone Circle, just outside of Keswick, shares the same mysterious origins as Stonehenge. It is thought to be over 4500 years old
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The north shore of Derwent Lake as the mid-afternoon sun slowly recedes. A very calm place.
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Looking down on Tarn Hows, most of which was frozen. I didn’t know before this trip that a ‘tarn’ is a glacier-made mountain lake or pool – I guess I missed that lesson in geography class! You can just see the 1.6-mile trail that encircles the water with no one on it to the right.
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There are around 3 million sheep living in Cumbria, so herds are a common sight throughout the park. We saw this loner up high on Kirkstone Pass. He stood in a small patch of grass chewing away happily, completely unfazed by the falling snow and biting wind.
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We named him ‘Eddy’

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The ferocious (and very loud) Aira Force waterfall – seen from the bottom (here), and top (right). Packing waterproofs was essential!

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Completely alone on the short trail to witness this impressive falls in the North-Eastern Ullswater area of the park. Thundering rain is probably why.

Most people tend to visit and stay in the main areas of the park – namely Lake Windermere, Grasmere, and the northern town of Keswick. Whilst we drove through these areas and found them beautiful, we wanted to experience a retreat, so based ourselves in the Great Langdale Valley further west. In reality though with a car, nothing feels that far away!

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A Winter Wonderland for two. There are so many hiking trails throughout the Lake District, from gentle grades encircling lakes like this one at Tarn Hows, to difficult technical mountaineering. You can find more information here.
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The Lake District is a National Park, but unlike in many other countries there is no physical border with entrance stations, so the park gets funded partly by charging for car parking. After making a quick calculation, we opted to become members of The National Trust (£65 per year). This made all National Trust carparks free, and includes access to hundreds of other properties and sites across the UK. Alternatively there is a decent public transport system of buses to get around the park, which is useful for hikers.
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Slater Bridge in the tranquil Little Langdale Valley area of the park.
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Leaving the bridge we follow miles of meandering Cumbrian stone walls as they disappear up and over the hilltops.
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One very happy-looking hiker – probably because he isn’t carrying the backpack!
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Colwith Force, a pretty multi-tier waterfall system on the River Brathay, which we stumbled upon after traipsing through ancient moss-coated oak woodlands.
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Another tier of Colwith Force. I was surprised to see a light on and movement in that tiny stone building (not sure who occupies it?)
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Elterwater village green in the Great Landgale Valley. The Lake District is full of picture-postcard worthy tiny villages and hamlets made from local stone, and of course brilliant pubs!
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Little Langdale Tarn sits nearly hidden away at the foot of Wrynose Pass. Seen here from the public bridleway on the south shore – there is no public access to the water, as it sits within private farm land.
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The Great Langdale Valley, the day it rained and rained and rained… somehow we managed to get wet even with full waterproofs on!

Car journey aside, I found myself captivated by the Lake District. I couldn’t quite believe that the lofty peaks, so perfectly framing the lakes beneath were English. I definitely hope this to be the first of many return trips – maybe the next one at Easter-time, or early summer. And much to my surprise I learnt from a local down the village pub, that next time I could take a fast-track Virgin train from London Euston to Oxenholme in little under 3-hours! Well who knew?!

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Off to the pub.
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