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Holiday to the Lake District - Day Three

Posted on Sunday 4th July 2010 at 00:00
So, Day Three of our adventure is drawing to a close, and I am buzzing with the beauty of the place. This was our first day of visiting the Lake District National Park itself, and boy, is it beautiful!

I've seen my fair share of fabulous landscapes before. I live almost in sight of Dartmoor, and I have travelled across Kenya in a jeep, but I've never seen anything quite like this place. Whoever put in the hills didn't seem to realise that hills are meant to sit side by side, not one on top of another, so the result is that each general rise has odd smaller hills all over it, making it impossible to get any real idea of where the hill begins and ends.

I could explain this much better with photos, but the effect is really most obvious as you drive along the roads, and as the sole driver, I can't take photos at that time.

It was raining when we set out, raining hard. Cumbria is a beautiful, wild county, and no more so than when wind and rain are pounding on your windscreen and the marvellous hilly scenery is virtually obscured by the spray on the fast, windy road along which you travel.

We decided, since it was too wet for a long walk whilst L's cold was in full flow, to visit Hill Top, the famous home of children's author Beatrix Potter. Getting there required a long drive along small, winding roads, and then a trip on the car ferry. Through the water that poured onto the windscreen, and the glare of headlights, we could just make out the choppy water in front of us, our first look at Windermere, the largest lake in England!

Shortly afterwards we arrived at Hill Top. It was still pouring down with rain, and I congratulated myself on wearing light weight, quick drying linen trousers rather than jeans, which would have been wet for a month after just two minutes outside.

Fortunately we were amongst a fairly small number of people who weren't put off by the weather, and so our wait outside the house was just a couple of minutes. Some would suggest that the house is prettier in sunshine, and maybe it is, but I wouldn't have swapped the weather for anything.

Like most people growing up in the 90s, my first experiences of Beatrix Potter's work were through the excellent BBC animated series. The start of each episode showed Potter returning to her home through a heavy rain storm before beginning her latest story. And it was just like that, down to the water gushing down the drain pipe.

Despite being a good 300 years old, the house was sturdy, warm and comfortable throughout. I especially liked the roaring coal fire in the front room; far hotter, brighter and more inviting than any wood one I've ever seen.

The rain was easing off by the time we returned to the car for our lunch, and as we entered the ticket office of the Beatrix Potter gallery to declare our intention to join the National Trust, the rain was all but gone. Seeing the original paintings that adorned the Peter Rabbit books was a magical experience, even for someone, such as myself, who rarely appreciates art of any kind. The brush work, the colour and the detail is quite mind boggling. How did she do it? I will never know how anyone can possess such a level of skill and patience for what was, after all, a hobby originally.

Our morning soaking had convinced L and I that the one thing we needed most in life was a pair of waterproof over-trousers. Fortunately these, and virtually any other items of outdoor clothing you can imagine, can be bought at any of at least 100 shops in the Lake District, desperate to tempt in budding walkers with heavy discounting and large ranges. We each found an excellent pair that can be stored in a small bag when not in use; perfect for carrying around with us wherever we go.

At this point we had run out of planned activities for the day, and started flicking through leaflets for some ideas of what to do, as it was still a little early for our return home. We eventually settled on Tarn Hows, a lake so small and insignificant it hardly appears on most maps. Nonetheless it is extremely picturesque and an ideal size for a short walk, being around a mile and a half in circumference.

One curiosity that we could not explain: As we walked around the lake we happened across a fallen tree. Around part of the the trunk, the bark had been removed, and into its place someone had inserted dozens of copper coins. The tree was still hard, and they could not have been buried as they were without the use of some considerable force. Yet there was no indication of how or why this had happened, nor who was responsible.

Back home, we discovered that our landlords, who live in the main property to which our cottage is attached, have returned home and that the sound proofing between our properties is minimal. Not a problem, unless you are watching the rather noisy sex scenes in Four Weddings and a Funeral (we were watching the rest of the film as well, I hasten to add) and suddenly realise you have the volume up quite high. Did they hear us? I don't know, but they've not yet dropped in to say hello, so either they are busy, or they think we are.

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