A former teacher and charity worker from the North East of England, I love people and places and like to try out new experiences wherever possible. Capturing that 'perfect pic' is all part of the pleasure. Access issues are a particular interest.
Published September 10th 2013
A Little Piece of Paradise
"I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o'er vales and hills …"
The English Lake District has been the inspiration for many an artist or poet and nowhere is this more evident than in the immortal expression of wordsmith William Wordsworth. This wonderful early nineteenth century poem has probably done more for promoting the area than any advertising campaign – although it doesn't really need it.
The serene and almost ethereal beauty of the lakes is a joy to behold, and being only a couple of hours drive from where I live on Tyneside, the area is a popular getaway for people from the North East of England, Yorkshire, Lancashire and beyond.
Hemmed between the northern shires and Scotland, the Lake District lies in the North West county of Cumbria and is one of Britain's oldest National Parks.
Perhaps I've become quite blasé about how beautiful the lakes are as the urge to travel further afield is part of everyday life, made easier by modern modes of transport, but I recently got the chance to take a day trip to Keswick with my friend and a coach load of others and this place is like stepping back in time.
Keswick is a quintessentially English town that nestles in the rolling countryside that surrounds a string of spectacular lakes and myriad smaller pools and tarns carved out by Ice Age glaciers and filled by rainwater and rivers over many centuries. The area is stunningly beautiful and is popular all kinds of visitors.
The lovely old buildings of Keswick town centre that gathered around an outdoor market was a comforting sight, with really old pubs offering traditional English fayre such as roast dinners and fish and chips at very reasonable prices. We didn't take much tempting.
After lunch we wandered around the olde worlde marketplace and shops selling fancy goods, sweets and toys that stood alongside those selling all kinds of outdoor clothing and camping gear. One store stood out from the rest - the shop with Beatrix Potter pottery and memorabilia.
This connection with the creator of Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and co ensures that flocks of foreign visitors return year after year. There is even a Beatrix Potter themed activity centre in the nearby town of Bowness-on-Windemere if you are looking for things to do with the kids.
There are any number of small hotels and guesthouses if you just want a weekend escape or you can rent a cottage, enjoy a caravan or camping holiday at a campsite, or visit Centre Parcs activity centre at Whinfell if you want a family orientated break. The options are plentiful.
I can't remember the last time I was there and my friend had never been so we asked directions to the lake at one of the town centre shops. A pleasant ten minute stroll took us down through an underground passage, past a park and finally to the shining vision that is the lake, Derventwater.
It was a chilly September day and I should have worn a warmer coat, but we were still captivated by the awe inspiring sight before us. It's one of those places that you just want to sit and gaze at and be in your own little bubble for a while.
Keswick is in the heart of the Lake District with four of the highest mountains in England (each of them over 900m in height) in the region and Lakes Windermere (the largest in England), Buttermere, Ullswater, Thirlmere, Bassenthwaite Lake and Crummock Water all within striking distance. Small villages are dotted around, each offering a unique experience for the visitor. It's perfectly possible to leave your car behind and enjoy the walk or take the local bus if you want to experience that 'get-away-from-it-all' feeling and discover the quaintness of these grey-stone villages set among hundreds of square miles of natural beauty and farmland.
Needless to say, the area is popular with walkers, hikers and campers as well as the more adventurous types such as mountaineers and water sports enthusiasts.
Scarfell Pike, the highes mountain in England, Scafell, Helvellyn and Skiddaw offer challenges for the more experienced climbers while outward bound centres offer activities to suit all ages from 7 to 70 and you can book group activities such as school trips with experienced staff here.
If you want a few ideas on independent walking routes, here's a guide to some around Keswick.
We just missed the chance of a boat trip across the lake. There was a regular timetable for the boat trips posted near the jetty. Trips were priced at £9.50 per person and took around 50 minutes.
Too late, we realised that we wouldn't have time before our bus was due to leave and the next boat trip was another half an hour away, so we headed back to our coach and, in our own way, we both made a vow not to leave it so long before we came back again.
After all, who wouldn't want this little piece of heaven?