I’ve honestly never really felt the need to travel much within the UK, but that has all changed after a weekend in The Lakes. I don’t know about you, but i’ve always thought of England as pretty dull – probably because I live here, and it seems fairly unexciting in comparison to jetting off somewhere exotic with palm trees and white sands as far as the eye can see. Saying that: England is bloody beautiful. Like, really beautiful.
After a crazy-long drive up from Surrey (7 1/2 hours to be exact), and a somewhat hair-raising drive along single-track roads, we arrived to a charming Airbnb with incredible views across the Little Langdale Valley – complete with chickens and sheep owned by our lovely hosts. The place couldn’t have been more relaxing, or more quiet; it really felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, which I love. Give me trees and mountains over the London Underground any day.
Disclaimer: we’re not really into walking. Why did you go to the Lake District then, you might ask? Well, what we lack in a love of exercise, we make up for in a love for mountains, pretty views and stargazing. On our first night we ventured into the Grizedale Forest and after getting lost several times (Google Maps and no signal don’t really go well together) we made it to the Visitor Centre for an evening’s stargazing. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side, and in a place where we could have seen the entire Milky Way on a clear night, we struggled to see the Big Dipper. It was still fascinating though – there’s something about the sheer silence and darkness of the forest that was pretty magical, even if the skies didn’t want to cooperate with us.
The next morning, after a hearty full English cooked by our Airbnb hosts – possibly the sweetest people in the world – we headed out for a day’s bus tour around The Lakes. We were surprised not to be the youngest people on the bus, thinking we’d be with a group of pensioners. Though some people might turn their nose up at the idea, I would definitely recommend going on a bus tour, even if you plan to do some hiking as well. We got to see so much more of the area than we would have otherwise and also got to access some places which we definitely would have been too nervy to drive to ourselves; the mountain roads are no joke!
After driving through the Great Langdale and Little Langdale Valleys, we stopped off at a couple of incredible viewpoints with panoramas across the whole landscape. The views were absolutely incredible and made me completely throw out my previous belief that England isn’t worth exploring, especially when the still-snowy peaks of Skafell Pike made an appearance in the distance – i’m a sucker for a good mountain.
Our guide’s navigation of frankly treacherous roads in a minivan was really quite impressive, though there were a few moments where I had to close my eyes. An uphill climb (in the van, of course) and a spot of cake later, we hopped on the steam railway and had a lovely little choo-choo ride through the countryside before being picked up again.
My favourite stop on the journey came next: Wastwater. This is the deepest lake in the Lake District and was voted the best view in England, for good reason. The surrounding hills, distant mountains and still-as-glass lake made for the most unbelievable sight – it’s one of those places you just have to stop and stare for a while. England, i’m sold. Though I managed to ruin my white Vans in a marsh walking up to the lake, I really didn’t mind. The view was worth it.
Our final stop of the day was Muncaster Castle, and we spent the whole stop watching a Falconry show. Owls swooped over our heads and vultures flew a foot from our faces, but the highlight of the show had to be one particular bird; a very naughty eagle called Herriot. Herriot was a nightmare. They sent him off to fly, and he didn’t come back for an hour. It was all very funny, especially when a raven who lived nearby started getting aggy at him and he decided to perch himself in a tree for safety, refusing to come down despite the offerings of food from his trainers.
One more scenic journey and we were back, exhausted, despite the fact that we had barely done any walking whatsoever, let alone the usual hiking that most do in The Lakes. I definitely plan on returning to do some walking, and have completely gotten over my aversion to exploring in England (though i’ll still take a palm tree-laden beach whenever its offered, obviously). I’m still not over just how stunning England can be, and I am thankful to the Lake District for giving me a new appreciation for this fab little island that I live on.