We’re taking you on a tour of England’s
Lake District, one of the most scenic areas of the world. We will do some boat rides will
on a couple of different lakes and we will take some nature walks. We will even see a
prehistoric stone circle, like a small Stonehenge. We’ll do a full day private van tour that
brings us to ten different lakes, and we will also spend time in the villages. We will be
staying in Bowness on Windermere, a wonderful holiday resort town. It’s all part of a longer
tour of the British Isles. We’ve recently been staying over in York and now we’re
transferring cross-country to Windermere. We begin our adventure to the Lake District
by leaving York, where we’ve been staying for several days. It’s been a great visit.
And now we have our private van, thanks to Mountain Goat Tours, who is going to drive
us across England from York over to the Lake District.
We’ll take about four hours to make the trip, with several stops along the way. Give
us a chance to get out of the van and stretch our legs, such as in this town of Bedale.
Traditional Yorkshire market town. Aha. It’s not a major tourist destination but it
makes a convenient pit stop along the way. It’s nice to have a brief look at an average
English town, just dropping in for twenty minutes. It’s quite difficult to get from
York over the Lake District using public transportation. So this private van tour is an ideal way.
Or you might have a rental car. With an experienced driver you’ll know where to stop for some
views and some quick photos, the beautiful stream and rapids.
We saw a dozen stone villages and lots of green rolling hills with sheep on them and
took a break for lunch. This is a pub lunch at the town of Reith in Yorkshire. Everybody
was quite friendly here with that kind of small town atmosphere and ambience. Most of
the village shops are family operations. You might think a four-hour drive is pretty
long, but with all of these distractions and entertainments and lunch and scenery, we got
to Bowness before we know it. The Burn How Hotel is going to be our home
for the next several days, as we explore England’s Lake District.
The hotel is conveniently located just two blocks from the waterfront, where you will
find several docs for the boat rides on Lake Windermere, which is one of the main activities
while you’re in the area. We’ll be taking you on a nice boat ride in
one minute, but first a quick look around Bowness town and then we’ll see more of Bowness
at the end of the program. It’s a beautiful village, but really you’re not in the Lake
District to see a town. You want to get out into the natural landscape, do a boat ride,
drive around through the countryside as we will be doing throughout the program.
There are actually two towns joined together here as one. You’ve got Windermere, about
a mile to the north, and Bowness-on-Windermere along the shores of the lake.
Each center has its cluster of shops and restaurants. But the main focus is down at Bowness, which
has most of the hotels and has that special setting along the water.
The town of Bowness is a great base of operations for heading out to see the other lakes in
the district, and enjoying some day tours. As we’ll be showing you here.
Four of the top activities are: exploring the town, taking a boat ride, do a little
nature walking, and do a driving tour of the region to see the other nearby lakes and quaint
villages. We’ll see all of that coming up in the program, starting out with one of the
most enjoyable activities, a boat ride. You can pick from a variety of kinds of excursion
boats on Lake Windermere. You can have all one-hour cruise or go for an all-day expedition.
You could enjoy a cruise with dinner. There’s hydrofoils, rowboats or sailboats for rent,
all kinds of nautical activities here on the shores of Lake Windermere.
Windermere is the largest and the longest lake in the British Isles, about 10 miles
long, and there are several villages along the shores of the lake.
There’s also a footpath that goes around most of the lake. While the actual circumference
of the lake is about 24 miles, the trail itself is 45 miles with twists and turns and ups
and downs, so it would take you about four days. You could walk it. It would be a lovely
hike. But the easy way is just ride the boat. We are traveling in mid-May and ran into some
great weather, and actually it’s really quite pleasant temperature here in the low 70s,
there’s a slight breeze on the lake but not terribly windy and the sun is shining.
A most pleasant day, it was not raining in Lake Country, it’s good weather. It tends
to be rather damp in this district. It gets about 100 inches of rain a year, but you might
get lucky, and particularly in the summer time, it doesn’t rain quite as often as in
the winter. Boat service during the season is quite frequent
so you don’t have to worry too much about looking at schedules of boat departures or
making reservations on one of these excursion boats. Just show up by the shores of the lake
at Bowness pier and inquire at the dock, when’s the next boat leaving? Of course you can check
their schedules online and you can plan it out carefully, but there are a lot of boats
here. It works well to just hop on the next boat leaving.
One is constantly reminded here of the beauties and power of nature, and how man’s proper
guidance can shape nature and utilize its force for good ends without destroying it.
People of the Lake District have been carefully using the land while conserving it for thousands
of years. Some of us decided to get off the boat at
Ambleside, which is one of the main small towns here in the Lake Country. There’s a
level nature trail from the boat dock to Ambleside town, passing first through an open meadow
with some Roman ruins visible. From such forts as this the Romans controlled
hundreds of square miles. Roman rule began in Britain back in A.D. 43
with a massive army of forty thousand soldiers who quickly conquered most of the island.
The Romans remained in control for the next 300 years.
We continued along a beautiful stream and then ran into some sheep.
Fun to see the sheep frolicking around. We are right on the edge of Ambleside town and
yet they have a sheep meadow. So far, it’s all been very wonderful, and
yet, as we continued along the side of the stream, things just seem to get better and
better. Then the path follows along the stream and
becomes so beautiful, lined with wildflowers that you feel like you stepped into some kind
of movie or dream. Those few minutes became one of the top highlights
of the three-week tour of the British Isles. A simple walk through the woods can provide
a transcendental experience for the alert traveler to walk in splendid solitude through
the forest and gain experience and memories that will boost your mood.
It’s a treat to be nearly alone like this because the Lake District is that very popular
vacation area for international visitors as well as for the English.
And then before we know it, we’re back in civilization – soccer in the park, and then
we’re in the village. Ambleside is another classic Lake District
town, buildings made of stone, a lovely village center with the main street and restaurants
and shops along it. You could make this place your home base if you wished. It’s not quite
as big as Bowness, it doesn’t have as many hotels, but there are some accommodations,
and there are certainly plenty of restaurants. You can take bus tours out from Ambleside
and as, you’ve seen, you can get here by boat.
We’re visiting late in the day after that boat ride and were feeling kinda hungry, and
we noticed there are several delectable restaurants on offer. We took a look in the window in
the menu at Lucy’s and we were hooked. It was a wonderful evening. Food was delicious,
service excellent, local ambience, everything you could hope for. And of course, dogs are
always welcome. The bill was not bad either – a terrific spot.
We had the restaurant call a taxi for us. There are some bus services between Ambleside
and Bowness, they’re not far apart, but at this hour, it just seemed a lot more convenient,
getting a taxi. And then it was only about a ten-minute drive,
quite inexpensive, to get from Ambleside back to Bowness, taking the main road which is
a scenic route along Lake Windermere. And then were back in Bowness town in time for
an evening stroll or relax at the hotel. Tomorrow’s tour will be an all-day drive in the countryside,
taking a look at ten lakes. Our hotel, the Burn How, is typical of British
country accommodations. There’s a breakfast room. You’ll have your
fried eggs and sausage and baked beans and baked tomatoes, with toast and coffee or tea,
and have a great start for the morning – very British.
One of the best activities here is driving through the countryside to see the, lakes,
villages and green rolling hills. Boarding our private van, supplied by Mountain Goat
Tours and our driver Derek, who was going to be not only driving but describing the
sites for us. If you have a rental car you can drive yourself, but if not, or if you
don’t feel like driving, take a tour and let the driver-guide do all the work.
Okay, so. We’re going to go on our Ten Lakes Tour today, which, not surprisingly, we see
ten lakes on the trip, but we see lots of other things as well.
The map shows the route that we will be taking with Derek and some of the principal lakes
that we will visit and we’ll see several towns and various scenic viewpoints.
Our first stop on the tour is a beautiful view of Lake Windermere, give us a chance
to get out of the van already and stretch our legs, get some pictures, looking down
at the largest natural lake in England. We’ll be riding in a minivan with our small
group while our guide-driver gives us some interesting narration, rolling along through
the hills of Windermere and the Lake District. This is the Kirkstone Path, which is quite
often closed during the winter because it faces north, and very often there will be
snow and ice covering the road, which would make it very hazardous, as you can see with
all these curves and steep angle. Most of the Lake District is in a national
park and it lies in the center of the county of Cumbria. It’s 25 square miles in size and
was designated as a park in 1951. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.
This is Brotherswater and the name origin may have been Viking from broth water.
It’s the smallest of the ten lakes that we’re seeing today.
You’ll see farmers driving on the roads with their off-track vehicles and out working in
the fields. This is still very much an agricultural area.
Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District, about 9 miles long and almost
a mile wide, with a maximum depth of nearly 200 feet. Many regarded. It as the most beautiful
of the English lakes, sometimes compared to Lake Lucerne in Switzerland.
In general the landscapes of the Lake District do remind you somewhat of Switzerland in the
low mountain areas. Certainly not the Swiss Alps, but the lower slopes of the Swiss mountains
are lush and green and many rolling hills and valleys, similar to what we find here
in the Lake District, a comparison the poet Wordsworth and many others have made in the
past. We stopped to have a look at a very impressive
prehistoric site. The Castlerrig Stone Circle. It is one of 1300 stone circles from the British
Isles and Brittany. You might think of Stonehenge as the only stone circle, but of course it’s
the most famous, it’s the biggest, but there are many others built during that time period,
somewhere between 4 1/2 to 5 thousand years ago and they’re very mysterious. We don’t
know exactly why they were built. Perhaps some kind of calendar, or celestial observation
system for keeping track of time and the annual cycles of the seasons.
It’s such an obviously important and beautiful stonework that it was probably also used as
a gathering place, some kind of ritual ceremonies would take place here, perhaps. Perhaps it
was a governing place with a parliament. Perhaps there were burials and other kinds of rituals
involved with the stone circles. They’re still being actively investigated by archaeologists
throughout Great Britain. And Castlerrig has been called one of the
most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain. Unlike Stonehenge, here you can
get close to the rocks and touch them. You can sit down on them and walk among them.
Get a real feeling for it. It predates Stonehenge, it’s older than
Stonehenge. But there are some similarities. The stones never started their lives where
they are now. They were all dragged there from valleys around here.
The other significant similarity is that the stones line up with the summer and winter
solstice. Another nice diversion getting us out of the
van was taking a boat ride on Derwent Water a service provided by the Keswick Launch Company.
It’s a fifty-minute round-trip on the lake. Or you could get off at any one of seven jetties
and do a little bit of hiking and then catch the next boat coming through.
Geologists believe these mountains are among the oldest in Europe, some dating back 550
million years. That’s why you see, rounded hills, rather than tall, sharp peaks.
Although this land emerged from the sea 400 million years ago or so, the landscape that
we see today is much more recent in geological terms. Most of the valleys and streams and
mountain contours that we see today were formed and shaped during the last Ice Age.
However, if you want to see these lakes you better hurry up and get here because geologists
estimate that they’ll be gone in about fifty thousand years. They are filling in slowly
with siltation. We took a lunch break in the middle of our
all-day tour of the Lake country in the town of Keswick, which by good luck Is to have
their weekly market today, a festive atmosphere pervades.
The name is spelled with a w in the middle, which remains silent, so let’s call it Keswick.
There is helpful tourist information office right in town where you can learn something
about Keswick. Keswick’s a lovely tourist town with a beautiful
lake, and lots of activities going on, lots of the festivals all through the year. And
today is market day? Today is Thursday, and Saturdays are market days, with some food,
mainly local food, cheesemakers, butchers, things like that, but also local crafts to
some extent. Other goods such as shopping bags, purses, all that sort of thing. So that
your main street? It is. And then the shops go out, on some of the arterial roads, but
most of them are in the center of Keswick. We have lunch and then find time to explore
the market and some other parts of this quaint little village on foot.
The travelers dream is fulfilled: we’ve got a lively market town surrounded by the
beauties of nature, with a place to sit down and do some people-watching.
Keswick has been voted among the most popular and historic towns and it’s the winner of
the kennel club’s most dog-friendly town award. There are 200 different places you could spend
the night here in Keswick ranging from hotels to guest houses, bed and breakfasts, farms
and campgrounds. You’ll find lots to do here with six nearby
lakes and mountains and valleys around with various hiking trails.
Our experience driver knows how to find all of those out-of-the-way scenic spots such
as the Ashness Bridge, not exactly a big secret. It’s probably the most painted and photographed
of all the stone bridges in Lake Land. Just nearby, we have a perfect view looking
back on the lake that we’ve been boating on, Derwent Water, Mount Skiddaw in the background,
and the town of Keswick is visible at the far end of the lake.
When the earliest villages were developed here, they usually located them near fresh
flowing water by a stream, and along the shores of the lake, since water is so important and
yet it’s heavy and difficult to carry any distance.
These frequent stops for enjoying the spectacular views and snapping a few photos really help
to break up the trip and make the overall day fly by very quickly.
I’m sure the bicyclists are enjoying themselves but watching their effort makes one appreciate
all the more such comfort of our air-conditioned van.
You’ll see a thousand sheep on this day, and sometimes they’re grazing right near the
road, so the driver stops for a while so we can get a good look at them, see them frolicking
around, the young one tussling with the mom. Raising sheep is still the main agricultural
activity here. Mining for slate is another important economic
activity, and we had a chance to take a break and visit the slate quarry, watch them pounding
some rocks. Slate is common here and provides the cheapest
available high-quality building material. Slate was originally laid down as a sediment
in the sea, making it is a mesomorphic rock. This entire area was underneath the sea about
450 million years ago. The seafloor got squashed and heated by the action of volcanic magma,
which turned parts of it into slate. One of the main features that you’ll see while
driving along are the endless stone walls. There are about 7,000 miles of them here in
the Lake District. Originally the only things holding them together were gravity and friction,
but nowadays when they repair them, they do use some cement. Some of them date back a
thousand years, although the vast majority were built during the 1700s.
The reasons for the stone walls being built in the first place is that the fields were
just covered in stones that dated back to just after the Ice Age when the glaciers retreated,
and so the walls were built by later farmers to clear the field of stones and also to demarcate
property lines. Walls like this can easily stand for a 150 years. And of course the traditional
buildings were also constructed of stone, such as we find here in the village of Grasmere
The famous poet William Wordsworth lived here in the town of Grasmere and is buried in a
churchyard cemetery with his family. Wordsworth was not only a poet but he was
also a prose writer and authored a guidebook to the Lake District for travelers back in
1810, which gave an early boost to Lake District tourism. He wrote it because he needed the
money. You’ll never get rich as a poet, even if you
create some of the most beautiful poetry ever written.
Although Wordsworth finally gained the recognition he deserved and was named Poet Laureate of
England, which made him financially secure. Wordsworth lived in the famous Dove Cottage
for many years with his wife and then later with his sister.
Other famous writers lived in the district, especially Coleridge and Beatrix Potter.
Beatrix Potter was not only a famous author who created Peter Rabbit and other children’s
books. She made a lot of money, and loved her native Lake District so much that when
she died in 1943, she left 4000 acres of land to the National Trust in the area, as well
as fourteen farms. We’re having another look at the town of
Ambleside as we wind down our day-long drive through the Lake District, heading back to
our home base at Bowness on Windermere. We have time left for a final look around
Bowness town. It really is quaint and charming place even though it’s got a lot of competition
with the lakes and the mountains and the other villages nearby, which is where you want to
spend most of your time, but it’s always nice to come home to Bowness.
It really is an ideal kind of an English country town even though it is very touristic. But
when you are here in the off-season, as we are we are, visiting in May, it’s really not
crowded at all, and it’s got that hilly atmosphere, winding streets, there are some little back
lanes and a lot of restaurants to take care of you.
The place called Hiltons was very good and popular, right in the middle of town. Why
not try a pub dinner? You can have lunch at a pub. You can also have dinner at a pub.
Sit down with a pint of Guinness and rustic wooden architecture and some basic foods,
you are good. There are some bars and walkways along the
waterfront. Bowness-on-Windermere really does embrace the lake. The little beach in town
always has a lot of geese and ducks and swans looking for food.
And right next to the beach there is a large green park. That’s a nice place to end up
our visit to Bowness and the Lake District. It’s time to leave. Next morning we are packing
the van. Derek is going to stay with us and drive us all the way on to our next destination,
that will be Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s been a delight to visit the lakes of England.
We have many more movies about the British Isles. Be sure to look for them in our collection