Today was another travel day. We left our hotel in Moreton-in-Marsh and headed north. It’s about a four hour drive to our next stop, Keswick (silent w) in the north portion of the lake district. Half way we stopped in Sandbach for lunch. We had very tasty sandwiches at Minshull’s Country Kitchen and then spent a few minutes stretching our legs, wandering about the town center. Deanna found a post office and sent a couple of post cards to our nieces back home. Hopefully they’ll get there before we do.
After our quick stop in Sandbach, we headed back to the motorway and continued our trek North. We arrived in Keswick at 3:30. We checked into Allerdale House, our B&B for the next two nights. After picking up our key, we walked into the town center to check things out. Keswick sits on the north edge of Derwentwater lake. We took a stroll along the lake and visited with some grazing sheep. Deanna has decided we need some sheep to add to our menagerie back on the farm.
Exploring The Lakes was on the agenda for today. I booked a van tour with Lake District Tours before we left. The one small wrinkle is the tour leaves from Windemere while our B&B is in Keswick. Our tour leaves at 9:30 and not being familiar at all with the area, I wanted to leave us about an hour to make the 21 mile (34 km) trip. We didn’t have time for a &8216;proper cooked’ breakfast at the B&B, but did have time for some yogurt, fruit and juice. We arrived at the Windemere train station (the meeting place), in good time, parked the car and waited. The van arrived shortly after 9:30 driven by Andy, our driver and guide for the day. We joined five other tour members (all American), and off we went.
Over the course of the day we made quite a few stops. The entire list includes:
- Kirkstone Pass
- Aira Force
- Glencoyne Bay
- Castlerigg Stone Circle
- Surprise View
- Bassenthwaite Lake
- The Flock Inn
- Honister Pass
- Crummock Water
- Rydal Water
All were interesting and some spectacular.
The area covers 900 square miles and was formally turned into a national park in 1954. Beatrix Potter author of all the Peter Rabbit books, willed all of the land she acquired to the National Trust. The history of the area goes back much further than that of course, some of the earliest houses can be dated back to 1622 in the village of TroutBeck. There are strict controls over the look of all the houses in the park, right down to the color of the doors and the fact that all the windows can only be single pane.
The poet William Woodworth was also a resident of the area. His poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” was written in Ullswater one of the stops on our our tour.
We continued our tour with s atop at Castlerigg Stone Circle which is pretty close to our home base of Keswick. The stone circle looks over the area and has the company of a flock of sheep. Like Avebury, it’s possible to walk among the stones and get close to them.
Speaking of sheep, The Lakes is home to over 2 million sheep. They control the vegetation and are part of the character of the place. Farmers are compensated by various government organizations and environmental groups to keep them. It costs more to keep the sheep than what the farmers can get for the wool/meat. The wool trade is starting to pick up again with people wanting more natural fibers for things like carpet.
Lunch was at the Flock-inn at Yew Tree Farm. We both had lamb. I had the lamb stew and Deanna had it in a pasty. Both were excellent. I can’t say I’m a big fan of lamb generally, but this was really very tasty. Made with Herdwick lamb, which is a local specialty. In preparation for our trip, I’ve been following a few twitter users that my friend Andrew recommended. We’re planning on visiting Andrew and his family later on in the trip so more about him later :-). The Herdwick Sheppard (@herdyshepherd1), tweets about farm life, raising sheep and dogs. He’s very entertaining and recently published a book that quickly rose to top positions in a number of U.K. book lists including Amazon and they Guardian.
After lunch, we continued the tour, stopping at a few places along the way to take in sweeping vistas. Well worth our time.
The tour wrapped up and we bid good bye to Andy and our other travelers. We drove back to Keswick and headed out for dinner. Deanna was craving some ‘comfort’ food and we headed to Woodstone pizza & flame grill a few blocks from our B&B. The pizza was excellent, as good as some of the pizza we had in Italy for sure.