It was about an hour and a half drive north to get to the Lake District (Cumbria) from Congleton. Pretty landscape scenery with a few interjections from John of notable landmarks or items to note along the way. One was a mountain area known for the Lancashire witch-burning back in the day of notable witch-burnings which I will need to read about further one of these days. A snow covered mountain range called the Howgills. The other that stands out are the miles and miles of hand made slate or stone fences criss-crossing acres and acres and acres of land. These man-made fences are impressive.
I Googled for more info and someone called Ricx said:
“Cumbria is covered with approx 7000 miles of dry stone walling built nearly two hundred years ago. They still stand used mainly for sheep in the cold and freshness of the Peinines of Cumbria. The snow capped hills in the background are the Howgills.” (I could swear John gave me the term for this fence building technique, but I didn’t write it down, hence I forgot the name.)
We arrived at a ferry crossing over Windemere lake. Our timing was impeccable; we didn’t have to wait long for the ferry and the crossing was over in the blink of an eye!
Not long after, we arrived in the small village of Hawkshead which was overrun with images of Peter Rabbit and souvenir shoppes. This was Beatrix Potter country. As a lover of children’s books, ever since I heard about Beatrix’s life story, many years ago, and how she endowed her beautiful acres of land in the Lake District to the National Trust (UK’s version of America’s National Park Service) upon her death, this area has been on my ‘wish list’ of travel destinations. And, here I was. (Careful what you wish for as you may just get it and then you, too, can be thankful for a random event leading to fulfilling your wish.)
Curiously, most, if not all, of the shoppes featured Japanese translations for any Potter signage. John later found out that in Japan, students are taught English by reading Beatrix Potter’s children’s books. Therefore, thousands of Japanese tourists make their way to Hawkshead and Hilltop House every year. Wow, who knew? I certainly had no clue of the impact on people, especially as a learning tool, these books have made globally.
We went into one of the National Trust protected buildings which featured several original works of art by Beatrix along with story lines on her life. This included her love life. Although she never had children of her own, she was engaged to one fellow in London, but married another fellow she met here in the Lake District (If memory serves me, they met in this building which was a government run office for land procurement.) when purchasing her first property here in Cumbria after her books sold like hotcakes. There is a movie about her life starring Renée Zellweger (which at a certain period of her life story reduced me into a puddle of tears) called “Miss Potter” explaining more, if you are interested.
Anyway, the three of us wandered around the two story building, up an uneven staircase, and walked on wildly uneven and wavy floorboards. I proceeded to happily escape into my little pretend photo-journalist world taking photo after photo of the ‘artifacts’ presented. And, John, Denise, and I had a little fun with the period hats, as well.
Then, I snapped this picture…on the way out…
…and, DUNDUNDUN DUN, a woman jumped out of nowhere and severely admonished me for, yep, you got it, TAKING PHOTOS. Oops. (As a side note, she was Japanese which really makes me want to know HER story and how she managed to get this job. Did her dream come true, too?)
We high-tailed it (a little bunny talk) back to the car before our time ran out in the parking lot (yeah, had to pay for parking in this small village in the middle of nowhere), and headed up to Hilltop House. It was obvious, here, that I couldn’t take photos inside (Good grief, there were so many “guards” scattered about! All of whom were mostly elderly women who may be volunteers or maybe paid, not sure). They were standing guard over some beautiful antiques Beatrix and hubby had collected. She loved ‘miniatures’ like I do, too. Then there was her drawing room (literally) where I stood next to a carved desk showing a pad with little animal drawings and the sun, at that moment, just so happened to be shining through the window nearby causing me to blurt out to the ‘guard’ (who was actually an elderly man this time), “Wow, she had great lighting in this spot for drawing, didn’t she?” He merely mumbled a brief acknowledgement. Oh well. It inspired me, anyway.
Back outside I was able to start clicking away again in her garden and in front of the house envisioning her imagination running away with her animal antics as I looked at the dormant vegetable garden and stone barn.
We decided to head back to town for lunch and to allow time for me to shop for souvenirs to give to my 7 year and 4 year old grandkids, not to mention, for myself. As I was walking down the path towards the car park (there is no such thing of people walking with me since I inevitably stop to take photos every 2 seconds, and I have yet to meet anyone patient enough to wait for me, nor would I expect anyone to be that patient, and besides, taking photos really is a solitary art), something caught my eye and there in the dead winter grass, was this:
Then my camera battery died. And I had not charged the other two the night before. The day was not yet over and having 3 dead batteries was NOT a good thing. I am usually pretty good at keeping the system going when I travel: one battery in the camera, one in the camera case for the day trip, and the third in the charger plugged in at wherever I’m sleeping the night. But not this time.
Earlier when we had been in the village, there was this sign on a pub which had caught my eye so I suggested we give it a try for lunch. As soon as we ordered, I was on the hunt for an electrical outlet (thank goodness my British electrical converter was also in my camera bag) to charge my battery. The bartender pointed one out and I was back on track.
Lunch, for me, was the most savory salad I had during my entire journey. I noticed that The King’s Arms also rented out rooms which were very reasonable, but it was off-season, too, which could very well impact the reasoning. However, good to note in case I ever return.
After going a bit overboard on the souvenirs, in a conservatively budget-conscious way, I noticed this interesting tower.
This shot was taken in a hurry, hence blurry, but I could imagine there is a lot of history in this area one could learn about during a more leisurely trip. But light was fading and we had to meet up for dinner with more “long lost cousins” on our way back to Congleton. It was obvious that several days in the Lake District would just be touching the surface of what this beautiful area has to offer. For the fit and hardy, there are trails everywhere, mountains to climb, and beautiful vistas to see. I do feel very thankful to have had the opportunity to see what I did that day, thanks to my very own “long lost cousin” John and his wife, Denise.