Impressions on Cumbria

Home sweet home! Not that I got tired of travelling or suffered from home sickness. Nope. Most importantly, H. was with me, and I still had clean clothes for a few more days, so I could’ve stayed a little longer and walked a certain bit of Hadrian’s Wall route. We planned going to Housesteds Fort because it seemed the most interesting part of the wall for us and the scenery is supposed to be stunning, but due to rainy weather we decided to stay in Carlisle, hang around and do some shopping without forgetting to pop in a pub for lunch or an evening pint of bitter.

Talking of weather, we did have proper waterproof clothing with us. It’s just that we thought we wouldn’t enjoy hiking in the rain that much. Luckily, Cumbrian weather surprised us: we were prepared for really dull weather but during our stay in Bowness-on-Windermere we had just a few short showers, one which was hail. Mostly it was sunny – and windy, so a tricot hat and a windproof (rain)jacket were part of my everyday outfit.

It had snowed in the fells during our first night in Bowness.

We were struck by the friendliness of people and the excellent service we got everywhere. Wish it was like that in Finland! Am a little ashamed to say we are not the friendliest of nations compared to Cumbrians.

When hiking or biking we didn’t carry much to eat with us. Instead, we went to pubs or tearooms and were never disappointed. Can you find anything cuter than this little tearoom in Hawkshead? Look at the shrubs!

Grandy Nook tearoom was perfect for enjoying a jacket potato.
I still have something to learn about gardening.

Cause I was born and spent my adolescence in Eastern Finland I’m used to lakes all around me but yet they looked marvellous in the Lake District. We have hills but not fells except for Lapland, so I guess it’s the contrast between deciduous trees glowing in spring green and barren fells that fascinate me. That’s why I wanted to climb to the top of Latterbarrow (West Shore Windermere, 244 m) and see the view from there. Gosh, it was windy! I was standing at the foot of the stone monument up there and felt the wind was about to sweep me away while H. was taking a picture of me. Believe me, it wasn’t easy to hold the camera still when taking pictures or shooting a video. No matter how hard a climb is, it’s always rewarding to be on the top and just admire the view. Yet we decided to make a minor change to our programme and forget about climbing to Carron Crag (314 m) in Grizedale Forest Park :).

You don’t always need to climb to be able to enjoy stunning scenery. Bowness-on-Windermere

It turned out I’m not only a dog lover but also a sheep lover – and there were loads of them in Cumbria. Some public footpaths led us through pastures with sheep in lamb. Unfortunately they were a little too shy to let me pat them. Or maybe they just didn’t like fuchsia!

Excuse me, is it still far to Near Sawrey, please? Or is Far Sawrey nearer perhaps?

It’s not only bacon and scrambled eggs that keeps a lady going for a whole day. Something from a tearoom is certainly needed to keep blood sugar in balance and a certain person in a good mood so as not to cause her partner a nervous breakdown. Did I justify my sudden urge for (half) a slice of Victoria sponge well enough? Ever since I watched Calendar Girls I’ve been wondering what sponge cake tastes like. Now I know: it’s a distant cousin of our layer cake, with a dough a bit greasier than ours and without whipped cream inside and on top.

Filling up ‘me’ fuel tank at Baldry’s in Grasmere

Thanks to a tip from a friend, we walked from Grasmere to Rydal along Coffin Route on vappuaatto (30th April). The route seemed to be popular among walkers, who speeded past us, walking poles in their hands. We walked slowly, taking a deep breath every once in a while, admiring the scenery, letting our souls find rest far from busy city streets and household chores. That’s what a perfect holiday is like in our opinion!

Can you ever get tired of looking at a landscape such as this? Rydal Water

Since Coffin Route was an easy walk we decided to go on as far as Ambleside along narrow country roads instead of following A591. We didn’t regret our choice: the landscape was simply gorgeous and I had a chance to see more sheep on pastures near the River Rothay.

Stepping stones for the sheep? No, perhaps for the lady in fuchsia.

I’m glad we spent the first half of our holiday in Bowness and didn’t go further north until after vappu (1st May). You see, the scenery was even more impressive by Derwent Water. The fells seemed higher and they were closer to the lake. It was relatively warm and, of course, windy, but thanks to the sunshine we even got a slight tan on our faces. Until then I suppose my face colour was what Procol Harum sang about, a whiter shade of pale :).

Resting my weary legs by Ashness Bridge near Keswick, unaware of the difficult path down to come.

What’s so surprising about Surprise View then? Perhaps the fact that you could see a village practically below your feet if you dared close enough to the edge of the crag. Even though I yearn for climbing to the top of fells I’m afraid of heights and didn’t go too near.

Surprise View, Derwent Water

Yes, the path down to Lodore turned out to be the most difficult and the slowest to walk so far: rocky and not signposted well enough. My smart boyfriend reasoned which way to go and we got across Lodore Falls without wading and finally reached Borrowdale valley where we rewarded ourselves with a healthy meal without forgetting a pint of local :p.

Lodore Falls

We think Carlisle was an OK English town, reasonably sized with a pedestrian zone in the centre and lovely Rickeby Park by the River Eden where we got acquainted with a red and white border collie (and her owner). To our surprise people greeted us on public footpaths and were open enough to stop to have a little chat. We had experienced that in Inverness and were delighted to do so again. Great to come into contact with locals, no matter how briefly. Which reminds me of the Howard Arms where we had lunch on our first day in Carlisle; we went back for a pint on our last evening and the lad at the bar rememberd us! On the other hand, how could anyone forget us? The two of us speaking our own weird-sounding language amongst ourselves, using an odd accent of English at the bar – and if the other one is dressed in different shades of pink and fuchsia? And if the other looks like this:

Is this foxy fella a new boyfriend perhaps?

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my impressions on Cumbria. If you ever feel like going on an active holiday somewhere beautiful, I recommend the Lake District. Forget about big towns unless shopping is your major sporting activity and check in B&Bs in villages, take day trips from your base and let the landscape take your worries away. Bye for now!

Origially posted on a private blog on 9th May, 2015

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