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The beautiful Lake District in England is the land of the poets. It is in the North West of England and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Dr. Paramita takes us on a tour of that enchanting destination. A Different Truths exclusive.
The beauty of the land reminded me a childhood song, “How do I like to go up in a swing? Up in the air so blue. Rivers and trees and cattle and all, over the country side”. Yes I was in the beautiful Lake District in England last July, the land of the poets. It is in the North West of England and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We took the 8.30am Virgin train from Euston Station, London. It was a journey of about two and a half hours. We reached Oxenholme at about 11.18am. We saw an old lady waiting with a placard. Our travel agency’s name was on the placard along with names of other agencies. She said that no we were not the ones. So my husband and I walked up and down several times the platform. Suddenly it dawned on her that we were the people. My husband who has a very good sense of humour laughed the matter away and jokingly told the travel agency that they should refund some money. Jane the guide took us in her van. There were about nine to ten people in the van. She first took us to her agency office t o pick up a few more people. We then went to Kendel which is called the gateway to Lake District. Kendel is famous for its Kendel Mint cakes which are more of a peppermint flavoured sugar energy bar. Years ago the Lake District was famous for its wool as its farms reared a lot of sheep but gradually Manchester became more famous f or woollens and Lake District became famous for tourism. We were driving through beautiful green valleys where sheep were grazing and we could see pretty cottage type houses. What greenery! What beauty! The Mountains could be seen all around. One such undulating mountain is called Crinkle Crack. The highest peak is Called Scafell Pike.
Then came into view, the serene and beautiful Windermere Lake, the largest lake in England. It was as picturesque as a picture postcard. Motor boats were only allowed in the Windermere Lake. Great poets and writers like William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter used to live here. Wordsworth was very much against railways reaching Windermere but railways got connected to Windermere from Oxenholme in 1847 but were stopped from going further. Near the lake there is a Roman fort reminding us the days of Roman rule.
We left Windermere village behind and was travelling on a broad road lined on both sides by ancient woodlands with very old oak trees, silver birches, ash trees and holly trees. Gradually the wood cleared to show cottages. One such cottage on the right had very high chimneys. Some say such high chimneys were built to show wealth again some say they helped in moving the smoke away fast.
Our guide Jane then took us to a 19th century Wrey Castle. Not really a castle of a king or a queen but of a rich medical practitioner, styled in the Gothic revival pattern.
Then the story of the Queen of the Lake District, the author Beatrix Potter unfolded. We went to Hill Top, Potter’s house. She loved the Lake District. She initially started writing stories and then was encouraged to publish them. Then it was history…she became rich and famous. She bought a lot of land in Lake District. Beatrix was fascinated with the herdwick sheep. These sheep give birth to a lamb one at a time. They are black when born but then become grey. When Beatrix gave away her property to the National Trust she ensured that her lands should have herdwick sheep. Potter married William Heelis her estate agent. They shifted to Castle Cottage, a grey cottage opposite to her Hilltop House. Hilltop is in the village Sawrey, a lovely cottage with trees all around. It has a tiny main door almost hidden by trees. A cement engraving on the top showing it was built in 1906 with an emblem, BP. The rooms were low ceilinged containing artifacts and furniture used by Beatrix. A room with a doll house and tiny porcelain characters out of her books and miniature utensils melted my heart. The paintings of Bertram Potter, the brother of Beatrix filled a room. Some sketches by her father were so intricate and fine. I as an author would love to have a wooden carved writing desk like Beatrix. We went around the whole of the two storied cottage. There was a book of Beatrix Potter with a painting of hers on a window sill and the scenery of the painting was replica of the outside scenery. I loved the concept.
Our next stop gave me a thrill, Hawkshead village. The prettiest village in the Lake District where my favourite poet William Wordsworth had spent much time in his childhood. We visited the Hawkshead Grammar School which was founded in 1585. Wordsworth had studied in this school from 1779 to 1787. His original desk is still there. I loved the cottages around with colourful flowers at their windows. The village was scattered with shops having gifts or Beatrix Potter’s characters. My husband and I had a huge dollop of ice cream at a quaint little shop called “The Little Ice Cream Shop”. I the creative soul am always attracted to unusual names so I had the Grandma’s Apple Pie ice cream.
Then we moved on to a beautiful lake called Tarn Haws. It was gifted to the National Trust by Beatrix Potter in 1930. Tarn means lake and this is a combination of three tarns. What an enchanting place! The walk around the Tarn with its wonderful views and the sense of being high up is a well established classic. On one of its side is the Tom Gill waterfall. There are variety of wild life around the Tarn like red squirrels, medicinal leeches, otters and many species of birds. We tourists lapped up the opportunity of photography. Brown ducks were quacking all around us. The lake had white and pink lilies. Our guide described the place as biscuit tin scenery. Yes the place was so beautiful that it was absolutely apt for biscuit tin covers. When I was going down, my husband called me from far below. I felt romantic and plucked a yellow flower from the grass and gave him. Our fellow tourists cheered us. From there we drove down to Lake Coniston. It was here that Donald Campbell broke eight speed records in his speed boat. He died in this very lake after a boat mishap.
We then went back to Windermere Lake to take a cruise to Bonsbee. It was a thirty minute cruise.
Our guide then took us for an English tea break. We had a hearty English tea with scones with whipped cream and jam.
Jane dropped us at Oxenholme station. We took the 6.30pm train back to London. The poet in me was more than content to visit the land of poets.
©Dr. Paramita Mukherjee Mullick
Photos by the author
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