The Lake District is located in Cumbria, on the northwest coast of England about an hour from the Scottish border. The Lake District is to northern England what Cornwall is to the south, and I can’t figure out which one I enjoyed more. They’re both beautiful.
The lakes are a result of the last ice age. Glaciers receded from here and cut the U-shaped valleys that are now filled with water. My friends and I drove up on a Sunday, and the highways were packed with people coming down south after a relaxing weekend at the lakes. It’s easy to see why they all go.
Starting up north at Ullswater, we made our way south to Windermere. The farther south we went, the busier it got. I enjoyed the northern lakes more because of this.
Ullswater is located in a rugged area and is surrounded by mountains, hiking trails, and sheep farms. It was very reminiscent of New Zealand and looked a lot like Milford Sound, but without all the ice. And though Ullswater is the second-largest lake in the district, it’s one of the quietest.
Pooley Bridge Village, located at the northern end of the lake, is famous for the little stone bridge that gives the town its name. The bridge was nothing special, but the river is shallow enough to walk across and, despite its cold temperature, had many kids playing in it.
Driving south, we passed mountain after mountain and farm after farm. There are a lot of sheep in this area, which is another reason this place makes me think of New Zealand.
We drove through the Kirkstone Pass, which provides stunning views of the whole area, including a few of the lakes. Little streams trickle downhill, and there are a number of swimming holes here. However, once you pass through, you reach the southern part of the district and the more heavily touristed area. Coming out of the pass, houses started to spring up all around, more cars were on the road, and people seemed to be everywhere.
When we pulled into Windermere, we hit traffic and crowds and I longed for the serenity of the northern lakes. We didn’t even stop in Windermere because, after driving around for 20 minutes, we realized we just couldn’t find parking. But I wasn’t too bothered. I like avoiding crowds. Interesting fact about Windermere, though: the home of Beatrix Potter, who wrote the Peter Rabbit books, is located here.
Not only is the Lake District amazing, but all of the surrounding area is too. My friends live in Lancaster, which was equally beautiful. It’s a more populated version of the Lake District, but still has all the charm. I woke up to this each morning:
Ancient stone walls sectioned off vast numbers of sheep, green hills rolled on forever in all directions, and tiny English stone cottages dotted the landscape. This whole area had an “English country” feel that I’ve yet to see elsewhere, and coming here took me back a few centuries. The whole area is so well-preserved and so perfect, you often wonder if the locals got together and decided to rebuild everything like it was in the 1700s for the tourists. Luckily, that’s not the case. People here have just maintained these ancient houses out of their own free will.
Out of all the time I’ve spent here in England, my weekend in Lancaster and the Lake District felt the most “English.” The cottages, the sheep, the hills, and the Sunday venison roast caught by a man wearing this: