Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The Lake District
For an island that's not that big, England manages to wow you with scenery that is as diverse as a cross country drive of America. From the hills and dales, mountains and lakes, there is a beauty that is both spectacular and pastoral. We rented a car this past weekend, and headed to the Lake District, on the west side of England. It is one of the most visited and photographed areas and after visiting, it is easy to understand why. It was a pleasant 3 hour trip through the dales, the sun behind us and sheep on every side. We were delighted that is was lambing season. The hills were littered with adorable, fluffy little lambs, kicking up their feet and chasing after their mothers for a quick drink of milk. When the windows were down, we could hear them bleating, almost sounding human. "Mommm.....mommm..." and in response, a very deep, resonant reply. I imagined that it had a touch of irritation about it, not unlike harassed mothers everywhere (especially ones who have been travelling extensively and living in close proximity to their children for 5 months!).
As we exited the motorway, crested the pass and descended into the valley, we left the sun behind and beheld the allure of Beatrix Potter country, with rain at no extra charge. We headed to the boat launch at the bottom of Lake Windemere and ate our lunch in the car while crossing on the ferry. Our picnic blanket in the trunk remained there all day!
Our first stop was Hill Top Farm, home to the woman who wrote the delightful children's books, Jemima Puddle Duck, Peter Rabbit and many, many others. We had just recently watched the movie, Miss Potter, starring Renee Zellwegger and we were charmed. The author was not only celebrated for her books, but also for her work as a conservationist. She was against the commercialization of her beloved Lake District, so she used the money she earned from her stories to buy up the neighbouring farms. Upon her death in 1943, she left the land and properties to the National Trust and it remains today, as it did in her lifetime. We toured the house, but did not linger long in the garden. We were worried about Mr. MacGregor!