England’s North West is well developed with big cities and industrial hubs such as Manchester and Liverpool. But not far from the hustle and pollution, you find an area of incredible nature almost untouched by urban development. Some of that is thanks to Beatrix Potter, the famous children’s book author, whose many tales (e.g. The Tale of Peter Rabbit) are set in the Lake District.
In the early 1900’s, after the tragic loss of her fiancé, Beatrix retreated to the Lake District and started breeding sheep and farming her own land. When investors started arriving in the Lake District, she became a fierce conservationist. Her acquired wealth allowed her to buy up many farms and their lands. From the beginning Beatrix worked closely with the National Trust, envisioning the long-term preservation of the area. After her death in 1943, 4000 acres of land and countryside, including 14 farms, were given to the National Trust. Ever since then, these farms and land are still conserved and managed by tenant farmers, just like she had wished.
Beatrix Potter was a woman well ahead of her time that wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself and what she believed in. I always wondered what inspired such passion, creativity and determination. A visit to the Lake District was long due, and I quickly understood what must have been driving her.
Once you leave the interstate to enter the Lake District, you are greeted by rolling green hills and miles and miles of romantic stone walls separating land patches and enclosing sheep and cattle. The air is fresh, almost moist. The light is intriguing and changes constantly. Lakes await around every bend. Whilst there is a main road connecting some of the main areas, it is well worth choosing the shortest, instead of the fastest route. The Lake District’s back-roads take you across hills, by farms, along a lake, or across a pass. You’ll see miles and miles of land, but hardly ever a soul. Getting off the main road is an experience you don’t want to miss. However, be warned, the smaller the car the better, because many of these roads are one lane and very narrow even when there are two lanes.
The Lake District is a heaven for hikers, bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Many of the trails lead you across flock of sheep, grazing on the green grass, rolling hills, and meadows adorned by wild flowers. The light and cloud scenery is spectacular and ever changing. The same goes for the weather. You might set out on a sunny day, but can find yourself soaked by rain an hour later. As long as you expect changing weather, layer your clothing, and have adequate rain gear, you should be fine. Given the terrain and weather, I would definitely recommend a pair of hiking boots instead of tennis shoes.
Small towns, like for instance Windermere or Ambleside, offer hotels as well as guest houses and B&B’s. There you will also find restaurants as well as shops where you can stock up on souvenirs, hiking gear, or supplies.
Our day in the Lake District was amazing, and I will be returning soon to discover more of what this beautiful part of England has to offer.
Written by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner and travel consultant at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm customizing travel itineraries for discerning customers. With her extensive travel experience in Great Britain she can help you create a wonderful trip. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org