Monday, October 14, 2013

September 12, Thursday- Leaving York for the Lake District

Sept 12, 2013
When we left York this morning, I wasn't too excited about any more driving. I just wanted to sit back and enjoy the views and take photos. But the passenger needs to stay alert too and give directions, and read signs. Getting out of York was only 3 left turns from our street but without seeing street signs, it again was confusing which street we were supposed to turn left on. We fumbled our way out and watched for main roads and which exits to take on the roundabouts/rotaries/donuts = intersections. But a half hour later we were on the long haul and could relax a bit. The drive up to Windermere in the Lake District was refreshing to our eyes to see all the vivid shades of emerald green on the hillsides. It was two laned and lined with bushes, trees or walls of stone. Soft rolling hills (not sharp mountains) were covered with a patchwork of squares marked by short stone walls. I'm talking thousands of miles of walls. (That was confirmed) Where do they find all those stones? And who volunteered for that job?

Do you know who keeps all that grass so short and manicured? Sheep!!
Scattered amongst the walls were adorable little sheep. Some shorn, others still wooly, and many marked with pink or blue blotches of paint. Still need to ask for an explanation of that. And I'm talking miles of sheep too. There were cows but on this road they're a minority. Sheeps rule!

And as far as your eyes could see, green rolling patchworked hills. Miles and miles of green farm pastures. I saw a couple signs for Farm Shops & Cream Teas but it was about 11 and after another full breakfast before we left York, there wasn't room. I'm afraid I may be running out of time for my farm cream tea.  :(  One of my biggest disappointments.
At the recommendation of our previous innkeeper, we stopped in the Yorkshire Dales at the small town  of Settle, a dogleg off the main road, to get out, walk around and have lunch. It was a very friendly town with people saying good morning, & asking where we were coming from. 

At the information center we asked a lady for places to eat lunch, and she gleefully said across the street is the naked man. I said you have those here? She grinned, and I said you have way too much fun saying that. So we walked over to Ye Olde Naked Man which was half bakery and half cafe. I had THE most delicious baguette sandwich w/ Brie cheese and bacon. Sadly their hot chocolate was not up to par with the ones we had at the York Cocoa House.
I wandered in some of the backstreets and alleys to look at the little shops hidden among them. I found some thrift shops, bookstore, and a tiny antique shop but nothing to bring home with me. 

Hubby went into a pub called The Houndstooth looking for beer mugs and was given this beer glass for free from a local brewery called The Copper Dragon.  
I took a few photos of some ancient buildings on the hillsides behind the little town with cows way up on top of the mountain, and outcroppings of rock, and started hearing the crows, or are they rooks? They don't make the "caw caw" sound like our crows. It's more of an "err err", and very spooky sounding. Looking at this view, and hearing the crows, brought to my mind a vision of what it was like on the moors in the Charlotte & Emily Bronte books. 
Later I got an education on the "birds".  The small black birds are called jackdaws, and make a squeeky sound. The rooks, which are the size of our crows in San Diego, were the ones flying around us. Their crows are 2 feet high, and the ravens, which are in the mountains, are 3 feet high, and I was told are very mean. Think about it, a raven is the height of a yardstick! 

We drove thru miles of the same views of green patchwork and sheep until we finally arrived in Windermere, which is right above one of the lakes. We drove thru windy narrow streets down a steep hill around old stone buildings. There was a small grouping of shops and restaurants in them then we started seeing lots of old houses converted to B&Bs. Some are modernized, like ours, The Wheatland Lodge. 
It has the look of a country home but with modern artwork and mirrors inside. Not the cozy farmhouse I like but still very nice. My only guide to picking this place was a photo of the outside, and one bedroom.  And it was the room we got. 

We had this lovely view outside our bedroom's bay window of the little sidestreet we are on.

We were greeted each time we walked in the door by Meghan, the sheep dog who loved to have the ball kicked directly towards her. If you kicked it the other way, she'd stay in her crouched position looking at you until you got it right. 
It was about 3pm so after settling in, we walked back into the town to look into shops and find where we wanted to eat dinner.
This is a closeup of one of those slate stone walls outside the house. Nothing was used to hold them together. Highly skilled artisians place the stones exactly in place to weave them together, and may be flat, round, or square. The stone is very expensive now, and very expensive to have the walls repaired. 
 Walking down the streets to Windermere lake, I found out the area we're in is actually called Bowness on Windermere as the lake is called Windermere. Kind of like Stratford on Avon (on the Avon river). Mere means lake so calling this Windermere Lake is kind of redundant.

 Yep, I wanted this house too.

This was a pedicure shop where you place your feet in basins of water with little fisheys who nibble off the dead skin. No thank you! 
We wanted a pub with character for dinner but after talking to a couple from LA in the street, they recommended Francine's. Hubby had venison hamburger, and I had braised lamb shank, which had a more subtle flavor than lamb I've had at home. 

The meal was small enough that I was able to have dessert and finally had my first Stickey Toffee Pudding here. It's like a gingerbread with raisins or dates, topped with ice cream, and served with butterscotch sauce. It was delicious and very flavorful.
Back to the Lodge, and we feel asleep very quickly in a nice comfortable bed.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Val,
    Wow, how beautiful, especially the stone walls. Have a soft spot for them. They used to be common near where I grew up: we'd go to northern PA to a lake and the walls were all over. Now many are gone, bought by contractors for houses in the NY and Phila areas. Grrr.

    Still, here in KY stone fences, or rock fences as we call them, are pretty common still. When we drive out to Curte's parents we pass walls like this along the way. The Dry Stone Conservancy teaches mortarless wall building, and there are even contractors who specialize in it, since stone décor is popular here. For example: Yes, those fields look a little bit like those north of York, although more of ours are filled with horses than with sheep.

    Very best,