Monday, October 14, 2013

September 13, Friday in the Lake District, Windermere

Sept 13, 2013

We woke to grey cloudy skies this morning but everyone said it was going to be a nice day. This is a nice day? Well, we love weather like this and had enjoyed the sprinkles and light showers yesterday. Today it was cold enough to see your breath. Quite a change from the 95-100d at home.
We walked back down the hill in town to look around the lake. 

I went down to the water's edge to see the swans and one came out to greet me. But then the other smaller birds decided to land on me.  Hubby got a picture of them on top of my head.

After realizing we were staying two nights but would only have one full day in Windermere, we had to decide how to get the most out of it. The original plan was to walk around the lake & ride the steamboat on it. But it took us quite awhile just to walk down to the lake, and then come back uphill. And the lake was all we'd be able to see. So we found a small bus tour, the Mountain Goats, that would take us to a couple different towns, a short boat ride on the lake, and best of all, take us to Beatrix Potter's Hill Top Farm! We couldn't go inside the house as it's closed on Fridays, but we'd be able to walk around the gardens and see the house and other properties belonging to Potter.

The first part of our tour took us over the hills and dales and down to the lake. We didn't stop anywhere for photos so I was sad about that because there were some really interesting stone buildings. The road up to Hill Top was very narrow and we were all nervous as our mini bus had to pass the other cars. It's quite an art and sometimes requires one car backing up to a bit wider part of the road. Hubby was glad he decided not to drive up here.

We began passing fields of sheep, seeing three different breeds. Some we saw in the fields were all black (the lambs) that later turned white. And there were adults that were all white, or had white bodies and black heads. Others had grey bodies with white heads. Those were my favorite and were called Herdwicks. Turns out it was also Potter's favorite and almost became extinct from disease in 2001until she took over saving them. Now it's the responsibility of the National Trust to keep them alive when she bequeathed all her farms to them. 
Hill Top consisted of a group of houses that Potter had bought. The original Hill Top where she lived was too small when she married so she bought a white house across the way and added a larger section for her and her husband. She maintained Hill Top for her writing and painting.

 We first walked into the gift shop and since I'd been hearing about all the conservation work and scientific work Potter had done, I decided I wanted to know more about her. I hoped they'd have a biography of her, and they did from the National Trust publishers. It turned out the reviews say its a very good read. They also had two booklets on Potter and another with photos of the inside of the house that we couldn't go in. 

Then we walked out in the garden and into a fantasy world of Beatrix Potter. Walking down a stone path surrounded by a pumpkin patch and flowers, and wooden fences, I could hear birds singing, bees buzzing, and then looked over and saw bunnies in the field! Peter Rabbit! There were two large grey ones half buried in the grass, and another against the back fence. Apparently I'd just missed the blue bird.

This is Hill Top where she wrote and painted, and spent much of her life. 

Then I walked up a little farther to the house and saw another bird, this time one with a light green belly sitting above the door frame, and then another with a red breast on the window ledge. Others flitted by us. I could almost imagine it as Potter had seen when she lived here. Even though we didn't get to go inside the house, it was totally worth coming.
On one side of the house was this plaque that Potter put up in 1906 with her HP initials on it.  

This pretty green gate led to her vegetable garden. 
This was the view down below us. It was such an idyllic place, and I felt like this was a dream come true for me to visit here. 

Our next stop took us to Hawkshead, a medieval town that has mostly become a bunch of shops and cafes. We had an hour to stop for lunch and shop. Hubby found some good fish and chips, and while I ran around the shops looking for a little statue of a Herdy sheep, he bought me a freshly baked raisin scone to nibble on. I also bought a bottle of elderberry sparkling water, and the elderberry taste was just as good as I remembered from jelly I'd had as a child.
Of course I found a local friendly cat who was soaking up the sun on a stone wall. 
From here we went to Tarn Hows, one of Potter's favorite places. 

We continued around the hills and lakes, and on down to Coniston Lake, the largest lake in the area, which has 8(?) of them. Across from us was Old Man Coniston, the highest peak here, about 1500 ft. We were dropped off at the lake and got on a launch to take us around the lake and then to the other side where we'd meet our driver. Surrounded by emerald green hills with clouds hanging down over them was just beautiful. I've seen a lot of large lakes so I'm not overly excited by this one but it was very green, which I'm not used to.

Off the boat, we walked up a steep hill for a higher view across the lake, and then drove off again. We passed more and more fields of sheep. We drove by the house that was actually used in the filming of "Miss Potter", which they claim was much prettier than the real one. I can see it was better situated for filming, and they had painted the white portions grey to make it appear older. I took photos but it was again from a distance and we were moving. 
We found out the Chinese and Japanese tourists come over here in droves specifically to see Beatrix Potter's lands, as they're big fans of her. They were the main part of our group, and I could see they were just as excited as I was to see it all. We were all squealing together when we saw the rabbits. 
Farther down the hill we came across some cows in the area. I can't remember what they called them but I remember seeing some in Maine, and they called them "Oreo Cows". I doubt that's their real name but it fits. 
Look at this face. Isn't it sweet? I finally found a pottery statue of one when we got back to town. 

We continued on and began going down the hillsides again and back to our drop-off hotels. We decided to be dropped off in town instead to walk around a bit and to find dinner. We had planned to find a British pub for pub food but after stopping in one shop, we had two different people recommend Amore's, an Italian restaurant. So we went there, and weren't disappointed. My Lasagna Bolognese was so cheesey, I forced myself to eat every bit.
Back at the B&B, we started packing so we could get an early start on Saturday morning to drive up to Carlisle and hop on the train down to London. We picked a good day to leave because they're telling us a big storm is coming in on Sunday with gale force winds. Our route is going to take us over the mountains instead of the freeway and we should have some nice scenery on the way. We hope to have a little extra time to look around Penrith (on our route) and Carlisle before we have to be at the train station at noon.


  1. What a wonderful post - I so enjoyed this! What great memories you must have of visiting this place!

  2. Just lovely! Not sure I will ever be able to go but I do dream of it! Thanks do much for sharing!!