The ferry at Lake Windemere.
The last weekend in May was a long weekend here in the UK. So a group of friends decided to go to the Lakes District for the weekend, home of the famous Lakes poets notably William Wordsworth. There were 12 of us in 3 cars for a 6 hour trip up into the north-west of England.
The plan was to get our cars first thing Saturday and head up to the Lakes. The car leaving from Bayswater had Minh, Jem, Pramod and myself in it. We turned up at 8am at our car collection point to find that they didnt have a car for us. We booked through EasyCar which has other local car companies service their bookings. Its one of UK's biggest car hire companies. The problem was that EasyCar hadn't sent our booking through to Alamo which was handling our booking. We weren't the only people stranded; as the minutes ticked by more and more people turned up looking for cars they had booked through EasyCar only to find their booking missing. We were told to wait till 9am until EasyCar opened to figure out what had gone wrong. Finally after much to and fro we finally had a car from Alamo at 10am thanks to the persistence of the girl at Alamo front desk. Many thanks to that girl for her professionalism, it really made a big difference.
So we were off to a late start. The drive was not very eventful and we made it to Shap(a small town south of Penrith) on the outer edge of the Lakes district by 6:30pm. We met with the rest of the gang in Shap and headed down to the pub called Bull's Head for dinner after dumping our luggage at the hostel we were staying at. Good food and a few glasses of wine and lager mellowed us out and we slowly began to relax and ease into the weekend. Then we returned to our hostel to shower and get ready for bed. The hostel was clean and warm. The girls bathroom was pretty good (except for whenever a guy had a shower we didn't get any hot water) and we all had a good night's sleep on our bunk beds. Seven of us had a dorm room to ourselves while the rest headed to their hotel in Keswick.
Sunday morning we woke up and got ready to head into Ambleside, a town by Lake Windermere. We basically spent 3 hours trying to figure out what to do; going into Windermere Tourist Information, then heading back to Ambleside, getting lost, getting stuck in traffic and finally with ferry tickets to the other side of Lake Windermere to start a 7km walk. The water in the Lake was almost black, and it was very windy. There were patches of sun which generally made for a pleasant day. We began our walk by visiting a imitation medieval castle called Wray. The views from the castle grounds were beautiful with lush green valleys, hills in the distance and blue skies all around. We then continued our walk on the edge of the lake. The path lead us in amongst tall magestic trees and views of the surrounding lake. The wind was constant and getting stronger as the day progressed. The first part of the walk varied a lot and we walked through people's properties opening and closing gates. After a while we were feeling hungry and our lack of fitness made us a little tired. But in no time at all we came to the end of the 7km walk. We ate our sandwiches by the water while waiting for the ferry to return to Ambleside. The ferry ride was gentle and after the long walk a few of us took the time to have a snooze :)
We arrived back in Ambleside via 2 ferries. Next we decided to head to Keswick to explore the town and have dinner. The drive to Keswick was gorgeous as the road hugged a few lakes and the setting sun in the distance made for beautiful views. We found parking in Keswick which proved difficult and then walked around town exploring shops and possible places to have dinner. We settled on a nice pub and ordered up a lot of nice food and drink. Many enjoyed the lamb shanks on the menu which was made from local lamb a lot of which we saw on the lush green fields during our walk. After some fairy floss and ice cream we decided to call it a night.
The next day Minh, Jem, Pramod and myself decided to do our own thing before we headed back home at lunch. The plan was to hire some bicycles and explore the lake closest to Shap. Pramod and I decided to get a tandom bike since I cant ride a bicycle. The thing we didnt realise was that tandom bikes are not meant for beginners because you still have to balance and pedal together. Everytime we got on the bike I felt like we were going to fall off and every time I padalled the bike started to swerve from left to right and we had to pull over and stop. After trying for a while we decided to give the bike ride a skip and instead drive on the track which was recommended to us by the guy working at the hostel who looked a lot like James Oliver. The drive went through some nice quiet towns and fields and ended up along a big lake finishing at one end of the lake surrounded by mountains all around. There was a walking track up all the way to one of the mountains and many people were getting ready to take the track up to the mountain. If we had more time I would've loved to have done that trek, although it was quite steep. We went down to the water, took some pictures and decided to head to a pub we passed on the way to the lake. The pub was really cute and was also recommended by the Jamey Oliver look alike for its good food. We ordered some food and Jem and I headed out to explore the town while we waited for the chef to arrive and make our food as it wasn't quite lunch time yet. The town was called Maryvale and it was surrounded by rolling hills where cows and lamb grazed lazily. It felt like a relaxing and sweet place to live in, closer to the authentic lakes district lifestyle as opposed to the very touristy towns like Ambleside and Windemere. The lunch was delicious and very down well with Magners(apple cider). By then it was time to head back into London. The drive was much shorter on the way back, and we arrived in a wet London to be stuck in traffic about 10 minutes from home on Edgware Rd. All in all the weekend was good and we were lucky to have sunny weather most of the time, however it was far too short and I would like to go back there to spend more time away from the touristy towns on treks and walks :)
See photos for the lakes here.