To the Lakes

Anglotopia Day 10 – From the Peak District to the Lake District via Manchester Picadilly 

After three quiet days in Bonsall, the time came for us to leave – and let the missing spider enjoy his solitude until the next unsuspecting guests arrived.

I was dropped off at Manchester-Picadilly train station to catch an afternoon train up to Windermere, yet another literary-must. Windermere, and the Lake District, was the home of the Romantic poets, most notably William Wordsworth, his lesser-studied sister Dorothy, and his bff Samuel Taylor Coleridge who did a fair share of visiting at Dove Cottage near Grasmere.

My first introduction to Romantic poetry was in high school, when I visited a bookshop at Navy Pier in Chicago and saw little paperbacks of various classics. For some reason, I had always been attracted to the classics – there was something terribly appealing about those Penguin Classics covers – and knew at a young age that these were the books “to know.” I tried to read Jane Austen’s Emma when I was in grade six, but I gave up when I couldn’t figure out why so many words had an extra “u” in them. That was not the spelling I had been taught, damn it, and I was good at spelling!

In my teen years, I thought that a book of Romantic poetry sounded great – after all, teens and romance seem to go hand-in-hand. Imagine my disappointment when all the poems turned out to be about flowers, clouds, and damn trees. Or, maybe a babbling stream. That book got put away for along time, until I met a professor at university who was a massive fan of the Romantic poets and actually taught us that poetry about nature didn’t have to be so disappointing.

I switched trains at Oxenholme, a hub for the Lake District, and continued on to Windermere. It was an easy stroll to the guesthouse where I would set up shop for a few days in a small single room – in the attic. Cozy, to say the least.

When the rain eased up, I walked into Windermere proper, finding a melange of pubs, restaurants, cafes, and tourist shops. Spurred on by the late day sunshine, I continue on south, following the dipping road to Bowness-on-Windermere, the terminus of the boats around Lake Windermere.

The last boat to do a loop tour around the lake was to leave at 8 PM, so I hopped aboard this one, definitely not anticipating how damn cold it was going to be. The sun had disappeared again, but at least some part was visible enough to create some beautiful colors on the water at sunset.

I appreciated that the top of the boat was open for taking pictures, but for the last half hour, I – and the rest of the passengers – retreated below deck to the enclosed part of the boat. Thankfully, that seemed so much warmer than being upstairs.

Travel Tip #6 – While seemingly expensive, taking a boat around Lake Windermere can be an alternative to driving or a bus to most of the main towns like Ambleside or other attractions. Some boats function as a taxi service in a loop. Others are just for sight-seeing. It’s good to clarify which is which before buying a ticket.

It was about a twenty-five minute walk uphill back to Windermere, and, of course, it began to rain in earnest before I could reach the guesthouse at the far part of town. Having neglected to bring an umbrella, I looked a bit like a drowned cat when I finally rocked up and made my way to my attic room.

The ping of the rain on the rooftop made for perfect ambient noise.

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Gorgeous flowers by the postbox, heavy with rain

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