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Things To Do in The Lake District. Part 1

What is Lake District  
The Lake District, also known as The Lakes or Lakeland, is a renowned national park in the United Kingdom, located in the northwest region of England. It is a picturesque and scenic area famous for its breathtaking landscapes, including rolling hills, rugged mountains, and, as the name suggests, numerous lakes. The region's beauty has inspired countless artists, poets, and writers throughout history.


The Lake District covers approximately 2,362 square kilometers (912 square miles) and is home to 16 major lakes, such as Windermere, Ullswater, and Derwentwater, along with countless smaller tarns and bodies of water. The park also features charming towns and villages like Keswick, Ambleside, and Bowness-on-Windermere, which offer a range of activities, cultural attractions, and local charm.
Outdoor enthusiasts flock to The Lake District to indulge in activities such as hiking, boating, fishing, and cycling. The diverse and dramatic landscapes provide endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. Additionally, the region's rich history and cultural heritage are reflected in its stately homes, ancient ruins, and local traditions, adding a sense of depth and character to the area.


The Lake District was designated as a national park in 1951 and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, further solidifying its status as a cherished and protected natural wonder. Visitors from all over the world come to experience the tranquility, serenity, and unmatched beauty that The Lake District offers, making it one of the most beloved destinations in the UK. 


Travelling from London 
We travelled from London via Keswick by car. By an EV. The scenic route allowed us to embrace the beauty of the Lake District while reducing our carbon footprint and contributing to a cleaner environment. The quiet and smooth ride of the EV added to the overall pleasure of the trip, making it a delightful and environmentally responsible travel experience. 
London to Keswick is a picturesque drive, taking you from the bustling city to the serene landscapes of the Lake District. Keswick is a charming town located in Cumbria, England, surrounded by stunning natural beauty and nestled among picturesque mountains and lakes. 

Nestled amidst the lush landscapes of The Lake District, Keswick stands as a lively gem welcoming travelers from distant lands. In the last week of July, our curious expedition took us on an enthralling journey to this bustling little town, where vibrant culture and picturesque scenes blend harmoniously.

Keswick Market 
As we strolled through Keswick's cobblestone streets on a serene Saturday, we found ourselves immersed in the enchanting ambiance of the Keswick Market. Voted '2015 Best Outdoor Market in the UK', Keswick was a delightful sight to behold – an eclectic array of artisanal treasures and locally crafted marvels awaited our eager eyes.

Among the treasures displayed were the remarkable creations woven from the softest sheep wool, skillfully handcrafted baby products that exuded warmth and care, and the inviting aroma of freshly baked Cornish Pasties that tantalized our senses. The market was not just for human visitors, but also a gathering place for four-legged companions, their fur-donning owners having just returned from scenic hikes in the surrounding hills.


''The Lake District National Park offers breathtaking views, and Keswick itself is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, and nature lovers.''


As we meandered through the vibrant stalls, we found ourselves drawn towards the central church, where a tantalizing queue of enthusiastic locals awaited their turn for the area's most sought-after delicacy – Fish and Chips. The queue seemed to stretch endlessly, as if each person was willing to savor this delectable treat with unparalleled patience and excitement.

The charm of Keswick extended beyond the market square, leading us to captivating galleries and a local antique store. Within its walls, a trove of rare treasures awaited discovery – from vintage photographs that echoed stories of a bygone era to exquisite pieces originating from ancient China. The store even housed a remarkable collection of memorabilia from the tumultuous era of World War II, a testament to the enduring human spirit during times of strife.

In this quaint town, the essence of The Lake District unfolded before our eyes, and we were humbled by the seamless integration of history, culture, and nature. Keswick, with its lively markets, captivating galleries, and hidden antiquities, beckons travellers to uncover the soul of The Lake District and connect with the rich tapestry of humanity's shared past.

Things to do in The Lake District

 

Rosthwaite - Borrowdale Valley 
Nestled in the heart of the Borrowdale valley, Rosthwaite beckoned us with its fascinating history and enchanting surroundings. Derived from the Old Norse words meaning 'the clearing in the rose thorns', Rosthwaite has been a vibrant social hub for generations. Dating back to the late 18th century, the Moers' Arms, now known as The Royal Oak, was a favored spot where thirsty miners quenched their thirst, becoming the venue for the annual inauguration of 'The King of Borrowdale', a cherished tradition.

In 1776, the renowned travel writer, William Gilpin, described Rosthwaite as: 

''A place where the essence of simplicity blossomed, granting its inhabitants health, peace, and contentment.''

Over the years, this village has nurtured an array of Borrowdale characters, including the infamous 19th-century smuggler of black lead, fondly known as 'Black Sal'.

The Royal Oak Hotel

A fascinating discovery awaited us as we settled into The Royal Oak Hotel, located merely 200 meters away from a tiny Tea House adorned with a historical plaque. There, we learned about Rosthwaite's rich tapestry, woven with tales of tradition, resilience, and colorful characters. It was a place where history and nature embraced, inviting us to embark on a journey of exploration and appreciation.

As we reveled in the stories of Rosthwaite's past, we couldn't help but feel a deep connection to the spirit of this quaint village. The allure of Rosthwaite lies not only in its charming landscapes but also in the echoes of bygone eras that seem to linger in the air, enchanting travelers like us, who were fortunate enough to uncover the secrets of this timeless gem in the Borrowdale valley.

Moss Force Watefall - Zalinah White image credit Phil Kelly

Moss Force Waterfall 

The Lake District is known for its numerous waterfalls, each with its own unique charm and beauty. This waterfall is a lesser-known location, Moss Force Waterfall stands as one of the most easily accessible cascades, situated merely 200 meters from the roadside. This enchanting wonder resides at the crest of the pass in Newlands Hause, along the narrow direct road connecting Keswick and Buttermere. Moss Beck, originating from the expanse of Buttermere Moss high on the side of Robinson, gracefully descends over crags, merging with High Hole Beck to form the majestic Keskadale Beck.

During dry spells, the waterfall's flow reduces to a gentle trickle, but after rainfall, it transforms into a breathtaking spectacle. Torrents of water cascade with thunderous might over the rocks, and the spray dances skyward, carried by the whimsical wind. There's no escaping the allure of this natural masterpiece, as you're bound to feel its refreshing spray on your skin, embracing you with its raw power.

As you venture along the path, the middle section offers an opportunity to approach the heart of the waterfall. Climbing up to a serene pool above requires caution, as the rocks tend to become slippery and slimy. Below the cascade continues its captivating descent, drawing you further into its mesmerizing embrace.

Things to do in The Lake District - Zalinah White

Honister Slate Mine 

Honister Slate Mine, nestled amid the dramatic landscapes of The Lake District, is a place where history, geology, and human endeavor converge to create an awe-inspiring experience. Situated at the heart of Borrowdale, this iconic mine stands as a testament to the region's rich industrial heritage and the enduring allure of natural resources.

The mine's story dates back centuries, with evidence of slate quarrying dating as far back as the Roman era. However, it was during the 17th and 18th centuries that the mining operations at Honister thrived, providing the coveted Westmorland green slate that adorned many grand buildings across the country.

''The mine's story dates back centuries, with evidence of slate quarrying dating as far back as the Roman era.''

Today, Honister Slate Mine welcomes visitors from near and far, offering an immersive journey into the world of slate mining. Guided tours take adventurers deep into the heart of the mine, where the echoes of pickaxes and the whispers of past miners seem to reverberate through the cavernous passages. The sheer scale of the underground workings leaves visitors in awe, as they learn about the challenges and triumphs of those who toiled within the dark depths.

Beyond the underground adventure, the Honister experience extends to the surface, where visitors can marvel at the breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains and lakes. The famous Honister Pass, a historic route connecting Buttermere and Borrowdale, is a captivating scenic drive that takes travelers through rugged landscapes and past ancient slate spoil heaps, a reminder of the mine's significance in the region's history.

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, Honister Slate Mine also offers an array of thrilling activities. The Via Ferrata experience provides a unique way to explore the rugged cliffs and precipices, offering unparalleled views and a sense of exhilaration for daring adventurers.

But Honister Slate Mine is not merely a place of historical significance or adrenaline-fueled excitement; it is also a celebration of sustainability and environmental stewardship. The mine's commitment to eco-friendly practices, including using renewable energy and supporting local wildlife initiatives, showcases a harmonious blend of tradition and modern consciousness.

Honister Slate Mine stands as a living legacy, reminding us of the indomitable human spirit and the enduring beauty of the natural world. It is a place where history echoes through the stones, where adventure awaits around every corner, and where the slate-strewn landscapes bear witness to the tale of a timeless industry and its profound impact on The Lake District's cultural identity. 

St. James' Church, Buttermere - Zalinah White

St. James' Church, Buttermere, circa 1507

Perched above the charming village of Buttermere, the quaint and picturesque St. James' Church offers a delightful starting point for the circular walk around the area. Tucked away in seclusion, the church exudes beauty and a rich historical aura, making it a captivating gem for visitors.

The church, though small in size, carries an undeniable charm that captures the hearts of all who behold it. Its history dates back to the 16th century when the original chapel was consecrated in 1507. The present building, standing tall since 1840, stands as a testament to time and was lovingly restored in 1930.

One of the church's unique features is the intricate wrought iron 'Shepherd's Gate', welcoming visitors to the inviting porch. Inside, an antique organ, dating back to 1820, lends a nostalgic touch to the sacred space. The East window, a masterpiece by Henry Holiday from 1893, showcases a captivating depiction of Mary, Martha, and a cherub head, adding an ethereal ambiance to the sanctuary.

Renowned poet William Wordsworth once remarked that anyone with a sensitive heart could not help but be moved by the sight of the chapel of Buttermere. Indeed, this sentiment holds true for all who venture into the hallowed halls of St. James' Church.

''Anyone with a sensitive heart could not help but be moved by the sight of the chapel of Buttermere. - William Wordsworth''

Among the church's cherished memorials is a stone tablet set into the window sill of a south window, honoring the legendary walker and guidebook author, Alfred Wainwright. The window overlooks his beloved walking spot, Haystacks, where, upon his wish, his ashes were scattered. It stands as a poignant tribute to a man who found solace and inspiration amidst the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

As you explore the grounds and history of St. James' Church, you can't help but feel a profound connection to the past, to the poetic spirit that weaves through the fabric of The Lake District. This hidden gem above the village of Buttermere holds the power to transport visitors back in time and create lasting memories of a truly remarkable place.

To be continued...

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our adventure, where we delve deeper into the wonders that The Lake District has to offer. Until then, may the spirit of exploration guide your path, and the allure of Keswick linger in your hearts like a cherished memory from a dream.