Magic Lake district.
As true England fans we have chosen a part of England this time that we have not seen yet. Our 26th trip takes us to the famous Lake District in North West England.
As always, we travel by car and by boat. From Dunkirk we make the crossing to Dover to start our journey from there. This time there are special events on our program: a concert by the BBC Big Band in Newcastle and a visit to Rob and Maureen in Cheltenham, two traveling companions of my trip to Indonesia on the Ombak Putih in April 2017.
The trip from Dover to Newcastle is a decent trip, so we decide to stay in Cambridge at the Travel Lodge Hotel. In the evening hours we took a walk towards a number of universities. The next morning we continue our trip to Newcastle.
On the way we visit the Yorkshire Air Museum, which houses a collection of over 60 historic aircraft, including the C47 'Skytrain' and the only remaining Halifax Bomber. In addition, many replicas of aircraft from the First World War and from the period of the Cold War. Moreover, this airport was a film location of one of the episodes of 'A touch of Frost', the English detective starring David Jason. We also visit Brough Castle, a wonderful ruin which was built inside a roman camp. The camp is lost, the ruin still remains.
Arriving in Newcastle is again very pleasant, so we take a walk along the river Tyne in the evening. The Millennium Bridge is beautifully illuminated and always changes color. Because the moon shines through the clouds, the whole forms a beautiful and somewhat ghostly image.
The next day is dedicated to the BBC Big Band concert, in honor of Operation Dynamo (the evacuation of British troops from Dunkerque in 1940) and the Battle of Britain. The concert is moderated by none other than Kevin Whately, the British actor who played the role of Sergeant Lewis in the detective 'Morse'. After the death of John Thaw he got his own series, 'Lewis', with sidekick Lawrence Fox.
After the beautiful concert we get the opportunity to speak to Kevin for a moment. He is a man like 'what you see is what you get'. No kapsones and very interested in us. Although the meeting is short (making a photo and asking for a signature) it makes a big impression.
The next day we travel to the Lake District, to the town of Levens, where we rented a cottage. From there we will explore this nature reserve. On Sunday we decide first to head for the Scaffell Pike, the highest mountain in England (978 meters). The weather is changeable: occasionally a shower, then again fog and a little later the sun shines exuberantly. The climb is difficult. The path is rocky and occasionally very steep. We do not get further than halfway, but that is more than worth it. The view is breathtaking and the landscapes are impressive. We decide to go down again and at the foot of the mountain we eat something in the lonely pub. In addition, a small shop full of light with warm clothing and souvenirs.
Monday is the day of the walk. On the basis of a route that I found in a walking magazine, I walk a route along the many mountains and lakes. The first three kilometers is only climbing and when I arrive at the first mountain, I am told that the bridge is broken. So I have to walk around. Fortunately I have a good map with me and without much detours I return to the original route. Here, too, the landscapes are breathtaking and varied. The final piece forms the route along the two lakes: Crummock Water and Lake Buttermere. On one side the lake and on the other side the mountains, where small rivers like silver garlands flow down. The last part is a path through a forest and when I finally cross a typical English bridge, I reach the end point where Erica is waiting for me. She tells about the road she has driven, and the description corresponds to the views I had during the walk.
The return journey is overwhelming: we drive on a narrow road through the valley, where oncoming traffic can barely pass. A real gift.
Tuesday will be the day of the viewings. First of all to the birthplace of one of the greatest comedians in the world, Stan Laurel; Ulverston. Stan was born as Arthur Stanley Jefferson on June 18, 1890 and left in the early twentieth century with a theater company to America. There he met Oliver Hardy and together they became the best known and most famous comedy duo in the world.
Ulverston honors Stan Laurel in various ways: first and foremost, an (private) museum is located in an old cinema, where you can marvel at many posters, statuettes, badges, photos and many more. You can also view movies here. The museum was set up by the grandfather of the current owner and was once only a collection of newspaper clippings. Nowadays it is more than worth it to visit.
A little further on is the statue of 'the boys', as Laurel and Hardy were also called affectionately. The image was presented by the world-wide fan club 'the sons of the desert', named after one of the best films of the duo. For a good lunch, a pint of beer or 'fish and chips' you can go to the Stan Laurel Inn. A typical English pub that is completely decorated with Stan Laurel material. We end our walk with the visit to the birth house of the thin. It is private property and therefore not accessible. And plaque recalls his birth in 1890.
Our next goal is Hill Top Farm, the famous farm where Beatrix Potter created the world-famous story of Peter Rabbit and made drawings for it. Potter is not only known for this creation, she was also a great conservationist and she bought many farms and estates in her life. These are all left to the National Trust.
When you visit Hill Top, it is as if you end up in the story of Peter Rabbit. You can find all the characters, objects and symbols in the garden. The house itself has remained in the same state as on the day that Beatrix Potter died. So you go back about 80 years in time and imagine yourself in the first years of the 20th century.
From the farm we make the walk to the lake where Beatrix spent many evenings: Moss Eccles. It is hidden in hills and surrounded by rocks, trees and meadows. It is not surprising that the stories of Peter Rabbit originated here: the environment offers so much inspiration but is also occasionally mysterious. You have to experience it yourself.
Wednesday is completely dedicated to the largest lake in England: Lake Windermere. This large lake is a favorite water sports area and millions of tourists annually visit this area. We decide to take both the boat and the train today. Our cruise starts with the MV Teal, a tour boat with a capacity of 533 passengers. The ship was built in 1936 and brought in parts to Lake Windermere. At the port of Lakeside we transfer to the train and drive steadily to Haverwaite Station. On the way a stop at Newby bridge. Along the route we see hundreds of pheasants. The journey is a journey that goes back in time. The carriages are from the last century and our thoughts go back to the time when the train was still seen as a dangerous speed monster. According to critics, cows would give sour milk because of the speed of the trains.
Panting and puffing, we stop at the end point, where the locomotive is disconnected and then coupled to the rear of the wagons. A group of Asians is busy filming, where one young lady with a selfie camera stands out. She is busier with her flapping hair than with the photo itself. She obviously does not succeed in making the perfect picture.
There is an employee of the owl shelter at the station. He has five fantastic animals with him, who look curiously around him. These animals were once private property, but were given up for various reasons. The most poignant story is the owl that was handed over by the owner after half a year. The owner thought he had bought a 'a la Harry Potter' pet and apparently had different expectations. Because they did not come out, the animal had to leave. And then realize that these animals can grow up to 60 years old ... That means that this animal cannot go back in the wild and spend the rest of his life in captivity. Sad.
We get back on the train and drive back to Lake Station. There we get on the MV Tern, which was built in 1891. A special feature of this boat is that it participated in Operation Dynamo in 1940, the evacuation of 400,000 British soldiers from Dunkirk. It can accommodate 350 passengers.
On the way back we pass Sizergh Castle. Although it is already late, we decide to stop and look around. The castle is very nicely decorated and offers space for very special art and furniture. Given the time we literally have to run through it, but when we visit the gardens, that makes up for it. It is a typical English castle garden, with lots of flowers, a big apple orchard, where the trees are full and with apples and a beautiful pond. Wherever you look, everywhere you see beautiful colors of the beautiful flowers, but also the autumn hues of the trees and shrubs. A place to come back in any case.
Thursday we leave the Lake District with the goal to come back again. We drive to Cheltenham, where Ron and Maureen live. I met them on my trip to the Ombak Putih in April 2017. Since then we have regular contact and I was invited to visit them, together with Erica. When we arrive we are warmly welcomed by Maureen. Rob is still working, and after a cup of coffee we drive to one of the most beautiful places at Cheltenham: Leckhampton Hill. An almost 300 meter hill that looks out over the city. Just near the top is a rocky point in the form of a chimney. This is therefore also called the 'Devils Chimney'. Rob is home by 6 and the reunion is complete. We have a pleasant evening, get a lot of memories and enjoy a good glass of whiskey.
On Friday, after breakfast, we drive to Gloucester and the big cathedral of this city. In this beautiful building, recordings have been made for the Harry Potter films. The cathedral is beautiful, with many corridors, tombs and a lot of ecclesiastical art. The stained glass windows are real wonders. One of the tombs belongs to the 'king who never became king': Robert of Normandy (1054 - 1134). He was the eldest son of William the Conqueror, but because he had a bad relationship with his father and brothers, he would never become king. When William the Conqueror died in 1087, Robert became the Duke of Normandy. He helped the crusade to Jerusalem in 1099. In 1106 Robert was imprisoned by his younger brother, Henry I. He spent the rest of his life in prison and died in 1134 in Cardiff Castle. He was buried in the Gloucester abbey.
Another tomb belongs to King Edward II. He was not popular and was murdered in 1327. His son Edward III had this tomb built.
We continue our way to the harbor and afterwards we have lunch in a cozy pub. Then we drive to one of the most beautiful castles in this region: Goodrich Castle. A real medieval and impregnable castle. impregnable? No, until the mortar made its appearance. This was nicknamed 'roaring meg' and managed to crush the walls of the castle after which it was taken. What remains are the current ruins.
Our final destination is Symonds Yat, a viewpoint over the River Wye, which forms a natural border with Wales. What we see is impressive: beautiful forests and high mountains of overwhelming beauty. A nice ending to a wonderful day.
Saturday is dedicated to saying goodbye to Rob and Maureen. We enjoyed their hospitality. They are nice and sweet people and we will definitely be back in this region. Of course we invite them in the Netherlands. Whether we can surpass the beauty of England is not important. It is about friendship and hospitality. After a big hug we leave for Oxford.
It is a rainy ride and in Oxford it is also very wet. But that does not stop us from visiting the Morse Bar in the Randolph Hotel. This bar is named after the world famous Chief Inspector Morse from the eponymous series. Colin Dexter has immortalized the two main characters Morse and Lewis: John Thaw and Keven Whately. In the bar hangs a portrait of John Thaw and his red Jaguar.
Afterwards, just as quickly along the VVV and then direction Dover, for the overnight stay. We eat, almost traditionally, in 'The eight bells', a delicious pub with an excellent menu.
Early Sunday morning out of bed and on the way to the boat. We say goodbye to England but take home fantastic memories.