Dates of Travel: From 8 Apr 2017 to 11 Apr 2017 (Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday)
Mode of Transport: Public Transport
Duration from Slough to Windermere: 11:40 to 16:30 (Approx 5 hours)
Leg 1: Train Route: Slough > Paddington > London Euston (Great Western Railway + London Tube)
Leg 2: Walking Route : London Euston > Euston Square
Leg 3: Train Route: Euston Square > Oxenholme > Windermere (Virgin Trains + Coach)
Place of Stay: Mill Beck Guest House in Old Field Court Windermere
When we decided to make a trip to Lake District in United Kingdom, getting tickets for the train journey was the first challenge, as it was the school break time and we somehow managed to get tickets with confirmed seats on the main Virgin train from Euston Square to Oxenholme. Thanks to the person at the ticket office for the patience to search for the right train and also have consecutive seats books. After a 5 hour journey which turned out to have many scenic views, we were ushered into a coach at the Oxenholme station and taken to the Windermere Station.
The Windermere station has a store and café called ‘Booths’ (http://www.booths.co.uk/store/windermere/) where we picked up the essentials for self cooking and then walked down the road to find the (Tourist Information Center – i) where we inquired about day tours available. Then we took a cab to the Mill Beck Guest House in Old Field Court Windermere.
It was a quaint English Guest House fully equipped with Kitchenette. After checking in with the keys which came out from a small locker (Process explained like a secret locker being opened huh!). After freshening up we set off to take in the small town on Windermere. Though most of the shops were closed, the restaurants were open. We also found that the Sainsbury’s Store (https://stores.sainsburys.co.uk/4232/windermere-main-road-local) in high street Windermere was open till 11 PM. So we decided to take a stroll to complete the high street visit and then came back to Sainsburys to buy the remaining stuff we didn’t get at Booths. So for families and youngsters visiting the place there is nothing to carry. You can buy most of your stuff there at Windermere itself! We then returned and had dinner and ended our first day at Lake District with a nice view from the Patio and a silent atmosphere with retired folks and tourists predominantly occupying the area. Many dogs!!! (You will find them in abundance in Lake District) and a few cats as well J- A white one used to follow us always when we crossed their house J
Image: Houses in Windermere
Image: A view from the patio of the English Guest house we stayed in
We had booked a full day lake explorer tour from Windermere to get breath taking views of 10 Lakes of Lake District through viator.com cost 64£ a person (https://www.viator.com/tours/Windermere/Full-Day-Lake-Explorer-Tour-from-Windermere/d22565-8373P3). If you do not drive around in UK, this is one of the best tours we would recommend. We were picked up at 9:30 am from Park Avenue in a Mini Van by a very cheerful guide who remained cheerful and energetic till he dropped us back at the English Guest house at 17:00 in the evening. Man!…he was full of energy and knowledge. One of the best guided tours after our Austria visit.
The first view point was Lake Windermere itself. Windermere is the largest natural lake in England. The guide explained about the Vikings and how they named water bodies and how they had a map which was purely based on how each landmark looks like (a visual map so to say). ‘Mere’ meant a specific water body of defined width in the Viking verbal maps. He also explained that it is in the lake district that the likes of Byron, Keats, Shelly and Wordsworth drew their inspiration from in order to write their wonderful poems. In fact Wordsworth stayed and is buried in the Lake District. He was the only middle class poet who convinced the riches to buy his creations and print it because in those days only the rich became poets since they could only afford printing it and Wordsworth broke the trend.
Image: A wallpaper like view of Lake Windermere
We stopped and some more wonderful view points and then reached a waterfall called Aira Force (Another name from the Viking Maps!). This waterfall has a 120 Steps downward journey to take in the wonderful view of the waterfall as close as possible and then travel back up to the place where the water ‘falls’. This was a quick walk down and up and left us happy that we chose this trip
Image: Aira Force the waterfall which you get to see as part of this tour
After Aira force the next stop was Castle Rigg which is similar to Stone Henge but is much older.
No clear explanation of why this was built with so much of effort identifying this specific purpose rocks
Image: Castle Rigg
After Castle Rigg we were taken to some more lakes before we stopped for lunch the views left us amazed
After enjoying some vegetable soup with homemade scone and then a wonderful chocolate cake for Lunch in a small restaurant which was run by a family which maintained several Herdwick lambs. The restaurant had a great view with some tables and chairs out in the open and being summer the view and weather was awesome. A real experience of countryside lunch with bees humming around and domestic dogs walking around and a dad and son ploughing using their tractor. After the Lunch we then visited the Slate Mine and its shop to purchase some coasters made of slate to carry back as memorabilia
Image: At the Slate Mine
Image: Viewpoint near the slate mine
The next stop is what we will remember for a lifetime. It was a certain view point from which we got a breath taking view of Lake Buttermere which was named by the Vikings after it looked like buttermilk during windy times when the wind creates a frothy look on the lake. (Remember their verbal maps!) The place where the guide stopped for us to click away was a critical spot. Amazing view and we didn’t want to move out of the place but for our guide who was running his schedule strictly. Remember without him we would have been lost in the beauty of nature and would have never returned home. Even a DSLR could nto capture the real beauty of this lake. You should visit it to experience its beauty
Image: Buttermere – Heavenly lake
Image: Buttermere a different view
The next stop was Grasmere where 3 important things were explained and shown to us by the guide. Grasmere Wordsworth’s Daffodil gardens, Grasmere Wordsworth’s Grave and the Grasmere Sarah Nelson Gingerbread Shop. Buscuits were considered a luxury and taxed in those days and in order to avoid it, they made the texture of this cookie / bread in such a way using ingredients that when kept longer in open air it became hard like a bread. Bread was considered like a necessity and hence ginger bread was not taxed. (Psst…Ginger bread can be heated back to make it hard like a cookie / biscuit! Tips).
The next day we decided to take the Lake Cruise from Bowness on Windermere Pier 1 to Lakeside (https://www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk/find-us) . Lakeside had a steam engine driven train to provide us with great views which we wanted to take. The Promenade at Bowness on windermere itself is a great place to spend time. It has 3 Piers and has many swans, sea gulls and pigeons wandering around the coast and people are interested in feeding them with bird feed available on donation from the nearby chips shop. Kids have a wonderful time able to take photographs beside the swans at a reasonable proximity than in zoos. We took local windermere taxi from our English guest house to Bowness on Windermere (a very friendly and timely taxi service)
Image: Pier 1 – Promenade on Bowness – Bowness on Windermere
We took off on the cruise and reached Lakeside. It was a great journey and took up 45 minutes. The views will stay etched in memory.
Once we landed on the lakeside, the stem engine based train was waiting to take us on a round trip with awesome views. Reminded us of the Harry Potter train with interiors looking very similar. A slow and chugging train took us through these views which made us feel in paradise.
The lakeside also had another attraction which was the rockpool aquarium. A good collection of fishes and other creatures gave us a good change of environment. The highlight though was not inside water. It was the Otter feeding show and talk show which we spent 15 minutes on. A good time with my family. It didn’t take more than an hour though. Then we came out and took some photographs around the lakeside.
With a train to catch at 14:25 we had only until noon to enjoy what was possible of the lake district. We took another cruise unable to resist the urge to do so. This time it was again from Bowness on Windermere to the Ambleside
We took a walk along the Ambleside Promenade and then ended our visit to the great Lake District. A trip to remember indeed.
We came back surprisingly still fresh and not tired after a 4 day exotic tour to the Lake District. A must visit in the United Kingdom.