Back to the Lakes

About a year ago I posted a blog entry about going back to places, my recent return visit to the Lake District really was taking this to extremes.

I used to visit the Lakes quite regularly when I was a student (and we’re talking 30 years ago).  I've got lots of memories of time spent camping or in youth hostels, and of usually being wet.  And I've got a few recollections of the sun shining and the lakes being mirror-smooth too.

I'm not quite sure why I stopped visiting.

I did get out of the mountains habit for a few years, and later on I got into the Scotland habit. If I was going to travel all the way from southern England, I might as well keep going into ‘real’ mountains.  I did get a bit put off by the images of the wide gravelled Lake District paths (“mountain motorways”?) with crowds of people on them, preferring the more remote (and emptier) mountains further north. Recently I've been re-finding the Lake District and adding some new memories (and better photographs) to the ones from the 1980s.

Despite having returned to both camping and hostels this year, we decided that for a two week visit we needed a self-catering cottage.  We stayed at the lovely Barn at Town Yeat in High Nibthwaite just beside the southern end of Coniston Water, and used that as our base to explore the southern part of the Lake District.

Antony Gormley statue at High Nibthwaite
An autumn essential - at The Barn
We spent lots of time around both Coniston Water and Windermere, along with a reasonable amount of walking often using chunks of the Cumbria Way as a starting point for circular walks.

Lots of Cumbria Way options
One of the pluses of Lakes that I'd forgotten is the sheer number of long-established paths, in the valleys at least its very difficult to get lost, and even if you do miss a turning there will be another one along soon to let you complete your walk without needing to backtrack.

On to Ambleside
As well as the walking we did spend plenty time just hanging about along the lake shores.

Sunny Bank jetty, Coniston Water
Water Park jetty, Coniston Water
We managed to arrange lots of warm sunny weather, and (probably by going in September) also managed to find lots of empty paths too.

Crowds on the paths.
So what is my advice for anyone contemplating a visit to the Lake District at this time of year? It is lovely as the autumn colours develop, but don’t forget your midge remedies (they aren't just north of the border) and take lots and lots of pound coins.  I don’t think there were so many pay-and-display car parks when I was frequenting the Lakes 30 years ago, and the theory of pay-by-card is, given the local mobile phone coverage, seriously dodgy.

Meeting the locals, Ulverston
Will I be heading back to the Lake District soon? Certainly will, it’s almost as good as Scotland and quite a lot closer.

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