It’s been a while since I’ve put together a travel daydream piece, and what better way to revisit a favourite of mine than by choosing a place as different from beautiful Tenerife (the subject of the original piece) as possible?
As my interest in visiting Europe grows, I’m again turning my eye to the ‘Old Dart’ as I consider a visit to the Lakes District in Cumbria, UK. It’s not white sandy beaches, cocktails, and world class scuba diving like I might find in Tenerife, but in their place there’s an abundance of beautiful scenery and old world charm to be had.
What is a Travel Daydream?
Isn’t that obvious? A travel daydream is what I have while I’m doing something I’d rather not be doing. In this case, that’s planning lessons for tomorrow and re-reading script notes for the Chinese sitcom I’ve been cast in.
More on that later.
In the original Travel Daydream: Tenerife, I listed five things I’d have loved to have been doing in Tenerife. So, this time around it’s much the same: five things in the UK’s Lakes District that I think would be much better than being hunched over a desk on another muggy Nanjing day.
And while the idea of spending a week or so hidden away in one of the many Lake District holiday cottages with a roaring fire, a bottomless cup of tea, and a good book (or five) to keep me company sounds pretty divine, I’m going to forge ahead with five things to do outside of the walls of your temporary home.
Visit the World of Beatrix Potter
If you weren’t raised on the works of Beatrix Potter and the adventures of characters such as Peter Rabbit, then this inclusion might seem a little odd to you. But I was brought up from an early age on a diet of Golden Books, Mr. Men, and Peter Rabbit – and the thought of seeing the characters come to life in front of me is just too good for the kid inside of me to refuse.
A day at the World of Beatrix Potter isn’t just a few models – it’s learning about the famed children’s author, stepping into the world of the books, and finishing it all off with a little tea and scones in true British fashion. It’s a delightfully British way to revisit old friends or, if you’re new to the stories, see these vivid characters (based on British native fauna) up close and personal. The books are a remarkably charming insight into British life.
Hike the Highlands
Having been voted Britain’s greatest natural wonder in 2009, the Lakes District is a region of natural beauty and an abundance of hikes and walks. Having rediscovered my love for hiking while exploring Yosemite National Park recently, I’m thinking a trek in the cooler British climate would be brilliant.
There’s no shortage of sites detailing the many walks and ‘scrambles’ in the Lakes District, from articles about the top ten Lakes District walks to sites dedicated to detailing each walk in detail. I found the Walking Englishman‘s site to be particularly useful. He’s got sections on areas all over Great Britain too, not just the Lakes District.
There are hikes for all levels – from idyllic one mile strolls to more intense ones that feature some of the most stunning views in all of Great Britain. Take your pick and soak in some of England’s most beautiful natural scenery.
Explore Grizedale Forest
Part nature expedition and part art gallery, Grizedale Forest allows you to soak in some natural beauty while also taking in the various sculptures that are scattered throughout the old English forest. There are gentle walks, off-the-beaten-track hikes, and mountain biking tracks for those who want to get their hearts racing.
But what really drew me to Grizedale is the Go Ape experience. A zipline ride that sees you soar 200m through ancient English forest is a pretty unique way to take it all in, and a bit more heart-pumping than a simple walk. The forest is more than just a few trees and sculptures, and there’s all manner of activities going on all year round. The Visit Lakelands Forests website is a great source of information for planning your visit to either of the forests
Experience Village Life
Call me old fashioned, but there’s something so charming about village life. In a world where it’s all crowded cities and garishly lit tourist traps, I find a simple village or hamlet to be such a wonderful change of pace. Maybe a part of that is to do with growing up in the hamlet of Ben Lomond in Australia, but I think it’s more to do with the much simpler life.
There’s something appealing about the idea of knowing the people who live and work in your town; in buying and selling homemade jams or crafts at a market; buying meat from a butcher whose name you know; and falling asleep at night to blessed quiet. It’s a life close to what I knew growing up, but it’s also close to the lives the characters in my favourite fantasy novels lead. It just fascinates me.
So, while I can’t throw out a recommendation on a village to visit – I can say that taking the time to find and explore a quaint highlands village sounds like a pleasant change of pace, especially after the hectic five week tour of the US I’ve just returned from.
Cruise Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere, the largest lake in Great Britain, is the jewel at the heart of the Lakes District. While the lake and its surrounds boast attractions such as hot air balloons, horse riding, cycling and hiking, swimming, and watersports – the real draw for me is the opportunity to cruise on the ancient glacial lake.
I’ve written at length about river boat cruises around the world, and a cruise on Lake Windermere on a bracing fall/autumn day sounds great to me. Whether it’s a sunset cruise, a buffet cruise on a balmy summer evening, or a more leisurely sight-seeing cruise – there’s enough variety to ensure there’s a cruise for most tastes. Windermere Lake Cruises is your hook up in this case.
Have you ever spent any time in the Lakes District? Is it as beautiful as the pictures and websites would have me believe?
And have I missed any must see spots in the region? Are any of my daydreams perhaps not all they’re cracked up to be?