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Lake District, day one (Keswick)

23 August 2006
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The village we camped in was a tiny place called Buttermere, close to the lake by the same name. We took a bus—oops, sorry, coach, as they call it—down from London to Keswick, a town towards the north of the Lake District. It was a 10 hour long ride, and we passed through Birmingham, Wigan, Preston, Morecambe, Lancaster, Kendal and a number of other towns, watching how both the weather and the landscape changed. Quite amazing, given it’s such a small country! As we approached Cumbria, the view became immensely picturesque. Our driver—by then having been relieved by another—doubled up as an amusing tour guide, pointing out various lakes and landmarks. (He was the one to tickle us with the “only one lake in the Lake District” tidbit!) We saw many lakes, but I can only recall Windermere, Derwent Water and Fellmere (actually a reservoir that supplies water to Manchester).

From Keswick we got a taxi to take us 10 miles further to Buttermere, to our camping barn in Cragg House Farm. Our roommates, we found, were four small children and their mothers, Paulina and Andrea. They were Dutch, but Paulina has been living in Scotland for the past decade. Both women are poets and writers.

The barn was a stone structure, divided into two floors. On the ground floor were a kitchen area, the toilet and a coin-operated shower. The first floor was the sleeping area, and mattresses were provided. It was clean and surprisingly warm.

Our first full day at the Lake District saw us taking the 10:05 bus down to Keswick in the morning. It was a nice day and the place was bustling with tourists. The town centre was fascinating, and I do believe I walked around with my mouth open! The tourist information centre there provided us what we needed to know about the area, and we bought some walks for Keswick and Buttermere! 😛 Yes, sounds strange, I know! Essentially, one can buy simple maps and walking instructions, packaged into sets of six, for various places, for £1.60. After kitting ourselves out with rain gear and a compass (which we never ultimately used), we decided to walk towards Derwent Water, find our way to a spot called Friar’s Crag and then to Castlehead, which offered views of the lake and of the countryside around Keswick respectively.

The one thing that had amazed me about England was how quiet it was. It was a lovely sunny day, not too hot, and it was full of people on holiday, with their children and dogs, all running about, playing and swimmng. Yet it was there that I first discovered that my phone plays soft music whenever it starts up!

The walk was fun and the paths well-trodden. That didn’t constrain us from getting lost, though—just the once—walking around in circles till we found we had missed a gate.

We caught the 4 o’clock bus back to Buttermere, were there in under an hour. Because it would be light till way past 9 o’clock, we decided to set out once more to explore the area. A short walk along the road brought us to the shores of the lake known as Crummock Water. We sat on the rocks by the lakeshore, talking and taking photographs of the sun going down till hunger summoned us back to the barn.

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