First I must say that since my last post regarding Gretna Green, the site has been creeping into more and more of the story ideas that randomly run through my head. Perhaps this post will finally be able to dislodge it.
As I wait patiently for my travel companion to share her photos so I can begin scrapbooking our experiences to share with friends and family, I cannot stop myself from going back through my own pictures. In so doing, the desire to share is overwhelming so I decided you would be the recipient of yet another lesson in travel.
As I stated before, we looked at this trip as a once in a lifetime event and tried to do entirely too much. One area that we decided to visit solely because Jane Austen herself spoke of it was the Lake District. As with everything else, we picked a spot and spent one night there. After reading my Great Britain guidebook, I determined the best place for us to stay was Keswick.
Although we had considered Grasmere, we found this area heavy with Wordsworth museums and we wanted to be outdoors. Castlerigg Stone Circle, Borrowdale, and the Bowder Stone drew us to Keswick instead.
By the time we reached our destination, we had been in Scotland for five days and were walking between 12,000 and 15,000 steps per day (except the day we had a blowout and sat by the roadside for five and a half hours, but that’s a completely different story). It was my day to drive and we had found the M6. I was in heaven. No little one and a half lane roads where oversized lorries force you off the road (see previous note regarding blowout). We were enjoying the drive so much, that when we got off the M6 heading toward Keswick, we completely missed the turn for Castlerigg. In fact, we completely forgot we had even planned on stopping at Castlerigg. I only remembered it when I was reviewing my planning notes to write this blog. (I’ve been told there is a chance I have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, but I don’t understand why.)
We arrived in beautiful Keswick and drove straight to our B&B, taking deep breaths as we navigated the narrow streets with cars parked on both sides (you know, to make the car narrower). God smiled on us and we were able to get a parking spot right in front of the Babbling Brook (http://babblingbrookkeswick.co.uk/). “In every babbling brook, he finds a friend.” – William Wordsworth
Now, I have to explain how I searched for our lodgings. We didn’t want to stay in big name hotels if we could avoid it. Instead, we wanted bed and breakfasts or converted manor homes or such. Mostly, we went by pictures and reviews. The more interesting looking the floor plan or location, the more likely we were to stay there. When I saw this picture of the Babbling Brook, I knew it was the place.
Well, this is actually the picture I took while we were there, but it was a similar picture on the website that caught my attention. A diagonal door with a table set in front of it. The fact that several bedrooms had a diagonal wall (one of which we stayed in) and the
outside shot showing that the corner of the building was cut off to make the corner sidewalk wider sold me completely. The owners were lovely and breakfast was delicious. But best of all, they told us all about Keswick; where to walk, what to see, where to eat. We eagerly abandoned our thoughts of mountains and explored this delightful town instead.
One thing we were told was that every evening everyone walks down to the lake (with or without fish and chips to feed to the ducks) and watches the sunset. As I am a sunset fanatic, it was immediately added to the list of things to do (right after an authentic Italian dinner with a nice bottle of wine). The walk was well worth it.
The next morning we had our breakfast, but weren’t ready to hit the road just yet. It was Saturday morning (the day of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding) and we hadn’t gotten enough of Keswick so we walked the short distance to town just to discover a street market. After traversing the length and spending more than we intended, we made our way back to the Babbling Brook and turned our car toward the destinations we originally had in mind, Borrowdale and the Bowder Stone.
As we walked the trails, I could not stop thinking of Elizabeth Bennet’s words to her Aunt Gardiner. “What are young men to rocks and mountains? Oh! what hours of transport we shall spend! And when we DO return, it shall not be like other travellers, without being able to give one accurate idea of anything. We WILL know where we have gone–we WILL recollect what we have seen. Lakes, mountains, and rivers shall not be jumbled together in our imaginations; nor when we attempt to describe any particular scene, will we begin quarreling about its relative situation. Let OUR first effusions be less insupportable than those of the generality of travellers.” – Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 27.
We passed several groups on our way to the Bowder Stone, some were repelling while others were rock climbing. I could not imagine the Gardiners allowing their niece to partake in such acts of daring, not to mention the clothing required for such a sport. Shocking! We finally reached the Bowder Stone and took our turn climbing to the top. This has been a favourite excursion since at least poet Thomas Gray’s time in the 1760s. The stone is balanced on one corner. A staircase has been installed to climb to the top.
My friend at the top of the stone and the two of us after I joined her there.
It was just too difficult to choose from all the other beautiful pictures I have from this area. I can see how a family could easily spend a week here. And now we have to return because we missed Castlerigg!
What holiday would you like to take that was inspired by Jane Austen?