Coming up from Conwy (here), we drove towards the Lake District today, with the hope of good weather. So if you had clicked on the link while reading the end of our Wales road trip, congratulations! You chose correctly.
The drive from Lancaster to the lake district was uneventful, except that we were caught by the traffic police for speeding… Luckily they gave us a chance. Normally when the police see a bunch of younglings they would not hesitate to discipline them, so yes we were darn lucky. No wonder it’s hard for under 23s to rent a car!
We also had a terrible B&B last night – no hot water to bath because it seems the house owner had turned off the heater… well it was quite cheap though.
Just remember you get what you pay for.
Geographically, we were heading to the northwest of England; to a land of mountains and lakes (and forests). It was roughly 150 miles and we got into the southern reaches of this district early in the morning. You see, we were at Bowness on Windermere, one of the many lakes in this region.
Looking for Fairies
While Sherwood has its hero, the lake district was made famous by poets and writers too. One of them was Beatrix Potter (not related to Harry). A Victorian woman of reasonable family status, she wrote 24 tales and a host of other books. In fact, a lot of what the National Trust of the UK owns today in the lake district was bequeathed by Beatrix (whose full name was Helen Beatrix Potter).
What did she write about? Not the Harry Potter series for sure. For amongst her work, the one about Peter is what till today remains most known about her.
We drove around the county, searching for nice scenery and ended up finding the Peter Rabbit attraction. It was a little house where all manner of souvenirs could be found. Alas budget was limited and Suan could only purchase a few pieces… Now you need to understand that it seems all over the lake district are numerous villages that specialize in making pottery (tea pots etc) that are very English… well what’s new? Suan had a hard time deciding what to buy. Can you imagine that. Just like Peter, eating buying too much can result in a wallet-ache which can only be cured by chamomile tea!
At the end of the day, it was once again time to search for a B&B. This is not difficult since tourism is biggest earner after farming. The prices in this region are a little higher than elsewhere, as this is a “touristy” region (recall the honey pot reference?) so be prepared to pay more.
Of water and mountains
If one were to look it up, the recommended number of days to spend here would be between 4-7. That is, if you have that amount of time. We only had two. So we had to make the most of driving around the lakes and stopping ever so often at towns like Hawkshead, Grasmere etc.
Most roads here are two-lane – one for each direction. And in some of the smaller roads both sides are lined with stones hedges – hence it was quite a challenge not to get the car scratched when maneuvering through them. But you already know that to see the best, one has to scale what these small roads has to offer.
We are sure pictures of the lakes and mountains look fabulous – in fact don’t you think they are quite comparable to our Norwegian Fjord trip (here)?
And yet another way was to hike through many trails that cross through the mountains and valleys. Suan posing with our rented Rover and her brother was to crash this in Birmingham as we got back at the end of the trip… perhaps that might be a story for another day and yet another reason why under 23s have a hard time renting.
Now the two days ended rather quickly and soon were making our way out of lake district. We were headed north, this time to cross over to Scotland. Where would we be? Why Edinburgh it shall be (here)!
Coming back south after that two days in Edinburgh, we decided to make a pit stop. We were searching for a wall.
Not just any wall. For in the year 122, stretching from the Firth of Solway (ie Solway bay), to the banks of the river Tyne the massive 73 mile wall was constructed out of stone over a period of 6 years. Many questions have been asked about why such an endeavor started out in this then (and still now) remote northern reaches of the Roman empire.
It runs east-west in an almost straight line. But lest you think it was just a wall, think again. For every Roman mile (~1.48km) there was a ‘fortlet’ which was said to have housed a section of legionnaires while over longer distances larger forts would have cavalry as part of the manning. And they had ditches on both sides too. So it was serious business. But it was said to have been lightly manned. Which could mean it was built more as a demonstration of Roman power and a means to monitor border movements for tax purposes… oh does this never change?
Today though much of the wall remains, quite some parts had decayed – most probably pilfering of the stones for local construction projects. Some claim though it is still possible to traverse the entire 73 miles on foot. Not for us. For we were at Birdoswald, one of the 16 main forts constructed along the wall. Originally called “Banna”, the fortification was occupied right up to at least 400 AD it is claimed. Archeological digs suggest continuous use of Hadrian’s wall up to potentially 500 AD unlike the Antonine wall further north that was abandoned not long after it was constructed.
Amazing that it wasn’t just in China where large walls were constructed right? You might recall we questioned whether the wall built in China was for defensive purpose or the protection of space taken forcibly from other folks. What do you think this wall was really built for?
This was a very nice stop, one that capped the end of our drive. From here we made the 200 mile dash back to Birmingham to return the rental car. Yes and along the way we “bumped” into the back of another driver… no wonder Suan’s brother had a hard time renting in the UK since then!
That, would end our road trip story from way back. We did not do a road trip in the UK for 8 years later when we came back for the Cotswold (here). This was a fascinating drive that brought us to three components countries of the UK. And someday we are destined to do a follow up drive.
Lake District and Hadrian’s wall were touched in July 1996