01 August 2012
A Rainy Day in the Northern Lake District
I had hoped for a sunny and/or dry day for my last day in the Lake District. Instead, I woke to teaming rain once again and clouds that sat low and dark. Little hope of sunshine today. So, instead of doing my planned hike along Derwentwater, I shifted gears and started the day in Grasmere at Dove Cottage, the home of William Wordsworth.
The walk up the lane to the little white house with smoke coming out it's chimney was filled with hope! There's something wonderful about knowing that a warm fire awaits on a cold damp day!
Like Hilltop, there were no photos allowed inside the house, so I did some sketches instead (no photos of them yet) and saved the photos for outside the house. The inside was warm and cozy, the rooms smaller than at Hilltop, especially considering that 9 people ended up living there towards the end of Wordsworth's time there! The house tucks right into the side of a steep hillside and here William and his sister Dorothy created a lovely garden.
Stone steps lead up to a little garden seat under a roofed arbor, which forms a perfect spot to sit out of the weather while enjoying the view of the house and garden!
The path leads around the house to the front ~ all very secluded and quiet!
Just to the side of the house is another garden, this one focused on vegetables, with another arbor for roses and a bench to sit. The scale of this house and garden just suits me so much! It would be such a comfortable size to take care of!
Tucked on top of a stone wall were some alpine strawberries!
Tucked here and there in the side garden were Feverfew plants. I've grown these before in Colorado, but they were not nearly as robust as these!
After visiting the house, I stopped at the church to visit the gravesite of many members of the Wordsworth family. The church yard was beautifully peaceful with a creek running alongside.
After a walk around Grasmere, and trying the famous gingerbread, I headed north along the back side of Thirlmere. There I stopped where the Middlestead Gill flows into Thirlmere. Even in the pouring rain, the land was so incredibly green! Everything was covered in thick moss, ferns and countless trees!
The Middlestead Gill was running full, its peaty waters tumbling down the rocks on the way into Thirlmere. Just gorgeous.
Even in the rain, Thirlmere was beautiful. It's the only man made big lake here, but just as beautiful as all the naturally occurring ones.
Across the road and up the hill, the Middlestead Gill had some large drops making for some spectacular photos!
I loved it so much that I have to share a couple photos of it!
There was just a little footpath leading through the trees to the spot where I took the waterfall photos.
The woods were just full of life, everywhere you looked. This was the top of an old stump ~ covered in moss and fungi, with new trees all around.
Driving up the road, I came across this lovely scene with a farm tucked in under a large stone outcropping with the fells in the background. So gorgeous!
Eventually, I made my way up toward Keswick and the Castlerigg Stone Circle. At many places, the National Trust has placed these brass plaques to aid the blind in "seeing" the site by feel. They are really beautiful in their own right.
Just as I topped the hill, the sun broke through the clouds and formed a rainbow over the stone circle!
Then the clouds temporarily blew aside and gave a glimpse of some brilliant blue sky! Oh! How I've MISSED that blue sky!!! But within another few minutes, it clouded back over and the rain came again.
I left Castelrigg and drove around Derwentwater. I'd really wanted to hike along the western shore in hopes of seeing some red squirrels, but it was just too wet out and would have been a miserable hike. Instead, I was happy to be able to drive around it, stopping now and then to take a closer look when the rain let up for a bit. I was able to get a nice view of "Owl Island" as Beatrix Potter called it in her book, "The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin". Don't those posts out in the water look almost like little squirrels on rafts?!
And the way the trees grew out over the water ~ I could just see those squirrels scampering along in my mind's eye! But sadly, the red squirrels are terribly endangered here. The American Grey Squirrels, which were imported in the 1870's, carry a virus that the red squirrels catch easily, which ends up killing them. So the grey squirrels prosper and the native red squirrels have become exceptionally rare. I was lucky to catch a glimpse of one a few days ago on a coach tour of the high passes. I've since learned that it is exceedingly rare these days to see one. It's a sad story without an easy solution, but I really hope that they find a way to save the red squirrels!
So, at last I came to the end of my journey in the northern lakes. The views around Derwentwater, Thirlmere, and Glasmere were amazing, even in the rain. It has been a lovely week, despite the rain, and it will live in my heart for a long, long time. Tomorrow begins a new chapter in my travels as I head into Scotland!