A Walk Beside Windermere
At this point in my trip, I'd been traveling for 3 weeks already, with one week on the Queen Mary 2 and two full weeks traveling across England on my way to the Lake District. It was lovely to wake, knowing I'd be in one place for the week and I thought maybe I'd take a fairly easy day with no pressure to do anything ~ I was just going to enjoy being there and go where the wind took me. The day started off nice and leisurely with my usual breakfast of a poached egg on toast with tea. I loved that every morning, eggs were delivered to the Guest House and left on the front porch!
It was lovely to see some blue sky and sun after days of mostly grey! With the promise of a beautiful day ahead of me, it didn't take long to decide that I wanted to do some walking along Lake Windermere. I headed down to the docks at Bowness, about a 3/4 mile walk from the guest house and bought my Red Boat Pass, so that I could take the Tern boat to Ambleside and then transfer to a smaller boat for the trip across the lake to Wray Castle. I find myself fascinated with all the ropes and bumpers at the moorings where the boats dock!
It was only after I returned to Colorado and read some of Beatrix Potter's journals, that I realized that she too had taken the Tern from Bowness to Ambleside!!! I love the idea that I rode in the very same boat over a hundred years later! It was a lovely ride up the lake.
On the eastern shore, the lake is fairly built up with large houses, now mostly converted into hotels and boat docks along the water. It was the building of these large houses that was changing the character of the Lake District that inspired Beatrix to begin purchasing land and later donating it to the National Trust in order to preserve the character of the Lake District, rather than letting it get built up by developers for the tourist industry.
The view of the Langdale Peaks from Windermere is lovely!
We passed one of the smaller boats on it's way towards Wray Castle. I believe this one was Queen of the Lakes.
The Tern docked at Ambleside by backing into the dock in order to make it easier for it to depart!
I boarded the Princess of the Lake for the ride to Wray Castle. These old wooden boats are so beautiful and I love that they care for them so well and that they are still in use after all these years!
When we arrived at the dock for Wray Castle, we were greeted by this lovely pair of swans!
The path from the boat dock up to Wray Castle was about 1/4 of a mile long. As the trail wound up the hill, there was a beautiful view of this lovely cottage and fields nearby. What a gorgeous setting!
A glimpse of Wray Castle ahead! Beatrix wrote about it in her journal at age 16 when she and her family stayed there in 1882:
"Wray Castle. We came here on 21st July. This house was built by Mr. Dawson, doctor, in 1845 with his wife's money. Her name was Margaret Preston. She was a Liverpool lady. Her father Robert Preston made gin; that was where the money came from.
They say it took £60,000 to build it (probably including furniture). It took seven years to finish. The stone was brought across the lake. One old horse dragged it all up to the house on a kind of tram way. The architect, one Mr. Lightfoot, killed himself with drinking before the house was finished.
People about say Mr. Dawson might have built a village with the money he spent on his house. He objected evidently to any increase of the population. He would not allow a shop or lodgers." ~ from "The Journal of Beatrix Potter - from 1881 to 1897 - transcribed from her code writings by Leslie Linder
The National Trust has just recently taken over Wray Castle. They have these lovely signs posted at most of their properties!
Oh, how lovely to see those blue skies and the gorgeous view!
And all along the path from the lake up to the castle, there were beautiful wildflowers to enjoy!
The castle was a huge cavernous place. It was hard to imagine it being a home for just two people (plus their servants) and even harder to imagine it being a comfortable place to be. But this room, the Library, was much more comfortable and cozy! Here they had many photos on display of the Potter family from their stay here at Wray Castle. It turns out that the photographs that Beatrix's father took of the interior are just about the only things they have to go from in restoring the castle!
There were not a lot of people there and I ended up with the luxury of a private guided tour! We got to look at some lovely things not seen unless you knew where to look, such as this beautiful porcelain washbasin in the housekeeper's room! It was tucked away in a cupboard in the wall.
In the Library and in the Dining room, the moldings were still present, with bits of mirror showing the patina of age. Much of the woodwork and tiles were lovely, but most of the building was fairly run down and showed the lack of care. Over the years it has been many things, most recently, a Naval school! But now the National Trust has acquired it and is in the process of beginning the long restoration of it.
It really is quite an imposing building, and somewhat at odds with the surroundings. I sat in the turret of the dining room where I had my lunch and painted the view through the window, which I believe I posted previously in my post about painting my way through England.
After lunch, I headed down the path along the west side of Windermere towards the Ferry House.
Every step along the lake was a wonder ~ to see the trees growing out over the water and all the moss and the intense green of the landscape!
I loved the stone fences that marked the borders of the pastures.
And the beautiful views across the lake to the hills beyond.
The trail was easy and broad and I made sure to look back many times as the views both coming and going were wonderful!
The stone walls here were completely covered in moss! One of the characteristics of the gates were the stone columns that held the gate upright between the walls. I found myself looking for their curved tops as I walked the paths and drove along the roadsides throughout the Lake District!
In places there were beautiful woods of various fir and pine, in other places it was all deciduous trees or pastureland.
On one hillside I spotted this black rabbit grazing!
Beautiful trees lined the road the closer I got to the ferry.
The further south I walked, the more boats appeared, moored near the shore in protected inlets tucked behind the small islands of trees.
After about 4 miles of walking along the shore, I arrived at the Ferry! It makes a continual run back and forth across this narrow point on Windermere, carrying a substantial load of cars and pedestrians!
I rode the ferry across and got off with my fellow passengers.
The walk back to the guest house was another mile and half. Along the way I enjoyed the wildflowers!
The trees of England captivate me! They are so lovely in form.
I walked along Rectory Road in Bowness, which goes past the cemetary with lots of old Celtic Cross type gravestones.
Then it was on up the hill towards the guest house. I loved seeing these rabbits out for an early evening graze! What a beautiful day for my first day in the Lake District!