Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Great British Road Trip- the Lake District

The Lake District! This may have been the area I was most excited to visit!

We started in the southern Lake District with a visit to Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum.  It was the day before Wordsworth's birthday (April 7th) and they also had an Easter themed activity for the kids.  The big kids had to answer questions about Wordsworth's life to solve a puzzle and the little kids had to find sheep in each room with letters and un-jumble the letters to spell a title of a poem.  All of the kids were rewarded with Cadbury treats.

The cottage itself was pretty neat, and the tour guide knew her subject inside and out. The house is surprisingly small, considering all the people that eventually lived and visited there. I loved seeing the garden, walks, and views that inspired Wordsworth.

Next we drove north through the Kirkstone Pass and the northern Lake District. The drive was beautiful. We arrived at our airbnb in Askham.  It was what we would call a trailer, but Europeans call a caravan, parked behind a restaurant.  The inside turned out to be surprisingly clean, well decorated, and even had a fireplace!  Also, the restaurant- the Punchbowl Pub- was where we ate dinner and it was SO GOOD.  And also beautiful inside with fires going in the fireplaces, and board games and card games, which we made a little use of while we waited for our food.  All of this just to say, that sometimes places don't look so great from the outside, and end up being hidden gems.
The next morning we headed to the nearby Aira Force waterfall hike.

I'm glad we got there early, ahead of the crowds, and were able to enjoy this lovely spot.  We hiked over and under the falls, and up and down both sides of the river.

It's best to do our big hikes while the kids are fresh in the morning.

After Aira Force, we drove through the Honister Pass toward Lake Buttermere.  We weren't planning to stop anywhere, but kids needed a bathroom break so we pulled in to the Honister Slate Mine.  They have a tour, gift shop, and snacks there... but Rob and I were most intrigued by the rocky hike above the mine.  We decided to go in turns, Rob with the boys, then Charlotte and I.  This wasn't an appropriate hike for Amelie and she was happy with hot chocolate and cake in the snack shop. 

It was a really, really rocky trail.  And pretty much straight up.  We came home with some pieces of slate picked up along the way.

The views were really pretty though.
And sheep.  Everywhere.

Our next stop was Lake Buttermere.
We walked about a third of the way around the lake.  (Then the public footpath unexpectedly ended, so we had to turn back.) It was nice and level and easy, and the kids loved stopping to skip rocks along the way.
These yellow flowers in the thorny evergreen bushes were in bloom all over the place.
And look at those cute kids!

After Buttermere, we had just one more stop we wanted to make- the Castlerigg Stone Circle. Is it possible to  visit too many Neolithic stone circles?  No, I didn't think so.  I asked Rob for a birthday pose, and this is what I got.
It was getting close to sunset, and was fun just to relax here at the end of the day.

Charlotte trying out photo-bombing.
Awww, I love this guy.
It's a pretty large circle, and out in the middle of an open field, with hills all around.  It was a really neat place to see. 

After Castlerigg, we fed the kids some cheese sandwiches.  (Rob teases me that my go-to shopping list on these family trips is: bread, cheese, chocolate, and fruit.  I think it's a pretty great standard list.)  Then watched some tv and got to sleep.  We had a long drive to look forward to the next day.

Before we left Askham in the morning though, we ran across the street to Askham Hall, for one last quick chance to embrace my inner Bennett. The daffodils alone were worth stopping by.

Askham Hall is a boutique hotel, but is still owned by the Countess of Lonsdale.  We just strolled the grounds. Rob thought this "Secret Path" with all of the signs labeling it as such, was hilarious.

Oooooh, I just loved the Lake District.

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