Our journey to the Lake District began with a stop in Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage. A beautifully maintained home, it contained many artefacts that had originally belonged to the poet and his sister, including, amusingly, his coffee grinder, and significantly, a table around which he and Coleridge had conferred on matters lyrical and otherwise.
From there, we moved, as had Wordsworth, to the house at Rydal Mount. A much larger house, we could see how the family expanded over time. One of the most striking features of the house, however, was its garden, which draws the visitor out of doors in a way that surely would have pleased the nature-loving poet laureate.
After settling into the Wordsworth Hotel, some of us decided to make an evening of it by attending a local performance of The Importance of Being Earnest. It was certainly one of, if not the best last minute decision made on this trip. The local troupe was completely on par with any top notch professional performance I’ve seen, and the play itself never fails to delight.
The next morning we were served an excellent breakfast, though there was some miscommunication about our shuttle which was to escort us about the Lake District on this free day, and my room-mate, Aubrey, and I just made it on board in the middle of a light drizzle.
From Grasmere, we wound our way (very cautiously, thanks to the skill of our driver, Andy) to Beatrix Potter’s hometown of Hawkshead. Although we didn’t get to go to her actual house, a disappointment for me, we did go to the Beatrix Potter Gallery, which was a former office of her husband and housed many original prints and artefacts.
From there, it was another precarious path to Coniston, where our group boarded a boat tour of the local lake. The scenery and feelings it evoked were surreal. Out on the dark water, we were surrounded by high, misty mountains whose green, craggy peaks were shrouded in a cold fog. The locals kept apologising for not having better weather, and although the wind whipping through my jacket was enough to numb my skin, I couldn’t imagine a better way to view such an ancient, ethereal landscape.
The next morning saw us off bright and early for the nearby town of Keswick. Here, we viewed the neolithic circle of Castlerigg. As interesting for its beauty as its mystery, this is definitely a place I have plans to explore further.
We were then left with several more hours in the small town, the remainder of which my friends and I spent in the town’s Pencil Museum. Yes, the Lake District is, in fact, where graphite was discovered and where many a fine pencil is still manufactured today, including the world’s largest coloured pencil weighing in at almost 1,000lbs and measuring 26ft long.
The Lake District was certainly home to some of the most beautiful scenery in our trip so far, leaving no doubt as to Wordsworth’s inspirations, but I was still eager as the land rolled into ever gentler slopes, for the next day I was bound for Bard country.