Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Lakes District

Situated north-west of Manchester and opposite the Yorkshire Dales is another one of my favourite parts of England: The Lakes District. Its geographical location means it isn't often blessed with sunny weather. Basically a dry day here is considered a good day. We started the day with sunshine…! It couldn't get much better… It even stayed dry the whole day… well almost!

We had a great day riding The Lakes District comprises a series of Lakes (funny that…) and rugged mountains which makes for beautiful scenery.
Throw in a landscape with lots of drystone walls, sheep, rocks, more sheep and winding roads and you will have a great day ahead of you. 

Of course England is overcrowded, apparently more so during the weekend when every Briton seems to be in his car to clog up the roads. Throw in a couple of buses on narrow roads and the whole lot comes to a standstill.

The Lakes District is popular, every second building is a hotel, pub, restaurant or something else that is 100% geared for tourism. Getting groceries in a place like this isn't easy because they don't want you to get groceries, they want you to eat out. As we are cutting our finances might fine at the moment, because the UK is very expensive, eating out is just not an option. 

The Kirkstone pass is arguably the centre of it all. Mike had carefully planned a trip in the GPS and chosen the smallest, narrowest roads he could find. He had done a good job as some of them had me wondering if we were still on a road or someone's narrow driveway. There are lots of walking and hiking trails here too. Photos don't do it justice really as they miss the depth of field and can't captivate the vastness of it. Look away from the roads and the holiday makers and you'll see a desolate landscape. Impressive. It's sheep country too as they can handle the harsh weather and rocky terrain. 

The Lakes District offers great views but you need good weather. When the weather turns here it can become very bleak quite quickly. Winters are harsh here too, much more so than the nearby Yorkshire Dales. The buildings here have solid stone walls of 50 cm thick. The roof slates are an inch thick as well. Chimneys are big and plentiful and smoke even in summer. Australian pubs advertise with cold beer and air conditioning, here it's 'come in from the cold, have a cup of tea (or warm beer) and warm yourself in front of the wood fire.' A pub with a wood fire is not something you'll find in an Australian pub, unless it's burning to the ground while you're in it.

We had been looking for a steam railway we had seen 20 odd years ago but couldn't find it. Until we rode out of the Lakes District and found it just on the edge of it. Riding past, it looked exactly the same as it did then. As it was getting late already we rode on towards a campground and decided to ride back the day after.  

Clouds were threatening at the end of the day, so we stopped at a farm campground. Nothing special, basically just a field. The lady wanted 30 pounds for an unpowered tent site… or US$ 51,- A little bit further on we found a campground that offered more facilities for 18 pounds. The rain had set in by now and didn't stop until we had pitched the tents…