The English countryside certainly holds a fascination for those of us who come from far-flung countries like the Philippines or Papua New Guinea.
Images of rolling hills, winding and narrow country lanes, farmlands, woods, picnics and walks (stuff I’ve read in Enid Blyton books as a young girl) often evoke a feeling of fascination and curiosity for urban dwellers like us.
The famous adage, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” holds true in this setting. LITERALLY. I suppose for that reason, one can understand why the vegetation is so lush, thanks to the huge amount of rainfall that we get here in England.
The Lake District National Park, often called The Lakes or Lakeland, is an upland area of England spanning 2,292 square km and a population of just over 42,000. It lies in the County of Cumbria, northwest of England, and the first of its kind to be established as a national park by the UK in 1951. It also is Britain’s largest and most visited national park. Today the park attracts a significant number of visitors, between 16 to 16.5 million visitors a year, from around the world drawn to the stunning valleys, lakes, woodlands and fells.
There are 16 lakes within the park boundaries of which Windermere is the largest measuring ten and a half miles long and a mile and a quarter across at it’s widest point, with a depth of up to two hundred and twenty feet. The lake is so large that it has a slight but discernible tide. Not only is Windermere regarded as the queen of Lake District lakes but it’s also the largest body of water anywhere in England. It has been one of the country’s most popular places for holiday since the Victorian era when the railway between Kendal and Windermere was opened in 1847. The establishment of the railway was staunchly opposed by the poet William Wordsworth. He was concerned that the place he helped popularise will get a massive influx of tourists that would spoil the natural appeal of the lake.
The epic and wild grandeur of Cumbria’s landscape has inspired generations of artists, writers, and poets. The most famous of whom is arguably William Wordsworth (1770-1850, a frequent guest here), and his romantic poetry exquisitely captures the true essence of The Lakeland experience.
We climbed up a hill called Orrest Head and Alfred Wainwright (1907-1991), British guidebook author, fell-walker and illustrator, penned this words: “Orrest Head for many of us, is ‘where we came in’ – our first ascent in Lakeland, our first sight of mountains in tumultuous array across glittering waters, our awakening to beauty.”
Orrest Head is on the eastern shores of the town of Windermere. It is the subject of a chapter in Wainwright’s “The Outlying Fells of Lakeland,” and the first fell he climbed when he visited The Lakeland in 1930. (In the Lake District the hills are known as ‘fells’)
The path with dry stone wall on one side and barbed-wire fence on the other have benches along the way where you can take a little break to catch your breathe.
Or in my case, sit down for a photograph. 😉
It’s an easy and enjoyable walk uphill.
Jared and I were with our friend, Kevin Price (he was born and grew up in Windermere and climbed up this hill innumerable times), and I asked him about this purplish-pink flowers because they were strikingly gorgeous and were all over the place. He told us they’re called Foxglove; a wild and ornamental plant but poisonous when ingested by cats, dogs, and even humans.
This tall spires of tubular flowers are deceptively beautiful. If not for Kevin I never would have thought that the flowers, leaves, and the stems of this plant are harmful and can kill a person or an animal. One of the wonders of nature, of God’s creation.
The leafy lane walk was fun.
A few yards before the summit, the lane winds its way uphill through trees before reaching the top of the hill. It’s rougher underfoot but my loafers survived the trek. 🙂
The steps up to the peak. Kevin was walking ahead of Jared and they were almost at the summit. Notice the white and purple-pink Foxgloves on the right side of the footpath.
As soon as we reached the summit, it was then that I realised just what a tourist attraction The Lakes and surrounding villages really are. Orrest Head is indeed a delightful, tranquil place with sweeping views across The Lakeland.
It gives unrivalled views of the Lake District Fells, Morecambe Bay, Lake Windermere and the Pennines.
The dramatic landscape is utterly breathtaking. Alfred Wainwright wrote in 1930, “. . . quite suddenly, we emerged from the shadows of the trees and were on a bare headland, as though a curtain had dramatically torn aside, beheld a truly magnificent view. This was truth. God was in heaven that day and I a humble worshipper.”
Here’s a short video clip that Jared took from the summit. It was a warm but cloudy day; the photos and the video do not give justice to the glorious scenery of Lakeland.