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Published: August 11th 2012
I left Dorset on Saturday, August 4th, taking the train from Wareham up to Waterloo Station in London. From Waterloo I transferred to Euston Station by tube and then took a Virgin train up to Penrith in Cumbria. I'd found the Virgin train online. It was actually cheaper going 1st
class on Virgin than 2nd
class on National Rail, AND I had free WIFI and snacks! From Penrith I took a bus to Keswick and then a taxi on to Hassness House on Lake Buttermere. It was a long day.
I'd heard of the British group "Ramblers", which I thought was the equivalent of the American Sierra Club group. Although founded about 60 years ago, Ramblers has since split in two, and I discovered (after the fact) that I'd actually booked, not with a Ramblers walking group (=the Ramblers Association) but with an organization called Ramblers Holidays. Be as it may, Ramblers Holidays see to be affiliated with the original Ramblers and also offer walking ("rambling") excursions, ranging in grade from "E" (easy) to "C+" (hard). I'd chosen a venue (Hassness House) that was "D+/C" (moderate to hard). Some of the walking was a bit too tough for me, since the
incline was sometimes 800-1000 meters up, and the walks were usually about 10-12 miles long. They also usually included a few of the "Wainwrights", the Lake District peaks named after Alfred Wainwright, a British mountaineer, author and illustrator who described them in a series of handwritten guide books published in the early 20th
During the 6 days I was at Hassness House, I went on 3 of the 5 walks organized by the Ramblers tour leader, as well as an easier walk (starting at Grange Bridge, then around Derwenter Lake to Keswick) with four other women from Hassness and a walk on my own the last day around the two lakes (Buttermere and Crummock Water) near where we were staying. And on our "day off" (Wednesday), I went to visit the town of Windermere, then taking a boat across Lake Windermere (the longest of the lakes) to the charming town of Ambleside and from there a bus to Grasmere (where I visited one of Wordsworth's homes, Dove Cottage, and the Wordsworth Museum).
I'd always wanted to visit the Lake District—maybe because I remembered Wordsworth, Coleridge and Ruskin had been inspired there. (Another local author was Beatrix Potter).
The scenery is absolutely gorgeous—about 14 lakes, rugged mountains, grass and heather-covered valleys and fields. Despite the rain and cold during the first 3 days (the last 4 were beautiful), I was really delighted with my stay there. Hassness House is in the remote western part of the Lake District National Park—far away from the more touristy central Lake District area near Windermere. Hassness is quite isolated; the walk to the nearest hamlet, Buttermere (population about 50), takes half an hour. There was no TV or radio, no phones in the rooms, no mobile or WIFI reception. London and the Olympics seemed far away.Luckily, one day from the top of a mountain I was able to pick up a mobile signal to let my sons know I was okay, and when in Keswick on Wednesday, I spent half an hour in a cybercafé checking email.
A typical stay at Hassness House is for 3, 4 or 7 nights. I opted for a week-long stay. The first 4 nights, there were 20 of us (9 of them were from the same Ramblers walking group in the Midlands); the second 3 nights, there were 13. Carole and Brian are the managers;
Ruby (Carole's daughter) and Dimitri help out. Brian is a former restaurant chef, and his homemade dinners and cooked breakfasts were delicious. And so were Ruby's cakes at teatime! Every day, we also got a packed lunch. On the staff's night off (Tuesday), all of us guests went to the Bridge Inn in Buttermere for a pub dinner.
I hope you enjoy the photos of my stay in the Lake District. There are 50 all together, so please don't forget to scroll down and go to the next page.
(Note: Saturday morning, August 11th
, I left Hassness House. I got a ride to Keswick, where I took a bus to Carlisle and then another on to Newcastle. 'Am spending the night in the center of Newcastle at a Backpackers' Inn and am taking an Easy Jet flight back tomorrow at noon to Paris, where I'll stay for a week before returning to California on August 21st
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