vendredi 15 août 2014

England's jewel : the Lake District

I could not wait any longer before writing this article. In april 2014, I went to the Lakes with fellow assistants, and it still is the most stunning place I have seen in the UK so far. If you love outdoor activities, hiking, being surrounded by nature, wonderful and photogenic landscapes, quiet places to escape buzzing cities, this is exactly the place where you must go. The Lake District is the biggest National Park in England, where you can also find the highest English mountain : Scaffel Pike (978m). The Lake District is also associated with English literature, especially with the poet William Wordsworth and the children's author, Beatrix Potter

The first night, we stayed in Ambleside, in a good, practical and clean youth hostel : Ambleside Backpackers. Ideally situated in Ambleside, close to all commodities : Tesco for self-catering and several pubs such as the White Lion which we tested twice. They have daily special offers, for instance, on tuesdays, burgers cost £5 instead of £8. The owner of the youth hostel gave us a warm welcome. And we had booked a 4-bed dorm but a 6-bed dorm was still unoccupied so he simply offered it to us, so that we could have more space, which we really appreciated. 

The day after, we went on a nice hike starting from Ambleside to Loughrigg Fell and Grasmere.

 View over Grasmere lake from Loughrigg Fell

On your way to Grasmere, make a well-deserved stop at Faeryland, where you can drink a hot beverage, local juices, eat nice cakes and even hire a colorfoul small boat.

The second youth hostel we stayed in was in Elterwater, a lovely village rather isolated. Be aware that in Elterwater, there is just one pub, one bus stop and the hostel. There is still a local grocery shop 10-15 minutes walk from the hostel. But don't worry, there is plenty of good hikes to do literaly from the doorstep as Elterwater is situated in the Great Langdale valley, near the Langdale Pikes. I would recommend Elterwater Hostel, especially for its friendly staff. They were always ready and happy to help us, they are very knowledgeable of the area and can recommend the best hikes to do, and they are happy to lend you a map of the surroundings for the duration of your stay. Facilities were excellent, a large and well-organised self-catering kitchen. Cooked typical English breakfast was available, and vegetarian-friendly. A very clean and pleasant hostel, the best I've ever been I think.

The second day, we went for a second hike. No need to take the car, you just start walking from the hostel doorstep. 

When I was in the Lake District, it was what I would call "the cute lambs' time." Seriously, I could not stop photographying sheep, and their cute innocent pure white lambs

 A Herdwick sheep, typical breed from Cumbria
Cute lambs, cute lambs everywhere

At the end of the afternoon, we went around Windermere Lake, which is England's largest natural lake. We walked up to Jenkin Crag, where you can get a nice view over the impressive lake. Windermere was the place I liked the least during our stay, but this view was pleasant anyway, especially with the soft light at the end of the day.

Third day = third hike, obviously. And I still can't get over how stunning it was. The best hike I have ever done. You can find indications and a description of this hike on this website, as well as a photo of the "Fat Man's Dilemma" a narrow rock formation that you have to go through, with your backpack upon your head if you want to continue this hike ! Here are my own photos, of this incredible hike :

I hope this article was not too long and tiresome to read but I really wanted to share the most amazing travel experience I had in the UK so far. I also hope I gave you some ideas if you plan on visiting the Lake District. Bare in mind that it is a very vast natural park, there is a lot of see and a great variety of sceneries depending on which part of the Lakes you choose to explore. That's why I hope I will go there again, in a few years. 

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