visit England - 12th June 2011
We had a small amount of difficulty finding our cottage because it was on a tiny unnamed road and it was one of those rare times when our TomTom GPS navigator got a bit confused as a result. Being in the rain didn't help much either as we didn't come across any locals we could ask for directions. The fact that all the tiny lanes were barely one car wide with a high stone wall or high hedge on either side didn't help either. One couldn't see anything and as a result every little road looked pretty much identical to all others. After blundering around for a while using a little deduction and much trial and error we eventually found our two bedroom stone cottage. It was of early 1600's vintage on the outside with a 2010 fully renovated modern interior. We had stainless steel appliances, granite bench tops, cable television and WiFi internet access. All a bit of an enigma in some ways but an an ideal base for us to do our explorations over the coming four days.
Our first couple of days targeted the nearby Lake District. It was really hard yakka for the driver because most of the roads were what I came to call dangerous "wiggle wiggle roads". This means that one has to steer around some type of minor or major bend every 50 to100 metres!! At the same time the poor driver has to be constantly alert for oncoming vehicles and acutely aware that there's a stone wall on the left and a stone wall on the right. Most oncoming drivers were afraid to go too close to their stone wall which meant that I had to go within a few millimetres of my stone wall. It meant continuous vigilance for yours truly and and no chance to really appreciate the countryside. Quite disappointing.
When we got to the Lake District proper the traffic was pretty much bumper to bumper and "follow the leader". There was literally NOWHERE to park. In the end all we could do was snake along at 15 mph behind hundreds of cars doing the same thing. It wasn't until we abandoned our plans in frustration and headed up some obscure lanes leading away from the main popular lakes that we broke into the open and could start to enjoy ourselves.
There's no doubt that the countryside and lakes are very beautiful but this area is obviously very popular with tourists and hikers. It is therefore difficult to fully appreciate the place and get into a relaxed and serene state of mind if you visit here in the summer period.
Ever since becoming an addict of the television series "All creatures great and small" I have had the Yorkshire Dales on my Bucket List as a place I wanted to visit. Fortunately our road tour of this region was blessed with good sunny weather and we were able to enjoy it at its best. Overall I suppose it didn't quite come up to my expectations but some of the rolling hillside country was indeed quite serene and beautiful. We enjoyed ourselves however and we particularly appreciated the fact that traffic was light and the stone walls along the roads were quite low and didn't obscure the panoramic views.
On our last day in this region we spent a couple of hours visiting Lanercost Priory located by Hadrian's Wall somewhat east of Carlisle. Sadly it was another rainy day but we enjoyed exploring the the old and crumbling buildings, the operational church and the ancient graveyard. The lady who sold us our entrance tickets was really knowledgeable and very extraverted. We had a long chat with lots of laughter.