Raul and Lauren arrived in the village of Keswick (KEZ-ick) following their Ingleton Falls hike. A centuries-old town of only 4,800 inhabitants but popularized by 19th-century Romantics and nature lovers, Keswick borders Derwentwater, a picturesque lake. The travellers first headed to Dunsford Guest House, run by Deb and Keith, which turned out to be one of the best bed and breakfasts they’ve ever known. The rest of the evening was spent down by the lake, admiring the water, and enjoying the sight of an intelligent Collie rounding up herds of sheep as his master walked through the pasture.
On Thursday, under beautiful, sunny skies with no hint of feared English rain, Raul and Lauren took a ferry across Derwentwater and began a ridge walk to Catbells peak (1,480 feet). The tree-less landscape offered panoramic views of distant, time-worn mountains as well as the beautiful Derwentwater.
The walk back down to the lakeshore was spotted with sheep, a common sight in England, and a couple even followed them down the path a ways. An unforgettable highlight on the ferry back to Keswick was the largest German Shepherd Raul and Lauren have ever seen. He must have been of mixed ancestry, for he measured at least six feet from nose to tail.
That evening, they visited the Castlerigg Stone Circle, a late-Neolithic structure which testifies to the sheer antiquity of the region. Lauren in particular was fascinated by this remote place and felt the magnitude of history and ancient peoples hanging over it. While still shrouded in some mystery, it is known that this circle, and others like it all over the British Isles, served as a meeting point for ritual celebrations, especially those concerning the solstices. The site was almost deserted, so they enjoyed a beautiful sunset in absolutely peaceful surroundings, the silence broken only by the ever-present sheep.
Friday held more fine weather and refreshing hiking. They circled Buttermere in a four-mile loop. With no wind to disturb it, at least part of the time, this lake’s still waters perfectly reflected the green, neighboring hills and rugged countryside. Lauren could believe she was finally Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
Raul attempted to corral sheep, as is his wont, but he did not succeed in getting close enough for a pet. They found a small restaurant toward the end of their walk and tried the highly recommended cream tea, which consists of tea served with scones, clotted cream, and jam. It was unbelievably delicious.
Leaving Buttermere, the pair drove back in the direction of Keswick toward Latrigg Peak. They experienced their first flat tire together, and Raul changed it very well. Not wanting to let the mishap interrupt their afternoon, they continued on to Latrigg. They climbed to the top of the 1,200-foot hill to revel in complete solitude (excepting the sheep, of course) and views of Keswick, Derwentwater, and the valley below.
Truly, the weather could not have been better with blue skies, puffy white clouds, and abundant sunshine. This was not the England the travellers expected. Back at the car, Lauren persuaded Raul to stop once more by the Castlerigg Stone Circle, since she was so captivated by it. Having returned to Keswick, the always-helpful Deb from their B&B recommended an auto repair shop, and they got a new tire without incident. Raul and Lauren ended the evening down at the sheep pasture by Derwentwater again. Raul, ever hopeful, tried to approach more sheep but did not gain their trust. Meanwhile, Lauren enjoyed a fiery sunset. This far north, the sky stayed light till 11pm, even though the moon was already rising high.
Saturday morning, Raul and Lauren wandered through Keswick’s local market and bought a wool blanket made in England colored in red, white, and blue. (Patriotism for both countries?) Leaving Keswick, they headed to the South Lake District, their final destination being Manchester as they were to fly back to Munich the next day. On the way, they stopped in the town of Grasmere, where lots of Beatrix Potter (creator of Peter Rabbit) merchandise is sold. They avoided the tourist traps but had a lovely walk along the lake and enjoyed another cream tea. Well, only Raul enjoys the actual tea. They drove into Manchester, and Lauren needed to stop by a shopping mall. There, they had British Taco Bell for fun, which of course did not taste the same as the American version. And as if on cue, it finally started to rain just as Lauren and Raul reached their lodging for the night.