Islandmomma

Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age

Autumn Colors in the English Lake District

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Truth is that my stay in the Lake District was molded by how much my father could get around, which, at 87, is getting to be less, of course. The other thing is that – he won’t admit it. This meant that when I said I was going to, say, Grasmere, to take some snaps, he wanted to tag along, and since I knew that he wouldn’t be able to walk as far as I wanted, nor would it be good for him to stand around waiting for me to set up pictures, I had to cave and agree to going somewhere not so far, and with plenty of places to stop and rest. That said, I think I probably had missed the best of the foliage by maybe a week or so in any event. The trees there had lost a lot more of the leaves than they had down south, but here are a few pictures, just to give you an idea of how pretty it is there, and hopefully for my next visit I can work around this somehow!

Bowness-on-Windermere

Bowness has been a village on the lake for centuries, whereas, it’s close neighbour Windermere (village, not lake) was a Victorian invention.  That was where the railway station could be built that ferried the masses for their annual holidays.  I suppose this was the beginning of package holidays even, and, indeed, why should travel have been the right only of the hoi polloi?  Which also means that the currently fashionable debates about travel vs tourism, or sustainable tourism actually go way back.  Apparently even William Wordsworth lamented the opening up of the area by the railway…..mugwump that I am half of me totally agrees with him, and the other half thinks “snob”.  The village church, of St Martin dates back to at least 1483, and apparently there is debate about it dating back even further, though the nice lady in the  local tourist information office couldn’t office more advice than to try the library in Kendal (which I will do one day!)

 

That’s Belle Isle in the center of Lake Winderemere, where, as you can see, the colors still lingered.  Maybe I’m just getting older, but I can remember, literally, my breath being taken away by this view when I was younger.  I still find it awesome.

Boats are moored up for the winter. Summertime sees more boats on the lake than probably is good for it, but rarely in Winter.

Glorious, glorious colors!  Now this is what I came for.  Sitting majestically right on the main road through the village.

Depsite the mild weather, the bird population of the lake still was crowding the shore, waiting for scraps.  Authorities now have given up on asking people not to feed them, and merely ask that they not be fed too close to the road – because they don’t have any road sense!  There seem to be lots more swans than I remember here.

Lancaster

Strictly speaking, Lancaster isn’t a part of the Lake District, being the original county town of Lancashire. It is, however, sometimes refered to as the “gateway” to the Lake District.   It does have lots of history, and it’s a fascinating place for me, but this day I had to content myself with a tour around the lovely market in the center of town, where local produce was offered alongside second-hand books, homemade candy and chocolate, local cheeses, water colors by homegrown artists, and, of course, because it was a a few days before Halloween, pumpkins.

The goods on this homemade candy stall were mouth-watering.  The lady told me that everything was personally made by her friends.  I was SO restrained, and limited myself to a couple of items for gifts!

I even resisted these croissants, and the rest of my haul included one second-hand book, and two cheeses, also for gifts.

Kendal

True to form (it is, I think, the wettest town in England) it rained for most of my time in Kendal, so there are only a couple of pictures, and not too brilliant ones at that.  Were my father not there, I would find Kendal utterly resistible, I think.  It seems drab compared to other Lake District towns, and the people more like harrassed townsfolk than laid back country folk.  That said – who can blame them, given the weather??

The potentially bright spot was that there was a food fair the day after I arrived, but it was a very bedraggled sight – people and animals (yes I really do want to look at the cows and sheep which I am going to eat tomorrow……..and yeah, I know, I shouldn’t eat them if I’m not willing to do the killing, but truth is I hardly ever do) sheltering under tarpaulins, with the people on the  produce stalls looking more ready for home than for selling.  I did buy some scones from a nice man who I kind of took pity on because he’d come from a village where I used to live, quite a long way away, to stand in the downpour, and promote his goods, but it was all a bit kind of weird in the rain for me.  I suppose I am spoiled by the food fairs here, which have sunny days or balmy nights on which to push their wares.  Still, it might have been just that I was in a grumpy mood again, my camera battery was almost dead, the rain was running off my brolly and down my neck, and I was worried about my dad getting wet, since he seemed to carry his umbrella but not use it.  I did wonder what possessed them to hold this fair in the Autumn and not in Summer, but I also had to marvel at the resilience of the stall holders, chatting away as if the sun was shining.  Made me think how nesh we all get, living on a sub-tropical island.

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Author: IslandMomma

Loving island life and exploring the freedoms Third Age brings: Challenging myself every day: writing, traveling, snapping pix, running & teaching ESL

13 thoughts on “Autumn Colors in the English Lake District

  1. I’m glad to see you made it to Kendal but disappointed to hear it didn’t appeal. I live and work in Kendal, and have a holiday let here too. It is a lovely town with very friendly people. I’m sorry to read that you felt otherwise.

    Kendal has a awful lot going for it – a lively events programme that includes the varied events taking place at the Brewery Arts Centre, the Mountain Film Festival, Mintfest, the Kendal Torchlight Procession and the Kendal Festival of Food which you encountered; numerous attractions including Kendal Castle (actually there were two!), Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal Museum, the Quaker Tapestry Museum; lots of shops and of course the new K Village which has had £15m in investment, I understand.

    I don’t know about it being the wettest town in England, but of course Cumbria gets its fair share of rain. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t have the lakes of course. I hope your next visit to Kendal is a happier (and sunnier!) one…

    • Thank you for reading and for your comment. I know how it is when people criticize where I live (which is often!).

      I know Kendal quite well. My family have lived there since the 60s, and my parents moved there in the early 70s. I’ve visited lots of the places you mention, the museum, which is excellent, was a great standby over the years, when my kids visited their grandad and it rained ; I remember a wonderful “old English fayre” type event at the Brewery a few years back, and always check to see what’s on there. I’ve even driven up from the Fylde Coast for the night for jazz concerts years ago. The Art Gallery had a Lowery Exhibition last week, which was a co-incidence, because the last time I went to an exhibit there was the same day Lord Mountbatten was murdered. Isn’t it odd how things stick in your mind!

      So this visit was looking at it from a slightly different perspective. It’s a familiar place, and I’m trying to look at places as if I’ve not been there before. How does it look to outsiders? I always used to imagine that Kendal would just come alive when they were able to figure out how to pedestrianize the main street. The heavy traffic going right through the town center used to be a danger, as well as a ambience killer, and I’m glad they’ve finally found a way around it. It was very wet, however, and I’m sure it must be much pleasanter in Spring or Summer.

      K Village was a huge disappointment. I liked it much better before, that is the consensus amongst my father’s acquaintances. It used to be friendly and fun to visit, but now it’s just another sterile shopping mall.

      Because my father has to rest a lot when walking, we tried several cafés and the only one I could honestly recommend was in Booth’s Supermarket, which had great food and courteous service. I’m not talking full-on restaurants here, just the kind of cafés where you’d have a coffee and a snack. Mind, I don’t confine that criticism specifically to Kendal, Bowness was the same, but it could be that I had the misfortune to always pick the wrong one. It’s not possible to try them all of course.

      So far as friendliness goes the guys on the market stalls are great, as cheery as you could want, and I have five, big, gold stars for the guy in the Timpson shop, who was outstanding – helpful, kind and generous.

      • I must admit, I’m a little indifferent about K Village also, not really being a ‘shops’ person. To me it’s really just a place where we can good value, good quality shoes for our children. That said, I’m sure it will draw people to the town and the early signs are suggesting this is occurring, hopefully not at the expense of other traders. BTW, correction to my early comment about £15m in investment. Apparently it weighed in at nearer £100m.

        As for cafés, Artisan at the bottom of Booths is good, as is Charlies Cafe Bar on Stricklandgate. Also worth a visit are Baba Ganoush (though you probably wouldn’t find it unless you already knew, as it’s tucked down one of the yards) and Truly Scrumptious on Stramongate. I haven’t been for a long while but the Waterside Café is also supposed to be good (http://www.watersidewholefood.co.uk/)

        Just out of Kendal, on Staveley Mill Yard, Wilfs Café (http://www.wilfs-cafe.co.uk/) is also very popular, particularly with walkers, and very good value.

        By the way, the Lowry exhibition has been on since the Summer but ended last week so you caught it just in time (http://www.kendalcottages.com/blog/2010/08/04/lowry-exhibition-in-kendal/). It was the first major solo exhibition of Lowry to be on view outside of Salford in the last five years.

        Later this month we have the Mountain Film Festival (http://www.mountainfest.co.uk/). It’s an international event and the biggest of its kind in the UK.

        If you don’t mind me saying, I think your judgement of Kendal has been high influenced by the weather at the time of your visit. Kendal does gets its fair share of rain and it’s not the most appealing place in the world when it’s cold and wet, but I think the same could be said of any British town. From what I can make out, you were here at the end of October. October is our wettest month of the year, closely followed by November. Next time maybe come in April – despite all that talk you hear of April showers in Britain, April is actually the month that sees the lowest precipitation in Cumbria.

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  3. How tantalisingly close to me you have been! how ironic is it that we missed the fall colours in America, being too early, then since I’m not travellable(is that a word) missed my planned trip to see the Lakes to make up for that omission. and you have managed to see some nice colours although sounds like you too feel the best has been and gone. I know just how your photography day turned into a slow-mo trip, have lots of these myself. sometimes I don’t let on what I’m up to, and you couldn’t do that I know.
    I visit Lancaster quite often and do like it a lot, the Dukes gets some good stuff, film and stage too.

  4. I know. At the end it was a really hurried trip, but next year I really will make a longer one. I was in NC a couple of years ago at the end of November, and the Fall colors were wonderful. There might some pictures on my USA photos tab, not sure. I went for Thanksgiving, expecting the colors to be over, but was very happily surprised.

  5. LOL! Shopping is definitely not high on my to do in the Lake District list either! I did used to stock up on shoes (being an extra wide fitting!) at one time, but not this time. The café in K Shoe village was one of my “dislikes”, although the staff were kind of correct, it was obviously only because they had been trained to say “Have a nice day” (they need to be trained in the how as well as the what I think). I also really dislike this trend to minimalism (for want of a better word), cafés in that climate should be inviting. I also used to love looking through the National Trust shop in there, which seems to be no more. Has it moved to another location? I imagine being closed for so long would have been a big problem.

    Thank you for the links to other cafés. I will, most certainly, take your advice the next time, and the film festival looks really good. I didn’t know about that before.

    Actually, there were outside factors which influenced my view this visit, but not really the rain. Living in what is more-or-less a desert I don’t mind a bit of rain, and I stood last Saturday for around 3 hours in rain and hail in Llanberis in Wales watching the Snowdonia Marathon without it either bothering me much, or leaving a bad impression of the place. However, my impression is very influenced by my elderly father, as I said, he’s 87, but doesn’t like to admit it. Hence, on my last visit I decided to renew acquaintance with Dove Cottage in Grasmere. It was seriously raining that day, just pouring down, and because it wasn’t where he had chosen to be he sat in the car for about an hour, whilst I happily imbibed Wordsworth’s vibes along with a handful of Japanese tourists! ……. I did mention I was grumpy!

    I don’t at all mind you mentioning it! Discussion is good, and now I know about the film festival! I am often in the position of explaining to people that there is more to the Canary Islands than sun, sea and sangria, so I totally understand how you feel!

    Your apartment looks lovely, btw, and you are clearly doing a great job in promoting it – I will keep it in mind for anyone I know visiting the Lake District, as I do appreciate that Kendal is a very convenient place from which to tour.

    I

    • Hi again… I’m not familiar with the café at the new K Village… am I right in thinking it is a Costa’s? Personally, I usually go to Charlie’s Café Bar which is just across from where I work, at the other end of the town. Great food, friendly staff and fair prices. It’s where the old Oddfellows Art Gallery used to be.

      When K Village took up temporary ‘residence’ in town whilst the re-development took place, it did have a little National Trust section within it. I’m not sure why they haven’t moved back but it could be because rents are high (I don’t know if it’s true, but I heard that K Village is more expensive per sq m than the Trafford Centre). I know there are also lots of cuts and changes happening at the National Trust at the moment, so perhaps this is factor.

      As for the Snowdonia Marathon, I considered doing that one last year. I did the Windermere Marathon (a similarly tough course for a marathon) but didn’t get my application in time for the Snowdon one, but perhaps that’s was a blessing in disguise. :)

      Re: the Canaries. I have been to Tenerife quite a bit, the last three trips all being to the Adeje region. I kind of love and hate the place for all the reasons you are probably familiar with! It is a great place for a consistent climate, that’s for sure, and something Kendal really lacks.

      Finally, thank you for your kind words about our apartment.

      • I don’t think it was Costa, I think it was called Moe’s Grill, unless one kind of linked to the other, and you can walk through. There was service at the table. I like some of the chains, like Starbucks or Café Nero, but not Costa.

        :=) As it wasn’t me running I can’t comment on Snowdonia! Although there was rain and hail, it, strangely, wasn’t all that cold.

        I know what you mean about Tenerife. If you live here, you generally stay away from the resorts unless you have to work there. If you like walking (just a guess given where you live), there are some lovely hikes, which surprise most people. Here’s a link to a great English language web site if you’re interested

        http://walkingtenerife.co.uk/

      • I think you could be right about there being another café there, but I can’t say I know it. I think there are plans for a Costa there if it hasn’t yet already opened.

        Yes, we do enjoy walking although I must admit I haven’t done much of that in Tenerife. We normally just put our feet up and re-charge.

        We stayed at Royal Garden Villas in La Caleta a couple of years back. Lovely little place although I imagine the roads around there are starting to get busier already now. They have a great restaurant – probably Tenerife’s best chance of the island’s first Michelin star…

  6. I will never get to savour any of Kendal’s delights as on our last attempt to visit and park we could not fathom the traffic system and went round about three circuits of the town. any car parks we saw were full. then we found our way to the castle which we never knew about but seemed to have nowhere to park anywhere nearby as it was all private housing. as we took the road out my husband told me we would never be going again! It is just possible I may get there with other lake loving friends but only when the memory of a frustrating hour or so wasted is more distant in my memory. on a previous visit I too loved Artisan (Booths cafe) we have one in Booths Lytham, and also used to love a visit to the old K shoes shopping place, sorry it has gone. the Waterside cafe was good even on the rainy day I visited with a friend. The cafe at Stavely is terrific and has the advantage of being easy to get to and park (being outside of Kendal!!)

    • I guess that was a result of them pedestrianizing the main street, but it so needed doing. All those heavy lorries thumping through town can’t have been any good for historic buildings. I didn’t hire a car this time, so I don’t know too much about parking. I always used to park in the car park over the bus station. I took a short cut through there a couple of times last week, and it didn’t seem full, but maybe it depends on the day you go.

    • Hi Christine

      Kendal’s traffic system is far from ideal, particularly – I imagine – if you are not familiar with it. If you do ever persuade your husband to return, you’ll find details of the available car parks on the SLDC website at http://www.southlakeland.gov.uk/services/transport-and-streets/parking/car-parks.aspx

      Alternatively, if you ever choose to stay a short while, our holiday let ( http://www.kendalcottages.com ) comes with its own private parking space, right in the town centre. It’s also a very short walk from the train station! ;)

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