Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
People are all aflutter demanding that the governments around the world step in and do something, anything, about the eventual end of oil and fossil fuels. It reminds me of the old saying,
The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones!
However, now that I’m in the Lake District in England, I’ve had to revise that saying, because around here, near as I can tell the Stone Age never officially ended at all. Oh, not the people, they’re as modern as any … but they use stone everything. Now I was expecting stone houses … and I’d heard of (but never seen) stone roofs. Both of those they have aplenty.
But I wasn’t prepared for stone gateposts …
And while I’ve seen many stone fences in my time, they were always made of stones piled one atop the other. They have lots of those kinds of fences in the Lake District, but also another kind I’d not seen. These are made of single flat stone slabs stood on edge.
I didn’t inquire closely as to how the folks living in the stone houses with the stone fences and stone roofs might have constructed their beds and their toilets, that seemed a bridge too far, and I was afraid of what might be revealed ..
We’ve spent the night in Hawkshead, for no apparent reason other than that the YHA Youth Hostel here has the best rates in the area. And since the gorgeous ex-fiancee and I are both in our middle youth, it worked out fine.
As many people have claimed, the scenery here in the Lake District is gorgeous, and Hawkshead is no exception.
It’s one of the spots for which the term “bucolic” might have been invented.
Hawkshead is in the Beatrix Potter country, and the William Wordsworth country, and man, they don’t want you to forget either one. I guess Peter Rabbit must be big in Japan, because there were a couple of busloads of Japanese tourists at her house in Near Sawrey, and all the Beatrix Potter Official Stockist shops had Japanese translations on their signs. And Wordsworth’s name pops up everywhere, unfortunately sometimes to the detriment of what is assuredly a more interesting and recondite history:
The town has a lovely church which we visited and admired, but the folks here say it’s not that old, it only dates from the 1500s … bummer. Despite that disappointment, I did find Herman Melville’s dale that I mentioned in my last post, and I did follow it down to the lake as Melville said:
In this case, the lake was Lake Windermere, one lake over from the lake pictured above. From the number of sailboats I assume Windermere means “Windy Lake”, so I’m probably wrong about that, folk etymology being what it is … but windy or not, it is one of the most scenic lakes it’s been my pleasure to behold.
The turf around here is all clearly marked by the glaciers of the last Ice Age, with the characteristic rounded valleys and the hills sometimes scraped clean of dirt down to the bone. The glaciers make for a lovely soft kind of landscape, with all of the sharp points ground smooth.
On the northeast side of lake Windermere there’s a charming forest that runs along the lake. In one section there was no undergrowth, just acres of ferns …
Strangely, between the forest and the lake there’s also a place which is a caravan park with permanent residents, called “Strawberry Garden”. It’s in one of the world’s prettiest locations, right on the waterfront. Of course, it’s all marked
This site is privately occupied by long term caravan owners.
THERE IS NO PUBLIC ACCESS
Here’s a shot of it from over the fence … a stone fence, as you might imagine …
Why did I find this strange?
Well, the site is owned, not by a private individual or a company, but by the National Trust. Says so right on the other sign:
THE NATIONAL TRUST
PRIVATE — Access to caravan site and cottages only.
NO UNAUTHORISED ENTRY
It has the National Trust logo on it and everything … I was gobsmacked. The National Trust is in the business of providing stupendous caravan spaces to the fortunate few, while the public is kept out entirely? How does that work? Gotta be some history there I’m unaware of.
We walked a couple of miles along Lake Windermere. It was absolutely stunning. My thanks to all who recommended the Lake District, our time here has been great. The only downside are the roads. Typically, the roads around this area are about one and seven-sixteenths car widths from side to side … in the wide parts … and there are always stone walls on both verges, which tend to focus one’s attention mightily. Add bicyclists and walkers and the odd horse or two, and it’s a Disneyland E-Ticket ride, except with real hazards.
Tomorrow we’re going to see Hadrian’s Wall, and then up into Scotland. The adventure continues. My thanks to everyone for their texts and comments. Unfortunately there are far too many to acknowledge individually, but I do read and appreciate them all. We’re headed for the land of haggis and sporrans, should be fun.