Mr Tumble here again, popping up to say hello and introduce my first outing with Kit. I shall leave it to Kit to tell you about it as Thugs Bunny and I stayed mostly in the hotel, it had such lovely uninterrupted views of Shap Fell, approx. 1026 feet above sea level and we were more than happy to spend the day watching the sheep, rabbits, hares and birds from our window. Poor Kit hardly had a look in (or should that be out), but I don’t think she minded. She took us out for the steam train ride, though, great fun sitting in an open carriage as the lovely countryside ambled by. Good job it wasn’t raining else it would have been pretty miserable! Enough of me… here’s Kit.
It seems longer than a week since we’ve been home from a coach tour of the Lake District, England. The beautiful dales and valleys, lakes (obviously), mountains and wildlife as well as the lovely hotel we stayed in but a memory but one I shall treasure. An 8-hour drive north with frequent rest stops found us at Shap, a small village in the middle of nowhere. Our hotel, an old eighteenth century inn nestled within its own forest, is unique for being one of the few remaining locations with a red squirrel population, now exceedingly rare in the UK. I spent many hours in the forest watching the squirrels, which are fed each morning by the hotel staff, and although wild, many came close to inspect me, in the hope that I too had some nuts for them.
Shap Hotel has a vast, interesting history and even used as a prisoner-of-war camp during WW2. Surrounded on three sides by the Birk Beck stream with several small but attractive waterfalls, I could have happily stayed here all day, but our busy itinerary meant touring the region with our friendly guide and coach driver a mine of information about each place we visited (well, it was the reason we were there). Kendal, Ambleside and Keswick were just a few of the many towns along the lakes we stopped at for morning coffee or lunch with long drives in between. I can well understand why people love the area, it is certainly pretty and we were lucky the weather was perfect – warm and sunny – for us to enjoy it all at its best.
No visit to the region is complete without a visit Grasmere. A lovely lake and an exceedingly pretty town to wander around. This is Wordsworth country, although we were too late to see the daffodils out. It’s no wonder William Wordsworth fell in love with the area. He and his family are buried in the local churchyard, a peaceful resting place wafting in the smell of ginger from the famous gingerbread cake that is baked here.
For me, there were four highlights of our tour – a leisurely cruise on Lake Windermere (England’s largest lake), following by a steam train ride. As we alighted from the train we were greeted by my favourite birds – owls. Given the opportunity to hold one, stroke it and even give it a kiss was wonderful, the barn owl I held was so soft and cute I wanted to bring it home with me but its owner shook his head.Our final day included another steam train ride through beautiful countryside in the morning and a visit to Muncaster Castle in the afternoon. I’d never heard of this castle but was well worth visiting. Still lived in, it also boasts a ghost or two in one of its bedrooms. Whilst most of our group disappeared to watch the hawk and owl display in the grounds, my friend Avis and I explored the castle building and then waited with a cup of tea for the feeding of the wild herons from the castle bank, a fine spectacle indeed.
All too soon our brief 5-day holiday was over and we began the long ride back to Bristol. So would I go again? Yes, as there is still a lot more to explore here, our tour being only a taster of what is available and one definitely needs time to wander.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.