Travel tales - Cumbrian mountains and Beatrix Potter - The Lake District Roadtrip Part 1

The Lake District, a region and national park in northwest England. It’s known for its glacial ribbon lakes, rugged fell mountains and historic residents such as William Wordsworth & Beatrix Potter, to name but 2. The first time I really took notice of the lakes, was thanks to Gill Edwards. An Author & spiritual/metaphysical speaker. I was 19 yrs old, at college and finding a need to seek deeper answers in life.
From a young age I had seen and heard 'spirits' & odd things, and at it's height I took all manner of strange occurrences in my home as normal everyday matters. I recall how one day I'd found myself in our local bookshop browsing the 'spiritual/ self help' section & come across an intriguing book on Angels. I ummed and ahhed but put the book down & went home. However something was calling me... I decided to return & buy that book the very next day. Sadly on my return it was no longer there, but in it's place was 'Living Magically' by Gill Edwards. It was wonderful. Eye opening. Life changing. And it seemed destined to be mine.
It did indeed change my life in many ways & the author, Gill spoke often of her love for the Lakeland fells where she lived & eventually went on to create Lakeland flower essences & run workshops from Ambleside. For years I longed to visit, and perhaps take one of Gill's workshops, but she sadly died a few years ago.
And so last year, when I moved up to Lincolnshire from Cornwall, one of the places I was eager to visit was Cumbria. My Husband had wanted our first trip to be Scotland, and so in the January we planned our Scottish roadtrip to Loch Lomond (Not yet written on this blog.. but I will add it soon :) ).
We set off during the night to be there for dawn & we stopped for a coffee break just outside The Lakes. I was so excited to see the signposts & the dark shapes of the hills, but so disapointed not to be able to see it after all these years. So near but so far.
On our return from Scotland my Husband booked us a night in Windermere for the middle of Feb. I was so excited. That trip ought to be Part one really, but I am so far behind that these are all random now. lol
This year we decided to go back and include a day travelling around the Cumbrian coastline too, and so in March we set off to have an overnight stop in the Wilbury and re-visit all the lovely places we remembered.

*Click images to enlarge*
We headed out in the early hours to make the most of every minute of daylight. As the sun started to rise we passed Lancashire into Cumbria & my first moment of excitement was seeing the snowy white tops of mountains in the distance.
Then a signpost saying 'The Lakes'. 

It was lovely to drive in the early dawn light. Our previous arrival had been during the Winter and it was still dark. The surrounding countryside changes dramatically to breathtaking hills & green lush landscapes. For all the harsh Mountainous areas Cumbria also has such a magical variety of woodlands and lush wild scenery.
As we wound our way along the pretty Lakeland roads we felt like we had come home.

As we passed through Windermere the sun was just hitting the mountains and creating the most spectacular orange glow. We jumped out to take some photos and breathe in the peaceful morning air.

The plan was to re-visit the Beatrix Potter gallery in Hawkshead first, but it was still a little early & nothing was open yet. So we enjoyed a drive around eventually stopping at the waterside somewhere near Hawkshead for some breakfast & a snooze.

Stopping for supplies in Hawkshead, we took a stroll around the churchyard before heading into the beautiful gallery building, which originally used to be the Solicitors office of the man Beatrix Potter married. William Heelis. 
The Beatrix Potter Gallery changes it's exhibits from year to year. This season it was a celebration of  the anniversary of Beatrix's 150th birthday.

Its a peaceful little building. Low beams and wooden floors. The perfect setting for Beatrix's intricate watercolours to hang.
Pencil sketches and world famous illustrations hang side by side, and for me as an artist who grew up with Peter rabbit stories, its a lovely place to be.
From there its a short drive to pretty village of Near Sawrey, & Beatrix's own Hilltop Farm.

Hilltop is famously the first property that Beatrix bought in the Lakes. She used it as a retreat on her time away from London to write her books and conduct business.
She purchased a vast number of farms across the Lake district in order to help preserve the way of life, and she herself became a farmer, living and working there.
Once she married, she purchased Castle cottage, just across the fields also in Near Sawrey, which was much larger & more suitable for a family home.

Next stop... the Langdale Valley. Not an area we explored last time, and it was wonderful to get up close to this stunning mountain range. 
We parked in the National Trust carpark at The Sticklebarn, the only National Trust owned pub/restaurant. And made ourselves a quick coffee (the car kettle is our favourite item on roadtrips ) to take up onto the lower slopes with for a walk in the glorious sunshine.

We could have stayed up there all day it was so lovely. Peaceful, clean air, warm sunshine.
The Herdwick sheep were all over the hills and we even got to watch a new sheep dog pup being trained. He was wonderful :)
However we wanted to continue on to Keswick, and due to severe winter flooding some of the roads had been damaged. The main stretch between Grasmere and Keswick was closed and we had to take a long detour up over the Kirkstone pass, which was no great hardship as it is a very picturesque journey. Thankfully though it's not one of the more challenging mountain passes.

Castlerigg stone circle, Keswick. We had to return here as its such an amazing setting.
High up in the fells it's surrounded by breathtaking views at every turn.

"Surrounded by the fells of Skiddaw and Blencathra to its north and Castlerigg Fell, High Rigg and Clough Head to its south, this ring of 38 stones, set within a ring of mountains, has stood at Castlerigg for about 4,500 years since it was created by Neolithic farming communities."

Castlerigg is one of those places that has a special energy. And as the sun started to sink lower the shadows grew longer and the golden glow of the late afternoon sun gave it such an atmosphere.
If we had been clever we would have stopped here for the night. Found dinner in Keswick & enjoyed an evening by the lake. But we had planned to head on over towards the coast and new unexplored territory in preparation for tomorrows travels. And so we found ourselves searching for a spot to sleep in the dark... and ended up in the sleepy little village of St Bees.
We had hoped to awaken to a view of the sea and enjoy a day of coastal exploration... but we awoke to grey mist and heavy rain. lol
We continued on but with no views we carried on back to the gateway town of Kendal & decided to call it a day and make it back home before rush hour traffic.
In spite of the weather change, it was yet another magical trip to Cumbria, and I've no doubt we will be back again very soon.


  1. What a lovely trip Julia! Great pictures. I would love to visit castlerigg stone circle. Must return myself as there is so much to see. x

  2. It's a wonderful area isn't it? We've been to the Beatrix potter gallery and Hill Top - last time I was there the exhibition was celebrating 100 years of Tom Kitten so it was a good while ago. Ine place I would love to see is the Castlerigg Stone Circle, so far I've never made it up there. Maybe this year!


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