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Lake District Breaks – Amazing Views and Follow in Wordsworth’s Footsteps on a Budget Bus Tour

the The sheep grazing around Castlerigg Stone Circle may not be the least bit curious about its history, or impressed by its environment.

However, they do make their contribution by keeping the grass neat, and their benign presence adds to the peaceful aura.

We are here as part of a three-day guided tour of the Lake District, exploring the region in a stylish minibus and based in Keswick.

Castlerigg Stone Circle, pictured above, is one of the scenic stops on the 'Lake District Explorer' tour

Castlerigg Stone Circle, pictured above, is one of the scenic stops on the ‘Lake District Explorer’ tour

We understand four solo visitors (the bus can carry 16 but has been limited to eight for Covid reasons) and as a small group we can be flexible with the itinerary, staying longer where we want.

Without the feeling of being on a school trip, he quickly moved forward marking points of view.

We have already investigated paths through tranquil forests on the way to Aira Force, a hypnotically comforting waterfall that inspired the poet William Wordsworth.

Tour participants visit Aira Force, the 'hypnotically comforting' waterfall that inspired the poet William Wordsworth.

Tour participants visit Aira Force, the 'hypnotically comforting' waterfall that inspired the poet William Wordsworth.

Tour participants visit Aira Force, the ‘hypnotically comforting’ waterfall that inspired the poet William Wordsworth.

It’s a contemplative place, unless you’re one of the many ecstatic dogs we see happily splashing around in pools. Will humans enjoy a walk as much as dogs?

We take our time in the stone circle. It is one of the first in Britain, ‘bred’ in 3000 BC. C., before Stonehenge, and consists of 38 to 40 stones (there is much debate about the number, and it is said that if the accounts you will never appear with the same number twice).

Our guide, Roger, tells us that stone axes were excavated from the site. No one is quite sure why they were put there, although he thinks they may have been coming-of-age gifts for children.

The stones overlook the Thirlmere Valley and are surrounded by mountains, including towering Skiddaw and Blencathra to the north. Makes the circle feel safe and secure.

Rabbie's tour bus guide Ray leads Kate Johnson's group of lone visitors through the Lake District (stock photo)

Rabbie's tour bus guide Ray leads Kate Johnson's group of lone visitors through the Lake District (stock photo)

Rabbie’s tour bus guide Ray leads Kate Johnson’s group of lone visitors through the Lake District (stock photo)

No one is sure what its purpose was originally, from astrological to religious, but we are using it for social reasons. Like other visitors, we are sitting on the stones and admiring the views as we chat.

Roger remembers his childhood vacation climbing these same hills. His parents told him that if he got lost he should always “walk downhill”; sooner or later he would reach a town.

Back on the road to Keswick, our minibus passes rolling billiard-green fields full of Herdwick sheep, so hardy they have been known to survive a month in a snow blizzard, before making a stop at Bassenthwaite Lake.

Fascinating: Looking over Windermere.  Kate discovers that the lake is 'almost deserted, except for a man and his labrador'

Fascinating: Looking over Windermere.  Kate discovers that the lake is 'almost deserted, except for a man and his labrador'

Fascinating: Looking over Windermere. Kate discovers that the lake is ‘almost deserted, except for a man and his labrador’

Here, we walk to the water’s edge and look across. Slowly but surely, we are all transported by the sheer beauty and stillness of this narrow four-mile-long body of inky black water.

Less well known and less popular than Windermere, there are no boats on the shingle shore. It is almost deserted, except for a man and his farmer.

I ask him if he has swam in the lake. ‘Not deliberately,’ he replies, ‘but I fell off my paddle board earlier,’ pointing to a recently deflated boat. To our left is a woman folding clothes, donning a neon marker buoy, adjusting her hat and glasses, before entering the water without hesitation.

Kate discovers that the market town of Keswick, pictured, is facing a staff shortage during a home holiday boom

Kate discovers that the market town of Keswick, pictured, is facing a staff shortage during a home holiday boom

Kate discovers that the market town of Keswick, pictured, is facing a staff shortage during a home holiday boom

You can tell there are no lifeguards, no angry sign in capital letters prohibiting swimming, no markers in the water to delineate which parts can be accessed.

Visitors simply park on the side of the road and swim at their own risk. We watch the silent and still lake as the daylight fades, and when we return to the bus we have a unanimous request for an addition to the itinerary: ‘We really want to swim!’

We will stay in B & Bs scattered around Keswick. This is a good business city, although the pandemic has taken its toll – many restaurants have closed, while there are staff shortages during the home holiday boom.

A woolly local.  Through the minibus window, Kate admires the hills and herding sheep (stock photo)

A woolly local.  Through the minibus window, Kate admires the hills and herding sheep (stock photo)

A woolly local. Through the minibus window, Kate admires the hills and herding sheep (stock photo)

A hotel manager in Keswick reveals that he often has a picnic in Derwentwater (pictured above), timing the proper time to watch the sunset.

Traditional Delight: Gingerbread Sale at Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

Traditional Delight: Gingerbread Sale at Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

Traditional Delight: Gingerbread Sale at Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

All of which means that going outside and waiting for a table for dinner doesn’t work.

An apologetic hotel manager told me that even he and his wife often can’t secure a table where he works. I meet a happy couple queuing for fish and chips to go that they haven’t been able to book anywhere either.

I finally find a cheap and cheerful tapas bar in the main square. In most places, it is imperative to reserve tables weeks in advance.

Or take a tip from the hotel manager, who says a picnic is often brought to Derwentwater. If you calculate it at the right time, you can watch the sunset before bed.

This tour is an ideal introduction to the lakes. We cover the ‘classics’ like England’s largest lake, Windermere.

For a small additional charge, we take a boat trip because, as one of my bus companions points out: “We would do ourselves a disservice if we went to the lakes and didn’t actually go to the lakes.”

We visit Grasmere, where there is a friendly queue for Grasmere’s gingerbread shop to sample delicacies baked from the recipe that Victorian cook Sarah Nelson invented in 1854 at her Church Cottage, which seems almost as famous as Wordsworth’s grave in the village.

Hawkshead, where Wordsworth attended school, is a must see. Roger gives us an entertaining tale of the poet (after which, the American in our minibus says ‘he’s, like, super knowledgeable’).

So we came to town knowing that he was the only poet laureate who had never composed a poem while in office, and that to celebrate Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar in 1805, he held a party on a mountain that was so rampant that his drunken guests had to do it. be tethered to their pack horses for their safe return.

Wordsworth’s sister, Dorothy, had a lyrical gift of her own; It is said that Wordsworth not only read his (unforgivable) diary, but copied his words and passed them off as his own.

Pictured above is the town of Hawkshead, a must see, where Wordsworth attended school.

Pictured above is the town of Hawkshead, a must see, where Wordsworth attended school.

Pictured above is the town of Hawkshead, a must see, where Wordsworth attended school.

TRAVEL FACTS

The 3-day ‘Lake District Explorer’ tour with Rabbie’s from £ 255, including round-trip train tickets from London, transport in a minibus and the services of a driver-guide. Accommodation is excluded but can be booked separately (rabbies.com, 0131 226 3133).

The town is a delight of whitewashed houses, traffic-free lanes, cobbled streets and a square that seems to demand that you sit down to have a drink and watch the world go by. The highlight is a surprise encounter when I try the school door. It’s closed, but the curator, Terry, hears the doorknob and invites me to come in.

I am drawn to his enthusiasm when he shows me the framed royal order signed by Elizabeth I on April 10, 1585, inked with a pen, which gave the archbishop permission to open a free elementary school, and the desk where Wordsworth carved his name with a razor.

We are never far from the water during our tour, although it is easy to forget that the mountains and moors are equally fascinating.

Fell running was invented here, as was the less popular Cumberland wrestling in which, Roger says, “ two men hug and try to kick each other, wearing overalls, pants on the outside, ” adorned with tassels and embroidered names. . of your loved ones. This, without a doubt, is crying out for it to become a late-night televised sport.

The highlight is back at Bassenthwaite. We put on disguises and we made our way over the pebbles to the still water. The lake is cool but not that cold (as it is never more than 70 feet deep) and its beauty is electrifying. The only ripples come from my blows. It is the best swim I have ever had.

That’s the mark of a great tour; an intriguing introduction for those who have never visited it before and an exciting surprise for those who have.

‘DON’T DOMINATE THE CONVERSATIONS’: HOW TO MAKE A GREAT TOUR

Try to get along with your fellow travelers (they are all together).

Don’t dominate the conversations, you don’t want to be labeled ‘tour bored’.

If the guide wants to open up on a personal level, he will; it is not fair to ask intrusive questions.

Never be late, it will annoy others and delay schedules.

Read before you go; will add to the experience.

Try not to create cliques, even if you enjoy the company of some of the others you are with.

Plan Ahead: If you are going to hike in the Lake District, for example, make sure you have appropriate shoes and clothing.

Go with the flow, but there’s nothing wrong with politely opting out of dinner and finding a separate place to dine every now and then.

Tip your guide if you think he deserves it.

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