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."
Taken from Wordsworth's iconic poem "The Daffodils" which he wrote in the Lake District, these lines depict the power of the District's soul stirring beauty to linger long after the experience is over. This really is the impact that time spent in the scenic surroundings of the Lake District has on you.
Wordsworth, was one among the Lake Poets who settled in the Lake District - a place that inspired him and his contemporaries to write the most indelible poetry of The Romantic Age.
Nestled in the North West corner of England, namely Cumbria, the Lake District rightly derives its name from the picturesque lakes that define it. It was Wordsworth’s “Guide to the Lake District” published in 1820 that saw the beginnings of mass tourism to the area.
Summer is the busiest time to visit. But I chose to visit in Autumn and much to my pre-travel apprehension I was not disappointed. September and October are not the most popular times to visit yet this season has an unmistakable charm all of its own. The air is crisper with a refreshing, lifting chill. It just feels cleaner and with every inhalation and exhalation you feel it is cleaning your insides out.
It rains more in Autumn but the rains I experienced were short and sharp and carried with it many beauties. They filled the lakes making the waters appear fuller and more buoyant; the downpours were often accompanied with the sun and left behind spectacular rainbows that formed among the fullest rainbow arches I’ve ever seen. They stretched for as far as my eye could see and were in the brightest spectrum of colours. And the gathering of the clouds would crown the hills before it rained, imparting a character to the skies of the lakes that had a distinctive magic. As the autumnal nights would fall, the colours of the sky would become more striking. Delineations of the landscape would become beautifully starker as though a painter had sketched the outlines of the hills with a black paintbrush across the grey-black skies.
I stayed at a pretty, boutique Hotel in Kendal, namely the Castle Green. Kendal does not have a lake of its own but is lush and green. If you chose to stay in Kendal the Castle Green is the prettiest Hotel . The property was a conjuring up of its name – it sat castle-like atop a lush green hillock. Not imposing over the landscape though (as a castle would be), but rather just serenading it. It also feels very safe and can be a good option for solo travellers. For those travelling alone you can explore the Lake District with local tours that take groups of people together.
I grew to love my quiet mornings just lounging in and around the Hotel. My breakfast table each morning overlooked the Hotel’s terraced garden and the calm-inspiring hills in the distance. I would watch the gardeners busy at work which had a rejuvenating quality about it. Breakfast was quintessentially British, served each morning with a warmth that felt like hospitality with a hug.
The interior of the Hotel was distinctive in small but telling ways. Nestled in scenic surroundings, some of the design components brought in elements of nature – like the centre piece light in the lobby that was reminiscent of snowdrops on bare branches. I loved the way in which it integrated the outdoors as though nature had extended its hand and the Castle Green in turn held it and took it inside.
A Lake District holiday gives you a feel of English country side living at its traditional and quintessential best. Together with endlessly beautiful walks and hikes this also means all pubs and restaurants take their last orders by 9pm at the latest. I ended up having quite a few meals at the Hotel eateries namely The Greenhouse Restaurant; The Greenhouse Bar and Lounge and Alexander’s. The menu at the The Greenhouse Restaurant was one that would delight food connoisseurs yet it simultaneously had a nourishing, homely feel to it. One could tell that the ingredients used were of the best quality and the food was prepared with loving craftsmanship.
I was struck by the warm hospitality of everyone in the Lake District especially the taxi drivers and the waiters at my Hotel and in the various pubs and restaurants I visited. Easy conversations with the Hotel staff and taxi drivers revealed how different life here was to life in the bigger British metropolises like London and Manchester. The key difference being the pace of life. As my taxi driver Steve explained “Here we have time to stop and ask, how are you? And to hear how you really are”. I noted people didn’t answer to the perfunctory how are you in the monosyllables of ‘good, well and thanks’. Rather there was an easy share about how you were doing and about your day.
I began to partake in this relaxed tempo of conversation – it was an involuntary partaking that had an embracing quality about it. It set a stark and happy contrast to the fast paced London life I’m more accustomed to. It was almost as though the serenity of the landscape and the pace and warm huddle of nature had crept into the lives of the people and into their socialisations.
The lakes of Windermere and more so Keswick are the stunners of the Lake District. Walking by their shores is a spiritual experience of sorts – such is their pristine beauty. You can punctuate your walking by resting on one of the many benches along the Lakes or by a warming meal. Lake Windermere in particular is dotted with pubs and restaurants, along some its circumference, serving up wholesome British fare in full view of the lake. Watching the waters was unforgettable – how they become leaden coloured with clouds on their horizons and a soft silver with the sun.
On my taxi ride to the station, to catch my train back to London, my driver said “We don’t make riches, but we are not rushed, we are well.” I left with a sense of wellness born of the quiet autumnal experience of the Lakes. And a promise to myself to return again, for another dose.
Written byDr Priya Virmani
Dr. Priya Virmani is a Political and Economic Analyst and an International Speaker based in London. She is the Foundress and Director of Paint Our World - a humanitarian project that works to heal underprivileged children who have endured trauma. Together with her passion for her work, she derives her nurture from being in nature, horse-riding, writing, painting, classical music and travelling. Travel, in her words, is 'the best medicine and the best teacher'. She loves travelling to explores the souls of places.