The Lake District: From Ice Age to assault course
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By Anna Garcia
The Lake District as summed up by one of its own children, William Wordsworth, is “the loveliest spot that man hath found”.
It is a bold statement that is reiterated the world over. The Lake District, situated in North West England, was awarded a UNESCO listing in June 2017.
I first visited the Lakes (for short) five years ago. In that time, I am smitten and every year since, I need to visit them.
Why do I love the Lakes? It is a place to switch off (literally). WIFI is poor and mobile data is an alien concept. Given it is impossible to interact with the outside world, I sever all links and switch off my phone. It is such a liberating feeling.
Secondly, the rocky and often barren landscape is a thing of beauty. It is understandable why so many generations of artists and poets such as Beatrix Potter, Coleridge and Wordsworth have been inspired.
My experience is no different. Whilst hiking, I stop frequently (not just to catch my breath) but to survey the scenery before me. Having recently rekindled my love for painting, a significant body of my artwork centres around the Lakes – see the picture that accompanies this article.
Despite repeatedly walking the same paths, a different experience each time. For example, to get up to Dolly Wagon Pike, it is necessary to go up a steep valley. The first time I did it, it was covered in 10 cm of snow. This summer, when I did it again, the scenery was sere (given the heatwave). This jarred from the picture perfect Winter Wonderland I saw previously. It is unfair to say that one day was more beautiful than the other as they were both different.
Finally, silence and darkness. Before going to the Lake District, I had never seen a pitch black sky lit up only by stars nor heard the sound of nothing – not even a whisper.
With all the white noise that surrounds my daily life, this is a welcome retreat.
The Lakes have so much to offer. Every visit is an adventure. My summer holiday this year was no exception. It was a series of firsts.
The Lakes were created millions of years ago by glaciers from the last Ice Age. Thus, the water is freezing cold. Despite this, I went swimming, not once but twice. That is no mean feat. I feel cold even with a slight breeze but, here I am, I have swum in Derwentwater and Grasmere.
It was such a surreal, once in a lifetime experience. If I closed my eyes, I could have been swimming off the beach in Gibraltar.
As if that was not hair brained enough, I did, my first ever Via Ferrata. It is an assault course up in the disused Conniston Slate Mine.
I can safely say my legs have never wobbled so much in my life. It was a tough course. We climbed staples input into the mountain face, navigated a rope bridge which freely swung with the wind and crawled up an army net, again, partially suspended in mid-air.
It was a terrifying experience but equally one that enabled me to see another side of the Lakes. It also gave me a new-found respect for those miners who did this as part of their livelihood.
It is hard to say definitively which is my favourite town in the Lake District. I have had so many happy memories in them all. If I had to, I could whittle it down to two: Grasmere and Keswick.
Grasmere was one of the first places I ever visited in the Lakes. It is famous for being the burial place of Wordsworth and the only place you can buy Sarah Nelson’s gingerbread.
The gingerbread is famous the world over. The Royal Family has visited and taken some gingerbread home. The shop itself has remained unchanged for centuries. It was built in 1630 and only two people fit in it at any given point moment.
It’s beggar’s belief that this used to be the old school house. I have no idea how the children did any learning there as it is quite a squeeze!
The recipe for the gingerbread is a well-kept secret only a few people know at any given point in time. Every time I go, I always have an insatiable urge to peek behind the screens and see what they are doing. I can safely say, I am not the only who feels like that!
Keswick is the second largest town in the Lakes. Given I love the serenity of the Lakes, it seems at odds that I love the second largest town. It is not like any ordinary town. It is bursting with small independent shops heaving with Lakeland produce. It is also home to THE Derwent pencil factory.
Ever since I visited the factory, my love for my pencils has increased. Every time I use my pencils, so many happy memories come flooding back to me. Enough about me, I now challenge you, to an adventure in the Lakes!
Anyone wishing to order an original drawing, like the ones that accompany this article, should contact firstname.lastname@example.org