June 24, 2007

At breakfast we discussed where we would go today. It was cloudy and rainy, and we were very glad we had done Helvellyn yesterday. So we decided to do a driving tour of the area. Christine drove today; she drives slower and does not take the corners as quickly.

First stop was Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top house, now operated as a museum by the National Trust. It turned out not to open until 10:30 am, but fortunately we only had to wait about 15 minutes for tickets. As we had purchased a membership in Heritage Canada, we had free admission to National Trust sites, and in this case that saved us ₤3.20 each.

The house and its gardens are maintained to look much as they did 80 or 100 years ago. Upon entering the house, we were in the main room, a sitting area and dining room. On all the window seats were copies of her books, open to the page where she had used that section of her house to illustrate the story. The main floor consisted of the main room, a reception room for entertaining important people, and a small kitchen. Upstairs there were small attic bedrooms. Each room was made up with her personal items and furniture. Outside in a walled yard was a vegetable garden, including the rhubarb patch that Peter Rabbit had hidden under. There were lettuces, too, but we saw no rabbits. In another area of the yard was a beautiful flower garden consisting of climbing roses and numerous perennials.

After leaving Hill Top, we headed down to Lake Windermere. To cross the lake we took a short ride on a little car ferry. It was sunny then, with dark clouds over the lake in the north. We drove up the road a bit and stopped to have lunch at a place where Neil thought there were picnic tables. At the car park we put the lunch stuff into our packs and walked down to the lake. It was quite a long way down, and when we reached the shore we found out that no picnic tables existed, and furthermore the dark clouds had moved down the lake to dump rain on us. But we huddled under some big trees by the lakeshore that kept us mostly dry. While we were eating we were visited by a flock of ducks. They were very persistent beggars and were eventually rewarded with some pieces of granola bar.

Moving on again, we stopped at the Grizedale Forest, which has a lot of trails through the woods with sculptures scattered along them. There were far too many to see in a short visit, so we inquired at the visitor centre and they directed us to one of the nearer trails. By now the sun was beginning to shine, so it was quite pleasant walking through the woods. Along the trail were wooden and metal sculptures such as giant xylophones, some wooden deer on an old barn roof, a metal spider and fly, and many others. Back at the visitor centre we had ice cream cones.

Neil had to get back to London that night, so we headed quickly back to the hostel. Once we were back there he packed up, gave us some pointers on places to see in northern Wales, and headed off to London. Paul slept for an hour while Rosemary and Christine went down to Grasmere to do some shopping. Christine bought some earrings, and Rosemary bought a book about drystone walls and some cookbooks.

At dinner we found the hostel had been invaded by 48 teenaged girls on a school trip from Newcastle, so the dining room was completely full. Once again the dinner was really good, and tonight’s dessert was sticky toffee pudding with ice cream.

After dinner Christine decided to sit in the elegant lounge and read, while we walked down to Grasmere to see Dove Cottage, where Wordsworth lived for several years. Of course it was closed, but we hadn’t planned to go inside anyway. The weather was turning out quite nicely. Once again we walked back along the public footpath, and the badgers were not there again. But we did see the Tawny Owl that we had seen twice before in the area, but we weren’t quick enough to get a photograph of it.

Bedtime was at 10 pm, as both of us were still catching up on our missed sleep.

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