I couldn’t help laughing after reading this comment from an email message. Yes, we do have many lakes in Finland, nearly 200,000 of them, accompanied by more than 300,000 kilometres of shoreline, but is it enough? Can anything be?
After all, the Lake District of Cumbria, Northern England, is a place I have wanted to see and experience for ages. Not only for the lakes, though.
Because the Lake District has so much more to offer than just lakes.
Funny enough, even if the area is called The Lake District (map), there is only one official lake in the National Park; Lake Bassenthwaite.
“Although named The Lake District, there is in fact only one official lake. The others are waters, tarns or meres. Now, what is the difference between a lake, a water, a mere and a tarn, will lead you around one big circle.”
A tarn. A mere. A water. My dictionary couldn’t even connect those words with types of lakes. I wouldn’t be able to translate them into Finnish. Not even if we have nearly 200,000 lakes in this country.
English definitions, however, were explained in a book that we found in our guesthouse in Hawkshead.
“Tarns tend to be smaller lakes higher up in the fells, they’re something that is formed when a glacier leaves behind a bowl-like shape and fills it with water.
A mere is generally described as a lake that is fairly shallow compared to its relative size. As for a water, we’re not quite sure…”
And yet they say that Windermere is the largest ‘lake’ in the Lake District and the whole of England. Whether it’s a lake by official definition or not.
Lakes, meres, tarns or waters, the Lake District has plenty of features to charm you with. The winding, narrow countryside roads that are half-covered by thick hedges. Despite the relaxing countryside feeling, driving ‘on the wrong side’ on the roads that I would consider too narrow even without the hedges feels like an adventure. You can only wish that no tank truck nor a tourist bus appears around the corner.
The Lake District has so many features to charm you with; like those small, adorable villages standing by the lakes of Northern England. The villages that look like they would have been built of gingerbread houses, just as if they were decorated with candy and fitted for a children’s book.
Historic Hawkshead, cosy Grasmere, cute Coniston with the wild mountains on the background. The touristy Ambleside and Bowness-On-Windermere with their busy summer streets.
And on the highest hills in each village, you’ll find the old, English stone churches. You can feel the spooky atmosphere sneaking under your skin while the moon sheds light on the gravestones so old and tired they’ve nearly fallen.
The meandering paths leading to the top of the hills so green, and the surface of the water sparkling in the sun that is peeking behind the dark clouds. The colourful meadows full of resting cows, and fluffy little sheep jumping on the streets without warning.
The Lake District of Cumbria truly is the most beautiful piece of England.
Lake District National Park is the largest of the 10 National Parks of England
…and a place, where you never run out of unexplored hiking trails. There are more than 200 fell-tops in the Lake District to climb to, including the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, that reaches up to 978 meters above sea level.
Peak bagging attracts millions of hikers to the Lake District each year. Peak bagging, meaning hiking to the fell tops. Especially to the top of those 214 fell tops that are locally better known as ‘the Wainwrights’.
Hundreds, if not thousands of guidebooks are written about the fell tops and hiking trails of the Lake District. Without a doubt, the best-known ones are the books handwritten and illustrated by Alfred Wainwright. That is how peak bagging started. And that is how those 214 ‘wainwrights’ got their nickname.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to hit the hiking trails during our 9-day road trip in the UK in July. We could only drive through and visit some of the villages to get a little taste of what is the Lake District really about. Now, when I have been able to sniff the fresh air of the English Lakeland and its fell-tops, there’s no doubt; I will return with time one day.
And when I do, I will pack my hiking boots and backpack, and head on the hills beyond the gingerbread villages and kayaking on those sparkling waters. Whether are they lakes, or meres, or tarns.
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