Keswick 2015 A family holiday in the Lake District

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In May 2015 myself, Michelle, Aurora and Jackie headed off for a week in Keswick, nestled at the heart of the northern Lake District.

Saturday 23 May

At the start of the bank holiday weekend and half term we'd already decided we needed an early start and done most of the packing the night before. I awoke a little after 7:30, more or less on schedule, but of course loading the car and the remaining packing took longer than expected—curse the 80/20 rule! Still, eventually it was done and it was time to awaken Aurora, have some breakfast and be on our way.

Wake up, sleepy head, it's time to go!

It was a fairly trying journey, with considerable delays due to congestion on the A1, but around mid-afternoon we were heading along the A66 and enjoying the view as it gradually blended from rolling fields to rocky fells.

We had to arrive before 5pm to collect the keys so it was a slightly tense business for a little while but in the end we arrived in good time and even got a parking space right outside the front door to boot. Michelle popped over to the Cumbrian Cottages office to collect the keys while the rest of us sat and enjoyed the sunshine.

First glance at our home for the coming week.

Once we'd gained access to our cottage, Penfold, and completed the tedious job of unloading and unpacking, there was a little time to settle in and nose around the house. It was a very pleasant house: tastefully decorated, well equipped and with plenty of space for us all—well, if there is such a thing as plenty of space for an excited two-year-old.

Not a bad bedroom view

After poking around I decided to recover from the journey with a nice cup of tea and immediately hit on the most significant snag of the day so far—no tea! Michelle and I thus trundled off to Booths, the local supermarket, to patch the holes in our essential supplies.

A place to buy tea. And other stuff.

That done Michelle and I relaxed and Aurora amused herself while Jackie made a delicious lasagne for dinner, which was very welcome after a long day. Then it was time for a very welcome bed.

I earned my sleep today.

Sunday 24 May

None of us were too eager to get up early on the Sunday and we had a fairly leisurely morning—that is the idea of a holiday, after all. In my case this was also motivated by Aurora waking up hungry at 1am, so I'd stayed up for awhile with her to make her some food, let it settle and then soothe her back to sleep.

Aurora didn't seem too bothered by the different bed. Once she'd had a snack, at least.

After showers all round and a light breakfast of tea and toast we felt it was time for some fresh air, so we headed off into Keswick. First stop was a visit to a few of the shops. We lingered for awhile in the many outdoor shops as we were a little lacking in appropriate outdoor attire. There were plenty of bargains to be had, but I fear our resultant excess would cause some issues when packing the car to leave—but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Then we decided that it was more or less time for lunch and we headed for Brysons, the tea shop that Michelle and I had so enjoyed on our previous visit.

Bryson's craft bakery started hand baking bread from locally milled flour over 60 years ago.
Brysons tea room is recommened for its not-so-light, but ever so tasty, afternoon tea.

A veritable cornucopia of cumberland sausage, afternoon tea and, in Aurora's case, a sizeable bowl of ice cream was dispatched with enthusiasm. Thus satiated we bade Brysons farewell and headed off along Keswick high street.

The Moot Hall is a prominent Grade II listed building situated at the southern end of Main Street. It was built in 1571 and rebuilt in 1695, and the current building dates to 1813.
Keswick's iconic Moot Hall, which dominates the main street - a handy landmark to locate the Tourist Information Office housed within.

As we meandered along Aurora was keen to investigate everything—but not for nearly long enough to Michelle or Jackie to tarry in any shops for more than a few moments, so I spent quite a lot of time trying to find ways of stopping her from trying to drag me along. A giant flowerpot and bronze giraffe made handy distractions... For a minute or two, at least.

There seemed to be an oddly large number of Norwegian shops for a town located hundreds of miles away from the country.

We then popped into a toy shop to see if they had anything nice and this was a very popular decision with a certain toddler. The problem was finding something she didn't want to buy quite as much as everything else, but we eventually narrowed it down to a couple of toys and headed out. Of course at that point the only thing to do was to return home and let her play with them—fortunately we were about ready to head back anyway.

Even Aurora got some outdoor gear. Her main concern was that it was pink.

Overall a very relaxed day to recover from the stresses and strains of yesterday's journey. Actually Aurora apparently decided it was a little too relaxing and after I'd put her to bed she opted to crawl out and instead make herself comfortable on the floor. Well, to each their own I suppose.

Looks comfy...?

Monday 25 May

Michelle had arranged to meet some of her knitting friends who were in the area at the time on the Monday so we all headed into town to meet them by the Moot Hall around noon. They then went off to socialise leaving myself and Jackie to take Aurora on a walk down to Derwent Water.

Derwentwater is the widest lake in England at one and a half miles wide and just over three miles long.
Derwent Water.

It was a pleasant day for walking—not too hot, but dry and with sunny spells. Along the way had some glimpses of the pleasant lawns and borders of Hope Park and Aurora was even allowed a few coins to roll into the wishing well.

Hope Park is a pleasant little set of gardens nestled just out of sight of the lake shore.
Aurora loves throwing money away - this time at least to the Rotary Club instead of a drain or keyhole. Grandma was keeping a close hold on her when she got a little too close.

We made our way to the shores of the lake fairly quickly and spent a few minutes on the grassy slopes of the National Trust owned Crow Park while we admired the view.

Grandma, why does Daddy have us facing the wrong way?

After our little photo shoot we strolled back to the lakeside path and continued round past the Theatre by the Lake to the series of jetties just beyond. At this point we sat for a few minutes and then I took Aurora down to the shingle beach just below and out on to a jetty to see the lake. I held on to her fairly tightly the whole time, but actually she was very sensible—she can be, when the mood takes her.

Aurora loved her stroll along one of Derwent Water's landing stages.

After a short rest we carried on down the popular lakeside path towards Friars Crag, a promontory jutting into the water from which there's a beautiful view of the lake.

Friars Crag achieved its name because it was believed to be the embarkment point for monks making a pilgrimage to St. Herbert’s Island.

The walking was very pleasant along the leafy path and Aurora was anxious to see what was around each new bend. Jackie's ankle was bothering her slightly after she'd unfortunately injured it a week or so earlier, however, so when we spied a bench as we neared the crag itself we took the opportunity for another sit down. The bench had a wonderful view of Derwent Isle and the wooded slopes of the opposite shore.

A lovely view of Derwent Isle through the trees.
Derwent Island was owned by Fountains Abbey but with the dissolution of the monasteries, it fell into the hands of the Crown and was sold off in 1569 to the Company of Mines Royal.
The land around Friar's Crag is held by the National Trust, who do a great job of preserving the picturesque scenery.
We had to keep a close eye on Aurora with all these rocky gullies about.

While Jackie sat and admired the view for a few minutes I popped over the rise and down to the end of the promontory to let Aurora see the rest of the lake—and get a few photos in the process, of course.

Aurora and I enjoying the view.

The view from the headland encompassed the whole southern half of the lake. Three of the four largest islands are visible in the picture below, the most prominent being the forested dome of Lord's Island on the left.

Lord's Island got it's name from the home of the Earl of Derwentwater. There was a fine house on the island, with a drawbridge to the mainland - when it fell into disrepair its stone was used for the current Moot Hall.
From left to right: Lord's, Rampsholme and St. Herbert's Islands.
St. Herbert was the close friend and disciple of Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, at whose request he took up the life of an anchorite, dwelling for many years on the little island that still bears his name.
Lovely view, but I had to watch my step - or, more importantly, Aurora's.

I didn't want to leave Jackie sitting for too long as there was a fairly stiff breeze coming off the lake and as we trotted back we passed by the memorial to John Ruskin which overlooks Friar's Crag. John Ruskin (1819-1900) was one of the greatest figures of the Victorian age: poet, artist, critic, social revolutionary and conservationist.

The few square yards around the John Ruskin memorial were the earliest part of the Lake District to become National Trust property.
The John Ruskin memorial - even Aurora was (briefly) impressed.

Having rejoined Grandma, we were all feeling more than a little peckish so we decided to walk back to the Theatre by the Lake and stop for a bite to eat in the café there.

The Theatre by the Lake offered welcome liquid refreshment.

We enjoyed a tasty lunch, although it was a slightly odd assortment—I got the impression that "trendy" was much higher up the list of priorities than "filling" when choosing the menu, but we all found something decent to eat. Aurora made quite a comprehensive job of polishing off a fairly substantial sandwich, so I knew she was hungry.

When we headed out after lunch the sky was considerably less overcast and some welcome patches of blue sky were shining through. So of course I had to take a short detour back on to Crow Park to take all the same photos as last time... But this time with a little extra added sunshine.

Aurora showed that her fascination with picking up stones isn't limited to our driveway. Luckily Grandma was there to restrain her or we'd have been carrying most of the shoreline home with us.

The grassy slopes were noticeably more popular now that the sun had put in an appearance.

The heavy clouds were still rolling away over the fells—I had sympathy for any walkers who'd chosen the day to scale a summit and had their views shrouded in mist.

The gentle waves lapping the shore sparkled in the afternoon sun.

Perhaps I went a little overboard with the photos around Derwent Water, but with a view as beautiful as this who can blame me. OK, no more photos, I promise. Well... Just one more.

Eventually we had to wave Derwent Water farewell and head back into Keswick.

At this point Michelle rang up to let us know her friends were heading home shortly and ask us to meet her in Booths. It was half a mile or so away so we set off straight away. En route, however, we headed through Hope Park to take in the sights and scents of the spring flowers.

The bijou delights of Hope Park.

We wended our way back through Keswick and met up with Michelle just as Aurora was starting to play up—the best time to head home. After a spot of shopping we said our goodbyes to the last of Michelle's friends to leave and lugged our shopping home.


The day wasn't quite done, however. Aurora was a little tired but still found, shall we say, imaginative ways to keep herself amused. She was finding original ways to play her new xylophone, for example, such as using her feet.

It's so easy I can do it with my feet, Daddy!

Meanwhile we realised that our earlier shopping trip had missed a few essentials so I left Aurora to her entertainments and popped out on my own to collect them. On the way I crossed the river and took a quick stroll through the nearby Fitz Park.

The Keswick war memorial and a view down the River Greta which flows through the town.

After an unsettled day the weather had cleared up and the setting sun slanted through the trees. A distant cricket match completed the bucolic scene that seemed somehow very English—at least the sort of vision of Englishness conjured up by the likes of Wordsworth.

A little slice of rural England.

As I walked through the park and rejoined the high street on my way to the shops I mused on the contrast between this slice of traditional England and the modern version that awaited me at home—a night in front of the TV watching Britain's Got Talent. Doesn't quite have the same grandeur, somehow...

A very pleasant walk home.
Created By
Andy Pearce


"Booths in Keswick" © Copyright Stephen Darlington and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ "Brysons of Keswick" © Copyright Basher Eyre and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ "Theatre by the Lake, Keswick" © Copyright Phil Davies and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/