By Cara Jasmine Bradley
The landscape on the horizon roared fiercely with vibrant autumn shades. The rusty treetops presented as an engulfing flame across the hillside, rippling all the way down to the lakeside.
A magnificent spread of woodland reflected on the lake’s surface in a hazy burst of blood orange, golden, and burnt red.
Beneath me, the boat glided across Lake Windermere; a silent chorus of tranquility filling the air.
Masts of sugar-cube sailing boats bobbed along the lake into the distance; a harmonious ensemble. The lake eventually gave way to a cluster of mist-capped mountains and pikes, tantalisingly calling out to be discovered.
The surrounding contented sounds of nature created the perfect playlist for the disposition. The bird’s choir welcomed in the passing morning.
The dawning of the day had been a crisp affair, and the wind clawed at my hair in bitter gusts. Low, grey clouds pirouetted in slowly from every angle, crouching down behind the hilltops.
Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes and relished every glistening sense that embraced me.
I was finally here... The Lake District.
The magical tales of Beatrix Potter had been such an integral part of my childhood, attributable to my beloved Grandma Barbara. I had grown up alongside the likes of Jemima Puddle Duck, Tom Kitten and Samuel Whiskers, classing these comfortingly familiar characters as old friends.
My Grandma had always promised that she would one day take me to the Lake District; a place that had both shaped and inspired my blissful childhood from afar. It was only after my Grandma had passed away that I decided to fulfill this aspiration, and headed to Windermere to indulge in a spot of nostalgia-fuelled exploring.
From the moment I stepped off the train, the Lake District both captivated and enthralled me. I was instantly transported into the pages of the precious stories from my childhood.
I craned my neck to see Jemima flying over the dense treetops. I picked my way through the woods, waiting for Tommy Brock to dart across my path. I dawdled along, adjacent to the streams, keeping my eyes peeled for a sighting of Jeremy Fisher drifting past on his lily-pad.
It was as if somebody has closed the door on the outside world. The magic from the stories I knew and loved came alive, comparable to honeysuckle rapidly blooming under a summer’s afternoon. The characters held out their hands to me, and led me into a world of imagination-provoking paradise.
With my adoration for all things Beatrix in mind, Hill Top – the author’s 17th century farmhouse - was first on the agenda during my trip.
I took the boat from Bowness. The stroll between the lake and my desired location treated me to breathtaking views out across the endless peaks. The landscape shuddered under the brisk October breeze. Autumn leaves scattered the lanes like confetti. An eternal cascade of tumbling fields and rolling, mountainous hillsides made up the most refreshing of panoramic backdrops.
The unearthing of a nearby cottage ensured I was bubbling over with excitement for my upcoming excursion... Sitting on a bench in the depths of a tangled garden en route to Hill Top, sat Mr McGregor himself!
... I won’t spoil the surprise!
Visiting Hill Top was an enchanting experience. Possessing the unrivalled charm of a quaint English country garden in abundance, Beatrix Potter’s former abode was a spine-tingling joy to uncover. Doused in a wonderful history that beheld the power to take one back in time, Hill Top was authentic, fascinating, and almost moving.
Standing affront of the house, looking out over the majestic views beyond, it is strikingly clear to understand where - and indeed how - Beatrix gathered much of her inspiration. The wild Cumbrian countryside whipped up a frenzied firework display of kaleidoscope splendor for as far as the eye could see. It was impossible not to fall under the spell it so boldly and vividly cast.
In addition to Hill Top, The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction is a further must-do. Gifting the ability to make childhood memories flourish and twirl into reality, the centre promises to entrance children and adults alike. It is as educational as it is charming, with detailed insights into Beatrix’s legacy in regards to the countryside we so freely enjoy today.
I stayed in the bustling town of Windermere, which has it all, location wise. Framed by gorgeous old buildings, Windermere gently slopes away towards the shore of the lake, which is ebbed by dramatic woodland and endless possibilities alike. With subtle hints of a traditional English sea-side town vibe, Windermere combines its craggy surroundings and timeless tales with modern twists, in the form of sought-after shops and quirky eateries. Lying within easy access to all of the Lake District’s major selling-points, Windermere is a brilliant base for a Lakes encounter, whatever is it you crave.
Standing on the banks of the lake, drinking in the almost indescribable scenery, it is a natural occurrence to feel an overwhelming sense of gratifying, spellbinding passion for all that your eyes have suddenly been blessed with.
When one casts a thought to the Lake District, one would be forgiven for firstly associating the area of outstanding natural beauty with connotations of walking, stunning scenery, and Beatrix Potter. Windermere is all of this, and so much more. Add to your assumptions a veritable list of foodie delights and renowned restaurants, hair raising water sports, and shopping opportunities galore with both high street and boutique retail havens. No two days in the Lakes are ever the same, should diversity be the preferred criteria for the ideal holiday.
Food played a big part in my Lake District adventure. From fish and chips by the harbor at the foot of Windermere town, to a late evening taste of tapas at Bodega in Bowness - the Lakes showcased a variety of delectable delicacies. With this in mind, one hardly needs an excuse to reward oneself after a strenuous walk within the miraculous countryside!
Naturally, it wouldn’t be a UK break without the infamous tradition of torrential rain...!
Ruin my trip? Never! The rain only accentuates the magnificence of the Lakes, its cleansing claws clearing the air and leaving it drenched in a shimmering ambience of sheer beauty. After the rain, the trees show off their sharpened shades, and the fields pulsate with greenery, jewelled with the crystals of raindrops.
Café Italia in Windermere centre presented itself as a divine spot to take shelter from the weather. With an endless supply of great food (seriously, you have to try their cakes!), I wiled away the afternoon, enjoying the sweetness of simply sitting back and watching the rain. The insistent droplets drummed against the window, creating miniature whirlpools on the pavement outside. I assessed the unfolding change of colour across the town, mesmerized by the fresh shine on the hills. I was a spectator in the battle between the blackening clouds and the ferocious emerald skyline.
It was an unbeatable end to a compelling first trip of many to the Lake District.
About the Author
Cara Jasmine Bradley is a 25 year old creative writer from Manchester, who combines her love of travelling with her passion for writing.
At the age of 21, Cara travelled solo across Europe, and eventually secured a job in a small fishing village in Ibiza for the summer.
European cities are Cara’s preferred travel speciality, especially those in Northern and Eastern Europe.
Together with her fiancé, she enjoys exploring ‘outside the box’ destinations and immersing herself in different cultures.
As well as travel articles, Cara is particularly keen on writing children’s fiction, and also dabbles in a spot of sport writing.