Lake District Park
Ambleside's main street appears chock-full of tourists whenever days are even partly clear and somewhat warm (and less than sloppy wet). But I have never observed harried and impatient visitors here. Maybe it's the beauty of this special region that calms hearts; or maybe it is simply gladness at being here in Wordsworth/Keats territory that overcomes competitive spirits within? Regardless, this is a delightful place to be even for part of an afternoon.
I love the obscure place names salted among little buildings clustered through the Lake District Park. Several miles down the harrowing two-lane left-lane road that connects these villages, comparatively staid Windermere spreads slowly out into gentle, cozy hills. Bowness is next, on the shores of the grandest lake among the many nestling among these protected Cumbrian valleys.
Little William Wordsworth attended St Michael's church here in Hawkshead village. His beloved Dove Cottage is open to visitors in Grasmere, about five miles to the north.
Beatrix Potter (note the irresistible photo of sweet bunnies above) lived and wrote here, in Hilltop House—it remains a lovingly maintained delight inside and out. The survival of the region's ubiquitous Herdwick sheep is a testament to this delightful Victorian's vision and tenacity.
Sixteen expanses of water dot the landscape of Cumbria's Lake District Park. To the geologist only one is a true lake (others being meres or simply waters), but for my part those other designations are more dismissive than I'm comfortable using. Each is a lake. Period. This grand expanse of water is Windermere. It deserves to be enjoyed from the special viewpoint of the seat of a wooden rowboat. They may be rented at water's edge, Bowness. There are islands where you may spread your picnic blanket.