Thursday, 25 April 2013

Honister - I had to do it, and so do you!

I didn't want to go. I'm not a mining type of person. It's cold and wet and dark underground, not my idea of a good place to be. I prefer warm, dry and comfortable. When I agreed to visit and review attractions I specifically insisted upon joining the museums and historic houses department. As for the idea of climbing a rock face with a thousand foot drop, and precious little between you and the ground the best part of 1,000 feet below, well you can forget it. I don't do high adventure. Birds are meant to fly overhead, not people. When you look down and see our feathered friends soaring majestically 500 ft below your feet you know that you are either in a very bad dream, or hanging from a parachute.

No, there was nothing at Honister that I would consider to be the slightest bit appealing, which is why, when asked to go, I tried my very hardest to get out of it. But the big boss man was otherwise engaged. (I say big, he's five foot five!) So I put my prejudice to one side, bit the bullet and did what I had to do for the Cumbrian Tourism industry. (Double pay for the day and an extra day off also helped swing it!)

It is, I think, the first time that I have ever got ready to go on an attraction visit wearing clothes that are normally reserved for the wettest of walking days, but then the Honister web site advises that you wear waterproofs and strong boots, so, kitted up like a hiker preparing to ascend Scafell Pike, minus the ruck sack, I set off.

I had booked an all day pass, or rather I'd had it booked for me. Had I booked it myself it would have been different. It consisted of a mine tour, which was fine, lunch, which was the one part of the day I was really looking forward to, and a climb of Fleetwith Pike via the Via Ferrata. And due to my not booking the day myself, I very soon found out that the Via Ferrata was to be the Extreme version. Oh how I wished I'd pulled a sickie.

OK, so the only thing to do was take the whole trip one step at a time, and look for the positives. As I drove up Honister Pass, I followed a couple of cars full of tourists, enjoying a memorable day in the Lakes. When we got to Honister both the cars in front of me carried on, over the top of the pass. Oh, how I envied them.

As I got out of the car and looked around at the views I was surprised at how good they are. I've lived in the Lakes all my life, and been over Honister more times than I can remember, but until now I've always been going somewhere else, usually walking around Buttermere or heading for Loweswater. This was the first time I had actually got out of the car and taken a good look around. The scenery lifted my spirits. After spending too long gazing up at Fleetwith Pike, I decided it was time to do what a girl had to do, and headed inside.

I'm not going to describe the mine tour in great detail. A mine tour is a mine tour. I've been on them before and in my opinion the difference between an enjoyable tour and a dull one is the quality and enthusiasm of the guide. You are either left with a sense of what it must have been like to be a miner there, or you stay in the dark. Luckily our guide was not so much boring historian, more enthusiastic dramatist, bringing the lives of the Victorian miners to life in graphic detail.

The cavern that has been carved out of the rock over the centuries may not be in the same league at the show caves of Cheddar, but when you consider the sweat and toil of the men and boys that created it, then it becomes even more impressive, especially when you consider that they were working virtually in the dark!

The mine tour is supposed to last an hour and a half, and when we emerged from the mine after what seemed to be only a half an hour or so, I was a bit disappointed. Until I looked at my watch that is. We were actually running five minutes late! I don't know whether it was the fact that, once in the mine we became so absorbed in the tour that we just lost track of time, or whether it is the case that, underground, time really does stand still ...... and no one can hear you scream.

Lunch was good, well worth looking forward to and over all too quickly, and there was time for a browse around the gift shop and visitor centre before my fear inducing Via Ferrata expedition. As I stared at a display of slate house names, I found my mind wandering back into the mine, to a vision of a small boy,  struggling along on all fours in the dark, clutching his pick axe, his dirty knees bleeding, all to hack into the mountain side so that I could have a nice "Dunroamin" sign beside my front door.

Of course, children do not work in the mines any more, and they have used electricity to power their tools and light the way for many years, but it still makes you think about where something as simple as a slate sign actually comes from.

My browsing time was over all too quickly. The hour, or rather three hours, that I was absolutely dreading, was upon me. I could, I suppose, have made a run for it. Raced off in my car, waving gleefully at the Via Ferrata victims struggling up the mountain as I careered down the pass to the ice cream shop at Buttermere. But no. I did not want my fellow Ferrateers to sense my nervousness, especially as there were only a couple of females in the group. I've never been one to let the side down, and I had no  intention of starting now.

For me, the Via Ferrata was not about climbing the mountain attached to a steel cable fixed very securely to the rock. Nor was it about the obstacles that turned that simple mountain climb into a heart stopping adventure. From a purely personal point of view, it was about conquering something far tougher than a lump of rock, or a rope bridge or cargo net. This was about defeating my fears, overcoming my prejudices and lack of self confidence, emotions that have always threatened to hold me back in life. I was about to try to achieve something that I simply did not believe was possible. But I had to give it a try.

So how can I best describe the experience that is Via Ferrata Extreme? Well I could offer you a detailed description of the route, the obstacles that we had to overcome, the views that we saw, and the fact that the weather closed in and we ended up getting really quite wet. But it really would not do it justice, because describing the route gives no indication of what it actually feels like. The Via Ferrata is not a just a mountain climb combined with an assault course, it is an experience like no other. The emotions that you feel are a heady cocktail of fear and exhilaration. At one point I looked down to my right to see the cars driving down Honister Pass towards Buttermere. But I couldn't hear them. They were too far below. All I could hear was the wind and the sounds made by the rest of our group as they moved forward.

I heard the cry of a raptor, possibly a falcon, on the wind, and several birds, jackdaws I think, flapped frantically away from the rock face about 100m below. I had a sense of being in a different world, a real world, natural and alive, and excitingly dangerous, as opposed to the supposedly safe artificial one that we humans have created for ourselves. Now I understood why rock climbers get so addicted to their sport.

The best moment came when, just under 3 hours after setting off, we reached the summit. Despite the fact that by now it was raining steadily, with a stiff breeze whipping across the mountain tops, the sense of achievement that I experienced that afternoon will live in my memory for ever. I had done it. I had crossed the rope bridge, climbed a sheer rock face, scrambled over the cargo net and made it all the way to the top. I had conquered my fears. My prejudices lay in tatters. My self confidence was no longer lacking. I took a huge lung full of the fresh Lakeland air, and wished that I could have preserved that moment for ever. Put simply, I didn't want to come down, and once down, all I wanted to do was go back up again.

On a practical note, it is probably the case that not everyone will get as much out of the experience of the Via Ferrata as I did. It is not for couch potatoes. A good  level of fitness is required and if you have real problems with vertigo then the fear may well take over as to say that some parts of the route are very exposed is an understatement. Of course, in reality you are probably a lot safer on the Via Ferrata than you are crossing the road. The people at Honister know their jobs. All the necessary safety equipment is provided and in good condition, and you get a lot of instruction in it's use, both before you set off and whilst on the ascent. A guide accompanies each group,  and now I have been I think that it would be a brilliant job to have. Helping others to achieve the same level of exhilaration as I did would be wonderful. For now, all I can do is to say that, if, like me, you think that Honister has no appeal, then think again. I can't wait to go back!

You can get more information about Honister Slate mines and the Via Ferrata here ....

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Copt Howe Carved Rock / Rock-Art - Chapel Stile, Cumbria

I got a tweet today sent by the Armitt Museum in Ambleside, about this carved rock in the Langdale Valley:-

Copt Howe Carved Rock / Rock-Art - Chapel Stile, Cumbria

The rock is featured on a web site called which is well worth a look if you are into archaeology or have an interest in ancient history.

I have to admit that I have passed by this rock on a number of occasions, and seen the shapes carved into it, but always assumed that they were a result of natural erosion. It seems I am not the only one. All of which begs the question, "how many more ancient carvings are just lying around in the fields of the Lake District just waiting to be discovered?"

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Waterfalls, Lakeland's natural attraction

Niagara Falls. So spectacular that they are a must see tourist attraction in their own right. There's certainly nothing like them in the British Isles. But although Britain may not have any falls to match the scale and grandeur of their American cousin, it does boast a number of delightful cascades of unique charm and character.

To illustrate the point that when it comes to waterfalls, size is certainly not everything, here are half a dozen of the finest falls to be found in The English Lake District. Each one not only has a unique charm, but is also easily accessible.

Lodore Falls

One of the the most spectacular, and certainly the noisiest of all Lakeland's waterfalls, Lodore Falls are situated behind the Lodore Falls Hotel, on the edge of Derwentwater. They are easy to access as in Victorian times the owners of the falls built a wide carriageway to take visitors from the hotel to the falls. Those who could not afford the carriage ride simply walked along the wide track to a viewing area that remains to this day. But they still had to pay the entrance fee, and at the gate beside the Lodore Hotel there is a box so that you can also contribute towards the maintenance of the area around the falls.

You can access the falls by either parking in Kettlewell Car Park (National Trust) and following the well signed footpath to the falls, a woodland walk of approx. 1/2 mile, or you can take the boat from Keswick and alight at Lodore and follow the path from the Lake shore, past the hotel and up to the falls.

Stickle Ghyll

Not so much one single waterfall, but a series of cascades set in the shadow of the Langdale Pikes, the lower reaches of Stickle Ghyll are easy to access for most moderately fit, able bodied people. Simply park at the car park opposite the entrance to The New Dungeon Ghyll hotel, and walk up the access road and through the small gate between the hotel and cottages. It is then a short trek up the fell side, along a maintained rocky path, with the lower cascades to your right. Those without any walking equipment should not go farther than the bridge, but for the better equipped it is possible to follow the water course all the way up the fell to it's source at Stickle Tarn.

Skelwith Force

What Skelwith Force lacks in height, (it is just 25 feet high) it more than makes up for in noise and volume. Created by a narrowing of the rivers that drain the Langdale Valley, and all the fells surrounding it, Skelwith Force is also the most accessible of Lakeland's waterfalls. If you park close to the Skelwith Bridge Inn and follow the course of the river upstream along a well made footpath you will soon come to the falls. The only word of warning would be to beware of the rocks as they tend to be very slippery, however, you don't need to get too close to enjoy Skelwith Force in all it's glory.

For a video of the Slater's Bridge and Waterfalls walk, which can be done from Elterwater, click here.

Colwith Force

Located in woodland just off the road to Little Langdale, this is surely one of Lakeland's best kept secrets. Access to the falls is along a clear woodland track, part of the Cumbria Way long distance footpath, so easy to follow. Not so easy for motor based tourists is parking, but one good option on a fine day is to park at Skelwith Bridge and take in both Skelwith Force and Colwith Force. They are linked by the Cumbria Way footpath. (Note, stout boots and a good level of fitness will be required for this walk, which is along a wide stony track, but has wet sections).

Check out a video of Colwith Force here ...

Stock Beck Park and Falls 

A beautiful woodland park and waterfalls on the edge of Ambleside, Stock Beck Park and Falls is also accessible to most people. In Victorian times the park was a major tourist attraction, and visitors had to pay to enter. One of the old turnstiles used by the owners can still be seen today, restored to working order and now used as an entrance to the park..

The waymarked paths lead the visitor on a circular walk around the park, the highlight of which are the falls. At the top of the cascade is a bridge from which the views of the park and town beyond are only spoiled by the rich foliage of the trees.

For a video of Stock Beck Park and Falls, click here

Aira Force

Not the biggest, but possibly the most popular and certainly the most famous of Lakeland's waterfalls, Aira Force is, like Stickle Ghyll, more a series of cascades than simply one large drop. The good news is that access is very good, and unlike the other falls, there is more than one direction of approach.

The paths around the falls were laid out many years ago and those at the bottom of the cascades are well maintained, making access very easy. However, if you follow the course of the river upstream to where the series of cascades starts you will find that the paths get rockier, and in icy weather can be very slippy. The main falls are not particularly high, but after wet weather they are truly spectacular. Because they drain pasture land they are also less likely to dry up than falls that drain rocky areas.

For a video of Aira Force after rain, click here.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

January - the forgotten month

'Tis January. Christmas is over, and has been packed back into it's boxes and stored in the loft until next year. The new year revelry has died down, and the slow trudge back to work has begun. The schools are full of children wishing it was three weeks ago. Life has returned to normal.

Up here in the Lakes January tends to drift by almost un-noticed. At the moment we have snow, even at lower levels, so the photographers will be out in force. But tourists are a bit thin on the ground. After all, it is January. There's nowhere open and nothing on - right?


Actually, Gone are the days when you might as well have put a "closed" sign up at the entrance to the National Park. Nowadays there is a surprising amount going on. Art exhibitions, plays, the odd panto or two. And then there are the attractions. About a third of the Lake District's attractions are open in January, some of them all month, others at weekends.

So if you have a bit of time on your hands then January offers an almost unique opportunity to visit some of the biggest attractions in the region at, how can I put this politely, a quieter time than normal. Or put another way, you won't have to queue up for very long to pay to get in. Actually, at one attraction you won't have to pay at all. At the South Lakes Wild animal park they have dispensed with the tiresome habit of taking money off you - they are letting people in for free so that the animals can get a good look at what humans are like in winter.

To find out what is on and when, check out the What's on guide.

For attractions that are open I've spent a few days compiling this comperhensive list.

Happy visiting!!

Friday, 30 November 2012

There's money in them there hills!!

If you take the walk from Grasmere village to Alcock Tarn, via Brackenfell Woods, you will notice old metal water pipes laid into the ground.  Likewise, the route from Bowness to Post Knott via Helm Road has seats built into the wall at intervals (see piccy below). And at the far end of the walk around Stock Ghyll Park in Ambleside, there is an old turnstile leading from the park, back on to the road.

Like the old milestones that can still be seen on country roads or the ornate water fountains that decorate the kerb sides of some of the region's older villages, these relics are symbols of a bygone age. Placed there for a long forgotten purpose, they lie unused. Put simply, once they had outgrown their purpose, no one bothered to take them away again.

In the case of milestones and water fountains their original use is obvious. But why water pipes in Brackenfell Woods? There are no houses up there, nothing needing to be plumbed in. And what of the turnstiles at Stock Ghyll Park? Or the seats on the path to Post Knott? And why is there an old abandoned station, in the woods close to Windermere ferry? The answer has much to do with the entrepreneurial spirit of the Victorians, and their ingenuity in stage managing nature in order to turn a profit.

In the mid 19th Century the railways came to the Lake District. The region already had a fledgling tourism industry, but with the new transport link came  mass tourism, and at first the sudden influx of  visitors took the locals by surprise. For the best part of fifty years the tourism industry had evolved slowly. Fishermen had become pleasure boat operators, albeit on a one to one basis. Before the arrival of the railway it was possible to hire a rowing boat and guide for the day. The guide was a local man, and he did all the rowing whilst imparting a certain amount of folk lore to his charges, who were no doubt as entertained by his stories as they were with the scenery. That was fine when the flow of tourists was but a trickle, but when the railway arrived and the region suddenly became flooded with day trippers the locals realised that to cash in they needed to think big.

The problem was that tourist attractions as we know them today simply didn't exist. Apart from the ale houses and coffee shops of the towns, the only real attraction for people to see was the scenery, and that was free. This situation did not last for long. The entrepreneurial spirit of the local population rose to the surface, and they began to think of new ways of showing visitors the scenery, and making a lot of money in the process.

In Windermere, or rather on Windermere, pleasure boats were built and launched, and there was plenty of skulduggery afoot as rival operators fought to entice visitors onto their new paddle steamers for the cruise down the lake. Consequently, it was not long before Bowness had a new, unplanned, attraction on it's shore line - the burned out hull of one of the boats.

Meanwhile, over at Grasmere, a different and considerably less cut-throat approach was being taken. Rather than finding a way of charging people to merely look at the scenery, the idea was to create a whole new scenic wonderland, complete with streams, waterfalls, and a small tarn. There was a pathway around the site, with viewpoints at intervals so that paying customers would feel that they were getting value for money by being able to see Grasmere neatly framed between the trees. That scenic wonderland was Brackenfell Woods, and if you walk up through the woods today you'll notice how nice and wide the path is. Wide enough for a horse and carriage, in fact.

The thing about the Victorians was that they were not content with just charging a flat entrance fee. As with other Victorian institutions, such as the railways and the theatre, you could pay the standard fare, or you could enjoy a bit of luxury by paying a premium. This was not simply a way for the attraction operator to make a bit of extra money. It reflected the class laden attitudes of Victorian society. Social status determined whether you travelled first class, in the warm and dry, or third class, outside in all weathers. So whilst the working classes paid sixpence to walk around the woods, the wealthy paid twice that and enjoyed a carriage ride up to the small, artificial tarn that not only provided a pleasing view of Loughrigg, all neatly framed between well positioned trees, but also doubled as a header tank for the system of artificial streams that ran through the woods.

The path up to Post Knott in Bowness was also built with the carriage rider in mind, as were the seats set into the walls. The modern visitor may be forgiven for thinking that these seats were provided for those walking up the slope to stop and rest before they got to the top, which just shows how wrong modern visitors can be. The seats were for those riding in the carriages. They were positioned at intervals and the carriage would stop on the ascent for the passengers to get out so that they could sit on the seats to enjoy the views. Clearly they were not expected to do anything so common as turn their heads to look out of the window!

Throughout the region there are relics of Victorian ingenuity. Claife Station, on the shores of Windermere, has never seen a train. It commanded fine views over Windermere, and still does, as the above  picture of the Windermere Lake Cruises "steamer" shows. That picture was taken from one of windows, not in Victorian times, but in 2005.  Claife Station was built by the owners of the Ferry Hotel as a luxury viewing station. It had coloured windows to reflect the seasons of the year, and even had a kitchen and dining room. It was possibly one of the region's first wedding venues, and certainly a profitable venture for it's owners.

Stock Ghyll Park in Ambleside had turnstiles for those entering the park to pay at, and also turnstiles at the exit. Since the exit was closer to the waterfalls, which was the park's star attraction, those turnstiles were designed to stop people entering. They only turned one way, in order to let people out. Once out they had to pay to get back in again.

These are just a few of the relics of the Victorian tourism industry that can be seen around the region. Each has a tale to tell of the inventiveness and ingenuity of the pioneers of the Lake District tourism industry.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

What a load of nuts!!!!

Since the weather here has been considerably better than that in other parts of the country, I thought it would be a good idea last weekend to tidy my garden. Last Thursday we had quite a bit of wind and rain, and in the evening a thunderstorm, with hail thrown in for good measure. Consequently there were bits of tree lying on the lawn, the lid off the compost bin was stuck in the hedge after it blew off, and felt from the shed roof was flapping in the wind.

This latter problem was the first to be fixed, since there are few things worse than standing in the shed and feeling a drip. As I propped the ladder against the side of the shed ready to climb up to asses the damage, I noticed a walnut lying on the ground. Since we don't have a walnut tree, nor do any of our neighbours, I was a little puzzled by this.

An hour later, having reattached the felt to the shed roof and had a break for a cup of tea and to assess the damage to my thumb caused by one too many hammer blows missing the head of the nail, I ventured out to pick the debris off the lawn and came across another walnut. It wasn't just lying there, it was well and truly embedded. A third walnut was found in the bird bath. This whole situation was starting to cause me a certain amount of anguish. It was quite clear that someone has been throwing walnuts at my garden? But who? And why?

First on  the suspect list were the local youths (aren't they always?) My sometimes over active imagination developed the idea of a gang of young men prowling the district, their heads covered by the obligatory hoodies, throwing whole, unshelled walnuts into the gardens of unsuspecting residents.

It wasn't until I moved on to the front garden to clear some leaves that I noticed, nestling contentedly under the lilac, two more walnuts. And there was another one in a plant pot, firmly embedded between a rotting dahlia and the remains of a couple of trailing lobelias. (You will gather by now that gardening is not my strong point.)..

The biggest clue to where these walnuts had come from came when I was raking leaves off the lawn. I found yet another, and this one was well and truly embedded into the front lawn, just as the one in the back lawn had been. However, it got there, it was obvious that it had come down with considerable force.

Theory number one, the anti social local hoodies, was quickly dismissed. After all, throwing them is one thing, but would they really bother to come into the garden and tread them in?

No. Remembering my geography lessons at school, I quickly formulated the theory that the said walnuts had actually fallen from the sky, probably in the hail storm.

Anyway, I collected them up and took them into the house. Within minutes I had cracked one open and eaten it. And very nice it was too, so nice in fact that I had another, and another.

Now, I  don't know whether you are into science fiction films or not, but I do vaguely remember a film called "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". It is about an alien race whose own planet is dying, and they come to earth and take over human bodies in order to try to set up a new, tightly organised society where everyone conforms. They do this by the means of spreading seed pods which have pink flowers on them. People take them into their homes, and then the aliens take over.

I only say this because my walnuts, although very nice, did not really taste like walnuts, and now my wife says that I am behaving strangely. Evidently I'm being really really nice to her for a change, although I have to say that I haven't noticed any difference.

I've also got a rumbling in my stomach, as though there is something in there wanting to get out. A few nights ago I watched the film "Alien", and now I'm wondering whether or not I should really have eaten the walnuts at all. But they tasted so nice, so good, and there are still three left and I was going to leave then for Christmas, but I don't know whether or not I can resist them.

Of course, none of the above has got anything to do with the Lake District tourism industry. This post is well and truly off subject, but since it is my blog I don't really care. It's just that it seemed to be such a strange weekend that I thought I'd share it with you. And now I'm off for a walk, to get some fresh Lake District air, and see if I can find any more walnuts.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Things you can't do in the Lake District before Christmas

If you are wondering whether or not to succumb to the idea that you can save a pot load of money on hotel accommodation by taking a break in the Lake District between now and Christmas, allow me to sway your thinking. Basically, before you book that bargain basement priced hotel break, I think you ought to know about all the stuff that you can't do in the Lake District at this time of year.

First of all, you definitely won't be able to sit in a traffic jam, on the motorway, in the dark, tired after a hard days work, with some interminably cheery radio host playing songs that you don't want to hear, while the windscreen wipers make that incessant squeaking noise as they clear the screen so that you can get a clear view of the red lights on the car 3 feet in front of you. I don't care how much you like doing that, you can't do it here, because we don't have any motorways to get stuck in traffic on.

If you are one of those people who love waiting for the next commuter train, hoping that it is at least as full as the one before because you just love standing whilst you career through the suburbs at 20 mph, and getting up close and personal with people you don't even know, then under no circumstances should you come to the Lakes this winter. Although we do have some commuters, we only have one train for them to ride on, and there are not enough of them to fill it, despite it having a whole 3 carriages. Crowded escalators, queues at the barriers and automatic ticket machines that swallow your money and don't give you anything back are also in short supply as well. In fact, there aren't any.

Maybe you are one of those people that loves battling the crowds to do your Christmas shopping. All that bumping and pushing and shoving fills you with glee, and you just cannot wait to get in the queue at the supermarket check out. Self service tills are not for you, not with this trolley load! Well it's like this. If you come to the Lakes you may well be lulled into a false sense of security. After all, we have a supermarket. And there is a massive Lakeland Limited superstore just waiting for you to turn up. But something will be sorely missing. There just won't be any heaving crowds of shoppers. We've tried, we really have, but somehow we just don't seem able to muster enough people to make even a small crowd worth the name.

OK, so our transport arrangements aren't too good. No traffic jams or crowded trains, and our shops are half empty, with lots of bargains to be had and no one to buy them, and things don't get any better if you like to indulge in one of the great pleasures of winter by missing all the daylight hours. After all, going out in the morning while it is still dark, spending all day indoors in an office or a shop or a factory or wherever you work, and not returning until well after the sun has gone down in the evening, is one of the highlights of the season. In reality, there is nothing to stop you doing that in the Lake District, but if you do you are likely to miss your breakfast, and we don't like the idea of people going off out at 7 am with an empty stomach. By the time you have had your first meal of the day the sun will be well and truly up, so I'm afraid that if you want to miss all the daylight hours then the Lake District is the last place you should venture into.

If all of the above has not already put you off, maybe you might like to consider the ramifications of the total lack of air, noise and light pollution that we have in the Lakes at this time of year. The air is fresh and clean and can actually make you feel incredibly good, so much so that you'll think you are on a high, which means that it must be bad for you.

Sometimes, when you go for a walk on the fells, or just around a lake, all you can actually hear is the wildlife, and there is only so much gentle lapping of the waves; coupled with the odd chirrup of birdsong mingling with the cry of a kestrel; that any person can take without it driving you into a state of total relaxation. Before you know it you'll be addicted. And there are no clinics that offer a cure! If you want proof, check out this video of a winter walk around Grasmere.

As if all that is not bad enough, if you look up into the sky on a clear night you can actually see the stars. Which is kind of spooky, since if we can see them, the chances are that they can see us. That's right. It could well be that little green men and women from outer space are watching the Lake District and trying to work out why so many people spend their evenings sitting beside roaring log fires. Have these people never heard of central heating?!

So, I hope you will take heed. Life in the Lake District is not like it is in the rest of the country. Our public transport systems are limited and our shops are half empty. People that do take the plunge and spend a few days here tend to get addicted to it. They go home in a relaxed state of mind, with an almost insatiable yearning to come back again. When here they spend their days browsing around as though time does not matter, going for gentle strolls, or searching the empty aisles of gift shops taking advantage of the winter sales to bag half price gifts that no one else would ever have thought of buying. And they do all this without so much as a care in the world to spoil their enjoyment.

It's not right. It shouldn't be allowed. People battle through each day with the worries of the world on their shoulders but when they come to the Lake District they leave them behind. How crazy is that?! Someone has to worry about things, but oh no, these winter tourists don't seem to care a jot. So reader, beware. Joining them will lead you down the rocky path of being stress free.

Of course, if you quite fancy the idea of being stress free for a few days, going for walks amid fine scenery, Christmas shopping without the crowds and generally leaving the hustle and bustle of everyday life far behind, then ignore everything I've said and go ahead and book your winter break. - But remember. You have been warned.