We said our heartfelt goodbyes to Iain and Janie to take a leisurely drive north from The Wirral, under the Mersey (not on the ferry this time – there’s a tunnel!), through Liverpool, and up the Lancashire coastline into Cumbria and to Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District.
Because Lakeland was our home for the following three weeks, there are a lot of photos that I’ll be sharing here in the upcoming posts. Before that, however, I have something else to show you…
Janie had suggested that we stop in the town of Sefton, north of Liverpool, and “take a walk on Crosby Beach…” With no more guidance than that, we parked our car and walked through the brisk sea breeze and over the links to a large flat beach 0f white sand with an offshore wind farm, which I assumed was the target of our quest. “Oh, okay – that’s interesting, but what’s the big deal?” There were a few other people out walking, most with dogs, so I took it to be an English version of a wide flat beach, much as you find all over the world.
Our attention was quickly caught by the sight of someone standing out in the surf. “Hmm, look at him. That’s gotta be cold!”
We noticed, in another direction, someone else standing on the beach watching yet a third person even further out. “Oh, wait… those aren’t people!”
As we moved closer, we saw that these were life-sized cast iron figures permanently standing in the sand. It was a large public art exhibit, reminiscent of Burning Man.
The more we looked around, the more of these figures we could see. We later learned that there are 100, extending two miles (3.2 km) up the beach and more than ½ mile (1 km) out to sea. All identical figures of a solitary everyman.
We had found Another Place, by Sir Antony Gormley. The solitude of these figures, staring forever out to sea, certainly gives pause for thought. It’s worth visiting if you’re ever in the area, and learning more about this amazing artist.
We returned to the car and drove to a canalside pub, to see some narrow boats, and have the first of many pub lunches to come.
I mentioned the Lake District in an earlier post, but to review:
This is a compact region of Northwest England, not far from the border with Scotland, that is home to England’s largest national park, largest lake, tallest peak, and famous for its historical associations with William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, and many others. Of course, it’s also been known historically, and is still regarded today, as a worldwide center of hiking and climbing – the primary motivation for our trip.
By its name, you can guess that the area has a lot of lakes: 16 main bodies of water and a lot of smaller ones, called tarns, connected by rivers and fed by smaller creeks, called becks. But more than lakes, the Lake District has many mountain ranges and peaks, known locally as fells.
Joanie’s introduction to the Lakes was going to be like most people’s introduction to the Lakes: staying a couple of nights in the popular (read crowded) tourist town of Bowness-on-Windermere. We “played tourists” ourselves, and enjoyed the local sights around the lake named Windermere.
On one morning, the weather was perfect for hiking, so we took a lake cruise from Bowness…
… to the village of Ambleside with its iconic Bridge House…
… then hiked along the “Coffin Route” footpath to the village of Grasmere.
The village of Grasmere is most known as the longtime residence of the English Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, here at Dove Cottage…
… but many people find that Sarah Nelson’s famous, “secret-recipe” Grasmere Gingerbread is even more appealing…
… especially when sold in “Britain’s smallest shop!” “One customer at a time, please…”
Before we knew it, we looked at the time and realized we needed to rush back to Bowness for a very important kick off.
Yep, this happened to be the day Liverpool played Chelsea in the 2022 FA Cup Final, and we had a couple of sports pub seats with our name on it.
The next day was our last in Bowness and it was time to move further into the Lakes to begin the trekking part of our holiday in earnest. We started by driving over one of the narrow, steep, and winding mountain pass roads that connect various regions of the Lakes: Kirkstone Pass, and stopped for a pint at the historic Kirkstone Pass Inn, “the third highest pub in England.” (Yea, I wondered, too. Per Wikipedia: “The highest is the Tan Hill Inn in North Yorkshire; the next is the Cat and Fiddle Inn in the Peak District.”)