8-9 Nov: Keswick, England

We rolled into Keswick as we marked the halfway point of our trip. More photos on the Keswick page.

8-Nov

Once again we wanted to get an early start for our travel day, but this time the B&B owners offered to send us with a boxed breakfast. After accepting our food, we bid the owners goodbye and headed off to the train station. Since the Conwy train station was by request only, we were warned by multiple people that we would have to flag the train down. Several people were on the platform to go the other direction, and the train just stopped without anyone waving it down; the next train was in a couple hours, so it was pretty evident they wanted the train. Ours was to come a couple minutes later, and there were a couple other people waiting with us; again, the train just stopped for all of us (the next train being in an hour). It made us wonder if people say one has to wave the train down just so they could see tourists waving wildly!

Once we got on the train, we knew we would only be going one stop (odd, but that's how things worked out). While waiting for the next train, we started on breakfast. There was a lot of food! We ended up eating about half then, knowing that we'd probably have enough for lunch, too. Two more trains and a bus later we arrived in Keswick and settled into our B&B where Deb (the owner) promptly offered a tray of tea and cake.

 The water at Derwentwater started covering the grass; And we came all this way to see Canada geese?

The water at Derwentwater started covering the grass; And we came all this way to see Canada geese?

We ventured back out to get see what we could get at the tourist inforation center, then went to walk around Derwentwater, the lake right next to Keswick. There seems to be public foopaths around most of the lake, but we only made it a mile or so before the path was little different than a river. Not surprising, since it had been raining (and was drizziling during our walk), and both the lake and the nearby rivers were very high.

Another pub for dinner? Yes! Prices are reasonable and the food is usually pretty good. Our choices were goulash and chili, and as we normally do, we split each dish. They both were served piping hot and there was plenty for the two of us.

9-Nov

Going down to breakfast, we were met by Deb and discovered we were the only people who were in the B&B that night. During breakfast, we got a chance to chat with her. We knew she had taken over the place not long ago, and she said it's been five weeks. Apparently the first few weeks were very hectic, but it's slowed down; the weekends are still busy, but it's calmer during the week. She said they've been getting lots of Americans and Canadians, and she started rattling off places asking if we had been there, and the answer was yes to every one. Ends up lots of those American and Canadian tourists were also using the Rick Steves guide.

After finishing our breakfast (knowing we'd probably not need much if any of a lunch) we went back to the tourist information center to double-check the weather and if the boats were running on the lake. As for the weather, it looked like it would be windy, especially at altitude. We were considering the Catsbells Lakeland hike, but since that would take us up on a ridge, we settled on the Castlerigg walk. As for the boats, they didn't know yet which stops the boats would make (the boats do a test run in the morning, as well as check which docks are usable), so we said we would check on that later.

As we started out, there was a light drizzle, but not really rain (at least not what we're used to at home). Some of the trails were pretty muddy but we were able to keep pretty dry. We knew it was going to be windy, and it was; the wind was very cold, to boot. But we persevered.

 Sheep rushing towards a just-closed kissing gate

Sheep rushing towards a just-closed kissing gate

We came across lots of sheep, and the footpath sometimes took us through the same fields as the grazing sheep. Some fences had regular latch gates, others had "kissing gates" (you swing the gate one way, step into a small section, swing the gate the other way, then step out) or "step stile" (steps poke out through the fence's stiles, so you step half-way up, swing your foot to the other side of the fence, then step down). The idea is humans can navigate these gates but sheep can't, but those sheep sure are hopeful. Every time a gate swung closed, all the sheep within earshot would run to the fence, as if they were thinking "Did they leave it open?".

 Jet flying right over the pastures

Jet flying right over the pastures

Sheep weren't the only moving things we saw; a few jet fighters also passed by very closely (almost ear-splittingly close). The sheep even ran towards the sound of the plane!

We eventually came across to a road, and our walk guide said "continue ahead on a minor lane for as far as you can" at which point we caught our first glimpse of the Castlerigg Stone Circle. Along with the strong wind was a light mist, so I tried to get to where the wind was at my back so I could start taking pictures. Eventually the wind started to let up, and the rain, so we got a great up-close view of the stones (you can walk among them).

 Rainbow over Castlerigg Stone Circle

Rainbow over Castlerigg Stone Circle

I started working my way around the circle, then noticed that a rainbow was in the sky, which made a great photo subject. But the best was yet to come; a few minutes later we got a full rainbow! I couldn't quite get all the rainbow in a shot, so i started backing up across the field, but still no luck. Not knowing how long it would last, I ran to the fence, but still couldn't fit both sides of the rainbow into the shot, so I ended up taking multiple pictures, knowing I'd be able to stitch them toether later. The result is by far my favorite picture so far of the trip, a full rainbow over the Castlerigg Stone Circle.

After I got my shots, we saw a Japanese tourist also wandering around, and we were able to help her with directions back to Keswick (we gave her a look at our map so she'd be able to get her bearings).

While it sounds like we did a lot, we weren't done. Back at the tourist information center we saw the boats were indeed running, and a short walk we were thinking about was between two of the open stops. We got tickets for a round-trip, and got onto the next boat around Derwentwater. We had a great walk by the water but because of the timing of the boats, we had quite a bit of time to kill. We got onto the dock not long before the boat we wanted showed up. However, instad of turning into the dock, the boat stopped and waited.

I should explain about the boats on the lake. They start at the Keswick dock, one starting on the hour going clockwise, and one starting on the half hour going counter-clockwise. We wanted the clockwise boat since that would be fastest, but the stop we were at was the one where the boats landed at about the same time. The boat that was waiting out far from the dock and not picking us up? Clockwise. The counter-clockwise boat showed up, and ours started back up and went away. Fortunately, the counter-clockwise boat pulled into the dock, and explaind the other one couldn't come in because it had a longe bow, and since the lake was so high, there wasn't enough room for it. So we ended up taking the long way back around the lake, by which time we were ready to grab some snacks for the next day's trip, as well as look into getting some quick dinner and dessert.

We're pretty flexible when it comes to dessert, but the things that looked the best felt really heavy. That's because they were individual servings of various puddings, but they came in glass ramekins, ones that you would keep. We had no desire to keep them, and it seemed a waste to throw them away, so we ended up getting a small lemon tart instead. I know, rough life.