I remember my first visit to the English Lake District,with a lot of anticipation.My uncle told me of this magical place, from when i was much younger than my age at the time,i was eleven by the time we went there.My world view at that time was not quite in keeping with what i experienced.
Although i had traveled to Wales with my Mum and Dad,along with my brother and two sisters,me being the oldest,i really knew nothing about real lakes,and Mountains,i suppose that when you are a child,the scale of something like a mountain or a lake just dose not have much appeal to a City kid.I actually thought that a real lake was the size of the one we saw in the park.
When the day came for us to go to the lake district,from our home in Liverpool,the excitement was great for both me and my brother.My dad and the uncle that i mentioned earlier,his brother,came to our house and we went in his car,a pale green and cream Austin Cambridge.The year was ninteen sixty seven.The M six motorway only went as far north as Lancaster in those days,so we quickly found that after some good motoring that we had to leave the motorway and then we were in the holiday traffic which seemed to take for ever, not good when your just a kid.
When we finally arrived in the lake district,it was getting dark,but i remember seeing enough in the fading light and through the rainy windows of the car to be able to see that lake Windermere was no boating lake.My dad told us that it was eleven miles long.I remember saying, that it looked like the ocean,(which coincidentally my son said exactly the same to me when i first took him there when he was seven, we went camping).We finally arrived at the town of Keswick,which was bustling with, Campers,Walkers and Mountain climbers.After a meal of home made steak and kidney pie chips and peas,and a nice pot of tea we headed north of keswick,to a guest house set on a hillside,overlooking Bassenswaite lake.
The rain was relentless that night,but our room was very comfortable with a great view.Although the rain was heavy,my dad and uncle decided to go out to the pub at the bottom of the hill,that was ok because they were freinds of the guest house owners,but while they were out the rain got heavier then there was falk lightening.To my brother and me this was quite an adventure,as we had never seen lightening quite like this before.We watched with growing excitement as the lightening appeared to bounce a mirror image off the lake.I think that few moments of excitement has stayed in my memory better than any fireworks display.Then the lady of the house,mrs Irving came into the room and closed the wooden shutters.Eventuaily my dad and uncle came back and we told them all about our exciting episode,to which my dad said yes we saw it we were helping someone with there car because it was stuck in a ford and the water was deep.
The next day was beautiful after we had breakfast,Mr Irving told us that night produced the worst weather in years. We went for a drive along the road that ran alongside Derwent water lake to a place called ash ness which was on a track road just off the main road and over the ash ness bridge,climbing up the mountain road to a place called surprise view which looked over Derwent water.the view was fantastic.Then we carried on along the road through rugged mountain scenary, to watenleth which came to a dead end but for farm buildings,and a small tarn. from there we walked along the bridalway to Borrowdale.This was my first fellwalk.Although we were not prepared for walking ie footware, my brother and i enjoyed every step that we took,because this was so new to us.
After our walk we went back to the boat jettys at Derwentwater,where we took out a motor boat,that was our first boat ride on one of the lakes.The next morning we met Mr and Mrs Irvings son John,who took us on a short walk to his holding,where he gave us a demonstration of a cattle round up,he sent his dog glenn down to the other end of a field and using a series of whistle commands the dog brought five head of cattle right back to where we were standing.Mr Irving went on to become the conservative member of parliament for Lakeland.He was a true english gentleman,who cared about the english countryside.
During the next couple of days we visited some of the other parts of the lakes,such as dove cottage the home of william wordsworth,at grassmere,we also swam in ullswater and drove over the honnister and kirkstone passes,the latter took us to bowness on windermere,where we sailed on a ferry launch.These are my most endeering and fond memories of my first visit to the English Lake District.I have been there many times since along with my wife Bernadette and two daughters,Laura and Rachel,and more recently our son Daniel.