In Cumbria, spring arrives in the month of March. A host of white and golden daffodils grow all over the national park forming clear reflections in the sparkling waters of the lakes and tarns. The forest floors are laden with a carpet of violet coloured bluebells that appear to contrast the fresh green grass of the woods. They grow in the wild and release a subtle scent that sweetens the air around the woodland. The alliums appear in late spring and form a dense cluster with thousands of purple coloured flowers on a long slender stem. By the first week of April, magnolias are in full bloom and the tulip fields are a riot of colour.
The Lake District national park is situated in north-west England and covers an area of about 912 square miles. It is known for its low altitude hills also known as fells in archaic English and small mountain lakes or tarns at the foot of the hills. A narrow stream of water or a beck flows past local farmlands and enter into the deeper and wider meres. The local footpaths pave their way amidst oak and ash forests, over little stony bridges and along the merry brooks. A thick growth of mosses, liverworts and lichens cover the tree barks and the walking trails. The scurrying red squirrels are native to the highlands and their curious eyes are on a constant lookout for wild berries and nuts.
I was staying at Kendal, a pretty and charming town on the southern edges of the national park. It was the Easter weekend and the shops were stocked with Easter themed cakes, cookies and chocolates. I was enjoying my walk through the old town of Kendal with its towering church, stone buildings, vintage shops and the town hall. The river Kent flows through the town and the Kendal castle reminds the locals of its medieval past. Spring was in the air and the road to the Kendal castle was covered in cherry blossoms. The lighter branches of the cherry blossom trees swayed with the wind and a couple of rich pink flowers left the boughs and floated in the air.
After the harsh northern winters, the trees were slowly coming back to life. I was elated at the sight of the newly sprouted leaves filling the bare branches of the trees. It was creation at its best.
The Kendal castle dates back to the thirteenth century and was home to the Parr family. The Parr’s were barons by profession and the most famous of the Parr’s was Katherine, the last queen of Henry VIII. The castle is in ruins and only a small part of the tower and manor hall remains intact. However, the location of the castle is spectacular and overlooks the Kendal village at a distance. When it was time for sunset, the sky had turned crimson and I watched the sun disappear between the sloping hills. It was beginning to get dark and the surrounding landscape was illuminated with small blobs of light coming from the Kendal village.
The next morning, I headed out towards Coniston Waters which is the third largest lake in Lake District. The elysian village of Coniston has flourished along the lake and lies in the foothills of the Old Man of Coniston. The morning clouds were beginning to clear and occasional sunbursts added a silver tinge to the lake waters. The surrounding grasslands radiated a vibrant green and a couple of fishermen were out into the lake with their fishing poles.
By mid-day, the clouds had cleared and I decided to follow the public footpath to the Hawkshead village. A winding brook crossed my path and made a soft gurgling noise as it tripped over the stones and pebbles in its way.
The silence of the valley was occasionally broken by the rustle of leaves and every time my foot trampled on dry twigs, a crunching sound unsettled the stillness of the woods. Just before the path bends towards the Hawkshead hill, the Yew Tree tarn appears into view.
Hawkshead was no stranger to spring and the road leading to the Hawkshead village was covered with primroses, white daffodils and cherry blossoms. Little lambs were frolicking around the private farms and a pair of trees with elegant branches marked the entrance to the Hawkshead village. The Hawkshead village is home to the Beatrix Potter museum. Beatrix Potter is an English author and illustrator; she is best known for The tales of Peter Rabbit.
The Lake District has seen the rise of many poets to fame and the Dove cottage in Grasmere was home to the English poet, William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy. A daffodil garden surrounds St. Oswald’s church to commemorate the Romantic poet and his much celebrated poem, Daffodils.
Wordsworth’s grave lies in St. Oswald’s churchyard overlooking the Rothay river that flows towards lake Grasmere. The Wordsworth museum lies next to the Dove cottage and has an impressive collection of handwritten poems, journals and letters. The Grasmere village is surrounded by placid lakes and rolling fells and according to Wordsworth, it was “the calmest, fairest spot on earth.”
Owing to the moisture-laden winds from the surrounding sea, the weather in Lake District is dubious and erratic. By the time I reached Keswick, the sunshine was less cheerful and a few drops of rain fell on me as I made my way towards the Castlerigg stone circle.
The hills at Keswick were a juxtaposition of different shades of green and the needle-like leaves of the Douglas firs glistened in the brilliant bright sunlight after a light spray of rain. A dense growth of pine trees covered the mountain slopes and an arching rainbow graced the high vaults of the sky.
The Castlerigg stone circle is similar in structure to the Stonehenge and dates back to 3000 BC in the Neolithic period. The arrangement of stones form a perfect circle and its stunning location makes it one of the natural wonders of ancient Britain. Wild Ospreys soared higher and higher in the skies and the crown of the Helvellyn mountain assumed a golden colour as the sun re-appeared from behind the clouds.
I walked along the banks of river Greta and noticed how quickly the weather can change in high altitudes. A dense roll of dark clouds began to gather over the valley and the farther ranges began to gradually disappear from view. I called it a day and dined over a sea-food platter and an expresso.
On the very last day, I decided to complete the four mile walk along river Windermere. The walk started at Wray castle which was built in the nineteen hundreds and was used as a private residence. At the end of the woodland walk, a local ferry took me across the lake to Bowness-on-Windermere. Later that day, I boarded the train from Oxenholme back to London.
Lake District, with its abundance of green and blue brings back my childhood memories spent in the countryside. Million miles away, I can still smell the bluebells and the vivid images of spring linger in my heart long after I have departed.
To follow me on my journey, check out the interactive map below.