Wild men, wet weather and woolly sheep

On a wet week in November, Mr H and I ventured to the north of England, to the beautiful Lake District, to celebrate our wedding anniversary.

The Lakes is known to be one of the most beautiful places in Britain – all rugged mountains, crystal clear lakes and rustic slate cottages. This is as close as England gets to true wilderness, with its unpredictable weather and craggy peaks.

For a short break in November however, we weren’t planning anything too wild. A bit of gentle rambling, chilling out in the spa and taking in the scenery, were all on the menu.

On our only full day there, given we were staying just south of the largest lake in the region, Windemere, we decided to follow a 10km circular route from the town of Ambleside.

Ambleside is quite a pretty town, but felt quite touristy, even in the low season when we were there. It has a lovely position on the edge of Lake Windemere, and is right next to Stock Ghyll Force waterfall.

Stock Ghyll Force

The falls were in full flow when we were there, and made quite the pretty picture rushing down through the autumn trees. Apparently in the spring the area is carpeted in daffodils too (very appropriate, given this is Wordsworth territory, but more on that later). They are only a five minute walk from Ambleside town centre, so very easy to visit. We had them pretty much to ourselves, on this drizzly Thursday.

Rainy rambling

From Stock Ghyll Falls, we were climbing to the top of Wansfell Pike, on a circular walk from Ambleside via TroutBeck. The Pike is about 400 metres high, and offers top views across Lake Windemere. The weather wasn’t great for us, with low cloud blowing around and plenty of wind, but the outlook from the top was still stunning.

View over Windemere from Wansfell Pike

After quite a bit of climbing, from here it was mainly down hill into the tiny village of Troutbeck. On the way down narrow country lanes lined with dry stone walls, we said hello to plenty of damp woolly sheep. I love how much wilder they look than the sheep I grew up with, which were always fairly neat and dusty in comparison.

Woolly locals

After a tea break by a stream in Troutbeck, we walked back towards Skelghyll Woods, a woodland managed by the National Trust. As you’ll see from the photo below, I was the designated map wearer. Not the most stylish piece of attire, but I sure love being in charge of directions.

My best look

We ended the day walking through pretty woodland, back down into Ambleside.


To reward ourselves, we hopped on over to Elterwater to The Britannia Inn which had been recommended to us, for a well-earned drink by a lively fire in the snug bar.

Next day, the weather was rubbish. Wet and grey and COLD. What better thing to do, than head for a swim in one of the nearby lakes?

Brave man in a wetsuit

Not me of course – Mr H just couldn’t resist the call of the water! First we tried Rydal Water, one of the smallest lakes in the district, where you’ll also find Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s old cottage.

Fancy new swimming hat

Despite me loudly worrying about his sanity, Mr H ventured into the river that leads into Rydal Water. Looks inviting, no?

Venturing in…

But despite his toughness and state-of-the-art wetsuit, the conditions weren’t great. The river was rocky and shallow, and after travelling a little way down, we decided to try and find a better point to enter the lake.

Too shallow!

After driving around the lake and at one point ending up stuck at the end of a dead-end, muddy, narrow country lane, we drove on to Grassmere, to try the lake there instead.

This is more like it!

We found some steps in front of a hotel, and off he went.


I watched on in the rain from the muddy bank, as he explored the lake and scared the local water birds.

Too warm with the wetsuit on apparently

One cold but happy Englishman.

His idea of fun

We spent the rest of the day exploring Wordsworth’s former home, Dove Cottage, and tasting local treats in the village of Grassmere. This in another post to follow soon.

Have you been to the Lake District? Any favourite places there to recommend?