Two years ago, I moved from the South of England, where I spent most of my working life and returned to my roots in Cumbria. I chose to live between the villages of Windermere and Bowness (the nearest settlement to the lake), because I thought the locality was perfect for my cats. They love it, and so do I. The only problem is the quality of the displacement activities.
When I should be writing, I’m out enjoying. So what makes it so great?
There are loads of reasons, but I’ll confine myself to five.
- The Lakes Lake Windermere is the largest natural lake in England and I can see it from my window. I can take part in The Great North Swim and the Chill Swim without leaving town. The Lake District has a lively open water swimming community and access to lakes, tarns and rivers. Windermere is great for sailing, although it’s probably one of the most crowded lakes. There is nothing better than spending a summer day out on the water, when there is a light breeze and you know there will be ice cream later.
- The Weather Windermere weather is interesting. When the sun shines, everything is good, the hills are pretty, the gardens stunning and everyone smiles. When the rain is torrential, the hills are hidden, the gardens sulk and there is little evidence that humans exist in the town. Last year we had floods, and many people are still not back in their homes afterwards. The whole area smelled very strange and on the Saturday night of the flood, Bowness on Windermere looked like an alien planet. We’ve been talking about it ever since.
- Tourists I love tourists. They are on holiday so they look happy. While those of us on our way to work are stressed, tired and preoccupied, the tourists smile. Even in the rain. They come by car, on the train or in coachloads. Because of them, we have great restaurants, wine bars, cafés, cinemas and theatres and during the summer, Windermere is filled with faces from China, the Middle East and the US. People watching is a huge pleasure.
- Culture Tourists come for the culture as well as the scenery. The Lake District has theatres, it has art galleries, it has theatre groups and music. It has a history of literature, from William Wordsworth to Beatrix Potter. It has a strong community of writers and artists. Many of the towns host art festivals, and in a month’s time there will be ‘The Festival of Yarns’ in which everyone is invited to write a play to be performed during the week. This year there will be 60 new plays. I describe myself as a writer, but in this festival I’m an actor.
- Sheep My mother claimed that sheep were the only topic of discussion on the local radio stations, but I think she was exaggerating. We do have a lot of sheep though, in a huge number of varieties. We have several ‘woolfests’, where every aspect of wool production, from the birth of lambs to the creation of designer clothing, is displayed. If you are enthusiastic about crafts, then the Cumbrian Woolfests are the place to be.
There are amazing things to be found in most places, and I’d love to hear what is exciting about your home – and encourage you to visit the English Lake District.