Two months have passed since gradually and tentatively the tourist and leisure industries opened their doors again to the lock down weary, desperate to get back to some sort of semblance of normal life. Of course, normal is now very different to before. Things are not as easy as they were. It’s wonderful that many people can get back out again to visit their favourite countryside and coastal beauty spots, albeit not necessarily in the same carefree or spontaneous ways.
I have toyed with the idea more than once of jumping on a train and heading up to the Lakes or a favourite beach. I have even checked out timetables, but in the end the thought of sitting on a train for an hour or more in a face mask seems to defeat the object of travelling for pleasure. And what would I find at my destination? Would there be a place to eat without having to book in advance or stand in line for a table? And then there are the masks again. It all still feels slightly more trouble than it’s worth at the moment. Strangely, my wanderlust has not yet returned properly, though I sense its first stirrings, and I wonder if I will be a different sort of traveller in the future, perhaps more appreciative and selective. Until the time feels right to be back there in the flesh, here are some photos, as yet unpublished, of my last visit to Windermere, almost a year ago.
The Windermere ‘steamers’ and launches sail all year round between the three landing stages at Lakeside, Bowness and Waterhead Pier at Ambleside. They are all motor-powered these days and the oldest, Tern, is almost 130 years old. Teal and Swan are both in their eighties. Although I must have done it a hundred times, I still enjoy finding a comfy spot on board one of the Lakes boats and watching the views as they change throughout the seasons. You have to book in advance now and stay in your seat.
The first shades of autumn start to appear.
This visit fell on a warm and sunny day in early October, just as the year was turning. Around that time I always feel an urge to soak up every ray of sunlight and appreciate every warm breeze as if it might be the last of the year.
Storrs Hall, the large residence at the side of the lake is now a hotel but was formerly owned by John Bolton, an Ulverston born merchant who made his fortune in slave trading, money from which was used to purchase the property. Bolton, a lavish host, moved in the same circles as William Wordsworth, who was a visitor to Storrs Hall on many occasions and enjoyed taking part in regattas on the lake.
At 10.5 miles, Windermere is the longest of the English lakes. It is probably also the best known and certainly the most popular with tourists. It isn’t my favourite lake, but it’s the one I visited most as a child with my family and holds a lot of happy memories. It is also the easiest to access by train.
Time seems harder to measure and events to pin point now than before; a slower pace and less happening seems to simultaneously lengthen and shorten the timeline. Was it really a year ago since I took these photos? Whilst I remember the day in great detail it seems, at the same time, so long ago. Here we are at the start of another autumn.
But I’m enjoying the sun while it lasts.