Trip date 11-12 June 2010
My trip to the Lake district is a continuation of my previous trip from Alton towers at Uttoxeter near Staffordshire. Our journey there requires a single change of trains (from the Virgin express) to the internal First great western trains at Oxenholme station. The Virgin trains are Alstom liners, all loaded with tech and nice quiet carriages. The trains even auto banks to curves and feature in carriage cars and automated toilets too. Our connecting train arrived with an hour to spare. The station was completely quiet, creepy but otherwise rather serene, allowing us to explore the place like a scene in the Blaire Witch project.
This station serves mainly as a transit point for trains between Windermere and Preston, most of the group conked out asleep upon meeting the benches in the waiting area which was essentially just a sheltered shed between the platforms. I took the opportunity to check out the tourist corner of the station, intending to find out more of the attractions in Windermere. The train serving Windermere arrived 30 minutes early, and stayed put at the station before departing, allowing us to crawl all about the train station and carriage itself.
We arrived at about 11pm at Windermere and checked into our pre-booked backpackers hotel. Like most backpacker’s inn, there was a self-help reception and no staff around. The current occupants in the inn opened the door and welcomed us in, everything is based on trust, including paying for the accommodation and settling in upon your arrival. We had a full room to ourselves, complete with 2 bunks beds accommodating all four of us for the trip. After settling down in our rooms, we decided it’s time to get some dinner, at the same time exploring the town at night.
Most of the stores in town are already closed. But there are few pubs still open at about 10pm, but none of them serve hot meals at this time. There isn’t much to eat. After chatting with few locals and asking some of the eateries and pubs in the area (who already packing up for the day) we were introduced to an Indian cuisine restaurant who is widely known to serve meals till late, not a bad spread though on the pricey side, but good enough to keep us filled for the night. We circled the and checked out the town further before playing some pika pika with LED lights on the empty streets. Surprisingly the place is very safe at night.
We were up early the next morning checking out the day sights in town and getting a bite or two. We got some real good recommendations on places to visit from the staff at the tourist information center, such as hills and lakes within the area, which reaffirms the attractions listed in the brochures I found at the railway station. We started our exploration in the lake district with a starter climb up one of the near by peaks in the town. The Orrest peak is a small hill located near the train station just behind the Winderemere hotel, offering great sights overlooking the whole town of Windermere. The entrance to the foot of the hill is just about a 50m walk from the backpacker’s inn across the main road. You will be greeted by a large sign at the path entrance, reassuring you being on the right direction.
The climb started with us passing several residential houses on a paved road, which carried on a winding narrow road up the mountain, snaking along it’s contours. Overall the gradient is rather gentle and the sights just gets better with every step we take up. We met a number of locals on the trail as well, it was not long where we passed several 4 legged visitors of the park too- dogs, and horses to name a few. Apparently this spot is a popular trekking spot for equines as well. Halfway up the road, we took a shortcut through a small path cutting through the woods. It allowed a quick alternate rapid accent to the peak rather than taking the long winding road which seemed to snaked towards the back of the hill.
We effectively left the security of the road for the wilderness of the forest, this with it’s own adventure as well. The forest trail is very much home to a secondary forest, with some rather thick undergrowth, with obvious trails cutting through them presumably by frequent climbers in the air. The air is cooling and calm, contrary to the hot humid tropical jungles I grew up bashing through. In comparison to this forest is like a walk in the park. There were even no mosquitoes at all, remarkable! The trail saw up climbing up 20 to 30 degree slops through shrubs, at some points going on all fours to scale some small vertical rock plateau surfaces. The climb took about 20 minutes in all, and in no time we found ourselves up on the sunny exposed top of the peak.
The views are great, you will get full views overlooking the town of Windermere with lake Windermere in the far distance, here, you can make up little dots of traffic on the roads and tiny people on the streets. You can even see sailboats on the lake too. All the views here feature a stark contrast of blue over green, separated by the earth’s horizon. Do a photo time lapse here and you can even see the distinct passing shadows over the distant hills. Awesome. Of course we went very much trigger happy with our cameras, the rock plateau on top of the peak offered a great overlooking vantage over the nearby forest, allowing a clear 360 degree view from the hill top.
Overlooking Winderemere, the town though not as buzzing and sizable like in other cities/towns I’ve visited (such as Cambridge and Cardiff), is rather developed with a good range of attractions, excellent pubs and eateries. The town have a good cosmopolitan mix of races and a variety of stores serving a wide range of cuisines (Chinese, Indian, Italian, etc) just to name afew. The very conductive atmosphere of a cosy yet self sufficient city is itself a major selling point for me. Did I mention the town is relatively safe too? You can literally walk out at night without fear of being mugged, even as a tourist.
Once satisfied with our time on the peak, we tried a different route on our way down via the open plains and away from the forests, snaking and passing stone fences and keeps (which presumably used to keep life stock in). Here we spotted a few bovines and a random deer hopping along the ridge line as well, painting how this place is very much untouched by man with the nearby forests.
It was not long before we found our way back down onto the streets behind Winderemere hotel, here you can take a tour of the nearby rockfaces with the Windermere offroad tours. Their iconic large offroad land rovers parked along the road side is a great giveaway of their location. Lunch is on the cards fro us now, with more to explore in the afternoon. That is all for the town of Windermere for now, the second part of the trip will see us sailing across the Lake towards Ambleside.
You can check out more great views on Windermere in it’s own photo gallery here.