The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

England's Lake District

The Lake District in northwest England has to be one of the most picturesque places on Earth. The entire area is a national park now, although I am not sure what that means since there are no rangers nor public campgrounds nor visitor centers. No matter -- it is still beautiful. There are little lanes like this one all over the place, They are fun motorcycle rides.

I have been staying at a hostel in Ambleside on the north end of Lake Windermere. Several poets and authors and artists lived near here. One of them was William Wordsworth. I hiked to his home. This is it.

As far as homes go I guess this one was nice, but I was more taken with the garden. I do love gardens.

I was never a great fan of Wordsworth's poetry. I have never floated "Lonely as a cloud" in my life. I just can't identify with it, nor with Shelly, Keats or Byron, I want my poetry to have some grit in it. Give me Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee" or Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade", but not the frilly stuff of the Romantic Poets. Okay, enough rambling. Here is another picture from Wordsworth's bedroom window. Way down in the distance you can see Lake Windermere. That is where I am staying. Better get to walking.

There are trails and people hiking them all over the place here in the Lake District. Mostly, they are pretty well marked.

The trail I was following went across a river. Hmmm. I have my camera, passport and wallet in my pocket and it has been raining (Again. Still!) Those stones look slick. Maybe I should rethink this.

There are other paths to choose from. I am in no hurry. I can just enjoy the scenery for now. I can see my village, Ambleside, down there. I won't get lost.

Look. A bridge. Now I can get across the river.

The streams and creeks are raging. Is it because of all the rain?

I said in earlier posts that I have started staying in hostels. I like them, especially since they are dry. But look, poor Odysseus has to stay out in the rain. Sorry big boy.

Today is a new day, and the owner of this hostel copied out a map for me of a good ride up and over one of the mountain passes. First, though, a visit to a museum. Do you recognize this guy?

If you have read as many Beatrix Potter books to your children as I have to mine, then you will recognize that rabbit. He is Peter Cottontail or course. Beatrix Potter had a house on the other side of Lake Windermere. I want to go see it. But first, I want to ride the mountain pass my hostel host told me about.  

These one lane roads have pull-out spots every so often so that cars can get past each other.

Those passing spots can be tricky, especially if four or five cars get there at the same time. It requires a lot of negotiations and backing up and squeezing by. Sometimes a driver will decide that a motorcycle doesn't need much space and will not pull over. I don't  much like it when that happens.

I was very hungry, but it was sprinkling. Still, it is too pretty up here to let a little precipitation stop a hungry man. Time for lunch.

At one pull-off I misjudged how steep the slant was. When I put my left foot down, the ground wasn't there. I was stopped, but the bike was leaning over to the left so far I couldn't hold it up. It fell on me and pinned my left foot. A bicycle rider stopped and tried to pick the bike off me so I could stand up. He lifted it about 8 inches, and then dropped it on my foot again. Ow! Ouch! Sob! Fortunately, a car and two motorcycle riders came along. It was a group effort, but finally my bike was upright.

Then, I looked 20 feet uphill and one of the motorcycle rider's bike was coming down backwards. He had left it in neutral with the motor running. Fortunately, it fell over before it got to us or before it went over the side of the mountain. It was safe, but several parts broke off.

I was ready to call it a day on this mountain. My ankle was aching like the dickens. But look! There is the rest of the road up the pass. Oh no. Sigh!

I did finally get to Beatrix Potter's house. Here it is.

Actually, the house was a sort of anti-climax to the day. There wasn't all that much of Beatrix in it. Still, I enjoyed learning about her. She was very talented. I also enjoyed seeing scenes that I recognized from her books, like this one. I can't remember which of her stories it was in, but I do remember it. I need to look it up sometime.

Now I am back at the hostel. My foot is propped up and packed in ice. I can tell nothing is broken, but it sure is bruised. Oh well -- gotta ride off tomorrow. A man has gotta do what a man has to do.

(Foot update - When I got back home to America 5 weeks later, my wife made me go to the doctor. He took one look at my foot and sent me to the hospital for an x-ray. It turned out that the 4th (or lateral) metatarsal was broken in half down its entire length, from end to end.)

Heading south tomorrow.


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