Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, Derwent Water and Mysterious Stones

This is our first day to explore the Lake District. It is an area that is as much characterized by mountains as it is by lakes. It is very picturesque and is England's land of outdoor adventure. Keswick is full of tourists, mostly English from other parts of the country and they are here to walk the fells (mountains). In some ways, the town reminds me of Banff, although the mountains are smaller and it is not as touristy. There must be a dozen outdoor and hiking stores in town.

Our hosts, Arthur and Pam gave us some excellent suggestions for some hikes and loaned us a copy of an Ordinance Survey Explorer map for the region. We decided that we would do the walk around Derwent Water, which is the name of the lake by Keswick. The walk is about 8 miles long, however there are 7 docks around the lake that are served by a water taxi service. We decided that we would walk part way around and then take the water taxi back to Keswick.

Like many walks in England, this one is a combination of trails, fields, sidewalks and roadways. In England many public foot paths cross private land. To allow access to these public foot paths, gates are installed in fences that allow walkers access, while keeping sheep or cattle in their fields. This particular gate ingeniously used the weight of a stone on a chain to automatically close the gate with enough force to trigger the latch.

About half way around the lake, we came across a water fall. This is near the point we decided to get the water taxi back to Keswick.

We got back from our hike in early afternoon leaving us time for some more exploring. On our last visit to England, we saw both Stonehenge and the Avebury stone circle. So when we heard that there was a prehistoric stone circle at Castlerigg near Keswick, it was added to our must-see list. We allowed the GPS to guide us. It unnecessarily took us down the narrowest road yet. This road was so narrow, that a some points the tips of the branches of hedges were touching the car on both sides. I just prayed that we would not meet another car. The Castlerigg stone circle consists of an astrological significant arrangement of 38 stones. Dating back from around 3000 BC, it is one of the earliest stone circles in England.

From Castlerigg, we decided to visit another unusual stone. Bowder Stone is a 2000 tonne boulder believed to be from Scotland that was left by a glacier. The 30 foot high stone, sitting precariously on it's edge, has become an attraction.

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