Windermere and Bowness -- Day 1 in the Lake District

Windermere Travel Blog

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On the road into Windermere -- the Sun Hotel

This was the first day I was truly to be on my own, and not a brief train or bus ride from Caroline.

It was also a time I was very much looking forward to, even if I was a bit nervous. I'm not sure why I was nervous, to be honest -- it's not like British culture is so horribly different from my own. But as I mentioned before in a previous entry, it's different enough as to be a change from the norm. So. Nervousness. Excitement. Pure joy at going off to see something new. I got myself to Waverly station in Edinburgh in the morning, and the first task was to find my train platform. The next task was to figure out just how my bloody Brit Rail pass was to work, since I hadn't used it yet.

Platform found on the display board, I went into the ticketing office just to check on train times, and to grab a schedule for the return trip back.

Windermere
I waited in line to have my pass validated, and then wandered off to find my train, with plenty of time to spare.  I spent a bewildering amount of minutes gazing down the platform at the different signs, trying to figure out just where on earth I was to sit, given that I had a pass, and not a specific seat numbered ticket. My first mistake here was not asking one of the Virgin employees hanging out on the platform. Because I was to excitedly seat myself down in a chair, and get all comfy, only to have two bewildered people come up to me and tell me I was in their seats. Turns out that if seats are 'open and unreserved' (for passholders like me), it says on a handy-dandy display. Oops! Anyway, after much frustration of lugging my stupid backpack down the aisles (really, the only time I found the backpack to be a great inconvenience was on the trains), trying not to hit anyone along the way, I finally found a seat that was open, and sank into it gratefully.
Windermere

This was also the day I was to find out that my Britrail pass was pretty much going to be ignored for the rest of the trip (and more than once I found myself wishing I'd bought the cheaper pass (fewer days of travel) because it was noted /once/ on the ticket when I was actually using up a day of travel in my whole month there. The rest of the time, the conductors basically just looked at it, and moved on.) Note to self: next time in the UK? Maybe go with the lesser Britrail pass.

Anyway, the train left Waverly on time, and began it's journey towards Windermere. I had to stop and change trains along the way, which was pretty seamless. Now, Scotland and England's scenery had been raved about to me by others who had been there, and none of my train journeys ever disappointed.

The view from my picnic table at the hostel in Windermere
I did find a lot of the landscape reminded me of home, but it wasn't a bad thing at all. iPod, book and snacks at the ready, I vegged for a few hours, just taking it all in.

However, my arrival at Windermere station was a bit jarring after the spectacularly serene scenery. Somewhere along the journey, it had begun to rain. Nay, not rain. Bucket. Downpour. Deluge. And super intelligent me had left her rain gear in her backpack. Oops. So I was rather in a tizzy when I finally arrived at my destination, because I knew I had a hostel shuttle to catch, and I knew that if I didn't catch it, I'd be walking. What I also knew is that the hostel was NOT close to the train station. After a few murmured 'scuse me and pardon me', I made it outside, and thankfully found the shuttle.

dinner view, Windermere
This was where I was to first meet the enigmatic shuttle driver (whose name escapes me a moment, and I feel badly, because he took time out of his day to show me around the area when I got to Ambleside. It'll come to me!) who drove like a bat out of hell (par for the course, I was to find) past Windermere itself, and up a long and winding road to the hostel.

The hostel smelled kind of funny, but was pretty clean, and when I arrived, I was the first one there, so I had my pick of beds. I chose one, lay down for a 20 minute power nap, and then put on the shoesies and hoofed it into town. This walk was my first experience with the narrow roads my grandmother had warned me about.

I didn't even take out my iPod for the leg of the hill before hitting the main road, simply because I wanted to hear a car before it came upon me -- not that there was any room to get out of the way if one did! But talk about pastoral beauty. I wish I'd taken better pictures of the walk in, rather than so many of the towns themselves. Beautiful farms and houses, and rolling green hills.

I spent time in both Windermere and Bowness just wandering around for the most part, watching the people, and peeking into the shops. I stopped and got a coffee at a local place, and chatted up a few folks there, and then wandered down to the lake, where I did the touristy thing, and bought a ticket to go out on one of the MANY (and I mean MANY) boat rides that took people out and about on Lake Windermere.

Lake Windermere, Bowness pier
As touristy as those kinds of things are, they're still a really neat way to hear the stories and the history of the area, as well as a chance to put the feet up for a bit. I knew also that I'd be liable to miss dinner at the hostel, and so went grocery shopping, heading back with my little treasure. I have to admit to wishing to be near a Tesco or a Sainsbury's at this point (none here in these wee towns!), simply because they had convenient aisles with all the 'allergy-friendly' foods, and they both had a whole line of gluten-free products, which was really nice to find. But I managed to find myself something decent, as well as picked up a bit of wine, and walked the long walk back to the hostel.

The evening was spent out at a picnic table, reading and eating, enjoying my wine.

Lake Windermere, Bowness pier
The view from my table was exquisite. The hostel wasn't very busy at all, so there weren't a lot of people to talk to; at that point, it didn't matter. I wasn't much in the mood for socializing anyways. It had been a really long day, and so, pleasantly muzzy from the wine, I took myself off to bed to rest up for the next day's journey to Ambleside.

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On the road into Windermere -- th…
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Windermere
The view from my picnic table at t…
The view from my picnic table at …
dinner view, Windermere
dinner view, Windermere
Lake Windermere, Bowness pier
Lake Windermere, Bowness pier
Lake Windermere, Bowness pier
Lake Windermere, Bowness pier
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photo by: RJ82