GoNOMAD Destination Guide
Keswick: Gem of the English Lakes District
After scaling its snowy peak, I began to make my way down. The blisters on my feet felt like they had blisters and were about to burst and fill the valley below. I was tired, worn out and cold. Climbing an English peak in early December is not the ideal thing to do.
The views below would have been brilliant, if there had been any. Unfortunately, at this time of the year, swirling mist obscures just about anything beyond twenty yards. You don't have to be insane to climb Cumbrian mountains in late autumn - but it helps.
The Market Town of Keswick
On this occasion I took comfort from knowing that beyond the fog, the early evening lights of the town would be glistening warmly on narrow streets and in the living rooms or lounges of tiny houses, guesthouses and traditional wood beamed pubs with their rustic charm, hinting at what rural England must have been like in what now is a long lost age. The local pubs and restaurants offer reminders by serving traditional delicacies such as Cumberland Sausage, Tatie Pot, and Rum Butter.
Keswick has managed to escape the ugliness and intrusions of the modern age. The friendly attention in the many closely packed shops and the weekly market around the Moot Hall is a welcome change from Britain's towns and cities. The English Lake District is a National Park and new building is very strictly controlled.
Long and Dramatic History
Famous literary names, including Southey, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Ruskin, were influential in attracting the early tourists to Keswick to experience the spectacular scenery all around. When in this part of the world it's easy to see why so many writers were (and still are) inspired by the English Lake District.
Borrowdale: the most beautiful valley in England
Keswick lies on the northern edge of the tranquil Derwentwater. Beyond the lake and to the south lies Borrowdale Valley, in my mind the most beautiful part of the Lake District.
The local tourist board notes that "the steep-sided valley of Borrowdale running some ten miles from its sources high in the Scafell mountains (977m) down to the shores of Derwentwater at Keswick must be one of the most beautiful and exciting landscapes in the British Isles."
And I knew someone would be waiting for me to soothe my chilled bones and aching limbs. I called her name...hoping it would whisper on the wind across what seemed like a thousand miles and somehow she would hear. And I imagined she called mine. But there was nothingness, bleakness and only the howl of the gale as it rebounded, reminding me of my solitude - and, of course, the sound of my bursting blisters emptying onto the mountain.
Mountain Goat Tours (017687 73692) provide popular guided tours of most areas of the Lake District and further afield. National Trust Landscape Tours and Mountain Goat tours may be booked at the Keswick Tourist Information Office (017687 72645). For those who prefer two wheels, cycle hire is available at various locations in and around Keswick.
Keswick, being in the centre of the best walking country in England has a wide variety of shops selling outdoor clothing and equipment, from budget to the very best quality.
There is a range of shops selling collectables and antiques, local stone crafts and art in its various forms. Keswick boasts a huge range of
accommodation ranging from family run “bed and breakfast” establishments to more expensive hotels. The tourist office can provide listings and can arrange bookings.
There are water sports aplenty, horseback riding, paragliding, golf, tennis, bowls, and fells on which to walk. Fishing licences and permits are available from the Keswick Tourist Information Centre. The Theatre by the Lake is situated close to Derwentwater. The theatre offers a programme of arts and entertainment throughout the year. There is a coffee shop and fully licensed bars.
Colin Todhunter was born in Liverpool and spends most of his time in India, where his collection of stories, Chasing Rainbows in Chennai, is a bestseller. He can be reached at colin email@example.com
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