The Lake District of Cumbria in northwestern England is a majestic region of steep, stone-cropped hills (also known as “fells”), heather moorland (an area of wetlands that are quite common in the British Isles), and peaceful valleys that all overlook a series of lakes. Indeed, it is a much beloved hiking spot for not only the British people, but also adventurers from all over the world. The area was home to the beloved “lake poets” Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, who drew great inspiration from the landscape.
Among the many hiking opportunities that the Lake District offers are the fells that rise above the resort village of Keswick and its adjacent lake, known as “Derwent Water”. Several trails beginning in the vicinity of the village branch out and begin their steep ascent. Fortunately, these paths vary in difficulty, thus offering opportunities for hikers of differing levels of ability. One common thing to expect on each of these trails, however, will be the strong probability of encountering mud and soggy grass due to the high-level of rainfall that Britain receives, especially in September through May. Additionally, at the beginning of one or two of the hikes, expect to journey on footpaths that cross over farmland. For those who are not familiar with the British countryside, this may come as a surprise, but farmers and others in rural areas often allow footpaths and even horse trails on their property. Just follow the signs carefully and all will be well!
A very crucial point to remember is that due to the moisture on the ground, it is highly recommended that hikers wear sturdy boots and bring an extra pair of socks. When I first began my journeys in England and Scotland, I made the amateur mistake of wearing tennis shoes and only one pair of socks, and not a single hike passed on which my feet did not end up covered in mud! It’s just the reality of hiking there
For those who are willing to brave the wet and rocky paths, the views above Keswick are absolutely breathtaking. One can observe an almost complete panorama of hills and meadows that will inspire the kind of awe and attachment to nature that the lake poets wrote so fervently about. I was treated to a spellbinding view of a valley as well as a clump of ancient ruins that seemed to echo the area’s past and carry it swiftly across the landscape. All the physical effort I had expended in reaching this spot paled in comparison to the sense of tranquility I felt at what my eyes beheld.
If you ever have the chance, the Lake District is well worth experience, challenge, and a journey across the pond!
Chris is a graduate student who enjoys hiking, fishing, swimming, and the great outdoors. He lived for a semester in the United Kingdom in 2011.