Thursday, our last day in the Lakes, dawned with storybook charm. The tiny walled garden of our cottage was awash with sun, spilling over stone and flowers and pouring through skylights and windows to fill our little dining area as we discussed our plans for the day over our last English breakfast in that sweet place.
There was a large estate just a mile from the village that boasted of beautiful gardens and charming rooms…I was curious to see it and we determined that we could pop in for an hour or two on our way to Coniston for our last hike.
Should you find yourself in the Cartmel Peninsular and need to carefully plan your daily outings, please know that Holker Hall is shabbily decorated and not very large at all, though the gardens were somewhat pleasant to stroll through. The gift shop outside the house, however, was simply overflowing with wonderful treasure and I believe I may have spent more time in there than I did in the house!
Jay and his new friend, Neptune
I did however, make a discovery of great importance in the Holker Hall Tea Room:
Snacktime perfection! Now that’s what I call elevenses!
Ah, how I miss fresh scones with cream and jam! Our scones just aren’t the same here. Our cream is certainly nothing like. Even our jam is different, although English jam is easily procured from a gourmet food store or even the grocery store.
We left Holker, double-checking that we had all of our gear and our field guide. We sped along the now familiar roads, alongside Lake Windermere, through Bowness and Ambleside and beyond. As we travelled north and west, the scenery changed from rolling hills to higher and more rugged peaks that cradled beautiful valleys dotted with farms, stone walls, and sheep.
We found our way to Coniston, pulled out our field guide, and set off. The beginning of this hike may have been a little less exciting than our jaunt from Cartmel, but we were soon rewarded with the most amazing variety of scenery and experience that seven miles can offer. Village, pasture, lake, woods, mountains, tarns, waterfalls…every bend in the path a new adventure!
A little shiny from the sunscreen!
The Tarns– mountain lakes or ponds. Beautiful! There was a lovely (even if obviously man-made) path running in a loop all the way around this picturesque grouping of tarns.
Stunning waterfall at the exit of the Tarns.
One of my favorite moments…as we approached this charming farm, a herd of sheep rushed toward the gate to be led across the road to pasture.
Wrapping up…our last meal in the cottage.
We trudged in to Coniston after nearly 8 miles of dazzlingly beautiful terrain…exhausted yet exhilarated! And hungry! We poked around the village for awhile, checking out pubs and pondering menus, but nothing seemed inviting enough to spend our last evening on, and we were also conscious of the leftover curry and salad sitting in the fridge back at the cottage. So back to Cartmel we went.
A fire in the woodstove, a quick reheating of the curry and rice and a tossing of salad…flowers and candles…a cozy atmosphere for our last meal in this infinitely charming place. I sank into my chair and dove into the dinner, thinking once again how truly wonderful food tastes when you are genuinely hungry! I tried not to think about the packing, cleaning, laundry and other details of getting ready to leave that had yet to be done. I wasn’t ready to leave Little Croft.