Take Me to the Lakes

For our mid-semester reading week, some friends and I decided to take a train to England and spend a couple of days at The Lake District! This decision was only partially inspired by Taylor Swift’s song, “The Lakes”, but I did sing it nonstop the whole time we were there.

2 November, 2021

Early Tuesday morning, we got on the train at Stirling Station, which took us to Edinburgh. From there, we had a two hour ride through the countryside to Oxenholme Station. The ride was so quiet and beautiful. I’ve decided that by train is my favorite way to travel. We spent a majority of the trip talking about our Zodiac signs. Once we made it to Oxenholme, we decided to find a café or restaurant so Catherine could finish up some stuff for work and we could wait on Ginny, who missed the morning train. We made our way towards Kendal, which is an adorable town in the Lake District. We stopped inside the Union Jack Cafe, where Cat got set up for her work orientation. Ariëlle, Bailey, and I ordered a drink (for Ariëlle) and chips (Bailey and me) for take away, and then we left to explore the town.

It started raining almost as soon as we started walking, but we had left our bags at the Café with Cat, so it didn’t bother us. Kendal is an adorable town, and we popped inside a few stores- an art gallery, Christmas shop, and a couple shops with knick-knacks. The streets were beautiful and it felt like the perfect place to get lost. Eventually, Ginny made it into town and Cat finished up with her work. We met back up at the Union Jack Café, where we ate lunch (more chips for me) before heading to the Kendal train station. Just a few pounds and ten minutes later, we were officially in Windermere!

Once in Windermere, we headed to our Airbnb for the night. We dropped our stuff off, refilled our water bottles, then headed out again. We didn’t have a ton of sunlight left and we wanted to do a little sight-seeing while we still had the chance. Ariëlle took us on a path down to the lake and we finally got to see Lake Windermere in all her glory. On our hike, we also saw a gushing waterfall and paths covered in orange and red leaves, which I personally find beautiful. It got dark before our hike was over, which forced us to hike through strange areas blind, but it was still a lot of fun!

After making it back to our Airbnb in peace, we then headed back out again for dinner. My friends got takeout from a local Chinese restaurant, and I got something with a ton of protein from Sainsburys (nothing but a single cookie and two portions of chips for a majority of the day was a bad idea). We also picked up some wine, which we split once we were all warm at the flat. We listened to “evermore” in its entirety as we ate, drank, and talked, and then we cozied up to watch Twilight. It was a good mix of nostalgia and funny commentary! After the movie, we headed to bed, hoping to get enough sleep for the next day full of adventures.

3 November, 2021

Wednesday morning, we got up and put our swimsuits on. Yes, our swimsuits, because we decided it would be a good idea to take a dip in Lake Windermere in 6 degree (Celsius) temperatures. We bundled up as much as we could for the 15-minute walk down to the lake. Once we got there, we saw a couple other groups of people with the same idea as us, which helped lessen our “we’re crazy” feeling. That feeling returned once we started taking layers off, and it was amplified the moment my foot touched the water.

It was freezing. But I had already made the decision and I refused to back out. Once we had our cameras rolling, we held hands and ran into the lake (screaming, of course). Ariëlle slipped on the dock and fell, then jumped in first, followed by Cat and then the rest of us. I’ll be honest, it was not a glamorous endeavor, and the moment my chest went under water, I lost the ability to breathe. Like I literally, physically, could not breathe, so I promptly got out of the water. The five of us stood in ankle-deep water on the dock for about twenty minutes, soaking up the craziness and taking pictures. I even jumped in the water again with Ariëlle, although I, once again, promptly got out.

All that being said, I am very glad I did it! It took me the entire walk back to the Airbnb (with all my clothes on top of my wet swimsuit) to start to feel warm again, but I’m grateful for friends who are as crazy as me and that we actually got in the lake in November! That’s an experience I’ll never forget.

After getting dry and toasty at the Airbnb, we packed our stuff up (check-out was at 10) and headed back into town. I bought a vegan cinnamon roll and hot chocolate from an all-vegan bakery, Banilla Bakery, and then we went to Sugar and Spice Café for brunch! After eating (I had a couple hashbrowns and vegan sausages) we walked about twenty minutes to Bowness-on-Winderemere, where we went to the Beatrix Potter museum! The museum felt like a walk-through Disney World attraction: there were animatronics of Beatrix Potter characters, interactive screens, and places to read more about the characters and their stories. It was super cute and very fun, even though we’re adults.

After the museum, we looked at some shops in the area, then headed up a large hill towards a hike. The hill was not actually part of the hike, which was heartbreaking to hear, but the view from the top was really pretty (although it got much better).

The hike started out mostly uphill, and then we came to a beautiful green clearing that went straight up. The higher we climbed, the better it got. From the top, we had the most gorgeous 360 views of the lakes, autumn trees, and greenery. We sat down to take in the views and I broke out my vegan cinnamon roll. I played Taylor Swift’s “The Lakes” on my phone while eating the cinnamon roll, looking at the water. It was such a beautiful moment and I felt so much peace and happiness.

Then we headed back down. Although the prettiest part of the hike was over, we still got lots of amazing sights. We even walked through a little field of sheep and pet a couple of dogs. The weather really was perfect for a hike, and it was a lot of fun doing it with friends! Afterwards, we walked back down the large hill, through Bowness-on-Windermere, and all the way back to Windermere for dinner. We grabbed some food and drinks at The Crafty Baa, in a small room called “the Haunted Room”. There were cursed-looking dolls all over the walls (and “blood”??), as well as a ton of lampshades on the ceiling. We stayed there for several hours, enjoying the warmth and quiet.

To save money, we booked a late train, so we stayed at the pub until about 7:00. We walked in the dark to the train station, got a train from Windermere to Oxenholme, and then had a two-hour train ride to Glasgow. This ride was much quieter compared to the ride down the day before, and I read quite a few pages in my book. Once in Glasgow, we had to walk to a different station a couple blocks over, and then we finally made it back to Stirling! I’ve only been here two months, but it was odd how relieved I felt to be home- odd that I already consider Stirling “home”. However odd, it’s also comforting.

Our two days in the Lake District were a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to visit again in the summer. Maybe swimming in the lake won’t quite be so brutal by then!

To see a little bit more from our trip, check out the vlog I filmed during our second day in the Lake District (featuring some footage of us in the lake):

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