Out of Scotland, on the back of a week photographing lochs around the Southern Uplands, we came down the M6, past Gretna Green and Carlisle and into Penrith. We thought that Penrith would be a little out of the way, not central enough to the lakes for early morning rises, so we stopped here for just the one night.
We were staying at Brooklands Guest House, on the top floor – 5 floors up – in the converted attic space we could see out over Penrith. Parking was awkward, parallel parking in a permitted zone, but the house was wonderful, with a mix of modern british and asian decor. When it was time to checkout we realised we could have stayed here longer; the location was ever so practical, with many restaurants on the door step.
After check-in and tea we took the car out into the national park and immediately begun our exploration. With over 21 “large bodies of water”, we weren’t sure where to spend most of our time.
There are two roads in from Penrith, we took the smaller A592 so we could get to Ullswater while the sun was still high in the sky. Immediately the difference between the Southern Uplands of Scotland and Cumbria was clear; people – lots of them. The roads were congested and places to pullover were few and full. It was a Saturday in September – and a fine one too. Everywhere you look there are runners, campers, hikers, photographers; Cumbria must be the breeding grounds of Britain’s outdoorsy creatures.
Eventually we found somewhere to stop and meandered down to the lake edge to catch a last gasp view of the sun hitting the top of Helvellyn. Besides us a couple were setting up camp for the night, and across the water drifted a solitary mute swan.
Ullswater is the second largest of the lakes, its nine miles long . It is one of the most beautiful too, and tonight the water was calm and reflecting.
As the sun set we continued our drive into the park, heading South and up into the narrow Kirkstone pass. The wispy clouds high in the sky turned pink in time for us to arrive at the top, to see the spectacular view South, over Windermere and beyond.
Dana Curry House gave us a good Indian takeaway, and soon enough our long day was over.