Tuesday, 13 July 2010

My Lake District Hell

I'm off to the Lake District for a few days tomorrow - that'll make it rain. (Have you SEEN the weather forecast?)

Having never really been there before (just a couple of days a few years ago, or driving through en route to Scotland) - which is crazy considering some of the places I have been - my impression has always been of somewhere bleak and damp, looming hills, without the easy charm and ice-cream-scoffing nuns of say, the Italian Lakes.

It will be heaving with holiday-makers, awash with torrential floods and snooing with* murderous taxi drivers.

So I was delighted to find in a guide book in the library a couple of quotes that matched my own (probably errant) expectations:

William Gilpin, on Grasmere: "The whole view is entirely of the horrid kind. Not a tree appeared to add the least chearfulness [sic] to it. With regard to the adorning of such a scene with figures, nothing could suit it better than a group of banditti. of all the scenes I ever saw this was the most adapted to the perpetration of some dreadful deed."

Daniel Defoe, from A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (English Library) on Westmorland in the 1720s: “a country eminent for being the wildest, most barren and frightful of any that I have passed over in England, or even Wales itself.”

This quote is especially enjoyable as it manages to put the boot in about Wales in the same breath.

And was it not Wordsworth himself who wrote (in an early draft):

I wandered moaning with the crowds
That blot the highways, hills and vales
When all at once I saw some clouds
Oh bloody hell, it's grim as Wales.

Let's hope I'm wrong. It happens. After all the Lake District was voted Britain's greatest natural wonder ahead of Scottish Highlands. Of course I daren't say anything against the Highlands or The Good Doctor will bite my knees.

So I may or may not be online before Sunday depending on wifi - but feel free to agree or disagree wildly in the comments if you feel inclined.

* This is an expression my mum uses but most people claim never to have heard of such a thing - this might be one for the Inkyfool


  1. We've been to the Lakes a few times. The first time, in 1970, four scruffy lads arrived at a remote B&B after ten nights of fermenting in cheap sleeping bags. I'm saving the rest of this tale for a future post.

    Have fun!

  2. I was there once, for an evening, with a bunch of Canadian travel agents on a really-quick-tour of Britain. Having had quite enough of them after a day on the bus I spent the evening in my room. Left the next morning, no wiser as to the charms - or not - of the Lake District. I'm sure you'll have a better time.

  3. Oh, I wish you well! Weather forecast in my neck of the woods is diabolical! Pardon my laughter. :)

  4. Martin & Deborah - you've both whetted my appetite with your hints of your Lake District tales - much more interesting than mine, which was a bit like a... wet weekend.

    Jinksy - you can stop laughing now, thank you very much

  5. I have never heard the phrase snooing with, and nor has the OED (not that that means much). If forced (which seems unlikely) I would take a guess at a variant of snowing with (which also seems unlikely).
    The good thing is that it's one of those phrases where the meaning is immediately obvious without any need of explanation.
    In the Lake District the best it ever does is mizzle.