We left Derbyshire reluctantly, we could easily fill a month without trying, but the northern Lakes District beckoned. I am delighting in the weather forecasts and have never heard such varied ways of describing wet weather. They told us we were in for a day of “pulses of rain”. We packed our car during one particularly heavy pulse and set off through the Peak district.
One village was begging to be visited – Eyam – this is the “plague village” that Geraldine Brooks based her book Year of Wonder. I had not realised that this village was located in the Northern Peaks, but can still vividly remember her descriptions of this village set in a “dip in the landscape”. To get to the village, you drive between two sheer cliffs and up a hill and into the village – it certainly is in a dip – surrounded by hills. In order to stop the disease spreading, the villagers – influenced by the Minister closed the village completely to the outside world. Three hundred and fifty people lived there and two hundred and sixty died.
What a sad, sad two years – 1665 and 1666 for this village and its survivors. Whole families perished. We experienced yet another pulse of rain as we explored the streets and church.
We were heading for the Ullswater Lake in the Northern Lakes District to stay in a place called Watermillock. It pulsed as we drove up the Motorway and the landscape changed from misty invisibility to vivid hills and dales and glorious colour. I chose this place on a whim – there was a window seat with a view and it is a breathtakingly glorious view, even when the weather pulses. It constantly changes. We can see the long narrow lake – it reminds me of the lake where the Swallows and Amazons is based – I can imagine the little sailing boats scuttling down the lake with hills on each side and tiny villages tucked in sheltered coves.
William Wordsworth visited this lake and wrote his famous
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
that floats on high over hills and dales
when all at once I saw a crowd
A host, of golden daffodils”
We have missed the daffodils, but there are no crowds here. I had been warned by one of my aunts that coming to the Lakes district at this time of year was like going into a giant car park and we would not be able to move or breathe. Encouraging. She lives in Wales and told me that the lakes down there are just as beautiful and there are no people. Well, she has not been to Ullswater and it is delightfully quiet.
Again, we have the dilemma of what to do – far too much with only a week. We also have another Aunt to visit in nearby Whitehaven and I have a cousin coming over for a day with her family – I have not seen either of them since 1986 – a lifetime ago. Meanwhile, while the weather pulses, I could happily sit on the window seat, with a book and a cup of tea.