England’s Lake District

This item appears on page 15 of the June 2011 issue.
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My husband, Lou, and I spent a sunny week in England’s Lake District in June ’10, taking advice we’d read in a Rick Steves column to make Keswick a home base.

Only two miles from Keswick, we found Lake View Bed & Breakfast (Millbeck, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4PS, U.K.; phone 017687 75487), with wonderful views of Derwentwater and Skiddaw. You can hike from the B&B to Keswick via a footpath, although we found driving to be more convenient.

The B&B has two lovely rooms with facilities en suite. For our four-night stay, the rate was only £23 (near $38) per night. Breakfast was cooked to order, and owner Janice Smith and her family were most friendly and helpful.

We had taken the train directly from Manchester Airport to Carlisle, where we rented a car from Alamo, then it was less than an hour to Keswick. There are two food markets every week in the town, and just off the main street was a fabulous cheese shop called Fond Ewe (9 Packhorse Course Ct.; phone 017687 73377).

Don’t miss the Cumberland Pencil Museum (Southey Works, Keswick; phone 017687 73626). It’s surprisingly interesting, and the free art classes are lots of fun. (Open 9:30-5. Closed Dec. 25 & 26 and Jan. 1. £3.75 adult or £2.50 per child under 16.)

Rick recommends visiting the Newlands Valley for B&Bs, but be forewarned that it’s a good distance away and the very narrow roads are quite challenging. If you do venture there, don’t miss the Sunday afternoon teas served at the Newlands Church.

After coming out the other end of the mountain passes from Newlands, we stopped at the Borrowdale Hotel (Borrowdale Valley, Keswick, Cumbria; phone 017687 77224), where you can get an elegant meal, large or small. For £13 ($22), we shared a platter of local fish, both smoked and fresh, with salad.

Hadrian’s Wall is not too far north of Keswick, and two sites there are well worth visiting: the excavation of a Roman settlement at Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum. Both are managed by the Vindolanda Trust (Bardon Mill, Hexham, Northumberland NE47 7JN, U.K.; phone Vindo­landa at 01434 344277 or the Roman Army Museum at 01434 344060).

Both sites are presented well. Among the treasures at Vindo­landa are writing tablets that are among the earliest written records from Roman Britain. We especially admired one teen’s birthday party invitation to another. (Both sites are open March 12-Oct. 31. Admission to Vindolanda, £6.25 adult, and to the Roman Army Museum, £5.)

As we were planning our trip, we stumbled on a most helpful Internet site, www.thetrainline.com. Very clear and very helpful, with a most efficient question-answering setup, this is a booking site for all UK trains. The best thing is you can see all the fare and time options for any trip and whether or not there are connections.

You book online with a charge card and, once you’re in Britain, pick up your tickets with the same card at the rail station. The further in advance you book, the cheaper the tickets.

Even if you choose not to book with them, the scheduling information is much clearer than British Rail’s, plus they cover all the railway lines, so you know all that’s available.

CORY PEPOY
Holland, MI

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My husband, Lou, and I spent a sunny week in England’s Lake District in June ’10, taking advice we’d read in a Rick Steves column to make Keswick a home base.

Only two miles from Keswick, we found Lake View Bed & Breakfast (Millbeck, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4PS, U.K.; phone 017687 75487), with wonderful views of Derwentwater and Skiddaw. You can hike from the B&B to Keswick via a footpath, although we found driving to be more convenient.

The B&B has two lovely rooms with facilities en suite. For our four-night stay, the rate was only £23 (near $38) per night. Breakfast was cooked to order, and owner Janice Smith and her family were most friendly and helpful.

We had taken the train directly from Manchester Airport to Carlisle, where we rented a car from Alamo, then it was less than an hour to Keswick. There are two food markets every week in the town, and just off the main street was a fabulous cheese shop called Fond Ewe (9 Packhorse Course Ct.; phone 017687 73377).

Don’t miss the Cumberland Pencil Museum (Southey Works, Keswick; phone 017687 73626). It’s surprisingly interesting, and the free art classes are lots of fun. (Open 9:30-5. Closed Dec. 25 & 26 and Jan. 1. £3.75 adult or £2.50 per child under 16.)

Rick recommends visiting the Newlands Valley for B&Bs, but be forewarned that it’s a good distance away and the very narrow roads are quite challenging. If you do venture there, don’t miss the Sunday afternoon teas served at the Newlands Church.

After coming out the other end of the mountain passes from Newlands, we stopped at the Borrowdale Hotel (Borrowdale Valley, Keswick, Cumbria; phone 017687 77224), where you can get an elegant meal, large or small. For £13 ($22), we shared a platter of local fish, both smoked and fresh, with salad.

Hadrian’s Wall is not too far north of Keswick, and two sites there are well worth visiting: the excavation of a Roman settlement at Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum. Both are managed by the Vindolanda Trust (Bardon Mill, Hexham, Northumberland NE47 7JN, U.K.; phone Vindo­landa at 01434 344277 or the Roman Army Museum at 01434 344060).

Both sites are presented well. Among the treasures at Vindo­landa are writing tablets that are among the earliest written records from Roman Britain. We especially admired one teen’s birthday party invitation to another. (Both sites are open March 12-Oct. 31. Admission to Vindolanda, £6.25 adult, and to the Roman Army Museum, £5.)

As we were planning our trip, we stumbled on a most helpful Internet site, www.thetrainline.com. Very clear and very helpful, with a most efficient question-answering setup, this is a booking site for all UK trains. The best thing is you can see all the fare and time options for any trip and whether or not there are connections.

You book online with a charge card and, once you’re in Britain, pick up your tickets with the same card at the rail station. The further in advance you book, the cheaper the tickets.

Even if you choose not to book with them, the scheduling information is much clearer than British Rail’s, plus they cover all the railway lines, so you know all that’s available.

CORY PEPOY
Holland, MI