May the force be with you
There's one attraction I'm always looking for when it rains, and that's waterfalls. I figured, "Cut your losses, head for the plunging river". So it was that we pulled into the carpark and unpacked our umbrellas. Well, I did anyway, Rosemarie opting to duck over to the on site cafe and have a cuppa.
So I squelched my way, past the carpark attendant with National Trust advertising material on display and commenced the walk upwards. I should add here there is another carpark up the top from where you can walk down to the falls but, hey, I love coming down on the way back.
This is the most famous of the Lake District waterfalls, the main force falls 70 feet from below a photogenic stone footbridge. Aira Force provides a glimpse of a landscaped Victorian park with dramatic waterfalls, arboretum and rocks scenery.
In the 1780's the Howard family of Greystoke Castle had an old hunting lodge or Pele tower close to the Ullswater shore renovated into what is now Lyulph's Tower, set among its own sporting estate. They landscaped the area around the force and used it as a pleasure garden, planting over half a million native and ornamental trees, and established a network of tracks, footpaths and bridges. In 1846 the Howards created an arboretum below Aira Force, planting over 200 specimen conifers (firs, pines, spruces and cedars) from all over the world, including a Sitka Spruce 118 feet high.
A moot point
So, if you're wondering what that building in the market area was, let me enlighten you.
The history of the Moot Hall is sketchy, but there are reports of a significant building on the site as early as 1571. The current building was erected in 1813, and since then has served as a courthouse, a prison, a museum, a town hall and even a butter and fruit market!
Some buildings just can't seem to make up their minds.
The famous one-handed clock can be seen above the west end of the hall. The building is now home to Keswick’s Tourist Information Centre, a highly recommended place for information.
Lake District - One of My Favorite Places On Earth
"The Perfect Place to Live"
I think the Lake District would have to be one of my top 5 favorite places on earth to live. The only possible drawback would be the tourist crowds in summer. But who wouldn't want to experience this beautiful place. And even at the height of tourist season, there still are many places to get lost in the Lake District.
Why is the Lake District an ideal place to live? First, the the wondrous beauty - streams, lakes, rounded mountains, flowers, and great architecture to name a few things. Second, from where we stayed in Low Lorton, we were less than a half hour from Britain's beautiful west coast. For those who like the outdoors, there are more trails than a person could probably hike in a lifetime and amazing trout streams to keep one busy while not hiking. Feel like culture and city life? The Lake District is less than a 3 hour train ride to London and only an hour or two to Edinburgh, Scotland. The people are friendly and the food fantastic - the freshest and best food we ate during our whole vacation (including Paris). For me, the Lake District was perfect.
Views like that to the right are commonplace in the Lake District.
I chose to make Keswick the base of operations for this page since it is one of the major tourist towns in the northern Lake District. We spent a day in Keswick, but I wouldn't recommend staying there unless you like crowds. We stayed in the tiny village of Low Lorton, which was pretty much deserted and about 20 minutes from Keswick.
The only thing I would caution about in the Lake District is the roads. Most of the minor roads are only wide enough for 1 car, but of course traffic flows in both directions. This was particularly intimadating when going up very steep inclines. The 1 good thing about the road being wide enough for only one car is that I didn't have to think about which side of the road I should be driving on since you just had to drive in the middle.
We spent 3 nights and 4 days in the Lake District. It was enough time to spend a day at the coast (highly recommended), a full day exploring Keswick and its surrounding countryside, and a day and a half exploring other north and western Lake District towns and countryside, such as Buttermere, Egremont and lots of winding passes, valleys and ridges in between.