Lakes and Poets
Whilst researching about the Lake districts and getting fascinated by Beatrix Potter and Wordsworth, my preconceived notion of the place was an idyllic village of sorts with quaint cottages and pretty pools of water.
The train ride from York to Windermere was not exactly "pretty" - train connection via Manchester was chaotic and we ended standing throughout, witnessing loud students boozing on the train and having to move our luggage here and there to make way for alighting and boarding passengers.
However, once we got onto the train at Oxenholme, the peace and prettiness starts falling into place. The train passes through rolling mountains and grazing sheep before terminating at Windermere - there's always something exciting about terminal stops, especially if it is somewhere so scenic.
At first sight, it seems like a standard town. But as you walk downhill away from the train station towards the concentration of cottages, the town gets prettier. The winding cobbled streets, stone cottages and laid back pace of the place tells you that this is a place for relaxation.
To get to the lakes from Windermere, it is mostly a downhill walk towards Bowness. Enroute, there are not many interesting sights but lots of traffic. Hence, I would really recommend taking a car or taxi there. However, there is this element of surprise when you walk for a long distance on the boring main road and then catch a glimpse of the sparkling lake and stone buildings of town - it is as though you chance upon newfound land.
"What to do"
There isn't plenty to explore at Windermere. Our first stop of exploration was Bowness with the Beatrix Potter shop, then ferry ride to Ambleside and bus ride to Grasmere. I would definitely say that the bus ride to and hike at Grasmere was the highlight of the trip.