weekend in the lake district // day 1

More travel! Yes, I know what you’re thinking by now: what is this girl doing in Edinburgh? Doesn’t look like she’s doing a whole lot of studying. Well, that’s true. And it’s not that I’m not doing as much work as I should - it’s that there’s actually not much work for me to do. So for all you McGill kids looking for a chill university to go on exchange, Edinburgh is the place to go. (Hopefully their academics department won’t read this blog and make courses ten times harder from now on.)

But anyway, all this to say: I have tons of spare time here. Which is great, because it means I get to explore the region! This past weekend, Laurel and I went on another ISC trip, this time to the Lake District. If you’ve seen The Trip or read my mom’s blog, then you’ll have an idea of what the Lake District is like. Three words: sheep, lakes, villages.

The ISC has arranged our tour to be led by Haggis Adventures, a local guide company. We hop on our buses - which are bright yellow and read ‘Wild & Sexy’ on either side - and drive for around two hours until we arrive in Gretna Green. This place is known as Scotland’s Las Vegas, as it is an extremely popular place for weddings. I am expecting a cute little village, but all we get is a bunch of cheesy gift shops and a ridiculously easy maze. That’s literally it.

Our next stop is the famous Hadrian’s Wall - the Scottish equivalent of the Great Wall of China. Built by the Romans, it’s 70 miles long. I’m amazed by how much of it is left, considering people are allowed to walk all over it and it doesn’t look like it’s been restored. There’s a pack of sheep roaming by, and Laurel watches as I try to get close, and fail miserably.

We re-board the bus (in which our driver plays ‘Let’s Get Married’ by the Proclaimers) and soon cross the British border. Andy, said driver, is a hardcore Scot. He’s wearing a kilt and jokes about ‘pissing off the Brits’ now that we’re out of Scotland. He’s a funny guy.

The quaint village of Cockermouth is Wordsworth’s hometown. There’s a little museum you can visit if you have the time (we don’t). Though hip stores aren’t exactly a thing in the Lake District, there are a few places worth stopping by, like the Cockermouth Sweet Shop for some fudge and candy, or the bookstore for a great selection of books.

We then stop at Castlerigg, a 3,300 year old stone circle near the town of Keswick.

Finally, we stroll through Grasmere, another little village. Here, we get to see the graves of the entire Wordsworth family, as well as a garden filled with daffodils, the flowers that much inspired Wordsworth. A peaceful stream serpents the town.

Our hostel is located in Ambleside, a slightly bigger town where many hikers and backpackers seem to be spending the night. We check into very decent rooms at the YHA, and then head back out for dinner. The hostel has a most beautiful view of Lake Windermere, over which the sun sets as we watch in awe. Laurel and I are a little too tired to return to the center of Ambleside (a fifteen minute walk), so we decide to grab dinner at a nearby seafood shack, which is just on the water as well. We both get fish and chips (I can officially check that off my list of noms) and take them back to the YHA common room to eat them while we watch the France-Britain rugby game. Neither of us understand what’s going on, but we’re mostly focused on how delicious our fries are anyway. After dinner, we play a game of Scrabble - in which Laurel manages to squeeze in slightly dubious words (‘thongz’), and then head to bed.

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