Share it!

Follow by Email!


Winding down

Hard to believe that today is the last day of May! Today was a calm day. It rained here, the first time it has while we have been in Grasmere. We were all taken back by the rain; a comment about the weather was made by several group members as they wandered into the kitchen this morning.

Courtney and I decided to spend one last time in the Miller Howe cafe working on our final portfolio. If it hasn't been clear, I've been doing a lot of writing while we have been here. The class is called Writer's Colony after all. Our final portfolio is due tomorrow. We both got good work done and had a fabulous lunch there as well:

I also started some packing; we have to leave at 7 AM on Saturday to catch a bus back to London. Lots to do before then!

Well it's back to the portfolio; lots of reflecting, revising, and Wordsworth!

John Ruskin and Brantwood

Take a handful of rubble from the roadside and pick out a small stone. When examined closely it will be found to be a mountain in miniature. -John Ruskin

Looking back on the entire trip, there were so many memorable moments. But my favorite class trip was when we went to John Ruksin's home, Brantwood. I still don't know what exactly struck me, but since Monday, I haven't been able to get him out of my head. Maybe it's because his quotes inspire me or his house was built the way I want the house I live in to be built. It reminded me of Rydal Mont but at the same time, was a step above. Whatever the reason is, this trip to Coniston has inspired me and many of Ruskin's books are on my summer reading list.

John Ruskin was an influential art critic of the Victorian era. He looked to Nature as the source of truth. He believed that Nature could provide us with all the answers we needed.

He was born in 1819 to a wealthy house. Educated at Oxford, he was particularly skilled at poetry. He bought Brantwood and sixteen acres when he was 55 for a sum of £1500. Ruskin had never been to Brantwood before but he had been on Coniston Water when he was a boy and this landscape had stuck with him.

When he purchased Brantwood, the house was falling apart. Ruskin immediately called for repairs and additions, such as the turret room that looks out onto the lake. While these repairs were being made, he invited his friends to travel to Venice with him. Quite a life, right?

When he returned, he moved in along with some of his relatives: his cousin Joan Severn and her husband, Arthur. The Severns would live in Brantwood for the next sixty years. Much improvement and additions happened to Brantwood in Ruskin's lifetime. The gardens became extensive, being cared for by a gardener Ruskin had brought with him and Joan. More rooms were added to account for more furniture as well as more Severns as they were born. What I love most about the house are the large bay windows with a view of the gardens in front of the house and of Coniston Water. Just the way the light streams in and illuminates the space. The turret room is by far the best example of this. It's literally an extension from the house made out of wood. The windows basically go from ceiling to floor and all the light comes in. It's just large enough for a chair and if I had a turret room, I would do all the reading and writing in it. And with the view Ruskin had, he would have all the inspiration from Nature that he needed.

Unfortunately, due to illness and going a bit mad, Ruskin died in 1900. He gave the house to the Severn family, requesting that the house be open for 30 consecutive days each year for visitors to experience the magic he had found at Brantwood. The family did not respect this request; guidebooks at the time actually declare that the house is not open to visitors to the area. The Severn family was also strapped for money and decided to sell of various items Ruskin had acquired over the years, such as ancient manuscripts and furniture from Ruskin's parents.

The house was finally purchased by people who wanted to preserve the legacy that Ruskin had created. They slowly bought back items most treasured by Ruskin and attempted to put the house back to when Ruskin lived there. It's now open to visitors to explore and appreciate.

I gathered this information from a book I purchased at the house called Brantwood: The Story of John Ruskin's Constion home by James S. Dearden.

Team Dorothy or Team William? Thoughts on the Wordsworth Sibling Duo

In my Literary Analysis class this past spring, we briefly discussed Dorothy and William Wordsworth before moving onto Mary and Percy Shelly and Frankenstein. So I knew a little going into this trip, but since I've arrived in the Lake District, I have a whole new appreciation and understanding of these two fascinating people.

While William was attending Hawkshead, Dorothy was being passed from relative to relative. The two did not know each other until they were much older. It has been said that the poem, Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey was the place where both siblings vowed to take care of each other. William would house, cloth, and feed Dorothy and Dorothy helped William become a famous poet and author of the 18th century. Some scholars will go as far as to say without Dorothy, William would have not been successful as he was. Which is pretty incredible if you ask me.

Because the period of literature before William was based on the thoughts of Alexander Pope. He believed in an elite, exclusive, male literature society. Women at the time not only had no place in society but also had no opportunity to be authors, unless they wanted to be considered a prostitute. William, along with other authors of his time, bring in a new way of looking at literature. William focuses on Nature impressing sublime experiences upon us. This idea along with other changes in society (such as changing viewpoints of authorship, the role of women, and publishing) brings about the Romantic period of literature. This will help authors like Mary Shelley be able to publish. But I'm getting off topic.

So Dorothy comes to live with William and based on her journals, she really does help him with his writing. The point of her journals were to record what she did, saw and heard so that William would have notes to write poetry. She reads to him from famous authors such as Milton and Ben Jonson and records the poetry he composed in his head during the day. She wasn't afraid of telling him a piece needed more work and he really did take her suggestions to heart. This really surprised me since I couldn't help but compare Percy Shelley's assumption that his wife was an inferior author and needed his help to create her "hideous creature" that is Frankenstein. But there was definitely a more mutual relationship between the Wordsworths.

What shines through in Dorothy's journals is that she deeply loved her brother. She was willing to do whatever was needed to make sure William became a successful poet. I only wish Dorothy could have published something. Her journals are sprinkled with gems of description, so vividly capturing the moment. Who knows what she could have written if given the chance.

Although I will always be in support of Dorothy, this class has helped me to foster an appreciation for William. Reading the poem above Tintern Abbey will continue to move me; William finds a way to so brilliantly capture what I've been feeling when I've reached the summit or a tarn. William was a genius in his own right, but in my opinion, Dorothy was also a genius. Together, they became an somewhat unstoppable, although rather sickly, sibling duel of the Romantic period.


Our textbooks

So yes, we spend most of our days roaming around the Lake District, exploring and hiking. But that's not all we are doing. At night, we discuss the text we have been reading and what it means to us now that we are physically in the same spot most of this text was written. Over the past three weeks, the eight of us along with Dr. Bob have focused on two texts:

Home at Grasmere: The Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth
Guide to the Lakes by William Wordsworth

Dorothy's journals were written for William but were later published after her death. They give us a better understanding for what life was like in the 1800s as well as a fairly decent idea about the relationship between these two siblings. This journal is like any journal; exciting things don't happen everyday. Some entries were full of descriptive passages about people Dorothy met or landscapes she saw. Other passages were much more plain, about baking bread or that William was feeling under the weather (which happened quite frequently). My favorite passage though was probably these couple of sentences dated on March 18th, 1805:

"I seemed indeed to myself unfit for it, but when he was gone I thought I would get the visit over if I could, so I ate a beefsteak thinking it would strengthen me; so it did, and I went off."

What I love about this passage is that it really shows the reader that Dorothy was just like everyone else. And this was her diary. She wrote about ordinary things. For me, a passage like this makes Dorothy so real in my head. Yes, I probably could have picked one of her more eloquent passages, but this one is still memorable.

The other book is the guide William wrote about the Lake District. During his entire lifetime, only three years were spent living somewhere not in Cumbria. Throughout this guide, William gives brilliant descriptions of the landscape. I particularly like how he describes waterfalls on page 100 of his guide:

?..the contrast maintained between the falling water and that which is apparently at rest, or rather settling gradually into quite in the pool below. The beauty of such a scene, where there is naturally so much agitation, is also heightened, in a peculiar manner, by the glimmering, and, towards the verge of the pool, by the steady reflection of the surrounding images."

After seeing so many waterfalls of all shapes and sizes on this trip, I understand exactly what he is saying. There is something so peaceful abut them yet when you really get up close to them, they are actually quite violent.

Along with this journal and the guide, we have dabbled in William's poetry. Class tonight is actually discussing some of his best known works, so I am excited for that. Ever since I did many close readings of poems in Literary Analysis, I'm always up for some good poetry!

I finally understand why Dorothy and William loved this spot

As my days in the Lake District are winding down, I am trying to do as much as I can in the final days. The Trailblazing Trio had one more tarn to discover, Easedale Tarn. It's about two miles from Grasmere and a tarn that Dorothy and William frequently visited. They would go up there to write, discuss literature and poetry, and to seek solitude. The three of us couldn't leave the Lake District without going to this tarn.

We left bright and early, our fellow peers still asleep. It wasn't a bright sun-shiny day and it looked like it might rain. Quite different than the weather we have been use to! We wandered into Grasmere and then took the path to Easedale.

After climbing Helvellyn yesterday, Easedale wasn't much of a challenge incline wise. Although our calves probably didn't appreciate another incline. After climbing over many, many, many rocks and taking many photos of Sour Milk Gill, we made it to the tarn.

No one else was there and a low lying cloud hung above the tarn. It was a sight. The lake's reflection was crystal clear; watching a bird flying close to the surface you would swear the reflection is another bird. We made our way over to some rocks closer to the edge.

Courtney and I decided to do some writing while Mike just kept taking in the view. I couldn't help but think about William and Dorothy. I could see why they loved this tarn so much. It was so quiet, the perfect place for reflection, both literally and figuratively. I wondered if they ever walked on the shore of the tarn; navigating over rocks while discussing Milton or Jonson. I furiously wrote these thoughts and others down.

Just as Courtney and I were in the "writer zone" several more groups of people joined us on the tarn. They preferred to talk instead of just looking, disturbing the quietness the three of us had. Their voices echoed, louder than they knew, and really threw the whole atmosphere off. Courtney and I shared several dissatisfied looks, hoping they would leave, but one of the groups was eating lunch so no go. We took in a few more moments and then headed back down, this time going over Sour Milk Gill and then over to travel down the hillside next to Easedale Beck. It was a nice walk down.

We ate our sandwiches on a bench and talked about the best things we had seen and done during the last three weeks. We talked about how our opinions of the Wordsworths had changed and how Courtney and I adore John Ruskin. Then it was back to Dale End; probably the earliest we have gotten back this entire trip.


I just climbed England's third highest mountain

Today has been wonderful and so breathtaking. Mike, Courtney, and I climbed Helvellyn, which tops in at 3,114 feet. We have been wanting to climb one of the top five tallest mountains since we talked to a native on our way to the top of Harrison Stickle. Dr. Bob encouraged us to climb Helvellyn and he would have probably joined us if he had been feeling a bit better. We asked if anyone else in our group wanted to go, but they all had plans to explore Ambleside today. So it was the Trailblazing Trio, ready to tackle Helvellyn. Go team!

We got off early, 8:30 AM, and walked into Grasmere. We headed north and took a path a few miles out of town. What my map failed to tell me was that it was a pretty steep path, mainly an incline on pasture. What a way to get your heart pumping! The path led us to Grisedale Tarn.

This tarn is really important to our class because it was the spot where William and Dorothy Wordsworth saw their brother, John, off to Penrith on September 25th, 1804. They would never seen John again as he died in a shipwreck in February 1805. As I was standing looking over the tarn, I couldn't help but think of this scene and could almost see three Wordsworth at the other end of the tarn.

Grisedale Tarn above and below

We ate lunch on the rocks and finally starting seeing the sun make an appearance. Then it was time to move on. We climbed up Dollywagon Pike and stopped for a minute to take in the view and check out our map. As we were doing so, two men in their mid-sixties passed us and starting chatting. They assured us that was in our reach, the path wasn't nearly as uphill as we had had earlier this morning. One of the men also hit on a key component of the Lake District: with such a variety of landscape in a smallish space, there is always something fun and exciting to do! It reminded the Trailblazing Trio of things Wordsworth mentioned in his guide to the lakes. Connections!! We wished the men safe travels and ventured onward.

And boy, was it worth it. We finally made it and this is the view:

Looking east at Red Tarn (large body of water) and in the middle back you can just barely make out Ullswater

Looking west to Thirlmere
It was pretty incredible. Fun fact, Samuel Coleridge, a frequent visitor to the Wordsworth's home, one time voluntarily chose to walk over Helvellyn to get from his home in Keswick to Dove Cottage. Crazy?!?!

Anyways, we took in the view, snapped some photos, and then headed down. We took a different path and it was very rocky. Once we got down roadside, we caught a bus, taking advantage of our last go anywhere pass back to Grasmere.

We rolled back to Dale End around 4:45, just in time for Courtney to pair up with Sam for supper. They made beef sandwiches which tasted good after a long hike. We also had some visitors tonight; a husband and wife who went to the Royal Academy of Music in London with Margie. They were great fun and filled us in on all the facts about Great Britain.

Well, it's time for class so thanks for reading and stay tuned for more updates as my final week winds down.


Another side of the Lake District to explore

Did you know that the Lake District National Park is 885 square miles? Needless to say, there is much to explore and three weeks is not nearly enough time to see everything. Today, the group explored a new part of the Lake District: the towns of Coniston and Hawkshead.

The group left early, a little before eight to walk along Loughrigg Fell and around Rydal Water to get to Ambleside. Dr. Bob gave us the option of taking a bus there, but we all decided to walk. When we take group trips, the eight of us tend to band together rather than separate. It was also our last group trip, which is hard to believe.

So we ambled to Ambleside, met up with Dr. Bob and took a 505 bus to Coniston. The bus dropped us off near the town centre and we walked about a half mile to Coniston Water. It was another beautiful day and the reflection off the lake was crystal clear. In reading some William Wordsworth, this crystal clear and sharp reflection these lakes have set themselves apart from other bodies of water. It is a beautiful sight to see.

Around 11AM, we hopped onto a steam yacht gondola. You can either ride on it for 45 minutes and see various aspects of Coniston Waters or you can do what we did, which was get off at Brantwood and then catch the gondola back to shore. I sat next to a very nice couple who lived south of Coniston. They had received this gondola ride as a present and decided to make it part of a day trip. I explained to them why we were here and that we were from Iowa. They currently have a daughter in Pennsylvania who they will be visiting in a few weeks time. We had a lovely conversation about the Lake District and ourselves as we cruised on the water. I was kind of sad to dock at Brantwood and end my conversation with this couple.

But boy, was I in for a treat. Brantwood is the name of the house that John Ruskin lived in. Who is John Ruskin you might ask? That's an excellent question and you'll have to stay tuned for my next blog post where I explain him and his house. Because it was so awesome. Not only does the house have a beautiful location, but the things that Ruskin believed in and promoted where inspiring. He and William Wordsworth had many similar ideas about Nature and beauty but there was something about Ruskin that really spoke to me. We did not have nearly enough time to explore the house. I ended up buying two books, one on the house and one about Ruskin's opinion on genius (a topic which I heavily discussed and defined in both my History of Literature class and Literary Analysis class). After dinner I will be pouring through these books so that I can write a post that gives a brief but substantial view on Brantwood and Ruskin.

The eight of us boarded the gondola once again, saw the second half of Coniston Water, and then ate lunch on the shore. By that time, it was around 1 PM and we had just about an hour until another 505 bus would show up to take us to Hawkshead. As we were meandering back to the village centre, we came across a fudge shop, made locally for the past eight years. It was a small shop but somehow the eight of us, backpacks and all managed to squeeze ourselves in. The man who makes the fudge was very friendly, offering each one of us a sample. It was delicious and several of us purchased some of the fudge. We left the shop, happy campers.

Our bus took us to Hawkshead next, the home of the school that William Wordsworth attended when he was a boy. Some of the original desks are still in the schoolhouse, even one carved with what appears to be William Wordsworth. The man in charge claimed it was actually John Wordsworth, the brother of William but it didn't really matter to me. William sat there regardless. The school had a nice set up, displaying their history along with several primary documents, like the official charter Queen Elizabeth had approved and signed, a truck where the Bible and important documents were kept, and books in their library such as Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock and Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Another 505 bus rolled around and the eight of us hopped on for Ambleside. While most of the group was tired and wanted to get back to Grasmere as quickly as possible, the Trailblazing Trio decided to walk back. It was a nice walk and I snapped a few photos.

Rydal Water (above and below)

We got home and soon it will be time for dinner. Stay tuned for more information on Brantwood, John Ruskin, the Wordsworth sibling duo and more!


Eight Kohawks, two Wordsworths, two Marrs, and one national park

I'm glad people have been enjoying reading about my adventure in England. Not only have I learned a lot, which has been especially helpful in adding more layers to what I learned in Literary Analysis this past semester, but I've been able to see and experience so many different parts of the Lake District. As this is the final week of my trip, I will be adding more posts on some the knowledge I've gleaned and some of the writing I've accomplished.
But first, it's long overdue to discuss the group as a whole. There are eight students (including myself) on this trip and we all come from a variety of backgrounds. I think everyone's major(s) are different which really brings in new and exciting dynamics to the trip. Here's a recap on the members.

Allie: A recently graduated Kohawk, Allie is currently looking for a job as an elementary school teacher. She's from West Branch, a town relatively close to Cedar Rapids. Allie is extremely passionate about being a teacher and I know that she will find some way to incorporate Wordsworth into her teaching plans. Those kids will be so smart!
Colin: A soon-to-be junior from Illinois. He's an art and creative writing major. Colin loves photography and is often never far from his camera. You can always count on Colin to bring authentic English food as a dinner meal idea or adventurously try a Lake District food item.
Courtney: You heard a lot about her so far as she is a member of the Trailblazing Trio. Hailing from Minnesota, Courtney is a theater and creative writing major. We can always count on Courtney for a good laugh and trust kitchen shelf organization to her so everyone knows what food belongs to what people.
Katie: A fellow Writing Center consultant and a soon-to-be junior, she is also from Illinois. Katie plans to major in creative writing and art history. She is our resident expert on Beatrix Potter, who although we haven't discussed, plays an important role in maintaining elements of the Lake District.
Kaitlin: A soon-to-be senior majoring in creative writing. I've worked with Kaitlin on the Coe Review and now I've gotten the opportunity to get to know her better by traveling with her. Her final project is going to be a work of fiction from the point of view of a wishing tree, which was a tree we stumbled across on the way to Rydal. Coins were inserted into the tree and you make a wish when you put your coin in.
Mike: Well, you've heard about Mike. Maybe even read his blog I linked. He's a soon-to-be senior from a town in Iowa. Mike is majoring in business and public relations. You can always count on him for an adventure and climbing rocks.
Sam: Our youngest member, a soon-to-be sophomore studying accounting. Sam is from China and often relates experiences here to ones in China. He loves asking questions about why things are the way they are, which makes for good conversation and thought about some of our habits.

The group from left to right: Colin, Sam, Katie, Courtney, Allie, Kaitlin, myself and Mike. Taken at Kenwood House

Our professor is Dr. Bob, professor in Rhetoric and advisor of the Writing Center. He and his wife, Margie, who is also a Coe professor (music) are accompanying and leading us on this trip. They have done this May Term several times and are always full of information and stories to share. Both hail from Kansas.

Finally, the two people who we are studying the most while in the Lake District are Dorothy and William Wordsworth. Brother and sister reunited when they were older, they ended up living in the same house for most of their adult life and relying on each other for writing inspiration. Dorothy wrote extensive journals describing the landscape and people of the Lake District; a journal exclusively meant for William for when he was writing. William is still a well known 18th and 19th century writer, helping to bring about changes in the literature world from Augustan ideals to the Romantic period of literature. I'll be talking more about this sibling tag team later this week. This is just a preview.

What we all share in common in our landscape: the Lake District. This area of Cumbria is considered a national park in Great Britain. Within this national park are National Trust sites; the National Trust is a private organization with the purpose of protecting and preserving land, houses, and gardens that are significant.

Needless to say, it's been an amazing three weeks and I can't wait for this final week.

A sun-sational day

Like my title, clever isn't it? Today was another wonderful day. The Trailblazing Trio set off relatively early for Keswick. Once we got there, we walked around and ended up back at Crow Park, where we ate lunch on Thursday. There wasn't too many people there when we arrived at our spot but as lunch time creeped closer, more people began to show up.

The three of us read, wrote, soaked in the sun, and played a little frisbee. We ate lunch and then wandered around the city for a while longer. Then it was back to the bus and back to Grasmere. Kaitlin and I were in charge of dinner, we made tuna fish sandwiches and potatoes. The group was pretty quiet; we must have been really hungry. Once we started talking, we exchanged stories about what we did today and things we were looking forward to the rest of the week. Dr. Bob then talked about our plan of attack for tomorrow. We are headed south for Coniston and Hawkshead. In Coniston is the home of John Ruskin, a famous Victorian art critic who shared similar ideals and values about nature that William Wordsworth had. We'll ride a boat on Lake Coniston and then go to Hawkshead, the place where Wordsworth went to school. A full day indeed.

Another perfect Saturday

I apologize for the tardiness of this post. The night apparently slipped away from me without me posting. Again, sorry and enjoy the post!

It seems ages ago that we were moving from Chapel Stile to Grasmere yet it only happened a week ago. So much has happened since then!

Today the Trailblazing Trio set off EXTRA early; we left the house at 7:40 AM to catch a 8:06 AM bus to Windermere. At Windermere, we had a bit of time before our next bus. Sitting on a bench outside of Booth's, we struck up a conversation with a retired man who gave tours in his free time. The three of us had a very nice conversation with him and were sad to see him leave. But then our bus arrived and it was time for our adventure.

In the guide book I had on the Lake District, they recommended seeing a waterfall called Aira Force. To get to this particular waterfall, there is a bus that runs only on Saturday and Sunday to the foot of the 60 foot waterfall. The Trailblazing Trio caught this bus from Windermere (508 bus) and got off at our stop. The waterfall was pretty spectacular.

Along this stretch there is one of the larger lakes, Ullswater. We walked down this lake for a bit trying to find an open piece of shore. Once we finally found a good spot, we spent the remainder of the day there.

Our spot of shore

With it being such a beautiful day, we spent the next three hours eating lunch, reading, writing, and soaking in some rays. Luckily I had put on sunscreen and didn't burn. Sadly, not everyone in the Trailblazing Trio can say the same.

As 2:30 rolled around, we walked back to the bus stop, hopped on the bus headed for Windermere and then immediately caught another bus back to Grasmere. Success.

We came home just in time for dinner, prepared by Margie, had a short class meeting, and then Mike, Allie, Kaitlin, and I went to a local restaurant for some live music. It wasn't too bad and a nice way to end the night.


A professional rock climber career is definitely not in my future

Today was a free day and in a perfect world, the Trailblazing Trio would have liked to conquer both Alcock Tarn and Easedale Tarn. But, we are human and we need our sleep, so we got a little bit of a late start. It was a bright and sunny day; we have been so lucky with weather this week. The route we took was familiar and new. We walked east down the road a little bit, went downhill to the lakeshore, then on a path that winds to the road leading to Grasmere. Right before you get to Grasmere, Dove Cottage is off to your right and if you head that way, there's a road that will lead you to a path to get to Alcock Tarn. We had seen this path when we ventured to Rydal Mont earlier this week so I knew where we were going.

Alocock Tarn was not quite as easy as I thought it was going to be. It had a steady incline the entire way up and after riding the bus the past few days, my legs weren't quite prepared. I made it up there and although a smaller tarn than ones already seen, it was probably my favorite tarn. Mike, Courtney, and I sort of had the tarn to ourselves. We ate lunch and just soaked in the nice weather. The view from up there was pretty incredible, but at this point, a good view I expect.

It was time to get off the beaten path and EXPLORE. Courtney was looking for a spot on the map that corresponded with a Wordsworth poem we had read earlier this week. In the process of attempting to find it, we found some giant rocks instead.

And we climbed them. This is where I learned I should not be a rock climber for a living. Now, don't worry, I didn't get hurt, I just lagged way behind Mike and Courtney. There they were, scaling these rocks like it was there job and there I was, far behind, careful of every move I made up the rocks. I've had two unfortunate incidents involving me slipping and mud and it's made me leery of going too fast. It would be just my luck to slip on those rocks. So I took my time. Lots of fun but not a career path.

Anyways, we climbed rocks. Ended up back in Grasmere and went to a few shops to pick up some things. Then it was back to Dale End. Although not for long as Mike and I headed to the lake. We sat under a tree and got some reading done, trying to enjoy the weather and be productive at the same time. We wandered back just in time for dinner.

Tomorrow will be an early day since there is a waterfall north of us that is a must see. It's accessible by bus but this bus only operates on the weekend. Tomorrow is our chance! On Sunday the Trailblazing Trio will head to Keswick and then...well, you'll have to check back to see what I'm up to!


Trip to Keswick

Day two of our fabulous bus pass. We used it to get up to Keswick once again. But instead of taking it into the city, we instead got off early to check out Castlerigg, a stone circle built 4500 years ago. While it's no Stonehenge, it was still pretty neat.

It was then only about a mile to Keswick. There was a market going on at the time so we got the late-morning and early afternoon to check out the market and then the Trailblazing Trio had lunch on the lake in Keswick, Derwent Waters for lunch. Although a little foggy walking to the bus this morning, it turned out to be a beautiful, sunny, day.


The whole group was reunited and it was off to another Booths for our final large grocery shopping run. With the quarter of a mile in mind, we kept our purchases small. After a little waiting, it was back on a bus to take us to Grasmere. The walk to Dale End with groceries wasn't nearly as bad as our first walk home, which was nice.

Mike and I then took off for our own adventure once the groceries were put away safe and sound. Mike has been working on a top secret project, which I won't say anything about other than check his blog ( for all the information and unveiling. But the point of this comment was that he needed supplies and therefore, the two of us walked to Ambleside (we just love walking there!) It was a nice walk, Mike found what he was looking for and then we took a bus back to Gramere for dinner. The best part of the bus was that it was a double decker with an open top second story. Needless to say, Mike and I sat up there. Nice ride back.

Dinner was made tonight by the two guests who have been staying with Dr. Bob and his wife, Margie, the past couple of days. Annette and Cheryl are high school classmates and friends of Margie. They were visiting the Lake District and made part of their trip hanging out and catching up with Dr. Bob and Margie. They have been wonderful dinner company and so it was their turn to cook. And they did not disappoint; they even had a dessert. We had class following this delicious meal and now I'm in the study working on class work and writing. It ended up being a full day. Tomorrow is a free day so the Trailblazing Trio will be out on the trail once again, tackling two tarns. Stay tuned.


And seven days of fun has begun

Today was another group trip day. We boarded a bus headed north quite early this morning. But on the plus side, Dr. Bob bought us seven day unlimited bus travel passes. That means the Trailblazing Trio is going to have some serious fun.

Our destination today was Keswick and from there we got on another bus headed west. We ended up at Honiston, a slate mine. It's both an operational mine and a mine open for tours. A man named Roland lead the tour; we donned hats and ventured into part of the mine. Roland explained how the mine worked in the Victorian era and then now the mine works today. It was a bit chilly down there but still interesting.

We had lunch outside and then the Trailblazing Trio went on a mini hike while we were waiting for a bus. we definitely didn't get our usual ten miles in, which made me really sad. I'm just kind of use to it now. We hopped on a bus and rode it back to Keswick, taking in the landscape as we went.

Back at the cottage a little after five, it was time for the Trailblazing Trio to make dinner once again. We made pizza this time and steamed asparagus and carrots. Delicious.

We don't have class tonight so I'll do some reading and writing before heading to bed.


Up close with Lake Grasmere

Today was another free day and the Trailblazing Trio knew exactly what we wanted to do. On our walk from Grasmere to our house, we noticed a place on the lake called Faeryland Grasmere, a tea house and place to rent rowboats. In our guide books, it said this was the place to rent a boat so you could move around on the lake. The three of us knew we had to do it before we left. So today was the day.

We got to Faeryland Grasmere a little after ten, when it opened. The owner was there and gave us the row boat named Water Gypsy for an hour. It was a bright yellow row boat and Mike provided the manual labor so we could cruise around the lake. Since it was still pretty early in the day, there was only a fishing boat and kayak out on the lake. So we got the lake to ourselves. It was fun actually being on the water and seeing the area surrounding the lake in a new perspective.

With the boat returned, we returned to our Sunday lunch spot for today's lunch. Since it was a weekday, there were less people on the beach and near us, so it was calm and peaceful. The weather here has also been fantastic, 60s and I have finally been able to wear the shorts I brought!

Then the Trailblazing Trio split up. Courtney and I headed into town to find a cafe to read and write in while Mike stayed outside and studied under various trees and on rocks. Courtney and I went to Miller Howe Cafe, which was a nice little place. We had their freshly squeezed lemonade and I tried their tea and a slice of coffee cake.

After a while there, we headed back to the house and met up with Mike. Since it was so nice out, we returned to the lake shore once again to soak in the later afternoon rays. There is class tonight; we finished reading Dorothy Wordsworth's journal and will be discussing it tonight. Tomorrow we will get our seven day bus pass and head north to see some sights up there.


Going home, the homes of the Wordsworths' that is

Today the group headed to the two homes of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. William was a famous poet of the 18th and 19th century and Dorothy was his sister, who loved William very much. Our first stop was Dove Cottage, just outside the town center. We got a guided tour through the cottage, which was very small and very dark. Currently we are reading Home at Grasmere, which are the journals of Dorothy when she was at Dove Cottage. It's hard to believe she was in that house when she was writing the entries; put a whole new spin on the reading! We couldn't take pictures inside the house but I did snap one in their backyard garden:

After Dove Cottage we ventured in the conveniently located Wordsworth museum which had a Lake District landscape painting exhibition as well. I saw the mailbag which Dorothy so heavily relied on and also some beautiful watercolors and engravings of places that I have been too. Of course, I could have spent all day there, but our group was headed to our next stop, Rydal Mont. William and Dorothy only spent eight years at Dove Cottage; after eight years, William was married to Mary and they were having more children than that cottage could hold. So they moved a few miles to Rydal Mont. The route we took was a coffin route and it went above Rydal Water.

I really liked Rydal Mont. The house was much bigger and brighter; the front window has a great view of the garden and Lake Windemere. This house also has photos and letters from the descendants of the Wordsworths, which adds a nice touch. William also was a landscaper and made a beautiful garden, holding all sorts of interesting plants. Dr. Bob treated us to tea and treats afterwards, all were delicious.

The Trailblazing Trio then broke off and wandered back to Grasmere on our own. I stopped by the post office to pick up some stamps and we picked up a few items from the co-op. Back at the house, tacos were being made and then we had the night to read and write. Going to star gaze right now, let's hope the stars are out!

Courtney and I enjoying the view


"Going off the path is a mud-ch better idea..."

With the Trailblazing Trio, puns have been very popular. Somehow, being in the Lake District has brought out the puns hidden within us. Hence, the classy title for this post.
Our day started with an impressive breakfast since we had just visited the store. The three of us feasted on toast, black currant jam, yogurt, granola, and eggs. It was delicious. Then we were off for Loughrigg Fell, one of the most popular fells in the Lake District. We ended up wandering down to the shore of Lake Grasmere before heading to the top of Loughrigg Fell. It was a beautiful sight; the weather finally got really nice.

Since it was early, not a lot of people were out; we met a couple along the shore who took our picture. Then it was time for the ascent. Mike chose a more direct route, right up the side of this fell. Courtney and I chose a more scenic, winding route. Although not a difficult climb, the fell does a great job thinking you've reached the top only to discover there is more to climb.
But the view was so worth it. With such a beautiful day, it really was just about perfect.

View as Courtney and I are making our way up

View from the top, Lake Grasmere is the body of water

Another view. Isn't the reflection stunning?
After all the photos, the three of us sat down, ate granola bars, read, and wrote. Before heading down, we went to the other side of the fell to see the tarn below and Elterwater and Chapel Stile, our old haunts.

From the other side of the fell, the body of water is Loughrigg Tarn and then Elterwater can be seen
Then it was back down; we wanted to eat our lunch by the lake. On the way down, Mike decided to get down "quicker" by making his own path. Courtney and I followed, trusting Mike. Little did we know it was super wet there with some questionable footing. I ended up slipping in the mud; exactly one week after my last fall when Mike and I were exploring the backyard of our house in Chapel Stile. Mike snapped a pretty funny photo.

Not my most flattering shot, but I figured my viewers might enjoy it, especially my little sister.
We ate lunch and then hiked around the rest of the lake into Grasmere. It's really a nice little town, with all the different things to do. We stopped by a famous gingerbread shop and tried the gingerbread; it was delicious. Will probably go back there a few times before we leave! The best part of Grasmere was when we stopped by an art fair and met a calligrapher named Brian. We started talking to him as he was personalizing a box Courtney had bought. He was a fascinating guy, starting calligraphy as a hobby 29 years ago. He's been in this sort of business for around 12 years. It was beautiful; he gave me a doodling he had been working on.

Calligraphy in full view
Courtney and I continued to explore the city while Mike stayed and talked to him. You'll have to check out Mike's blog [] to hear his full story with Brian.
Then it was back to Dale End Farm. The Trailblazing Trio were in charge of dinner tonight so we got to work on that. We did eggy in a basket, or as the Fargo household calls it, toad in a hole. We also made a salad to go along with it. Delicious!

Courtney prepping the bread

Ready to cook!

Mike in action


Courtney making the salad
It was quite a dinner. Post-dinner (and dishes), we had a class poetry reading. Read only William Wordsworth poems though, which makes perfect sense. Tomorrow we will be heading to the Wordsworth's homes, Dove Cottage and Rydal Mont, along with the Wordsworth museum. Another full day!


Moved into Dale End Farm

Today was the big move; we were leaving pretty old Chapel Stile and heading to Grasmere. We finished packing this morning and cleaning up the cottage. A man from the company who owns the cottage arrived with his truck to move our suitcases to our new place.
We actually then headed south to Ambleside and then from Ambleside to Windemere. This is all by bus mind you. In Windemere, we ate lunch at a nice cafe called Francine's. I had a delicious Greek salad.

We then walked back to the bus station, which was conveniently located next to a grocery store called Booth's. Our mission was to pick out personal food and food we would need when it was our turn to cook dinner. On this rotation, Mike, Courtney and I are being a trio and get the opportunity to cook twice. Our first dinner is tomorrow and we have planned toad in a whole (or eggy in a basket as Mike likes to call it). Which is basically toast and eggs. Our second dinner will be later in the week and we will be making pizza.
With groceries in hand, and there were a lot of them, we got back onto a bus headed towards Grasmere. We got off in the center of town but little did we realize that we had to walk about a mile to get to our new home; Dr. Bob didn't mention that. So we sort of got a walk in today.
But our new home is beautiful. Here are some photos I snapped.

We got all settled in; I'm rooming with Courtney again and we have a sweet room. Ate dinner, lovely sandwiches prepared by yours truly and we have a class meeting in a little bit. I believe tomorrow will be a free day so the Trailblazing Trio will most likely be going on an adventure. But what's new?


I am now the Compass Queen!

Before leaving for this trip, my dad made sure I was outfitted with the best supplies to be fully prepared for my trip. He got me a lovely compass/thermometer/whistle combo. I've been using it since my arrival in Chapel Stile but it got its best workout today as we hiked to two different tarns.

Usually on group hikes, Dr. Bob leads, or points us in the right direction. Today, he gave us a map and said, "We are looking for Langdale Tarn and Blea Tarn. Get us there." As everyone shied away from the map, I brandished my compass and grabbed the map. Once I knew where we were, I figured out the best way to get to tarn number one. "This way!" I cried and although feeling the urge to blow the whistle, I kept it silent. And off we went.

With my compass and handy-dandy map, I trailblazed the way to both tarns. I self-appointed myself the nickname of Compass Queen, although I'm sure my fellow classmates view me more as the Mom of the group.

Both tarns were beautiful, once we conquered the hills that went with them! It ended up being a nice day, despite the fact it was spitting rain when we left Elterwater at 9:30 AM. We had lunch overlooking Blea Tarn and then returned to our cottage. In a little bit, we'll be having supper at Wainwright's Pub in celebration of our last day here. Packing must happen tonight so that tomorrow, we can head over to Grasmere where we will be spending the next two weeks.

Overall, a little sore. If I had to guess, I've hiked somewhere around 10 miles each day. I think today was tough for everyone; most people took a nap once we got back. Tomorrow and Sunday should be pretty easy days and allow our bodies to recover. But besides being a little sore, I am still loving it here. Best. May Term. Ever.


Second free day at Chapel Stile

Since we had soo much adventuring yesterday, Dr. Bob decided to give us a free day to spend as we pleased. Mike, Courtney, and I decided to have one final look at Ambleside before heading to Grasmere on Saturday. It's about a five mile hike, but by day five of our time in the Lake District, a ten mile round trip hike is no big deal. Crazy, right?
We ate lunch in Ambleside at the park that we have become quite familiar with, it was our third visit. Then we went to check out one of the many cafes that line the streets of Ambleside. It was called the Apple Pie Cafe and came highly recommended in the guide book I had picked up before leaving. It was a cute place. Courtney and I both order a gingerbread latte, which was absolutely delicious.

All three of us read for our class that would be happening post dinner. We later ordered some fresh baked items. I chose their apple pie, which they are famous for.

It was delightful. After much reading and some writing, we headed back to the trail that would take us to Elterwater, where Dr. Bob and his wife are staying and where dinner was. By this point, that path is quite familiar to us; it was nice feeling use to an area. We had stew for supper and then returned to Chapel Stile for our class.
Tomorrow is our last day in Chapel Stile. We are planning a hike to the Little Langdale and then we have some work time because some writing is due to Dr. Bob tomorrow. Our plan is to eat dinner at a local pub and then pack. We will move to our new home for two weeks in Grasmere on Saturday.

A typical day in Chapel Stile

So first off, this is where I've been living for the past week:

Courtney and I are staying in the master bedroom, which looks like this:

We even have our own bathroom! Winning.
My favorite room in the house is the sunroom:

Okay, maybe that isn't the best shot, but you get the idea. I really like it here.

My daily schedule is this. I wake up anytime between 6:30 AM and 7:30 AM depending on how tired I am, what my body decides is a good time to wake up, and if my alarm is annoying enough to pull me out of bed. Today, my body said, "Yes Hailley, 6:40 AM is an excellent time to wake up even though you had a long day yesterday and went to bed at midnight. Oh sleep schedules.

Anyways, once I wake up, I get ready and then have breakfast. Mike, Courtney, and I bought bread and strawberry jam, so I have a delicious piece of toast. Post breakfast, I make lunches for Mike, Courtney, and I (I'm usually the first one up so this makes sense). Lunch consists of a ham and cheese sandwich (plus the past two days spinach) with an apple and carrots. Today, lunch looked like this:

Yum! Then I read, write, and journal until it's time to go. Right before we leave, I pack my backpack. This is a pretty standard packing list:

Water bottle, map of the area, small notebook, camera, spork, and a Leatherman. Then I'm ready for whatever hiking adventures await me!

Well, we have a class meeting soon so I'll be off. Another post later today!


Hardest hike of the trip! Accomplished.

So this was the view out my window this morning. Good sign because we were attempting our toughest and highest elevation hike today.

We left the cottage earlier than usual to give ourselves more time to make our climb. Our direction today was northwest, back to Dungeon Ghyll. From there, we walked up a very steep and rocky incline along Stickle Ghyll to Stickle Tarn. Courtney and I made the trek up together, giving each other support when needed. Reaching the tarn, which is basically a lake on a plateau, was one of the most rewarding and euphoric moments I've had in a while. The rest of the group arrived, we ate lunch near the tarn, and then Dr. Bob gave us a few options. We could either stay and enjoy the tarn or attempt to summit one of the peaks, of which there were three: Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle, and Pike of Stickle. While Mike and Sam chose to climb Pavey Ark via Jack's Rake, aka the climb of death (for Courtney and I). Us girls chose the "easier route" which was more hills...yeah.

But we made it. Again, it was good moment. Met a little hale up there, the second time on this trip. Which seems really out of place if you ask me but apparently this area is seeing a very cold May this year. Once you get up to Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle and Pike of Stickle are pretty easy to get to; they are all about the same elevation. So Mike, Sam, Courtney, and I made our way over to Harrison Stickle. Met a lovely couple on the way who helped us make the climb. We then ventured back down to the tarn. Unfortunately, due to some miscommunication, two of our group members were missing for part of the afternoon. Our plans were rearranged, yet I was still in charge of making dinner. We ate Coke-a-cola chicken, corn, and mashed potatoes. It was delicious. This meal solidified my nickname of "Mom" on this trip.

All the pans on the stovetop.

The chicken.

Just boiling some potatoes.


Me being a boss in the kitchen :)

Better head to bed for another day tomorrow!!