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Changing Landscapes: The Remainder of My Stay in England’s Lake District

These last two days in Shap have been magical. With my stomach filled from a hearty English breakfast, I slipped on a pair of colorful “Wellies” Judith had lying around, which according to Wikipedia were named after the Duke of Wellington:

The Wellington boot, also known as rubber-boots, wellies, wellingtons, topboots, billy-boots, gumboots, gummies, barnboots, wellieboots, muckboots, sheepboots, poopkickers, or rainboots are a type of boot based upon leather Hessian boots. They were worn and popularised by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. This novel “Wellington” boot became a staple of hunting and outdoor wear for the British aristocracy in the early 19th century.

My adorable

My adorable “wellies”…ahem, I mean fashionable Wellington boots

Oooo la la – I most definitely felt like nobility with my pink flower and butterfly Wellies on. Although, by the time I got back they were more of a brownish color I’d say. After grooming Judith’s national prize-winning pony, I took a walk over the hills to feed the sheep. At the highest point the view was stunning: the morning mist lifted to reveal ice-capped hilltops in the distance; their powdered faces contrasted against the deep green of the endless sea of grass on which the sheep grazed. Jaunty happily trotted alongside me and would occasionally dash out through the brush in the pure enjoyment one only gets from the brisk air of winter months. I closed my eyes – I had not found this kind of peace for a long time.

The view  from a hill on Judith’s land: the breathtaking Cumbria landscape

Jaunty waiting for me to catch up; he joined me for my walk

Judith’s sheep

Upon my return, I was greeted with the smell of fresh bread, still warm from the oven, and a variety of meats, cheeses, and homemade jams. Lunch. I made myself a quick plate, poured some tea, and made my way to the fire to join the others. I took time after to explore the house a bit. My favorite room, and not surprisingly, was the office. More of a library, the walls were lined with shelves upon shelves of old books. I picked one out: a guide to the lake region of England written in the 1800s filled with beautiful engravings of the lakes. The pages were yellowed and their outer edges bound in gold. As I leafed through the weathered pages a smell of leather and old parchment made its way to my nose, nearly taking me back to the time in which the book would have first been published. So much history was present in this place my imagination could not work fast enough.

One of many rows of books in Judith’s writing room and library. I was in heaven. 

As I read through Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalot,” Joanna called us out for a hike. Two of the girls stayed behind while Hannah and I went out with her to explore a piece of the countryside on foot. After driving through country roads lined in hand-built stone walls for about half an hour we arrived at a place where waterfalls fell through forests and streams cut through the hills. We trekked across miles of trails as the farmers had done before us on horseback.

One of the roads we drove along to our hiking site

One of the very first views that met our eyes at the beginning of the trail

The mist settling among the path before us

Pieces of Scottish poetry were carved into various stones and boulders throughout the trail

After a hearty meal of Yorkshire pudding (made by our lovely selves), turkey, stuffing, broccoli, and a blackberry cobbler with cream for dessert, Judith asked if I would perhaps be a model and don a few of the old vintage dresses she had collected from the Victorian Era and beyond – she needed photos of the dresses on to show a few clients. No way was I turning that opportunity down. She gave me some heels and I proceeded to try on a number of beautiful gowns and dresses including a sidesaddle riding dress from the 1800s, a 1920s Great Gatsby silver gown that fell beautifully and sparkled softly in the light, and a colorful and radically patterned 1970s skirt coupled with a white blouse. With the night ending like that I wondered what our short time left here tomorrow would bring.

*     *     *

After picking up the bottle of milk that was left by the dairy delivery man at the gate, we promptly headed off to see a number of the lakes the region is so famous for. As we drove we discovered that Judith began her career as an agent of Sotheby’s (London), the world’s fourth oldest auction house founded in 1674. To show you just how famous this auction house is here are a few items they have sold in the past and their respective selling prices: Norman Rockwell’s painting of Rosie the Riveter ($5 million), Pierre-August Renoir’s Au Moulin de la Galette ($78.1 million), Property from the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis ($34.5 million), Pablo Picasso’s Garçon à la Pipe ($104.2 million). She went on to work as a diamond expert for De Beers, the job she currently holds. Pretty cool, huh?

“Fresh milk is delivered every day except on Sundays,” Judith told us

The gals and Judith: a final photo before we left the house that day

Crossrigg Hall. Judith’s first job for Sotheby’s was to auction off all the objects in this historic estate

We arrived at the lake of Ullswater, the second largest lake in the district. Nine miles long, it took us quite a bit of time to drive its length, although the view the whole way round was quite worth it. The lake itself forms the boundary between the ancient counties of Cumberland and Westmorland. A chain of snow-topped mountains rise up from the ground behind the lake’s southern face, making their impressive figures known. Among them, ascending to 3,117 feet, is Helvellyn, England’s 3rd largest peak. It was truly a beautiful sight to behold. I could not help but feel a pang of sadness as the reflections of the mountains on the still lake waters disappeared behind me on our way to the bus station. After all, who would ever want to leave a place such as this?

Ullswater 

The imposing peak of Helvellyn

My last glimpse of Ullswater as we drove away

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