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Days 4, 5, & 6 in which We Visit Ulverston and the Lake District

While in England we wanted to do something to celebrate.  We had originally thought John's defense would be in September and that we could do some traveling as part of our trip.  But when we found it couldn't take place until early December, we knew that we wouldn't have enough time for an extensive trip.  So when American friends of ours, Jim and Mary, invited us to come visit them in Ulverston we jumped at the chance.  We'd get to see friends and a part of England we'd never been to before.

We took the train up.  The journey was four hours and included changing trains twice.  When we booked we reserved seats and asked for the quiet car.  That car tends to be full of business men and women who want to work or read.  It was nice to not be in a noisy environment.  Our trip was pleasant and went quite quickly.

It was dark when we arrived at 4:15 p.m.  Mary fed us a delicious meal of roasted lamb served with potatoes, parsnips, and Yorkshire pudding with gravy, a meal that is served often in that area.  We enjoyed catching up with them.  We hadn't seen Jim since John's dad's funeral and it had been even longer since we had seen Mary.  We also went with them to their home group from their church for their weekly Bible study.

Our friends live just outside of Ulverston in an old farmhouse.  This is the view from our bedroom window.

The next day we headed out in the car to see the sights.  Jim was able to take the day off from work and he and Mary are excellent tour guides!  First, we went next door and just drove onto the grounds of the Conishead Priory.  It was once a Victorian mansion, but is now a Buddhist center.  Then we drove through the countryside to the Furness Abbey, which was established in 1127 and then was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1537.  It was closed for the season, but we could walk around the perimeter and see it.  It's a beautiful sandstone monastery.

Our next stop was the Hoad Monument.  

The Hoad Monument was built to honor Sir John Barrow, a founder member of the Royal Geographical Society, and an intrepid explorer.  (Barrow, Alaska was named after him; it's new name is Utqiaġvik.)  It was a bit of a hike up the hill and it got windier as we went.  

When we got to the top the wind was incredible.  

We really felt like we could get blown away! 


We took shelter in the doorway of the tower, which you can climb in the warm months of the year. 

We also had a great view from the top, but were so busy trying to not blow away that we could hardly take it in.

From there we drove through the Lake District.  This is an area in northwest England that is just beautiful with all of its mountains, lakes, and fells.  And sheep.  

There was not a view that was not beautiful!  

We stopped in Ambleside for a late lunch.  By then it was raining a bit and snowing on upper elevations.  By late afternoon we could see snow on the higher elevations.

Our last stop was at Castlerigg, an ancient stone circle. 


The English Heritage Site says, "Castlerigg is perhaps the most atmospheric and dramatically sited of all British stone circles, with panoramic views and the mountains of Helvellyn and High Seat as a backdrop.  It is also among the earliest British circles, raised in about 3000 BC during the Neolithic period."  

The circle is in a field and sheep are grazing.  We managed to see it just as the sun was setting (about 3:30 p.m.).  We also drove through Keswick, which is nearby.  

We ended the day back in Ulverston.  

Ulverston is located on the Furness Peninsula and is only a mile and a half from the sea at Morcambe Bay.  Ulverston was the birthplace of Laurel of the Laurel and Hardy duo.  George Fox, who founded the Quakers Movement lived there in the 1600's.  Today many people are employed by the Glaxo-Smith-Kline pharmaceutical company.  We ate supper at a restaurant in Ulverston and then headed home for a warm evening as it was snowing and stormy outside by then.

On Friday we took the train back to Oxford.  This trip wasn't as pleasant as the trains were crowded and on one leg of the trip we even had to stand in the aisle.  But it was worth the slight inconvenience for the fun time we had seeing one of England's most scenic areas.  We need to go back in the summer some time!
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