Tucked away in the north western corner of England, in a region sweetly called Cumbria, is a slice of heaven on earth. Tremendous calm pervades large lakes while mountains ring their perimeter, sheltering them from the outside world. Winding trails caress these mountains, revealing around every turn a panoramic view of blue, green and brown. There is a fuzzy line between this place and a pleasant dream where all is well with the world and there is nothing but infinite beauty. The Romantics have walked these paths and opened up a whole new world of poetry for the layman, and I totally get how and why.
If I was asked to recommend one place in England, this would be it. It is a lethal combination of the barren highlands of Scotland, the desolateness of North Wales and the cuteness of the The Cotswolds – all rolled into one sweeping landscape. You would think that could get a little crowded, but in the Lake District there is room for it all and more. I especially loved it that the towns that ring these lakes abound in local stores, artisan markets, heavenly bakeries, inviting independent eateries and a theater for dance and drama. Best of both worlds, I daresay.
The visit to Wordsworth's cottage at Grassmere was a pilgrimage of sorts. The couch purported to be the one he meant in “for oft when on my couch I lie” gave me the goosebumps; I could see him reclining there as he looked out the window towards Lake Grassmere and the surrounding fells. I ran my hand over the packing case he used on his trip to Europe, which was the seed from which the Romantic era sprung. It was soft, leathery and ethereal. Outside, I gawked; inside I knelt in homage to one of the first few poets who challenged elitist poetry and brought it to the masses. My pilgrimage concluded with a visit to the Wordsworth family grave, and also a walk the next day near Lake Ullswater, very close to the daffodil fields that inspired this poem. Om.