top of page



21st April 2017  to 23rd April 2017

From my UK & Ireland diary

21st April 2017 :  Day 11 of travel 

As tough and painful it was to leave the enchanting EDINBURGH city & the beautiful holiday accommodation tagged to it,  we were equally looking forward to reaching "Ambleside" .   This is a beautiful village situated in the Lake District of England . It is at a distance of around 3 hours from Edinburgh, Scotland.  

Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 6.16.58 PM.png

It was around 9 am when we packed our bags and made our way to the WAVERLY  RAILWAY STATION, Edinburgh.   A taxi was arranged to drop us there.  


Our  "Transpinne" train to Oxenholme, in Lake District, was scheduled for departure at 10:11 am.   We enjoyed the gorgeous views from the train all along the way.  

12:10pm :  We reached Oxenholme and took the "Blue star taxi" to Ambleside from there.   Of course there is local transportation available , but considering our luggage we preferred the taxi.  The drive from Oxenholme to Ambleside lasted about half an hour .

The Ambleside Village lies on the northern side of lake "Windermere" the biggest lake in Lake District. It is a typical English beauty.  The village is so laid back and things move slowly and peacefully out here.   It is flanked by natural charm all around.  The entire district is infested with Lakes as you can see on the map       and therefore gets its name.   

The journey from Oxenholme  gave us a hint in advance, on the expected upcoming visuals.  We were thrilled.   The green mountains, the waters, the neat-tidy roads, stone buildings & houses evenly lined on both sides, colourful flowers blooming all around, we couldn't ask for more. All this seemed to replicate the similar looking town of PITLOCHRY in Scotland  (read PITLOCHRY), except that this seemed to be an upgraded version.  People walking their dogs on streets was such a common sight here.  Looked like everyone in the village owned a different breed of dog, from the other.  It was a sight to see.  

Screen Shot 2020-04-01 at 10.46.59

We had booked, for ourselves, a beautiful little rustic cottage on Wansfell road called "THE BIRCH END".  We found this on "Trip Advisor", at a throw away price. 

Our co-travellers were put up at the "Rothay House", which was at a 5 minute walking distance from this cottage.   This made it easy to co-ordinate the daily itinerary amongst ourselves.


The Birch End

Our quaint country cottage provided enough and more space for all of us and we wished at that point that we had more company.  The small garden outside was the icing on the cake.  We were thrilled to experience a stay of this kind.

We got to exploring the Villa the moment we landed there, even before unpacking. The wooden benches outside, gave it a great look.  The village made us feel at home.  We pulled ourselves back from our "Scheduled travel" and had a relaxed itinerary coming up the next 2 days.

The Rothay House B & B


By 5 pm, we had settled down well. We decided to walk around the village & get familiar with the surroundings.  Shopping for a bit for groceries, exploring the streets that were running up & down the hilly region and some window shopping was how it ended.   The life of a commoner here seemed so much at ease.  People around were smiling and greeted us with joy.  


There were at least 50 different kinds of pet dogs that we came across.  A few of their masters were kind enough to let us play with these friendly animals.  The daylight was still on,  despite a couple of hours of walking.  We were back at home soon, ready to make ourselves a snack.   The evening was well spent outside the cottage on the inviting benches, with our snack on the tables.  With more stories to discuss, our "round table conference" lasted until dinner time.  

We called it a day.

22nd April 2017 :  Day 12 of travel  - LAKE HOPPING

We had a rather lazy start -a rare feature of our day trips.   A crunchy breakfast followed by a walk down to the ROTHAY HOUSE,   is how the day began.   Our group mates were up and ready too, to get on to our next adventure, right outside their door step at the Rothay House Bed & Breakfast.  


It was  THE TEN LAKES SPECTACULAR tour, organised by "MOUNTAIN GOAT tours".  


Our cheerful bunch stood outside waiting for the tour bus to arrive by around 9:55 am.  We were highly excited at the thought of touring the entire Lake District, in the upcoming 8 hours.  The Lake District is renowned for being the "Most beautiful corner of England" and this full day tour promised us an introduction to just that.   

By sharp 10:00 am, our mini-bus arrived & wheeled off from Ambleside across some magnificent scenery of the Lakeland fells (mountains are called fells ) , valleys & lakes as we headed North.  Catching glimpses of the Ten most popular lakes in the surrounding area was a part of our itinerary.  We were , however, given enough time to explore a few of these lake zones by foot & boat.  

Windermere, Rydal water, Grasmere, Thirlmere, Derwent water, Buttermere, Crummock water, Bassenthwaite, Ullswater & Brothers water are some of the lakes we were able to cover. We were happy sweeping through some of these lakes from the windows of our bus as we didn't have enough time to stop by each lake.  


The Driver would "hint" us in advance, each time the bus approached a lake side.   Our eyes were treated to some stunning landscapes & scenic visuals. My camera had no time to take rest.   As we flew past, we actually lost count of the number of lakes.    It is truly a "LAKE " District , no doubts on that.  


Take a peek into a "video map" covering the entire path of ours, on that day.  


Our first stop was at the "GRASMERE" fondly called "The Garden Village". The driver was kind enough to stop by a restaurant there. The immaculate surroundings drew us close to nature. The village was silent but brimming with sweet smelling flowers all around. 


This village is famous for "William Wordsworth" and " Gingerbread".

The Poet spent a major portion of his life time in a cottage, in this Village.  Many years after his existence, the cottage came into the hands of a Trust, that now maintains it as "Dove Cottage",  a museum, open to visitors around the world.    Practically no changes have been made to the cottage,  ever since the poet lived here during the 19th century with his family, making it one of the most sought after tourist destinations.

So what's the Gingerbread story ?   It's about a lady SARAH NELSON, whose magical hands and family recipe put a smile on people around the world.  It is her recipe of the delicious GINGERBREAD- a culmination of cake & biscuit.   To this date, Grasmere is famous for the GRASMERE GINGERBREAD SHOP, run profitably by her successors.  It attracts even the Bollywood stars, who keep coming back time & again to savour this deliciousness.  


A coffee break was ideal at the restaurant, that overlooked the Grasmere Lake.   The Restaurant also housed a "Green house" filled with various species of flowers & hand made pots, available for purchase.  The hand work behind these pots inspired us.  You can spot them in the background of a few pictures posted here.   Basking in scenic settings, we were out on the green grass posing with the lifeless Sheep and pigs installed there.  How we wished they were live ones.


Moving on from Grasmere, we travelled over passes, through beautiful valleys sighting waterfalls & more lakes all along the way.


The Newlands valley, a picturesque and peaceful area of the National park of Lake District was in close resemblence to the Scottish Highlands.  I have mentioned before that Ambleside resembles the Scottish Town of "Pitlochry"  in many ways.  I guess the close proximity of Scottish Borders and Lake District is the good reason for such resemblance.


This Scottish feel, with a touch of English weather, was more than welcome.  The racing scene of hills lakes & mountains from our moving vehicle, with cool breeze kissing our faces as the soulful country numbers simultaneously played on the stereo, was a heavenly combination.


Our next destination was the HONISTER SLATE MINE. Wowww....... !! This mine is located above the HONISTER PASS, on the mountains surrounding it.  


The view of this mountain pass from the SLATE MINE is fabulous. The various shades of brown and green around, seemed to be sprayed right out of the creator's palette. It felt like a painting that instantly came to life.  No amount of photography could do justice to the sight. We felt enraptured.

The stuttered walk  around the mine area helped savouring the stupendous pass views from the top. We managed to stumble through rugged crags and get to a certain point on one such narrow mountain top, where the sides of  it steeply dropped into the valley. In a short while, we had successfully accomplished this dangerous feat.  Sadly we couldn't carry our cameras & mobile phones due to safety reasons.


We didn't have enough time to venture into the slate mine.

Today, tourists are offered various adventure activities around this area.   You can read more about that here.


There were plenty of tourists visiting the mine.  A few of them were busy with adventure activities. In the above picture we were able to capture a few tourists hiking up the mountain.  


After an outstanding affair, we returned to our bus to move to our next destination- the town of KESWICK (pronounced as Keh -SICK).  


This town lies to the north of Derwentwater and is about 7 kms from Bassenthwaite Lake and has a population of just about 7000 to 8000.  The area around Derwentwater offers a whole lot of activities for adventure & water lovers. From short hikes to long walks, rivers to waterfalls, valleys to forest, plenty of opportunities for tourists to make their holiday a great one !  The place is famous for its English market, poets and many places of interest in and around, that one would want to visit.  


We were taken to the open day market, right in the centre of the town.  All we had, was time for a quick walk around. There were rows of tents laid out on the narrow roads.  The  place was teeming with energy.  The ebullience of the people around seemed contagious.  The market offered everything under the sun.  We spotted shoes, bags, clothes, hand made jewellery on one side. We realised that the major portion of the market handled food stuff.  Fresh produce of all kinds were available including home made pickles, chocolates, jams, eats etc.  The 45 minutes slipped like sand through our fingers.  I now have Lake District on my bucket list for a second visit, hoping for a thorough research in future. 


At a short distance from Keswick town is the CASTLERIGG STONE CIRCLE.

We had heard a lot about STONEHENGE, near London. Due to an action packed schedule during our London visit, we couldn't fit this place of visit in our plan, back then.  We, therefore, decided to visit the lesser known "stone circle" of Castlerigg, situated near Keswick, Lake District.  


This 4000 year old stone circle is set high up on the fells (mountains). No doubt it is a smaller version of  "Stonehenge",  but the entry here is absolutely free.  The rocks spread out in a circular fashion were unimaginably old.  It was fascinating to read & hear various theories of how these mysterious heavy rocks ( though not as heavy as the Stonehenge ) got there.


One such reason is that, they could have been installed to demarcate an entire area as a market place where goods & animals were bartered mutually.  Another theory confirms signs of ceremonial activities inside the demarcated area. Many such possible reasons for these formations are still debated, with complex loads of imaginative stories floating around, in order to justify what might have actually existed ages ago. One has to simply go by what they read currently.

Breakthrough in geological sciences .. just like how they found fossils & learnt about the existence of pre-historic man.  Hail Archeological sciences !! . All said and done it is simply a wonderful vast piece of  rich "green" land at the centre of which lies this mysterious stone circle.  


This circular metal frame embedded on a wooden bench at the entrance,  is a simple map of the stone circle of Castlerigg


The most delightful part of this visit was the open lawn like meadow and the natural beauty surrounding it.  It was windy.

We had enough and more time to ourselves. We literally didn't leave any stone untouched. A closer look at these rocks proved that they were really ancient.  The act of physically feeling rocks that were more than 4000 years old, did give us goose bumps.

We returned to Keswick town to have lunch and thereafter left to reach our next destination - ULLSWATER, where a little steamer ride awaited us, from the Pooley bridge pier.


We stepped out of our bus, waiting at the pier for the boat to return with its passengers from the earlier trip.


Constantly hit by the strong gust of wind, we stood holding tight on to the railings, managing to stay put on the ground.  When it got colder, we walked into the reception cabin and waited patiently for our turn.  The boat was not very big, but looked good enough to fit in 50 passengers.  Wading through waters is always a pleasurable experience. This ride on ULLSWATER too, stimulated the peace and calm in us.   We enjoyed a quiet ride as we relished the phenomenal natural surroundings. In this entire journey I have been very fascinated with Sheep in both Scotland & England.  Their chubby & fluffy nature made me want to cuddle them.   More so,  I was desperately trying to get my best shot at "this" animal photography.

The boat ride had put us on a silent mode.  We walked to our mini bus with all these wonderful memories.   Our journey back home was through "Brothers water",  where we waved at the lake from our seats.   


We reached the BIRCH END, Ambleside,  by around 5 pm.  We were reluctant to relax at home.  We decided to step out and explore the north side of the village.  Window shopping proved a great option as we simultaneously shopped for our veggies and daily kitchen needs.   It was an uphill but  pleasant walk.  The theatre in the village centre was very inviting.  Nevertheless, we chose to ignore it and enjoy the vibes of the electrifying evening instead.  As the sun began to set, the shops closed down and people were out on the streets, walking their dogs, catching up with friends and family over a drink on roadside pubs and restaurants.  It was an evening to remember.

23nd April 2017 :  Day 13 of travel  - Local Ambleside

Another Lazy day !

We had an entire day to explore Ambleside village.

Our day out began by 9:30 am.  We enjoyed our slow paced walk by the LAKE ROAD, towards the Ambleside pier. Photo opportunities were aplenty.  The entire Village was lounging under the sun peacefully with no human eye watching over.  The clean and neat streets were a treat to our eyes.  We were fortunate yet again, to blessed with another sunny day.  


The road falling on our path,  gradually sloped down hill as we walked the entire stretch of around almost a kilometre witnessing an assortment of rich coloured flowers on either side.  


We sequentially crossed the road from one side to another, in a zig-zag fashion, to cover as many varieties  of these blooming beauties including the fairy tale like houses and buildings.   It therefore took us longer to reach the pier.

The "Hayes Garden world" fell on the way.  This is the most complete and comprehensive place for anything under the sun relating to landscaping and gardening.  It is also one of the tourists' favourite place of visit.  The company has been successfully following "Gardening" as their trade for generations and also plays an important role in landscaping many gardens in the Cumbria region. "See it to believe it" applies! You can read more about it here.  I bet you will definitely include this place in your bucket list, if at all  you get a chance to visit Ambleside.  I still regret not having included a tour of it in our itinerary, due to shortage of time.  Ambleside is, of course,  one of my most loved destination so far. So, if at all I plan a re-visit to Lake District, there is no way I wouldn't cover all what I missed earlier. 

The WINDERMERE LAKE CRUISES  offers self-driven boats for hire, charging an hourly rate.  It fitted perfectly in our itinerary. We were so excited at the thought of riding our own boat around the biggest lake in all of England - LAKE WINDERMERE


The amazing walk from Birch end to Lake Windermere


 Lake road, Ambleside

The flowery feast on our way to the lake


I wanted to stay back in this beautiful village.  Seemed like "Hayes" had made its mark all around Lake District. Each house owned at least a small garden that was tastefully decorated with varieties vastly different from what their neighbours owned. 




The walk had completely enthralled us.  It was like stepping through a wonderland to reach that vast expanse of the source of life on earth - WATER.  The surrounding "killer beauty", kept us constantly in "ooooh" and "aaahs".  


The pier hardly seemed crowded.   We had our tickets booked in advance and therefore it was pretty easy. We opted for a 2 hour boat ride.  You can check out their website  here and book under self-drive motor boats & rowing boats, if you wish to.  

We approached the friendly staff, who provided us our life-jackets in exchange for our tickets and led us to our private motor boat.  After a simple training on its manoeuvring, we were all set to leave the pier, for a jolly ride.   We did feel fear at the thought of the boat tumbling in mid waters.  But the sweet hostess assured us that it would be a cake walk for anyone who drove a car.   We placed our trust in her and boarded the "red & white" beast.    Scroll through the gallery to enjoy.

The  two hours were one the best in our lives.  Even to date we discuss this event time and again when we meet up.   The Bright and sunny day blessed us with good and clear views of the meadows and the surrounding villages.  The roof of the boat was partly collapsable at the press of a button.  This ensured keeping the scorching sun at bay.  We had lowered it a few times during our entire navigation.  A remote village that is a tiny speck on the world map, had so much to offer.  We savoured these moments.  We sang songs, shouted out, played captian of the ship, while taking turns to ride the boat.  We stopped mid waters to get a feel of being lost. That feeling of floating in the middle of nowhere was thrilling.  The lake was like an ocean with no one around but us.  


There were few islands we spotted on the way, that looked deserted.  They might have housed only a few thick, tall trees.    The two long hours flew in a jiffy and it was soon time to head back to the pier.  You can have a look at the video here.

By lunch time , we were out of the boat and resting on a bench by the pier side.   We gobbled our packed meal. 

We loitered around the water side, before walking down the Lake road once again, to get to the other end of the village.  We were heading to a water fall.  I had just heard of its existence during the tour. We thought of giving it a try.


As it was lunch time, the restaurants in the  village were brimming with people. The shops looked busy. We walked past shops and restaurants at a slow pace. After walking for a kilometre and half, we enquired the whereabouts of the Stockghyll Force waterfall.  A kind localite guided us.  We knew we were on the right path.  It was a climb uphill.  The road suddenly entered a forest like atmosphere and curved its way up.  A few sign boards instructed us to follow the road and all the way to the top. We walked finding rare forest variety of flowers and creepers. It was a good hike.

"Do not follow any other path other than the board signs" yelled a man who was leading a bunch of students, on their journey. "It is dangerous" he confirmed. Once the village road ended, we looked around for instructions.   We spotted a worn out sign board nudging us to climb up the raw rock formations uphill.  We got to action. We loved the climb.  It was strenuous but well worth it.  It didn't take long to reach up, may be max a 15 to 20 minute or so.


There were decent steps till a certain point after which they turned rugged.  By the time we reached the bridge on the top, we had to find our way amidst trees.

Not long after, we reached the top.  There seemed to be a more decent pathway here.  We came across an age old bridge. Wow!! a bridge atop a hillock in a forest, that was very interesting.  We could spot the water fall from here.  Its source was no doubt hidden but its natural fall came swirling around the crags and rocks below. 


Stockghyll Force waterfall


We crossed the bridge carefully, as it was made of wood and looked like it would give away any moment.    As we crossed over, we realised that it was quite strong.  It felt great to take a few pictures from various angles, getting up and down a few pieces of the hill each time, just to capture those moments.

It was a journey downward at the other side of the bridge, to get to the foot of the waterfall.  We could hear the mild roaring of water. We climbed down as quickly and carefully as possible. This side neither had footsteps nor a fixed path.  The cold water tapering down, formed a stunning scene behind us.  The flow was definitely not heavy. 

We reached the foot of the falls sooner than we had assumed.  We met a couple of families there who had brought their toddlers and dogs. The dogs played in the water and barked in a friendly manner while wading their way around. The children enjoyed themselves thoroughly and also managed to get themselves wet  while bonding with their pets. The sight was priceless. We were around for a while relaxing by the rocks and soaking in the forest aroma. We managed to stay out of the water the whole time, except for dipping our legs knee deep.

I came across wild yellow flowers, that had a plastic sheen on them.  It took me time to believe they were real and natural.  It was fascinating to hold something so perfect and dainty.  I did thank the creator with all my heart.   I inspected every bit of this flower while my daughter was busy with the children & pets in the water.  The sun co-operated by shining down upon us.  A few pictures and a video just for you.


The feeling of being  totally refreshed, soon  directed us to get back home.  Our group had sort of scattered with each one going around fulfilling their definition of enjoyment. 

My Daughter and I left no stone unturned.  We lurked around the village,  window shopping, petting various dogs on our way & greeting friendly people.  We almost a part of the village by then.  The day ended on a high !

24th April 2017 :  Day 14 of travel  -AMBLESIDE-HOLYHEAD-DUBLIN

We were ready to move on in our journey.  Bidding farewell to the village was hard.

Our taxi was ready, waiting for us outside BIRCH END by 7:30 am .  We lugged our baggage and set off to reach OXENHOLME railway station, yet again.  Our train to Warrington Bank Quay, started exactly at the scheduled time of 8:23 am.  The journey last roughly about one and half hour.  We exchanged trains at here, to reach HOLYHEAD station and got here by 12:45 pm.  


The train station of Holyhead, lies inside the ferry terminal, making it ultra convenient for ferry passengers.   We got here without any tension, enjoy scenic views all along the way.  We even managed to doze a bit in the train.   

We had our packed meal at the Holyhead station.  

Our next adventure was boarding the IRISH FERRIES to reach Dublin in just 3 hours from this western tip of England.  The trip was to begin at 2:30 pm.  We had ample time.  We checked in our luggage and were ready to gloat over our first ever cruise ship experience.  Click below for the travel map.


It is very easy to get to Ireland from England, or vice-versa, by a ferry.  You have varied options to choose from.  We chose Irish Ferries. They offer two routes you can choose from.  You can plan your itinerary accordingly, to get to either Holyhead or Pembroke Port. There are daily ferries available. 

We had purchased the tickets online for as less as GBP29, one way.  It was an offer that seemed so irresistible. Not many tourists like us travel between England & Ireland via Ferry.  It is easy, quick, efficient and worth a try at least one way.  It takes you to your destination, either way, in just 3 hours and is worth it.  You get awesome views of the ocean and can never be bored on it.   You can check out their website HERE.  

You can check out the other options HERE. 

Did you notice that I called the FERRY our first "CRUISE SHIP" experience.  

Once we checked in our luggage at the counters, we were offered our boarding passes.  The check-in procedure was similar to that of an airline.   We waited around the reception exploring the surroundings. From one of the windows we spotted huge vessels docked on the port.    

A kind gentleman made an announcement instructing us to queue up for the boarding.  There was basic minimal security check after which we were led to the vessel.  One look at this classy ferry and I felt dizzy by its sheer height.  I had never seen anything so huge before.   I felt like a microbe against it.  My mind instantly failed to process it as a "ferry".  A little talk with one of the attendants helped us know that this masterpiece had the capacity to carry 1540 cars at a time, each way.  We were taken by surprised when the receptionist upgraded our tickets to "club class".  The beverages and a few eats came free, with this offer. Wow..


A bigger surprise awaited us.  The vessel had 10 decks. Only decks 9 and 10 were allotted to passengers.  Stunning, aesthetic & rich interiors gave us no reason to believe that this was just another ferry.   There was a restaurant, dining hall, seating area with refreshments served and even a movie theatre with 2 halls, playing different movies.  We now wanted our journey to last longer than just 3 hours.

As we walked past deck 9, there were plenty of people already occupying different seats out there.  Most of them seemed weary and tired.  Few were fast asleep on the available sofas.  We walked  gaping in awe, at every single element, in this so called "Standard class", when we were instructed by a staff to get to the upper floor, leading to the "Club-Class".  


The normal class seemed so good that I couldn't stop imagining how good the upgraded class would be,  in comparison.    The stairs were all carpeted and the railings were shining clear.  Top class upholstery bedecked every inch of this ship.    As we walked through the club class doors in style, the views of  the mighty Irish Sea, a part of the North Atlantic Ocean, filled our eyes on the right hand side, through the large viewer windows,  while a restaurant counter curved around on the left hand side.  The chairs looked amazing in blue .


The crowd here, looked more elite and were scantily spread across the vast floor.  The big glass windows displaying the entire sea all around created that heavenly effect.  There were plenty of chairs that could be occupied.  We found a circle of chairs fit enough for our group  and laid our hand baggage around it, confirming our occupancy. We got proximate with the windows to get up close with the waters. 

The ferry was yet to move.  We had 45 extra minutes before the scheduled departure.  We decided to immediately explore the ship as much as possible.  We were not allowed to get to the outer deck as the winds were very strong.  It was prohibited by default.  Nevertheless, we had a great time walking the corridors and discovering a few sleeper cabins too.  These, of course, were available at a higher price.   We were fortunately able to get a few pics on one of the outer decks, with the permission of the floor manager.  


We returned to our seats and relaxed for a long time, savouring the eats and drinks from the restaurant  

Staring at the vast area of water right in front of us, kept our mind at peace.  Trading  a movie for this beautiful serene scene was not an option.   The gentle rocking put me to sleep for a while.   When I woke up, I found that all the other group members were gone, few of 'em shopping and the rest discovering various parts of this mighty vessel.

By 5:10 pm, we could spot the shores of DUBLIN port, at a far away distance.  We stood, like all others, near the windows to get a good view of the manoeuvring process.   The ferry dropped us by the Dublin port sharp at 5:30pm. It was 3 hours well spent.  We picked our baggage and headed to the 9th floor reception counter to disembark.  You can read about our Irish adventure under the IRELAND.

bottom of page