Eliza and I took the train up to the Lake District, staying the first 3 days at a country house hotel by Lake Coniston. Monk Coniston turns out to be a National Trust property let and managed by a vacation company that organizes group holidays around different activities. We arrived on a Friday afternoon as the odd chicks out amidst the ballroom dancers, the digital scrapbookers, and the afficionados of the Scenic Railways of the Lake District (yes, apparently there are multiple railways, and yes, many are tres scenic). It proved to be a colorful weekend.
Here are the grounds:
And looking out towards the lake:
We went to the Lake District to hike and researched the Ordinance Survey maps to select hikes. Eliza and I decided to do a challenging hike first: the Old Man of Coniston, an 800-meter climb above Lake Coniston, with 360-degree views around the lakes, south to Morecambe Bay. Like several of the days in the lakes, it began sunny and then gradually clouded over. We hiked up through farms:
Up where the real climb started, we encountered a small group of school kids on some sort of outing (on a Saturday). About a dozen 11-12 year olds, a teacher, and a professional guide. The teacher and guide were clearly Very Brave Men. And it turns out Eliza has the stamina of a 12-year-old--which is either a very good thing or a very bad thing. It was a Slow Climb. But we made it:
At the top, we asked one of the students for a photo--she wasn't too thrilled, but she complied:
Here's the valley below:
This is one of many abandoned slate quarries in the area. We couldn't figure out what the tunnel/cave was for:
And then we stumbled down the mountain. A good first day: dramatic scenery, good weather, no falls!