When I visited the famed Lake District of England last spring, it had been 15 years between visits. The first time I explored this idyllic region full of farms and rolling hills, I was on a tight schedule and sadly didn’t have the chance to experience much of what makes this part of England so popular. Luckily, this time I corrected that first mistake and didn’t just see a lot of the area, but I got to experience it actively as well. In my opinion, one of the best ways for anyone to get closer to nature in the Lake District is by canoeing.
Located in northwest England, the Lake District has long been a holiday retreat for city dwellers seeking lakes, mountains and beautiful forests. This area has inspired poets, authors and artists and it definitely inspired me. The Lake District is what we all perceive England to look like. Sheep dot the hills, which are rolling to the point of absurdity, almost like living in a Seuss book. Around every corner you expect Peter Cottontail to dart past and the region itself has a unique ability to calm even the most harried soul. I’m an active person though and sitting on a bench watching the world go by isn’t for me, which is why canoeing on beautiful Derwentwater was a highlight of my trip.
Derwentwater is one of the largest lakes in the District and as I soon learned, also one of the most beautiful. While you can admire it from shore, the only way to really experience it is on the water. England’s weather can be moody at times, and such was the case that morning as the fog covered the lake and clouds overhead threatened to open at any moment. England is green, but that verdancy comes at a price – frequent rain. Luckily the rain doesn’t usually last too long, allowing visitors the chance to get out and explore.
There are few things I enjoy more than being on the water, especially in a canoe. I always find the experience to be calming and relaxing while simultaneously active. It’s a great symbiosis of frenetic and the sedate, making it a fun travel experience no matter where you are. The Lake District is especially adept at this style of exploration, and the trip was much more than a simple paddle on the water. Derwentwater has a number of small islands and it was one of these small bits of land where the guide stopped for a break and to teach us how to make our own lunch.
The company we used, Keswick Canoe & Bushcraft, isn’t your normal canoe facility. Their guides show visitors around the lake, but also teach them about the nature all around, including some survival techniques. Under careful supervision, we learned how to make fire and then clean and cook our own lunch. Sheltering under the massive trees, noshing on delicious morsels we prepared with our own two hands was a special travel experience that didn’t just show me the beauty of the lake, but brought me emotionally closer to it.
The rain did eventually start to fall, but that didn’t really matter as we bundled up and continued canoeing around the lake. In some ways, the weather only made Derwentwater that much more beautiful; a certain charm found in the moody weather. It’s also how I personally have always imagined the Lake District to look; slightly wet, incredibly green and devastatingly beautiful.
Getting out of town and thrusting yourself into nature is always fun, but for some reason it’s even better when exploring England’s beautiful countryside.
Where are your favorite places to explore on the water?