I am currently writing this post in the living room of a rented holiday house. I am soaking in the uninterrupted views of the Fairfield horseshoe and Langdale Pikes. Well when I say uninterrupted, the view is squeezed through houses, an enormous and frankly ridiculous Leylandi (why plant a tree that big??). Its a bit like a load of tall people in a crowd, trying to get the best view while standing on a hill. Eventually, everyone loses out.
Anyway thats enough about how full it is. Full of middle class parents fretting about the availability of Feta cheese in Booths supermarket and whether the sourdough is organic? Was in a great bric a brac shop yesterday. A couple clogged up the shop with pushchair and two excessively tactile children, ‘learning’ by pulling the maps and photographs onto the floor, then crying as if we had hurt them. Meanwhile our youngest was offered all sorts of goodies from said emporium and eschewed all delights put before him.
How many walking gear shops can one town sustain? How many flavours of Kendal Mint Cake should there be ( to the uninitiated, Mint Cake is solid toothpaste in a block).
The hundreds of writers who have pondered the question – what would William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter or Alfred Wainwright make of this Lakeland? Would it be a withering disapproval, shaking their heads and talking about how it was better when nobody came here. I am not thinking about this though. They did their best to encourage visitors/money and ultimately walking gear shops to this beautiful and small corner of England. They promoted, waxed lyrically, sketched the stunning countryside they enveloped themselves in
They were a combination of self absorbed, socially inept creative types who loved the Lakes for their beauty, which in turn, inspired their world renowned outpourings of literature. Wainwright was not known for his social skills whilst out walking. He gave a generation of antisocial 60+ men the permission to not have to speak to others on the fells. Wordsworth wandered lonely – with Dorothy his sister trotting obediently behind him as he composed his poems. Beatrix Potter the socially restricted daughter of an upper class family. She found friends in the animals, wrote beautifully about them and went on to become a prolific landowner and farmer. They are all incredibly talented and inspirational writers that did more to promote the Lake District than any tourist information organisation.
There’s no point being stuffy about it lets face it. There is room for all. The problem as we all know is that the upland areas are challenging to get to. There is no feta/sourdough/bric a brac/branches of Joules up there. Consequently most people squeeze into the narrow, low bits between the fells.
So as I sit here listening to Shaun Keaveny in the charming surroundings of our Lakeland holiday HQ, I am very glad to be here. I will not worry about others. I am as middle class as they are in my demands from Booths and have fretful children who get as frustrated as other families. How do I know that Joules/walking shops/specialist deli’s exist is because we have wandered amongst them too.
No one should get superior about their holiday experience in the Lake District. Its a wonderful corner of a small but equally wonderful country.