United Kingdom Part 2
United Kingdom             Wales (UK)            Scotland (UK)            England (UK)
(This update will take about 5 minutes (at 28.8) to download -- please be patient.)

Travels through Wales, Scotland and England:  July 8 to July 20
(Pictures are thumbnails. Click on them for a larger view. You may click on the subjects listed to go directly to them.)

    Northern Wales    Caernarfon Castle    Conwy Castle    Llechwedd Slate Mine    Wales Countryside    York    York National Railway Museum    York Castle Museum    York Minster Church    Edinburgh    Edinburgh Castle    Museum of Scotland    Scottish Folk Evening    Britannia Yacht    Inverness    Loch Ness - Urquhart Castle     Scottish Highlands    Glasgow   Lake District Keswick    Derwentwater (lake)    Lake District Hiking     Hadrian's Wall and Roman Ruins    Derwent Pencil Museum   Beatrix Potter     Cat Bells High Ridge Hike

Ddyd Da Ein Ffrindiau!   Dia Diabh A Chairde!  Good Day Our Friends!

Hello from the UK!

DSCN4339.JPG (53326 bytes)    DSCN4455.JPG (48679 bytes)    DSCN4644.JPG (50870 bytes)    

This update covers the final legs of the Rich Family Odyssey.  We continue our travels in Wales, Scotland and England.  The first picture shows us on top of a Lake District mountain called Cat Bells.  Next, Denny is in London at Madame Tussaud's Waxworks sharing a look-alike moment with Steven Spielberg.  Finally, after 14 1/2 months, we happily return to Denver International Airport.

We have loved exploring the world and its wonders, but it is good to be home, and there is lots to do to get ourselves re-oriented to "normal" life. We plan further updates with thoughts about our trip plus a contrast with our home city of Denver as a place to visit.  The web site will stay up.  Thanks again for following along with us on the Rich Family Odyssey.  We still appreciate email if you have comments or questions and especially to keep in touch.  Finally, and most importantly, we thank the Good Lord for allowing us to fulfill our dream of traveling the world and returning safely

This update is in two parts.  One is United Kingdom Part 2 which covers our travels through Wales, Scotland and England.  The second one covers the last of our Odyssey in the big, busy city of London.  Click on either the update lines, above, or the navigation frame, left, to check out both updates. 

Maps have been changed so that they are now thumbnails for quick downloading.  Click on any map thumbnail to see the larger details.  Also, there are three new maps under Summary Route Maps: one for our travels in Europe, one for the rest of the world, and, finally, one of our travels in North America.   Stephanie has finished a terrific research paper on Roman Daily Life that is included in Stephanie's Schoolwork.  Check it out. 

Back to Top
Northern Wales

After a delightful week in southern Wales and Ireland, a high speed catamaran ferry ride brought us from Dublin to Holyhead in Northern Wales.  We then took the train to Llandudno Junction, rented a car and checked in at our scenic converted railway station, Eyrth Station B & B, near Ruthin.  

DSCN3747.JPG (56522 bytes)    DSCN3743.JPG (52675 bytes)        

Click on the first picture to get a sense of the lush Welsh countryside which looks amazingly like New Zealand, complete with hills of sheep (grass lice).  We dropped our bags in Ruthin and went immediately to the little town of Llangollen to attend the finals of the International Eisteddfod Choir Competition.  The Japanese women's choir shown here was very colorful and very good.  The winning choir was from Estonia.  Yes, we had to look it up in our atlas too!  Estonia is near Denmark and was part of the old Soviet Union. 

DSCN3762.JPG (65640 bytes)    DSCN3767.JPG (30258 bytes)    DSCN3774.JPG (62133 bytes)

The next day, Steffi took a picture of Mom and Dad enjoying Swallow Falls near the resort town of Betws-y-Coed (bett'-oos-uh-coyd).  Further down the road, a lake in the high country.  We never saw boats on these lakes.  Next, a large slate mine being cut out of the mountain.

Back to Top
Caernarfon Castle

Spectacular castles in Northern Wales are among the best in the world.  In the 13th century, the Welsh were united under prince Llywelyn and were viewed as a threat to England.  So, King Edward I fought hard and defeated the Welsh in 1282.  To ensure his control of the newly won Northern Wales (and the feisty locals), King Edward spent the next 20 years building 17 great castles to assert English dominance over the Welsh.  Unlike Scotland (which did not become part of the UK until 1707), Wales has been part of the UK ever since then.  We visited two of these castles, Caernarfon (keh-nar'-von) and Conwy.  

DSCN3792.JPG (55062 bytes)    DSCN3786.JPG (58591 bytes)    DSCN3795.JPG (67352 bytes)   

This is Caernarfon Castle, built right on the west coast as you can see in the first picture.  Building these castles by the sea allowed the English to easily supply them.  The next picture shows the building technique of having inner buildings within the castle itself, kind of a castle within a castle.   Great round towers were built in these castles which were the homes for the lords who actually ran the castle.  Jennifer and Steffi stand on a walkway built across one of these towers.  (Maybe this is where George Lucas got his ideas for Star Wars!)  Originally, there would have been several wooden floors built in these towers.

 DSCN3801.JPG (49037 bytes)    DSCN3803.JPG (42365 bytes)    

If you click on the first picture, a model of the castle, you see there was a walled city attached to the castle.  This city would have been populated by English (not Welsh) people and protected by the soldiers in the castle.  Last, an exterior view of the real thing.  These castles were so formidable that they were never overrun.  

Back to Top
Conwy Castle

DSCN3814.JPG (56508 bytes)    DSCN3818.JPG (76866 bytes)    DSCN3829.JPG (50490 bytes)    

Conwy Castle on the north coast is equally impressive.  This was a favorite place for King Edward to visit and had lots of room for him and his queen.  The inner courtyard shows how the design featured a castle within a castle for superior defense.  We had a superb guide, shown here with his well-used, beat-up pointing stick. Here he points out that the steps each had a different depth and height, a defensive measure to slow down potential invaders (and a handy thing to know if you're a tourist navigating the narrow, dark stairway).

DSCN3830.JPG (55930 bytes)    DSCN3835.JPG (57522 bytes)    

Conwy Castle was built at a strategic point where everyone coming from the west (ie, Ireland) would have to pass through on their way to central Britain.   This picture shows the one lane iron bridge that was built in the early 1800s to allow traffic to pass over the large River Conwy.  This would have included literally all traffic coming from Ireland (as we did) by ferry or commercial vessel.  This one way bridge obviously was a bottle neck, and it was not until 1959 that the modern highway bridge to the left was built.  Before that time, auto traffic would queue (wait) for hours to pass through.  The last picture shows how strategic this castle was with the river surrounding most of it.  These castles are terrific places to explore.  Lots of fun!

DSCN3837.JPG (60223 bytes)    DSCN3841.JPG (59925 bytes)    

In the cute medieval town of Conwy, attached to the Castle, is the tiniest house in Britain.  This house, with Steffi in the doorway, is only 72 inches wide and 122 inches high.  The house was lived in until 1906 by an elderly couple, when it was declared unfit because there was no bathroom.  Now, it is a popular tourist stop.  On the way back to Ruthin, we passed a park which had a round stone circle, one of many on the island of Britain.  These stone circles, like Stonehenge, were built by the Druids between 2800 and 1500  B.C. and form a celestial calendar.

Back to Top
Llechwedd Slate Mine

Slate mining was a major industry for the Welsh from times even before the Victorian Era.  They mined and split most of the slate used for roofing throughout Europe.  

DSCN3842.JPG (58881 bytes)    DSCN3855.JPG (65908 bytes)    DSCN3851.JPG (59969 bytes)    

Jennifer and Steffi, with hard hats, are on the train to make their way into the mine.  Today, mining is done on the surface, rather than through deep tunnels, and, like coal mining, it is a industry in decline.  For every ton of slate worth keeping, 10 tons were mined and you can see the huge hills of wasted slate in the background of the next picture.  The art of splitting the slate to make roofing pieces was demonstrated by the man in the last picture.  We are sure he makes far more money doing this for tourists now than he would have in the early mining days.  

Back to Top
Wales Countryside

DSCN3863.JPG (52676 bytes)    DSCN3865.JPG (47247 bytes)    

Wales is a beautiful green country with lots of mountains in the northwest.  If you click on the first picture, you can see both the ever present sheep and the lower parts of Mt. Snowden (Yr Wyddfa), the highest peak in Wales at 1,085 meters (3,559 feet).  The next picture was from the back of our lovely B & B, a converted old railway station.  It was a nice place to watch the sun set, if there weren't too many clouds, and reminded us enormously of the view from Murray and June's farm in the Catlins of New Zealand.

Back to Top

Leaving Wales, we got on a train bound for Edinburgh, Scotland.  Along the way, we were passing through the English town of York.  According to Rick Steves, our favorite guide book, this was definitely worth a visit.  However, to avoid another day of schlepping our bags to yet another place to stay, Jennifer had the great idea that we could just stop on the way.  So, we got off the train, checked our suitcases at the train station and spent several hours visiting world-class York. 

DSCN3900.JPG (50763 bytes)    DSCN3902.JPG (59306 bytes)    DSCN3914.JPG (59327 bytes)    

Like all medieval towns, York has a castle.  Here is what is left of it, named Clifford's Tower.  We didn't go in.  One of the things to do in York is called Rambling the Shambles, which means walking and shopping through the old medieval town, which Jennifer and Steffi are doing here. Notice that many of the buildings are leaning a little!  The last picture shows some of the old (and restored) medieval town wall which is leading us back to the train station.

Back to Top
York National Railway Museum

DSCN3874.JPG (49376 bytes)    DSCN3880.JPG (61127 bytes)    DSCN3882.JPG (51499 bytes)    

In the industrial age, York was the railway hub of Northern England.  Appropriately, they have the National Railway Museum which was very well done.  Here are a couple shots.  The first is of a working roundtable with engines lined up on all sides.  Next, a very early 1829 steam engine, similar to the Puffer Billy in the US.  Last, Jennifer and Steffi try their hand at changing the signals.  These handles would have been attached via very long cables to the actual switches in the rail yard.  It took some muscle to actually move the switch, and was a clever method of managing traffic on the old-time lines.  Fun!

Back to Top
York Castle Museum

DSCN3886.JPG (64128 bytes)    DSCN3893.JPG (57249 bytes)    DSCN3899.JPG (71276 bytes)    

The York Castle Museum, which is a superb exhibit of life in Victorian England from old shops to costumes as well as things such as armor from much earlier times.  The time we spent was quite enjoyable and informative.  Here are some representative shots.  The first, a Victorian clock, which had several dancing characters on the front and back, worked, for some reason, at precisely 4:08!!  Steffi tries her hand at a town water pump.  And, gypsies were everywhere in the Victorian era.  Here is one of their wagons.

Back to Top
York Minster Church

DSCN3907.JPG (52486 bytes)    DSCN3908.JPG (75506 bytes)    

During the reformation, King Henry VIII destroyed many monasteries and cathedrals.  However, he spared the York Minster and used York as his Anglican Church's northern capital.  The church was built from 1280 to 1350 and is very spacious and bright, as you can see in the first picture of the ceiling.  A high alter shown next is very spectacular.   We stayed for the Evensong service at 5 PM and enjoyed the choir.

Back to Top

We left York late and hopped back on the train, making our way through some gorgeous green countryside along the North Sea coast up to Edinburgh.  Here are a few sights in the city.  

DSCN3919.JPG (28276 bytes)    DSCN3932.JPG (31110 bytes)    DSCN3936.JPG (25651 bytes)    

If you click on the pictures, you will notice that most of the buildings are quite black.  Edinburgh used to be heated by coal, as much of England was, and the buildings are black from that.  The entire city of Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and we hope they find the money to clean these beautiful buildings, just as other European cities have done.  This first building is the Walter Scott Monument, a 200 foot high tower honoring the great author.  His white marble statue, at the bottom, is surrounded by 16 Scottish poets and 64 characters from his books.  The next picture is of the top of St. Giles' Cathedral, with its ornate stone work imitating the Scottish crown.  Last, a nice old clock graces one of the city's buildings.

DSCN3939.JPG (51530 bytes)    DSCN3941.JPG (62959 bytes)    

This is Holyroodhouse Palace, where the Queen spends a week in Scotland each summer.  It marks the end of the street called the Royal Mile, which is roughly the distance from this Palace to the large Edinburgh Castle at the other end.  Attached to the Palace is a 12th century Augustinian monastery, which is in ruins as you see here.  The rooms we saw in the palace were nice,  but, as we have learned, British Palaces were much less elaborate that other countries in Europe.  Of course, the modern quarters for the Queen weren't shown.  And, no pictures were permitted anyway.

DSCN3959.JPG (54508 bytes)    DSCN3968.JPG (56190 bytes)    DSCN4141.JPG (65461 bytes)    

Steffi and Denny visited a tall building with an old device called a 'Camera Obscura.'  Basically, this 1850s device uses a lens system to focus an image on a large rounded dish in a darkened room.  (We couldn't take a picture of it.)  For its day,  the images it captured would have been quite a sight.  This picture, taken from the top of the building, is of the heart of Edinburgh.  Next, a shot of the Royal Mile leading toward the Holyroodhouse Palace, with the top of St. Giles showing on the right.  Steffi liked this statue of a little dog named Bobby.  It is a tribute to the dog who, in 1858, followed the remains of his master to Greyfriar's churchyard, and lingered around there by his master's grave until the dog died in 1872.  The bar in the background is Greyfriar's, Bobby's Bar.

DSCN3971.JPG (28831 bytes)    DSCN3973.JPG (62722 bytes)    

In the Camera Obscura building, there were many fun scientific exhibits to explore.  Here Steffi looks through a spinning wheel with slits which creates a motion picture.  Click on the next picture to see one of the pubs we ate at:  Deacon Brodie's Tavern.  Deacon Brodie was a bit like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.  He was a church deacon by day and a gambler, thief and carouser by night.  He was finally caught and hung, much to the surprise of his fellow church goers.

DSCN4170.JPG (33297 bytes)    DSCN4172.JPG (29483 bytes)    

A couple evening shots of Edinburgh (it stays light until 11 PM).  Here is the Walter Scott Monument and next is Edinburgh Castle perched high on its hill overlooking the city.

Back to Top
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is the most popular tourist spot in all of Scotland.  In one place, you can get a feel for all of Scottish history.  The origins of the castle date from 1,300 years ago, but most of the current buildings were built or restored in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  

DSCN4095.JPG (49658 bytes)    DSCN4097.JPG (55757 bytes)    DSCN4102.JPG (46854 bytes)    

Here is a view of the entrance to the castle after a long walk up the hill along the Royal Mile.  At the entrance, Denny and Steffi pause in front of a statue (recent) of King James VI of Scotland, who also became King James I of England as Britain's first Scottish king.  Of course, the Castle sits atop a high hill, as you see next, with a cannon pointed down and out toward the lower city.

DSCN4103.JPG (46147 bytes)    DSCN4108.JPG (68152 bytes)    DSCN4112.JPG (65575 bytes)    

This picture from the Castle is of the 822 feet high old volcanic hill called Arthur's Seat, which is a city park overlooking Edinburgh.  Next, a view from the highest points downward to a lower defensive wall with cannons.  At 1 PM, everyday (except Sunday, when we were there) they fire one of these guns, which is a tradition dating back to the times that the gun was used by sailors on ships in the harbor to set their clocks.  The last picture is of a huge medieval cannon, called Mons Meg, a siege gun used against the English from 1457.  It could fire one of the huge balls Steffi is sitting on for two miles!   It was last fired in 1681 when the barrel burst.

DSCN4119.JPG (64473 bytes)    DSCN4124.JPG (52822 bytes)    DSCN4122.JPG (62586 bytes)    

Steffi stands beside a statue of a unicorn horse, symbol of Scotland, outside the large Scottish National War Memorial commemorating all soldiers lost in WW I (148,000) and II (57,000) and wars (750) thereafter. Though soldiers from the Commonwealth countries were listed, Jennifer was unable to find the New Zealand names she looked for: apparently it is only for those of direct Scottish descent.  The next picture is of the crest created when Scotland (left) and England (right) were united forming the United Kingdom in 1707.  Last, a picture from the Great Hall showing a display of armor.  (This hall and other cold living quarters were used only when the King or Queen lived in the Castle.  They normally preferred to stay in Holyrood.) 

Back to Top
Museum of Scotland

DSCN3975.JPG (50850 bytes)    DSCN4137.JPG (45690 bytes)    

The Museum of Scotland is a new facility (Jennifer in front ) which traces the history of Scotland from early geologic times to the present.  It was outstanding, with roomy bright displays and wonderful artifacts.  A Scottish artist was commissioned to create these wonderful robot-like statues which hold artifacts near the main entrance.  

DSCN4138.JPG (31378 bytes)    DSCN3981.JPG (30639 bytes)    DSCN3983.JPG (39754 bytes)    

These silver chains would have been worn by early Celtic nobles from around 500 AD.  They used old Roman silver to make the heavy and ornate necklaces.  Next, an elaborate brooch from about 800 AD.  Finally, these are some of the Lewis chess pieces, named after the find on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland in 1831.  Scotland has 10 of these 12th century walrus ivory Nordic chess pieces with the remainder (about 80 or so) on display in the British Museum.  Click on the picture to see the carvings.. they are really clever.  We especially like the ones with hands to their cheeks in a pose of exasperation.  The card notes that three pieces are on loan to, ironically, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science as part of a Vikings exhibit. We suspect it might even be the same wonderful exhibit we saw in Washington, DC. We will check it out, and hope our Denver friends will too!

DSCN3987.JPG (63001 bytes)    DSCN3990.JPG (43854 bytes)    

The museum has a section highlighting "Scotland in the World," the emigration of Scottish people to other parts of the world.  We have learned that Scottish influences are very widespread, and celebrated one of the Scottish emigrations to Dunedin, New Zealand during our Reynolds family reunion last January.  This exhibit in the Museum of Scotland is on loan from the same Early Settlers Museum in Dunedin where our reunion had been based!  We met the curator of the exhibits (in the blue shirt with our museum guide in the suit) and had a very fun conversation.  The next shot shows some of the items from Dunedin that were on display.  Interestingly, we also saw an exhibit at the museum which was from Canada regarding the voyage of the Hector in 1773 from Scotland to Nova Scotia.  We were in Canada last year for the launching of a replica of the Hector at Pictou, Nova Scotia.  Click on Canada and then the subject Pictou for a picture of the replica on its blocks ready for the launching.

DSCN4140.JPG (50533 bytes)    DSCN3991.JPG (57920 bytes)    DSCN3993.JPG (53790 bytes)    

Next door to the new Museum of Scotland was another museum highlighting some of Scotland's industrial items.  We noted another old steam engine from the early 1800s, a wild clock created for the millennium, and yet another interesting clock from the late 1700s.  

Back to Top
Scottish Folk Evening

Having enjoyed ourselves for two evenings of Irish music and dance in Galway and Dublin, we were anxious to do the same in Scotland.  We attended one Scottish folk evening at a local hotel with dinner and singing, piping and dance.  

DSCN4159.JPG (42286 bytes)    DSCN4167.JPG (39308 bytes)    

The piper shown here was decked out in the finest costume we have seen anywhere, and the lady doing the sword dance was terrific.  (The last Scottish sword dance we saw was in New Zealand performed by some kids when we were at our farm stay.  Click on New Zealand #2 and then the subject Farm Stay to see a picture.)

Back to Top
Britannia Yacht

In 1997, the British Government made the decision to take the Royal Yacht Britannia out of service primarily due to the high cost of operations.  It is now moored permanently in Edinburgh harbor as a tourist attraction.  Being tourists, we took the bus out to have a look.  This large yacht was commissioned in 1953 and has had its fair share of royalty and notables on board with Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family.  

DSCN4010.JPG (38466 bytes)    DSCN3997.JPG (63216 bytes)    

Here is the boat at its permanent site.  In the visitors center, you first get to see the 'smaller' runabout, shown here, which was used to carry the Royal Family to shore in air conditioned comfort. 

DSCN4006.JPG (30906 bytes)    DSCN4008.JPG (56662 bytes)    

:Pictures weren't generally allowed, but we snapped one of the living room.  Actually, all the living quarters were simple and quite plain, especially compared to some of the lavish quarters we have seen in other countries.  Queen Elizabeth said she wanted the ship to convey a homey country feel.  As such, she cancelled more elaborate plans which were first created.  Last, a picture of the engine room.  The two engines were actually overly complicated and exceptionally clean.   U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf commented when he saw the engines, "Well, I've now seen the museum pieces.  Where are the real engines?"

Back to Top

We took the train through the Scottish highlands up north to the city of Inverness.  We only stayed one night in the city, but were delighted with the friendliness of the people, and it was extremely clean.  

DSCN4011.JPG (59171 bytes)    DSCN4038.JPG (48950 bytes)    

The Inverness pedestrian mall (every European city MUST have one) was busy.  The River Ness flows through the city.  Click on the picture and you can see the grass is neatly mowed right down to the water's edge.

Back to Top
Loch Ness - Urquhart Castle

DSCN4021.JPG (45826 bytes)    DSCN4026.JPG (41490 bytes)    DSCN4032.JPG (43686 bytes)   

Loch Ness is right next door to Inverness and we took a tour, obviously hoping to spot the monster Nessie or a cousin.  Here are some pictures of the lake, the last two including the ruined Urquhart Castle, which we did not visit but walked right beside.  If you click on the pictures and study the water long enough, you can make out shadows that 'could' be something.  We learned at the Loch Ness visitors' center that many things have caused people to think they saw something real.  Lots of scientific studies have not found anything.  Nevertheless, the mystique continues and obviously helps tourism.

 DSCN4030.JPG (60792 bytes)   DSCN4037.JPG (48525 bytes)    DSCN4046.JPG (59097 bytes)   

Near Urquhart Castle was an example of an old siege engine that would be used to hurl rocks or other nasty, usually burning items, over castle walls.  (By the way, if you would like to read a good novel about medieval castles with knights and fighting, pick up Michael Crighton's, Timeline.  It is set during the French-English 100 Years' War in 1356 on the Dordogne River in France.)   Near the visitors' center is a small lake with a Nessie floating there.  Steffi and Jennifer found that it does look just like a shadow, after all.  As we were leaving in our bus, we passed a floral replica of the Urquhart Castle. Way Cool!

Back to Top
Scottish Highlands

We next took a bus from Inverness south to Fort William along a canal system called the Caledonian Canal, built in the early 1800's to shorten the ship travel time to the south when there were no roads.  It consists of three lakes, Ness, Oich, and Lochy, with interconnecting canals and a series of locks for a total of 60 miles.   

DSCN4064.JPG (20079 bytes)    DSCN4067.JPG (24480 bytes)    DSCN4059.JPG (44048 bytes)    

The first picture is of Loch Oich, next is Loch Lochy.  Last a picture, near Fort William, of the highest peak in Britain called Ben Nevis at 4,008 feet.

Back to Top

DSCN4073.JPG (54091 bytes)    DSCN4076.JPG (46073 bytes)    

In Fort William we caught a train to Glasgow where got off the train for a quick tour of that city.  The city is working to redefine itself as a financial and services center after the demise of coal mining and ship building.  The first picture is of the main square right by the train station.  Next, the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum.  

DSCN4081.JPG (66474 bytes)    DSCN4089.JPG (49152 bytes)    

The University of Glasgow, shown here, was celebrating its 550th anniversary.  History and dates all over Europe make literally everything in American seem brand new!  Last, a slightly blurry picture of their new concert hall by the Clyde River. They take pride in saying that it looks like the Sydney Opera Hall.  We agree that there is a resemblance, though the harbor redevelopment here has just begun.

Back to Top
Lake District Keswick

We left Scotland and headed south and west for the Lake District of England.  This small area of England (roughly 30 miles on a side) is the home of beautiful scenery and lots of hiking trails.  We hoped that many of them would be open and not affected by the hoof and mouth disease problem.  Our base for four days in the Lake District was near the town of Keswick on the edge of Derwentwater (lake).  

DSCN4179.JPG (57038 bytes)    DSCN4173.JPG (60885 bytes)    

Here is a picture of the Keswick pedestrian mall (every European city really MUST have one) with old Moot Hall, now converted into a national park hiking and tourist information center.   Just outside Keswick is another stone circle, named Castlerigg.  As you can see from the picture, we took this shot from a road next to the field as we were not able to walk into this field due to hoof and mouth disease control.  Click on the picture, though, and you can see some of the 38 stones which are in a circle 90 feet across and laid out on a line between the two tallest peaks on the horizon, one of which you see in the background.   

DSCN4202.JPG (76013 bytes)    DSCN4205.JPG (57630 bytes)    

Near the new Keswick Theatre by the Lake (Derwentwater), we saw this creative waiting seat right by the parking lot.  Click on it for a better view of the iron work.  Here is a shot of some old Victorian houses (now mostly B & B hotels) overlooking their small golf course.  This par 2 golf course was called 'miniature golf,' and another nearby course of what we would call a miniature golf course was called 'obstacle golf.'  Makes perfect sense. 

Back to Top
Derwentwater (lake)

DSCN4180.JPG (44091 bytes)    DSCN4183.JPG (44274 bytes)    DSCN4186.JPG (30639 bytes)   

Tourist boats run around the lake (one goes clockwise and one goes 'anti'-clockwise) serving several stops along the way.  We wasted no time in taking the ride to check out Derwentwater.  These shots give an idea of the beauty of the lake and surrounding hills (even with the approaching rain).

 DSCN4191.JPG (28437 bytes)    DSCN4196.JPG (26075 bytes)    DSCN4200.JPG (54310 bytes)    

It does rain a lot in the lake district as these clouds and very green countryside attest.  Locals say, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing," but it is also the wettest part of Britain, which is saying something!  This mountain peak is called Cat Bells, and we would climb that a few days later.  Finally, a shot of the pier and boat docks at Keswick.  Very scenic!

Back to Top
Lake District Hiking

DSCN4214.JPG (78638 bytes)    DSCN4221.JPG (82081 bytes)    

After checking with the folks at the TI for information on open trails, we set out on a hike on the ridge to the east of Derwentwater.  Steffi and Denny enjoy the views from the top of a hill.  If you click on the next picture, you can see the clockwise and 'anti'-clockwise boats heading for the same stop.

DSCN4223.JPG (111350 bytes)    DSCN4229.JPG (127574 bytes)    

While we could walk right along the water in some places, at one spot there was a sign restricting travel because, in this case, farm animals were under investigation.  Steffi and Denny have fun walking on the exposed roots of a tree near the water.

DSCN4237.JPG (75765 bytes)    DSCN4239.JPG (127413 bytes)    -DSCN4244.JPG (108413 bytes)    

Further along and much higher above the lake, we found this picturesque bridge on a small creek, a typical Lake District scene.  Nearby, the sheep are taking it easy, obviously not worrying about hoof and mouth.  Click on the picture to check out their horns and wool.   Very un-sheep like.

DSCN4249.JPG (154282 bytes)    DSCN4252.JPG (146097 bytes)    

After getting into the forest, the trail went over a new fence which Denny is climbing over on the steps provided.  We guessed it was to contain animal movements.  Last, you can see Jennifer and Steffi scrambling down the very steep trail using the 'three limbs touching' rule of hiking in steep terrain.

Back to Top
Hadrian's Wall and Roman Ruins

Since we had a rental (hired) car, we decided to take a day, which was blustery anyway, and drive about 70 miles to explore Hadrian's Wall.  Around 130 A.D., the Roman Emperor Hadrian decided to build a great stone wall across England.  Its purpose was to keep the unruly populations of the north (those pesky Scots and others) out of Roman territory.  It also gave 20,000 soldiers something to do for over 200 years. Hadrian knew bored soldiers were dangerous soldiers, so in addition to the wall, the Romans built forts and castles and gates roughly every mile along its 74 mile length from coast to coast.  While the wall is somewhat akin to the Great Wall of China, there is not much left of it.  Most of the stones have been taken over the centuries to be used to build houses, monasteries and churches.  But, there is enough left to see and the sites of the forts and towns are a continuing treasure trove for archeologists.

DSCN4263.JPG (70532 bytes)    DSCN4270.JPG (57737 bytes)    DSCN4272.JPG (62037 bytes)   

This site is of the large Roman fort at Vindolanda (near the city of Durham if you want to check an atlas).  This picture is of one of the many Roman baths that had been built.  The Romans were smart... they knew a hot bath in the cold climate of Northern England was mandatory.  Next a view of the field that contains the fort.  Much of it is still being dug up.   Finally, a corner of the wall which ran around the fort.  This round building would have been a house or dwelling for an officer.

 DSCN4274.JPG (69581 bytes)    DSCN4283.JPG (84330 bytes)    DSCN4286.JPG (63719 bytes)   

Here is another bath with the columns that would have supported the wood floor.  Warm air would have flowed under the floor around these columns to keep it warm.  Next, one of the current archeological digs.  They told us that they work from April till October when the weather is 'better.'  At least theoretically.  They spend the winter months, when the weather is 'worse,' writing up reports.  The last picture shows them digging in what was a kitchen.  They would stop and pull out artifacts such as rugs, leather, utensils, etc. and put them into bags for later classification.  There was definitely a lot of stuff here and it was fun to see a site actually being worked.  This site also had a neat museum showing recreations of what life would have been like in Roman times.  Steffi used some of this information for her paper, in this update, entitled Roman Daily Life.

 DSCN4291.JPG (35323 bytes)    DSCN4294.JPG (60186 bytes)    

Our Rick Steves' guide said that the best site to view Hadrian's Wall was at a place called Housestead's Fort.  However, this whole area was closed to tourists due to hoof and mouth disease.  So, we had to go searching further west on our own.  With some diligence, we found a lot of the wall to look at.  Click on the first picture to see the remains of the wall running along this cliff.  Remember, it is now short because people long ago took the stones away.  It was once 15 feet high and up to 13 feet thick.  Here Steffi stands beside the wall and you can see it go way off into the distance.

DSCN4298.JPG (50822 bytes)    DSCN4301.JPG (75636 bytes)    DSCN4305.JPG (62717 bytes)    

Further west was the location of another old Roman fort, Birdoswald, at a place called Halt Whistle.  This place was noteworthy because its fort adjoined a well-preserved portion of the wall as you can see by clicking on the model in the first picture, and there was also a mile castle on the site.  The next picture shows what is left of the food storage buildings, which Jennifer and Steffi are exploring.  Finally, Steffi stands by the crest of a very steep hill/cliff at the rear of the fort which would have been very difficult for attackers to climb.  Of course, in those days, all the trees would have been cut down.

Back to Top
Derwent Pencil Museum

DSCN4313.JPG (46758 bytes)    DSCN4314.JPG (41907 bytes)    DSCN4311.JPG (45142 bytes)    

Back in Keswick, we visited the Derwent Pencil Museum, which is the first and still one of the largest pencil manufacturers in the world.  The first picture answers the age-old question of how they get lead into the pencil.  After the 'lead' is made (it actually contains no lead!) into spaghetti-like strips, it is laid into a half strip of wood containing rounded grooves.  Then, the top half is glued on to complete the cover.  Finally, each pencil is cut apart and then it is trimmed into the familiar six-sided shape.  Steffi stands next to what was the longest pencil in the world.  However, they also displayed a HUGE pencil which they had just finished to take the Guinness world record for the longest pencil.

Back to Top
Beatrix Potter

South of Keswick and the Northern Lakes District lies the more famous tourist town and lake of Windermere.  It is near the home of the famous children's author, Beatrix Potter.  And, of course, there is a small cottage industry thriving on her name alone.  We visited one such establishment.

DSCN4316.JPG (65841 bytes)    DSCN4321.JPG (48695 bytes)    

The World of Beatrix Potter told about her life and the 40+ books that she wrote, early in the twentieth century.  Of course, the most famous is 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit' with Peter himself shown here with Steffi.  Another cute display highlighted 'The tale of The Two Bad Mice.'  Some fun, but we would have rather visited her actual house, which was closed the day we went.

Back to Top
Cat Bells High Ridge Hike

DSCN4326.JPG (54292 bytes)    DSCN4329.JPG (32675 bytes)     

One of the main reasons to visit the Lake District was to hike.  The last day we were there was quite nice, so we set off on a long hike to Cat Bells which was at the top of a high ridge.  Jennifer and Steffi are making their way up the ever steeper path to the top.  A view of Derwentwater and Keswick from the ridge top.

DSCN4330.JPG (51313 bytes)    DSCN4335.JPG (55625 bytes)    

Looking back down from the top, you can see the ridge trail, which continues on across the whole District, and the scenic valleys to the west of Keswick.  Finally, Steffi happily reaches the top's rock cairn.

DSCN4342.JPG (86606 bytes)    DSCN4344.JPG (63021 bytes)    DSCN4343.JPG (69965 bytes)   

Along the trail, there were many sheep tromping through the thick ferns.  This trail was open because there was apparently little or no chance of spreading hoof and mouth disease in the higher mountains.  Near the lake, someone has a very nice house situated on a beautiful small boat harbor.  And, at the beginning and end of all trails there is a bucket of chemicals to clean your shoes in to kill any hoof and mouth virus that you might be carrying out on foot.  The British are working hard to control the disease and are hopeful that, next year, things will be back to normal.  While we weren't seriously impeded by the controls for the disease, we know it does keep people home or seeking other tourist destinations.  For our part, we were very, very happy hiking and exploring the Lake District of England.  It would be fun to come back.

After this day of hiking, we were off for London.  Click here: London, England or the navigation frame at the left if you would like to continue reading about the last week of the Rich Family Odyssey in London.

Back to Top