Lake District

72 hours seemed to be a very long time to stare continuously at my laptop screen so a three day long bank holiday looming at the horizon spanked me into instant action last week. Discussions, Google maps, suggestions from the natives and an exhaustive search on the Internet helped me to create a rough sketch of what I wanted to see in the Lake district. Although I must confess that “Lake District” does not require such detailed Internet surfing but I like to have the details before I start. 😉

Lake District(also known as LakeLand) is an area in North West England famous for is natural beauty and its 20+ lakes and natural reservoirs. It is a very popular tourist destination and has unsurpassed and untouched natural beauty. Its a place where many poems of William Wordsworth were born and where he was finally buried.

We got up early, made some Subway style chicken sandwiches and picked up our car from the Airport and set out to explore the “real” Europe, as SRK famously said in DDLJ. I was sure that our path would keep us on the highway most of the time but we were in for a big surprise.

Our first destination was WastWater, which is the deepest lake in the district and stretches to 4.6 km. We were initially on the highway, but suddenly our path turned towards small two way roads on the hills. For an hour, we were not even sure that we were going in the right direction and blindly followed the GPS. It was thrilling and the weather added to the effect by being misty. Finally, when we reached WastWater after driving through the lush green hills, the first thing which hit us was the “untouched” natural beauty. No human intervention except for the road.

Wast Water

Someone just forgot to commercialize this beautiful lake and I was thankful. The lake was surrounded by high mountains covered in mist(this line is getting repetitive. Isn’t it?? 😐 ) with small streams of water running into it from the mountains. There were hardly any people around and we savored the quietness.

A stone bridge at WastWater, Lake District

We walked around the lake, took deep breaths and some nice shots and moved to our next destination – Grasmere.

While snaking through the hills towards Grasmere, we passed through a few small villages where we couldn’t see a single soul but a lot of animals and through pathways covered with dense trees blooming with flowers which at times swirled down as the car passed through them. Believe me, you would love to get lost in such a place. And yes, just for fun, we terrified a goat sheep too!

Shocked Goat

Grasmere is a village(the most beautiful one you can ever see) which has a lake by the same name. It became famous because of its connection with the Lake Poets and because of William Wordsworth, who lived here for 14 years and was finally buried here at the St Oswald’s Church. By the time we reached Grasmere, we were dead hungry and so after parking the car, we were searching for a place to have our lunch when my eyes fell on a perfect place to eat.

The restaurant where we had our lunch

Ducks and Grasmere

It was a small restaurant with a stream running besides it. On the other side of the stream was THE Church. I found the spot incredibly romantic. 🙂 Here is another shot.

Grasmere, where we had our lunch

We roamed around in the church after having our lunch and saw the graves of the Wordsworth family. I even bought a small handbook of poems by the famous poet.

The graves of William Wordsworth and family

We ambled around the village for sometime and the lake(where I found my dream house)…

Views around Grasmere Lake

…before moving towards our final destination – Windermere, the most commercialized lake in Lake District and England’s longest lake. Frankly speaking, I was not expecting much because I like places when they are untouched. But surprisingly, the place was not that bad. I liked it for exactly the opposite reason for which I liked Wastwater. It was crowded, with people, yachts, lakeside restaurants, ducks and boats all around. It was almost 5.30 when we reached there and there was no boat tour to Ambleside for the day, but there was a lake tour on 6.30. We took that tour and I must say that this lake has the most picturesque surrounding you can ever imagine. Check out the pictures if you don’t believe me!

Looks very romantic

Views around Weindermere - 3

Views around Weindermere - 2

Wishful Thinking

The plants are taking over!

Old fashoined wooden boats

We finally had a quick bite before moving back to Manchester at around 8. The best part is that now a day, there is daylight till 9.30-10.00 pm and you can utilize the whole day. It was a day filled with incredible beauty and all of us loved every second of it.

p.s. I am sorry for armageddon-ing you with so many photos, but I really couldn’t make up my mind about which ones should I remove. 🙂 Oh! There is one more! 😛

Birds Inline

Over and Out!

Edinburgh and Scottish Highlands Tour (Part 1)

Four days of Easter holidays was a good enough reason to set out for an exploration of the United Kingdom. Earlier, Switzerland and France were also in the picture but then I pictured my parents lashing out at me for wasting all that money and so I had to settle down for something nearer. Wales and Scotland were the options which came to my mind, and so Scotland it was. We planned for a 2.5 days tour to Edinburgh and the Highlands almost a month before Easter. Easter is one of the busiest time here as the tourist season starts from April and its a good practice that everything is booked well in advance. 

We started on a cold Good Friday morning from the Railway Station in Manchester and took the train to Edinburgh. The train reminded me of DDLJ and I did peeped out of the door to see if Simran was anywhere in sight! 

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No! Thats not her! 😦

The train journey was quite eventful as the train snaked through the lush green mountain terrains and gave us a glimpse of the life beyond the cities. We arrived at Edinburgh at 9.15 am and got down at the Haymarket Station. After a quick dump-bags-in-B&B act, we took a cab to the Waverley Bridge. It was then that the beauty of the city struck us like a bolt of lightening. 

Edinburgh is the Capital city of Scotland and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The moment you are there, you will feel a strong urge to be lost in its streets. You would want to walk around not knowing where you want to go and just absorb the beauty around you. I don’t know what makes everything so incredibly beautiful in this city. Is it the perfect blend of the new and the old? Its a city which overwhelms you instantly.

img_3599This is the Waverley Bridge. The city tour buses start from this bridge(from the point where the Red bus is standing). The Princess Mall is on the other side of the bridge. All the buildings which you can see are a part of the old town. The place where the Waverley station is built was once the Nor Loch(pronounced lo-kh), which was the city’s water supply and the dumping ground of sewage. It was drained in 1820 and a New town was created just opposite to the old town. The soil was dumped in the drained canal which created a mound. This is how the mound looks like now:

img_3617Impressive. Isn’t it? This is the National Gallery of Scotland which was build on top of the mound and the railway lines were tunneled right below it. I took this photograph while climbing the Scott Monument which is another beautiful piece of architecture built in 1845. 

img_3865This is the Scott Monument which provides a breathtaking view of the city. You can see the Edinburgh Castle and the Firth of Forth at the same time. Here is a view of the New Town. The New town was built starting from 1766 and was a solution to the ever increasing population in the Old Town.

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Coming back to the Waverley Bridge!! We took the Bus and boat tour which took us through the various landmarks of the city and finally on a boat trip into the Firth of Forth. The boat trip was a memorable experience as it took us below the Forth Road Bridge and then below the iconic Forth Rail Bridge which was opened in 1890 and is considered as the one internationally recognised Scottish landmark. 98 workers lost their life during its construction. 

img_3397The Forth Rail Bridge

img_3404The Road and the Rail bridge. Both the Bridges connect Edinburgh with Fife.

There are a lot of islands strewn over the Firth of Forth. The Ferry stops at the Inchcolm Island. You can get down there and take back the next ferry or may come back in the same one. There will be a lot of Seagulls around and if you are lucky enough(as we were!!), you can spot Seals too.

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There are a variety of Bus tours available which you can book from Here.

After having a quick bite(which was roasted pork and duck with boiled rice for me 😉 ), we headed towards the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile in the Old Town is a mile long stretch between the Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse and is the most picturesque part of the city. We headed towards the Edinburgh castle which stands on top of a volcanic rock. The site has been inhibited since the Bronze age and the building of the present castle dates back to the 12th Century. A few pictures of the Castle, the Royal Mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

img_3660The Edinburgh Castle

img_3842The Royal Mile

img_3651The Royal Mile

img_4229The Palace of Holyroodhouse

Camera Obscura is also a wonderful place to visit. It is located near the Edinburgh castle and contains some great illusions, 3D holograms and a thermal imaging camera. 

img_3829The illusion of parallel mirrors

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We spent the rest of the day roaming around the city on foot. There was a very happy feel to the city. Everyone was laughing and enjoying and why not? It was Easter! There were Bagpipers playing the beautiful instrument and there was a man sitting near an ancient structure on the Royal Mile playing a Violin. There were people sitting in the street bars and chatting happily. Finally, we had a beer in a Bar near the Picardy Place Roundabout before heading back to the B&B. It was a beautiful day and I fell in love with a city for the first time. Now I know how it feels like! 🙂

The next day we went to the Highlands, another scarcely inhibited and breathtaking part of Scotland with some tragic history. More on it in the next post. I leave you with a few random pics.

 

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The Scott Monument

img_3859The Bagpipers at the Royal Mile

img_3594From the Top of the Scott Monument

img_3749Inside Edinburgh Castle

img_3584Inside the Scott Monument

img_3875In front of a Multiplex in the New Town

img_3844St. Giles Church on the Royal Mile

To be continued….

p.s. there are an overwhelming large number of photographs in my collection. 950 to be precise for the 2.5 days!!! If you still have an appetite left, then you can view 70 of them here. 

 

Isle of Wight Trip

Phew! I feel like an underwear in a washing machine. Life is running faster than I could have imagined and all I could do is to muster up enough strength to stand steady. Getting used to a place is not easy as it sucks out all that you were used to. For me, it sucked out blogging, and for a few days I could not gather my thoughts to put them on my laptop screen and neither could I raise my finger to open my Reader. So, apologies, dear friends! And I hope that all of you would understand! 

So, coming back to the topic, one of my roomies here returned to India last week. Before going back he wanted to go to a nice, beautiful, peaceful place and the options were very less because:

  • Usually October-March is considered off season here in UK as Winters is a terrible time to roam around.
  • He had already seen London, Scotland, Blackpool and Lake District, all of which I still have to visit. So all these options were ruled out.

The only two options left were Wales and Isle Of Wight, both of which were again under an Off-season spell. Finally Wales was ruled out too and we ended up booking a car and Preeto(our TomTom aka GPS) for three days. Before going further, let me tell you about Isle of Wight as most of you must be in an impression that its the name of a Crater on the fifth moon of Saturn. Isle Of Wight is a small island on the Southern Tip of Great Britain. Its about 257 miles from Manchester which is about a 5 hours drive. The Isle is not accessible by road which means that you have to shove your car in a ferry and take it to the isle and vice versa. During summers there is a huge advanced booking for the ferry but we were fortunate due to our perfect timings!

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theisle

This is the island as you can see in the map above. We went upto Portsmouth(upper right corner in the map) in the car and then took a ferry to Fishbourne, which is on the north east corner of the isle. Ferries also operate from Southampton and Lymington. Take your pick! 

The Island is spread over an area of mere 380 sq Km and is famous for its beautiful beaches of Shanklin, Ryde, Sandown and Yarmouth. Besides the beaches there was so much to explore that we found it extremely difficult to keep up the pace. And all this during the off season! Two notable, must visit points of the diamond shaped island are the Culver cliff and The Needles. If you really want to understand the meaning of breathtaking, you must visit these two points on the island. The Needles is undoubtedly the most picturesque area of the island which looks like the end of the chalk coloured ridge which runs across the whole island. 

The Culver Cliff on the other hand was used as a defence point as it was used to keep an eye on the vast ocean all around it. There were two nine inch guns kept there but the cliffs kept on eroding and most of it was lost. Now also, if you walk along the cliff, you can see the warning boards and the broken cliffs all around. I would suggest you to park your car at Yaverland beach and walk up the cliff from there towards the last point. Its a tiring walk of about half an hour but what you will see along the way is what you would never forget. 

Finally, there were many points of interest like The Osborne house, Carrisbrooke Castle, the zoo and the Railway Museum which we missed because they were closed due to the off season. It was a beautiful memorable trip and there were a bunch of breathtaking scenes which I would never forget in my life. I leave you with a few attempts to capture them:

This is a view of the Culver Cliff from Sandown Beach. If you see closely, there is a pole like structure on top of the cliff. That is the Yarborough Monument at the edge of the cliff. That is where you could walk up the cliff. And you have to be there to understand how the vast expanse of the ocean looks like from there, sprinkled with ships and with shimmering spots of sunlight strewn here and there.

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Well, this is what I was talking about. A few pictures of the view from the top of the cliff.

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Here are a few pictures I took while I was walking up the cliff

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The Yarborough Monument

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We woke up a 5:30 in the morning on the second day and went to see the sunrise. It was freezing cold and apparently we were the only one on the Sandown beach. The island loves to sleep!

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And that’s me, staring at the Sun.

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I took this picture in Portsmouth from the upper deck of the ferry. The ferry was about to move towards the isle and I saw this building just next to the port. Isn’t this a beautiful place to live? Sitting in the balcony, sipping tea and looking at the vast expanse of the ocean and the huge ships moving around you!

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View of Portsmouth as the Ferry moved away from it. By the way, Ferry seems to be a mild word for that ship. There were atleast 60 cars in it when it left Portsmouth!!!

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Thats the “Ferry”!!!

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The Needles was another fascinating point of the island. We reached there after the Sun had just jumped into the sea and the play of colours on the sky were seen to be believed. Here is a view of The Needles as we moved towards the edge of the cliff.

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This picture was taken while we moved towards the Needles. Everyone was coming back after seeing the sunset and we were the only ones who were moving in the opposite direction. 🙂

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That is the view of The Needles from the nearest point. It was quite dark by the time we reached there.

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A few more random pictures:

This was taken while the ferry left the British mainland.

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Taken at Ryde Beach. Are these Seagulls? They made an awful lot of noise.

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The sleeping city in the morning.

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An unknown castle on our way to a beach. Don’t know the name.

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What a way to go up!!!

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Water gushing up during a high tide. The foot of the Culver cliff which is accessible during the low tide and are great for an evening walk are completely immersed in water during a high tide.

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This was taken from the ferry back to Portsmouth as the sun set behind the isle.

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And finally I would like to dedicate this post to Preeto, our Tomtom(GPS) who was very patient with us and always guided us with her sweet voice even when we went off track atleast 5 times! We love you Preeto!!

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Straight from Manchester

img_2539Its a strange feeling sitting in Manchester and writing my first post from there. It has been a strange and riveting 48 hours. On Friday morning, I did not even had a clue if I would fly or not and in the evening, there  I was, standing in the bustling Metro and returning home with a ticket to Manchester in my bag. I had to fly the very next day. Everyone was speechless due to the sudden surge of events and I had no time to give parties to my bellowing group of friends. 

While zipping my suitcase just an hour before I was to leave home, I goofed up and forgot the number sequence I used to lock the bag. Finally I realized that since the sequence can only have numbers from 000 to 999, I could try all of them and one of them will open the bag. 😉 Well, thankfully, I did not even reach 200 when the bag clicked open on a combination and my whole family gave a collective sigh of relief. 😀

I had to switch flights at Abu Dhabi. I was surprised to see the crowd in the first flight. It comprised of rustic and shabbily dressed punjabi men who gulped each and every hard drink which was served on the flight. And guess which movie was the Punjabi Munda sitting next to me was watching? Singh is King!!! 🙂 I saw Mamma Mia which I wanted  to watch since a long time! Abu Dabhi airport was not very large but I gorged on the beautiful design.

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The flight to Manchester from Abu Dhabi was eight hours long and I slept during the most of it. I also saw Mrs Doubtfire and an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. The best part was the flight navigation system in which you can see the exact location of the plane on your screen and the trajectory it is taking. Also, there was a camera fitted at the front of the plane and you can set your screen to view the breathtaking cockpit view of takeoff and landing. I know most of you must be familiar with all these features, but then what the hell, its my first time! 😛

And, to torment you further, like all the people who end up clicking each and every bus and building when they go to a foreign land, here are two pictures of a “Sex drive in cinemas” double Decker bus and my neighbourhood.

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Jokes apart, next three months are going to be very hectic as there are more responsibilities on my head. I have to live upto the trust people have in me. I am happy to be here although the feeling has not sunk in properly. Not yet!  I have really wanted this from a long time and I hope it works out well for me. Pray for me. 🙂

p.s. I have been awarded by four bloggers in the past 10 days. Sorry for the delay guys!! I will be putting it up asap! 🙂

So long people!

[all the photographs are copyrighted by me. If you wish to use them, please mail me]