Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ullswater Lake, The Lake District

By Claire
Today was predicted to be sunny and clear so we jumped at the chance to take a boat ride around Ullswater Lake, a favorite spot of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. I'd seen so many paintings of this lake that I just had to see it. It is a narrow lake, 7-1/2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide. This is where he was inspired to write his most famous poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, also known as "Daffodils." His sister Dorothy kept a diary where she noted the lovely daffodils they came upon by the side of the lake. He wrote the poem after reading the diary a year later.

The drive took us through a very different landscape--hilly and rocky and beautiful in its own craggy way. We passed by High Nest Farm, Low Nest Farm, Holly Cottage and Babbling Brook Cottage.

We found our "steamer boat", which now runs on diesel, grabbing two front row seats outside. The clouds came in and the sun went in and out but the views were great and we had a wonderful time. We talked to several people--one couple has never been out of Britain. They just don't see the point. Another woman was born near Sacramento but has lived in London for 17 years.

As we cruised along, we came to a gaggle of geese tightly bunched together just floating and enjoying the day. As we came closer, they disconnected, slowly paddling away then began frantically splashing, paddling and flapping their wings until the entire skein achieved lift off.

We enjoyed our picnic on board, taking in the beautiful houses on the shores of this "prettiest lake in the region."

Leaving the car park, we headed in the direction of Penrith and came upon Aire Force waterfall, another National Trust property. No building, just beautiful hiking trails to a very nice waterfall. We were able to park free and save the £4.50 "pay and display" fee using our National Trust windshield sticker. We love the names of towns along the way: Ambleside via "The Struggle", Watermillock, Glenridding, Pooley Bridge and Newbiggen.

Who said there aren't any monsters in the forest?

Daffodils (1804)

I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way,

They stretch'd in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

By William Wordsworth (1770-1850).


punkingee said...

There are some great websites describing the derivation of English place names.

Pat in Santa Cruz said...

Thank you for including the poem. How inspiring. Reminds me of seeing Monet's gardens and imagining him being there. Your lake ride looked so nice -- poor geese! Thanks for the stone circle pics...time to read Outlander again! Lots of the pics make me feel like I'm watching a BBC episode of...well, something. Here's hoping there's easily accessible wifi in your future. (pizza - yum)

Chuck and Claire said...

Thanks! I should have thought of that. We'll have fun with it.

Chuck and Claire said...

I feel really lucky learning more about Wordsworth. He was a true outdoorsman and loved nature. I'm so impressed that he chose to live the life he wanted.

Florence said...

Hi Chuck and Claire,
At first, Ullswater Lake meant nothing to me, but when I read on and realized it was where the poem Daffodils was born, I was enthralled. The pictures were beautiful, and as always, Claire wrote beautifully and lively. Daffodils was my first exposure to English poem my first year in college. I remember reciting it on the roof of Freshman Building and wrote an article about my feelings. My high school newsletter published it. One girl wrote and told me that after she read the article she almost switched her planned major from Business to English Literature! The poem had an enduring impact on me. Thank Claire for writing about the place and poem. It was such a pleasure to read Daffodils again in your blog, decades after it first captivated me.

Chuck and Claire said...

What a lovely story! Thanks so much. This place will stay in my memory.