Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Things you can't do in the Lake District before Christmas

If you are wondering whether or not to succumb to the idea that you can save a pot load of money on hotel accommodation by taking a break in the Lake District between now and Christmas, allow me to sway your thinking. Basically, before you book that bargain basement priced hotel break, I think you ought to know about all the stuff that you can't do in the Lake District at this time of year.

First of all, you definitely won't be able to sit in a traffic jam, on the motorway, in the dark, tired after a hard days work, with some interminably cheery radio host playing songs that you don't want to hear, while the windscreen wipers make that incessant squeaking noise as they clear the screen so that you can get a clear view of the red lights on the car 3 feet in front of you. I don't care how much you like doing that, you can't do it here, because we don't have any motorways to get stuck in traffic on.

If you are one of those people who love waiting for the next commuter train, hoping that it is at least as full as the one before because you just love standing whilst you career through the suburbs at 20 mph, and getting up close and personal with people you don't even know, then under no circumstances should you come to the Lakes this winter. Although we do have some commuters, we only have one train for them to ride on, and there are not enough of them to fill it, despite it having a whole 3 carriages. Crowded escalators, queues at the barriers and automatic ticket machines that swallow your money and don't give you anything back are also in short supply as well. In fact, there aren't any.

Maybe you are one of those people that loves battling the crowds to do your Christmas shopping. All that bumping and pushing and shoving fills you with glee, and you just cannot wait to get in the queue at the supermarket check out. Self service tills are not for you, not with this trolley load! Well it's like this. If you come to the Lakes you may well be lulled into a false sense of security. After all, we have a supermarket. And there is a massive Lakeland Limited superstore just waiting for you to turn up. But something will be sorely missing. There just won't be any heaving crowds of shoppers. We've tried, we really have, but somehow we just don't seem able to muster enough people to make even a small crowd worth the name.

OK, so our transport arrangements aren't too good. No traffic jams or crowded trains, and our shops are half empty, with lots of bargains to be had and no one to buy them, and things don't get any better if you like to indulge in one of the great pleasures of winter by missing all the daylight hours. After all, going out in the morning while it is still dark, spending all day indoors in an office or a shop or a factory or wherever you work, and not returning until well after the sun has gone down in the evening, is one of the highlights of the season. In reality, there is nothing to stop you doing that in the Lake District, but if you do you are likely to miss your breakfast, and we don't like the idea of people going off out at 7 am with an empty stomach. By the time you have had your first meal of the day the sun will be well and truly up, so I'm afraid that if you want to miss all the daylight hours then the Lake District is the last place you should venture into.

If all of the above has not already put you off, maybe you might like to consider the ramifications of the total lack of air, noise and light pollution that we have in the Lakes at this time of year. The air is fresh and clean and can actually make you feel incredibly good, so much so that you'll think you are on a high, which means that it must be bad for you.

Sometimes, when you go for a walk on the fells, or just around a lake, all you can actually hear is the wildlife, and there is only so much gentle lapping of the waves; coupled with the odd chirrup of birdsong mingling with the cry of a kestrel; that any person can take without it driving you into a state of total relaxation. Before you know it you'll be addicted. And there are no clinics that offer a cure! If you want proof, check out this video of a winter walk around Grasmere.

As if all that is not bad enough, if you look up into the sky on a clear night you can actually see the stars. Which is kind of spooky, since if we can see them, the chances are that they can see us. That's right. It could well be that little green men and women from outer space are watching the Lake District and trying to work out why so many people spend their evenings sitting beside roaring log fires. Have these people never heard of central heating?!

So, I hope you will take heed. Life in the Lake District is not like it is in the rest of the country. Our public transport systems are limited and our shops are half empty. People that do take the plunge and spend a few days here tend to get addicted to it. They go home in a relaxed state of mind, with an almost insatiable yearning to come back again. When here they spend their days browsing around as though time does not matter, going for gentle strolls, or searching the empty aisles of gift shops taking advantage of the winter sales to bag half price gifts that no one else would ever have thought of buying. And they do all this without so much as a care in the world to spoil their enjoyment.

It's not right. It shouldn't be allowed. People battle through each day with the worries of the world on their shoulders but when they come to the Lake District they leave them behind. How crazy is that?! Someone has to worry about things, but oh no, these winter tourists don't seem to care a jot. So reader, beware. Joining them will lead you down the rocky path of being stress free.

Of course, if you quite fancy the idea of being stress free for a few days, going for walks amid fine scenery, Christmas shopping without the crowds and generally leaving the hustle and bustle of everyday life far behind, then ignore everything I've said and go ahead and book your winter break. - But remember. You have been warned.

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