My first trip to England was to hike in the Lake District with three friends. One friend had been to Grasmere several times for Wordsworth conferences, and he was our leader. With his trusty guidebook in hand, we set off.
Unfortunately, he neglected to take into account that the length of days in summer (when the conferences were held) was different from the length of days in November, when we were visiting.
This became apparent on our first hike. We went out in early afternoon, when he thought we would have six hours to ramble through the countryside. But the light quickly began to fade around 4 p.m. and we were soon plunged into darkness. We had no flashlights and this was before cell phones, so when I say darkness, I mean darkness. There were no visible lights from houses and no streetlights to guide us to a road. We were sunk.
I remember telling myself that I was on an adventure with three friends and had nothing to fear.
Somehow, we got back to town safely.
The next day, we left much earlier and remained cognizant of the time.
After two days of hiking, though, I decided to stay in town to poke around the shops and visit Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s home. When I announced my plan at breakfast, our leader said, “You can’t.”
“Why can’t I?”
“We came to hike,” he said emphatically.
“And I have hiked,” I replied.
He found it incomprehensible that I would take a day off from the very purpose of our trip. But I was not deterred.
Don’t get me wrong—I like to hike. But hiking in the Lake District is arduous.
When the book instructed us to scramble across a brook, it neglected to mention that in November the rocks in the brook would be covered in ice. The same with scaling rock faces. After two days, I had had enough and wanted a day off.
Besides, I enjoy poking around in little shops and visiting museums.
At the end of that day, I met up with the other three for drinks at the local pub.
Intermittent rain had made their hiking even more challenging (and less enjoyable), and they were exhausted.
I was happy I hadn’t gone hiking, as I enjoyed shopping in the village, visiting Dove Cottage and walking around Lake Grasmere.
My next hiking trip to England was to the Cotswolds where the Cotswold Way sounded much gentler than the Lake District walks. I went in the summer when the days are long, but I still had unexpected challenges—like not being able to find the gate in a field and having to climb a tree to get over a barbed-wire fence (hoping no one was capturing this escapade on video).
Being more of a city girl, both trips challenged me and gave me a sense of accomplishment.
Next year, I am going to the U.K.—this time to Wales, where I plan to walk leisurely around gardens.