I've been overseas, mostly the UK, for the past three months. It was amazing and I was lucky enough to get out and do some spectacular walks/hikes around England.
It started with four days in South Devon in June with associated torrential, unseasonal rain and flooding. Then a few day-hikes around London including Marlow on the upper Thames, Robertsbridge in East Sussex, an urban walk around Oxford, a range of urban/semi-rural walks around London and along the Thames Valley and Lea Valley.
But the highlight, not surprisingly, was the week I spent in the Lake District. I should explain...
GETTING TO LAKELANDS
The plan was to take the high-speed train from London Euston to Oxenholm which is just near Windermere. Then connect to a local train which would get me into Windermere, hop on a bus to my final destination and accommodation for the week, Grasmere. The whole trip should have taken me about 4 hours.
Sadly, there was an incident on the line just north of London so all services departing Euston (using the west coast mainline) were cancelled/delayed for several hours. The advice given to me was to skip over to Kings Cross Station and head up north via the east coast mainline - tickets would be honoured on other services. Indeed they were honoured however the trip ended up taking me about 8 hours. The upside? Met some nice people also heading to Grasmere and we pooled our knowledge and, best of all, after arriving into Windermere and being too late for the bus to Grasmere a local lady offered to drive us the rest of the way. How nice.
Anyhow, so the hiking. The scenery is simply amazing. Everywhere you look is a postcard - crystal clear lakes, stunning green hillsides with cute stone cottages, farms and livestock. The hills (they use a range of local words to describe hills, gullies and mountains but I'll have to rely on my Aussie definitions) were steep and rocky but the views from the tops were simply awesome. I took the bus out one day and climbed a dome-type hill which had amazing 360 degree views over Keswick and the local area, other days I just set out from Grasmere in any direction and walked, sometimes up hills, other times sticking to the flat land and looping around the lakes. I like to wing it. I really enjoy the discovery aspect of hiking.
I can't recommend highly enough the beauty of this area. It was so satisfying and challenging - everything I want in a hike.
If, like me, you like to enjoy a rewarding pint or two at the end of a strenuous day or you're keen on a nice spa or swim after your day out then don't scrimp on the accommodation. I stayed at the Best Western Red Lion in Grasmere because it had all these facilities and it was awesome to be able to relax in comfort, get a good night's sleep and then do it all again the next day. It also helps when the fog rolls in to have stuff to do at your hotel.
If you have access to a car it'll be helpful to get to the more remote areas. I was on train and bus, which served me well, but had I had access to a car I could have seen even more. Having said that, the drive from London would have taken much longer than the train trip. Trains in the UK are great.
Forget the guide books, just use a map. I spent too much time following overly detailed directions and ended up ignoring the books, grabbing my map and doing a bit of hilltop to hilltop navigation. The area is really well signposted and you're never far from a road so my advice is to keep your head out of the books and on the scenery.
In short, Lakelands is not to be missed.