Monday, 10 November 2014

The Lovely Lake District

Hey readers! My name is Jessie. I'm a nursing major at the University of Evansville and scheduled to graduate in May 2016. I've loved all of my time at UE so far, but nothing compares to this amazing semester abroad. Being at Harlaxton is like living in a fairy tale. Trips to foreign countries on the weekends and coming home to an amazing countryside manor make for a wonderful life. Recently, the school sponsored a trip to the Lake District, which is considered to be one of the UK's most beautiful areas – and for good reason. It's got hills, lakes, rivers, and plenty to do. Our hostel (pictured below) was on the shores of the lake in Ambleside, which meant stunning views every time I stepped outside. While there, I did both "excursions" sponsored by the school: canoeing and ghyll scrambling

Canoeing was interesting. In true UK fashion, it rained off and on throughout our time on the lake. But, a little rain never killed anybody, and the clouds just added to the beauty of the area. Our guides were funny locals that encouraged us to make the trip fun. We paddled across the lake and up a little stream where most of us got stuck before the group was forced to turn around. The water was down in the stream, so our canoes wound up tangled in branches of trees and weeds or dragging the bottom. At one point, we went under a bridge (below) not much taller than our boats.

Ghyll scrambling was one of the best experiences I've had in the UK. I don't know about you, but before this trip I had never heard the word ghyll, and I'd certainly never heard of people scrambling one. Ghyll scrambling is essentially climbing/wading up a waterfall/stream. The ghyll we "scrambled" was called Stickle Ghyll. Although I couldn't take pictures during the activity (I didn't fancy a soaking wet phone), I do have a picture of where we climbed. Sometimes we found ourselves wading against the current, occasionally as deep as my ribs. We climbed up rocks, which was fun but challenging. When someone was too short to reach where they needed to be, or just needed a hand, everyone was more than happy to help out. At one point, our guides challenged us to climb across a fallen tree and scale the rocks on the opposite side (all while crossing chest deep water). This was probably my favorite part of the trip. 

My friends and I started our weekend with a "Treetop Trek" adventure Friday morning. It was a high ropes course that took about an hour and a half to finish. It had swinging bridges, zip lines, and tight ropes, among other obstacles. Although there wasn't a view of the lake from the area, we did get to start our trip with great views of the trees and hills. The course started simple and close to the ground, but quickly advanced to higher and bigger obstacles (34 of them to be exact). We had lunch at the cafe at the top of the hill and walked back into town with just enough time for a rest before a hike. 

During free time, most of us went for a hike (or two, or three). It was a great time, and a great chance for some beautiful pictures. My friends and I went for a more mild option and hiked around a waterfall. Unlike the scrambling, I stayed nice and dry this time. The streams around the park were crystal clear and surrounded by beautiful woods. There wasn't much climbing to be done, but we did venture down some rocks to the side of a stream for pictures (and to test the water's temperature…which was freezing cold). 

We also used our free time to walk around in Ambleside, the adorable town we were staying in. It had plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance. It was hilly with beautiful stone buildings and winding streets. Walking around felt like being on a movie set. Although it was mostly cloudy, when the sun came out it was beautiful. 

The weekend was a huge hit. It gave me, and my classmates, a chance to get outside and be active for a couple of days: something I sorely miss from home. 

Thanks for reading!

Jessie Earle

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