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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog begun in 2012 about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.

I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps.

Around 2018 I tried a new way of writing my family's and my own UK travel adventures. Britain is a brilliant place for a staycation, mini-break and day trips. It's also a fantastic place to explore so I've begun to write up reports of places that are easy to reach by public transport. And when they are not that easy to reach I'll offer some tips on how to get there.

See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Lake District – so like Romanian mountains

This blog looks at ways of learning about the world without having to get on a plane. A family holiday to the Lake District was wonderful - and a way to get a little taste of Romania. Words from Nicola Baird.

Adventure on the paddleboards with Adrian from Ullswater Paddleboarding.
It's a wonderful way to travel.
“It’s so like Romania.” That’s the verdict of my friend who we’ve managed to tempt to the Lake District for a weekend. The Lakes may not have brown bears, but already we’ve had an evening watching a buzzard hunting on the way to the Travellers Rest pub; a morning paddleboarding on Ullswater (the most beautiful of the lakes in the Lake District), where her daughter impressed us all with headstands, handstands and cartwheels on her board. 
Now we’re soaking in the view at Lanty’s Tarn, an idyllic spot surrounded by a small pine wood at the top of a peculiarly picturesque walk from Glenridding through woodlands, bracken and heather that made us all think of Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggywinkle.

>Enjoy more Beatrix Potter watching the film/DVD Mrs Potter or by visiting The World of Beatrix Potter in Ambleside which houses a large collection of models based on Beatrix Potter's stories of Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny and friends. It's ideal for little children and people who like bonsai-style figures. There's also a Chelsea Garden exhibit which makes good use of moss and bracken.

Our teenagers are throwing a ball into the tarn for a walker’s dog that still isn’t ready to lie down despite having been up the mountain towards Helvellyn. Helvellyn is the gorgeous 950m mountain that involves a scramble up Striding Edge to the summit and then down Swirral Edge, plus an eight mile round trip but the swimming dog could go on forever. Let that be a lesson to all border collie owners – they literally cannot stop herding things, even tennis balls in tarns. In contrast my border terrier is happy to take in the view (see photo).

>When my 16yo and I got to the top of Helvellyn we suddenly had a mobile signal (there really isn't one in the village below), so I rang my mum who'd just had an operation. She laughed when she heard that we had to climb a mountain to call her, saying that the signal had been good at the top of mountains in Romania too!

Nell at the very top of Striding Edge. Red Tarn below and far away Ullswater.
Eventually the walkers head on and Julie and I turn away from the pond for a new view. And
Looking up to Striding Edge.
that’s when her Romania comparison arrives. People spend good money to go to the Carpathian Mountains, when they could find similarly wild and glorious views, plus challenging mountains to climb all over the north west . That's what I say to myself, smugly looking at the early evening sunshine lighting up the fells.

There are also quite a few eastern Europeans working in this area, so if you were determined to get the Romania experience you could add in views, mountains, wildlife and some language earwigging on the bus.

VERDICT: The Lake District is a big area with lots of good places to stay. We wanted to feel rural but have a few pubs and at least two coffee shops with wifi so we stayed in Glenridding which we reached via Virgin train (London to Penrith and then took the bus to Glenridding).

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