A train from London Euston to Penrith in Northern England takes a little over three hours. Our fellow passengers all carry lunch in their bags - the rail service isn't renowned for cheap, good food and we're glad we stocked up in London. Penrith is a convenient gateway to the north east of the Lakes District (or further north to Glasgow or Edinburgh). An hour's driving takes you through the quaint, picturesque town of Keswick and on to Borrowdale, a remote hamlet deep into the Lake District and about as central to the lakes area as you can get.
There are many accommodation options from hostels, B&B and small country hotels. We are staying in the Borrowdale YHA, a comfortable lodge set on the edge of the Derwent River and very central to lots of walks.
The weather forecast is not good. Our first walk is in mist and light rain. Undaunted we hit the trail to the nearby Great Crag, passing Puddingstone Bank and Dock Tarn. The views are wonderful (even with the mist in the distance) and in four hours of walking we see no-one. Oak and yew woods give way to heathland full of trickling streams - purple heather covers the ground and sprinklings of yellow gorse. The sedges are loving the weather and brush against our legs as we squeeze past along the narrow paths. We descend through more oak forest covered in moss. It reminds us of Tolkein's Middle Earth as the moss creeps over logs and rocks, sun can't get through the dense canopy cover and the rain makes it more spooky!
Cumbria is home to the hardy Herdwick sheep, which are unique to this area and have been farmed here for over a thousand years. They dot the fields and slopes.
The wool is quite coarse and is used to make thick jumpers and socks.
Luckily there is a drying room at each hostel - essential for walking in this region and our sodden boots are plonked on the shelf to regain some shape. We head to Keswick for a cable to download photos - wrong one brought from Australia of course. Keswick is buzzing with people because there's a market on. It is the centre for walkers and the shops are all selling walking gear - great if you've come a long way and your shoelace dissolves in the wet.
Tonight we eat at the Langstrath Country Inn - renowned for its excellent food and beer and a mere 500m from the YHA. The food and beer live up to this reputation and we leave sated, heading back to the YHA for bed.