Does that sound like a bad Agatha Christie novel 🙂 ? Windermere’s a very special and important place to me, and I have missed it badly over the last four months, just when I needed its relaxing influence most. I went 9 days before lockdown started, and then we weren’t allowed to travel, then they asked people to keep staying away because of concerns about the infection rate in the area, and then it kept raining at the weekends! But, yesterday, I finally made it back. Windermere Lake Cruises reopened last week – round trips only, pre-booking, and masks on, but the lovely boats *are* running again – and nearly all the shops and cafes in Bowness are open, and I assume it’s the same elsewhere. Safety precautions are being followed, but the Lake District, after all the vile weather in February and early March and then lockdown, is back in business. I am so very glad.
As far as the boat trips go, it’s a bit of a pain that you can’t go from Bowness to Ambleside or the west shore and back again, but it is what is, and I was just glad to be back out on the water at all! Everyone has to wear a mask, and some seats are being left empty so that people weren’t getting too close. The powers that be did an inspection before the boats started running again, and said that everything was OK.
Pretty much all the eating places are open. On a dry day, there isn’t a problem, because most of them have outdoor tables. I was quite surprised by how busy they were, even inside, but sanitiser’s being used, and, in some places, staff are wearing masks and gloves. Perspex screens are being used even at places where there’s no seating and you just order at a window. If you don’t want to sit inside – and, whilst I don’t think the risk of catching the virus in a café or bar is very high, I’m nervous of being caught by the test and trace system if I’m inside a cafe and it’s busy – and there are no outdoor tables free, or if the weather’s, then it won’t be a problem because pretty much everywhere’s offering a takeaway option. If you want a three course meal, it’s not so easy, but, if you’re happy with a sandwich, a jacket potato, a scone or a cake, you’ll be fine.
The shops all have hand sanitiser at the doors, and larger places are operating one-way systems. The big problem (other than the fact that the public toilets don’t open till 10am, which is ridiculous) is that pavements get crowded – not helped by the fact that people walk along them with horrible dogs, or whilst looking at their phones instead of at where they’re going – and you can’t step into the road because of the traffic, but we can’t shut the country down indefinitely, and so it’s a case of being careful, sanitising your hands regularly, and, if you feel more comfortable doing so, wearing a mask.
These are strange times, but it was so good to be back. I hate it when I can’t go to the Lake District: I need to go there regularly! And the Lake District needs us. It’s unlikely that the coachloads of Japanese and American tourists will be back any time soon, and all the money that was by the Lake District Tourist Board on promoting the area to China, like all the money that was spent by Metrolink on the new line to carry football crowds to Old Trafford and shoppers to the Trafford Centre, is … well, it’s not going to be reaping dividends any time soon. But the Lakes are still there. They’re always there. They were there for the Romantic poets, they were there for Victorian tourists who travelled there for a break from our smoky industrial towns and cities, and they’re there for us.
I was so happy to be going back that I got a bit tearful just getting in the car in my own drive outside my own house. When I caught the first glimpse of the lake from the A591, I just could not wait to get there: I was practically screaming at the people in the cars in front of me to get out of my way. There aren’t usually any cars in front of me at 1/4 to 8 in the morning, but people are on the move now, “staycations” are the way to go, and hopefully the Lake District can benefit from that. And, oh, it was good to be back!! I haven’t half missed it.