In BriefSpent Saturday docked in Liverpool, England. We took a guided tour bus excursion from Princess to the Lake District where we road the Haverthwaite & Windermere steam train, took a cruise along Lake Windermere and then ate dinner in a local hotel in the town of Bowness. We had sticky toffee pudding for dessert which may have been the best part of the day and I even got the recipe so that we can compare the one that we prepare for Christmas day!
Liverpool and Lake District DetailsWe had a very quiet night at sea and got to sleep in since we did not dock in Liverpool until after noon . I did a quick load of laundry using the laundromat on the ship and that should get us through the end of our trip. Glad I got it done early because there was quite a line by the time I was done and I bet it will be swamped on the upcoming sea days. We lounged in the morning and played trivia and then grabbed lunch at the buffet before reporting to the meet point for our excursion. There are 95% or more "retirees" on this 3000 person cruise and so for the most part everyone moves very slowly. Not normally a problem, but when you are trying to zip through a line quickly or board the buses it can take quite awhile!
Our bus drove through Liverpool and we had a guide who provided interesting narration throughout the two hour drive to the Lake District and back. We passed through the town that hosts the Grand National horse race and learned about the original of steeplechase racing. Back in the day, they used to line up the horses on the edge of one village and then race them to the next village, using the steeple of the village church as the guidepost since it could be seen above the treeline. The horses would have to jump the hedges and streams to make the most direct route to the steeple, hence the steeplechase race was born. We noticed that the countryside of England, although beautiful, was not nearly as green as Ireland. We saw cows, and horses, and lots of sheep in the pastures. The land near Liverpool was mostly flat and arable, but as we got closer to the Lake District we saw rolling hills and more pasture land as opposed to the farming. Lots more sheep here than in southern Ireland.
We finally reached the first point of our journey where we boarded the Haverthwaite & Windermere steam line and took a 20 min rail journey up the hills to the edge of Lake Windermere. The rail was primarily used in the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries, and then was reinvigorated for tourism in the late 20th century.
Once we reached the lake, we boarded the boat for our 40 min cruise. A mere is actually not a lake. Lakes have a river or source of water that flows in and out of them. Meres are found near rivers, but don't have a source of water flowing in and out; they are standalone bodies of water. Windermere is the largest of the meres in the Lake District, about 12 miles long and half a mile wide. We sat on the bow and got a pint of hard cider to sip as we enjoyed the view.
When we reached the town of Bowness, we were supposed to have time to browse the cute town and the shops but we had been late docking in Liverpool so unfortunately that part of the agenda got scratched. I was very disappointed since this is the area that Beatrix Potter is from and there were quite a few shops that carried items inspired by her works. Thankfully we saw websites for some of the shops so I can check them out online when I get home. We had a great dinner at the Windermere Hydro Hotel. It was built in the Victorian era as a bath house and spa. We had salmon mousse to start, mutton and potatoes with gravy and steamed veggies, and sticky toffee pudding to finish. The pudding was really excellent and I will be sure to share the recipe once I can scan it.
We drove back to Liverpool and watched the sunset over the country side. Heard more about the recent renovation and regrowth of the city in the past few decades as it has reshaped itself to be a cultural center. And of course we heard a bit about the Beatles since they put Liverpool on the map again in the 1960's. Boarded the ship and then turned in for bed since we go to Belfast next and have a full day excursion