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England

Part two of our month long European adventure

From wild and rugged Scotland to proper and lovely England… we drove 150 miles from Edinburgh to Keswick, England in our little Fiat rental car. Michael and I went on a month long journey through the UK and Europe together in April of 2016. It was a trip we had both dreamed of for years and we finally made it happen after months of planning and saving. We started in Edinburgh, Scotland before driving to England, then taking trains to France and Germany. We traveled over 2,000 miles in about 3.5 weeks. You can read more about the first part of our trip here.

The Lake District was better than we were expecting. We stayed a few nights at a quaint bed and breakfast (The Lookout Keswick) in Room 3 with incredible views over the mountains. Each morning, we woke up to hot tea and a traditional English breakfast – toast with baked beans. We were thinking this would be a relaxing getaway in between visiting big cities (we were on our way to London next) but we ended up exploring from sunrise to sundown. The mountain roads through Keswick had the most breathtaking views. We particularly loved driving on Honister Pass, winding through the misty mountains, stopping to wade through creeks and visit tiny English towns.

My absolute favorite memory from England was discovering this adorable tea shop on the River Dirwent. The town itself was beautiful. You first crossed a stone bridge over the river, then saw all the grey slate houses with their chimneys spouting smoke into the misty, rainy sky. It looked so inviting. The Grange Bridge Tea Cottage was pretty much everything my younger self (and current self) would dream of in a tea party. We had warm scones, clotted cream, fresh jam and tea.

After reluctantly leaving the Lake District, we drove about 6 hours to London. We stopped halfway for afternoon tea at Chatsworth House (Mr. Darcy. Pride and Prejudice. Enough said.) We arrived in London pretty late that night, but checked into our super modern AirBnB and spent a few days in London before taking the train to Paris. 

Scroll down to the bottom for particular trip highlights and links!

Highlights:

-Our bed and breakfast in the Lake District, The Lookout Keswick, was charming and in the perfect location. We had a view of the misty mountains from our room and enjoyed a traditional English breakfast each morning.

Castlerigg Stone Circle was constructed around 3200 BC. It’s actually older than Stonehenge. We have never seen anything that old before and it was fascinating to wonder why the stones were there – was it for trade, religious ceremonies, community? There was someting magical about that spot. We walked through a field of sheep to get to it and the whole area was surrounded by rolling hills. You could walk right up and touch the stones. Truly a remarkable piece of history.

-We drove for hours on the winding Honister Pass, which was the biggest surprise of our trip to the Lake District. We had no idea we would do so much exploring! The road goes through the mountains and you’ll see sheep, goats, waterfalls, bubbling streams, tiny towns and lots of mist.

-All my tea party dreams came true at the Grange Bridge Tea Cottage.

-Most of the homes in Cumbria are built with this gorgeous grey slate. We discovered the Honister Slate Mine while driving around the mountains. They offer tours, which my super claustrophobic self just could not handle, but they also have a really interesting shop. We bought slate coasters for our house, and a slate keychain to remember the trip.

-Pubs. All the pubs. It was our favorite way to enjoy a local and casual meal.

-We enjoyed traditional Chatsworth House afternoon tea at around $20/person. I booked our tickets a few weeks in advance. I read that was a good idea as they sell out quickly. It was so much fancier than our little tea party in the mountains, which was a fun change. Both were equally special. This tea had little sandwiches, scones, desserts and unlimited pots of tea. Heaven.

-Our London AirBnB was only about $100/night and super modern. It was a studio apartment with a kitchenette and washer/dryer, so we washed a whole bunch of clothes while we were there. The apartment wasn’t my favorite of the trip, but it was nice and the neighborhood was perfect. The Belsize Park tube station was literally 2 minutes walk from the apartment. We could get anywhere we wanted from that station.

-We only spent a few days in London. I liked it, but it was so crowded, especially near the tourist attractions. I guess that’s to be expected and maybe we should have put more research into more authentic areas to visit. We did enjoy Covent Garden, which was an indoor/outdoor shopping center. If you go, you have to try Ben’s Cookies. They were delicious!

-One of my favorite memories from our short time in London was walking along the Riverbank at night, particularly on the south bank by the London Eye. The lights shining and reflecting on the water at night was so gorgeous. We stumbled upon an area with local food trucks. We grabbed a delicious burger and enjoyed the views!

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