Monday, August 20, 2012

Regency Holiday: Lake District

We've all grown a little weary of sand in our bikini bottoms and bug spray landing in our mouths. The new school year is just around the corner. Summer is winding down, and so, too, is our tour of Regency travel destinations.

I have one last trip in store for you this year, and it's a great one. Rally yourself and grab your sunglasses and a canoe; we're going to the Lake District!

The Lake District is located in northwest England. It's a region of mountains (or 'fells') and valleys, strewn with several dozen bodies of water, with their attendant rivers, streams, and falls. This area is the wettest part of England, receiving about 80 inches of rain per year. Fog is also common around the hills. In fact, the sun only shines a few hours per day, on average. So, what made it a popular Regency destination? Take a peek:

Picturesque as hell!

The Lake District wasn't as rustic as Scotland, but offered great fishing opportunities for the angler who couldn't venture north of the border. Hikes and rambles were popular. Getting out on the water in a rowboat or sailboat was a fine way to see some sights. During the Regency, there was also a great passion for sketching. Drawing was one of the accomplishments de rigeur for young ladies, so most women spent at least part of their Lake District vacation practicing their use of perspective. Sketching a favorite vista also provided a way to commemorate one's trip in a time before cameras. Poets and artists flocked to the Lake District to drink in the inspiring majesty of nature.

Seriously! So. Freaking. Quaint. I can't even stand it.
We must recall that in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Continent was aflame with war. Travel abroad was not only prohibitively expensive for many, it just wasn't safe, either. The Prince Regent -- that man of refined, sophisticated, worldly tastes -- never so much as crossed the English Channel (Though we've seen how he tried to bring a little bit of the outside world to his Royal Pavilion in Brighton.). His country was either penned in by, or involved in, war for most of his lifetime. It was quite out of the question for the heir to the British throne to risk his safety for a sightseeing tour of Paris.

The Prince and other wanderlust-afflicted Englishmen and -women therefore had to look within their own borders for travel destinations. 

Their rest stops might seem fancier than ours, but trust me,
skip the ladies' room and just head behind a tree.
In 1778, a Jesuit priest named Thomas West published A Guide to the Lakes, perhaps the first tourist guide ever produced. In his book, West describes the best viewpoints within the Lake District from which visitors could appreciate the landscape. Stations were built in several of these places to facilitate the aforementioned landscape appreciation. The Lake District of England was, then, one of the first locations deliberately cultivated for tourism. And Regency-era Englishfolk were the first generation to grow up with a love of hitting the road and seeing the sights within their own country, just for the pleasure of it.

I hope you've enjoyed this Regency Holiday series. I certainly had a great time learning more about these historical travel destinations to share with you. I didn't quite get to every stop I wanted to make, so hopefully we can take another jaunt next year. Enjoy the rest of your summer, Bluestockings!

1 comment:

  1. So beautiful! Definitely on my to-do list ever since a boyfriend from college visited the Lake District and sent me a postcard from there. Although now that you've mentioned the weather there, I'm not so sure...