Mrs Julie King, the new Head of Elleray Campus, the Preparatory division of Windermere School, says she will…
The Lake District is now recognised as an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, as a result of its breathtaking scenery, rich wildlife and natural beauty. The Lake District lies in the county of Cumbria, the most north-western county in England, bordering onto Scotland.
The county consists of six districts, and in 2008 had a population of just under half a million. Cumbria is one of the most sparsely populated counties in the United Kingdom and England’s second largest county in size. Cumbria is best known for being the home of the Lake District National Park, where Windermere School is located, containing England’s highest mountains (four over 3,000ft), and some of England’s largest lakes. Cumbria’s history is characterized by invasions, migration and settlement, as well as battles and skirmishes between the English and Scottish, as is evident by the many castles and pele towers throughout the county. Several notable people are associated with The Lake District, including Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth and John Ruskin. There is something for everyone, young and old, those seeking adventure, peace and quiet, history, landscapes, mountains and lakes and much, much more.
Over the years, the little town (a 20 minute walk from school) has become merged with the older lakeside town of Bowness-on-Windermere, although the two have quite separate centres. Windermere Station offers train and bus connections to the surrounding area. The Lakes Line connects with Oxenholme for interchange with the West Coast Main Line.
This indoor attraction includes life size recreations of scenes from the books complete with sights, sounds and smells. Favourite characters from the famous books are featured including Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-winkle and Jemima Puddle Duck. A bronze statue depicting three children releasing Potter’s character Jemima Puddle-Duck was unveiled by actress Renee Zellweger to honour the author. It also features characters from all 23 tales, a carving of one of her Lakeland homes as well as the mysterious code she used in her personal diary. The outdoor garden offers visitors a glimpse of the cabbages where Peter lost one of his shoes and the garden gate which he squeezed under as he tried to escape Mr McGregor.
Situated between Ambleside and Windermere, is the National Park Visitor Centre. It is set in 30 acres of magnificent terraced gardens stretching down to the shore of Windermere, with splendid vies of the surrounding countryside. The house was built by wealthy Manchester silk merchant William Henry Aldolphus Gaddum in 1895. Architect Dan Gibson designed the house and the local landscape gardener Thomas Mawson laid out the five acres of formal gardens, landscaping the remaining 25 acres to provide spectacular views. A frequent visitor to the house was Beatrix Potter, a cousin of Mrs Gaddum. There are plenty of places to picnic and relax and enjoy the view. A fabulous children’s adventure play area and an excellent Treetop Trek (height restrictions apply) are also open throughout the year. You can enjoy the beautiful shores of Windermere against the backdrop of spectacular mountain scenery by taking a lake cruise from Brockhole’s jetty (Summer time only). In the house, you can discover more about the Lake District. There is an exhibition and a shop, restaurant and tea room with an outside seating terrace.
Rydal Mount, in the heart of the Lake District, commands glorious views of Lake Windermere, Rydal Water and the surrounding fells. It was the home of William Wordsworth from 1813 to 1850. The house which now belongs to the descendants of the poet, retains a lived in family atmosphere, and has changed little since Wordsworth and his family came to live here. They rented the house from Lady le Fleming, of nearby Rydal Hall. Also to be seen are the family bedrooms of William, Dorothy and Dora, and Wordsworth’s attic study, which he used when he was Poet Laureate. The house contains portraits, personal possessions and the first editions of the poet’s work. Wordsworth was a keen landscape gardener, and the four acre garden remains much as he designed it. A leaflet is available describing a walk around the garden, and highlighting 26 plants and trees of interest. After his daughter Dora died in 1847, William went down to a small field between the house and the main road, and together with his wife, sister and gardener, planted hundreds of daffodils as a memorial to Dora. Dora’s field now belongs to the National Trust.
Windermere Lake Cruises has a large fleet of modern and traditional launches and ‘steamers’ which operate the full length of Windermere, calling at Waterhead, Bowness and Lakeside. A return cruise between Bowness and Waterhead (Ambleside) takes about 1.25 hours. A return cruise round the whole lake takes about 3 hours. Some boats stop at the pier at Brockhole. Although often described as steamers, the former British Rail owned boats are in fact all motor vessels. Lakeside station was built in 1869 as the terminus of the old Furness Railway. Today, you can travel to Haverthwaite on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway. Also at the station is the Aquarium of the Lakes.
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Sir Ranulph Fiennes The Lake District weather can be unpredictable and we can experience weather of all seasons within one day. If rain is forecast, it may just mean at some point in the day so don’t be downhearted. Check the right forecast for your plans, if necessary pack some good waterproofs, some stout boots, and head out to enjoy the fantastic landscape. Cumbria and The Lake District are on the north-west coast of England. This is affected by the North Atlantic Drift which together with the mountainous landscape, makes it the wettest part of England. Nowhere can be this beautiful, lush and green without some rain to keep it that way!
The first time my daughter and I visited the school she said to me “that is a happy school no question.” The scholastic achievements of the school are evident and an easy measure for a school to demonstrate. What is hard to quantify is the holistic development of a pupil at which, in my experience, Windermere School excels.
Windermere School is such a unique community to be a part of. Not only is it based in a truly beautiful and inspiring national park, but the environment created by staff and students alike makes for an incredibly supportive, proactive, exciting and international place of learning in which everyone can thrive and be the best they can be.