Today has been GREAT! We started the morning off in incredibly wonderful Northern Wales; it was amazing there. I know I suck at describing things, but as we began to venture away from Wales and back to the Midlands region of England, the landscape really began to change, flatten out, get more brown and dreary. Wales was so green, the villages had a sort of Austrian feel to them, and it was wet and lovely. The roads were curvy, the villages set in valleys that had amazingly steep descents, and water was flowing in wonderful streams. It was sort of like the most awesome bits of the Smoky Mountains, but on steroids. I absolutely loved it. It was, quite possibly, one of the most naturally beautiful places I've ever been. I could see living in an ancient villa hear, attempting to live by some old craft or art.
This morning started off a little bit different. We checked out of the hotel (which was GREAT and very affordable! www.whitewatershotel.co.uk/) and hit up the local co-operative grocery store. We spent less than £20 on enough food for breakfast and lunch. We got 4 mini baguettes, 2 chocolate croissants, 2 multipacks of crisps, 2 bottles of water, a chocolate bar, 2 apples and 2 pears, and 2 really tasty sandwiches for like £18!!! Breakthrough! We should have done this days ago! DUH!
After eating breakfast in the parking lot of the co-op, we crossed the River Dee and back toward England, soaking in the beautify countryside. Heading back into England was a bit depressing to me, but looking forward to Scotland was exciting. It got quite bland around Manchester and traffic a bit thick, especially in the opposite direction. We didn't have to stay on the motorway for very long, we were headed to Lake Country. This region is a famous as a holiday destination and even in the heavy weather it was still quite busy in the little villages along the lakes. As we rolled in to the southern part of the region, we passed loads of Bed and Breakfasts and outdoors shops, and a lot of families out hiking. I had initially planned on stopping at Hillside, Beatrix Potter's former house, but it was closed for the season and a good was out of the way, so we stopped for lunch alongside a creek and took a bunch of great photos. We then proceeded on to Grasmere, where William Wordsworth lived and were a museum about him resides now. Karen wasn't particularly interested in seeing the museum and Grasmere passed by so fast that we decided it wasn't worth stopping. I think it was a good idea.
As we rolled through the Northern part of the region, we were simply blown away. It had been extremely foggy throughout much of the day, and it had gotten even heavier as we arrived in the Lakes District. It began to lift some as we passed Thirlmere lake and the views we were afforded we breathtaking. Simply incredible, big mountains on the sides, smooth, partially frozen placid lakes and incredible rocky crags. The traffic was pretty light, so I slowed down and we really enjoyed it. We stopped at one point and took some cool pictures of this neat series of large, steep hills that had been divided up with stone walls, presumably to keep sheep in specific "fields." It was great!
We ambled out of the area, eventually making our way back to the motorway for a quick jaunt across the border into Scotland. It had begun getting dark so we didn't get to see much, but the fog got thicker and it started raining, which I think is going to be good for even more snow removal, unless it freezes tonight. It's not slated to be any more worse than today was, which would be fine with me. We arrived at the Urr Lodge (http://www.urrlodge.co.uk/) at around 4:30 and checked in. It's a hostel, but I really like it. Karen seems to as well. It's got a nice big eating area, communal kitchen, everything we need, and a nice community room for TV. After running to Tesco for dinner supplies (£9.56 for tortellini, sauce, 3 huge bottles of water, 5 tomatoes, a bunch of organic button mushrooms, salad mix (much better greens that at home), salad dressing, and a small coke! SCORE!) we cooked up dinner and chatted with the host couple. We've been watching various TV and chatting with them since. It's really nice. We are the only visitors here tonight, which is cool, but I think it takes away from the hostel experience some. We are staying at a hostel the next two nights though, so I think we'll get to interact with more people.
Tomorrow, into the Highlands of Scotland!
More pictures from today: http://s290.photobucket.com/albums/ll256/sandalscout/GB%202010-2011/Dec%2028-%20Wales%20to%20Scotland/