One can see why so many English writers and artists spent and continue to spend time in the English Lake District. The weather alone invites you to enjoy stunning verdant nature walks on the not so rainy days as well as cozy tea-drinking, Grasmere-Gingerbread-eating days when the weather looks better from the inside.
We have recently come back from a refreshing and restorative 9 days in the Lake District, staying in Ambleside near the largest lake in the UK – Lake Windemere. Our church friends own a holiday home called the Old Fisherbeck where their family enjoys time together and they bless others like us, sharing it with us too. What a gift – a place of rest nestled among beautiful hills and tranquil lake waters.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
This passage describes perfectly this time of rest and relaxation for me. I will try to paint a picture of our days in Cumbria so that you can imagine with your minds eye the power of this place. These lakes in this summer season do not have loud motorboats and jet-skis marking up the calm waters… instead, visitors kayak, canoe, sail or ride the quiet tour boat that barely leaves a wake of water.
If feels like everyone wears hiking boots in the towns as there are countless trails to explore and peaks to climb. These are not Disney-ride-queuing engineering, but often rugged map-reading-required routes following damp stream beds..
However, when you climb the lung-exhausting rocky trail…
…you end up with soft grass covered vistas to pause and reflect at the wonder of nature and creation.
And when you return through Beatrix Potter’s Peter-Rabbit-inspired hollow at the end of this trail in the inviting town of Grasmere, you can enjoy the famous Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread as a treat with a good cup of tea.
On sunny days canoeing is so delicious and tempting. We hit the hottest day of the year so far in the UK, so we rolled the Canadian canoe of our friends to the lake and enjoyed a day on or in the water, stopping for a picnic with nearby munching sheep as we enjoyed watching elegantly-floating swans.
Are you hearing the gentle lapping of the water and the refreshing breeze on your skin? Can you feel the draw to lay underneath a giant oak tree near the water’s edge after a delicious well-earned lunch after paddling up a river, then along the shore from Ambleside (barely visible behind swans in photo)? Are you mesmerized by the sparkling sun-kissed deep blue waters? Can you feel yourself breathing deeper, your heartbeat slowing to a calmer rhythm?
Is this what Jesus did after His busy ministry days? Usually it was in the night but those early mornings must have been glorious with His Abba Father in the quiet.
Here in England one enjoys the long summer days when the sun is shining to the utmost, as they are precious and not common like California summer days. On one of those days I enjoyed sitting on a nearby bench with a view of the lake only ten minutes from the Fisherbeck. I love beckoning benches, don’t you? After reading for a while, my spirit felt called into the cool trees where I happened upon a lovely fern-filled trail and a trickling stream – He leads me beside “trickling” water – He restores my soul. I sat on a rock and slipped off my sandals and dipped into the running water.
On days when the weather is less inviting, Old Fisherbeck offers a conservatory room where I enjoyed therapeutic coloring.
After a hard rain we ventured forth on a trail that led us to powerfully gushing waterfalls just on the outskirts of Ambleside. The natural beauty of this place simply never ends, for even if one has seen something before, the weather, the clouds, the light and the shadows transform it.
On our final day we explored Lake Ullswater and the mystifying Castlerigg Stone Circle. One could see why the ancient people thought this spot was special – it has a 360 panorama view of the mountains. Simply heavenly and so quiet as if an ancient hush covers the sheep-friendly collection.
My soul was refreshed and deeply filled, enabling me to head back down the mountains, back to the south sea town of Worthing to carry on walking with a more steady step with My Good Shepherd. May you find those spaces and places to meet with God and allow Him to refresh your soul. It is time well worth taking. It is where we can discover His Shalom – His peace. His Rest.
Where do you experience green pastures and quiet waters?