Subject: re: UK Lake District

I loved my time in the Lake District. I had thought about returning last year, but was put off by the foot and mouth restrictions. I understand that all closures have been lifted as of December 24, 2001. Still, this region took a major financial hit from the loss of tourists so I expect that high season rates will not be much above what the Pitcairn House is quoting now. I would think they would want to encourage people to return.

I have never done a tour, always preferring to do things independently, including the planning and decisionmaking. That puts the burden on me to do research and live with my choices, but I have rarely had regrets. The major benefits that I could see from a company like HF Holidays are transportation and interaction with fellow hikers. You also have more options available on bad weather days since they plan for these in their tours. The downsides include the premium you pay above do-it-yourself trips, staying at a larger, less intimate and more touristy hotel and perhaps not having much in common with your fellow tour members (depending on your age and interests). I have looked into HF Holidays previously and given them consideration, especially for more remote areas, like Brecon Beacons in Wales. I agree that their prices are very reasonable.

If you do go, I can highly recommend the following hike which was long (about 12 miles) but not strenuous - bus from Keswick to Seatoller, hike over Goats Crag, down through Borrowdale, over the Cat Bells (a terrific ridge top stretch) and along Derwent Water back to Keswick. Also, take a book of Wordsworth's poetry. It is said that he walked 100,000 miles in the Lake District. I loved being able to see the same scenery that inspired him so much.

Mark Los Angeles