Subject: U.K. driving, Lake District, Manchester B&B
Hi All! I just got back from Northern England and thought it might be worthwhile to pass on a few observations. First off, I passed a few walking days with HF Holidays at Monk Coniston in Coniston. Although there has been some pickup in the number of people out on the trails, the recovery is mild and that may be a good opportunity for those looking to avoid the crowds that are normally in the area. While I was there, Monk Coniston was only a third occupied; last year it was closed. It's at the top end of HF's facilities. Attractive public areas; rooms spartan; food hearty, but basic. The guides were very pleasant and knowledgeable. I stayed with the low level walks, which generally ran 7-8 miles and had occasional challenging climbs. Plus, lots of mud and droppings from our four- legged friends. All told, I much preferred hiking in the Bernese Oberland. Better defined paths, better weather, and a generally more pleasant experience. In retrospect, I suspect that just poking around the villages and saving the walking for a more hospitable climate would have been a better choice. As we all know, there's always some kind of precipitation in England. While I was there, the temperature rarely got above 60. The last evening, however, was spectacular. Driving on the left turned out to be much ado about nothing. The motorways are a breeze and so are the roundabouts. The main problem is the narrow country roads, which have stone walls rather than shoulders on the sides, leaving virtually no margin of error. Other than that, it was a nonevent. Manchester is certainly the gateway of choice for those visiting this area and I had the good fortune to locate a B&B at the southern edge of the airport. It's called Pymgate Lodge and the village is Cheadle. Their website is http://www.pymgate.fsnet.co.uk/ When booking, I strongly suggest requesting a room away from the road. The rooms are attractive as is the dining room, which is available for breakfast daily and dinner most nights. Even driving slowly, it's barely five minutes to Manchester Airport, quite handy for those making early flights. Even closer is a Travel Inn, a modern motor hotel found at http://www.travelinn.co.uk/find/inn.jsp?id=137 They have a restaurant called Beefeater, which provides moderately priced meals. Quite decent, especially since Pymgate was not serving dinner the night before I left. Regards, Russell from Connecticut