Of course I'd heard of the Lake District before I came there. You can't really study Romanticism, even in the most cursory way, and not have heard of it. And I was given to understand that the area was quite picturesque, scenic even. However, I admit that I arrived in Grasmere fully prepared to be unimpressed. I mean, come on, I've seen plenty of lakes before. Likewise hills, rocks, rills, etc. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and I've seen my share of Picturesque and Scenic Nature. Surely the scenery here would be like any other pastoral scenery.
It took five minutes in Grasmere to change my mind.
There really is something different about that place. The light on the fells changes every five minutes, giving endless variety to the landscape. Every prospect looks like something from an art photography textbook. It was so impossibly beautiful that I half suspected the scenery was composed of matte paintings that were put up to impress the tourists. Even the sunsets seemed specially magnificent, different from others I've seen. This inspired me to take numerous pictures of sunsets and fells, which, of course, utterly fail to live up to the experience of seeing them firsthand.
By the way, did I mention that the Lake District is a very sheep-intensive region? It is. Very.
Then there's Grasmere Lake itself. Sara and I scraped ourselves out of bed early one morning so we could go round the lake before breakfast with some other people from the conference. Ten minutes into the experience, I turned to her and gasped indignantly that I thought we were supposed to be on a walk. It turns out that Richard Gravil, the conference convenor, uses the word "walk" to mean several things: charging briskly around a lake first thing in the morning; charging briskly up and down the fells; charging briskly along scenic woodland trails; charging briskly into Cathedral Quarry, etc. He does not use it to mean "taking a leisurely stroll with frequent stops for photographs." So I don't have a ton of pictures of the actual lake. We stopped at one end for approximately three minutes, and I snapped a few shots before we strode briskly on.
Apparently there's a famous rock formation in this shot, called the lion and the lamb. There are other places around the lake where you can actually see it - and it really does look like a lion and a lamb - but of course I couldn't stop to take a picture from those places, because I was too busy striding briskly. (Double click on the picture to get a very slightly better look at the rocks.)
Look - here's Sara, striding briskly around the lake.