Hi from Rick: The Path Finally Taken
|Worthy of Wordsworth: A countryside hike rewards the heart as well as the eye.|
It seems that for a lifetime I've gazed longingly at silhouetted stick figures of hikers standing atop Catbells, a steep "fell" that runs high above Derwentwater, my favorite lake in England's Cumbrian Lake District. But gazing was always the easier path.
This past summer, I finally made the time and commitment to become one of those stick figures. The weather was blustery beyond the porch of my farmhouse B&B, and I fully expected to get drenched. I borrowed a heavy coat from my host, and set out on the English hike of my dreams.
I climbed aboard the boat that ferries hikers across the lake, hopped off at Hawes End, and passed through the "kissing gate." Then up, up, up I hiked, accompanied by the crackle of broken stones jostling with each step, the wind buffeting in my ears, clouds prowling overhead, and the comic baa-ing of sheep. After a while I became one of those stick figures on the ridge — inspiring people who might be gazing at us from the distant farmhouse B&Bs.
Standing atop that ridge, I understood why nature is a kind of religion here in the land of Wordsworth: "With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things."
That evening, back down in Keswick, in the pub with all the tweedy English hikers and their dogs steaming up the etched windows, I sipped my beer, wondering why I'd waited so long to create that indelible memory.
Travel in this corner of Europe is rich with these rewards — experiences that can't fit into a color brochure — from the Lake District of England to the Highlands of Scotland to the harbor villages of Ireland. In this month's Tour News we'll give you a hearty taste of our free-spirited tours in the British Isles, with articles, images, interviews and more.
This month we are also happy to announce our big 2010 Tour Reunion Party on January 15th. If you've had fun traveling with us this past year, we'd love to see you again.
As I sketch out my travel plans for 2011, my memory from the Lake District reminds me to leave some blank spaces for those long-put-off travel experiences. My motto for the year is "just say yes."
P.S. Just a reminder that it's not too late to take advantage of our special early booking discount — and save $100 on any 2011 tour you choose.