Like the millions of visitors before me, the Lake District instilled in me a sense of wonder and awe. The beauty of the area is balanced by a yesteryear charm, including unspoiled vistas, the multitude of lakes also called “meres” and “waters,” delightful names such as Windermere, Ambleside, and Loweswater, and the preservation of history. They even have a stone circle called Castlerigg that predates Stonehenge.
There is something magical about this area. The colors are more vivid, the light more pure, the landscape more natural and more passionate than any I’ve ever visited. I could point my camera in any old direction with zero to no set up and capture a print-worthy image. Even the photos of me in the area turned out well, and that’s saying something!
Once of the many fascinating aspects of the area was the use of slate stones to build fences, barns, bridges, businesses, and pretty much any type of structure. When the early settlers found farming difficult due to the multitude of stones in their fields, they removed the offending elements, and like any enterprising settler skilled at making lemons out of lemonade, put these rocks to good use in constructing all their buildings. Slate rock was readily available, study, and durable—perfect for building material.
Today, the skill used to build these stone structures is in danger of becoming a lost art. They use a technique called dry stone. Builders literally use dry stones, with no mortar or cement to glue them together. Like a master puzzle solver, the specialist meticulously chooses each rock for its shape and size, and fits them together to create a strong structure that holds up to animals, weather, and even time itself.
A technique called stone cladding, is placing a thinner layer of stone to the outside of buildings. Unlike shingles, siding or stucco, stones never need painting and seldom need repairs or replacing. Some of the buildings also had a white exterior called pebble dash, which is similar to stucco but uses local materials.
Slate rock structures are just one of the many unique and memorable reasons I fell in love with this beautiful part of England and fully expect to set a not-so-distant future novel in the magical Lake District.