• Author:Ben Jones
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The Lakes; definitely not the road to hell!

It may have inspired Chris Rea’s ‘Road to Hell’ but it holds an important place in my heart and I would suggest of so many of us from around these parts. Driving up and down the M6 was a rite of passage as we grew up. As children, the annual trip was to ‘the lights’ at Blackpool and as we got older and started driving it became junction 36 and beyond for The Lakes.

Team Jones climbed into the car today and made the trip up the M6 to sample the wonderful scenery, fresh air and hospitality of the Lake District – and most importantly to see Peter Rabbit in the fantastic World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness. It was a trip that evoked so many childhood and early adulthood memories; the blue bridge that marked the rapidly approaching Blackpool and its illuminations; the Lancaster Services tower; the great views out to Morecambe Bay; and the incredibly familiar landscapes on either side of the motorway, despite it being somewhere near twenty years since I made that drive.

We are fortunate to live less than 90 minutes from the spectacular Cumbrian national park and so it was just a hop northwards to move from the stunning scenery of the Southport coastline to some of the most scenic inland views anywhere on these islands. It was Dr J’s debut in The Lakes and she rightly reminded me of the similarities with the lush, rugged Donegal landscape as we meandered our way through the byways that link Windermere with the motorway.

It was the height of the summer season and so Bowness was full of tourists from all over the world as well as lots of local accents and the occasional red football shirt. The only downside was the weather – but rather like Donegal, you don’t go to The Lakes looking for a sun tan!

Today’s trip was a gentle wander down memory lane but it was also a reminder of what stunning landscapes we have on these islands. In the days of Brexit when many of us – me included – are depressed by the prospect of Britain turning in on itself, it is heartening to see the world still coming to visit – in large numbers – to enjoy our best bits. For me, the abiding image of the day was seeing Aoife putting her arms around Peter Rabbit as he peered into Mr McGregor’s house and me craning my neck to see if I could see Blackpool Tower; back in the day, the first to spot it got 10p!

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