When I was 15, I went on a classics reading spree. For about three weeks, I was really into the Penguin Classics section at the nearby Books-A-Million, and I read probably eight or nine books in that time, judging by the number still sitting on my shelves at home. One of those books was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, which was quickly followed up by Through the Looking Glass. I remember being so excited about these two novels in particular, lying in bed reading them with my cat while quiet music played in the background, after a long day of school work.
It was with that nostalgic excitement that at 6:40 AM, I got on the bus to Lancaster Station to board the train to Warrington Quay Bank Station to ride another bus to Daresbury to walk to the Lewis Carroll Center and his birthplace. Micah and I arrived a little before 10:00 and wandered the extremely small town. As we walked what appeared to be the main road, two police officers on horseback strolled by and said hello.
That should have been the first red flag.
When we thought the Lewis Carroll Center might be close to opening, we went back and explored the graveyard until we heard someone behind us. An older man was opening the church and he called us inside, then he almost immediately left. We wandered the church alone, taking our time and enjoying the Center like the little museum-obsessed nerds we’ve become.
Near the end of our visit, another caretaker came in and offered to drive us to the birthplace. She was so sweet and kind that we thought her offer to drive was just an extension of that kindness. Looking back, it may have been our second red flag, because what came next was a time and a half.
The Lewis Carroll Walk starts near the Center and ends at his birthplace. It is a trek through multiple meadows, several fields, a couple narrow roads, and an interstate, and finding information on the variety of terrain covered in this walk isn’t easy for a couple of generally unathletic Americans. We jumped into it, excited to see the site of one of our favorite author’s birth.
If you ever decide to do this walk, here’s a better set of directions than provided on any of the maps we had or on the walk itself: if you think you’re going the wrong way, you’re doing it right. Oh, and when you get to the point where the signs for the birthplace point in opposite directions, we think you go right.
The vague, painful journey (involving at least pair of ruined shoes and a thorn that went all the way through my shoe) was worth it once we got to the birthplace, and especially once we got back to a café for some coffee and cake.
Twenty-four hours later, I feel that I am now able to declare my final stance on the Lewis Carroll Walk: Worth it for the view, the destination, and the little Alice-themed café at the start of the walk, but if a little old lady offers you a ride somewhere with genuine concern and kindness in her eyes, maybe the trek you’re about to embark on is a tad bit out of your league.