The Lake District
"The Lakes and Mountains Of Cumbria"
The English Lake District lies in the county of Cumbria, in the North West of the country.
As you would expect of a "Lake District" it rains quite a bit here!
No rain = no lakes!
On a sunny day the lakes and mountains of Cumbria are stunningly beatutiful. On a rainy day they are stunningly beautiful - and wet!
(Picture is of Wastwater, covered in more detail later)
The landings again looking towrds Derwent Island, inhabited by on very nice and rather large house.
Seen from the landings at Keswick, this is the house on Derwent Island. It's owned by the National Trust but it's "let" to private individuals. It costs about 300,000 pounds (yes, that's not a mistake) to buy the rights to live there. A condition of these rights is that the house must be occupied at ALL times (probably to act as a warning against fire etc.) It is most often occupied by wealthy couples who work near the area and was last up for re-letting about 1997. I don't know if you get any of your money back when you move out!
The lake of Derwentwater is about 3 miles long by 1 1/4 miles wide. Keswick stands at its northern end and the river Derwent flows into it from the south at the village of Grange, and out at the north on it's way into Bassenthwaite.
Down the eastern shore of the lake is the main road into the heart of Borrowdale and on to the Honnister pass, which leads over to Buttermere. If you walk around the lake this way it's fine until you get past Calf Close Bay and then you end up a bit too near the road.
Down the western shore is a smaller road that just leads around the lake to Grange, but there is a footpath by the Lake along most of this shore. The most picturesque part of the lake is between Low Brandlehow and Lodore.
There are a number of boat landings around the lake so that you can walk part of the way around and then take the boat back, or vice-versa. A good walk is to take the boat to Lodore and then walk clockwise either all the way back to Keswick or to one of the landings such as Low Brandlehow and take a boat back.
This picture is taken from Surprise View, which is on the path up to Watendlath (see later).
Take some totty on the boat with you. When you're rowing, you have to face backwards, so having some totty along will give you something nice to look at.
This is Nichol End, one of the round-the-lake boat stops - the picture is taken from the end of the jetty.
The only City in Cumbria is Carlisle, which lies on the West Coast main railway line which links Glasgow to London via Manchester.
Further south of Carlisle on the railway lie the stations of Penrith and Oxenholme. You used to be able to get a connection from Penrith to Keswick and there is currently (September 2000) talk of rebuilding this line is money can be raised.
From Oxenholme you can take a connecting train to Kendal and Windermere.
By road, if coming from almost anywhere the main rule is to get onto the M6 which links London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh (these latter two via the connecting M74) to The Lake District. If coming from fairly North Esat of England (Northumberland, Cleveland, Durham, Yorkshire) use the A1/A1M to connect with the A66 which runs from the East to West coasts and finishes in Cumbria.
There are lots of places around the lake to stop for picnics and cuddles. You'll be needing some totty again for this.
This is a view of Cat Bells, the hill on the western shore of Derwent Water. It's quite an impressive looking hill, but it's a fairly easy walk and you get great views back over Derwentwater as you climb on upwards. You can come off the side of the hill and down towards the hamlet of Grange, at the southern end of the lake.
"A Walk To Watendlath"
Watendlath is a small hamlet set up on the fells above the eastern shore of Derwentwater. Take the shore road and turn up steeply at Ashness Gate. The road to the hamlet is narrow with few passing places - on a busy day it can be a bit of a nightmare to negotiate, constantly having to reverse back to a passing place or squeezing up tight against the wall and hoping for the best! More to the point, if you drive there you miss a great walk and some fantastic views.On Sundays in season the National Trust (who own the hamlet) run a free bus from the Keswick landings to Watendlath and back. They're roughly every hour but are often full. Don't rely on them.
To walk to Watendlath take the Borrowdale Bus and get off at Ashness Gate and then walk up the road. On the way up you will pass a couple of very scenic places. The first is Ashness Bridge which carries the road over the stream. This is a popular picnic spot and the views back down towards Keswick are lovely.
Next up you will come to "Surprise View". So named because it's a surprise to get such a view, so be careful that you don't miss it! The picture earlier in this travelogue is from Surprise View looking north towards Keswick, this view here is looking more or less straingth down, where the river Derwent flows into the lake, just north of Grange.
About 10 to 15 minutes further up the road you can turn right off the road and into the woods near the stream. Cross the stream and then head upstream to continue towards Watendlath.
About a 1/2 hour later you will be at Watendlath.
The hamlet is prettily set by a small tarn and there are ducks, donkeys and (last visit) a pig wandering about. Be careful where you decide to eat your picnic as some of the animals can be a little too persistent in trying to part you from your lunch - especially the donkeys!
There is a tea room here serving drinks, cakes, scones etc. The rock buns are particularly good and make a lot of crumbs which the birds are very glad of. The birds are quite tame and Robins, Chaffinches, Blue ***, Sparrows and Hens will all flock onto your table to help you clean up!
There is a toilet at the tea rooms too.
The hamlet was the setting for the novel Judith Paris by Hugh Walpole and the books and other memorabilia can be bought at the tea room.
(The picture is of the tarn)
From Watendlath you can walk on to two different tarns, Dock Tarn and Blea Tarn. To get to Dock tarn you follow the path that goes down teh right hand side of Watendlath tarn and then up onto the fells. It's more or less straight, and it's quite nice when you get there. You can continue on from there down into Rosthwaite village, the path going down some steep stone steps.
Blea tarn is along the same route initially, but you need to bear left eventually. It's a bigger but somewhat less attractive tarn, I think, and once you get there you can only really come back again. Either that or descend down to the shores of Thirlmere below, but that may not be a good idea if you're not fixed for transport.
Most people leave Watendlath by taking the path that runs 90 degrees to the tarnside path in a westerly direction. This path climbs a little and then drops directly down into Rosthwaite village.
This is as you descend towards Rosthwaite - the village can be seen at the bottom and the mountains at the head of borrowdale can be seen in the distance.
"Rosthwaite To Grange"
Rosthwaite is a small village that has a shop and a couple of hotels, one with a public bar where you can get a meal and something to drink. When we came to school camp at Grange as a nipper, we used to sneak off to this place to buy beer! What naughty boys we were!
You can leave Rosthwaite by crossing the road and following the track that goes past the toilets and the car park. This leads to a path that eventually crosses the river. Turn right and follow the river towards the village of Grange.
When you get to Grange you will find it's an attractive little village with a nice double arched bridge spanning the river and a couple of great tea rooms. One is the Flock Inn (ha ha).
The other is the Bridge Tea Rooms, set by the bridge on the banks of the river. It has a few tables out front if you like, but better to go round back and watch the river flow by.
Castlerigg stone circle stands on a hill above Keswick, giving fine views across towards Skiddaw. The remote and lofty location of the circle gives it a certain magical quality.
Portsinscale is a small village just a short walk away from keswick. It borders onto the lake and has a nice pub (serving Jennings ales), a shop, a tea room and a lot of guest houses and hotels. The biggest of the hotels is The Derwentwater Hotel, seen here.
These are the gardens of The Derwentwater Hotel. They run right down to the lake, and there is access to a lakeside footpath that leads round to the Yacht club. The large conservatory is a great place to while away some time, especially when the weather turns a bit chilly.
As well as being a Hotel, the Derwentwater offers self catering apartments in the adjoining buldings. This used to be another hotel "The Tower", but now it's all part of The Derwentwater. If you stay here you can still use all of the Hotels amenities.
This is inside of of the apartmnents. We have stayed in ones that sleep 2 and ones that sleep 4, and they are all excellent quality.
"The Moot Hall"
These two pictures show the Moot Hall in Keswick. Built in 1813 it has a one handed clock in its clock tower and nowadys serves as the tourist information centre. The Moot Hall stands at the top of the high street, just beyond the market square.
On the walk from Portinscale to Keswick, you have to cross this rickety old suspension bridge over the river Derwent.
Another great place to stay is the Dale Head Hall Hotel. This is on the shores of Thirlmere, a short (10 minute) drive from Keswick, on the road you would take to Grasmere.
Again, like the Derwentwater, the Dale Head offers self catering accommodation, this time in the adjoining buildings that once formed the stable block.
The gardens at the Dale Head Hall are lovely, and they run right down to the shores of the lake.
The gardens are a lovely place to relax with a good book when you're tired of all the walking.
You can walk up to Helvellyn and the famous "Striding Edge" from right outside the Dale Head Hall Hotel! It's a really nice walk, and you can walk from Dale Head to Helvellyn and then back down from Helvellyn to Grasmere. Then get the bus from Grasmere and it stops right outside Dale Head again!
Picture: Looking down roughly in the direction of Keswick as we begin the climb towards Helevllyn.
Approaching Helvellyn and looking down towards Ullswater (the village of Glenridding is right at the bottom of that descent). In the near distance is the broken dam of the old Greenside mines. When this dam burst, it carried rubble down to Glenridding that now forms the landing stage for the Steamers.
Looking across an outcrop towards Thirlmere (just visible in the picture). At some time on this whole walk you get to see
So if you want to see some lakes, this is the walk for you! (You also get to see a fair few tarns).
Red Tarn nestles in the glacial hollow below Helvellyn. You sometimes see people "toboggoning" down the scree slope towards the tarn, using sacks or mats as toboggans. In winter, well, you can just slide down the snow. But be wary, this can be very dangerous!
The famous "Striding Edge", probably the most famous ridge walk in the lake district.
Enjoying a rest on a cairn.
The Lake District is notoriously bad for mobile phone reception, but up here you can get a signal on Cellnet and 1-to-1. So you can stop and send a message to your friends saying "Wish you were here" :-)
Picture: Steve SMS's Caro from Helvellyn!
A lonely and picturesque gatepost, in the middle of nowhwere and with no fence attached to it :-)
"Grasmere and Rydal Water"
Grasmere is a small town (population approx 900) set by a lake and hemmed in by the hills. It lies on the main road through the lakes (the road which joins Windermere, Ambleside, Rydal, Grasmere, Thirlmere and Keswick) and can be reached easily by bus from any of those places mentioned.
It is given over almost entirely to toursim, there being barely a building in the town that isn't a shop, restaurant, cafe, hotel or guesthouse. In the peak months it is absolutely thronging with people and its car parks car barely cope with the numbers that descend on in.
One of it's main attractions is Dove Cottage (former home of Wordsworth) and The Wordsworth Museum, these being set by the main road that by-passes the town on the way to Ambleseide and not in the town centre.
The town of Grasmere is typical of Lakeland - buildings made from slate, with tea rooms and cafes galore! The best in town are (in my opinion, being a vegetarian) The Rowan Tree (which is exclusively vegetarian) and Baldry's, which has a good veggie selection (neither of these is the cafe shown here, that's thrown in just to confuse you!!)
The Wordswoth Hotel is one if Grasmere's most famous and best hotels. It's also outside of our price bracket! A good and cheaper alternative is the Red Lion, which is right in the centre of town and serves decent food in it's adjoining "pub" The Lamb and Lion.
How Beck vegetarian Guest House is a great place to stay too. Very close to the centre of town, set amongs it's own large gardens and with nice views of the fells to the rear.
After you've taken in all of the twee, toursity gift shops and maybe Dove Cottage you might like to go for a walk around the lake. This is very pleasant, though it may come as a surprise just how far from the lake the town is. The trudge from the town centre to the lake shore can seem a bit of a drag (especially when it's the 1000'th time you've done it) but once you're there it's well worth it.
Once you finally reach the lake, you can walk to the far shore along the lake side. Once at the far shore, you can return the way you came, continue to Rydal, go up Loughrigg, or return the road way. It's up to you :-)
At the far end of the lake from the village is a pebble beach, popular with sunbathers, picnicers and dog owners (they just love throwing sticks for their dogs to fetch back).
The river Rothay flows out of the lake here, and there is a bridge across it. You can get to White Moss by following the river, on either side.
Along this stretch of river, best seen if you don't cross it, lives at least one pair of Dippers, possibly my favourite bird :-) You've got to be sharp eyed to spot them, but we usually do.
Up above the lake at this end is Loughrigg, a hill that separates Grasmere from Langdale. You can climb up and over it to get to Langdale, or, part way up, take the track that goes left to right. This is known as Loughrigg Terrace and there are some conveniently sites seats along this track, so you can take in the views of the lake. This shot was taken in Autumn, as witnessed by the brown colours and the warm clothing!
On the edge of town is Crosthwaite Church, the oldest building in Keswick. Canon Rawnsley, the founder of The National Trust (which owns much land in the lake district) is buried here.
Again from Loughrigg but in the summer. The lake looks like a blue jewel sparkling in the sunlight. It is no wonder that this area inspired Wordsworth.
Up on top of Loughrigg the lanscape is undulating, with boulders sticking up out of the grass. The views all around are really nice. There is a tarn up here too, Loughrigg Tarn naturally enough, it's tucked away to one side, close to where the Grasmere to Langdale road cuts by.
This is looking down towards Elterwater, at the start of Langdale.
If you walk round Loughrigg terrace from Grasmere to Rydal Water you will pass by a cave that was once quarried for slate.
Inside, the cave is filled with water and stepping stones lead to the back of the cave.