We spent a couple of hours at this relaxing place enjoying the countryside and seeing the Osprey nests.
There are two viewpoints, both of which are staffed in the summer by friendly, knowledgeable RSPB volunteers. Start with the lower viewpoint where we were lucky enough to see some red squirrels in the woods as well as taking a look at the Osprey nests.
It's also worth visiting the upper viewpoint, which is a short walk uphill and gives some higher views of the nest sites.
This is one of the principal bodies of water in the Lake District,it lies wholly within the borough of Allerdale in Cumbria.The lake occupies part of Borrowdale and lies directly south of the town of 'Keswick'.It is both fed and drained by the River Derwent and measures 3 miles long by 1 mile wide and in some parts can be up to 22 metres deep(72 feet).The lake is surrounded by hills(known locally as fells)and many of the slopes facing the lake are extensively wooded.A regular passenger ferry takes people to various stops around the lake including the Marina's of Portinscale and Lodore Falls.Recreational walking is a major tourist activity in these parts and an extensive network of footpaths exists within the hills and woods surrounding the lake.Taking a gentle stroll round the lake took us just over an hour and ten mins with a few stops to take pictures,well worth doing.
This ended up as a full day's hike
We set off on the morning, after breakfast, from our B&B in Kewsick and hiked first to the Castlerigg Stone Circle and then up to Walla Crag.
It was a bit of a climb but well worth it for the views of Derwent Water and the town of Keswick from the top. We made it to the top for about 11:00, after setting out just after breakfast.
The hike down is a bit stony, so if you've got a stick I would suggest you bring it along. Got down to the bottom at about 13:00.
Rather than walking back into Keswick, we decided just to hike down to one of the many piers where the small Keswick Launch stops off. We jumped on at Ashness and went for a small cruise to Nicol End and the back to Keswick.
We hiked up to Castlerigg Stone Circle from our B&B in Keswick, after breakfast. The aim at the end was to be at Walla Crag.
It was an easy hike from the town centre and we were lucky to have some decent weather when we arrived at the stone circle.
As we arrived in the early morning it wasn’t crowded and so we were able to enjoy the silence and take in the breathtaking views.
"Castlerigg Stone Circle is one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain, and is the most visited stone circle in Cumbria. Every year thousands of people visit it to look, photograph, draw and wonder why and when and by whom it was built. The stone circle is on the level top of a low hill with views across to Skiddaw, Blencathra and Lonscale Fell"
Free Keswick Walk Leaflets
We did not take the tour of the Cumberland Pencil Museum; however, we did park at the pay and display lot in back of the Museum, which we found to be one of the cheaper and more convenient lots in the Village of Keswick. It is a few blocks walk from the Village center, but it is worth it due to the easy in and easy out access. Still, you want to arrive here fairly early in the day or else this lot will be full also.
If you park in the lot you might as well as least peruse the Pencil Museum gift shop. It is especially nice for children and the Museum tour is also probably well-suited for kids as well. In the gift shop we purchased some pencils with Derwent graphite - the original graphite first used in pencils. I guess the locals discovered the graphite and found that it was useful for marking sheep and later for writing with.
A pleasant evening was spent in the Lake District at the Wheatsheef Inn watching traditional dancing. A troupe of dancers, with an accompanying accordion, played for over an hour at the Wheatsheef parking lot. It was fun to watch and they got the spectators involved for the last dance. The dancers play a different venue each weekend and they collect tips, which go to the mountain rescue squad. After a great dinner, this was a great way to relax while draining a pint.
It's hard not to think of the late Ronnie Barker and his offsider Jason when you see this place. Coming from the other side of the world where we have no shops (to my knowledge) with this name it really touched my mirth bone.
I'm sure Mr. Barker would have approved.
A few times while driving from village to village or site to site in the Lake District, we would see a beautiful site, park our little rental car and hike to it. Hiking to waterfalls was one of our favorite things to do. On the drive from Keswick to Buttermere on a secondary route, we pulled off to see a waterfall about a half mile away. We hiked to it and had it all to ourselves for as long as we wanted. Besides the waterfall, we had amazing views back down the valley. We did the same thing walking around the shores of Crummock Water - earlier in the day that would have been a great picnic since we had the lake and shoreline completely to ourselves, even on a beautiful day in August.
It is too easy to drive by some of the Lake District's best sites. Stop the car, get out and enjoy.
Castlerigg Stone Circle became the joke of our vacation. Since we were not going to be in the vicinity of Stonehenge, I decided that I wanted to see Castlerigg Stone Circle, the most heavily visited stone circle in Cumbria, instead. Castlerigg is one of the oldest stone circles in Britain and is quite expansive; however, the 38 stones themselves are not that large.
Castlerigg is a little out of the way. In fact, on our last day in Cumbria as we saw a few sites before returning our rental car in Penrith. One of those was to be Castlerigg. We were driving in the direction that we thought was Castlerigg; however, we had gotten completely turned around and lost. WE ENDED UP IN COCKERMOUTH! Entirely defeated in our search for Castlerigg and pushing our deadline for returning the rental car and catching our train to Manchester, we got on the A66 and headed for Penrith.
Driving along the A66 east of Keswick I had almost forgotten about Castlerigg, when we saw a sign for it. We both laughed and I did a U-turn and headed back to the Castlerigg exit. After driving a couple miles on secondary roads up into the hillside, we came upon a series of cars parked along the road. Castlerigg at last!
Getting out of the car and walking through the field to the circle, we were underwhelmed to say the least. It was OK, but not worth the time to find it in my opinion. Not unless you are a stone circle nut. I couldn't help but think if Stonehenge was also this underwhelming?
Since then, if anything in our lives turns out to be a wild search for something less than spectacular, we call it Castlerigging. All in all, even though the site wasn't worth the effort, the experience was.
Oh, and we did catch our train to Manchester on time; however, I had to run from the rental car drop off area to the train station (twice - but that is a later story) in order to make it.
Hiking around Buttermere Lake is an invigorating way to spend a morning regardless of the weather. It is a 4.5 to 5 mile easy hike that takes 2 - 3 hours. The terrain is mostly flat and the trail in good condition.
Start out by finding a place to park in Buttermere (this may be the most difficult part of the adventure) and walking behind the Fish Hotel (stop to learn a little about this hotel's interesting history) to find the broad path that takes you to Buttermere Lake. Just past the east end of the lake you will find an old stone arch bridge over a small stream. Cross the bridge after taking a picture or two and veer to the left (another path heads to the right away from Buttermere Lake). This will put you on the path around the lake. As you walk along the north end of the lake you will have a choice of staying down by the lakeside or walking higher up along the fells. We chose lakeside.
Your hike will go on pretty much unobstructed until you reach the tunnel at Hasness, which is below in my pictures. The tunnel was blasted through the rocky hillside to aid in traveling around the lake and it serves much enjoyment for children and adults as well for that matter.
There is no better way to end your hike than with a stop at Syke Farm Cafe for their authentic Buttermere Ayrshires ice cream. Tip below.
Buttermere Church (of St. James) is one of the smallest churches, but also one of the most inspiring, in the Lake District and, perhaps, all of England. The church sits on a ridge overlooking town. We walked up to it and admired it from the outside, opened the gate and, to our surprise, the door was open. We walked in and admired the simplistic beauty from within. I found some of the expansive churches we have seen on our travels to be sublimely beautiful, but I did not always feel the presence of God there. In this simple little church, on a ridge overlooking this simple little village, I could feel God. He was there in every hand-sewn item made with loving care within the church.
The inside of the 1840's era stone church is every bit as beautiful as the outside with its white walls, wood pews, and beautiful woodwork. Wood beams stretch across the ceiling with each beam having a hand-carved angel as its endcap. The organ is small, but captivating and I would have loved to hear it play. Above the alter is a simple, yet beautiful stained glass window. To enter the church, one passes through the wrought iron "Shepherd's Gate". Looking back from inside the church through the Shepherds Gate is a beautiful view.
One thing that I missed while exploring the church is the memorial to Alfred Wainwright, the famous fell walker and author of guidebooks. It is a stone tablet set into one of the windows that overlooks the Haystacks - one of Wainwrights favorite places to hike and where his ashes are scattered.
Buttermere is a wonderful little village less than 20 minutes from Keswick (if you don't stop the car to admire the wonderful valley view or to hike on the drive between the two towns). There isn't a great deal here, but a hike around the lake, a few minutes nosing around the church, and an ice cream cone at the dairy are all musts.
Beware that parking can be an issue during the day. There are a couple pay and display lots - one behind the inn and restaurant in town and another just outside of town on the way to Lorton. You can also park for free along the road or in a small lot above Buttermere Church.
The hike around Buttermere Lake is wonderful and is easily manageable by people of almost all capabilities. I particularly enjoyed the tunnel that you must walk through (pictured below) and the stone bridges as well as the lake and fell views.
A nice way to spend time on Derwentwater is to take a lake cruise. For about 8 gbp per adult (different rates for children and families) you can take an approximately 50 minute complete circuit of the lake. However, my wife and I decided to hike part of the way around the lake, pick up the boat at the pier that is its second stop, and take the cruise back to the main marina area. By doing this we were able to combine the fun of a hike and the relaxation of a boat cruise. Plus, the price for the cruise is less by hiking part way and then hopping on.
If you are hiking around or part way around Derwentwater Lake, there is a large dead tree laying on the ground about a half mile from the Keswick Launch Company's main boat docks if hiking clockwise around the lake. I am not sure why we stopped to look at it, but when we did we noticed a pence sticking out of it. Then we noticed more pence and more pence. Then we noticed a small rock sitting on the tree making it convenient to add your own pence. So we did. Kind of a fun little thing to stumble upon a money tree.
Derwentwater is located immediately south of Keswick and is one of the principal lakes in the Lake District National Park. It is also one of the most popular and crowded.
We spent a good half a day playing on, in and around Derwentwater. One could easily spend a whole day on the lake.
We hiked around the perimeter of the lake for about 3 miles and then hitched a ride back to the marina from one of the Keswick Launch Company's boats. To hitch a ride back, simply stand at one of the Keswick Launch Company's docks and a boat will pick you up (if it has room - one was sold out and passed us by - I wouldn't wait until the last boat of the day to get taken back to the marina) and take you back for a small fee. This allows you to both take a boat ride on this beautiful lake and also hike around its perimeter.
The Lake itself, its coastline and its islands are beautiful. Besides hiking, wading and taking a boat launch ride, you can also relax on the bank above the lake or rent a kayak, rowboat or sailboat to explore the lake on your own. One word of caution though, do not get in the way of one of the Keswick Launch Company's boats as they definitely believe that they own the lake. You must yield, not them. We saw one family almost get run over in a rowboat.
If you are hiking around the lake, there is a fallen, dead tree on the west side of the lake within about a half mile of the Keswick Launch Company's main docks. This is the money tree and if you look closely, you will notice that there are dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of pence pounded into it.