There were so many places in the Lake District I wanted to see, that I would have needed to either spend several weeks there (which I didn't have the time nor the money ), rent a car and rush around on my own ( which I didn't want to do) or look for a guided tour which covered at least some of the places on my wish list.
I found the Mountain Goat Company and booked their High Adventure Tour. It was a great tour!
I was picked up at my B&B in Kendal. The company uses vans only, so our group was small. The tour guide was also driving and he did an excellent job! He lives in the Lake District, is a member of the Mountain Rescue Team and just loves this area. I could hear his enthusiasm for the Lake District in every sentence , that is, once I had got used to his accent. In the beginning I had some problems, but he was very patient.
He took us to the high passes, Hardknott and Wyrnose Pass. I was very glad I hadn't rented a car. We saw some tourists, driving very slowly and carefully, especially as it was raining most of the time. We went to Wastewater and Coniston Water and our guide also took us to a spectacular waterfall not in the original program, but he kept saying he'd have to show us the beautiful spots of the Lake District.
Despite the many stops, I never felt rushed. Certainly, had I been on my own I would stopped more here and less there, but I wouldn't have seen most spots in the first place. So I think the timing was set very well.
The tour war £ 33, a very good value for my money.
Well, we certainly chose the right weekend to visit the fall. My only regret was we did it on the Saturday and not the Sunday, after a night of torrential rain!!! Still, it was impressive enough, even if it did rain for most of the walk.
The site belongs to the National Trust who bought over 750 acres of Gowbarrow Park, including the fall, when the land was in danger of being sold to be built on. It's a beautiful Victorian landscaped park, set in a fantastic woodland of pines, ash, birch, yew,oak, beech, hawthorn and I'm sure many more species of trees. The contrasts of the greens of the trees,the greys of the rocks and the inky black of the water were incredible.
The non too strenuous circular walk up and around the river and fall is relatively easy but some parts, particularly the steps, are steep and can be slippery. Make sure you wear decent footwear and a good waterproof as although you are under trees most of the time, the drips are often worse than the rain!
If I remember rightly, there are three bridges for viewing and changing sides. These were originally built from timber but were replaced with slate and are in keeping with the surroundings. The two upper bridges were built in memory of two brothers, from the Spring-Rice family from nearby Watermillock, one who died in the Boer war and the other in 1918. The lower, upper bridge is where you view the 69 foot waterfall and what a view you get.Be prepared to get a little wet if it's in full spate! I really wouldn't have liked to have fallen in the swirling brown torrent.... not a pleasant thought.
Wordsworth was a frequent visitor here and wrote the poems, The Somnambulist and Airey Force.
As it's a National Trust place, you pay to park. Not sure how much, as we had membership. There are toilets and a cafe.
Beautiful forest with visitor centre and lots of facilities. There are 8 marked walks ranging in distance and difficulty from and nice stroll (which we did) to a good 10 mile hike. You can buy a guidemap from the visitor centre, or just follow the markers.
There are around 90 sculptures all over the forest and you see some of these on whichever walk you choose to follow. Some are less obvious than other so keep your eyes peeled!
If you're not really into hiking (like me) this might make it a bit more interesting.
Visitor Centre, shop & tearoom opening times: 10am until 5.00pm (summer) 4pm (winter)
The giftshop sells a variety of things - I bought a bag of chocolate cow pats for my friend which I thought might suit her sense of humour!
Follow the main sculpture trail, in Riddings Wood, from the car park across the road from the visitor centre.£2 to park. You will come across some unusual and unexpected things. There are over twenty sculptures, some inter-active and others just "different."
Grizedale Forest is home to the largest collection of sculpture in the landscape and was started in 1977.
Beautiful scenery at this spot near Coniston and Hawkshead. A National Trust-run property but no fee except for carpark.This trip can be combined with a ride on a steamer boat that runs from Coniston pier... check NT site for details.
An interesting stop at Brown's farm - land farmed by the same family for over 400 years.
It was fascinating to see how a farm family lived and worked.. and nice views from the carpark.
This is a National Trust property so there is a fee if not a member.
The Lake District is home to many of England's stone circles. They go back to prehistoric times and resemble what we see at Stonehenge, although these are not fenced off. The stone circle has been tenuously dated at 3200BC. Castlerigg Stone Circle is one of the finest in Cumbria, it is spectacularly situated within a panorama of rugged hills of ever changing character, depending on the mercurial Lakeland weather.
I don't know if I would call this stately home a 'castle,' but it was an interesting National Trust site to visit near Kendal in the Lake District. The gardens were very pretty, especially a huge field of daffodils (late April). At the back of the house is a large pond and beautiful views of the property. The construction of the first part of the 'castle,' was started in medieval times.
Still lived in by the Strickland family, Sizergh has many tales to tell and certainly feels lived in, with centuries-old portraits and fine furniture sitting alongside modern family photographs. There's a nice NT cafe and gift shop.
If you arrive early, there are tickets available for a personal tour at 12, but they go quickly starting at about 10 a.m.
Get in shape and climb up a bit to see this beautiful waterfall. It was worth the effort, and the way down was a lot easier. :-) I was rewarded with a cream tea at the bottom. The National Trust runs this scenic beauty, plus a nice cafe. Nearby are some hiking trails.
I think, besides the beautiful scenery, this was my favorite part of the Lake District trip. It was thrilling to see where the great poet, William Wordsworth, spent his early years. Of course, the town of Grasmere is now quite different than in the late 18th century, but the cottage is pretty much as it was when he lived in it and brought his bride there. His sister Dorothy was also an inhabitant. There is a small museum and a nice gift shop.
The Fairfield Horseshoe is amongst the best one day hikes in the Lake District. It starts and ends in the pretty town of Ambleside, and encompasses 9 fell summits, 4000 feet of ascent, and, when the weather obliges, superb views of valleys, lakes and mountains.
It can be walked in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction from Ambleside, and is a suitable walk even for a rainy day as it's easy to find your way. I walked the Horseshoe on a wet, foggy and cloudy Friday in October 2008, and even in those conditions I encountered plenty of people on the hike.
Starting from Ambleside, you pass through Rydal Hall, Wordsworth's former home, which lies between Grasmere and Ambleside. A steep ascent leads to Nab Scar, and to excellent views of Rydal Water and Grasmere. The path is easy to find and continues on to Heron Pike. Most people head for Great Rigg next, but if you're collecting felltops, or attempting the Wainwrights, a short diversion west takes you to Stone Arthur. The summit of Great Rigg is a steepish ascent from Stone Arthur, and beyond it a path leads onto the highest point of the horseshoe, the summit of Fairfield. Views from the summit are supposedly great but when I reached the top I could see very little in the heavy fog.
The summit cairn on Fairfield is a good place for lunch, before turning east to Hart Crag and Dove Crag. From here on was my favourite part of the hike, mainly as the clouds had cleared and I could finally appreciate the fantastic views. There were still two summits to go before the end - High Pike and Low Pike - but I was descending nearly all the way and enjoying the views, they were easily topped. After 11 miles and six hours of hiking I arrived back in Ambleside for a well earned pint!
Just the most amazingly beautiful gardens I have visited!Over seventy acres of
Do come wearing decent footwear as there is loads of walking to be done on over six miles of footpaths and it often can be rather wet underfoot.
Plants from all over the world, especially from the Sino-Himalayan region, have been cleverly placed throughout the grounds and there is always something spectacular to look at, whatever the season. In winter, many of the trees and shrubs are lit up which must be beautiful.As we were visitng in early May, we knew the rhodedendrons would be at their peak. We were not disappointed and I just couldn't stop taking photos!!An added bonus is the fantastic backdrop of the glorious Lakeland mountains, offering yet more photographic opportunities!
One of the most colourful areas in May is the Ghyll, which meanders steeply down in front of the castle. So many different colours are on display here and with the Lakeland landscape behind, you can't avoid being impressed.
Within the gardens is the Owl Centre (seperate tip), a garden centre, a cafe and gift shop and a childrens playground. The local heronry is often fed at 4.30pm, causing much excitement as they roost in the trees on Cannon Bank, patiently awaiting their free meal! Yet more photos!
Apart from the spectacular colours of the flowers and shrubs, the highlight for us was the bluebell woods. Absolutely amazing. The whole woodland is carpeted with blue, such a beautiful sight. This can be a wet walk, being in the shade and does involve some uphill walking but not to be missed in early May.
Admission for gardens in full season: £8 per adult.
For more tips and photos please look at my Ravenglass page.
Many years ago, we visited the castle gardens but not the house. We have been meaning to make a return visit so took the opportunity on the recent Bank Holiday weekend.
What can I say? The place is amazing! The castle has belonged to various members of the current Pennington family for eight centuries and is their family home so the whole place has a friendly, lived in feeling. Three generations of the Pennington family live in the castle and you are bound to come across one of them on your tours! In fact, you are allowed to see some of the rooms in use but must not look in cupboards or behind doors in case you come across someone's pyjamas and personal effects!Also, the public are not allowed into the family kitchen as they don't wish people to see how untidily they live!!
Upon entering the castle, you are given audio wands with interactive tours of the rooms, narrated by members of the family. It is really quite personal and you can listen to as much or as little as you feel like.
The castle is reputedly one of the most haunted in the country and the Tapestry room seems to be the epicentre. I stood by the bed in this room as people have reported feeling cold there but I felt nothing out of the ordinary.
The admission price per adult has to include the gardens,as you walk through them to reach the castle, which is £10.50 per adult. The gardens on their own are £8. Well worth the money, we spent from 10.30am to 5.30 pm and could still have seen more!
Throughout the year, various tours and events take place with ghost weekends proving very popular!
The castle is closed on normal Saturdays as weddings are held here. See website for opening times.
This is a pretty little village in the Langdale valley, named after the shallow lake, half a mile south east of the village.It's name derives fdrom the whooper swans who flock here. There is a large common surrounding the village, giving it an air of openess rather than feeling hemmed in. The lake is fed by waters from both Little Langdale and Great Langdale and flows into the River Brathay.
The main industry of the village was slate quarrying at Skelwith Bridge and later, a gunpowder works, using locally coppiced charcoal. Nowadays, tourism is it's biggest asset, with only a quarter of the houses being occuppied by locals all year round. The rest are holiday lets.There is a pub and a YHA and a couple of shops. A small carpark (pay and display, of course,) allows you to stay for a while and admire the beautiful views of the Langdale Pikes.
From the village, there is a decent circular walk that takes in both Skelwith Force and Colwith Force, obviously better after it has rained and filled the falls.
Don't attempt to visit and expect to get parked in the height of summer. It was busy enough on a bright March day!
A beautiful valley following the River Duddon, in western Cumbria.
We have spent so many happy times here, picnicing, BBQing and swimming in the wonderful river pools.
The narrow road winds it's way along the bracken filled valley where grassy verges offer places to stop and admire the scenery from. Craggy hills form a picturesque backdrop and every so often the road meets the river, popular picnicing spots for those in the know.
There are a couple of bridges enroute, the nearer (or more southerly)being Ulpha Bridge and the second, Birks Bridge, where deep pools have formed undernearth, creating natural fantastic outdoor swimming pools.
Close to the bridge is a carpark for walking in Dunnerdale Forest.Many footpaths lead off from the Duddon Valley, some river walks, others more strenuous, taking in the fells forming the glaciated valley.
Continue northwards along the valley from Birks Bridge and you eventually come to Hardknott Pass taking you westwards to the beautiful Eskdale Valley, and Wrynose Pass, eastwards, taking you to Ambleside and the more well known parts of the Lake District.