West of Windermere

After most of May had been a damp squid, the last few days, including the Bank Holiday weekend, were very different. Hot, dry and, mostly sunny. The period of miserable weather coincided with my convelesance from my op, so I wouldn’t have been able to get out walking in any case. But I had seemed to recover well and was itching to get out so, despite my usual reluctance to travel on a Bank Holiday Weekend, when I saw there was the opportunity for a one night stay in a Youth hostel up in the Lakes on the Monday evening, I decided to go ahead and book. I certainly wasn’t ready for anything too strenuous, but had worked out some lower level routes that would allow me a gentle re-introduction to walking on the fells.

An early start on the Monday morning meant that I reached Bowness in about an hour and 10 minutes, and I parked up on the large car park on the southern edge of the town. It was largely empty so there was no trouble finding a parking space! I had some fun with the ticket machine. After it had taken my £8 payment I could hear it printing the ticket, but nothing came out. Looking carefully it seemed as if it was stuck. It took some fiddling but suddenly I managed to pull out what turned out to be a little collection of tickets, where other people had clearly had the same problem. Rooting through them I found my own so I was able to put it on my dashboard, clearly visible through the window and avoid what would probably be the hassle of ringing the help line number printed on the ticket machine.

Having sorted that out I set off. My plan was to catch the ferry over the lake and take a walk on the western shore of Windermere. I had an easy 6 mile route planned with options to extend it depending how I felt. This was new territory for me as I normally head for the higher fells.

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Leaving the ferry my first objective was the Claife Viewing Station, just a short walk from the ferry terminal. More about that in another post, I think. I’ll concentrate on the walk in this one.

After taking in the views from the viewing station I descend back down and set off allong the lakeside track heading north.

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This section of the lake shore is a popular spot for visitors wanting to muck about in boats on the water, to do some swimming or just lounge around by the water. There were already quite a few people doing just that.

After a while the track enters the woods so there were fewer people around other than fellow walkers and cyclists.

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Reaching Belle Grange, it was decision time. The easy option was to carry on towards Wray Castle but instead I turned left, taking the path up hill through the forest. And then another decision. I could have turned left and head south on the high level path through the forest, but I feeling OK I decided to turn off and summit Latterbarrow, the small hill that’s the high point on the ridge. The path was generally good. there were a few muddy and boggy sections, but they weren’t too bad and the worst bits were easily by-passed. It would be different in winter, though.

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It didn’t take too long to reach the summit (244 metres, about 800 feet).

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The views in every direction were amazing, even if visibility was a little hazy due to the heat. The Coniston Fells, Pike o’ Blisco Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes could all be seen to the west.

With Loughrigg, Silver How, Helvelyn, the Fairfield Horeshoe, Red Screes, Wansfell and the western side of the Kentmere Horseshoe as well as Windermere to the north and east.

I stopped for a while admiring the views and having a bite to eat to top up my blood sugar. Then I descended down the northern slopes of the hill and back into the forest, doubling back to head south towards Sawrey following the “Tarns Route”.

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After winding through the forest the path emerged from the woods into scrubby terrain with rocky outcrops

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I soon reached Wise Eens tarn.

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The view over this still stretch of water, backed by the high fells from Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man over to the langdales rather took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting something so picturesque. I just had to stop for a while to take in the view.

Carrying on south down the path I reached Moss Eccles tarn, which used to be owned by one Beatrix Potter, purchased just after her marriage to William Heelis. It was a favourite spot and they used to take evening walks up to here. they aslo kept a boat on the tarn. Today, like most of her property, the tarn is owned by the National Trust.

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Further on, I reached a fork in the path. The options were to head right to Near Sawrey or Left to Far Sawrey. Starting to feel tierd after a lengthy walk, I opted for the latter as it was nearer to the lake and the ferry terminal.

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Reaching the village,

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I weedled around trying to avoid walking on the main road too much, and after heading down a mix of minor roads and paths across the fields, I ended up on the Lake shore, south of the ferry terminal. looking across the lake I could see a favourite building (and tea shop!), Blackwood, the Arts and Crafts style house where we’re regular visitors (well, except for last year).

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I followed the track and reaching the road crossed over and took a path which climbed up to the Claife Viewing Station. It was interesting to see how the view had changed since the morning.

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Then it was back down to the Ferry terminal. there was a long queue of cars waiting to boardand I was glad I’d left the car over at Bowness. Rather than jump on the ferry that arrived soon after I reached the terminal, I decided I needed some caffeine, so bought myself a coffee and an ice cream from the little cafe and had a sit down while I waited 20 minutes for it to return.

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Disembarking, it was too early to head to the hostel, where I could only check in at 5 o’clock, which was 2 hours off, so I decided to have a mooch around Bowness. Not surprisingly, really, it was absolutely heaving with day trippers. There were cars parked everywhere, including on double yellow lines and on the pavement in places, with more cars arriving all the time (and not so many leaving). I saw a traffic warden with a big smile on his face as he was busily slapping tickets on car windscreens!

I wandered along the lake shore to the town centre, but it was absolutely madness so decided to cut my losses and set off back to the car park. It wasn’t empty any more – it was over full with vehicles parked up in stupid places, almost blocking the way in and out. As I was changing out of my boots, there was somebody waiting for me to drive off and take the spot.

After queing in the traffic to get through Bowness, I drove up towards Troutbeck. the road was lined with cars parked up – mainly illegally and dangerously – effectively turning the road into a single track. Madness.

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I arrived at the hostel, which although named “Windermere” is at Troutbeck Bridge, an hour early. So I sat on the terrace for a while taking in the great view of the lake and fells.

I was feeling pretty good. I’d survived my first “expedition” for a while and was looking forward to a second day in the Lakes.

16 thoughts on “West of Windermere

  1. The traffic situation sounds like a nightmare. I like the views, especially the picturesque one looking over the tarn, it looks lovely there 🙂

    • Bowness can be bad at the best of times. It’s the Blackpool of the Lakes! I normally stay clear, other than visiting Blackwell which is a couple of miles from the village.
      I was surprised by the situationnand views at the tarn. Definitely somewhere I’ll go again. Shorter walks from Hawkshead and Sawrey are possible.

  2. Well I fluffed that one. What I meant to say was: I like that area around Latterbarrow and Sawrey. I used to stay a lot at the Hawkshead Red Lion and walk up from there. £8 to park in the Lakes now? Strewth. Like you, I tend to avoid Bowness.

    • There are still some quieter areas and it was quiet and peaceful during most of my walk, but the honeypots were heaving. Particularly so as it was a bank holiday. I have a few days booked in Borrowdale in August, but hopefully away from the crowds.

  3. Never walked those hills but they look superb and those views are just great especially from those small tarns. The less popular areas offer some great walking although it sounded like car-carnage in Bowness!

    • This walk was never on my agenda but the need to take it gentle brought it to the forefront. And having done it I wondered why I’d not ben there before. Sometimes lower level walks have their own special rewards. The views from Latterbarrow and the tarns were definitely examples

  4. Latterbarrow is a classic – really good for days with a mixed forecast. I was introduced to it by a friend and work colleague many moons ago.

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