A walk around Kentmere and Longsleddale

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The weather forecast for the day after we got home from Shropshire promised good weather. A pity we hadn’t stayed there longer as we would have been able to get out back on to the hills. I was still on holiday from work so I decided to make the most of it and took the train over to Staveley to get out on the fells. Last time I was here a few weeks ago I’d worked out a couple of circular routes that would take me from Staveley over to Longsleddale and back to the Kentmere Valley so I thought I’d give it a go. This is a very quiet part of the Lake District National Park. During the walk, after leaving Staveley, I saw only 4 other walkers on Brunt Knott, two locals in Longsleddale and a mountain biker during a 5 hour walk.

Leaving the staton I picked up a every tasty pork pie at the Bakery in the Mill yard, took the path along the river and walked to Barrley Bridge and was soon heading up into the fields.

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Views of the Kentmere valley and mountains soon opened up to my left.

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I headed towards Brunt Knott passing Brunt farm

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and, although it was a slight diversion, decided to climb to the top. I took a rather direct steep route up to the summit – there’s the trig point dead ahead!

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The views from the summit, on a sunny day, are outstanding in every direction

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Looking south west I could see as far as the Kent estuary and Morecambe Bay

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and looking east there were the Coniston fells

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the Langdales, Crinkle Crag, Bowfell and the Scafells

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Red Scree, Helvelyn (I think!), Yoke and Ill Bell to the north

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Kentmere Pike and and Harter Fell

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Looking towards the east

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the Howgill fells to the south east

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After enjoying the views for a while, and grabbing a bite to eat, I set back down the hill and continued along the path east towards Longsleddale

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It was starting to get rather wet and muddy underfoot

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The fells to the left

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Getting closer to Longsleddale

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Starting to descend into the valley. Looks stunning

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I followed the path north along the floor of the valley

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Looking over to the other side of the valley I spotted an old Pele tower incorporated into a farm house – Yewbarrow Hall.

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A little further along a lonely church – St Mary’s

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Getting closer to the head of the valley

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At the farmhouse at Hollin Root, I turned off taking the path up the hill heading back to the Kentmere Valley

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Looking back down the path

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and south, back down the valley I’d just walked along

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It was a modest climb and I soon reached the relatively flat moorland. There were good views of the fells to the north east and Gatesgarth Pass at the head of the valley.

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After a short while I could see Skeggle’s Water, a small tarn, to the north. No time to divert to take a closer look though. I needed to keep moving as I wanted to catch the train that left Staveley just after 6 o’clock (otherwise a two hour wait for the next one).

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Carrying on across the moorland. It was a lot drier underfoot than the path I’d taken between Brunt Farm and Longsleddale.

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Approaching the Kentmere Valley

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Starting to descend off the moor

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Cutting across the fields

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Heading towards Low Elfhowe in the Kentmere Valley. ONly a few miles back to Staveley now.

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The weir at Barley Bridge

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Another kilometre to the station. I made it with about 15 minutes to spare before the train arrived.

This was an excellent walk in beautiful countryside in an extremely quiet part of the Lake District.

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Where Romans marched

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Cumbria must have been one of the most wild and remote areas of the Roman Empire. Nevertheless they built forts at Brougham (Brocavum) near Penrith and at Ambleside (Galava), no doubt to keep restless natives under control. And being Romans there had to be road to connect them – High Street. Rather than route it along the bottom of the valleys, which at that time would have been covered with thick woodland and were likely to have been boggy underfoot, and where they would have been susceptible to ambushes, they built it over the top of the fells. The high point of the road was on the gentle slopes of a fell with a flat summit plateau, now known as “High Street”. At 2,718 ft, its summit is the highest point in the far eastern part of the Lake District National Park, and that was our destination last Sunday.

We drove up to the small hamlet of Hartsop and managed to find a space in the car park at the far end of the settlement. We’d left home in t-shirts but it was chilly when we arrived mid morning and there was low cloud on the fells.

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We set off following the path along the valley heading towards Hayeswater. Thick cloud was hanging in the valley ahead.

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We passed this interesting old building, covered with vegetation and almost dissolving into the landscape

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After half an hour or so we reached the glacial lake of Hayeswater. The tops of the fells still covered with cloud.

 

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We took the hillside on the path heading up towards “The Knott”, heading into the mist

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Looking back we began to wonder whether we’d made the wrong decision of where to go walking, with sun shining on the fells to the west.

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Looking back Helvelyn and Blencathra were free of cloud and the former was lit up with sunshine.

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We carried on heading up into the mist. We passed the Knott and soon High Street was visible (with cloud covering the summit)

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Starting our climb up the slope there were good views of the dramatic crags on the path towards Kidsey Pike

 

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Looking east along Riggindale towards Haweswater

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Zooming in on Haweswater

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Looking towards Riggindale Crag

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Walking along the ridge, looking north west we had a good view of Hayeswater – the cloud was beginning to clear.

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Not long after we reached the trig point of the top of the fell.

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There’s no distinct summit as it’s a broad, flat fell. At one time locals from the surrounding valleys used to meet up here on 12 July to return stray sheep to their owners and held a country fair with sports including wrestling and horse racing. In fact the summit area is still known as “Racecourse Hill”.

Cloud was still hugging the fells to the south and east, but there was a good view of the mountains to the west and north

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After taking a break for some food we set off south along the ridge – looking backwards over Hayeswater, Gray Crag and the Knott

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Our next destination, Thornthwaite Crag with it’s beacon, visible through the mist.

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The summit is marked by Thornthwaite Beacon, an impressive cairn,14 feet high.

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Looking back towards High Street.

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A clearer view over to the west with the Coniston Fells, Crinkle Crags and The Langdale Pikes clearly visible

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as well as the Fairfield Horsehoe, the Helvelyn range and Blencathra.

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Unfortunately, the summits to the south and east were covered with cloud.

We started our descent towards Threshthwaite Mouth. Two fell runners bounded past us.

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Our route took us down a very steep scree slope. Quite hairy at times with a steep drop to the left in places and with our feet slipping underneath us – we were thankful of our walking poles which provided some stability during the descent.

This is a shot looking back up the slope

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The compensation were great views down towards a sunny Ullswater and Patterdale

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and in the other direction, as the cloud had cleared, down towards Windermere with the summits of Ill Bell and Yoke (which we’d climbed back in March during our break in Kentmere) now clearly visible.

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We finally reached the bottom of the path. Here’s view looking backwards – the path was a lot steeper than it looks in the photo!

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Looking down the next part of our route, Pasture Bottom, with Ullswater in the distance.

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It was another steep descent, but on a much better path.

Looking backwards from the bottom of the descent

 

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The path followed the beck downstream back towards Hartsop. There were some interesting glacial features – with a collection of drumlins along our route

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Two thirds along the valley the path levelled out

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Looking back along the valley

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We passed some old Myer’s Head lead mine buildings. The stone walls once supported a wooden ‘launder’ or chute,  which carried water to drive a large water wheel located in the pit in the foreground of the photo.

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Being interested in industrial history and archaeology I found some information on the mine here and here.

Not far to go now

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back in the car park there was a much clearer view along the valley than when we set out!

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St Margaret’s Tower, Staveley

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St Margaret’s tower stands in the centre of the village of Staveley in Cumbria. It’s all that’s left of a church that used to occupy the site, which was demolished in 1865 when a new church, St James’, was opened on drier, higher ground. Since then the tower has stood proud in the small graveyard. The clock  at the top of the tower, was added in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

St James’ has a stained glass window designed by Edward Burne-Jones and made by Morris and Company. I really must go and have a look next time I’m in the village.

Pike O’ Blisco and Crinkle Crags

The mini heatwave was over but the weather last Sunday was forecast to be quite decent up in the Lake District, so we set out early and headed up to Great Langdale. It took less than 2 hours to drive up the M6 and across to Dungeon Ghyll and we arrived by 10 o’clock giving a good long day. The plan was to climb Pike o’ Blisco then, depending on how we felt, tackle Crinkle Crags. This was an ambitious walk for us but after our adventure walking (most of!) St Cuthbert’s Trail we were keen to keep up with some relatively serious walking.

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We parked up on the National Trust Car Park near the Stickle Barn and the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. We booted up and set off through the fields, our objective, Pike o’ Blisco clearly visible.

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Getting a bit closer

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Looking over to Crinkle Crags across the meadow

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We had to walk along the narrow road that heads over to Little Langdale and the Wrynose Pass for a while. Looking back there was a good view of the Langdale Pikes and towards Bowfell and the Crinkles

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The start of the climb up to Pike o’ Blisco (2,313 feet)

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Looking back towards the Langdale Pikes. Skiddaw can be seen in the distance on the left and the Helvelyn range to the right.

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Initially it was a gradual, fairly steep, climb up a clear path which had been paved to prevent erosion (it’s a popular route)

The summit dead ahead

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Closing in on the rocky summit

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We had to tackle a few scrambles requiring the use of hands and feet

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We finally made the top. It was quite windy, but not so bad that it was unpleasant. Good visibility meant there were great views all around

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Looking across to Crinkle Crags and Bowfell

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The Coniston Fells

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Windermere in the distance

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We’d made reasonable time and were feeling good. Next objective Crinkle Crags, then!

Heading down towards Red Tarn

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After a long, but relatively easy, gradual climb up a grassy slope, we reached the first of the rocky “Crinkles”

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Crinkle Crags consists of a series of five rocky rises and depressions (crinkles): the second, “Long Top”, being the highest at 2818 feet. The ridge is about a mile long and crossing it involves several scrambles using hands as well as feet. Crossing it is well worth the effort, though, with magnificent views and a little excitement. According to Alfred Wainwright

For the mountaineer who prefers his mountains rough …this is a climb deserving of high priority

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The view down Great Langdale

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The “second Crinkle” . We decided to take the easier (a relative term!) route to the left, avoiding the “Bad Step”.

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Looking over to Scafell and Scafell Pike, England’s tallest mountains.

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Looks like we’re on the Moon!

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Looking back to Pike o’ Blisco with Windermere in the background

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Carrying on along the undulating ridge

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Looking towards Bowfell

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We reached the Three Tarns, with a final look over to the Scafells before we started ours descent back down towards Langdale

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We set off down the Band, a relatively easy descent down to the valley

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It was hard on the knees, though. I was glad of my walking poles.

Looking backwards to Crinkle Crags

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Pike o’ Blisco dead ahead

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The Langdale Pikes to our left

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The view down Great Langdale

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Some of the locals

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Looking back towards the Crinkles and The Band

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Crossing

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We passed the Old Dungeon Ghyll

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and carried on along the path for the last half a mile or so to the Stickle barn car park where we’d parked up

Feeling hungry, we decided to eat at Stickle barn before driving home

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Yummy – Herdwick Shepherd’s pie and  Herdie pulled lamb on a bun

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A side order of rather excellent sweet potato chips

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A proper brew!

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And a view of Lingmoor Fell while we ate.

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A long, butt very enjoyable day and a great walk.

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Silver How, Sergeant Man and Easedale

Our friend Pam from Tasmania is over in Europe for a few weeks, touring around. She was staying in Grasmere for a few days so we arranged to meet up with her on Saturday to go for a walk. We got up early and drove up to the Lakes, arriving just before 10. We’d planned a walk that gave us a few options, allowing us to decide how far to go depending on conditions and how we felt. Although we’d walked in the same area a few times over the past year, it was all new to Pam and with great views, we knew it wouldn’t disappoint.

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It was a grey day, chilly and a little windy on top, but visibility was good and conditions underfoot generally dry (but this was the Lakes so there were some boggy patches).

We started by heading up Silver How –  grey skies but still great views all round

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We cut across the moorland over to the top of Easedale

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We had the option of descending down towards Easedale Tarn and then back to Grasmere, but decided to continue along the ridge and tackle Sergeant Man. We hadn’t made it that far during previous walks in the vicinity so a new challenge. And talking about challenge, there was an orienteering race taking place which took in Silver How and Sergeant Man, so there was a constant stream of runners, as skinny as greyhounds, passing us we walked at a much slower pace along the ridge.

Reaching the summit, more good views greeted us. Looking over to Bowfell, the Scafels and Great Gable

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Pavey Arc and Harrison Stickle with the Coniston Fells in the background. The Langdale Pikes looked quite different from this angle.

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A couple of orienteerers checking in

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A panorama looking over to the west

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Looking east towards the Fairfield range

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We set off back along the ridge, retracing our footsteps

Looking over to Helvelyn and the Fairfield Horseshoe with Codale Tarn and Easedale in the foreground

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Pam taking a breather – waiting for us to catch up!

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Then the steep descent down towards Easedale Tarn – Blea Crag in the background.

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Getting a little closer to the tarn

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Looking back towards Blea Crag  and Eagle Crag from the end of the tarn

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Setting off down Sour Milk Ghyl towards Easedale

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The last of the waterfalls

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Easedale

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Looking down towards the old sheepwash

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Reaching the bottom of the valley it was a relatively easy walk back to Grasmere village where a brew awaited us!

We said our goodbyes promising to visit Tasmania sometime in the future (!) and set off for home. Another good day walking in the Lakes and really nice to combine that with catching up with a friend we don’t get the opportunity to see so often.

Kendal Castle

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After our visit to Abbot Hall to see the Julian Cooper exhibition we had a wander round the town centre and then, as it had turned into a pleasant afternoon, we decided to walk up to Kendal Castle. The Castle was built in the early 12th Century on a glacial hill left behind from the last ice age, to the east of the town. It was more of a fortified manor house  for the local barons, than a military stronghold, but it would have dominated the town, looking over it from it’s prominent high position. And it would have been a potent symbol of their wealth and power.

Crossing the River Kent near to Abbot Hall, it’s a short walk to Castle Hill.

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It’s then a short, if steep, climb up to the castle.

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I didn’t have my camera with me, but the good light meant I was able to get some decent shots using my phone.

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Visibility was good so there were great views over to Red Screes and the Kentmere fells.

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We could clearly see Yoke and Ill Bell that we’d climber only a few weeks before.

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We had a quick look round the interior of the ruined castle

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Hawkshead Brewery

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Before driving over to Kentmere we called into the Hawkshead Brewery at Staveley. It’s a real brewery where they brew there own ales, but they also have a beer hall where they serve their beer as well as food. It’s open lunch times and also during the evening on Friday and Saturday (food only served until 3 pm, though).

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Visitors can look over the brewery from a viewing gallery at the back of the building

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and they have 2 large storage tanks next to the beer hall.

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They also run brewery tours at 2 pm on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

It might seem odd that they’re called Hawkshead Brewery when they’re a few miles and across the other side of Windermere from the village of that name. However, that is where they started. But they outgrew their original premises after four years and moved to the present site, in the Mill Yard, beside the River Kent, in Staveley. Their range of craft beers are rather excellent (you can buy bottles to take away so no need to try them all at once!).

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Next door there’s a rather excellent craft bakery that sells scrumptious bread and cakes, and they have a café too.

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So two yeast based production facilities next door to each other.

There’s a number of other manufacturing, commercial and retail businesses based in the mill yard, including a shop that makes and sells chutney’s sauces and relishes and the UK’s largest cycle store.

It’s worth pulling off the fast road between Kendal and Windermere for a visit.