A walk up Yoke and Ill Bell

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The second full day of our stay in Kentmere and we’d planned a walk up to the top of Ill Bell via the Garburn Pass and Yoke. We’d had a good view of the two mountains from across the alley during our walk up Nan Gield pass the previous day.There was low cloud on the fells, so there was risk we’d finish in fog and miss the views from on the fells, but we set out anyway as we knew we’d still enjoy the walk.

The start of the walk – the road from the village leading to the Garburn Pass

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We passed Shepherd’s Nook

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and shortly afterwards we began to climb the path up the pass.

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Passing the crags on our right

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Reaching the top of the pass we took the path towards Yoke. There was low cloud on the fells restricting visibility but the top of Yoke looked clear.

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Looking over the Kirkstone Pass we could make out Red Screes but visibility was poor restricting the view of mountains further away. But on a good day the views are stunning.

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Reaching the top of Yoke (2316 feet) , In the distance, the summit of Ill Bell was shrouded in cloud.

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Looking over to the fells on the other side of the valley, the Nan Bield Pass was visible through a gap in the cloud. It was a little like a science fiction film – looking through a portal to another world!

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Carrying on along the ridge there was a good view down to the reservoir

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A short, sharp climb and we reached our final objective, the summit of Ill Bell (2483 feet)

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Looking along the ridge to Frostwick, the next peak, and High Street. We were tempted to carry on but decided to stick to our plan. But, all being well, one day we’ll be back to walk the horseshoe!

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This is the view over the valley to Nan Bield Pass and Harter Fell.

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Looking back towards Yoke

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Visibility was improving, and walking back along Yoke we could make out the whole length of Windermere

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and looking to the north west we had a decent view of Rred Screes on the other side of the Kirkstone Pass and over towards Helvelyn

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We retraced our steps down the Garburn Pass. The sun lighting up the crags

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Looking down on Kentmere village

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It was a sunny afternoon when we got back to our cottage – and there were some new neighbours!

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The Nan Bield Pass

Today Kentmere is a quiet, isolated spot. This wasn’t always the case. There are three passes that lead out of the valley (besides the road from Staveley) one to Mardale in the north, another to Troutbeck to the west and the third to Longsleddale in the east. So at one time, many years ago, the valley would have been a relatively busy crossroads for people and, in many cases, their animals, travelling between the Lakeland valleys. There was also industry in valley with slate mines to the north of the village and although they’ve been closed for many years now there is still evidence of the mining activity on the hillsides.

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On Tuesday, the first full day of our stay in Kentmere, the weather forecast was for intermittent rain and we’d planned a low level circular walk up along the river to the reservoir at the head of the valley and back. But one thing we learned during our break was not to trust the weather forecast. It was raining heavily when I got up but by 10 o’clock the rain had stopped and the cloud was clearing. By 11 we had sun and blue skies. It was windy, though, and I expected that the wind would be much stronger on the exposed ridges of the high fells. So we set out with a plan to start out on the low level walk but if conditions looked promising to cut up the Nan Bield Pass at the north end of the valley and then loop back along Harter Fell and Kentmere Pike. For various reasons this changed plan didn’t work out but we did manage to climb to the top of the pass.

Setting out at about 11:30, we crossed the river and walked through the village, making our way along the road until we reached the well defined footpath which ran along the floor of the valley parallel to the river. There had been a lot of rain during previous weeks so the path was wet and frequently quite muddy.

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We were soon into more open country with the high fells appearing on the horizon

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Eventually we could see most of the high fells comprising the Kentmere Horseshoe

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We had to cross numerous becks (the Cumbrian term for a stream) – only one of them was bridged so our boots got wet – not a bad thing as it washed at least some of the mud off them!

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The path started to climb gradually. We passed Kentmere Pike

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We spotted several old mine workings such as this one, high up on the side of the fell. What must it have been like to work here? P3140705

The workers would have lived in huts near tot he mines, making there way down the valley to spend their wages in the local pub on their day off. The mine workers were so rowdy that the local magistrates withdrew the licence for the pub in Kentmere  and the village has been “dry” ever since . The nearest pub is in Staveley.

Carrying on climbing steadily up the path. To our left the reservoir constructed 1848 to regulate the flow of the river which powered mills further down the valley. Ill Bell and Frostwick can be seen towering over the lake. The steep flank of the former plunging down into the small man-made lake.

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Looking further up the valley towards High Street – it’s hard to believe that there was a Roman Road up on the fells.

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The top of the pass was becoming ever closer, but still some way to go. So far the path had been a relatively easy gradient as height was gained gradually, but we could see that there would be a much steeper climb to come.

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We eventually made it to the top where there were views down into Mardale, the next valley to the north. This had been flooded during the 1930’s creating a large reservoir – Haweswater – to supply Manchester with water. The small settlement of Mardale Green was submerged in the process.

Zooming in

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It was extremely windy at the top as the wind funnels through the gap, making it difficult to stand up. We’d only made a the late morning start and the the sun would start setting at 6 o’clock. It had taken longer than anticipated to reach the top. So discretion being the better part of valour we decided to retrace our steps rather than risk walking in strong winds on an exposed ridge with a chance of not making it back down before it went dark.

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Harter Fell and Kentmere would be there another day! In any case, it had been a good walk through some dramatic countryside, and as the top of the pass is just over 2,000 feet high, it was a decent enough climb!

Kentmere

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It didn’t take long to drive from Blackwell over to Staveley, the village at the bottom of the Kentmere Valley. 3 miles further up the valley driving down a single carriage road we arrived at Kentmere village where we had booked into a cottage for four nights. The road is a dead end – you can’t drive any further.

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Although we’re regular visitors to the Lake District, we’ve never been to Kentmere before. In fact we only visited Staveley for the first time last summer when a relative was staying there and we visited a couple of times. We normally rush past on the by-pass between Kendal and Windermere on the way further into the National Park. But during that visit we went for a walk on the hills just outside Staveley and when we decided to have a break during March we thought it might be a good idea to stay further down the valley. And it certainly was.

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Kentmere, is one of the most beautiful valleys in the Lake District (which is saying something!) and yet is one of the least visited. Although only about 20 or 30 minutes drive from Kendal (and about an hour and a half from home) it’s about as secluded as you can get. Car parking is extremely limited (so if you don’t arrive early in the morning you’ll have to turn around and drive back down that single carriage road). There’s no public transport – the nearest train station and bus stop being in Staveley- and there’s no pub or shops. Consequently it’s not overrun with visitors.

It’s surrounded by hills and fells and a little further up the valley there’s a ring of high fells which form the basis of a classic walk – the Kentmere Horseshoe (also known as the Kentmere Round).

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St. Cuthbert’s Church was substantially modified by the Victorians but has ancient roots, with roof beams which date from the sixteenth century. There’s an ancient yew tree in the church yard which is around 1000 years old

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The exterior is plain and restrained especially given the Victorian renovation – they usually liked to add on mock Gothic “twirly bits”.

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The surrounding countryside is exceptionally lovely.

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We stayed in this building, Capplerigg which is the former Rectory. We were told it was built in the early Victorian period but it has the look of a Georgian house. It would have taken some time for new Victorian styles to percolate up the valley.

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It looks like it was originally smaller with a large extension added to the right hand side of the building.

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It’s divided into two cottages we had Pengennet, the larger of the two. It was an exceptional property beautifully fitted out and furnished.

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There was an Aga in the kitchen (which we had to learn how to use!)

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Great views out of the front windows.

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A good place to relax in quiet, peaceful, beautiful countryside with some great walks starting from the doorstep.

Arts & Crafts bedroom at Blackwell

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Last Autumn Blackwell opened a recreated Master Arts & Crafts bedroom inspired from  designs by Hugh Baillie Scott, Blackwell’s architect, interpreted by contemporary designers. The items of furniture and other objects on display are very typical of the Arts & Crafts style.

The oak bed has been created for the room from a actual design by Baillie Scott from the Pyghtle Works catalogue printed in 1901.

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Griet Beyaert at Blackwell

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On Monday we checked out of our B and B in Keswick, and after picking up supplies for our stay in Kentmere, we drove to Blackwell. We couldn’t get access to the cottage we’d booked until late afternoon and a visit to the Arts and crafts house near Bowness is always enjoyable.

The current exhibition features works by a young artist who works in glass – Griet Beyaert. The main exhibit was The Light Within – a “site-responsive glass, sound and video installation” created in conjunction with Paul Miller – working  collaboratively as The Glass Cyphers.

In addition there were a number of works by Griet strategically positioned around the house – suspended from the ceiling, standing on furniture and window sills

placed by the artist to draw further attention to the beautifully carved wooden interior and stained glass windows that root Blackwell in its Lakeland location.

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The works were abstract sculptural forms made from glass, a medium I’m interested in given that my first job was working for a major glass manufacturer.

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I thought that they were very attractive. They rather reminded me of delicate sheets of ice and snow.

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The Light Within was located in the Oliver Thompson Gallery on the first floor, it’s

a multi-layered video projection-mapped onto sculpted glass works and accompanied by a soundscape.

A photograph can’t do justice to the installation – we thought it was very imaginative and effective

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Sunday morning stroll up Latrigg

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Sunday morning started out bright, despite the weather forecast, although there was plenty of cloud shrouding the high fells. We wanted to go out for a walk but din’ feel ready to tackle Skiddaw or one of the other nearby mountains, so we decided to tackle of Latrigg – although at 1,207 feet it might be modest by Lake District standards but it’s a decent climb and a good walk for a Sunday morning.

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We followed the old railway track to Kendal leisure centre and then cut across the the path that crosses the busy A66 (via a footbridge, I’m pleased to say).

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Entering the woods there was a steep ascent up the lower slopes of the hill before the path flattens out. The route took us round the back of the hill, heading towards Skiddaw before branching back up a short steep climb, levelling out with a more modest gradient towards the summit. We were greeted by a great view over the whole of Derwent Water

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Behind us, the summits of Skiddaw and Blencathra were hidden in cloud

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It was raining in Newlands Valley

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and there was Castlerigg stone circle in the distance

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The closure of sections of the old railway track from Threlkeld to Keswick due to damage caused by the floods of late 2015 precluded a circular walk back to Keswick  (unless we fancied walking along the A66) so we retraced our steps as far as the Leisure Centre and then headed down through the town centre down to the lake. We stopped to eat our packed lunch then continued along the lake shore as far as Calfclose Bay as we wanted to take a look at The Centenay Stone, a work by Peter Randall-Page, created from a large boulder of local Borrowdale volcanic rock which was split and carved by the artist to commemorate the National Trust’s centenary in 1995.

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On the way, we passed the Ruskin Memorial at Friar’s Crag

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Castlerigg, Great Wood and Derwent Water

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Leaving Castlerigg stone circle we took the narrow metalled road heading south towards Castlerigg farm. Conditions were pretty treacherous underfoot through the fields but we persevered yomping though the gloop until we came to farm where we joined the path alongside Brockle Beck in the direction towards Keswick.

Views started to open up down to Derwent Water and Cat Bells on the western shore

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We took a left turn and set off along the path which would take us through Great Wood and the lake.

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Just after the National Trust Car Park we crossed over the Borrowdale Road and followed the path along the lake shore back to Keswick. – taking care to avoid the dangerous wildlife!

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The rain held off until we reached the jetty near the Theatre by the Lake.  A little window browsing in the shops in Keswick and then we headed back up the hill to our B and B and a nice cup of tea!

A pleasant but not very demanding walk and a good start to the holiday!