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.

Windermere Jetty

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Just over a week ago we headed up to the Lake District to visit the Windermere Jetty steamboat museum that opened last year. Windermere Jetty is part of Lakeland Arts, so we were able to use our Friends membership to gain entry. The collection of boats is housed in a brand new purpose built modern building.

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The museum has a collection of 40 vessels that tell the story of boating on Windermere from 1780 to the present day. There’s a conservation centre, where boats are repaired and renovated, a waterside cafe looking over the lake and mountains and they also run Heritage Boat Trips out on the lake on board Osprey, a restored Edwardian steam launch.

On arrival we booked our place on a boat trip (there’s an extra charge for this) and then had a look around the main exhibition spaces.

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The collection includes examples of steam launches – pleasure boats owned by wealthy families – power boats used for racing and setting speed records on the lakes, and working boats

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Steam launch Branksome, built in 1896.
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An old rowing boat

Th Steam Boat Dolly was built around 1850/60. Originally on Windermere it was transferred to Ullswater where it sank in 1895. It was salvaged in 1962 and then restored.

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And here’s Beatrix Potter’s flat bottomed rowing boat!

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The view from the cafe

We broke our exploration of the collection for our trip on the Osprey, which was built in 1902 in Bowness. Built as a private pleasure boat, from 1948 it was used as a passenger vessel for the Bowness Bay Boating Company.

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It was a perfect morning for a boat trip. The lake was calm, the sun was shining, the air was clear so we had excellent views over the mountains of the Fairfield Horseshoe and the Far Eastern Fells, where the high peaks were capped with snow.

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A Windermere Kettle – used for making a brew on board!

After a good hour on the water the Osprey returned tot he Jetty

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After disembarking, we had a bite to eat in the cafe, enjoying the views through the large windows and then finished our tour of the museum. We had a look at the Conservation workshop

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We had a look at the old boat that was on display outside the workshop. We couldn’t go inside but were able to look through the large windows where we could see a couple of the staff hard at work.

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We then passed through the boat yard, where there were a couple of larger boats on display and then on into the boat house.

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There were more boats from the collection inside the boathouse, together with other privately owned boats that were moored up.

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Jane a very glamorous speedboatt built in 1937
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Two small boats used in the film of Swallows and Amazons

After looking round the boat house we went back into the main gallery for a final look. We’d spent a good 3 hours in the museum and it’s somewhere we’ll certainly be going back to in the future.

Two Hills in a Day

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There’s nowhere I’d rather be on a fine, sunny day than in Lake District. So, as that was the weather forecast last Saturday, having had my enthusiasm for hill walking rekindled recently, we set out early and headed up the M6 to Ambleside.

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We’d decided that we’d climb up to Wasfell Pike, not by the direct route up from Ambleside, a short hard slog, but by heading towards Troutbeck and approaching the summit from the south.

We parked up at the Waterhead car park and made our up to and then through Skelghyll wood. Looking back we could see Windermere and the Coniston Fells with cloud hiding the summit of the Old Man.

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This was the view from the Jenkins Cragg viewpoint

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Out of the woods we passed the High Skelghyll farm house

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Loking back over the fields towards the Coniston fells

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Eventually Wansfell came into view

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Much of the route was on tracks which were dry and solid underfoot, but once on the fells we had to navigate some peat bogs which much be pretty awful after heavy rain.

Eventually we made the summit of Wasfell Pike to be greeted with a fantastic 360 degree view.

Looking down the full length of Windermere

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Looking east toward the Kirkwood Pass

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Red Screes looming over the Kirkstone Pass

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Ambleside in front of Loughrigg fell with Langdale and some of the highest mounains in the Lake District in the background

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The Coniston Fells

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We made our way back down to Ambleside by the Direct route, passing a large number of walkers on their way up.

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It took less than an hour to reach the centre of Ambleside. Taking a well deserved coffee in one of the many cafes, it was still only early afternoon and as it was one of those warm, sunny days that ae quite rare in this part of the world we decided to make the most of it and continue our walk. Our target this time was Loughrigg which we’d climbed just a few weeks before during our holiday in Coniston. But this time we were going to follow a different route climbing up from Ambleside, rather from the Grasmere side.

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It was a longer route than up from White Moss but it was probably an easier ascent. The height being gained relatively gradually up the road and track from Ambleside, then across some peaty territory, skirting bogs, with just a few steep stretches.

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We made he summit to be once again greeted with some outstanding views of the surrounding mountains

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Looking towards Grasmere, Holme fell and part of the “Fairfield Horsedhoe”

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Towards Ambleside and Windermere

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After a short rest, enjoying the view, we retraced our route back to Ambleside and the car park at Waterhead.

It was about 6:30 and we decided to find somewhere to have a cup of tea before heading home. As it was after 5 mst of the cafes were closed, but fortunately we found a chippy where we were able to but a mug of tea which we drank on the terrace overlooking the lake. Oh, and it would have been rude not to buy a few chips as well! A good end to a great day.

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An afternoon in the Lakes

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Saturday morning I got up and turned on the tap to fill the kettle – time for my morning brew! – only to see the water fizzle out into a trickle and then vanish altogether. Oh Oh! Checking the United Utilities web site confirmed that our water supply had been cut off due to a burst pipe which was affecting a major part of Wigan. It was obvious that it was a major problem that wasn’t going to be resolved for some time and although we had bottles of water to drink there would be no water for washing up, cleaning, flushing the loo and brews. That settles it, we’d have to go out for the day to somewhere where I could guarantee hot drinks and flushing toilets. There was bound to be plenty of water in the Lake District!

We had intended to revisit the Barbara Hepworth exhibition at the Abbot Hall Gallery, only an hour’s drive away, and it was due to close next weekend anyway, so that made the decision of where to go quite easy. It was a grey morning with some threatening clouds but the weather forecast had promised that it would brighten up in the afternoon with the prospect of a fine evening in the Lakes. And that’s the way it turned out.

We reached Kendal just after midday and parked up at the gallery. After a quick meal in the cafe we looked around the exhibition. It was good to revisit the works, some of which, being on loan from private collections, we probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to see again. After that we had a wander into Kendal town centre before popping back for another look (our usual routine!). It was only 3:30 and the cloud was beginning to break so we decided to drive the 10 miles or so over to Windermere for a short walk by the lake. But before that we called into Blackwell for the last hour before it closed.

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We’ve seen the house several times now as our Friends of the Lakeland Trust membership includes entrance and I never really tire of looking round the stunning interior and at the surrounding countryside.

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The small exhibition of pots by Bernard Leach held in parallel with the Abbot Hall  was due to finish next week so it was good to take another look at that as well as the exhibition on the “Glasgow Style”. The late afternoon was developing as promised by the BBC weather forecast and so it was peasant to stroll around the grounds.

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We treated ourselves to a brew and a slice of tea loaf apiece (naughty but very nice) just before the cafe was due to close and the found a table outside on the terrace with a great view over Windermere and Grizedale forest towards the Coniston fells.

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Ringing home we discovered that the water was back on but as the sun was shining after returning our pots to the kitchen we drove the short distance to Bowness.

It must have been busy during the day as there were still plenty f cars parked up, butwe managed to find a free parking space on the road. Now Bowness isn’t my favourite place in the Lakes. It’s easily accessible and is usually busy with day trippers and with it’s amusement arcades, souvenir shops and fast food outlets it rather reminds me of a, albeit more refined, seaside resort. But we had a pleasant walk along the “prom” enjoying the views across the lake as the late afternoon sun lit up the water and the distant fells.

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Fell Foot Park

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On the way back from Blackwell last Saturday we drove down Lake Windermere and stopped off at Fell Foot Park, a country park on the shore of the lake which is owned by the National Trust.

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The park, located at the very southern tip of Windermere, is relatively small but there are pleasant lawns for sitting, sunbathing (on those rare days when the sun comes out) and pic-nicking and great access to the lake. As would be expected at an NT property, there’s a tea room / gift shop and there’s also a dedicated area for barbecues if you take your own disposable barbie.

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You can also hire rowing boats and regular ferries operate from Fell Foot Park to Lakeside, on the opposite shore, where you can catch the steamers that sail up and down the lake stopping off at Bowness and Ambleside.

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It was originally the garden belonging to a large country house, but that’s long gone.

On a clear day, like last Saturday, there are great views and the mountains at the top end of the lake.

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