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davidx Hawkshead - A travel report by David
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Hawkshead,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
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davidx's travel reports

England's Lovely Lakeland

  16 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
The mountains are not very high in global terms, although they are England’s highest and there are only three lakes where you can’t see the whole water area at the same time from lake level – but the area has it’s own magic.

Most people from countries with far higher mountains and far, far larger lakes, who go to the Lake District, come away impressed with what they have seen. There’s plenty of variety in what to see. Historically that ranges from Castlerigg Stone Circle, through the Roman Camp at Hardknott, near where the road used to get cars going up backwards for the lowest gear, through 13th century Muncaster Castle, the old copper mines at Coniston and the coal mining in the coastal fringe dating from the 16th century and several 17th century houses owned by the National Trust to more modern times. Beatrix Potter, John Ruskin and William Wordsworth all feature in the 19th and 20th century history of the area. I have yet to visit a superb Arts and Crafts house, Blackwell at Bowness. There are several water-powered corn mills still in operation around the perimeter of the National Park and a preserved steam railwa7 from Ravenglass on the coast to Eskdale. It seems strange now that this region has not always been considered a place of beauty; rather a place of horror up to the seventeenth century. It took a gidebook by a man called West in 1779 and a couple of painters to change attitudes completely and make it an area for tourists as early as the end of the 18th century. They would appear in droves, each equipped with paints, brushes, precise instructions on the best spots for pictures and mirrors so as to get a confined rather than an open view. Of course William Wordsworth’s contribution to the Victorian view of the lakes is well known, but again it was thought odd by many that he should use his talent to write about daffodils! More recently Arthur Wainwright’s series of guides to different parts of the Lake District, with interesting hand-sketched plans of the various routes up all the mountains has had a major appeal to modern walkers. See the National Park Authority’s official website at www.lake-district.go-v.u k/home/index.cfm for more information.

Favourite spots:
I’d hate to be tied to only one! Road – an unclassified road starting between the Wrynose and Hardknott passes and running beside the River Duddon to Ulpha; Large Lake – Ullswater; Smaller Lake – Wastwater or Buttermere; Tarn - Styhead Tarn; Mountain – Blencathra Village – Hawkshead; Walk – The Coniston Ring – and having derived most enjoyment in the Lake District from walking I shall treat the occasion Pam and I did it as an absolute favourite. The sun was shining in a blue sky. We had snow underfoot and below us in hte valley there was apple blossom. Could there be a better combination? We left the car on Walna Scar Road and walked to Brown Pike with Blind Tarn below it, unfrozen although the snow was quite hard up above. Then we kept at high level along a ridge [not a daunting one] to Buck Pike and Dow Crag. Then we had to lose some height and regain it for Swirl How then again to Wetherlam. We then turned south for the top of the Old Man itself and back to the car.

What's really great:
There are other good circuits. One excellent one is from the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, traversing the Langdale Pikes, Bowfell and Crinkle Crags. Another is the circuit around the head of Wastwater taking in Kirkfell, Great Gable and then past lovely Styhead Tarn to Great End and Scafell Pike. Then there are the Buttermere Round and the Kentmere Round. If you want to concentrate on a single mountain the ascent of Great Gable from Wastwater up the Pony Route, nothing like as eroded as the main footpath, to Styhead Tarn and then go by the Climbers’ Traverse, pausing to watch the climbs being done on the Needle. Alternatively go up Blencathra by Sharp Edge from Scales and return by the central ridge from Hallsfell Top. I did this once on a may afternoon and it quite suddenly turned black as midnight as we reached the top of well named Sharp Edge. As we hit the very top, the lightning and thunder started. Talk about primeval terror. We got off the top in record time!

There are three larger lakes; Windermere, with a car ferry from Bowness to Sawrey, on which water skiing and speed boats have recently been banned, Ullswater and Coniston Water, where Donald Campbell’s attempt to break his own water speed record ended in tragedy. There are numerous smaller lakes such as Wastwater, Derwent Water and Buttermere and then the tarns or ‘lakelets’ as you might call them, such as Styhead, Sprinkling and Angle Tarns.
As for mountains, what they lack in height they compensate for in shape. I have to admit there’s one of three thousand feet that I’ve never been to, Skiddaw. I like the structure of its near eastern neighbour, Blencathra so much more [see later]. The next one up, Helvellyn, has a rather boring top but makes up for that with two excellent ridges, Striding and Swirral Edges on each side of Red Tarn. Top and really great comes Scafell [pronounced Scawfell] Pike, just about 100 feet higher than neighbouring Scafell. [Continued in last section]

There is probably no rural area in the UK better provided with accommodation. There are numerous hotels, self-catering cottages, B&Bs and campsites. I have enjoyed staying at the Red Lion Inn in the lovely village of Hawkshead, two National Trust cottages [Coniston and Sawrey] and a number of youfh hostels. I have revelled in a small campsite near Wastdale and thoroughly enjoyed wild camping by Styhead Tarn on a Mountain Leadership Course.

This is an area for climbing clubs rather than nightclubs and you will probably get a very friendly reception if you want their help or advice. If interested, see k/home/index.cfm

The Wastwater Hotel is a wonderful place for a drink at the end of a walk. The Drunken Duck near Ambleside draws with its name but may well detain you with its other charms [www.drunkendu]. If a pub looks enticing, it probably is –but you could do far worse than looking for Jennings beer. The bitter is VERY bitter – and great.

Other recommendations:
Mountains continued –
However some of those under the magic 3,000 are not to be derided. Bowfell, Crinkle Crags, the Langdale Pikes, Steeple and Great Gable are only some of many whose ascent has given me great pleasure. Lastly, who could omit Haystacks, smaller but particularly fine, where the ashes of Arthur Wainwright, the great writer of guidebooks, were scattered at his own wish?

Getting this far without a mention of the tiny roads to the southeast of Ullswater seems quite amazing, They lead to England’s only nest site for a golden eagle and one of our rare herds of red deer with High Street stretching miles above. Funny name for a mountain? Not really. It was a Roman road, going right along the tops.

Published on Monday June 6th, 2005

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Wed, Jun 15 2005 - 02:23 AM rating by britman

Another interesting informative article which unfortunately lacks pictures to make it a ***** report.

Wed, Jun 08 2005 - 11:11 PM rating by gloriajames

good report.. how about some pics??

Tue, Jun 07 2005 - 08:16 PM rating by subdha

Namastey,This is very informatic report.

Mon, Jun 06 2005 - 11:28 AM rating by picasso

Hi David,is this report finished-no picks, although it was a very interesting ,in general was a great read for me.****


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