Footloose in England's Lake District
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England's Lake District
A fabulous motoring, walking and boating tour in England's best known National Park. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site. DVD runs 150 minutes!
A MAJOR TOUR IN
Footloose in England's Lake District
~ 3 chapters on one DVD
1. Windermere ~ Ambleside at the north of the lake was a good base to explore, being close to the centre of the National Park. Taking trips on the Windermere steamers is the traditional and best way to see the attractions around the longest lake of the region. First stop at the southern end of Windermere, is Lakeside, where you can see the Lakeside and Haverthwaite heritage steam railway, there's also an aquarium and motor museum down here. Next stop has to be Beatrix Potter's home 'Hill Top', run by the National Trust; it's an atmospheric and very popular visitor attraction a mile away from the west shore. Amongst other attractions on this side of the lake, is pretty Hawkshead, and the curious Claife viewing station from the past.
You can't avoid the jetty at Bowness, and love it or hate it, the busy Victorian town is thronged with visitors and shops, making it the tourist capital of the region. One mile up the road is the gentler town of Windermere. Just across the road from its railway station is the start of a short walking trail to Orrest Head, a fantastic view across not only Windermere, but the scenic fells in the North.
After dropping in to the National Park's Brockhole Visitor centre, we witness the Great North Swim, a major annual event held at the north end of the lake. Touring from our base at Ambleside meant that no visitor attraction was too far away, although driving times can be twice what you expect due to lakeland's winding and narrow roads. A must do is Wordsworth's Dove Cottage and the pretty lake and tourist village of Grasmere. The area around Windermere and Coniston Water is full of attractions and beauty spots such as Skelwith Force, Howe Tarn, the Langdales. The Ruskin Museum at Coniston is also a good stop; here the village celebrates 3 heroes who helped shape the fortunes of Coniston Water: John Ruskin, Donald Campbell and Aurthur Ransome. Making a scenic journey down to the historic market town of Ulverston ends chapter 1.
2. Touring the West and Northwest ~ Eskdale and the western lakes are quite remote from the centre of Lakeland, but Muncaster Castle and the enchanting pint-sized Ravenglass & Eskdale steam railway make a wonderful visit on the coast. The railway known locally as 'L'al Ratty' will take you seven miles into the Eskdale valley and give you a taste of the magnificent fells of the District. Next on our tour is the serene and beautiful Wastwater, owned by the National Trust. It's no surprise that we take a walking trail on the shores of this breathtaking lake. The inn at scenic Wasdale, nestles between England's biggest mountains, with tales to tell. Dropping in at Ennerdale Water, another remote and beautiful place, we journey to the interesting and colourful market town of Cockermouth. It's also the birthplace of William Wordsworth.
Journeying back into the National Park we see lovely Loweswater, Crummock Water and Buttermere, another National Trust beauty spot. This is also a great starting point for many walks in this region. Driving up the spectacular Honister pass to the slate mine makes a finale to part two, before descending through Borrowdale to Keswick.
3. Touring the North & Northeast.
Historic Keswick is the main outdoor centre of the UK with many shops selling camping, hiking and sports equipment. There are many things to do here when the weather is not so good. On the outskirts of town is the Derwent Pencil Museum, perhaps a quirky visitor attraction, 'till you learn that the graphite used in them was first discovered here in the Lake District centuries ago. Derwent is also the name of the lake here, considered by many to be the most scenic in lakeland. There is a theatre here and many pleasure boats to hire. We have chosen our next walking trail to begin on Derwent Water. This then threads its way between several historical beauty spots, the last of which is on a crag high above the lake with amazing views. Moving on from Keswick you can see the amazing 5000 year-old Castlerigg stone circle. Next is Bassenthwaite, a lake known for sailing, birdwatching, and for spirit drinking... the Lakes Distillery is nearby with tasting tours!
Cameraman husband Dave wants to see all the major lakes, so next on the tour is Thirlmere. This is actually a scenic reservoir with an uncomfortable history: which should come first, Manchester's water supply, or conservation of two villages which were to be submerged? Leaving this behind, the next stop is the beautiful lake of Ullswater. How better to see the whole of the lake than a ride on Ullswater Steamer's oldest vessel 'Lady of the Lake'? Now 140 years old, she still sails daily along with sister ship 'Raven'. Calling in at several jetties around the lake, you can hop on and off to hike, or visit a beauty spot like Aira Force or Pooley Bridge. Our final major lake is the Haweswater reservoir, another essential water supply for Manchester. In times of drought, this flooded valley shows eerie remains of a lost community. The last stop on our tour of the lakes is at Appleby, just outside the National Park. In early June the annual Horse Fair takes place, a colourful and spirited meeting place for Gypsies and travellers from all around the UK.
If you are OK on your feet... read the next column!
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This wonderful English holiday destination in the north, has been admired by visitors for well over 200 years. This comprehensive tour takes in all the major lakes, and best known towns and villages. Our visit was in June, when Wordsworth reckoned it was the best time to come. If you stay long enough you will see some sunny weather like we did, and of course that was the time to don our walking boots.
~ DVD RUNNING TIME 150minutes!
Walking trails in Lakeland
In Footloose tradition we have include several walks in this film, there are many classic walks in this spectacular terrain but we have chosen 3 which don't rely on being super-fit:
1. Orrest Head (2 miles there and back) ~
You don't have to work too hard to see this fantastic viewpoint of Windermere and the fells beyond. The start of the track is across the busy A591 from Windermere railway station. If you want to go up quickly then the steep road will take you most of the way. But there is also a gentler zig-zag route that winds up through the trees which will give you tantalising glimpses of the landscape as you ascend. Follow the signposts and you can't go wrong. After you've gone through a squeaky gate (it may have been oiled by now!) the last two hundred yards is a rocky track to the top, where there is a bench to survey the vista. Famous author and fellwalker Alfred Wainwright first came here in 1930. This awesome panorama started his love affair with the Lakeland fells that lasted till the end of his life. Here there is an elegant commemorative slate and information board dedicated to him. You return to Windermere town the same way as you came up.
2. Wastwater (5 miles round trip)
This walk is quite level for most of the way, but the views from the shore of Wastwater are breathtaking. You start out from the National Trust car park hidden in the woods close to Nether Wasdale. Cross the road bridge and head down the track towards Easthwaite Farm. From here you bear left towards woodland. All around you are the magnificent fells of Wasdale, but no sight yet of Wastwater itself. Continue through the woods and follow the River Irt. Eventually you come to a footbridge to cross. After this bear right, then after more woodland, you come across a tranquil yet large shallow pool which is great for swimming and kyaking. Continue on the path past a boathouse and finally you are rewarded with probably the best lake and mountain view you can find in the Lake District, Wastwater. The lake and much of the scenic land is owned by the National Trust. The trail continues around the shore, past wonderful Wasdale Hall, now a Youth Hostel. More stunning views are to be had of the gigantic scree slopes on the opposite shore. From here continue for a mile or so along the lakeside following the road for some of the way. You come to a T junction with a signpost, and reluctantly, you leave the fabulous lake and walk down another road towards Gosforth. At Greendale, a scenic and sometimes complicated footpath to the left takes you through woods and sheep fields eventually bringing you out Mill Place. Follow the farm track back to the village road, and return to the NT car park.
3. Derwent Water ~ Walla Crag (6 miles round trip)
This trail has some uphill in it so a bit more puff is required, but the spectacular views are worth it! The trail starts at the National Trust Centenary Stone at Calf Close Bay. There is a NT car park close by at Great Wood. After enjoying the view of "Catbells" fell across Derwent Water, you head through the woods and cross the lakeside road and begin to climb on a rocky path through bracken. After a mile or so you come across a sign for Ashness bridge. This old packhorse bridge is your first beauty spot on the trail, admired by artists and tourists for over two centuries. You can make a 20 minute trek up the road to a second beauty spot; Surprise View, where you see the whole of Derwent Water in front of you! Retrace your steps down the road and find the signpost at Ashness Bridge which directs you to Walla Crag. Off you go up a relentless slope, gaining wonderful vistas of Borrowdale and Derwent as you climb the well trodden path. Finally you reach the rocky outcrop known as Walla Crag. This is the third beauty spot on the trail, and a place to sit and survey the amazing Skiddaw fells, and the Keswick townscape stretching out below. The round trip continues along by a wall downward towards Rakefoot farm, and then a further mile through Great Wood, back to the NT car park.
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Windermere is served by a good road (A591) via Kendal from the M6 motorway (Junc36). There is a rail connection to Windermere station, note this terminates approx 1 mile from the lakeside resort of Bowness. Car park charges are high in all of the Lake District National Park, but this revenue goes a long way towards upkeep of the precious landscape.
Lake District weather averages
Dove Cottage & William Wordsworth Trust
Hill Top - Beatrix Potters Home
Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway
We recommend hotel bookings by www.expedia.co.uk or booking.com
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