The view of Ashness Bridge with Derwent Water and Skiddaw Fell beyond has been seen on a gazillion postcards. Standing white, on the fellside behind you, is Ashness Farm. Between school runs the farmer, Anne Cornthwaite, runs hardy Belted Galloway cattle, local Herdwick sheep and rare-breed pigs, while welcoming guests to this friendliest of farm B&Bs. The location is a walker’s paradise. Anne makes mouth-watering Cumberland rum butter to a family recipe. Layer lavishly on fresh bread for a slice of heaven in heaven.
Walks (approximate times, one way):
Surprise View 30 minutes
Watendlath Tarn one hour
Lodore Falls and Bowder Stone (2000 tons!) 1.5 hours
High Seat (608m) and Thirlmere (its water reaches Manchester via a 96 mile aqueduct a day after leaving the lake/reservoir) three hours
Watendlath Tarn, Dock Tarn, Greenup Gill, Langstrathdale, Borrowdale (Royal Oak pub), Bowder Stone, Lodore Falls (six hours, circular)
A great family walk, with stunning colours at the moment, is up by Brockle Beck to Castlerigg and across to the Stone circle. From there head down the former railway line along the banks of the river Greta and back to Keswick. Currently there is also a good exhibition on the history of the Greta at The Theatre by the Lake.
A breathtaking autumn walk to the summit of Helvellyn, the third highest mountain in England at 3117 feet, 950m. On a crisp, clear autumn day the walk to the summit is truly exhilarating and awe-inspiring.
A moment to escape from the busy world, lose oneself in your own thoughts and marvel at the incredible views and landscape: the 360 degrees panorama of the Lakeland fells; the mist gently hovering over the tranquil lakes and lower fells and crags below.
The ascent to the summit, starting from Wythburn car park, one of the shortest routes, is steep yet extremely rewarding and this return walk, suitable for families, can be accomplished in less than four hours. On reaching the summit, the lofty heights above the clouds truly take your breath away, along with the cold, crisp air. If you’re lucky you might experience snow underfoot, allowing for a quick snowball fight and a well deserved cup of coffee (from your flask – no tea shops up here!) before beginning your descent.
For the keen walkers, ready for a bit of a challenge, the walk can be extended with a return via Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike followed by a descent to Grisedale Tarn and a return to Thirlmere.
Helvellyn, starting at Wythburn car park, Thirlmere. Wythburn Car Park
Google map: bit.ly/UfXu2u
This stylish and ambient looking bar and bistro has a 'happy two hours' each evening from 5-7pm. As Keswick is heaving at this time booking a night in advance is recommended. The decor is tasteful, modern, spacious and the food arrives freshly cooked carried by staff that look as though coming to work is a pleasure. My starter was a large plate of garlic mushrooms swimming in their own creamy sauce accompanied by freshly made bread and butter. At only £3 it brought a large smile to my face. There was a reasonable selection of main courses so my husband enjoyed the fish and chips (a mere £6) and I enthusiastically consumed the vegetable risotto with accompanying salad. The carefully selected vegetables were roasted to perfection and tasted divine(again only £6) There was a varied selection of beers and wines- including the locally produced 'Cockerhoop'- you will be if you eat here!
25 Station Street, Keswick
Google map: bit.ly/Nw9lwG
Guardian-reading canines (news-hounds?) should trot down to the Dog and Gun in Keswick. This old-fashioned and busy pub has an in-house menu for dogs which includes a mouth-watering range of treats and chews at reasonable prices (biscuits 5p) plus FREE DRINKS(non-alcoholic). Tell your human to try the real ales and the delicious homemade goulash. The portions are so large that dogs will get lots of tasty-bites. Slide your spare change into the cracks in the walls to support mountain rescue. A perfect ending to a day on the Fells.
2 Lake Road, Keswick, CA12 5BT
Google map: bit.ly/MXyLBL
The Castlerigg Stone Circle is a prehistoric stone circle near Keswick in the northern Lake District. It is situated in among some towering fells with the great hulks of Skiddaw and Blencathra to the north and really feels in the heart of a place. Not as towering as Stone henge but a fantastic place all the same. Like Stonehenge it is very popular so it's best to head there early. There is limited roadside parking and it can be walked to from Keswick.
Castle Lane, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 4XX
+44(0)191 269 1200
A huge stone circle in excellent condition surrounded by mountains, with no tourist information centre and no visitor guides. It was used to plan harvests. You will feel like a Neolithic man or woman harnessing and beginning to understand the wonder of the natural world.
Castle Lane, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 4XX
+44(0)191 269 1200
Wrap up warm and hop on the Keswick Launch that chugs around Derwentwater, in the heart of the western Lake District. It sets off from a pretty bay near Keswick’s theatre by the lake. There are plenty of jetties to run along and ducks to feed should you be early.
People can hop on and off the boat as they please. Cat Bells (home to Mrs Tiggy Winkle) is the fell on your right as you head towards the first stop, Ashness Gate, from where you can walk up to the much-photographed Ashness Bridge. But children may be less excited about an old stone bridge so best to stay onboard until Lodore, from where you can climb up through the woods to the impressive Lodore Falls.
Our favourite route involves staying put until High Brandelhow. From here we walk a few miles along the lakeside path which takes us through old woodland, across fields, over stiles and bridges to Nichol End. Kids can race ahead, hide in hollowed-out trees, explore the woods, hang off jetties, splash in the lake and check out the huge wooden hand. Dogs (which are welcome on the boat) will have a ball too.
At Nichol End Marina there is a fantastic little café on the lake shore. Great home-made soup and saucer-sized scones await you. After lunch the kids can play on the shore (more jetties and ducks) while parents enjoy a coffee.
The boat stops here before heading back to Keswick. For those with a bit more left in their legs, there is a pleasant walk through the village of Portinscale before joining a footpath which delivers you back to Keswick.
Three lakes and two passes all by local bus.
Starting and finishing at Keswick bus station, a local bus gives magnificent views of Derwentwater from above, and lakeside views of Buttermere and Crummock together with the dramatic scenery of Honister Pass and the more friendly Whinlatter Pass. By breaking your journey at the numerous beauty spots en route you can have nearly a full day out or if time is short just sit in and get a snaphshot of real Lakeland in an hour and a half! Buses about two hourly in each direction. ( And no parking problems!)
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