Guest Post: Easy hikes – Lake District
by Zoe Dawes
There is no lovelier place in the world than the Lake District in the beautiful county of Cumbria, NW UK. It is most famous for its lovely lakes and impressive mountain scenery, home to England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike (3210 feet) and England’s largest lake, Windermere (10.5 miles long).
There are fast-flowing rivers, deep forests, rolling hills, as well as picturesque villages and ancient monuments. It has inspired artists, writers, poets and musicians to produce some of the most creative works in the country.
Visitors come from all over the world to see where Wordsworth wrote his famous poem, ‘Daffodils’ and where Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit raided Mr McGregor’s vegetable patch.
It’s a perfect place to take an easy hike with walks to suit all ages and abilities.
I’ve chosen TWO quite easy hikes – one in the South Lakes and one in the North Lakes. They are ideal for first time hill walkers, children and those for whom the journey is as important as the destination.
PLEASE NOTE – do get a map or a book with proper instructions for these walks. There are numerous books, DVDs, websites and resources to help the visitor find the perfect route.
Cumbria and the Lake District are renowned for the ‘changeable climate’! You will need to dress comfortably for possibly all kinds of weather – rain / hail / snow / wind – if you’re lucky, maybe even sunshine. Do check the weather before you set out and take appropriate precautions. You can set off in glorious sunshine and find that fog or rain descends on you very quickly.
For easy hiking in the Lake District, wearcomfortable hiking boots, waterproof jacket and a hat if it is at all likely to be cold. Take plenty of water and things to eat.
Kendal Mint Cake is the sugar bar that mountaineers all over the world include in their backpack.
You can get to this walk by bus or car. I like to start from the car park near the little stone bridge across the river Rothay on the left as you come from Ambleside, just before Rydal Mount, Wordsworth’s home.
There is an easy trail that goes up past some old miners’ cottages to a little seat overlooking the lake and the fells all around. On a good day the reflections are magical.
Take the left hand path, you will come to old caverns and Rydal Cave with stepping stones over crystal clear water.
You can sit on a rocky outcrop, Wordsworth’s Seat, where the poet used to get his inspiration. Go on up to the left and the rocky point there gives you another great view across the water.
Follow the trail through the bracken and back down to the shore. Turning left, you can feed the resident swans and ducks as you admire the perfect scene before you.
Derwentwater and Cat Bells
You can get a bus to Keswick and walk through the town to Derwentwater or park by the Theatre By The Lake.
First, walk down past the lake to the end of the little headland. Lovely Friars Crag was the place that inspired Canon Rawnsley to raise subscriptions to save it for the nation – the start of the National Trust Lake District.
The view at the end takes in Derwentwater, the Jaws of Borrowdale and the fells all around, including Cat Bells. Ruskin said it was the 5th finest in Europe … It’s delightful at any time of year.
Go back to ferry jetty and get a boat across the lake to Brandlehow Bay for a walk up Cat Bells. Walk through the wood, past the quarry and across the fellside. You will find a memorial to the writer Hugh Walpole who lived nearby.
This walk climbs up to Mart Bield, the top of Cat Bells, where you have views from the top looking out towards Crag Hill, Caunsey Pike and the pretty Newlands Valley. Cat Bells name could come from Bield, Norse for ‘den’ – so possibly ‘den of the wild cat’.) All around, there are mine workings. Story has it that these mines had not only lead and copper but also traces of gold.
You can return the way you came or walk down the slopes and rocky outcrops down towards Hawes End and catch the ferry back from Victoria Point to your starting point.