Returning to the North – Arnside Knott

The last couple of months have been incredibly busy, lots of new things have been happening in my life and I’ve spent a lot of my time travelling – but only so I can write lots of wonderful posts for you! Paris, Anglesey… but first I’m going to take you back to North West England and Arnside.

I returned to Lancaster to see my friends from university and get a taste of that lifestyle once again… as well as go on a little hike up Arnside Knott. Despite living in Lancaster for three years, I had never been to Arnside, which is only a short train journey away. Close to the beautiful Silverdale, Arnside is a quaint little place with a lovely view out over Morecambe Bay.

Moody skies looking back to Morecambe bay and Arnside Railway

Upon arriving at the station (after a frantic dash in Lancaster – it wouldn’t be us if we weren’t late), we set off immediately up a footpath that climbed from the flat shoreline. We had to chase after my friend, Dave, who claimed he knew exactly where he was going. Before getting us completely lost.

Thanks to Google Maps, we managed to work out the route, backtracking on ourselves hugely before realising we could have simply crossed over the field. It was definitely one of those days.

But eventually, we were on the right path and climbing the steady slope of the hill. Despite not being the highest elevation at only 159m (522ft), you still get incredible views across to South Lakeland, the Kent Viaduct and Morecambe Bay.

View of the Kent Viaduct from Arnside Knott

View from Arnside Knott

View from Arnside Knott

It was a beautiful walk and one in which you could easily spend hours exploring all of the detours and meandering paths across the hilltop. There are various viewing points along the way highlighting what you can see in the distance, including the Old Man of Coniston, Crinkle Crags, the Helvellyn range and Skiddaw. The cloud was low, however, so we could not quite see the more distant fells- which still didn’t make the view any less beautiful.

View from Arnside Knott View from Arnside Knott View from Arnside Knott

Along the way, we found many piles of logs from which we fashioned a group of walking sticks and a den that I promptly got stuck inside… it’s the perfect place to bring children to run around and play in nature. The area at the top of Arnside Knott is pretty wide, with much to see and explore. We could have wandered for hours, if it wasn’t for our need of coffee and to return to Lancaster for the Warriors celebrations (a sporting event between Lancaster University’s colleges).

View from Arnside Knott

We descended via a different path which took us along the opposite side of the fell and trekked through bracken before reaching the road into Arnside. It was time for a quick stop for some well-deserved coffee and cake at the lovely Ramblers Café and Take-away.  The café itself is pretty small, so good luck getting a table! But it is well worth it if you’re able. They have a huge selection of coffees and delicious food, which I definitely need to try more of!

View across Morecambe Bay from Arnside

Despite the weather not being the best, we went to drink our coffees (and teas) on the end of the pier before heading to the train station and home.

Catch other adventures in my Lake District Chronicles here.

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Lake District Chronicles: 8

Fearing a torrential downpour, we decided not to do the full route pictured on the map and find our own way back to Keswick – which in hindsight was not very wise.

Skimming Stones in the rain: Keswick to Walla Crag

It was about this time last year, I had finished my final exam of third year at university – and it was all over! So, we decided to celebrate with a trip to the Lake District. I had picked up a map on directions from Keswick to Walla Crag the previous summer, and was yet to try it. Therefore, we set off on a fairly cold May day to Keswick.

Walla Crag Route Map
Walla Crag Route Map

After stopping to buy some lunch at the local Booths, we wandered through the centre of town to reach Keswick’s Town Hall and Tourist Information Centre – the start of our walk. Following the same route to the Castlerigg Stone Circle, we were soon in open countryside with Derwent Water far below us. Climbing through trees and fields, we spent a lot of time stopping to take photographs despite the overcast sky.

Woodland on our path to Walla CragHowever, we soon came to a dilemma. I had been so busy enjoying the walk, I had unwittingly led us the route of Castlerigg Stone Circle and we needed to fall back on ourselves to reach the correct path. Not exactly as planned, but the slight detour was worth it for the fantastic views across Derwent Water and towards Blencathra and Skiddaw.

Looking towards Blencathra
Looking towards Blencathra

Upon reaching the ascent of Walla Crag, we realised that we had misjudged the gradient and, for an easy walk, it was pretty steep! We followed the path around to Surprise View, which gives an amazing panoramic view across the whole of Keswick and Derwent Water. But now the rain was creeping in as the clouds darkened and spots of rain formed on my glasses.

View from Surprise View
Surprise View

Fearing a torrential downpour, we decided not to do the full route pictured on the map and find our own way back to Keswick – which in hindsight was not very wise.

We followed a less traversed path along the side of one of many stone walls that section the Lake District’s landscape, before reaching an even steeper descent. With the sound of a waterfall nearby, we attempted to navigate the ill-formed path, jarring knees on too high steps and slipping on loose gravel as the rain began to fall more heavily. Reaching the cover of some trees, we sought a quick break to recharge the batteries and nurse an injured ankle. Mosquitos had found us, however, and came in droves, driving us to keep moving as we continued our descent.

Descent from Walla Crag
Descent from Walla Crag

Making our way through the Great Wood, we found ourselves at the edge of Derwent Water. The rain was coming down thick and fast by this point – perfect weather for skimming stones of course! It became the mission to find the best stone to skim as we dodged along the banks using the trees as cover.

Looking out across Derwent Water
Looking out across Derwent Water

Eventually, we gave in to the inevitable and enjoyed the rain, seeing how far we could throw our rocks and collecting the best as we went. All too soon we were making our way back into Keswick, where we found a café for a hot drink to warm us up as the rain still fell.

Returning to Keswick
Returning to Keswick

It was the weekend of Keswick Midsummer Festival, so we sat for a while in the shelter listening to the acts and watching those stood in the rain getting drenched – but really, what did they expect in Cumbria? Some of the acts where pretty good and we would have liked to stay longer, but were restricted by the bus timetable.

We returned to Lancaster looking like drowned rats but perfectly happy with our little adventure.

Lake District Chronicles: 7

I had become interested in Wainwright and his exploration of the Lake District so settled on Orrest Head as our destination – the view from which sparked Wainwright’s decision to extensively map out all of the fells.

Bowness-on-Windermere and Orrest Head

“…quite suddenly, we emerged from the trees and were on a bare headland, and, as though a curtain had dramatically been torn aside, beheld a truly magnificent view…” – Alfred Wainwright

Image of trees along Sheriff's Walk and Mill Beck
Sheriff’s Walk and Mill Beck

In my third year of university, I made the best decision to become a fresher’s rep. I met a fantastic group of people – who were all interested in exploring the Lakes!

Image of Mill Beck from Sheriff's Walk
Mill Beck from Sheriff’s Walk

 

As an extension of their Fresher’s Week, I planned a trip to Windermere.

Windermere has often been a connecting point as I journey on to elsewhere in the Lakes, but is just as beautiful – if not quite so spectacular as further north.

I had also become interested in Wainwright and his exploration of the Lake District so settled on Orrest Head – the view from which sparked Wainwright’s decision to extensively map out all of the fells.

Image of Waterfalls on Mill Beck from Sheriff's Walk
Waterfall

However, before climbing the fell, we decided to head towards the lakeside and took a shortcut via a number of hidden waterfalls I had found on a previous trip. The footpath is called Sheriff’s Walk and branches from the main road to Bowness-on-Windermere (Lake Road) and takes you down towards Bowness and Lake Windermere.

The walk was beautiful as we wandered through trees and the autumnal colours, with the constant melody of the river.  There are a number of waterfalls as Mill Beck travels towards Windermere, with a considerably larger waterfall closer to the lake. We enjoyed skipping across “stepping stones” and throwing stones in the clear water.

Image of a yacht on lake Windermere with misty mountains
View from Bowness-on-Windermere

Finally, we reached Bowness-on-Windermere, which was busy even in October. We wandered along the lakeside and sat for a while in the park, enjoying the scene.

The weather was turning, however, so we headed back to Windermere in time to climb Orrest Head. With a few spots of rain and the wonderful smell of wood smoke, we easily ascended the small fell.

Image of View across to Windermere
View across to Windermere

There are some incredible views from various points along the meandering track, which begins across the road to Windermere station. But it is when you reach the summit that you can really see what ignited Wainwright’s interest. For such a small elevation, you can see far and wide – almost every inch of the fells surrounding the Lake District’s largest lake and beyond.

We picked out Scafell Pike and Crinkle Crags; with the distant behemoth of Great Gable just visible despite the cloud. Definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a quick and easy walk with fantastic views.

Image of View from the top of Orrest Head
View from the top of Orrest Head
Image of View from the top of Orrest Head
View from the top of Orrest Head

View more of my Lake District travels by clicking the Lake District Chronicles above or to the right.

Lake District Chronicles: 6

Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
Woodland at the beginning of the walk

I’d wanted to go to Keswick for weeks, but just kept getting drawn elsewhere… plus, it is 3 hours on the bus! But I finally made it! It began as a beautiful, warm September day – perfect for walking.

My first stop was the Tourist Information centre in Keswick, where I bought a couple of maps: one being the route to Castlerigg Stone circle.

The route begins conveniently at the Tourist information centre and wanders through the centre of town before turning off past a row of houses to suddenly find yourself in woodland.

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
View across to Catbells

You soon come across a farmhouse, where there is a Tea room – which I have never tried but if you have, let me know!

Then you begin to climb through the trees, alongside the river. As you climb there are flashes of the gorgeous view down to Keswick and Derwent Water.

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
View across Derwent Water

After crossing a bridge and a road, you suddenly find yourself in open countryside. Walking across the fields, you get fantastic views of Blencathra and Skiddaw to the left and the beginning of the Helvellyn range on your right.

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
View across Derwent Water towards Catbells
Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
The beginning of the Helvellyn range
Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
View towards Skiddaw
Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
View towards Blencathra

Turning left when reaching the gate; it was a boggy walk in the gorgeous sunshine until reaching the road, which you need to cross to get onto the final stretch.

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
Castlerigg Stone Circle, view towards Helvellyn range
Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
Castlerigg Stone Circle, view towards Blencathra

Once you reach the stone circle, there is this incredible feeling of calm. I just sat on the grass looking at it for hours, taking it all in. Then I went for a little wander around and a closer look at the stones. There was something romantic about the place and I could easily have stayed longer, but clouds were starting to draw in so I decided to head back.

I took a different route back into Keswick – and naturally got a little lost almost ending up in Penrith… Thankfully a couple of walkers pointed me in the right direction!

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
Walking back along the railway line

The walk back along the railway line was lovely and I got to the bus station just in time.

 

Lake District Chronicles: 5

Ambleside and Stock Ghyll Force Waterfalls (including trip in winter)

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 5 Ambleside and Stock Ghyll Force Waterfalls (including trip in winter)
View from our bedroom window

We spent the second day of our holiday exploring Ambleside. Beginning at our accommodation at Waterhead, we wandered along Windermere’s shore where there are plenty of gift shops and cafes, before finding our way to Borrans Park. It’s a wide open space which is great for sitting out in the summer. It was bright sunshine and beautifully warm.

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 5 Ambleside and Stock Ghyll Force Waterfalls (including trip in winter)
Mr H’s

We then headed into the centre of Ambleside for some lunch.

After wandering through the town, we came across a little café called Mr H’s, which I can highly recommend.  Wonderful food, great service and a fantastic décor – I’ve been back time and time again.
Upon finishing our lunch, we set off for Stock Gyhll Force Waterfalls. It’s a little out of the way to get to, but it’s another world from bustling Ambleside once you find your way onto the path.

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 5 Ambleside and Stock Ghyll Force Waterfalls (including trip in winter)
Trail up to Stock Gyll Force Waterfalls

You can immediately hear the whoosh of the water and are suddenly surrounded by trees.
The path was fairly sodden but we made our way up the steady incline to see, what only can be described as spectacular, waterfalls.

The 70 foot falls flow down into Ambleside down a series of waterfalls and pass under the famous bridge house. It was gorgeous and the sound was incredible! We spent a long time listening and wandering along the path from which you can see many different viewpoints.

 

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 5 Ambleside and Stock Ghyll Force Waterfalls (including trip in winter) Image of Lake District Chronicles: 5 Ambleside and Stock Ghyll Force Waterfalls (including trip in winter)  Image of Lake District Chronicles: 5 Ambleside and Stock Ghyll Force Waterfalls (including trip in winter) Image of Lake District Chronicles: 5 Ambleside and Stock Ghyll Force Waterfalls (including trip in winter)

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 5 Ambleside and Stock Ghyll Force Waterfalls (including trip in winter)
View from Roman ruins

The route is circular and we all too soon found ourselves back in central Ambleside. With the majority of the day still to go, we headed back to Waterhead and Borrans Park, where we bought a icecream from one of the many cafés along the lakeside and found a perfect spot to enjoy the sunshine. Before leaving, I realised there were the remains of a Roman Fort. In reality, it wasn’t much but there was some good information and the views from the open meadow were definitely worth it.

I returned to Ambleside in the winter to see the snow. It was magical as I’d never seen it like this before, and I just had to include one of my favourite pictures with this post!

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 5 Ambleside and Stock Ghyll Force Waterfalls (including trip in winter)
Waterhead view in the winter

Lake District Chronicles: 4

Glenridding Dodd

Nearing the end of the summer, my sister Heather came to stay for the week, which included a short stay at YHA Ambleside.Image of Lake District Chronicles: 4 Glenridding Dodd

As it was only one night, we decided to make the most of our two days in the lakes and headed to Glenridding. Having set off at 6am, it was freezing and a little miserable – as to be expected in the lakes! In an effort to warm us up, we chose to climb Glenridding Dodd, which had dominated the view since we arrived.

Bad idea.Image of Lake District Chronicles: 4 Glenridding Dodd

The terrain itself would be difficult even with the proImage of Lake District Chronicles: 4 Glenridding Doddper walking gear. Heather’s Doc Martin’s were not quite up to scratch…
We managed to find a beautiful spot about a third of the way up for our picnic, but we felt it was unsafe to continue – especially after meeting a group of prepared walkers in sturdy boots using walking poles. A wise decision as, just before reaching the main path from the village, Heather slipped and fell badly on her side, making the return journey a little painful.
Image of Lake District Chronicles: 4 Glenridding Dodd

We stopped for a delicious orange chocolate brownie at the Helvellyn Country café in the village, which certainly helped with the pain (!) and meant that we were able to keep on exploring.

I told Heather about my trip to Aira Force so we thought we’d try and walk around Ullswater to the falls – this proved a little ambitious but we almost made it!Image of Lake District Chronicles: 4 Glenridding Dodd

You can walk pretty much the whole way along the lakeside and there are fantastic views all around. We stopped first at a bench to find a wedding taking place at Glenridding’s The Inn on the Lake. It was so perfect and romantic, which really brightened the day.

We wandered through the trees, hopping onto the shore at points and climbing the occasional rock form. It felt like a real mystery tour and everywhere we looked was beautiful. We spent a long time skimming stones across the glass-like lake and were taken back to childhood holidays. Perfect.Image of Lake District Chronicles: 4 Glenridding Dodd

Eventually, we realised we wouldn’t quite make it to Aira Force, so jumped on a bus and made our way to Ambleside, where we watched the sunset over Windermere.

 

Lake District Chronicles: 3

Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell

I felt I’d explored Grasmere enough for the time being, and chose to head back to Ullswater and see it in the summer. A friend had recommended Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell as a possibility, so I decided to check it out!

Image of Lake District Chronicles Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell
View from Cafe

It was a glorious July day, which of course meant lots of people! Aira force is definitely popular with families, but it was lovely to see them enjoying picnics by the water and skipping stones. The bus stops right outside the café which makes it easy to find your way to the waterfall.

Image of Lake District Chronicles Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell
Aira Force

Following the river up the side of the valley, I came to the first of two bridges from which you can get some great shots of the waterfall. The sound is amazing and, despite the number of people out that day, it felt wonderfully secluded.

Crossing the bridge, and carrying on up the right-hand side of the river, you eventually come to High Force. This waterfall is much wider – and louder- than aira force and there were lots of people enjoying paddling in the calmer waters where the slope plateaued. I remember one guy in particular, as he manoeuvred himself into awkward positions along the very edge of the waterfall to capture the best picture. I would love to have seen those images!

Image of Lake District Chronicles Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell
High Force

Continuing along the riverside, the path eventually veers to the right, taking you into meadow. It was beautiful to come from the shaded, damp smell of the forest into brilliant sunshine with amazing views. From here begins the noticeable climb up Gowbarrow fell.

Image of Lake District Chronicles Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell
View from Meadow

After wandering through the ferns, I came to a wall with an arrow pointing towards Gowbarrow Hill – so I followed the wall up. The path becomes clearer as you ascend and heather takes centre stage. It’s a reasonably steep climb, which is well made up for in the views!

Upon reaching the summit, I could see all the way to the Helvellyn and Blencathra ranges as well as the Pennines and flat plains of Yorkshire. It’s an incredible view for a fell which is only 481m high.

Image of Lake District Chronicles Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell
View from the summit

The descent was interesting. It is fairly steep but I decided to jog back down regardless. This, however, proved to be difficult in parts. Areas along the path are easily only the width of your foot with a sheer drop below and there were moments when I had to be particularly careful in my footing. Yet, the majority of the path is accessible and I found it easy to descend – and quickly as it was nearing the time of the last bus!

Image of Lake District Chronicles Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell
Ullswater

I still had chance to snap pictures along the way. Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell is a circular route, and the descent took me around the edge of Ullswater. I genuinely felt like I’d hit gold. The views are incredible and I had the perfect day for photographs.

Image of Lake District Chronicles Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell
Ullswater

The path takes you along to reach another summit: Green Hill, from which the whole of Ullswater opens out before you, before descending back into the wood and Aira Force – just in time for the bus.

 

 

The Lake District Chronicles: 2

Exploring Grasmere: Helm Crag and Dove Cottage

During the summer of 2015, I spent a lot of time exploring the Lake District. I was living in Lancaster by myself, and for £10.80 you can get an Explorer ticket, which allows you to travel anywhere in the Lakes and back.

Image of Exploring Grasmere
Grasmere Village

The first place I decided to go was Grasmere. I’d been studying Wordsworth at university so it seemed the perfect place and Helm Crag is quite an easy climb with gorgeous views.

Image of Exploring Grasmere
View towards Helm Crag

I began by wandering around the town, which is super sweet with lots of cute little cafes and trinket shops. I had been told countless times that I had to try the famous Grasmere Gingerbread, so I first called in at the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop – which I have to say was worth the trip. There’s also a lovely group of art shops and galleries which I went around after climbing Helm Crag.

The climb up Helm Crag was initially very steep with a million steps – in the hottest part of the day – but once you break through the trees, the views are beautiful!

Image of Exploring Grasmere
The Lion and the Lamb

The rest of the way is pretty easy until the last third, which requires a slight bit of rock climbing. That may be exaggerating, but I did end up on hands at one point…

I suddenly found myself faced with the ‘Lion and the Lamb’, one of the two fantastic rock forms at the top of Helm Crag. Standing on the top of which, with the wind almost blowing me off, was really fun. And climbing the ‘Howitzer’ or ‘The Old Lady Playing an Organ’ was even better.

Image of Exploring Grasmere
The Howitzer or The Old Lady Playing the Organ

The summit of Helm Crag is often debated as, technically, the top of the Howitzer is the highest point, but not everyone can quite reach the tippy-toppest point so it’s really down to personal opinion.

Having explored the summit, I found a sheltered area in which to enjoy my gingerbread. It was delicious, not your usual gingerbread – more like a biscuit – but still yummy and the perfect sugar fix before the descent.

Image of Exploring Grasmere
Dove Cottage

On my second visit to Grasmere, I had to visit Dove Cottage – the home of William Wordsworth. I’d been studying Romanticism at university and so felt it was a must on a rainy day in Grasmere. It was actually really interesting and I got a personal tour. Plus the walk there and back was worth it.

The Lake District Chronicles:1

 

Ullswater Adventures

Something my Dad and I love doing is randomly driving somewhere and figuring out what to do once we’re there. One of these journeys took us to the Lake District and Ullswater. After a quick stop at Pooley Bridge and the acquirement of a map, we found a route to Helvellyn. However, it was 3pm in the middle of winter and I was wearing trainers. So we didn’t quite make it to Helvellyn, but we did find some amazing places along the way.

Starting at the carpark in Glenridding – a super cute little village sitting on the south corner of Ullswater – we wandered up the Greenside road past Traveller’s Rest pub.

Image of ullswater adventures

Taking a left, we found ourselves walking past a farm before finding the track around Birkhouse Moor. Intending to climb the fell, which had dominated the skyline as we wandered along the Helvellyn route, we got climbing.

A little while along, after skipping a couple of rivers, we saw the remains of a coal mine. We decided to investigate and found our way along a route to Sticks Pass.

Image of Ullswater adventures

We didn’t quite get that far, but we got a fantastic view from the top of Raise.

By this point it was starting to get dark, so we decided to go back. But this time, we chose a different route. Following the track we ascended on, we found our way back to Greenside Road past the YHA youth hostel.

Image of Ullswater adventures

The route took us back past Traveller’s rest, where we stopped for dinner – and can definitely recommend. It is such a quaint pub, in that traditional you have to sit next to a random stranger whilst you eat your tea kind of way. But close proximity meant lots of chatter and a really friendly atmosphere. A very nice end to our little adventure.