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.

Nature Poetry: Skimming Stones

I’m posting this poem as I think it quite fits with my next (and last) Lake District Chronicles post, which will be live next Sunday. Another of my poems written whilst at university, this was inspired by how the simple act of skimming a stone can drastically change the appearance of the water. Let me know your interpretations!

Skimming stones

A pool lays secluded

beneath the weeping willow

whose tendrils tickle the surface.

The silent kingfisher perches,

cleaning his feathers, as minnows

begin their calm procession.

Where the water is shallow

you can see the glint of gold

in their scales. A lost time

when the world was serene.

 

Then you started skimming stones.

 

The smack as the perfect flat stone skips across the surface,

small explosions as it crosses the standing water.

Ripples spreading out, battling to reach their widest scope,

rolling over one another until the large rings merge –

fade to the tranquil mirror

 

but the stone still rests at the bottom.

A 10 mile “wander” around Teddington Lock

A gorgeous 16C caught me by surprise when I went for a walk yesterday. The sky was grey and I’d worn my thickest jacket thinking it would be cold – but it was glorious!

I’ve lived in Teddington for three months now so felt it was high time I explored the lock, which is only a mile from my house. Perfect for a short wander to clear my head. Or so I thought.

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Teddington Lock

I have a wonderful, if not slightly reckless, habit of finding myself in places where I can lose myself completely, which naturally leads to never quite wanting to leave again. This was one of those occasions.

Upon reaching the lock, which is a quick wander down from Teddington high street, I found that hundreds of other people had had much the same idea. The nearby pubs and tearooms were teaming in the bright sunshine that had luckily broken through the clouds. People were out in force on the water, on boat tours or yachts, a family came past in bright orange kayaks and there were a number of barges and rowing boats spotted along the way.

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Teddington Lock

There are two bridges across the lock and, to avoid a group of cyclists, I decided to explore the base of the first bridge. All I found was an overgrown footpath and a dead end, but the smell transported me back to Yorkshire and wandering through the countryside. I found myself encased in wildflowers, their scent filling my nostrils and taking me a million miles away. Yet, a gate prevented any further exploration and I had to return to the bridge.

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Half-way point

After crossing, I was faced with a decision: 3 miles to Richmond Park straight ahead, 3.5 miles to Ham House and Gardens to the left, or 1.75 miles to Kingston Bridge to the right. At this point, I was still convinced this was just a short wander along the river, so chose the Kingston path.

The path divides in two with one strand following closely to the banks of the Thames, the other is a sturdier path further up the bank. I chose the higher path, which took me through woodland before emerging into the open sunlight with views of the river.

Taking pictures as I went, I meandered along the path listening to the sound of the river mixed with children’s laughter and the chitter-chatter of their parents. Until I reached a line of houses where the path turned into a tarmac road. Not really wanting to wander through Kingston, I decided to head back but, this time, I took the lower path.

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Half mile tree, just before Kingston

Now my view was less obstructed, I could photograph the expanse of the River Thames with the sun now on my face. Having only traveled a mile or so, it wasn’t long before I was back at the signpost. To go home, or not to go home?

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View back towards the lock

Not to go home.

I decided to continue along the path towards Ham House and Gardens, not expecting to reach the stately home but knowing the walk would be pretty. After following the edge of the lock, I was soon immersed in woodland. I heard the sweet calls of blackbirds and robins flitting through the trees. I love being among the trees, it’s a place where I feel safe and at home. The fresh smell of new leaves and various wildflowers intermingled with the earth as I wandered.

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The path to Ham House and Gardens

The path is fairly similar the whole way along with the Thames to your left and woodland on the right, which made it easy to lose track of how far I had walked. It wasn’t until I saw the outcrop of Eel Pie Island that I realised I had almost walked as far as Ham House! So much for a short walk…

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Ham land

I sat on a bench for a little while, admiring the beauty of Eel Pie Island and growing envious of the houses there. As I looked, however, I suddenly noticed two little eyes watching me and a couple of pointy orange ears. A fox. Realising I was not a threat – I could not easily traverse the water between us – he settled down to sun himself. I admired him for a while before continuing my walk.

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Eel Pie Island

By now it was getting late and I had set myself a target of turning back once it had reached 5pm. It was 4.54pm. I carried on forward a short way until the woodland opened up to reveal a car park and what I can only assume is the ferry point between Twickenham and Ham House. I could see The White Swan on the opposite bank and Richmond looming in the distance. I sat for a while taking in the view.

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View towards Richmond

The journey back was harder. My feet suddenly felt the 19,884 steps (according to my Samsung Health app) I’d taken and my lack of preparation meant I was in dire need of a drink. Barely pausing, I power-marched back to the lock, reliving all the beauty of my walk there and being startled by squirrels who interrupted my path.

After walking roughly ten miles, I collapsed on my bed, tired but feeling wonderfully fulfilled.

 

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.

Welcome

Why not join me as I wander around the English countryside and take the few odd trips around the world?

Welcome to my blog!

For a while now, I’ve been sharing my adventures on Instagram: www.instagram.com/LostEnglishRose/ However, writing is my main love and I felt I’d branch out to tell you all about my travels!

I’m an English girl, currently based near London, who enjoys exploring the world around me. With a love of coastline to mountain top, I’ll be sharing some great walks and places to visit with maybe the occasional poem or two along the way!

Why not join me as I wander around the English countryside and take the few odd trips around the world?