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Englands' beautiful lakes and mountains of Cumbria- a walkers paradise, plus my favourite two walks.

Updated on June 24, 2012

Beauty so outstanding

One of my greatest passions in life is walking. How lucky am I then that after barely a 2 hour drive from home I can be roaming this wonderous countryside nestled below the mountains of the lake district. One cannot help but be in awe of their majestic presence, a reminder of the respect we must uphold as mortal human beings in this God givien territory. I often must tell myself that I am in Cumbria and not in heaven, a very difficult thing to do when faced with the outstanding beauty the lakes have to offer.

Situated North west of England The Lake District is Englands largest National Park. This diverse landscape has been formed over thousands of years and with unrestricted access to the fells, is the birthplace of mountaineering .Walkers visit every year in their hundreds of thousands wanting to experience a part of this breathtaking environment with its mountains,lakes,tarns and rivers.

Lakes

Lying south of the district is lake Windermere,. Englands largest lake at just under 13 miles long. It was opened up to tourism in Victorian times when railways made the Lake District more accessible. Today it is one of the more commercial areas in the lakes and not particularly suited to those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle. However it does offer many other recreational pursuits other than walking. Taking one of the many boat trips,doing a bit of shopping in the town centre or simply sitting having an ice-cream on the lakeside watching visitors as they come and go. I recall a couple many years ago doing just this. Overhearing their conversation the woman commented, 'I see everyone walking with backpacks and those funny sticks but where are they all going?' to which her accomplice replied 'Im not really sure do you think I should ask someone?' Fondly amused by this I couldn't help but offer an explanation to their dilema so cautiously said "excuse me, I hope you dont mind me gay crashing your conversation but I couldn't help overhearing your question". I then pointed up to the mountain in the distance and replied " there's your answer". The next day I spotted the same couple coming from a hotel carrying novelty backpacks with petruding sheep hanging off the back and wearing obvious brand new walking boots! I watched them as they proudly sauntered towards the promonade. So,this just shows one doesn't really have to be an ardent walker to visit the Lake District.

Rydal Water

This is one of the most beautiful small lakes in the region and was the favourite of famous local writer William Wordsworth. It takes approximately 2hrs to walk around it. The walk starts at White Moss House, which Wordsworth bought for his son and takes you past Rydal Mount, which was Wordsworths favourite residence and where he died in 1850. Rydal Mount can also be visited along with the gardens. Wordsworth also lived at Dove cottage in Grasmere where he wrote some of his most famous poems. I love this area and am attracted to the peace and tranquility. It also offers magnificent views over the countryside.

Thirlmere

This is a man made lake and was created to provide water to the residents of Manchester in 1894. It takes the water 2 days to arrive and travels 100 miles simply by the force of gravity. It is still providing water to 1 million residents in Manchester today.

Bassenthwaite Lake

Situated in the Northern region, this is a popular spot for avid birdwatchers from all over the Uk. Ospreys were extinct in the Britain in early 20th century until a nesting pair were spotted here. An Osprey watch is mounted every year by The RSPB and live webcams monitor the progress of the birds. People flock to this area annually to be a part of this exciting development.

Coniston Water

This was the home of John Ruskin, one of the great intellectuals and artists of the 19th century whom lived on the shores of the lake. It is the third largest covering five miles and has three islands all owned by The National Trust. In 1939 Sir Malcolm Campbell chose this lake for his attempt at the world water speed which he achieved, over 141 miles per hour.

Ullswater

Ullswater is the second largest lake in the English Lake District. It has often been compared to Lake Luceme in Switzerland. One will find plenty of water activities here including Steamers offering trips around the lake. The scenery surrounding this lake is stunning and gives an appreciation of a job well done to those responsible for conserving the natural beauty of The Lake District.

Derwent water

Referred to as the Queen of Lakes Derwent water is surrounded by mountains and has several islands within it ,one which is inhabited. This lake is the one most treasured by me for many reasons but mainly because it is cradled gently beneath one of my most cherished mountains, Catbells. Derwent water attracts millions every year and is home to The Theatre by the Lake, one of the most beautiful situated theatres offering shows for every taste,opera,comedy,music and drama.








Derwentwater

Dewentwater with views of the mountains
Dewentwater with views of the mountains

Walking on the Fells

For anyone who loves walking and climbing or indeed anything to do with the outdoors The Lake District is heaven on earth. There are paths and trails everywhere and if you're a novice there are guides and instructors to help visitors get the most out of their trips. Fell walking is the most popular activity in the lakes. There is literally something for everyone from gentle lakeside and woodland strolls to challenging fell walks. I originally fell in love with fell walking many years ago after reaching the summit of catbells my first ever mountain walk.I remember the anticipation and excitement I was feeling when I reached the starting point. It was nothing like I expected. I'd been so inspired by Alfred Wainwright and his magnificent works on walking in the fells I must say I was slightly disappointed at what stood before me. I remember staring up onto the grassy slope seperated by a well trodden dirt path.It didnt look very high and I was convinced I had a view of the summit before I'd even started. Beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about I took my first steps into another glorious world. I have to say that I have never looked back since and today still find the experience of fell walking as exhilerating as I did then.

Preparation key

Like all walks preparation is key to the safety, success and rewards of the challenge. Checking the mountain forcast and ensuring you have the appropriate clothing are just some of the essential considerations before embarking on your walk. If you thought the English climate was fickle just wait until you get to Cumbria. The unpredictability of the Uk's maritime climate is accentuated in the west which bears the brunt of just about anything that is coming in from the Atlantic. That combined with the mountains can be very interesting! Cumbria can be wet but it also part of a fast moving windy scenario which means that the rain doesn't hang around for long. The weather is a very important consideration for people heading out onto the high fells in order that all eventualities are fully prepared for. A good sturdy pair of walking boots will serve you well. I have often witnessed people so unprepared, that they make the whole experience look unbearable! They have neither thought about nor put any preparation into their journey and as a result have been caught out by the changing weather, or have hobbled their way back down due to unsuitable footwear. Yes, I have even witnessed children and adults walking in wellies! Another consideration is a compass and a map, both of which will prove pretty useless if not known how to use. Many people don't bother. I say this is taking a big risk unless you know the terrain very well or you are being led by someone who does. It costs nothing to gain a little basic knowledge, but potentially everything if you don't. Some of the most experienced walkers have been caught out by the sudden change of climate so don't be complacent it really doesn't serve anyone justice! Of course there are other items of clothing which should ideally be considered depending on the walk but this should be left to the individual to research their own needs. Finally first aid, food and water. It is sensible to always carry at least a basic first aid kit.Trips and grazes are common especially on the more craggy terrain. There should always be a good supply of water in a rucksack. Walking can be strenuous and muscles can potentially seize.Good hydration will prevent the latter if liquid is ready available. Food is also a vital energy booster.I always take a small packed lunch and energy boosting snacks to have along the way. Sandwiches have never tasted so good when faced with stunning views from the summit!


CATBELLS

Catbells may be the high-level family stroll of choice but it isn't anywhere near as ordinary as my pre-conceptions had suggested. As well as grassy slopes it has craggy flanks and its views are nothing short from exotic "scenes of great beauty unfold on all sides, and they are scenes in depth to a degree not usual..." (Alfred Wainwright).There are various ascents to the summit ranging from 950 feet to 1250 feet (2 miles) The summit is a small platform of naked rock and almost all the vegetation has been scoured away by the varied footgear of endless visitors so popular is this viewpoint.


taking a rest
taking a rest
trecking up catbells
trecking up catbells
looking down on Derwenwater
looking down on Derwenwater
reaching the summit of catbells
reaching the summit of catbells

Stickle Pike

"No mountain profile in lakeland arrests and excites the attention more than that of the Langdale Pikes...That steep ladder to heaven stirs the imagination, and even the emotions..." (Alfred Wainwright, 1958)

The Pikes themselves are made up of 3 craggy peaks, Loft Crag, Harrison Sticlke and Stickle Pike. Stickle Pike is very recognizable by its dome shaped peak, making it the most distinguished of the Langdale Pikes. The scramble and the steep nature of the climb up to its rocky peak, makes it one of the most enjoyable fells in the area. It stands 2,323 feet above sea level. I personally havn't found anywhere to better the mixture of miniature peaks and tarns.The immediate scenery is outstanding and its no wonder this area is referred to as little Switzerland.

Alfred Waiwright

Alfred Wainwright devoted his life works to The English Lakeland. He lived and breathed this beautiful land, I feel no-one has authority more to sum up this glorious place and therefore I will leave the last words to him. My passion is evident and I hope I've given you a liitle insight into this most outstanding landscape in the North West of England

"Surely there is no other place in this whole wonderful world quite like lakeland... no other so exquisitely lovely, no other so charming, no other calls so insistently across a gulf of distance. All who truly love Lakeland are exiles when away from it." (Alfred Wainwright)

4 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of English Lakes

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