(If you are a visitor to the Lake District, please bear in mind that,
even if you are not a member of The Ramblers, you may try two or three
walks arranged by the Penrith Group. However check the 'Walks Programme'
and 'Guide Lines to Walks' first. The data on places to visit is a guide
and may change. Rather than rely on it, use the links provided
to check opening times and get the latest information.)
Diagram of Lake District, (not to scale).
The shapes of the mountains, or fells, in the Lake District are the result of glaciation. This has led to the formation of U shaped valleys, which are often filled by lakes. An example, is Wast water, which is the deepest Lake in the Lake District. Another example is the valley containing Buttermere and Crummock Water, which has a series of fells each side. The U shaped valley between Hindscarth and Maiden Moor is without a lake. You can see it clearly from Dalehead summit. (For a photo go to 'Dalehead' in the section 'Lower Mountains with Views'.) The tops of the high fells are rocky, having been stripped of soil by glacial action. Also they are lower and more rounded than younger mountains such as 'The Alps'. This is because over millions of years, rain water has penetrated fissures in the rock, which then froze and caused the rock to break apart. The top of Bow Fell is an example, where numerous slabs of rock lie in confusion at the summit. Any movement of the next glacier on the fell would probably take the loose rock with it and so lower its height. Most lower fells such as Loadpot Hill, Blake Fell, Gavel Fell etc. are grass covered.
The last ice age killed all the trees in Britain and only after it ended was it possible for trees to spread back to Britain from areas further south. At the time the English channel did not exist and 34 trees managed to take hold before melting ice caused the seas to rise and cut Britain off from the rest of Europe. 22 of these trees reached Cumbria. Most of the land below 1500' in the Lake District would have been covered mainly in deciduous woodland. This is exemplified by Great Mell Fell with deciduous trees now growing to around this level. The woodland would have included ash, birch, oak, wild cherry, hazel, rowan, hawthorne, wych elm and in water logged areas, alder. The non-deciduous yew was also native. Though native to the south of England, trees, such as beech, poplar, whitebeam, hornbeam and the large leaved lime did not reach Cumbria in this period. (For more information on native trees go to the Woodland Trust.)
Since the last ice-age, about 10,000 ago, the Lake District has been shaped by man's activities. As man changed from hunter-gatherer (at the end of the Neolithic Period, or New stone age about 3000 years ago) to farmer, the trees were cleared for pasture and for growing food. Trees were later used for boat building and to make charcoal for the iron industry, resulting in even more deforestation and so produced the landscape we have today with hill slopes covered mainly in grass, bracken and heather. Hollows in the mountainous areas filled with water and became tarns, while flat uplands became boggy. The peat in these regions acts like a sponge during heavy rainfall and this effect means the run-off of water from the fells is evened out. Unfortunately in 2009, a long period of rain meant that the peat became saturated and heavy rain later in November of that year could not be absorbed. Floods in Keswick, Cockermouth and surrounding areas were the result.
In some places such as Ashness Wood near Grange, Johnny's Wood near Rosthwaite, and Stonethwaite Woods, all in Borrowdale, native woodland still exists. These are remnants of the temperate rainforests that once covered the western coasts of Britain, They are dominated by sessile oaks and provide a splendid habitatat for liverworts, lichens, ferns and mosses. They have been designated as 'Sites of Special Scientific Interest' and 'Special Areas of Conservation'. A different habitat, where oaks can be found, is on the rocky south face of Causey Pike. (See Causey Pike photograph below.) Here a group of stunted oak trees cling precariously to the fell side. Plantations of non-native coniferous trees have been planted in the recent past, some on land up to 1500 feet high in areas like Thornthwaite Forest to the west of Bassenthwaite lake. Some of these plantations are being felled for their timber and hopefully replacement trees will include a higher proportion of native species.
If one is being pedantic, the Lake District strictly has only one lake, Bassenthwaite Lake, with most of the others called meres or waters. There are over 50 tarns. As regards mountains, it has 7 higher than Cross Fell in the Pennines, the highest outside the Lake District in England, although only 4 of these are over 3000'. These clearly don't compare in height terms with Snowdon, the highest in Wales at 3560' or Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest at 4406' and nowhere near to mountains in other parts of the world. However all the Lake District fells are reachable, in that they can be climbed by any body with reasonable fitness, as long as reasonable precautions are taken. Also, if the weather allows, the views on route are a wonder to behold. (You do not have to climb through 3000 feet of forest before getting above the tree line to get a view!)
The lakeland towns and villages are all worth visiting but try to avoid going on bank holidays, when they and the roads to them can become extremely crowded. A policy of the Penrith Ramblers is to run walks outside the main tourist areas at such times. Grasmere, well known for its Gingerbread shop together with Keswick are in areas of especially lovely scenery, each with fells and lakes close by.
Livestock in the fells is mainly sheep, usually the hardy Herdwick and/or Swaledales.
Sheep tend to nibble close to the ground and so prevent young trees from establishing themselves. This maintains the present (man-made) appearance of the fells and prevents the return of native woodlands, which used to exist. In isolated areas where sheep cannot gain access, some of the native flowers, ferns and mosses still maintain a foothold.
Red squirrels can still be seen wild in the woodlands but these are getting rarer to spot as the grey squirrels, introduced from North America, encroach into the red squirrels' habitat. The greys carry the squirrel pox virus, which is harmless to them but deadly to the reds. Serious attempts are now being made to keep the greys at bay.
Another animal which can be elusive to photograph is the red deer, which can be found in the area around Martindale, Fusedale and surrounding fells. They are social animals and can be spotted in a group of about 30 in number but at a distance. Ramblers are not the quietest of walkers and so the views they usually get are of the deer running away over the fells into the next valley!
Lakes in order of length.
||Length in miles
||Width in miles
||Depth in feet|
| Ullswater|| 7.5|| 0.75|| 205||
| Coniston Water|| 5.25||0.5 || 184||
| Bassenthwaite Lake||4.0 || 0.75||70 ||
| Haweswater (reservoir)||4.0 || 0.5||198||
| Thirlmere (reservoir)|| 3.8|| 0.5|| 158||
| Derwentwater|| 3.5||1.25 ||172 ||
| Crummock water||3.4 || 0.8||144||
| Wast Water - the deepest lake|| 3.1|| 0.5||260 ||
| Ennerdale||2.5 || 0.75||148||
| Esthwaite || 1.5|| 0.5|| 80|
| Buttermere|| 1.25||0.8 ||95
| Loweswater|| 1.25|| 0.8||60
| Grasmere||1.0 ||0.5|| 75||
| Rydal Water|| 0.75|| 0.25||55 |
| Brother's Water|| 0.4||0.25 ||70 ||
| Elterwater ||0.4 ||0.25 ||70 |
| Kentmere Reservoir ||0.5 ||0.24 || - ||
| Hayeswater (reservoir) ||0.6 ||0.17 || - ||
There are too many named tarns - and even more un-named - to display here but a selection of pictures show that many are still worth visiting, not just for the tarns themselves but for their surroundings.
Here are two tarns with the same name.
Here are three tarns, (one twice), which can be reached by road with little climbing needed.
Some tarns are found in natural bowls, which are impervious, fairly high in the mountains, so you need to climb to reach them. Already illustrated is Angle Tarn below Bow Fell and Esk Pike.
Here are further examples.
Goat's Water is below Dow Crag. Dalehead Tarn is below Dale Head. Red Tarn is below Helvellyn.
Scales Tarn is below Sharp Edge on Blencathra. Small Water is below Mardale Ill Bell.
Low water is below The Old Man of Coniston. Stickle Tarn is below Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle.
Bowscale Tarn is below Bowscale Fell.
These 8 tarns are pictured here.
For a photo of Sprinkling Tarn see Great End. Sprinkling tarn is one of two tarns below Great End, The other is the lower Styhead Tarn, mentioned below.
Some tarns are almost surrounded by fells. Two examples are Styhead Tarn which is between Great End, Great Gable and Seathwaite Fell and Grisedale Tarn, which is between Fairfield, Seat Sandal and Dollywagon Pike.
Another tarn is Scoat Tarn which has Haycock, Scoat and Red Pike in near vicinity.
There are no tarns in the immediate vicinity of Scafell Pike and Sca Fell, the two tallest mountains in the Lake District.
Areas on the flattish tops of the low fells can be quite boggy. The area around High Tove and High Seat, between Borrowdale and Thirlmere is an example. One would expect there to be tarns in this area but, because the cross section of the landscape has an upwardly convex shape, only one tarn (well to the south) exists. (See tarn no.23.) Obviously an impermeable hollow, roughly saucer or basin shaped is needed. A fell where this saucer shape exists is Seathwaite fell, where over ten small un-named tarns, some more like large pools, exist. The main paths on the fell keep to its edge, so boggy ground is not a problem. A number of small tarns also exist in a saucer shaped area between Combe Head and Glaramara.
A tarn with boggy surrounds is Tarn at Leaves.
Another is Harrop Tarn. Because it is in a closed wooded area, the activity of sheep cropping the grass does not occur and the surrounding vegetation can flourish.
However not all tarns on flattish upland are boggy. The land around Dock Tarn would appear to have little top soil and the underlying rock is often visible. This means the path near it is firm, if a little uneven.
There are three tarns with Blea in their name (not counting Bleaberry Tarn) - two Blea Tarns and a Blea Water. Here is Blea Water, below both High Street and Mardale Ill Bell and both of the Blea Tarns.
Finally two more tarns to bring the number displayed to a quarter of a century.
It is interesting to note that some people prefer to 'bag' tarns instead of 'Wainwrights', possibly because these are at lower levels and one can still do this, when weather conditions rule out the latter.
The Lake District's mountains over 2750 feet.
Where there is more than one top on a mountain with a given name, such as Crinkle Crags or Blencathra, only the higher/highest top is given.
|Name of Mountain|| Location||Height, feet||Height, metres|
| Scafell Pike||Scafells|| 3210||978
| Scafell||Scafells||3162 ||964|
| Helvellyn||Helvellyn Massif||3118 ||950||
| Skiddaw (High Man)||Skiddaw Massif|| 3053||931||
| Great End||Scafells|| 2948||910||
| Bowfell (See Tarns no. 2)||Bowfell Group|| 2960||902|
|Great Gable||Great Gable Group||2949 ||899||
| Pillar||Pillar Group||2927 ||892||
| Nethermost Pike||Helvellyn Massif, Catstye Cam, St Sunday Crag, Birk Fell.||2922 ||891|
| Catstycam||Helvellyn Massif||2919 ||890
| Esk Pike||Bowfell Group||2903 ||885|
| High Crag ||Helvellyn Massif|| 2903||885|
| Raise||Helvellyn Massif||2897 ||883|
| Fairfield||Fairfield Group|| 2863||873||
| Blencathra (Hallsfell Top)||Blencathra Group|| 2847||868||
| Whiteside Bank (OS map) or White Side (Harvey's map)||Helvellyn Massif||2832||863||
| Crinkle Crags, Long Top ||Bowfell Group ||2816 ||859 ||
| Dollywaggon Pike||Helvellyn Massif|| 2815||858||
| Great Dodd||Dodds Group||2811||857||
| Grasmoor|| Grasmoor Group||2795||852||
| Stybarrow Dodd ||Dodds Group ||2766 ||843 ||
|Scoat Fell (Comprising Great and Little Scoat Fells)||Pillar Group |
See 3rd Photo under Pillar.
|2760 ||841 |
| St Sunday Crag ||Fairfield Group ||2758 ||841 ||
|Eel Crag or Crag Hill on OS maps ||Grasmoor Group ||2751 ||839 ||
|Though under 2750 feet, the following mountain is included as the highest of the Coniston Massif.|
|Coniston Old Man ||Coniston Massif ||2633 ||803 ||
Lower fells with views.
As many walkers know, better views can often be obtained from a low peak, with lakes, tarns and higher peaks close by, rather than on the higher peaks themselves. Some fairly low tops, in alphabetical order, worth visiting are:
|Name of Mountain||Height, feet||Height, metres|| Views can be obtained of:
|Arthur's Pike ||1747 || 532 ||Blen Cathra, Great Dodd, Watson's Dodd, Great Mell Fell, Ullswater ||
|Barrow ||1494 || 455 ||Grisedale Pike, Skiddaw, Blencathra, Derwent Water ||
|Bessyboot||1765||551||Fleetwith Pike, Base Brown, Rosthwaite Fell, Pike of Stickle, High Raise, Skiddaw||
|Binsey ||1466 ||447 ||Skiddaw, Bassenthwaite Lake |
|Birk Fell ||1722 ||525 ||Catstye Cam, Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike, Dollywaggon Pike, Seat Sandal, St Sunday Crag, Place Fell, Ullswater, Penrith. ||
|Black Crag / Black Fell ||1056 ||322 || The Langdales, Windermere|
|Black Crag (NE of Gavel Fell )|| 1478 ||450 ||Grasmoor, Whiteside, Loweswater
|Bowness Knott || 1093 ||333 ||Steeple, Ennerdale Water |
|Catbells ||1481 ||451 ||Newlands Valley, Causey Pike, Skiddaw, Blencathra, Derwent Water, Bassenthwaite Lake ||
|Carling Knott || 1785|| 544 || Darling Fell, Low Fell, Mellbreak, Whiteside, Grasmoor, Loweswater, North end of Crummock Water ||
|Castle Crag || 1381 ||421 ||High Spy, Helvellyn, Great Dodd, Derwent Water ||
|Causey Pike (Easy climb via Stonycroft Gill and Sail Pass)||2064||637||Barrow, Bassenthwaite Lake, Newlands Valley, Derwent Water, Blencathra, Walla Crag, Helvellyn Massif, Catbells, Maiden Moor, Hindscath, Robinson, Ard Crags, Eel Crag, Grisedale Pike.||
|Clough Head (900' climb from Old Corpse Road) ||2365||726||St John's in the Vale, Skiddaw, Lonscale Fell, Blencathra, Great Mell Fell, Great Dodd, High Rigg, Catbells, Causey Pike, Barrow, Grisedale Pike, Bassenthwaite Lake.||
|Combe Head (Approx 1km N of Glaramara) ||2296||700||Glaramara, Seathwaite Fell, Great Gable, Green Gable, Pillar, Base Brown, Brandreth, High Stile, Fleetwith Pike, Dale Head, Grasmoor, etc.||
|Dalehead (a 1300' climb from Homnister Pass)||2472||753 ||Fleetwith Pike, Hindscarf, Skiddaw, Blencathra, Maiden Moor, High Spy, Great End, Great Gable||
|Dodd (For photo see Bassenthwaite Lake)||1647 ||502 ||Grisedale Pike, Bassenthwaite Lake |
|GowBarrow ||1579 ||481 || St Sunday Crag, Place Fell, High street, Ullswater|
|Great Borne ||2014 ||616 || Hen Combe, Pillar, Steeple, Whoap, Ennerdale Water||
|Great Mell Fell ||1762 ||537 ||Blencathra, Clough Head, Great Dodd, Little Mell Fell, distant Pennines ||
|Hallin Fell || 1273 || 388 ||Sheffield Pike, Skybarrow Dodd, Ullswater
|Haystacks (Alfred Wainwright's favourite)||1959 ||597 ||Pillar, High Crag, Robinson, Fleetwith Pike, Buttermere
|Helm Crag|| 1329 || 405 || Seat Sandal, Heron Pike, Grasmere |
|Hen Comb|| 1661 || 509 || Whiteside, Grasmore, Whiteless Pike, Robinson, Red Pike, Pillar, Starling Dodd, Great Bourne ||
|High Rigg || 1125 || 343 ||Helvellyn Massif, Blencathra, Skiddaw, Grisedale Pike
|High Snockrigg || 1726 || 526 || Robinson, Red Pike, High Stile, High Crag, Fleetwith Pike, Buttermere |
|King's How ||1286 || 458 ||Dale Head, High Spy, Derwent Water|
|Latrigg (North of Keswick) || 1207 ||368 ||Cat Bells, Barrow, Grisedale Pike, Skiddaw, Blencathra, Clough Head, Derwent Water.|
|Ling Fell || 1230 ||469 ||Sale Fell, Ullock Pike, Skiddaw, Broom Fell. ||
|Lingmoor Fell || 1538 ||373 ||Pike of Blisco. Crinkle Crags, Bow Fell, Langdale Pikes, Lingmoor Tarn, Blea Tarn. |
|Lonscale Fell (1370' climb from carpark north of Latrigg)|| 2343 ||714 ||Skiddaw Little Man. Blencathra, Great Mell Fell, Clough Head, Derwent Water, Catbells, Causey Pike, Grisedale Pike, etc.||
|Loughrigg ||1101 ||335 || Heron Pike, Grasmere, Rydal Water, Elterwater, Loughrigg Tarn |
|Loweswater Fell (or Low Fell on Harvey maps) (For photos see Loweswater in 'Lakes' section.)|| 1388 || 423 ||Mellbreak, Whiteside, Grasmoor, Fleetwith Pike, Crummock Water |
|Low Rigg ||827 ||252 || Clough Head, Blencathra, Castle Rigg stone circle, Tewet Tarn
|Mellbreak, south top || 1578 || 512 ||Whiteside, Grasmoor, Whiteless Pike, Crummock Water, Robinson, Red Pike, Starling Dodd, Great Bourne, Hen Comb.||
|Place Fell ||2154 || 657 ||Helvellyn, Catstycam, High Street, Ullswater
|Pikeawassa || 1417 || 432 || Place Fell, Beda Fell, The Nab, Angletarn Pikes, Martindale, Loadpot Hill, Ullswater|
|Rannerdale Knotts ||1165 ||355 ||Mellbreak, Red Pike, Crummock Water |
|Raven Crag || 1512 ||461 ||Helvellyn, Skybarrow Dodd, Thirlmere Reservoir |
|Rough Crag ||1047 || 319 || Scafells, Bowfell Group, Devoke Water (tarn)|
|Sale||1161||359||Ling Fell, Ullock Pike, Skiddaw, Barf, Lord's Seat, Broom Fell||
|Shepherds Crag, Grange||692||211||Skiddaw, Catbells, Maiden Moor, Derwent Water|
|Silver How || 1294 ||395 ||Langdale Pikes, Heron Pike, Grasmere |
|Walla Crag || 1243 || 379 || Causey Pike, Grisedale Pike, Skiddaw, Derwent Water ||
|Woodend Height and Yoadcastle || 1621 ||494 ||Scafells, Bowfell group, Devoke Water (tarn), seascapes (Isle of Man)|
Popular Fell Walking Circuits
Because of the difficulty of planning transport for linear walks in the fells, most of the walks that the Penrith Ramblers undertake start and finish at the same place. These walks are often called variously 'horseshoes', 'rounds' or 'circuits'. Many are original walks, planned by the leader. However, some walks in this category have become 'Classics' among fell walkers. Below is a list (not exhaustive) of circuits of merit, i.e. provide excellent views. All but Greenburn Horseshoe have fells above 2000 feet. Those scared of heights should avoid Red Tarn Round.
|Name of horseshoe/round||Places/fells on route||Starting place||Length||Cumulative ascent|
|Bannerdale Horseshoe, Mungrisdale CP||Bowscale Fell, Bannerdale Crags, Souther Fell.||Mungrisdale||7 miles||2300 feet|
|Bannerdale Horseshoe, Martindale CP||Howstead Brow, Beda Head, Beda Fell, Angletarn Pikes, Brock Crags, Rest Dodd, The Nab. (See last comment in 'Notes' below.)||St Martin's, NY434184||8.5 miles||2700 feet|
|Boredale Horseshoe||Howstead Brow, Low Moss, The Knight, Place Fell, Boredale Hause, Beda Fell, Beda Head.||St Martin's, NY434184||7 miles||2600 feet|
|Butternere Horseshoe||Fleetwith Pke, Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Haystacks, Scarth gap Pass, Buttermere Fell.||Gatesgarth||6.7 miles||3150 feet|
|Calder Horseshoe||Blakely Raise, Grike, Crag Fell, Whoap, Lank Rigg, Kinniside, Latter Barrow, Swarth Fell, Burn Edge.||NY062130|
|7.5 miles||2300 feet|
|Coledale Horseshoe||Barrow door, High Moss, Sail, Crag Hill, Grasmoor, Hopegill Head, Grisedale Pike.||Braithwaite||10.2 miles||4350 feet|
|Combe Gill Horseshoe||Bessyboot, Rosthwaite Cam, Combe Head, Thornthwaite Fell.||Stonethwaite||6.2 miles||2350 feet|
|Dale Head Horseshoe||Maiden Moor, High Spy, Dale Head, Hindscarth, Red Knott.||Littletown||8.3 miles||3050 feet|
|Deepdale Horseshoe||Birks, St Sunday Crag, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Hartsop Above How.||Patterdale||9.4 miles||3450 feet|
|Fairfield Round||Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Great Rigg, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag, High Pike, Low Pike.||Rydal||10.5 miles||3450 feet|
|Great Round of Coniston||Hen Crag, Wetherlam, Swirl how, Great How, Coniston Old Man, Low Water.||Coniston SD300979||8 miles||3600 feet|
|Greenburn Horseshoe north of Grasmere||Helm Crag, Gibson Knott, Calf Crag, Steel Fell, Cotra Breast.||Easedale Road NY334080||7.6 miles||2400 feet|
|Harter Fell Horseshoe||Gatesgarth Pass, Little Harter Fell, Harter Fell, then either Mardale Ill Bell, High Street, Long Stile, Blea Water (or via Small Water, an escape route in bad weather). ||Mardale Head||6.5 miles|
|Kentmere Round/Horseshoe||Shipman Knotts, Kentmere Pike, Mardale Ill Bell, (Thornthwaite Beacon/Crag), Froswick, Ill Bell, Yoke.||Sadgill||!5.5 miles||4450 feet|
|Mosedale Horseshoe||Looking Stead, Pillar, Black Crag, Scoat Fell, (Steeple,) Red Pike, Dore Head Screes. ||Wasdale Head||7.8 miles|
|Riggindale Horseshoe||Heron Crag, Eagle Crag, Riggindale Crag, High street, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike, Kidsty Howes.||Mardale Head||7 miles||2550 feet|
|Robinson Horseshoe||High Snab Bank, Robinson, Newlands Hause, Knott Rigg, Ard Crags.||Little Town||8.7 miles||3300 feet|
|Red Tarn Round||Hole in the Wall, Striding Edge, Helvellyn, Swirral Edge, Catstye Cam, past Youth Hostel.||Glenridding||8 miles||3250 feet|
- Distances and cumulative ascents are derived from data obtained by plotting each path on an electronic map. Because several paths may exist in places, the exact route taken can vary and so these figures should be used as a guide only.
- Because Robinson, Hindscarth and Dale Head are roughly in a straight line forming a ridge, it is possible to form 4 other circuits using Littletown as the start/finishing point by incorporating a different pair of legs from the two pairs of legs used in the Robinson and Dalehead Horseshoes listed here.
- It is possible to form 4 other circuits using a different pair of legs from the two pairs of legs forming the Harter Fell and Riggindale Horseshoes listed here, both of which have Mardale Head as their start/finishing point and are linked by a ridge. This number can be increased further by swopping the Blea Water leg of the Harter Fell Horseshoe for the one via Small Water, listed in brackets.
The DaleHead Horseshoe can be extended to include Skelgill Bank and Catbells by staring at Gutherscale instead of Littletown.
- Replacing Bannerdale Crags with Blencathra is an option to extend the Bannerdale Horseshoe to 8.3 miles with 2950 feet of cumulative ascent.
- Replacing Combe Head with Glarama is an option to extend Combe Gill Horseshoe to 6.8 miles with 2700 feet of ascent.
- Kentmere round can be started/finished at Kentmere. However because of limited parking and the extra distance to get there from Penrith, Sadgill in Longsleddale has been chosen, even though this lengthens the walk.
- The order of the fells in the list can be reversed usually without affecting the quality of the walk, though bare in mind that a circuit with a gentle ascent and steep descent becomes one with a steep ascent and gentle descent and vice-versa. Which you prefer may depend on level of fitness and/or leg joint problems. However, Bannerdale Horseshoe in Martindale should only be attempted in the order given, as the local farmer is likely to waylay and warn off anyone crossing his land in order to climb up The Nab. If he meets you, having descendied The Nab, he can only show you the nearest road, which is what you want anyway.
A natural phenomenon - the 'Brocken Spectre'.
Sometimes a low sun and mist can occur at the same time, which can bring about a natural phenomenon called a 'Brocken Spectre'. It is caused by the mist refracting the sun's rays causing a rainbow effect. Because there are many more droplets in a given space than in a rain shower, the rays are bent many more times and form what could be termed a 'mistbow' with a much smaller radius than a rainbow. To see one you will need the sun's rays low in the sky behind you and some mist in front at a somewhat lower level with, ideally, a dark background beyond. Mountain tops are well suited for this, as the sun's rays will not be blocked by obstructions, mist is not uncommon and the rays can reach the mist, without hitting the ground first. A few have been seen in the Lake District by members of the Penrith Ramblers in recent years. The accompanying set of 4 photos were taken by Penrith members, John Cantrell and Jean Bradshaw, both on Ard Crags looking towards Causey Pike. The last photo has the onlookers' shadows inside the 'bow'. The shadows are formed on the mist particles. This means they are less distinct but much closer and so larger, than if they were on the distant mountainside further on.
Here there appears to be two spectres!
'Brocken Spectre' is named after Brocken, the highest of the Harz mountains in Saxony, where it was first noted.
Ramblers were also interested on another occasion in a phantom mountain seen over Gavel Fell. This is the photo, which was taken.
Besides the lovely scenery of the Lake District, much of which has been shaped by man over the centuries, there are many other man-made attractions.
On the west coast at Whitehaven you can take marine adventure cruises along the Lake District coast to see the wildlife. Sailing is from the harbour slipway adjacent to the waterfront cafes.
Water sports tuition including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and kayaking can be had at Nichole End Marine, which also has a waterside cafe and chandlery department. It is situated on the north west side of Derwent Water,
These water sports are also available at Derwent Water Marina, a little further north at Portinscale. It also provides ghyll scrambling and mountain sports.
Both marinas provide free carparking and changing rooms with shower facilities, wet suits and buoyancy aids.
Gill (or Ghyll - the spelling of Wordsworth) Scrambling, canoeing and kayaking are available at the Newlands Adventure Centre
at Stair near Keswick. Also available are high rope courses, mountain biking, climbing, abseiling , archery and orienteering all with qualified instructors.Low Wood Watersports
, 2 miles north of Windermere provides water skiing, water surfing, kayaking, canoeing and boat hire as well as changing rooms with showers, refreshments and free parking.
At Maryport is The Coast Aquaria, where the sea is simulated by crashing waves and there are displays of local marine and river life including pike, plaice, bass, starfish, rays, sharks, cuttlefish, seahorses, conger eels and octopuses.
At the south end of the Windermere at Newby Bridge is a freshwater aquarium, Aquarium of the Lakes where you can walk under water along Windermere's re-created lake bed and gain an insight into the secret world that lies beneath the surface. You can discover the wildlife, that is to be found above and below a lakeland river from its source in the mountains down to the sea, meeting pike, otters, diving ducks, starfish, sharks and rays.To Top
Cafes, Tea Rooms, Inns.
There are far too many to list here. All the small towns will have several. Those that are listed are some used by the Penrith Ramblers, which are outside the main towns.
If you have a large party, you might consider phoning first. Not all the tearooms are open all year.
The Old Sawmill Tearooms, Mirehouse, Underskiddaw, on A591. Tel 017687 74317.
Granny Dowbekins, Pooley Bridge. Tel 017684 86453.
Kirkstile Inn, Loweswtaer, Tel 01900 85219.
The Miller Inn, Mungrisdale, east of Blencathra. Tel 017687 79632
Greystones Coffee House, Glenridding, Tel 017684 82392.
Grange Bridge Cottage Tea Shop, Grange, Tel 017687 77201
Airaforce Tea Room, Watermillock, Tel 017684 82881. (Best on foot as you may be charged for car parking, unless you are a NT member.)
The Watermill Cafe, Priests Mill, Calbeck, Tel 016974 78267.
Side Farm, Patterdale, Tel 017684 82337
The Royal Oak, Rosthwaite, Tel 017687 77214
Low Bridge End Farm, St John's in the Vale, Tel 017687 79242
Whinlatter Visitor Centre, Braithwaite, Tel 017687 78068
Caffle House Tea Rooms, Watendlath, Tel 017687 77219
The Old Smithy, Caldbeck, Tel 016974 78246
Uldale Gallery and Tearoom is midway between Caldbeck and the norther tip of Bassenthwaite Lake, Tel 016973 71778.
Two tearooms can be accessed from the A66, A5086 roundabout, south of Cockermouth.
First: The Old stackyard tearooms, Tel 01900 822777. (Take the south west exit for Mitchells Agricultural Market and follow signs for Wellington Jersey Ice Cream, which is homemade and supplied at the tea room.)
Second: The sheep and Wool Centre, Tel 01900 822673. (Access is off the A5086 to Egremont.) A large shop sells wool goods and books and incorporates a cafe selling hot meals and snacks.
Besides water sports tuition and hire, Nichol End Marine has a waterside cafe on the north west side of Derwent Water, Tel 017687 73082.
See also garden centres, all of which have tea rooms.To Top
Grizedale Forest Park lies between Coniston and Hawkshead. It has a visitor's centre and a number of woodland trails each with forest sculptures positioned along the way, which are of special interest to children. A lot of damage occured here, as in other wooded parts of the Lake District during the storms in January 2005. Many fine tree specimens were blown over and lost. However many are being left in place to provide new refuges for wild life, which abounds in this sanctuary.
Ospreys have been breeding on the west side of Bassenthwaite Lake for a few years. CCTV of their activities can be viewed at the visitor centre at Whinlatter Forest Park to the west of Bassenthwaite Lake. In the forest there are walking and cycling trails, with a cafe and a picnic area at the centre. On the other side of the lake, a mile from the nest and close to Mire House and The Old Sawmill Tearooms, is the Dodd Wood open air Osprey viewpoint. Here there are fixed telescopes, with a magnification of x70, aimed at the nest site. This is open between April and September. If you move to the side of the lake, the nest is much closer and viewing with binoculars is possible.
Further information on both forest parks can be obtained from the Forestry Commission.To Top
Galleries, craft shops and museums.
The beauty of the Lakes has attracted many artists and craftspeople to set up there own studios, workshops and galleries in the area. Grasmere has a number of outlets for their work, especially paintings, which includes The Heaton Cooper Studio, which has original paintings.
In Cockermouth there is The Percy House Gallery, which has exhibitions of textiles, photographs, paintings, jewellery, glass, metalwork and sculpture and is well worth a visit.
The Beatrix Potter Gallery is in the centre of Hawkshead and is run by The National Trust. It has Beatrix's original artwork and material from the film "Miss Potter" on display.
You can view Beatrix Potter's personal collection of china, furniture and paintings at Hill Top, which was owned by Beatrix Potter for 38 years. It is in the village of Near Sawrey, 2 miles south of Hawkshead. Email: email@example.com.
For Beatrix Potter fans, young and old, there is also The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere. Here all 23 tales of the author are brought to life in an indoor recreation of the Lake District countryside.
The Kirkstone Galleries are situated on the A593 at Skelwith Bridge beteween Coniston and Ambleside. They specialise in handpainted crockery, glassware, contemporary home furnishing and items from pendants to pastry boards made from a sea green stone quarried only in Cumbria.
Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House 1.5 miles south of Bowness, with its stained glass windows and original carved oak panelling, has exhibitions of contemporary and historical applied art in its upper galleries.
Furniture and turned wooden gifts can be seen being made from the viewing gallery at Peter Hall & Son's workshop, Stavely near Kendal, where there is also a gift shop.
3 miles north is The Kentmere Pottery Studio, which specialises in ceramics and multi-fired English enamels, including lamps and tableware.To Top
On the west coast at Whitehaven there is the Beacon Art Gallery and Museum, where you can discover the town's industrial and maritime past, including its connections with mining and slavery.
At Egremont you will find Lowes Court Gallery showing a wide range of paintings, prints and craft work.
In Keswick is the Pencil Museum which has exhibits and film showing the heritage of pencils over the last 170 years and the Motor Museum, which has 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang', Batmobiles and other vehicles from TV and film.
In Priest's Mill, Caldbeck in the North Lakes is the The Wool Clip, which is a local co-operative of farmers and craft workers using wool from Herdwick and Swaledale sheep in the area. Rugs, throws, cushions, hats, scarves and lots more are available.
Thornthwaite Galleries are situated in Thornthwaite, which lies north of Braithwaite on a minor road running roughly parallel to the A66. The gallery is open daily except Tuesdays. Demonstrations in painting, wood carving and jewellery are held. Go to noticeboard of local media gallery for callender of events.
Gosforth Pottery is in Gosforth just off the A595 and to the south west of Wasdale Valley, which has the highest mountain, the deepest lake and the smallest church in England. Besides hand-thrown pottery, photographs of the Lake District taken by local photographers and printed on canvas are available.
The Lakeland Motor Museum is at Holker Hall in the south of Cumbria. It houses 30,000 pieces of motoring memorabilia. including cars, cycles, motorcycles and the Bluebird exhibition dealing with Donald Campbell's racing exploits on land and water. It includes a mock-up of Donald Campbell's Bluebird. You can visit the Hall and its garden while you are there.
See also Ruskin Museum (Homes of famous Lakeland people).To Top
There are number of garden centres worth a visit. The largest is probably Hayes Garden World at Ambleside, which is open 7 days a week, except for Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Easter Sunday. It has a large open area selling plants and garden accessories and a large shop with a tea room. (When visiting, try to park at the garden centre, as parking in the area is expensive). Grasmere Garden Centre in Grasmere sells plants, garden accessories and has a bookshop while Oakhurst Garden Centre in Cockermouth concentrates mostly on plants. Both have tea rooms.
On the east side of Bassenthwaite Lake is historic Mirehouse, a family home, at the foot of Skiddaw. It has pleasant sheltered gardens and a peaceful walk beside Bassenthwaite lake. The house is open in the summer months, April to October but check website for dates and times. Visitors are welcomed and shown round by family members, sometimes accompanied by live classical music!
Levens Hall is an Elizabethan house near Kendal containing Jacobean furniture, plasterwork and panelling with its world famous topiary gardens, first laid out over 300 years ago.
Sizergh Castlehas a lovely garden holding the National collection of hardy ferns. It includes a limestone rock garden, a kitchen garden, a pond and views over a lake. Children can explore an outdoor trail. It is south of Kendal and is run by the National Trust.. The castle, which has been lived in by the Strickland family for over 760 years, can also be visited. It includes fine furniture, old portraits as well as modern photos. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holker Hall is in south of Cumbria and has lovely gardens and a Motor Museum. (See museums.)
Muncaster Castle is well worth a visit. The castle, about a mile from the mouth of the River Esk, has been the home of the Penningtons for over 800 years. It has an octagonal library, elegant dining room and a tapestry room said to be haunted. It is the headquarters of the World Owl Trust and has over 70 acres of plants and trees including rhododendron and Camellia collections.
At certain times the visitor can watch flying displays of kestrels and owls and the feeding of many wild herons.
See also Rydal Mount and Gardens
, (Homes of Famous Lakeland People).To Top
Homes of famous Lakeland people.
For those interested in the Lakeland poets, there is Wordsworth House, in Cockermouth, which was William Wordsworth's childhood home, and in Grasmere there is Dove Cottage, where he lived as an adult and produced his most important work. The new Wordsworth Museum and Art Gallery dedicated to his work and life has recently been opened near to the cottage. The collection has over 90% of Wordsworth's surviving manuscripts, a collection of rare books and art from numerous artists.
Near Ambleside there is Rydal Mount and Gardens, another of Wordsworth's homes. set in breathtaking scenery.
Brantwood, Coniston was the home of John Ruskin, artist, critic and social reformer for the last 28 years of his life The house still houses his paintings, furniture and personal treasures and offers an insight into his world. You can explore the gardens beautifully located by the lake.
Not far away is the Ruskin Museum
, which besides artefacts of its namesake has records of Donald Campbell speeding over Coniston Water in Bluebird. The boat in which he died, has been recovered from the lake and is in the process of being restored.
Hill Top, a 17th century farmhouse, near Sawrey is where Beatrix Potter wrote and illustrated many of her famous children's stories. It is now owned by the National Trust and has been kept exactly as she left it, complete with furniture, china and a traditional cottage garden.
Called 'Manor from Heaven' by Melvyn Bragg, the broadcaster, Mirehouse is a historic family home, at the foot of Skiddaw on the east side of Bassenthwaite Lake. It has pleasant sheltered gardens and a peaceful walk beside the lake. The house is open in the summer months, when family members look after visitors often accompanied by live piano music!
On the west coast, near Egremont, there is the Florence Mine Heritage Centre, which is the site of the last deep iron ore mine in the UK. Here there is a mining museum and you can take daily underground tours.
Instead of going down a mine, you can make an initial climb up to the Honister Slate Mine, before entering caverns deep inside Fleetwith Pike 2126' high. The caverns are the result of slate mining, which have recently been re-started. Specialist tours deep into the mountain side are available and can be booked online. The mine lies above the Honister pass between Buttermere and Seatoller.
Threlkeld Quarry & Mining Museum has the largest collection of working vintage excavators in Europe, a collection of narrow gauge railway locomotives and a display of minerals together with information on mining and quarrying in Cumbria. It is siuated to the south of Blencathra, just off the A66.To Top
Motor launch trips.
Motor launches ply both Derwent Water and Ullswater. Sometimes a group of The Penrith Ramblers include a launch trip on one of these lakes as part of their walk. Those on Derwent Water cruise between 7 landing stages, Keswick, Ashness Gate and Lodore,on the east side of the lake and High Brandelhow, Low Brandelhow, Hawes End and Nichol End on the west side. For further information contact Keswick on Derwentwater Launch Company Ltd. On Ullswater Ullswater Steamers have 3 boats and with favourable weather conditions, sail every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day between Pooley Bridge, Howtown and Glenridding. High water levels can put the landing piers around both lakes under water.
Coniston Launch provide an environmentally friendly solar electric passenger boat service to 7 jetties in Coniston Water. It operates 2 services - the Northern Service visiting Coniston and 3 other jetties in the north of the lake and the Southern Service visiting Coniston and 5 other jetties stretching to Lake Bank jetty in the south of the lake. Both sevices visit Brantwood jetty part of the 250 acre Brantwood estate. In winter only the Northern service operates.
Windermere Lake Cruises sail daily throughout the year between Ambleside, Bowness and Lakeside. Special cruises include Jazz/Buffet, Island, Christmas Lunch, Evening and Santa specials.You can charter any of their launches or 'Steamers' for private use, such as weddings or corporate entertaining.
A ferry service operates approximately every hour between Ferry Nab on the east side of Windermere and Ferry House on the west. The ferry is capable of taking 18 cars and 100 passengers. Ring Cumbria Highways on 01228 227653 for more information.
Sellafield Visitors Centre:
Only a few miles north of the River Esk on the west coast is the Sellafield Visitors Centre, situated on the BNFL ( British Nuclear Fuels Limited) site. The centre features 'hands -on' interactive scientific experiments, intriguing shows and technology displays. Admission is free.
Near Muncaster Castle is the 15 inch gauge Ravenglass and Eskdale steam railway, which runs 7 miles inland from Ravenglass to Dalegarth, a little short of Hard Knott Pass. Relying mainly on tourists, its small locomotives pull tiny coaches (some open top) from late March through to October. The oldest locomotive is the 'River Irt' dating from 1894.
The Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway is of normal gauge and so pulls full size passenger coaches through the Leven Valley. Connections can be made to Windermere Lake Cruises at Lakeside. (See also the Aquarium of the Lakes (Aquaria), which is also at Lakeside. To Top
Stone circles - North Lake District:
To the east of Keswick is Castlerigg Stone Circle, map reference NY293236, with its superb views, dating from about 3200 BC, the beginning of the later Neolithic Period and one of the oldest stone circles in Britain.
It has 38 stones roughly in a circle 30m diameter with 10 stones forming an inner rectangular enclosure, which is unique to Castlerigg. It is thought to have been used for religious and ceremonial purposes.
On Askham Fell, east of Ullswater is The Cockpit
, map reference NY483222. This consists of a ring of stones 3m wide formed in a circle with internal diameter 25m.
(See also Stone Circles
in Eden Valley).
Just a short walk from the terminus of Eskdale (or Dalegarth) Station on the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway, is Eskdale Mill. The original machinery is fully operational grinding oatmeal daily. You can see its two waterwheels being powered by Whillan Beck, which runs down from the Scafell range.
Three natural campsites recommended for adveture holidays are at Low Wray, Great Langdale and Wasdale. Go to National Trust Campsites for full terms and conditions.
In the south of Cumbria is the South Lakes Wild Animal Park, just north of Dalton in Furness, It is the largest zoo in the Lake District and particularly specialises in breeding programmes for threatened species including Andean Bears and tigers. Among other animals to be seen are giraffes, rhinos, apes, wallabies, kangaroos and penguins. It is well worth seeing a tiger get its meal by climbing to the top of a 20' tall post, all in the aid of building up its strength.
Are there red pandas and Siberian tigers still?
To the north of the Bassenthwaite Lake is Trotters World of Animals at Coalbeck Farm. It has otters, apes and monkeys, lynx, zebra and buffalo on view as well as flying displays of eagles and vultures.
View from Space.
In 2013, the Canadian astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield, a flight engineer on the International Space Station's Soyuz space craft, took hundreds of photographs of places on earth. Among them was a photograph of a fairly cloudless view of the Lake District, which is displayed here. The bright white areas are snow topped mountains and a few clouds. The dark areas are lakes and shadows of fells, which often fall on the lakes, obscuring their shape and making recognition rather difficult.
More general information on the Lake District.
- For photographs and information on towns, events, facilities etc. go to the Lake District National Park Authority
- For accomodation, where to eat, places to visit, things to see or do, go to Cumbrian Tourism.
- For Cumbrian culture/musicfestivals go to Cumbrian Tourism Culture Guide.
- For further photographs go to the Visit Cumbria website.