20081021-36_Langdale Pikes from near Skelwith Force(byJS)

20081021-36_Langdale Pikes from near Skelwith Force (byJS)

The Langdale Pikes from near Skelwith Force.

The path used to head straight across the field in the foreground here, and was very often wet and semi-flooded, so after all the recent rain I was half expecting to do a bit of paddling …. I needn’t have worried as a made up path has now been constructed swinging off to the left and then in a big sweep closely following the banks of the River Brathay …. a huge improvement I must say …. and probably gives much better access to many more people of differing walking abilities. 

The following is a paragrapgh from my Elterwater Circular Walk diary (post-2) … Stickle Ghyll can just about been seen just to the right of centre in the pic just above the trees.

A glimpse of Stickle Ghyll waterfalls descending from the pikes, reminded me of the first “proper” lake-land walk I did with my Dad in the late 1970’s during a family holiday; the “tourist route” climb to Stickle Tarn from Great Langdale and back again; little more than a couple of miles, but a good climb on a hot summer’s day. Little did I know where that first walk would lead … not really to a single view point or a cool tarn to paddle in (though both superb here), but rather to a life-long love of walking, high fells and mountains (especially The Lakes), moors and dales and more views and experiences than you could shake a stick at (a walking stick that is!!!).

For the full walks diary click the links :-



Bye for now, G.

What’s next ?

Currently I’m doing the time consuming uploadisation of photos to flickr for the 2nd post of my Elterwater Circular walk … I’m about to start posting the pic’s into the diary post.

If the anticipation is just too much and you really can’t wait to see my pic’s you could go see them on my photstream on flickr hosting site :


 Also, I’ve started to draught the next walks diary post … from Christmas just gone … Cawston, Thuraston, Draycott Water, Toft (and the Alpacas), Dunchurch Circular Walk.

Cheers, Gary.

20081021_A Drive from Grasmere to Elterwater [+ A little moan at the YHA]

20081021_A Drive from Grasmere to Elterwater [+ A little moan at the YHA]
When : 21st October 2008
Who : Me and Sister Janet
Where : Lake District, Cumbria, England
Maps : 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure Map no.7, The English Lakes – South East
Parking : Car Parks at both ends in Grasmere and Elterwater in the village.
After our wander around Grasmere (in the rain), we headed back to the youth hostel, picked up the car [no, not literally, it’s a bit too heavy … sorry, bad joke] … and started off towards Elterwater for our third and last walk of our short break.

The drive took us on Red bank Road, out of Grasmere village, following exactly the route we’d walked on the first day of our break.We soon reached the point where our earlier walk had left the road to drop down to the lake, and we continued onwards up the steepening gradient to rise up and over the saddle between Loughrigg Fell and Dow Bank.


Red Bank Road is an interesting little road, quite steep in places, high stone walls, woods and lots of twists and turns with blind bends … oh and some half decent views, if you’re a passenger. The still falling rain and soggy leaves strewn over the road in places made for some slippery surfaces, but Janet negotiated the route admirably.

Shortly after its highest point, the road passes “Langdale” Youth Hostel … Well that’s what the YHA sell it as now, but I’ll always know it as “High Close” Hostel, and herein lies my little moan at the what I assume to be the marketing people at the YHA.

I think it’s a bit of a shame that the powers that be deem it necessary to change the name of some of the hostels, in this case from High Close to Langdale. To me it takes away some of the tradition of the past, especially if you’ve “discovered” a hostel for yourself. Somehow, from that point of discovery, the name, place and feel of the hostel are inextricably linked – for ever, and a name change sort of diminishes those links. Perhaps I’m being daft, but hey maybe I’m not the only one that feels our heritage is being attacked in a subtle, almost insidious sort of way.

Also, in a more practical way, I don’t think the name “Langdale” for “High Close” Youth Hostel is overly accurate either. I know it’s on the fringe of the Great Langdale Valley, but to me if you say Langdale, I think of the Langdale Pikes, Dungeon Ghyll, and the like, and they’re easily 3 miles or more away. The image I get, and I’m sure to many others, is that a Langdale Hostel should be somewhere between Chapel Stile and The Old Hotel where the Mickleden and Oxendale valleys combine, not high on the fell side nearer to Grasmere Lake and Loughrigg Fell.

The YHA management did the same when they changed the name of “Longthwaite” Hostel to “Borrowdale”. At least this was a more accurate change than the “Langdale” renaming, as Longthwaite is undoubtedly in the Borrowdale Valley … But I liked the name Longthwaite (it is the name of the hamlet where it is after all) … when you talk to people about where you’ve stayed, it feels like you have a more intimate knowledge of the country … it really does seem that the marketing people just can’t leave things alone.

One change I’m pleased they have rescinded though; A few years ago they changed Grasmere Butharlyp Howe to Butterlip and I was told by hostel staff that this was because some people couldn’t spell Butharlyp. This really grated on my sensibilities as it seemed to be a dumbing down of our language. I’m sorry but The Lakes and the north of England is full of strange sounding and even stranger spelt name-places. We ought to be celebrating our diverse and rich language. Still, I see the change has been reversed and Grasmere has got it’s Butharlyp Howe back again.

Rant over … after passing High Close, sorry, Langdale Hostel, the road emerges from the wooded surroundings onto an open but relatively low-level fell side (with super views down to Elterwater village) and it winds its way downwards under Huntingstile Crag to Waithwaite Bottom and the B5343, where there’s a free car-park.

The day picked up from this point, as the rain stopped, the sun came out and blue skies appeared over-head … wonderful.

Some YHA hostel links …. despite my little moany rant they’re great places to get into some simply brill places :



The day continues on my next post :-  https://tothehills.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/20081020_elterwater-little-langdale-colwith-force-%e2%80%93-skelwith-force-circular-walk-%e2%80%93-post-1/

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….


20081021_A wander around Grasmere in the Rain

20081021_A wander around Grasmere in the Rain
When : 21st October 2008
Who : Me and Sister Janet
Where : Lake District, Cumbria, England
Maps : 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure Map no.7, The English Lakes – South East
Parking : Car Parks in the village.
Public Transport : Yes, Grasmere is on a main Bus route through the Lake District.

Summary : What to do, waiting for the rain to clear.

We awoke to horrible conditions – Again – Wind, rain and a little hail mixed in, dark and gloomy … Yuk!

Yes, I know; it was near the end of October in the great English Lake District, what else could we have expected! Well, it would have been nice to wake up to some blue sky, it has been known on occasion.


The forecast had said an improvement was on its way, so we got ready for our planned Elterwater walk and ate another excellent and hearty breakfast in the hostel restaurant. However, the weather was still absolutely horrid when we checked out leading us to half-think about calling it a day and a drive straight home.


Instead, we elected to give it a bit of extra time for it to cheer up and decided to have a wander down to Grasmere village; primarily to honour a promise to take some “Grasmere Gingerbread” home to my good lady wife … she’d put in a special request as we left home a couple of days earlier.


The Gingerbread from the world famous “Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread Shop” is absolutely delicious and like nothing else I’ve seen or tasted anywhere else. I thoroughly recommend it. The tiny shop is positioned in a corner, on a bend in the road, next to St. Oswald’s Churchyard, where William Wordsworth is buried. In the summer when hundreds of tourists throng the village the queues can stretch some distance. Although in the rain, shortly after their 9:15 opening time we were the only ones there.


Apparently, there’s been a dispute in the village (about the use of Grasmere Gingerbread as a trade mark) between different outlets and recipes. It’s resulted in a restaurateur ending his own life. It was reported in the Daily Mail last month [17th Jan’ 2009] … which even if you try to cut through newspaper reporting style, makes for a very sad story and a poor commentary on 21st century business life.


Whist in the village we also did a bit of browsing around some of the outdoor equipment shops, which is of course obligatory for any self-respecting walker.

It’s virtually impossible to walk past every gear shop without invisible forces pulling you in.

I very nearly bought a new winter hat, but in the end managed to resist spending any money (tight-wad you might say) which is so easy in these places.

Next stop was a wander around the Heaton Cooper Studio (Art Gallery), positioned just opposite the green in the village centre. The Heaton Coopers are very well known and respected for their Lake-land paintings. The gallery doesn’t really seem to have changed for decades now … still it always draws me in, and they must have found a winning formula. Its position in the village centre must help, but the paintings [and prints] are superb.




I was reluctant to enter one of the other shops we passed, as it just looked like a touristy trinket shop, of little interest to me, so I headed into the CO-OP just down the street as I needed some batteries for my camera. On returning to find my sister, she’d disappeared inside the shop. She’d seen a few jig-saw puzzles in the window, and as she enjoys making them, she headed in the see what they had in-store.

Well, there weren’t just a few, there were loads and the stairs to the upper floor promised more. Once up the steps we were amazed … Hundreds of boxes certainly, thousands maybe, of all shapes, sizes and styles covering a plethora of subjects. They were literally piled high, one on top of the other, from floor to almost ceiling. So many, they formed their own narrow passageways between them, a real treasure trove. Janet decided she’d like a mid-sized jig-saw with a horsey subject, and after a good old peruse and a struggle to get a box or two from the middle of the piles, she settled on a puzzle and we descended the stairs to make the purchase. Amazing what you come across when you least expect it. Turns out from their web-site, they claim to have the largest selection in the country, and I have no reason to doubt it after being in their emporium.

During our wander around, the rain did seem to ease a little and we thought we’d glimpsed a touch of brightness in the distance … or was it just wishful thinking? …

Anyway, despite there being much more to see (More shops; art gallery’s; quaint corners; tea shops; the garden centre, St. Oswald’s Church; The Wordsworth family graves; and farther out, Dove Cottage, plus several Pubs and Restaurants, etc.,), we decided to head back to the car and set off for our walk, even though it was still raining ! After-all, that’s what we were there for … and we aren’t made of sugar, so we weren’t going to melt!



Because of the horrible condition, I didn’t take any pic’s (except for one of the Youth Hostel), which kind of made it a tad difficult to illustrate my blog … so using the power of the world wide inter-web, and in particular the Flickr site http://www.flickr.com/explore/ , I found some pic’s in Coodge’s photo-stream http://www.flickr.com/photos/coodge/sets/72157607156747101/, and he’s kindly allowed me to “borrow” some images (12 in all). Coodge’s pics were taken Aug/Sept. a couple of months earlier than my visit and as such the vegetation seen is a little greener and less autumnal than my visit, but give an accurate representation of the predominantly slate built village and I think they fit fairly well with my words …. Thank-you Coodge, much appreciated.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….


Next walk = https://tothehills.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/20081020_elterwater-little-langdale-colwith-force-%e2%80%93-skelwith-force-circular-walk-%e2%80%93-post-1/


20081021_Elterwater – Little Langdale – Colwith Force – Skelwith Force Circular Walk – Post-1

20081021_Elterwater – Little Langdale – Colwith Force – Skelwith Force Circular Walk – Post-1
When :
21st October 2008
Who : Me and my sister Janet
Where : Lake District, Cumbria, England
Maps : 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure Map no.7, The English Lakes – South East
Start + End Point : 329,050
Approx Distance : 6 miles, 9.5 km
Heights : 875 ft (about 270m) up and down
Parking : Free at Waithwaite Bottom on B5343 a little way outside Elterwater Village [Other parking in Elterwater Village].
Public Transport : Yes, Elterwater is serviced by Bus, possibly a limited service

Summary : Waithwaite Bottom Car Park ; Elterwater (The Village) ; Little Langdale ; Slater Bridge ; Colwith Force ; Skelwith Bridge ; Skelwith Force ; River Brathay ; Elter Water (The Lake) ; Return to Elterwater (Village) and Waithwaite Bottom.

As we drove down to the car park at Waithwaite Bottom, all of a sudden the weather brightened up, with the claggy rain being pushed rapidly away with cold bright mostly sunny conditions coming in. It’s almost as if the Gods had decided to smile down on us, just for a change … and it made the time spent in the rain around Grasmere (hoping for it to clear up) all the more worthwhile.

Having said that, I couldn’t bring myself to trust the remaining clouds and I donned waterproof over-trousers and coat. It had certainly dropped several degrees in temperature, but I’ve always enjoyed walking in cold, crisp, clear air and I was really looking forward to doing this walk again. I’ve done this walk several times now, in various guises and really like the area. This is a low level walk with loads of interest throughout.

We set off with a little road walking, having immediately crossed the B5343 as we left the car park, and soon reached the charming village of Elterwater. This is a lovely place with traditional houses scattered almost haphazardly.

There’s a super pub (The Britannia Inn) positioned behind the little village green very close to a public car park. The village also has its own Youth Hostel, intuitively named Elterwater Youth Hostel within easy staggering distance of the pub! I’ve stayed in both the Pub and Hostel in the past and would certainly do so again. Maybe not as picturesque but very useful to know, there’s a public loo block in the village too.




Our route took us past the Pub, the loo’s, and after crossing the bridge over the river (Great Langdale Beck) we also passed the Youth Hostel and headed south on the road as it climbed away from the village.

After a few hundred yards (or meters if you prefer) we branched right onto a walled rough lane which climbs quite steadily up into some woods. Although not difficult walking the gradient certainly made us work a bit more and started to raise a sweat.

This is a super track with views off to the left, woods to the right. A tantalising glimpse of Elter Water (The lake) can just about be made out away in the valley left behind, teasing us with a promise of what wouldn’t be seen again until later in the afternoon.

I especially like the moss and lichens on the walls on both sides of us, almost a landscape in their own right.

As we climbed, a robin kept flitting just ahead of us, perching on the wall top, tree twigs, some barbed wire, etc., but he wouldn’t stay still long enough for his image to be captured on camera … it was almost like he was toying with us. Still robins always seem such happy little beings, and this seemed to match our mood also.

It had stayed dry since we’d left the car (almost half-an-hour since), and with only blue skies above, I decided to remove my waterproofs, aided by the fact I was getting quite warm after the rise up the lane. Janet decided to match my actions and we neatly packed our outer layers in our sacks. Within minutes of restarting up to the crest of the lane, a wintry squall promptly blew in, apparently from no-where. It wasn’t quite hail, but the rain was stingingly cold, so the waterproofs went straight back on again …. What a pain!!!

The lane now emerged from the wooded area as it leveled out (underneath Howe Banks, part of the lower slopes of Lingmoor Fell) to give a much more open aspect ahead. I liked the change in feel from being slightly enclosed by the overhanging trees, to the airiness ahead. The route leaves the Elterwater/Great Langdale valley behind here as the lane crests over into Little Langdale with super views to the south opening up to Wetherlam and Tilberthwaite Fells. There’s some super walking in those areas, but today we were content just to view from a distance. It was nice seeing the tops of the mountains which had been clouded-in for the previous two days.

As we left the wooded area, we stayed on the lane, ignoring the footpath branching off on the left, and continued ahead having to avoid some pretty large puddles as we dropped steadily past Dale End to reach the minor road running through Little Langdale. The views eastwards here are superb, looking at a large sweep of fells on both sides rising up to the Wrynose Pass and perfectly framing Little Langdale Tarn nearer to us.

The road can be quite busy as it winds its way up to Wrynose Pass and beyond to the Duddon Valley and the even more incredible Hardknott pass. The drive over both of these passes is quite fantastic, an exhilarating, stunning, even daunting road (1:3 gradient in places) and is justifiably famous, one I love, although I haven’t been over that way for some years now. If you don’t fancy the full climb over Wrynose; not far past Little Langdale Tarn is another road (Side Gates) that climbs up to pass Blea Tarn and then drops down into Great Langdale… a super little road.

Anyway, I’ve digressed a bit, as our route took us straight over the road to pick up a footpath alongside a wall where the grassy fields dropped gently towards the tarn. My OS. map shows no footpath down to the tarn, which is a pity because I’m sure the surrounding fells would make for some fantastic reflections in the waters. Instead the path continues in a generally southerly direction to drop down to meet the River Brathay soon after it flows out of the tarn. The tarn itself is not actually visible here due to a sweep in the river around a little area of slightly raised land with a stand of trees atop of it, blocking the view to the east. However, this doesn’t really matter as the focus is naturally drawn to a small but perfectly charming footbridge over the river … Slater Bridge.


The first span is a classic clapper bridge construction, a number of large flat stone slabs crossing to a rocky island in the river.

The onward span to the opposite bank is a shallow arch of stones, wedged together with bits of vegetation growing between the cracks.

The arch is so shallow it’s a wonder it can support itself let alone anybody crossing it. A lovely spot.

I think this is where cag’s were again taken off and packed away and after a good number of photo’s taken we headed off again, the path soon reaching another lane where we turned left to follow it eastwards, more or less running parallel to the river a little distance away. It’s really straightforward easy walking on the tarmac’d roadway. I don’t normally like walking on metalled roads, but this is so quiet and the views around are so good it really doesn’t matter here.

After a short while the road bends right into the corner of Moss Rigg Wood and then bends again to the left leaving the woods to pass Stang End.

Another couple of short sharp squalls and cag’s going on/off again during the morning led me to a decision … they were to stay on for the rest of the day … so ensuring no more rain was seen for the rest of the day … Typical ! 

As we progressed along the lane, the views northwards were lovely, the closer hill sides dotted with farms and homes such as Wilson Place, Greenbank, Iving Howe and Low Hacket, etc., giving a quite homely and settled feel to the valley, a complete contrast to the wilds of Far Easedale the day before. In the distance the high fells showed a dusting of white, where the wintry showers had left a sprinkling of snow over the tops, in particular up to Fairfield in the far distance.

After not too long, with the track skirting around the base of a craggy hill (Great How) we reached High Park, where we branched off the lane, picking up a bridle track on the left. Soon after entering some woods we took the permissive path option to the left, allowing the bridle track to go on ahead, whilst we dropped on a narrow path through the wooded hillside.

We soon rejoined the River Brathay, not seen at close quarters for some time now, at a bend in the stream … and soon after reached the next major highlight of the walk … Colwith Force Waterfall.



Colwith Force is where the Brathay drops impressively down a step in the terrain, and was a thundering torrent after the recent heavy rain. In fact the rain of this morning around Grasmere seemed an age ago, such had been the improvement during the day.

Because of the way the river bends and drops quickly within the surrounding trees, it wasn’t easy to get a close view; especially with the pathways strewn with wet leaves and exposed and extremely slippery tree roots. However, this didn’t stop us carefully doing a little exploring and we were rewarded with some brightness penetrating the branches to light up the roaring cascades.

Continued on Post-2