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 :
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….