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For those who want to get an idea of the damage Desmond did on the road alongside Thirlmere, then this should give an idea...

Matt - fantastic read indeed.

As as you say we just do not realise what is on our doorstep and when you actually look the facilities, routes, natural climate and natural lakes/structures are some of the best around. We (and I am guilty of this also) are far too quick to reach for the internet and head off on a plane. I suppose on the issue is because of the unpredictability of the weather which can affect things.

  • Edited by MCole 2017-03-22 20:45:54
Beautiful area.

In my 20's a group of us would travel across to the lakes most weekends on motorbikes to go camping & fell walking. I ended up working in Glenridding for a while in an outward bound school. Fond memories.

Thanks Matt 👍
Took me right back too - I spent my final placement as a postgrad student working at Castlerigg Manor, residential youth centre, a stone's throw from the stone circle. But it wasn't until I got to the end that I realised you were talking about a day trip rather than an itinerary for a week long tour :-) Seriously, at the very least it would make a great basis for a long weekend because it would enble you to make sidetrips up some of the dead end dales that are spectacular.

For example, if starting in Keswick, it's well worth allowing yourself time in Grasmere on the way south to Ambleside to not only visit Dove Cottage but also sample the famed gingerbread and if the weather is clement take the stroll up to Easedale tarn. It's very flat but gives you great views of the fells. And aim to arrive in Ambleside in time to visit the site of the Roman fort on the shores of Windermere - there isn't that much to see above ground but it gives you a fantastic iconic view down the lake and to take a steamer trip which will give you a whole different view of the fells compared to just driving down the road at the side.

And then next day, include a visit to Hawkshead and Sawrey to see Beatrix Potter's house and take in the classic view of Tarn Howes before you head to Great and Little Langdale, taking morning coffee and the Britannia in Elterwater and dropping in at the Dungeon Ghyll Hotel for a spot of lunch - known as the 'Old' hotel to generations of climbers to distinguish it from the New Hotel nearly next door! If you've got suitable footwear, taking the steep, short walk up beside up Stickle Gyhll will reward you with fantastic views of Dungeon Ghyll force and the Langdale Horseshoe of fells, especially if you manage it as far as Stickle tarn. Coniston itself would be a good place to stay for your 2nd night and whilst there you could take in a visit to Ruskin's house, Brantwood, on the shore of Coniston Water or visit the Ruskin Museum which also has exhibits about Donald Campbell.

The following day, taking the time to drive up Wasdale, a dead end dale for drivers, will take you past the deepest lake in the district with plenty of viewpoints to take in the dramatic sight of the Screes slopes on the other side of the lake which extend as far under water as they do above, as well as the iconic and dramatic cone-shaped Great Gable. At the end of the dale is the Wasdale Hotel which is another key hostelry in the history of rock climbing in England. And as you will have braved both Wrynose and Hard Knott passes to get there, it would make another great place to stop for the night. If you have done that then you will have the time the following day to drive up Ennerdale (another dead end dale) which will take you into one of the most isolated dales that is gradually regaining it's old character as the acres of Forestry Commission conifers are being felled and and the open vistas recreated. At the end of the dale is my favourite Youth Hostel, Black Sail which is an old Shepherds bothy and one of the few in England that is only accessible on foot. From Blacksail it is only a relatively short distance up towards Windy Gap which is a natural crossing place of the ridge which divides the head of Ennerdale from both the head Borrowdale as well as the head of Wasdale. Using that route, a walker leaving the Wasdale Hotel will have got to Ennerdale quicker than it's taken you to drive it!

Driving back down the dale to Ennerdale Bridge will take you back onto Matt's route for Buttermere and Crummock Water and over Honister Pass to enter Borrowdale but before heading back north up to Keswick alongside Derwentwater take the time to explore the head of Borrowdale and visit the wettest place in England - Seathwaite Farm! From here, and especially after heavy rain, it is worth thinking about taking the short sharp path bside Taylor Ghyll force up to Styhead tarn. This is something of a mountain crossroads and will give you good views towards Scafell and Scafell Pike as well as Great End and even Great Gable. But if you don't feel up to that head back to Keswick taking the detour up to the hamlet of Watendlath (which is one of the settings for the Rogue Herries novels) via Ashness bridge. Again, you'll be rewarded with fantastic views of Derwentwater fron a higher viewpoint.

And if your route home takes you from Keswick east towards the M6 then think about on the way, turning right down to Patterdale that Glynis mentions above and taking in Aira force and perhaps the steamer down Ullswater past the place that inspired Wordsworth to write about the daffodils growing in the woods on the western shore of the lake. And there would still be so much left to see on a return trip :-)
I'd have been here all week if I was trying to do more than a day drive...

Your post drives home the point though about just how much there is to do on our own doorstep - particularly in somewhere like the Lake District where there is something to do at every turn.
Excellent article, I remember parking the car at the roadside and walking on a torrential rain soaked day over the field to see the stones in a field at Castlerigg, I think the a bit of their beauty was lost on me that day :-o
Yes indeed, car parked on the right hand side of the road where there was an intrepid ice cream seller trying to flog his wares on a miserable day, mind you a coach tour were still buying them, personally by that point I would have preferred a mug of tea and a hot water bottle.

We have enjoyed a few holiday in the Lake District, I enjoyed the Windermere Air Show which I don't think is held any more.
Correct Kiltman - there was a change of organiser a few years back and then arguments about it how it was run which resulted in it being cancelled.

Shame really as used to go when I was younger...
Great article. Fantastic research.
Local knowledge Fiona...
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