Home: The Lake District, Cumbria

“Autumn has been slowly creeping up to the fells and the last day of the best summer for years will soon be only a memory. Perhaps it came the other day when I was wandering alone over Gable and the Borrowdale fells – a day of sultry heat and hazy blue distances, of lazy farm dogs sleeping in the shade and smoke from cottage chimneys spiralling slowly above the birches –– A Harry Griffin

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” –– Alfred Wainwright

*

“Catbells is one of the great favourites [of The Lake District], a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved,” writes Lake District fellwalker Alfred Wainwright in his guide to the north western fells from the iconic pictorial series that gave him fame (see image below).

“Its popularity is well deserved: its shapely topknot attracts the eye, offering a steep but obviously simple scramble to the small summit; it’s slopes are smooth. Sunny and sleek; its position overlooking Derwent Water is superb.”

My grandmother first visited The Lake District when she was in her early twenties, her love affair with the place starting at Derwent Water. She had taken up a summer job at Derwent Water Hotel where she put into practice skills she’d learnt completing a hospitality qualification in night school alongside her telephonist job. Soon married and starting a family in south west Cornwall, The Lakes became a fond memory until a chance encounter with two books written by fellwalker and Lake District native Harry Griffin chanced upon in the local library reawakened Grandma’s passion for the place.

“I always heard his words in my head as I walked the fells,” she tells us. “I still do when I’m here.”

Once the children (my mother and her sisters) were old enough, Grandma would visit the place one or two times a year for the rest of her life, for the first few decades with my grandfather and, later on, on her own. She would tackle in supreme solitude long jaunts over fells and adventures around majestic lakes, relying more and more frequently on the trusty local bus service and minibus tours to reach the peaks into old age.

Shadows do spectacular things in these mountains, I learn. The light dances and the water expands across space in a unique way, protected by smooth rolling hills and overlooked by stern crags.

Catbells is among the trusty favourites I have heard about all my life through Grandma’s tales of The Lake District and I recently meet the mountain, almost like family now, as I accompany Grandma – now 85 years old – and my aunt on a trip to Cumbria.

Shadows do spectacular things in these mountains, I learn. The light dances and the water expands across space in a unique way, protected by smooth rolling hills and overlooked by stern crags. The weather is temperamental, the sun an aloof but loving friend.

With its craggy peaks juxtaposing with chocolate box villages and majestic millpond lakes, it’s easy to see why The Lake District has claimed so many hearts.

We base ourselves in Ambleside, and visit Derwent Water, Borrowdale, Grasmere and Keswick among other places in our four-day stay. We watch the Steam Yacht Gondola, a rebuilt Victorian steam-powered passenger boat, chug along Coniston Water, and we brave the wind for the views at Honister Slate Mine. We marvel at the skill of well-trained collies herding jittery sheep into tight corrals. We amble round bookshops and craft emporiums, and enjoy rustic lunches in traditional pubs. We meet shy Herdwick sheep with friendly faces, and we hear Grandma’s stories of years dedicated to The Lakes and listen in amazement while she names every fell; every valley and body of water.

With its craggy peaks juxtaposing with chocolate box villages and majestic millpond lakes, it’s easy to see why The Lake District has claimed so many hearts.

Find out more ☞ www.lakedistrict.gov.uk 

–– Rosie PentreathSeptember 2018.

000036000035000034000033000031000030000029000027000026000025000023000022000020000019000018000016000015000012000011000010000009000001000008

SOUNDTRACK TO THIS POST: ‘LET ME IN’ BY MARIKA HACKMAN

Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s