For our Easter trip out this year we decided that we’d head up to the Lake District, enjoy the clean air, great beer and obviously some fantastic walking. Heading out of Corby Glen we decided that we would take the scenic route through Ilkley, past Skipton, along the edge of the Dales before crossing the M6 and coming into Coniston from the south. Our campsite for the whole five days was Pier Cottage, with our pitch just 10m from the edge of Coniston Water. Pier Cottage is where Sir Malcolm Campbell based himself when he tried to break the world water speed record. Across the Water we spotted some wooden carvings. These turned out to be a scene from Swallows and Amazons, craved using a chainsaw.
Once we’d pitched, we wandered in to Coniston for a nose around and took the opportunity to have bite to eat at the Yewdale Inn – good beer and food.
Our plan was to have one ‘challenging walk’ with a few other walks to get us used to the landscape and terrain.
For our first walk we decided to take the comparatively short walk up Holme Fell, a Wainwright for those interested. Starting off on a lane, then some tracks, picking up a path through some woods before then heading off left uphill to finally get within range of Holme Fell. As you crest the rise of the footpath Holme Fell appears in font of you, but which path to take, left or right? In the mist Holme Fell looked a 100yds away, but it still took us over 10 minutes to get to the base. With a bit of scrambling I reached the top, Sal had decided that in this instance scrambling wasn’t for her. A bit more scrambling and Sal and I had lunch at the small rise just across from Holme Fell. From there across Uskdale Gap and follow the ridge back to where we started. A short 4 mile walk (https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/1997671/Holme-Fell) but with 1,400 feet of climbing, far different to what we’re used to in Lincolnshire!
Other than beer the only suitable drink after a good walk is a cup of tea, duly provided by the Herdwick Cafe in Coniston, very refreshing.
The walk on Holme Fell the day before had been shrouded in mist, but we woke to find that sun was out. We headed off for Tarn Hows, a National Trust property that was bequeathed to them by Beatrix Potter. In essence it’s a walk across fields and through woodland up to Tarn Hows, around the tarn and then back through further woodland ending up at Monk Coniston. Twice the distance of the day before with a little more climbing. The highlight of the day for me was where we stopped for lunch, a bench on the eastern side of Tarn Hows. The sky was clear and we had great views over to Wetherlam and Coniston Old Man. For me one of the best landscape views to have when eating your sarnies!
Once we’d arrived back at Betty and unpacked, we walked into Coniston for a beer and to find some food for our first BBQ of the year. The Bluebird Bitter (XB Premium) went down very well indeed.
You can’t go to the Lake District and not expect it to rain. Before we went to bed the night it started raining, continued through the night and was still going when we woke up. Not to worry, time to go and explore Ambleside. When we got back we took a quick boat trip around the northern end of Coniston Water.
Our last full day was where we would find out whether or not we had got used to the more challenging terrain than our usual Lincolnshire variety! The idea was to climb Coniston Old Man, and then decide which way down, either to return the same way as we went up, to descend via Goat’s Tarn or continue along Dow Crag. The route up was to be the so called Tourist Route, and once you get going on it you can see why, as there are lots and lots of small groups spaced at ~10m intervals all the way from just north of The Bell right to the top! This was a walk far bigger than we’d ever done together, and for me one that I hadn’t done for more than 35 years. Our elapsed time to walk from the campsite including a planned rest at Low Water (that has a deep blue hue due to the copper in the area) was over 2 1/2 hours. Towards the top there’s a lot of scrambling and due to the shape of the mountain you can’t see the top until 20m from the summit – Sal’s first proper mountain. It was a great feeling to stroll those last few meters to the cairn at the top. After the obligatory photos, we found a place to sit and eat lunch. From there we headed down to Goat’s Hawse and decided to turn left down to Goat’s Tarn as the mist had come in over Dow Crag, therefore the wonderful views that we would have enjoyed would not be possible. From Goat’s Tarn we continued along the path to Walna Scar Road. At the end of this drover’s track we came across a car park with a path leading off to Coniston Old Man, no wonder there were so many people heading up from Low Water when you can start 25% of the way up!
A quick beer in the Sun Inn (Premium XB again), showered and then we headed off to the Steam Bistro for a really good meal. Finally to bed and we didn’t take too much rocking!!
A great few days in the Lake District and we will definitely be returning.