What better entrance to 2019 than the crisp bright winter sunshine we woke up to on 1st January in this beautiful place we call home… Cumbria and the Lake District.
Trying to ignore the empty bottles of red wine on the kitchen side, myself and family were up and out on New Year’s Day to take in the beauty of Cockermouth’s natural surroundings and everything that lies within a 10-15 minutes’ drive.
The Western Lakes really are an unspoilt delight. Away from the bustle that Central and Southern Lakes sometimes bring in peak season, the empty roads along the glass-like Bassenthwaite Lake run up and over the Whinlatter Pass (through England’s only true mountain forest, with views that are particularly spectacular across to Skiddaw now that the dead tree and scrub clearing has completed) and into the Lorton Valley, with Grasmoor, Melbreak and Rannerdale towering above the Crummock waters.
Our main destination that day was my favourite Lakeland place, Buttermere. There are so many places in the Lake District that you could call your ‘favourite’ for various reasons, but for me Buttermere ticks all the boxes.
Buttermere provides some of the best walks, whether that’s a quick stroll to the water’s edge on the circular lake walk, or a challenging hike up Rannerdale Knotts, Haystacks or a selection of other peaks. All these options provide backdrops of breath-taking sights. It really is no surprise that Wainwright’s favourite location and walk was Haystacks – ‘This is in fact the best fell top of all’ – and that’s after writing about 214 of them!
My own personal favourite Buttermere walk is a tough call between the heights of Haystacks, with its descent down Fleetwith Pike, and the simple but wonderful circular lake walk… in the end I’ve plumped for the circular; after all it’s accessible to everyone.
The circuit of the lake really is very beautiful and understandably popular. My advice is to get up at the very crack of dawn for this walk to witness stunning views of the low sun on the water. Head to the Bridge Hotel, where you’ll find a National Park car park alongside the Fish Inn. From there you can’t miss the walkway path down to the lake. You’ll have nothing but nature to contend with as the sun rises over the skyline of Littledale Edge and Dale Head, so take your time, enjoy the peace and quiet and watch out for elusive otters on the banks of the water. You might even spot a few red squirrels and deer in the woods, or a fox or badger making their way home from a night out. The circular path is an undulating 4 miles in distance and takes around 2 hours to complete (depending how many times you stop to enjoy the views!)
A special mention also goes to the gem of a town that is Cockermouth and the few coffee shops that opened their doors for a New Year’s Day hot drink. It’s a great town with so much to offer in terms of food, drink and local retailers. A must visit!
The closing remarks are perhaps best left to Alfred Wainwright himself… ‘Good walking! And don’t forget – watch where you are putting your feet’.
Nicky Gordon, Managing Director