Friday, May 3, 2013

Lake District - Day 5

Woke up to a fair amount of cloud, but by the time I left the weather was starting to look promising and boding well for the rest of the day.

I started with a drive over the Honister Pass that would take me to the southern end of Buttermere. At 1,167 feet it is one of the highest and steepest in the region. Passing the Honister slate mine and YHA situated at the top, I made my way down the other side, stopping for a while to wait with my camera for the sun to creep downwards over the precipitous valley walls, crags and boulders that are strewn about the valley floor. 

It took a while, but the sun started to creep across the fells in the end
It was fairly early in the morning so traffic was few and far between and the place was beautifully quiet, it really is an atmospheric place.

Arrived at Buttermere with the sun now shining brightly, but just as importantly, there were some marvellous looking candyfloss clouds patrolling the skies as well. So I took full advantage of the gentle weather to get some shots of the land and sky reflected in the placid lake below. 

Looking towards the southern end of the lake
A closer shot of the ash trees that line the northern shore 
On a side note, let me tell you about the two possible origins for the name "Buttermere":

Here now, gather round.

One, that Buttermere means "the lake by the dairy pastures" (from the Old English "butere mere")

Two, that it derives from the Old Norse personal name "Buthar", as in "Buthar's mere" (lake). This accords with local tradition which says that the valley of Buttermere was part of the holdings of an 11th century Norse chieftain called "Buthar". Large numbers of Vikings settled in Cumbria during the 9th and 10th centuries and many names in the area are of Norse origin; streams are termed becks, from the Old Norse bekkr, mountains are 'fells' from the Norse fjall, waterfalls forces "fos", ravines 'gills', valleys "dales" and small lakes are termed tarns which derives from tjorn, meaning teardrop.

Now armed with that knowledge you will feel safely at home in both the Lake District and Scandinavia. You’re welcome. 

This lovely stand of pines is always a winner
Here they are again with a big blotch of sunlight illuminating part of the fell behind 
Looking towards the northern end of the lake onto Loweswater Fell, probably
A view of Burtness Wood along the western shore, reflected in the calm water
Pine trees and their accompanying reflection 
Reeds growing in the shallow water
A striking reflection of the various trees along the shore
After spending a rather long time in these most beautiful of surrounds I felt it was time for luncheon, so I got in the car and headed the short distance to Crummock Water. Buttermere and Crummock used to be as one until the ‘super lake’ silted up in its centre at some time in the past and created these two separate bodies.

Crummock is often overshadowed by its attractive neighbour and ignored by tourists, and I can see why, it’s bloody hideous.

No of course it isn’t, it’s perfectly presentable in every way. The lake is fed by the highest waterfall in the Lake District, ‘Scale Force’ that drops over 170 feet and is well worth a visit for the views at any time of year. The thing I like most about the lake is not really anything to do with the lake at all. It’s the fabulous old dry stone wall that separates it from the road along its eastern shore, it’s worth visiting it just for that.

I stopped in a parking bay overlooking the rather majestic view to have the sandwiches I’d made earlier, cheese and ham. You cannot go wrong with a cheese and ham sandwich, well, you’d have to do something alarmingly deranged to go wrong with a cheese and ham sandwich, and who in their right mind would want to imperil a cheese and ham sandwich?

No, that’s not the way any of us want to live our lives.

I did in fact improve upon said sandwich. Yes, I can hear your gasps at the audacity of such a claim, and you may well be thinking I have completely lost my mind, but let me put your doubts about my mental veracity to rest. Allow me to present a bag of cheese and onion crisps, now please also allow me to insert those very same crisps right into the body of the sandwich, nestling above the slabs of mature cheddar cheese and honest slices of smoked British ham.

See, I told you so. Improved beyond measure.

I also had a mini pork pie.

Once the king of sandwiches had done its job I was ready to head onwards. I had originally planned to go to Wastwater as the last time I had been there all I saw was cloud and mist, there may not have even been a lake there at all for all I could tell. But when I looked at the map and saw what a pain in the arse it was to get to I decided to take a trip to Ennerdale Water instead. Let that be a lesson to you Wastewater, when I visit you be sure to show yourself, I do not give second chances.

When I arrived at Ennerdale Water the weather had taken a turn for the worse, it was pretty breezy again and the sky was a crestfallen shade of grey, so I strapped on my gear and began to take a stroll through the unkempt rocky path that wends its way along the shore of this most westerly of the lakes.

In 2003 the valley's three major landowners, the Forestry Commission, the National Trust and United Utilities formed the Wild Ennerdale Partnership with a vision "to allow the evolution of Ennerdale as a wild valley for the benefit of people, relying more on natural processes to shape its landscape and ecology".

That combined with the valley's remote location and the fact that access roads are minor, twisting and sometimes difficult and slow to negotiate, means it’s not visited by hikers, tourists and cyclists as much as other lakes in the National Park, all of which creates a very secluded and unspoilt air to the place. 

After walking a little while the sun made a welcome re-appearance just as the path meandered down to meet the water, with its fair coloured shingle creating an almost sandy looking shoreline. I took the opportunity to get a few shots but couldn’t really get much that was worthwhile, the light was a bit too flat. So I decided to have a nice sit down, a cup of coffee, but unfortunately no biscuits. The atmosphere was so pleasant that the sit down became the lie down and the lie down soon turned into a little nap. 

Here is Ennerdale Water in the afternoon sun. I have processed it with a retro sort of feel to it, 
as the the calmness seemed to speak of nostalgia and how things should be.
Lets have a closer look at that dazzlingly bejeweled water
With the only sounds being the gentle lapping of the crystal clear water upon the empty shore, the birds singing and the distant bleating of sheep calling to their lambs it was a very nice place to be indeed. In fact I stayed far longer than I had planned, but it was so quiet and agreeable I didn’t mind a bit. The only other person I saw whilst there was as I was leaving the car park. I had the lake to myself, which was no less than I deserved of course.

Taken as the sun was beginning to warm up
I took a couple of pictures of the lake as the sun began its slide southwards and the light was warming up, before taking a trip over to Loweswater. As one of the smaller lakes in the area, and with most visitors being funnelled Buttermere and Crummock Water way, it’s a very quiet place, and relatively untouched by tourism.

The topography around Loweswater is mainly rolling hills, instead of the usual craggy mountains found elsewhere and it was all looking rather serene in the early evening light. I didn’t have much time as the sun was about to dip below those rolling hills, so I quickly parked up and scrambled down to a viewpoint looking across to Holme Wood. Apparently the wood contains a particularly beautiful waterfall; Holme Force, but I have not seen it myself.

A rather bucolic scene
It was a lovely scene of perfect stillness as the sun kissed the tops of the trees on the far shore, and sheep nonchalantly grazed in the deep yellow bloom of the evening sun. So after getting a few shots, and with a feeling of tranquillity settling over me, I headed back to Buttermere, before taking Newlands Hause, or Newlands Pass, a small mountain pass road that links the Newlands Valley to Derwentwater, back towards Keswick.

Once over the pass and out of the shaded valley beyond I stopped along the side of the road to look at the scree fells that were bathed in the rich orange light of a sun soon to be gone. The colour really was incredible and the landscape fairly glowed with an incandescent brilliance.

The grasses and scree under the light of a setting sun
Little tree with the massive wall of the mountain behind
Sunlight bathes this farm, with the fells behind in shade
After spending some time wandering along the deserted road, soaking in the atmosphere of the resplendent scenery around me and of course, getting a few snaps along the way, I motored back to Keswick in the fading light and stopped in town to end the day in the best way I knew how, a slap up meal of cheeseburger and chips.

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