Having worked at the National Trust for over fifteen years, Lake District-based Jessie Binns works alongside a team of rangers to tell the stories of the landscape entrusted to them. Every crevice, crag and fell has a history that Jessie and her team commit themselves to preserving. She is well placed then, to share some of the Lake District’s lesser-traversed tracks.
A FAVOURITE LAKE DISTRICT SPOT.
The fells are a touch more dramatic in Buttermere Valley. Honister Pass feels more like a remote road in Scotland than a lane in one of England’s busiest national parks and a swim in the lake on a warm summer’s night is quite simply one of those moments of most complete happiness for me. Life doesn’t get any better than that.
THE BEST LAKE DISTRICT VIEWPOINT.
The dramatic black crags of Haystacks are best viewed on the ‘round the lake’ route at Buttermere. It’s a straightforward 4½ mile walk but the views make it so rewarding.
THE BEST LESSER-KNOWN WALK IN THE LAKE DISTRICT.
To get somewhere a little quieter, head to the shore of Crummock Water. The beach by Nether How Wood has some gorgeous little crags, and if you get a permit you can even launch your own canoe and paddle out to one of the little islands that lay just off shore.
THE BEST WATERFALL IN THE LAKE DISTRICT.
From Buttermere village, drive up Newlands Pass to Moss Force Waterfall. There’s a layby at the top of the pass – called Newlands Hause – where you can view the waterfall, or wander a short way up the path towards it. Wait for a sunny day, after a night of heavy rain and it’s spectacular as it crashes down the dark crags.
THE BEST SWIMMING IN THE LAKE DISTRICT.
The beaches at Crummock Water by Nether How, or below Wood House are where I go swimming. Crummock Water is one of the deepest and coldest lakes in the Lake District (we still have ice-age fish here). The outdoor swimming society has a good section on their website titled ‘Survive’ for guidance on swimming here.
WHERE TO WALK IN THE LAKE DISTRICT.
Rannerdale Knotts (4¾ miles) I love Rannerdale Knotts because it gives you a unique feeling of being on a summit but surrounded by much higher mountains. Park at the National Trust car park, and turn away from Buttermere village, walking beside the road to Hause Point. At that point turn away from the road, and walk round the base of Rannerdale Knotts. The path curls round behind the hill and climbs gradually up to the col. Then you can continue to climb gradually along the ridge until you get to the rocky bluff that’s the summit. After the congratulatory cup of tea from a thermos, retrace your steps to the col, then descend the flank of the hill back to Buttermere village.
Sunrise on Dale Head (2½ miles)
Although it’s pretty steep, this is a good adventure for people who are beginner map-readers because you can follow the fence all the way up and down. Park at the National Trust car park at Honister Pass, cross the road and follow the fence line up to the summit of Dale Head. Take a headtorch for the way up, make sure you’re starting the walk about an hour before sunrise.
Loweswater Coffin Path (4 miles)
This doesn’t reach a summit but the historic ‘coffin path’ follows the contours on the steep sides above Loweswater, giving fantastic views for relatively little effort. Before the road was laid, this was the route people were taken down for burial. Park at a layby above Fangs Brow, follow the track as it curves round under Carling Knott and above Loweswater. When you have gone as far as you would like, you have to turn around and follow your steps back.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE LAKE DISTRICT.
Buttermere is like the Lake District in miniature – there are two hotels, two campsites, two bunk barns, a youth hostel, a guest house, and two cafés all within a short walk of the village green, but best of all it’s still a farming village, with four working farms crammed into the tiny hamlet. I’m a big fan of the ice cream at Syke Farm. It’s made on site with the milk from the milking parlour behind it.
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