Rambles with Rosie: Whinlatter Pass to Buttermere, the long way!

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Crummock Water

It wasn’t a very promising morning, chilly with a brisk wind eben in Barrow. Mind you, 8.30 was really 7.30, according to my body and that’s an obscene hour for a Sunday. So I was resigned to the C walk. Actually I’m getting to enjoy the company on C walks. Anyway today, if we didn’t do all that much vertical ascent we did do a significantly longer horizontal walk than the A and B teams, who started in the Portinscale/Braithwaite area and took direct if severe routes to Buttermere via high fells still bearing pockets of snow on their tops, and at 10.30 draped ominously in cloud.

We, on the other hand, started from the top of the Whinlatter Pass and made first for the Kirkstile Inn, in Loweswater village, via the Vale of Lorton, a tranquil and comparatively little-visited valley where the Lake District gently decays towards the old mining communities of West Cumberland and thence to the sea. Which I find unbearably sad because I don’t want the Lake District to peter out into pastoral greenery, however beautiful. I WANT THE WHOLE DAMNED COUNTRY TO BE LIKE IT!

That took us until lunchtime (a splendid opportunity for a snifter of Grasmoor Dark Ale, brewed on the premises). There’s something about walkers and climbers – you can’t get a decent draught beer in Barrow but the Lakes is swimming in the stuff, with a handy pub everywhere you look which is welcoming, old-fashioned and mercifully free of pool tables, wide-screen TV, and all the other tat that blights the twenty-first century pub. And many of them – this one, the Black Bull at Coniston, the Drunken Duck near Ambleside, the Wasdale Head Hotel and others brewing beer on the premises. Thirty years ago there were only three pubs doing that in the whole country.

Anyway, we hadn’t even started the walk proper, but now the weather had turned glorious. From Loweswater we climbed an old track skirting Mellbreak, a fearsomly steep climb on the south shore of Crummock Water, and round the back into Mosedale. The views were splendid, the ground boggy underfoot and the becks buoyant with the joys of spring. Spring – ha! There might have been some snow on the high tops but most of last week’s had melted and was filling the becks and sending them dancing friskily down the slopes and filling the boiggy bits making the becks hard to cross and the bogs very squelchy indeed. But at least it’s clean water. We passed the lonely holly tree in Mosedale – so isolated in this treeless wilderness that it’s even marked on the OS map – and so round the back of Mellbreak and down again to Crummock Water via Scale Beck. Yes, Crummock Water, the first real encounter with a lake in four outings with the Ramblers in the, er, Lake District. And get it right – local lad-made-good Willie Wordsworth rhymed ‘water’ with ‘matter’ and that’s how it should be. Mind you, Willie did write an awful lot of dross, IMHO! Give me S T Coleridge every time if we must have Lake Poets.

Where was I? Oh yes. More boggy ground above Crummock Water leads us to a sheep drove road leading into Buttermere village (which is on Crummock Water, not Buttermere, although one day they may be one lake again as they once were) to the Fish pub, which we eschew as being much too chichi for walking boots, to the Bridge Hotel, which serves a very palatable Buttermere Bitter, brewed not in-house but in the nearby (as the crow flies, not otherwise) village of Hawkshead. There we sat, awaiting the A and B teams who, unbeknown to us, were already on the bus waiting for us.

That felt like a real ramble, if not a true fellwalk, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Oh, and I had hoped to see a red squirrel or two, as this particular area is one of their last redoubts in England, but I didn’t. On the other hand, they do seem to be little buggers for tearing round the local twisty lanes…

Maniac squirrels

Not many photos this week I’m afraid. I have them hear waiting but my Flickr account has lapsed, I can’t afford to renew it at the moment, and my bandwidge allowance for March has been used up.


4 Responses to “Rambles with Rosie: Whinlatter Pass to Buttermere, the long way!”

  1. neil h Says:

    I’ve found that Picassa is a good alternative to Flickr for pictures.

  2. gingergeoff Says:

    That’s why the Red Squirrels are in decline, they just wont heed the warning signs 😉

    The only place I have ever seen red squirrels other than Brownsea Island was in the lakes, can’t remember where though 😦

  3. wyldetwo Says:

    Your rambling accounts are definitely whetting my appetite for a trip to the Lakes! I had a meeting with some work colleagues in Kendal recently, but only managed to get as far as Ings – good micro-brewed ale there too though 🙂

  4. Gerald Says:

    love the squirrel sign

    didn’t know they could drive!

    check out Nyack DP – squirrel lives there.

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