Saturday, 31 October 2015

Lake District. Keswick Colours. Walla Crag.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
Our first club trip of winter was an autumn visit to the English Lake District. The weather forecast midweek was poor but the great thing about the lakes is that they are very different from Scotland. Hundreds of scenic paths crisscross the region, dozens in every valley....many are sheltered with tree cover... wet weather alternatives exist in the form of pretty towns and villages to explore... free to visit underground caves, quarries and tunnels are a possibility... and despite the region's comparative overall size many more small rugged peaks exist here below the mist level within easy driving distance. This is Walla Crag, 376 metres, just above Keswick, and it soon became my small hill of choice when rain and gales awaited us on our arrival. Everything above this height was frequently obscured in mist and rain but I had a cunning plan.
It had been many years since I'd explored Keswick properly and I had fond memories of it. I first travelled down here in the early 1970s on a bus trip from Barrhead as an eager teenager and it opened up many possibilities. I met someone on the bus who was open to reasonable suggestion and we climbed Walla Crag together. She came from Bellshill, an outlying town east of Glasgow, which until I met her, I had no idea existed. It sounded exotic and my path in life was fixed. My first butterfly.
With a strong nostalgic element to the walk therefore Alex kindly dropped me off at the Pencil Factory/museum in Keswick, seen above, before meeting up with other club members to climb Binsey, 447 metres, just north of Bassenthwaite Lake. This would take me away from trees, shelter and Keswick itself so I declined their offer to join them. Suggestion only works if you desire to do what's suggested in the first place.
When they departed I had a lovely walk through the always busy town centre, lined with outdoor shops, pubs and restaurants, all competing for trade, then entered Keswick suburbia through the back streets. This ornate picture house was opened in 1913 and the Lake District has attracted tourists here since the early 1800s, William Wordsworth, and the dawning of the Romantic Age. Money has always poured into the Lakes since then and the tourist industry here generates sizable income year round. Contrast that with a very short, often wet, summer season in the Highlands of Scotland and you soon realize why there is not the same infrastructure available during wet weather, with very little to do in a land long stripped of its natural forests, its indigenous people, then remodeled by royal inclination as a Victorian theme park for the hunting, fishing and shooting brigade. Many of the Scottish "traditions" so loved by tourists today were actually dreamed up by a German prince, a Queen and a Sir, promoting his popular novels of times gone by to sell Scotland as a playground for the rich after the clearances had left them empty and open for plunder. In short, the establishment had a full makeover to suit their own tastes, ideas and expectations of the place, as they always do.
West Coast Scotland still has a beautiful if bleak landscape in fine weather, but in heavy rain, drizzle or storm it can be one of the most miserable and unforgiving regions on earth, with little natural shelter, free to visit infrastructure or free entertainment available on offer.
Yes readers, I like the Lake District, especially in bad weather. So let's keep it pretty for the poor windswept Scots on vacation to shelter in :o)
Picture postcard suburban Keswick. Plenty of shelter, sunshine and lush scenery despite a rain lashed Cat Bells in the distance. (well, it's over in that direction anyway)
An amazing house with great architectural detail.
Climbing up the back streets through wonderful suburbia. On a day of frequent stormy squalls up high this is low level tropical heaven for me. I'm definitely a creature of honey and sunlight. A honey badger. 
For anyone interested in this 3 to 4 hour walk through a smorgasbord of varied scenic delights the route follows the curving yellow road rising out of Keswick on the Landranger OS map 90. Penrith and Keswick. Ambleside. It then reaches the MS164, turns off onto the A591, on a pavement, then follows pleasant signposted lanes past Castlerigg and Rakefoot to the summit of Walla Crag. A five star outing. Highly recommended lower level alternative to save a poor day up high.
Keswick from the A591 above the town. A sea of sheltering trees. You can see the minor road I travelled up in this photo with a car on it. (there is a car park directly under Walla Crag but you miss the best bit of the walk that way.)
A view of Derwent Water and Keswick in autumn colours.
As planned I didn't get rained on at all though the higher surrounding peaks were frequently lashed by heavy showers and invisible most of the day.
It was a great place for rainbows with several double ones observed and few other walkers due to the forecast.
Derwent Isle and Friar's Crag area from Walla Crag.
Rain squall hitting the Derwent Fells... me in bright sunshine... just the way I like it. Why settle for anything less when I enjoy it so much? 7 years without a raindrop.
Another double rainbow over Keswick and Skiddaw/Blencathra district.
On the return you can either retrace your steps then take the path down Brockle Beck into Keswick or detour via the Great Wood under the Crag to reach the Stable Hills area. This allows you to return via the Derwent Water shoreline, seen above, which is very pleasant, even on a grey day. I opted for a steep, brutal descent off the far end of the crag but I wouldn't recommend it unless you like severe inclines and fence hugging, which is what I did most of the way down. A Lake District fence Via Ferrata but I was glad it was there
A purpose built path beside the road later on means you are still in grand scenery, always a feature in the Lakes, thanks to it's Victorian tourist legacy. There are probably more scenic walking paths in the Lake District than in the whole of West Coast Scotland. Another reason why I like it here. You never run out of new areas to explore. A lifetime's worth squeezed into a relatively small compact area.
Yes sir. I love the Lake District with a passion worthy of W.W, Dorothy, De Quincy and Coleridge. A great first day.

Talking of enjoyable nostalgia here's one of the best programmes of the last year, available on you tube. Each hour long episode covers a decade of change in Britain seen through the eyes of a likable family. Learned a lot with every episode, fun to watch, and just excellent in every way. Might as well start with the 1950s. Even if you just watch this for 10 minutes it explains what it's all about. A joy of remembering or an education for younger viewers who didn't live through it. P.S. The mum is not the best cook to wear an apron :o) Also available... the 1960s,1970s, 1980s, 1990s.


Linda W. said...

Love all the double rainbows! Yes, I'd love to visit the lake district and take some walks in that gorgeous countryside.

Carol said...

Didn't see you there - I was there last week and put my back out trying outdoor coats on in Keswick. Now I can't move and am in agony! :-( I was surprised how many outdoor shops were closing down - I always go to Keswick if I need outdoor gear.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda,
Yes, it's a lovely area to explore.

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Carol,
That can be painful. I've had a bad back several times lifting heavy loads in the past. I suppose there are large numbers of outdoor shops fighting it out for customers in the Lakes and not all can win now with online shopping creeping in and supermarkets producing cut price outdoor gear as well.

Neil said...

The Lake District is great! You are never far from a visitor attraction if the weather is too poor for the hill. Just a pity that it is so popular and that the roads are so narrow. Still, can't have everything.

Carol said...

I wouldn't mind if I'd been lifting heavy loads or done something to actually put my back out. I thought it was getting better but I was just walking up the road last night and it completely went and now it is much worse :-( I'm starting to worry what's really going on with it, especially as I have osteoporosis.

I'll be doing much less online shopping since all the hacking scares coming to light nowadays - I never really did trust it all and just had an Amazon account. Now I see they've been hacked and everyone's customer logins and passwords were discovered. I've changed my password but it's all a bit dodgy isn't it?

Mike @ A Bit About Britain said...

Ah - the Lakes was my first experience of anything higher than a few hundred feet in the UK and it was love at first sight. I suggest it has prettiness too - but not the grandeur of the Highlands. Anyway, Derwent is a particular favourite and you've taken some cracking photos there. Enjoyed the tour, and the commentary. Never heard of that TV programme - though the subject matter crops up from time to time - it looks fascinating; and fun!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol, I used to rub Ralgex on my back over the affected area and that helped but they don't seem to sell it in stick form nowadays and the cream is not as good for concentrated heat.
The internet will always be wide open to skillful hackers which is why I try not to put too much personal info on it.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Mike,
As I get older I realize just how special the Lakes are. There's nothing like them in the UK or Europe as they are very different from Wales or Scotland in their unique composition and underlying structure.
Seen a few looking back programmes but that one was the most fun and had great music
throughout. And not a smart phone, tablet, selfie stick, or computer in sight. Joy of joys.

Kay G. said...

I also love the Lake District with a strong passion although I have never seen it. I studied the drawings by Beatrix Potter as a child, so much that when I saw England for the first time, I recognized the flowers even though I didn't know the names! And Beatrix Potter is one of my heroes, if not for her, would you have the Lake District?
Thank you for these photos! Others might want to see Paris and Rome, but please, let me see the Lake District!!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Neil,
It can be busy but now we have sussed out the free parking spots, mainly thanks to Alex, I prefer it to up north these days. I get more put out by the crowds in summer going to Skye,Fort William, or Knoydart, the long drive up and the usually slow drive back in traffic jams during bank holidays as I remember these areas being quieter. It's a 2 hour drive compared to 5 hours- 10 return- and, for me, there is still the thrill of loads of new places to visit in the Lakes. And plenty to do, even in bad weather. And cheaper petrol costs...

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Kay,
Don't worry. Two more posts to come on the L.D.

Carol said...

I have been rubbing 'deep heat' into it - I think that might have been a little bit effective but it still hurts like hell in bed - it kind of goes 'paralysed' when I've been asleep and it's been kept still for a couple of hours - absolute hell getting move from that! :-( Painkillers aren't having any effect after the first day of use unfortunately. My neighbours are starting to learn some really bad language when I shout out now!

Climber in a Flat Land said...

Hello Alex and Bob

I spoke to you in the car park at the farm at St. Bees, and wondered if you'd had time to read my blog? will get you there.

I like yours by the way, good photos.


blueskyscotland said...

Hello Peter,
Cheers. Yes, I remember and St Bees is the next post. If you haven't seen the next video I'm going to post it may interest you as it's extreme rock climbing though I don't recommend copying the climber.