The Lake District

Farewell, thou little Nook of mountain-ground,
Thou rocky corner in the lowest stair
Of that magnificent temple which doth bound
One side of our whole vale with grandeur rare;
Sweet garden-orchard, eminently fair,
The loveliest spot that man hath ever found,
Farewell! – we leave thee to Heaven’s peaceful care,
Thee, and the Cottage which thou dost surround.

From “A Farewell” by William Wordsworth

A romantic poem written when Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy had to leave Dove cottage in 1802

The Lake District is one of the most beautiful regions of England. It is located in the far north west of the country and is famous for its lakes and mountainous fells, carved out long ago by glaciers. The Lake District is popular with walkers and outdoor enthusiasts, is the UK’s largest national park and since 2017 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

William Wordsworth, who helped launch the Romantic Age in English literature and was Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850, wrote many poems about the lakes and lived in the Lake District for many years. Beatrix Potter, with the proceeds from her books and a legacy from an aunt, bought Hill Top Farm in the Lake District in 1905 and, over the following decades, purchased additional farms to preserve the unique hill country landscape. Alfred Wainwright wrote seven volumes about the Lakeland Fells, which has become the standard reference work to 214 of the fells of the English Lake District – these fells forever known as “The Wainwrights”. These and many more people have fallen under the spell of the Lake District – and they can’t all be wrong, can they?

Castlerigg Stone Circle

This neolithic stone circle approximately 4500 years old and has views of Skiddaw and Blencathra. Castlerigg stone circle was one of the monuments included in the Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882, which included a ‘Schedule’ of 68 sites and so it became one of the first scheduled ancient monuments.

In 1913, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust, was among the prime organisers of a public subscription which bought the field in which the stone circle stands, which he then donated to the National Trust. Responsibility for the stone circle remains with English Heritage, whilst ownership of the site is retained by the National Trust.

August 2022

Ashness Bridge, Surprise View and Watandlath

All three of these beautiful locations can be reached from the same single track road that leading off of the B5289, which itself runs to the East of Derwentwater and south of Keswick

This single track road runs over Ashness Bridge, which is a traditional stone-built packhorse bridge and quite possibly the most photographed bridge in the lakes. A short distance further up the hill is Surprise View, which gives cliff top views of Derwentwater, Bassenthwaite Lake, Cat Bells and Skiddaw. A longer journey leads to Watendlath, a small hamlet on the bank of Watendlath Tarn, owned by the National Trust. It has its own packhorse bridge, a number of traditional farm buildings and, if you’re lucky, a lovely tea shop. All three locations are served by car parks, which are free to National Trust members.

August 2022

Derwent Water

Derwent Water occupies part of Borrowdale and lies immediately south of the town of Keswick. It is both fed and drained by the River Derwent, is approximately three miles by 1 mile wide and is 72 feet deep. There are several islands within the lake, one of which is inhabited.

Derwent Water is surrounded by fells, which are extensively wooded and a passenger launch operates on the lake between various Keswick, Portinscale and the Lodore Falls.

August 2022

Aira Force

Aira Force is a waterfall, flowing from the Aira Beck, an eight-kilometre journey from upper slopes of Stybarrow Dodd (2,362 ft) to join Ullswater (492 ft). One kilometre before Ullswater, the beck makes the 66 ft drop down a ravine – Aira Force.

The river name Aira is derived from Old Norse eyrr, a gravel bank, and Old Norse á, a river, hence “the river at the gravel bank”, a reference to Aira Point, a gravelly spit where the river enters Ullswater. The Old Norse word fors, waterfall, has been adopted into several northern English dialects and is widely used for waterfalls, with the English spelling ‘Force’. Thus, “the waterfall on gravel-bank river”

Bassenthwaite Lake

Bassenthwaite Lake is one of the largest bodies of water in the Lake District, being 4 miles by 0.75 miles, with a maximum depth of about 70 ft. It is fed by, and drains into, the River Derwent and lies at the foot of Skiddaw, near the town of Keswick. It is the only body of water in the Lake District to use the word “lake” in its name, all the others being “waters”, “meres” or “tarns”.

The A66 runs along the western side of the lake, with lay-bys popular for photographers. The section running south towards Keswick was built along the course of the former Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith railway line.

Crummock Water

Situated between Buttermere to the south and Loweswater to the north, Crummock Water is 2.5 miles by 0.6 miles and 140 feet deep. The Mellbreak runs the full length of the lake on its western side. Scale Force, the highest waterfall in the Lake District, feeds the lake and has a drop of 170 feet


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