Borrowdale

Keswick

The small town of Keswick lies between Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lakes and is probably the busiest tourist centre in the Lake District, with Ambleside not far behind. In recent years there has been an explosion of outdoor and tourist shops in Keswick. If you want to buy outdoor equipment you would be hard pushed to find a wider selection anywhere in the country. The staff in these shops also provide a pleasant and informative service, many being outdoor enthusiasts themselves.

Borrowdale

Keswick stands at the entrance to the Borrowdale valley. Borrowdale derives it's name from the Norse borg dale, the valley of the fort, referring to the ancient British hill fort on Castle Crag in the jaws of Borrowdale. To reach Borrowdale you follow the road along the shore of Derwentwater. There is a good car park owned by the National Trust at Great Wood, from which you can easily reach the footpath along the shore of Derwentwater. There are some good views from here looking across the lake to Catbells in the west and Skiddaw to the north. Skiddaw has a soft rounded shape, because the soft Skiddaw slates are very easily eroded.

derwentwater
All Photos Copyright D.Hickson 2001. All Rights Reserved

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Ashness

A side valley and road leads off from Derwentwater towards the small hamlet of Watendlath. If you enjoy walking, because of traffic congestion on this small road, it is environmentally sound to park your car either at Great Wood carpark or in the small carpark at the road junction near the lake and walk.There is also a jetty for the ferry from Keswick at the foot of the Watendlath road. After a steep but short climb you reach Ashness Bridge where you can take a well earned rest and enjoy the view looking over the bridge towards Skiddaw. This is the view seen on innumerable postcards, biscuit tins and calendars. If you want to take the perfect photograph be prepared to wait, because there are nearly always people in view wearing garishly coloured clothing.


Ashness Bridge kb

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Just above Ashness Bridge bearing right through the car park you come to an excellent viewpoint looking across Dewentwater towards Skiddaw in the north or Catbells to the west. This viewpoint is called Surprise View. In the far distance you should also be able to see Bassenthwaite Lake. These two lakes join up in times of heavy rain and flooding, which is not an unusual occurence as Borrowdale is one of the wettest places in Britain.
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This area and indeed most of Borrowdale is clothed in a mantle of oak, beneath which is a rich community of mosses and lichens thriving in the damp climate. The native red squirrel used to be found in very large numbers in the Ashness woodlands, but probably because of the large numbers of tourists, numbers have greatly declined.

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Watendlath

From Ashness you can follow the road through the woodlands for about 3/4 of a mile and then a footpath goes off to the right towards the hamlet of Watendlath. From Ashness bridge to Watendlath is a distance of about 2.5 miles, but it is a pleasant and easy walk and you should be able to get a cup of tea when you get there. The valley between Ashness Farm and Watendlath is good for birdwatching, with woodpeckers, redstarts, pied flycatchers,nuthatches, cuckoos, wagtails, ravens and buzzards common in the area. The scenery here as in all of Borrrowdale is rugged and craggy because of the hard volcanic rocks which dominate the area.

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The major part of the Borrowdale valley is owned by the National Trust and Watendlath is a favourite place of theirs to tout for new members. A major feature of Watendlath is it's tarn and the ampitheatre of hills surrounding it. The hamlet was featured in the Herries Chronicles, a series of historical novels written by Hugh Walpole around 1930 depicting life in and around Borrowdale in the 18th century. In his second novel entitled "Judith Paris" her house was based on one of the farmhouses in Watendlath and this house now has a plaque commemorating this fact. The packhorse bridge is another delightful feature of Watendlath. Look out for the rather special stone set in the cobbled surface of the bridge commemorating the visit of Prince Charles.

packhorse

If you have enjoyed looking at this Lake District section please send me an email with your comments. If you have any unusual information about any of the places either past or present or suggestions for other areas I should include please click on email link d.hickson@btconnect.com

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