The West Lakes: Cumbria, England


The fells, valley’s and lakes of West Cumbria are indeed as William Wordsworth romantically eulogised “Majesty, and beauty and repose, a blended holiness of earth and sky.”

The area is unique with its constantly changing terrain, the best way to experience the fauna-filled fields,reflective lakes, heather-clad moors and time-warp villages is by foot. My trip was a family orientated jaunt and so with mum, Lauren and the effervescent Hugo our mission was to embrace the scenery and local cuisine without too much exertion, we were not disappointed.

Our home for the week was “Well” cottage in the village of Gosforth. Gosforth has a well-stocked local shop, 5 pubs and a Viking Cross but nowt much else thankfully.

Gosforth village is the closest large village to the Eskdale and Wasdale valleys, and is situated between the sea at Seascale and the valleys, with easy access from the main A595 coastal road which runs from Workington to Barrow. There is plenty of free parking on the village car park alongside the main shopping area.

Close to the village is Blengdale Forest, which offers superb walking along the River Bleng under cover of trees. From here is a good walk to the ancient packhorse bridge known as ‘Monks Bridge’, on Cold Fell. The Bleng valley is situated on the north side of the village.

Gosforth Hall was built in 1658 by a local gentleman called Robert Copley is now a welcoming hostelry and hotel with the most incredible home made pies. Copley is recorded as having lived in Gosforth in 1653, but in another house. Careful with his money, to the point of being a cheapskate, he refused to pay the Royal Herald for his own coat of arms and instead, made one up himself, which now hangs in the snug bar area. The pies are not for culinary cheap-skates loaded as they are with steak, pheasant or duck, real `’game” pies.

During the week we spent time at St. Bees beach, Whitehaven, Wast-water, Coniston water, Ennerdale-water, Keswick, the Ravendale and Eskdale Railway, Crummock-water and Buttermere from where we scaled the gravity defying Honister Pass.

This weekend The Guardian offered a great review of the area which I’ll struggle to surpass.

Guide to the West Lakes click here. They also offer a guide to the best 10 walks in England greatest natural treasure click here.

In the middle of the week Jess, Deb and Steve drove up from Bolton to spend some family time. We visited Keswick taking in a pub lunch and some retail therapy and on Thursday visited the Ravendale-Eskdale Railway before dining at the Gosforth Hall Inn.

My two highlights were Britain’s Greatest View at Wast-water and the majestic views across Buttermere-water. As we approached Wast Water down a narrow minor road we were welcomed by fluorescent painted mutton and some impressive ‘Screes’ on the right and further up the valley I climbed a hillock chased by Hugo to embrace England’s highest “mountain”, Scafell Pike, Lingmell and a number of other peaks, the view deserving of its impressive title. The route to Buttermere-water alongside Crummock-water is luscious and undulating and finally rewards with a deep heavily glaciated landscape delivering steep mountains on all sides and a mesmerising lake settled perfectly in the valley floor.

The week flew by, tomorrow 7am (Tuesday) I fly out from Liverpool John Lennon to Carcassonne.

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