World Gurning Championships
The annual World Gurning Championships are held in September every year as part of the Egremont Crab Fair which dates back to 1267 making it one of the oldest fairs in the world. The Lord of Egremont began the practice of giving away crab apples to the townsfolk and so the tradition began.
There is something for everybody at the fair and you can see cumberland wrestling, wheelbarrow racing, pipe smoking and climbing the greasy pole; but it is the Gurning Championship that’s the main event of the day.
To gurn means to “snarl like a dog; look savage, distort the face” but nowadays it is more about looking funny. The uglier the better guarantees that you are a winner. There are not many rules involved: stick your head through a horse collar; pull the most disgusting face imaginable and the most monstruous/funny is the winner!
Lake District Summer Music Festival
The festival has chamber music at its heart. There are more than 40 events all taking place across the South Lakes with Ambleside being at the centre of it all. Combine a good walk in the fells with a fabulous concert in one of the many stunning venues, historic churches and halls. You will find internationally acclaimed artists as well as showcasing emerging music talent. There are also films, world premiers and much more to enjoy as well as ballet and opera relayed from the great opera houses and shown at Fellini’s Art Cinema in Ambleside.
The focus is mainly on classical music and each event is ticketed individually with some events being free of charge. For more information have a look at the LDSM website
Running north to south from the pass of Dunmail Raise, the classic glacial U-shaped valley containing the popular tourist spots of Grasmere and Ambleside lies at the heart of the English Lake District. It is home to the two lovely but relatively small lakes of Rydal and Grasmere, both surrounded by woodland and pasture, and overlooked by craggy high fells.
More than most other valleys, Grasmere, Rydal and Grasmere show off a diversity of landscape, offering a sample of
everything the Lake District has to offer.
Humanity has left its mark here over the millennia. There is some Neolithic or Bronze Age rock art at Allan Bank and
the possible medieval burial site of King Dunmail at Dunmail Raise to the north. A Roman fort and civilian settlement was constructed at Waterhead, Ambleside.
Industry-wise, the valley has seen much activity. Mining and slate or stone quarrying as well as charcoal production
were all carried out here. The abundant water power available from the becks was used from the medieval period
until the 19th century for a number of processes, including corn grinding, wooden bobbin production, crushing
bark for tanning, and manufacturing linen and woolen cloth.
Tourism has played an important part in the valley’s story. Through its mention in the early guide books as well as the influence of Wordsworth, Grasmere, Rydal and Ambleside became hugely popular destinations. This was further
enhanced by the building of metaled roads after 1770 and the railway to Windermere in 1847. Of course, Grasmere
and Rydal are forever linked with William Wordsworth and his family as well as other important figures of the Romantic movement. The Wordsworth homes of Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount are enjoyed by visitors from all over the world. Dora’s Field in Rydal is a delightful area of woodland that was planted with wild daffodils as a memorial to
Wordsworth’s daughter Dora who died at a tragically young age.
The conservation link is strong in the valley, too. Wordsworth had protested against the extension of the railway
from Windermere and this was also taken up by John Ruskin. It was here, at Allan Bank on the shores of Grasmere,
that Canon Rawnsley came to retire.
Rawnsley was an instrumental figure in the preservation and protection of the Lakeland landscape and was formative in the birth of the National Trust. The Trust now owns many properties in the valley, including the more recently bought traditional farmhouse of High Lickbarrow Farm, the iconic, quirky 17th century Bridge House in Ambleside and the beautiful, tranquil designed landscape of High Close Estate and Arboretum. The 16th century Rydal Hall, now owned by the Diocese of Carlisle, is another example of a designed landscape and features The Grot, a tiny summerhouse looking out to the waterfall and an example of the early Picturesque movement.
The Grasmere, Rydal and Ambleside Valley is a thriving landscape of natural beauty, community and
industry, with magnificent surviving villas, designed landscapes and major artistic importance. Make sure you come and visit.
For further info on the lakes try
Esk Pike A Great Day Out
After some recent snow we awoke to a magnificent sunny winters day and decided to walk in one of our favourite areas and headed towards the Langdales . We set off towards Esk Pike (often overlooked in preference to Bowfell & Crinkle Crags). We were not disappointed. It is a hard walk taking between 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 hours and
about 9 miles long. Below is our route:
1 – From Riverside B&B take the A593 towar
ds Coniston and at Skelwith Bridge take the B5343 to Elterwater/Chapel Stile/Langdale. The journey should take about 15/20 minutes. The walk starts at the National Trust owned Old Dungeon Ghyll pay and display car park at the end of the Langdale Valley at grid reference NY 286 061.
2 – From the car park go round the right hand side of the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel to reach the bridleway that goes round the back of the hotel and heads west through a gate in to Mickleden.
3 – Continue along the track in a westerly direction for a kilometre then turn right i
nto the wide open Mickleden valley and walk to the head of the valley. Reach the wooden bridge which takes you over the beck. Follow the sign to Esk Hause. Head uphill towards Bowfell, then turn right and ascend Rossett Gill zigzag alternative path. As you reach the top of the zigzag path, Rossett Pike will be in front of you with the gully of Rossett Gill below it.
4 – Carry on along the path and it will top out on the col before starting its short descent to Angle Tarn. It may be worth taking a detour to the summit of Rossett Pike for some great views. Descend the path down to Angle Tarn. The path passes the tarn via stepping stones over its outflow.
5 – Follow the path up the far side of the tarn and up onto open land. The path passes a small tarn on Tongue Head, then makes its way to Esk Hause on the col between Esk Pike on the left, and Allen Crags on the right.
6 – On Esk Hause you will see the cross shaped stone shelter, very similar to the one on Helvellyn’s summit plateau. From the cross shelter head south west up the path for less than two hundred metres until you reach the junction with the Esk Pike path, and head south east along it and on to the northern end of Esk Pike.
7 – The Esk Pike path quickly turns from a fairly easy grassy path in to a rocky section before heading round the back of the mountain, following some awkwardly flat and slippery ledges. After the ledges the path heads left and ascends through a wide chimney with loose rock. The actual summit is then reached, which is identified by a cairn of small rocks.
8 – From Esk Pike summit, head in a south east direction over the boulders then down an obvious descent path. After half a kilometre you will reach the col of Ore Gap. At Ore Gap head straight up the opposite side on the same trajectory. The path is now really well marked by cairns, turns right, and follows a surprisingly easy ascent up the western flank of Bowfell’s northern ridge.
9 – You will eventually reach the col between Bowfell Buttress and Bow
fell’s summit pike. From the col, ascend the boulders up on to the pike to reach the summit of Bowfell. To descend from the summit go back the way you came over the boulders and after eighty metres you will see a cairn marked path leading off to the right. Head down this path in a south easterly direction.
10 – After descending the path for a hundred and fifty metres you will come across Great Slab. Follow the path round the top of the Great Slab; descending for half a kilometre before eventually flattening out on the Three Tarns col. Turn left at Three Tarns and descend the path heading in an easterly direction to the left side of the Buscoe Sike stream.
11 – The path descends steadily, and bends to the left before eventually bending back to the right, starting its two and a half kilometre descent of The Band ridge to Langdale. There are fantastic views to the right all the way down.
12 – The path eventually passes through a gate into Stool End Farm. Follow the right of way signposted through the farm, and out the other end along the track that crosses Oxendale Beck, then makes its way through fields back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll where you can sit in the beer garden and enjoy a pint.
We at Riverside B&B have decided to go it alone and have become an OTA free zone. We tried lots of things to make it more unattractive to book via them. Higher prices and worse cancellation terms (in essence passing on their 15% commission).
We have decided to go one step further and will not accept future bookings via Booking.com Prices will be lower than those we charged via Booking.com and our cancellation terms will also be better when booking directly. We have a reduced rate for a stay of 3 nights or more and have a November special offer in place.
It will be interesting to see how we fare
Update, 6 months later… It would appear that we are fighting a losing battle. People will still book via on-line-travel-agencies despite the higher prices and worse cancellation terms. We have started taking bookings again via agencies but we have not given up hope yet. Any suggestions as to how we can reverse this trend would be very welcome.
What an ascent. We have all read about how Blencathra stands out amongst the other Wainrights. Blencathra stands apart from the other Lakeland hills looking south and west offers a vast panorama covering the vast majority of fells in the area but it is also partly due to the contrasting nature of the mountain. To the south a vast claw appears to have ripped the mountain apart leaving deep gullies and sharp ridges whilst to the north
slopes fall gently in to an empty wilderness where it is possible
to escape the crowds even on a popular summer’s day.
We did not attempt Sharp Edge and decided to leave that for another day and instead climbed up Hall’s Fell.; it is a great little edge without real danger or too much exposure and it arrows
directly to the true summit but it certainly provides an exciting scramble for all ages and
should not be undertaken by novices. Take your time on the ridge and pick the route
that suits you. From the summit there is a lovely mile stroll west from the summit on short grass where the views are simply unbeatable in England.
The descent is less steep over on Scales Fell. A shorter route down is via Doddick Fell. A true classic.
To quote Alfred Wainright “For active walkers and scramblers this route is positively the finest way to any mountain top in the district. It is direct, exhilarating, has glorious
views and (especially satisfying) scores a bulls-eye by leading unerringly to the summit-cairn.”
|OS Map:||O/S 1/25,000. Lake District North East.
|Start Point:||NY 322252. There is a small car park up Blease Road but best park near the dog kennels.
|Height to Climb:||703ms (2,306 feet)
|Terrain:||2847′, 2,400 from the village. Good clear paths throughout except when it becomes intermittent on Narrow Ridge. Steep climb from the foot of Hall’s Fell
|Eating & Drinking:||The two pubs in Threlkeld are excellent. Sitting in the beer garden of the Horse & Farrier after this walk just feels right. The village hall often serves tea and cake in the summer months
Squirrels spotted near Riverside B & B.
We have been at Riverside for 2 years and the time has flown by! We have cycled, walked, sailed, kayaked but in all that time we have not seen a red squirrel until…
We decided to put that right and went to Allan Bank in Grasmere where there is a squirrel walk and indeed we spotted some. It is a great National Trust property where you can just relax, make a cup of tea and sit in a deck chair and watch the world go by
We went to Dodd Wood in Whinlatter Forest and spotted some more. I you like mountain biking this is the place for you with lots of trails varying in difficulty.
Just down the road from us in Loughrigg Ghyll there were some more; this time a family. It seems that we were not looking
If you want to find out more about red squirrels there is the Westmorland Red Squirrel Society.
Report any red squirrel sightings to them as this is an important part of their conservation work. They also mention not feeding any of the greys.
Diney’s Home Made Pear, Hazelnut & Chocolate Cake
Our guests love taking some cake on their walks and this is one of the ones that we are asked to provide the recipe for the most. So, here it is
100g/4oz blanched hazelnuts
140g/5oz self-raising flour
175g/6oz butter, cut into small pieces
140g/5oz golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
5 small ripe conference pears
50g/2oz dark chocolate chopped into small chunks
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 3/fan oven 140c. Butter and line the base of a 20cm/8in round cake tin. Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until fairly fine. Add the flour and mix briefly. Add the butter and pulse until it forms crumbs. Add the sugar and eggs and mix briefly. Peel, core and chop two of the pears. Stir the pears and chocolate lightly into the cake mixture.
2 Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Peel, core and slice the remaining pears and scatter over the top of the cake. Press down lightly and bake for 50-60 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack. Warm the jam and brush over the top. Serve warm or cold.
An early check-in gave us a free afternoon and we decided to tackle Rossett Pike at the end of the Langdale Valley.
Rossett Pike 2,106 feet.
Walk time 3 ½ hours.
Distance 9.7 Miles.
Great Langdale is one of the best known valleys in the Lake District and one of our favourites; the walk starts at the very end at the Old Dungeon Ghyll (B5343). This is about a 15 minute drive from Riverside B&B taking first the Coniston road (A593) and then taking the B5343 at Skelwith Bridge to the Langdale Valley passing Elterwater and Chapel Stile.
We parked at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel at the very end of the B5343. Parking is free for National Trust members otherwise 4 hours will cost £5.50.
Head out of the car park to the west and when you get to the junction (with the bridge on your left and a road leading to Middle Fell Farm on your right) there is a public footpath immediately on your right through a gate. The path almost takes you back towards the car park but turns north and continues up to a gate.
Head through the gate and turn left to follow the main path leading you into Mickleden and towards Stake Pass. Continue along this path for about 3km to the split in the path just after the footbridge by Stake Gill.
Keep to the path heading west (so don’t go up Stake Pass) which will take you along Rossett Gill and after a few zigzags you will arrive at flatter ground between Rossett Pike and Hanging Knotts with a large cairn.
From the cairn there is a quick detour to the top of Rossett Pike. You need to follow the path north-east, which after about 100m bends round to the east and up to the summit of Rossett Pike.
We then retraced our steps from the summit and had some of Diney’s cake by Angle Tarn and trecked along the back of the fell to Stake Pass where we took the path down to Mickledon, alongside Stake Gill
A great afternoon walk made all the better with a couple of pints at the Hikers Bar at theOld Dungeon Ghyll (Diney was driving).
Shipman Knotts & Kentmere Pike – great half-day walk
total distance 11.2 km and 617 metres of ascent in 4 hours
Not quite having time to tackle the whole Kentmere Horseshoe we set our sights on attempting Shipman Knotts and Kentmere Pike. We ran out of time to go further up to Harter Fell – for another day! Great shame as we had done all thee hard work
There was still snow around but it was a glorious day and a highly recommended half day trip on the Far Eastern Fells.
ROUTE DESCRIPTION From Kentmere village follow lanes leading N to Brockstones.
 At top of steep lane head R on good track signed for Stile End and continue E to top of pass. Leave track and take path N to Shipman Knotts.
well earned cake stop
 Continue N, then NW, by wall on broad ridge to Kentmere Pike.
where are we?
 Trace your steps back towards Shipman Knotts and follow the path south towards Overend.
Spotted a mother and daughter just next to our vintage car taking us back to Staveley
Make sure you Stop off at Wilf’s cafe on the way back in Staveley and treat yourself to a well earnt bite to eat.