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.
A Cycle Tour Of The Langdales from Riverside Bed & Breakfast, Ambleside
Recovering from a slight knee injury which prevented me from walking in the Fells I decided to take one of the really great cycle rides from Ambleside to my favourite valley, Langdale and to share it with you. Here it is with some pub stops along the way!
Start/Finish Riverside B&B
Distance 18.1 miles (29.2 km)
Grade: Medium Challenge
Time 2.5 – 4 Hours Depending on how thirsty you are
Refreshments: Cafes at Elterwater,Skelwith Bridge. Pubs at Chapel Stile, Elterwater, Langdale, Little Langdale.
1 From Riverside B&B take a right onto Under Loughrigg and follow the road to the A593 Coniston Road. Carefully go diagonally across through the gap in the wall opposite onto the cycle track, signed Bowness and Coniston. Continue Sw, joining the cycle lane on the A593 through Clappersgate. In a little under 0.5km turn Left over a stone footbridge, again following cycle signs for Bowness & Coniston
2 Cross the bridge and then turn R, signed Coniston Route 37, to pass the church. Follow the lane as it heads West alongside the River Brathay. The lane then swings SW and climbs to a junction at Skelwith Fold. Turn R, then after 200m turn R again, and descend to the A593 at Skelwith Bridge.Quick coffee at Chesters
3- Carefully turn L onto the A593 then after 100m turn R signed Coniston Route 37 and join the cycle path. Follow the 37 signs turning R to the foot/cycle bridge over the River Brathay. Cross the bridge then turn L onto the riverside cycle path. As you head along the path and emerge from the trees the peaks of the Langdales come into view. Continue easily along the cycle path and follow it NW up the valley to Elterwater where you can stop at the Britannia Inn for a quick drink
4 Turn L and follow the lane as it climbs gently over to Colwith. Turn R and follow the narrow lane up into Little Langdale. The Three Shires beckons. At the fork 600m after passing Little Langdale Tarn turn R and follow the Blea Tarn road as it climbs steadily N. The road climbs in stages and skirts the flanks of Side Pike to arrive at the top overlooking Langdale.
5 The descent is very steep down into Langdale and there are a number of sharp bends. Once down into Langdale the road eases and becomes wider, (a quick mug o tea and a bowl of chips at Sticklebarn) follow it E along the valley tp Chapel Stile.
6 Continue on the road past Chapel Stile and the Wainrights’ Inn for 800m until a turning on the R for Elterwater. Make the turn and head through the village to the car park. At the car park turn L to join the cycle path signed Ambleside Route 37 and then re-trace your steps back to Riverside B&B.
Make sure to bring your bikes when you next visit Riverside because there are so many great cycle rides from Ambleside to enjoy!
I thought our guests might be interested in some culture in the Ambleside area of the Lakes – yes there is some! So here we go, the Riverside guide to our favourite Ambleside points of interest: for those of you who enjoy a bit of culture!
Top 5 Experiences In The Ambleside Area
1-The estate of a remarkable man
Take a 19th century Steam Gondola across Coniston Water to Brantwood, home of John Ruskin, the writer, artist and social reformer described by Tolstoy as
The house is full of art, objects and stories, while outside a range of trails thread the 250-acre estate. And – overlooking the lake – you’ll find eight unique and beautiful gardens, continuing the horticultural experiments that Ruskin began. The Professor’s Garden was Ruskin’s favourite: it’s dedicated to plants which are good for the body and soul. Much like the Lake District itself, you could say.
2-Storytelling, nature, art and farming
Beatrix Potter was a remarkable woman: a storyteller, artist, naturalist and farmer. Hill Top – at Near Sawry – was the farm she bought in 1905 from the proceeds of her first“little book” – Peter Rabbit – and she used Hill Top itself and the surrounding countryside as inspiration for many of her stories. Full of her favourite things, including original illustrations,the house appears as if Beatrix had just stepped out for a walk.
3-A poet’s home, in harmony with its setting
While Dove Cottage is the better known, it was Rydal Mount – between Grasmere and Ambleside –where Wordsworth lived for 37 years. It’s an informal place: you’re left to your own devices to tour the house, including the great man’s attic study with its views down to Windermere. The poet was a keen landscape gardener and the four-acre garden is more or less as he planned andplanted it. His aim was that it should be in harmony with its surroundings– and indeed it is a delightful spot, with its fell-side terraces over looking Rydal Water. Next to the garden is Dora’s Field, which William and Mary planted with daffodils in memory of their only surviving daughter Dora,who died of TB aged 43.
4- The hills are alive with the sound of … Lake District Summer Music
An international music festival featuring top artists plus a summer academy for young musicians on the brink of their careers. The focus is on classical and chamber music – but other genres feature too. There are performances in 17 venues across the Lake District– from intimate historic churches at the foot of mountain slopes to solid town halls in Lakeland market towns. There are world-premieres with pre-concert talks by composers and new collaborations between world-famous artists meeting for the first time in the inspiring setting of England’s best known,best-loved landscape.
5-A night of culture in a dramatic setting – Keswick’s modern Theatre by the Lake,
On the shores of Derwent water, was described by the Telegraph as “the most gorgeously situated theatre in England”. There’s a wide-ranging programme from contemporary to classic, and two auditoria – the 400-seater main theatre, and the smaller Studio. You could always start the evening before the performance with a sail across the lake: from the main jetty it’s just 200 yards to your seat in the stalls.