I had a day to myself with lots to catch up on, but the weather was great so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to get out and do some walking. We headed into the Ullswater valley in the morning as we usually would however when Callum went to work, I got to smugly wave goodbye and catch a boat to Howtown.
I jumped on the ‘Ullswater Steamers’, they are pretty Victorian boats which travel between the villages at either end of the lake and a couple of points of interest in-between. They chug down the middle of the water surrounded by towering peaks, so it is easy to see why the tourists love them. They are also good to get to the other side of the lake without having to drive all the way round, and being able to do a linear walk without going back on yourself. And that was today’s plan exactly; get the boat to Howtown and do the lakeshore walk back to Glenridding. It’s an easy, low-level 7.5 mile walk, with a few minor ups and downs for added interest. Perfect for getting me out for a couple of hours before I had to be productive!
The boat ride was pleasant, despite knowing the valley like the back of my hand it is always nice to be able to just sit and take in the contours of the land, the different aspects that change with the seasons and the wildlife that resides there. Another of the passengers had clocked me as a ‘regular’ and started a conversation; he was pleasant but turned me into his personal tour guide as we travelled along the lake. My quiet observation very quickly turned into me pointing out all the things of interest around the lake – not quite what I had envisioned for my morning but at least he had a good time!
Getting off the boat I waved goodbye to my new friend, walked quickly past everyone else getting off and delved back into my own little, antisocial world, enjoying the quiet and the views. After that I barely saw a soul until I was back in Patterdale. The walk starts around the bottom of Hallin Fell, a flight of steps and then a rocky track up a slight incline. There were several Herdies lounging on the path, which I unfortunately had to disturb to get passed. The sun was shining and it was a warm day but there was a constant cool breeze, the clouds rolled through the sky at a fair pace and the recent bout of good weather had ensured the greenery was, in fact, green.
The path then leads into Hallin Hag woods, a patch of tall, gnarled looking trees on a rocky floor. The wood sorrel and primroses looked to be in full bloom, offering splashes of colour to the woodland floor as it climbed up the fell-side. Dappled sunshine shone through the trees and the water glistened blue just outside, it’s easy to keep up a good pace as long as you are fairly nimble on your feet and able to navigate the roots and rocks.
Out of the woodland and into the sunshine, you head through fields which, this time of year, are home to the ewes and lambs. The grass is well cropped and bright green in the light, the lambs are both inquisitive and somewhat nervy; they watch you approaching, twitching slightly but hanging on as though their curiosity is getting the better of them, only to decide you are probably a monster after all and sprint off to mum, who had sauntered off knowingly much earlier on in the proceedings. After passing the farm the path becomes slightly rougher underfoot, the farm is the furthest point you can reach by car, from that point on its just footpaths and fells until the other end.
It was warm as I walked and my second layer had long been taken off. Amusingly however, I passed a few people who were bundled up in coats and one even had on a scarf. They both looked at me as though I was the odd one, although I did clock an American accent upon saying hello to them so there is a good chance they are used to much warmer climes… but I still stand my ground that it was a warm day!
It’s from this point on that the path starts undulating more noticeably, crossing streams and dipping in and out of wooded patches and all the while you still dutifully follow the shoreline. At the southerly bend in the lake there is a mound of land that sticks out called Silver Point. After sweeping around, looking down on the thin bay that sits below, you find yourself on top of this slightly higher piece of land and you get lovely view in both directions. South you can see the end of the lake and Glenridding, with the big peaks towering above and north you can see towards Pooley Bridge. The lovely sunny day got very windy all of a sudden upon turning that corner; I stopped to take in the view and had to put my second layer back on! Although this was partly because I was worried that I was starting to burn in the sun – I have to watch out for this ginger complexion of mine.
A few more ups and downs and you find yourself opposite Glenridding with just the last wee section to go. The path is similar all the way along to this point – rocky, uneven and spattered with woodland. However, at this stage you head back into farm territory, the track becomes landy friendly and is therefore wider and more even. The streams still cross the way but everything becomes a little more tame as you head into Patterdale. Coming to the farm itself, you walk through their large flat field and cross the river that runs through the middle, leading into the lake.
You are deposited in the middle of the valley floor, with nothing left but an easy half mile along the road. I stopped to enjoy the scene; the breeze through the long grass caused it to sway and shiver, birds were darting and swooping between the playing lambs and the sun was glinting off the ripples in the beck – it was a beautiful morning to be out and despite it being a walk I had done numerous times before, I enjoyed it just as much as I ever have.