Step back into the 17th Century in Hawkshead

I’m just back from a two night stay in the village of Hawkshead, Cumbria. This Lake District village, famous for the poet William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, lies to the west of Lake Windermere and just north of Esthwaite Water. You can drive to Hawkshead via Newby Bridge or Ambleside but the most interesting route is from just south of Bowness marina to Sawrey on the 18 vehicle ferry that runs every 20 minutes in the summer. There has been a ferry of some description on this route for over 500 years.

Hawkshead is well worth a visit and there are several places to stay and some good restaurants. We stayed at The Queens Head. The rooms are small but comfortable, bathrooms are modern and functional and the breakfasts are good quality and very big! I must say that the staff are excellent too. We also had an evening meal in the restaurant and the fact that the restaurant was packed is testament to its quality and popularity.

Queens Head, Hawkshead
The Queens Head Hawkshead

Walking around the old and narrow cobbled streets of Hawkshead is like going back into the 17th Century. The old grammar school was founded in 1585 by the Archbishop of York and attended by William Wordsworth. The school closed in 1909 but still looks like it’s still taking students.

The magnificent 17th century church of St Michael & All Angels stands at the highest point of the village and is well worth a look. Hawkshead itself is virtually traffic free and there is a large car park and it costs £3 for the first 2 hours. Their are toilets in the car park although there is a 20 pence charge.

Hawkshead is a fine example of the popularity of English tourist attractions as it’s a busy little place and there seems to be a constant bus load of foreign tourists dropping in for a look at the Beatrix Potter museum, which is great for the UK’s foreign currency earnings!

Hawkshead is probably not the best place to stop if you are wanting to climb some of the highest peaks in The Lake District. It took us well over an hour to drive from Hawkshead to Buttermere to climb Haystacks. There are some local walks from Hawkshead and the Grizedale Forest is nearby. We walked from Hawkshead to Tarn Hows, on our 2nd day, which is a pleasant circular walk of just over 5 miles. These are some of my photos that I took on our visit in July 2016.

Hawkshead, The Lake District
Hawkshead village shop

Hawkshead cobbled lane

Hawkshead cobbled lane

England’s largest lake, Lake Windermere is only a short drive away. Here you can watch the boats and go on a sight seeing cruise.

Lake Windermere - Englands largest lake.
Lake Windermere – Englands largest lake.
Lake Windermere pleasure cruise.
Lake Windermere pleasure cruise.

A walk up Haystacks from Buttermere

It was a windy and overcast day with heavy showers as we parked our car in the car park next to The Fish pub Buttermere before walking along the shore of beautiful Lake Buttermere in The Lake District.

As you approach the end of the lake you will see a path that leads up at 45 degrees and then it’s a fairly steep slog up over fairly rough terrain and boulders. Carry on following the path and you will eventually walk through Scarth Gap. Haystacks involves some scrambling up rocks. Going up is fairly easy but coming down these bits can be slippery underfoot especially when it’s been raining.

The walk took longer than we anticipated because there were heavy showers and we didn’t set a scorching pace! There are several ways you can climb Haystacks. We walked from Buttermere village but you can also park in the car park near Gatesgarth Farm, and you save about 1 mile each way along the lake if you start here. It’s also possible to start the walk at the car park at the Honister Slate Mine and the round trip from Honister is about 5 miles.

Here are some photos I took of our walk including some crazy mountain bikers carrying their bikes up Haystacks.

Buttermere, Lake District
Fleetwith Pike, Buttermere
Buttermere, Lake District and Fleetwith Pike.
Path along Buttermere leading to Haystacks
Mountain bikes being carried up Haystacks.
Mountain bikes being carried up Haystacks.
View over Buttermre from top of Haystacks.
View over Buttermre from top of Haystacks.

Haworth to Top Withens and a nice chat with a wheel clamper !

It was a pleasant September day as we headed for Haworth and Bronte country for a 11km Saturday walk.

I parked the car in the first car park I found in Haworth and walked over to the pay and display machine. It suddenly occurred to me that this might be the car park that has been in the news for wheel clamping. As I approached the ticket machine an elderly man approached and asked if I wanted to buy his book.He said he was also the car park owner. I asked if he was the Haworth car clamper who has been in the news, and he said he was, but that it was all blown out of proportion and he hadn’t clamped anyone for years!

Anyway, my wife, who is an avid reader, bought his book for £10 because he said all the money went to charity and if we displayed the book in the car windscreen we could park for free. I read the sign next to the ticket machine and noticed that the sign said cars must be parked in the bays or they would be clamped. I checked and sure enough I had parked correctly.

Anyway. with boots on, we set off with map in hand past the Bronte Parsonage nearby and followed the path towards cemetery Road which lead eventually from the road to a walkers path towards Bronte Waterfalls. A lady dog walker we chatted to said that we should cover up as there were a lot of midges – we have the bites to prove she was correct !


The path to Bronte Waterfalls is a little rough in parts but the waterfalls themselves are not the most spectacular I have seen but its a pretty spot. On the way there you can see Lower Laithe reservoir on your right. At Bronte Waterfalls we then crossed a small bridge and there is a short steep climb to the top where you can look back on Bronte Waterfalls and fabulous views beyond. It’s probably a good 30 minute walk from here to Top Withens, which you can see in the distance on a hill.

The views from Top Withens are great and we sat on a bench next to the ruins of the old house that was once someones house and are said to have been the inspiration of the novel Wuthering Heights.

Heading back down the hill we joined the Pennine Way and it was a pleasant walk down to the village of Stanbury. After the village turn right and cross the dam of Lower Laithe Resevoir and then left near the water treatment works and back to Cemetery Road and then it’s just a short walk back to the Parsonage in Haworth.

Overall, the walk is about 11km and it took us 3.5 hours.

After a well-earned coffee and cakes at The Stirrup in Haworth village we walked back to the car park. It was when we entered the car park that I noticed there were several annoyed car owners. At least 3 cars had been clamped for parking outside the bays and their owners were remonstrating with the clamper. Our car was not clamped. I went over to talk to the clamper and he said our car was fine. The car owners had to find £90 to have the clamp released and they were not at all happy !

As we headed back to Leeds feeling good about our walk we couldn’t help feeling sorry for the clamped car owners who had by a matter of inches fallen foul of the infamous car clamping rules at Changegate car park.

Cat Bells walk from Littletown

Last weekend I spent two nights in The Lake District. There were four of us and we stayed at Little Town Farm near Keswick, a Bed & Breakfast guest house with amazing views of the Newlands Valley.

We headed off from Leeds on the A65 towards Kendall and Windermere and then north towards Keswick. It’s a few years since I have been to Keswick and it’s now pedestrianised which is great. We checked in at Littletown Farm with a welcome from the owners Rob and Sarah and fresh coffee and homemade cake. The rooms are small, but with comfortable beds and amazing views to the fells from the bedroom windows.

On the Friday night we caught a taxi into Keswick costing £10 and went for a drink at Bar26, a trendy cafe-bar on Lake Road, before heading off to Morrels. Morrels is a restaurant I can highly recommend. For £19.95 we had a superb 3 course meal. Maybe it was the fresh air but the food at Morrels together with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and  nice bottle of Rioja went down very well.My Braised Daube of Beef on Mash with Red Wine & Root Vegetable Gravy was excellent.

The next morning after a very good Cumbrian breakfast at our Bed & Breakfast we put on our walking boots and set off from Little Town to Cat Bells. It’s a fairly steep climb from Little Town but when you reach the top at Hause Gate you get brilliant views of Derwent Water and beyond. At Hause Gate we turned left and headed towards the summit of Cat Bells which is only another 20 minutes walk. As we reached the summit of Cat Bells we were asked if we wanted a cup of tea ! On Cat Bells there was a tent and a group of men were raising money for a trip to Pakistan to climb K7. That tea went down really well and we then headed off down the other side of Cat Bells. During the walk down there are a couple of tricky rocky sections that you have to negotiate. If it’s wet you have to be careful but otherwise you will encounter a steady stream of people including families. It’s no surprise because Cat Bells is one of the most popular walks in Lakeland.

We soon reached the road and we then walked to Hawse End where you can catch the ferry-boat that runs around the lake at regular intervals. Two stops later we arrived in Keswick. It was a Saturday and a busy market day.One of our party had to find a pharmacy as he had been stung. I had an ice cream !

Later, we headed back to the ferry as we were catching the ferry to Brandelhow Bay landing point which is at the south end of Derwent Water. We were heading back to Hawse Gate which involved a steep climb. This is where I discovered that I was not as fit as I should be !

From Hawse Gate we descended down the other side to Little town Farm and I slipped on a loose rock and ended up going down heavily on my knee. There was no lasting damage though and we reached our B&B where we sat outside drinking tea and eating cake in the glorious sunshine.

The next morning after yet another fantastic cooked Cumbrian breakfast we paid our bill and headed off towards Buttermere. It’s a 20 minute drive over a high pass called Newlands Hause and you also see Moss Force waterfall which is a spectacular sight. There is a small parking area where you can stop at this point to take photos and walk over to the falls.

We parked behind the Fish Hotel in Buttermere and our plan was to walk around Buttermere. Buttermere is a beautiful stretch of water surrounded by high fells, one of which is Hay Stacks. It’s about 5 miles around the lake. Our intention was to climb Hay Stacks but the exertions of the previous day had taken its toll on unfit walkers so we decided to leave that for another time. The walk around Buttermere is easy and it’s a popular walk.

Arriving back in Buttermere an hour and a half later we found a nice coffee shop before heading back to the car park to set off on our journey back to Leeds.

I would highly recommend Littletown Farm guest house. The owners are very friendly and they also do evening meals from time to time. We ate there on the Saturday night and we were impressed with the food.

Overall we had a great weekend in The Lake District.





Cow and Calf to Dick Hudsons Walk

Finally, summer 2012 started this weekend !

Yesterday I went on a 5 mile bike ride and today I walked for four hours on Ilkley Moor. I have got the sun and ache a bit but I feel good !

Ten or more years ago the walk between the Cow and Calf rocks and Dick Hudsons pub was a popular walk. The prospect of a pint of real ale at Dick Hudsons before walking back to Ilkley attracted many walkers. However, times seem to have changed, Dick Hudsons seems to attract the Sunday lunchtime daytrippers who travel by car. I watched the car park filling up from the beer garden having walked for 2 hours whilst I drank my pint of orange and lemonade.I needed refreshment before setting off back to Ilkley in 24C and a blue sky !

We parked our car in the Cow and Calf rocks car park and headed upwards. The views from the Cow and Calf are fantastic but the views from the ridge way up from the actual rocks is amazing. We could see Menwith Hill in the distance as well as Ferrybridge Power Station and beyond, as well of course some of the most beautiful Yorkshire Dales scenery you will find.

On the way we walked past The Twelve Apostles which are Bronze Age standing stones estimated to have been there for over 7,000 years.

Parts of the walk were quite boggy after all the rain we have had and we found that the start of the walk from the Cow and Calf car park to be quite difficult to follow as there are many paths heading off in different directions but we soon found the right track.

I can highly recommend this walk. Take a look at the video I took of the walk and if you do the walk and decide to have lunch at Dick Hudsons before you turn around and walk back make sure you take off your muddy boots!

Oops! Sorry about the video. Some of the captions don’t match the images.