Walking with; Friends of the Lake District
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The three letters CPD can strike fear into the heart of even the bravest professional, images of power point presentations in dusty classrooms spring to mind, in the world of outdoors however we are fortunate to have a wide range of interesting and stimulating courses that will enable us to inform and educate our clients and provide a better quality service. I had signed up with the Friends of the Lake District to undertake a morning course learning about how invasive species are affecting the area around Elterwater and what actions are being taken to address the threats they pose to native wildlife. It was a stimulating morning spent with like minded people and I learnt a lot about the scourges of American Skunk Cabbage, Himalayan Balsam and the infamous Japanese Knotweed. We also learned about the project designed to help preserve Freshwater Pearl Mussels, a species pretty much unique to the area and who’s degree of endangerment is the same as that of the Giant Panda or Siberian Tiger. We walked from Elterwater along Langdale Beck and then on to Colwith before cutting through Fletcher’s Wood and making our way back to the starting point. It’s great that friends of the Lake District are offering a range of courses over the Summer that are free to practitioners and will enable us to provide greater context to our customers when we visit these areas of the National Park.
I’d originally thought about heading home but as it was such a gorgeous day I made the decision to head over to Borrowdale and stick the tent up at Chapel House farm, a great little site with mountain views. I set off down towards the hamlet of Stonethwaite in the late afternoon sun, the fields were full of Herdwick lambs and as I followed the Cumbria Way below Heron Crag I was filled with a feeling of overwhelming well being. Above Rosthwaite the path started to climb and the views towards the Honister Pass began to open out, with not another soul to be seen, I sat and drank in the magnificent views. I made it up to Puddingstone Bank and headed South over rough, scrubby moorland until I climbed up towards Great Crag and came upon the delightfully situated Dock Tarn. My descent that initially followed Willygrass Gill before dropping very steeply through beautiful Oak woodland took me back down towards Stonethwaite and the welcome sight of the “Langstrath Country Inn”. I spent a very (perhaps overly) convivial evening here chatting to a local farmer, a surveyor of historical trees and the very friendly host, I will definitely be back and recommend the pub wholeheartedly.
The next morning, perhaps a little later than intended ;-), I headed over the Honister Pass and down into Buttermere. I took the higher woodland path through Burtness Wood and was rewarded with close up views of a foraging Red Squirrel, a rare treat. The path dropped down to the water’s edge before climbing sharply up towards the Scarth Gap Pass above beautiful fields of Bluebells almost the equal of the more feted ones down the road in Rannerdale. On reaching the pass and after enjoying the views towards Pillar, I made my way up to the summit of Haystacks which involved a small but enjoyable amount of hands on rock action. Haystacks is perhaps best known as the favourite summit of Alfred Wainwright who described it thus; “for beauty, variety and interesting detail, for sheer fascination and unique individuality, the summit area of Haystacks is supreme”. It’s certainly a wonderful spot with views towards Great Gable, Kirk Fell and the Scafells on one side and across to Grasmoor on the other. After some lunch I dropped down to Innominate Tarn where Wainwright’s ashes were scattered and then followed the path above Green Crag and down to Blackbeck Tarn. My descent took me down the steep but spectacular descent to the West of Warnscale Beck. I passed Warnscale Bothy and on sticking my head through the door discovered a homely, clean, inviting looking shelter that I will certainly head back and spend a night in some time. The views over Buttermere and Crummock Water were as good as any I’ve seen in a long time and it reminded me just how spectacular the Lake District can be! I eventually ended up at Gatesgarth Farm after passing below the white memorial cross to Fanny Mercer, the Victorian servant girl who fell to her death from the cliff above. A gentle wander along the lake side led me back to Buttermere after two very enjoyable days spent educating myself and exploring, time well spent!