Lakes Weekend 2019, Linear walk — Ambleside to Windermere, Sunday 5th May


Reporter: Reporter Bill Matthews

This year’s walk lead by Helen Richardson was linear rather than circular between Ambleside and Windermere. Hence our leader was concerned more than usual for careful planning to ensure transport was available to both ends of the walk. We were all meeting up from different points and so the local bus service was fundamentally involved. The 10 walkers, including Wallace and Barney, turned up promptly at Waterhead, Ambleside, mainly by bus, which allowed a good start.

Initially, our route lead steeply uphill through Skelghyll Wood looking beautiful at the height of the bluebell season and seasoned by aroma of wild garlic. We needed our leader as there are numerous paths through here and we chose the least tramped thus avoiding the 'crowds'. Hence we reached the first of our inspiring viewpoints above Windermere Lakeat the rocky perch known as Jenkins Crag.

Fortunately the weather on the climb had been dry and cool but soon after a brief shower emerged but was quickly dispelled by the usual practice of donning all waterproofs… unnecessarily! After that brilliant sunshine facilitated lots of photo shots in sparkling mixed scenery with swaiths of primroses to hand. The pace so far had been undemanding so that the defibrilator on the Historic House/Church rooms of Low Fold proved un-needed. Low Fold is a classic pretty Lakeland village with an outlook to die for. At this point, Whitley abandoned the group and made her way back to the main A591 highway. It was brave of her to have joined the hike given her troublesome legs — troublesome to her that is!

Shortly afterwards we had a brief lunch and a fine overview of same pretty hamlet and Jesus Church, by Trout Beck (river). Wallace and Barney were well behaved. They ate only their own lunch. Some ladies went to investigate the picturesque hillside graveyard close by.

The call of a cuckoo nearby initiated closely contested versions of the cuckoos life cycle. Long live the cuckoo! We set off once more at a more brisk pace into open countryside and,perhaps, the longest climb of the day.Someone remarked on the hollow sound beneath our feet. Thankfully the dry spring weather ensured good going underfoot throughout the hike.

There were many pretty scenes as we skirted small woodlands but the most outstanding was a side visit into the extensive Holehird Gardens, maintained by National Trust volunteers to a very high standard. Plants hereare chosen for adaptation to a semi-alpine climate. We had difficulty identifying some of them.

One mile later we emerged at Orrest Head brow giving stupendous views through a 270° angle as far as Morecambe Bay, some 18 miles or so away. A plinth showing points of interest through 180 degrees, allowed us to identify peaks of the Langdale Pikes etc. It should be possible to spot the Richardsons' pad from this point. Unfortunately it had been omitted from the direction plate. The land and access to Orrest Head was donated in perpetuity by one Arthur Heywood. Better known, Alfred Wainwright had his first taste of Lake District walking here.

After transitting Common Wood, we descended the south slope all the way down into Windermere town and nearly to the Richardsons house before realising that EVERYONE wanted to extend the walk UPHILL to School Knott (about 4 pm); another half mile each way.

Helen and Brian are blessed, having this impressive short evening climb through fresh plantations right on their doorstep. Apparently, Alfred Wainwright also described School Knott with its small tarn beyond its summit in his memoirs.

Now becoming chill, we rapidly descended and gratefully accepted the hospitality of tea and cakes, courtesy of Helen.

So everything thanks to Helen throughout.