Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Ullswater Way - In the Footsteps of Dorothy Wordsworth

Penrith, Cumbria. Summer-2020.

Ullswater is our nearest lake and there is an Ullswater Way, a circular walk of 20 miles (plus a couple of additional, optional loops). Over the two lockdowns this was part of our exercise regimen, doing the complete route in sections. The walks are described below in chronological rather than geographical order.

Part way through this I was contacted by Paul Westover of Brigham Young University who is compiling an open-source electronic edition of some of Dorothy (sister of William) Wordsworth’s Lakeland writings. Unfortunately, the pandemic had made it impossible for him to visit Cumbria and take his own photographs. I happily gave him permission to use any pictures from the blog. Also his wish list of photos gave us purpose and focus to our later walks - as well as being delightful walks in their own right.

Pooley Bridge to Howtown and back (20-May-2020).

Our first section of the Ullswater Way: a circular walk from Pooley Bridge on a beautiful sunny day.

We parked up at Pooley Bridge car park which was free at that time because work on the new bridge was still in progress. Lovely undulating path, sunshine and blue skies.

It's not often you come across a finger post in Latin signposting the way between two Roman forts.

A stop for Mary to adjust her socks and me to admire the view.

Dalemain Loop (06-June-2020)

Our second walk was not around Ullswater itself but a pleasant, easy walking optional loop north from Pooley Bridge.

Passing the 14th Century Dacre Castle.

As we passed a field of cows they all came ambling over to have a good peer at us. I suspect they thought we might be bringing food!

There were some lovely wooded paths.

Clover was in full bloom.

Aira Force to Patterdale (and back) (24-Jun-2020)

A section of the north shore. Not wanting to rely on the infrequent bus service along the shore we decided to do an out-and-back walk from Aira Force.

Pleasant low-level paths through woods and fields.

Hallin Fell (11-Jul-2020 morning)

Another loop where the lakeside section is part of the Ullswater Way.

We parked up near St Peter's church. The walk starts with a steep uphill to a monument with stunning views.  

The descent to the shore was via a route Mary found on the internet, on a path not shown on the OS map. Followed by an anti-clockwise loop along the Ullswater Way to Sandwick and then back up to the car on paths and country lanes.

Dorothy mentions visiting “Harry Hebson’s house” in Sandwick: “I longed to go in for the sake of former times.” Sandwick is tiny but we have no way of knowing which of the half dozen cottages was Harry's house.

Joining the Dots (11-Jul-2020 afternoon)

We could not claim to have done the whole of the Ullswater Way if we missed even a single footstep. So we devised a route using the OS maps making sure we included the missed sections around Howtown connecting Hallin Fell and where we turned back on our very first walk. 

North of Howtown we managed to find an out-and-back that used parallel paths so we were not literally retracing our foot steps. Lovely views of the lake on this section.

Gowbarrow Fell (16-Jul-20)

The Ullswater Way has two routes around Gowbarrow Fell. We did it as a circuit as we were on our own thus ensuring we covered both branches of this section. Dorothy Wordsworth mentions seeing a “large Troop” of deer at Gowbarrow Park but there were none on the day we were there. 

We parked up at the Aira Force carpark (for free as we are NT members) and started up alongside the beck. Then it was steep climb up to the summit but we were rewarded with great views.

Unfortunately on the home stretch Mary slipped and fell heavily on her foot. She hobbled back to the car and we drove straight to the Urgent Treatment Centre at Penrith Hospital where they fitted her with a surgical boot. As it was a Saturday we had to return on the Monday for an X-ray which indicated that nothing appeared to be broken but it took a third visit, this time to Carlisle, to get a specialist to confirm. This put her out of action so it was a while before we got back to the Ullswater Way. 

Pooley Bridge to Aira Force (11-Oct-2020)

This straightforward section completing the north side was scenic and not too strenuous.

We were able to do a one-way walk because friends were visiting us between lockdowns and did the "two car shuffle" - park one car, drive to the other end in the second car, walk back to the first car and use that to retrieve the second car.

Patterdale to Townhead (14-Oct-2020 morning)

The southern shore has no through roads so we did this and the next section in a single day with the aforementioned friends and another "two car shuffle" parking up at Patterdale and Pooley Bridge. 

A rainbow near the start of our walk - you can just see the hint of a double rainbow on the left hand side.

The path goes past Side Farm of which Dorothy Wordsworth wrote "Mrs. Luff’s large white Dog lay in the moonshine upon the round knoll under the old yew tree, a beautiful and romantic image – the dark Tree with its dark shadow, and the elegant creature as fair as a Spirit." We were able to confirm that a yew tree is still there but which of the three in the grounds of the farm (one on the left, two on the right) it is impossible to tell.

Townhead to Pooley Bridge (14-Oct-2020 afternoon)

After a picnic lunch we continued the second part of the day-long walk, covering some of the same ground as our very first walk.

Pleasant wooded paths undulating up and down.

Stybarrow crag from across the lake, photo taken especially for Paul Westover.

It was getting a bit overcast and atmospheric by the time we finished at Pooley Bridge.

So we can tick the Ullswater Way off the list but given as how it is our nearest lake I am sure we will do some repeat walks.

No comments: