Category Archives: The Lake District

Poet climbs Scafell

In August 1802, poet, scholar and journalist Samuel Taylor Coleridge set off on a tough 9-day walking and climbing tour of the Lake District, which would include Scafell, the second highest peak in England.  It’s interesting to see how he went equipped. For a walking stick he dismantled a broom, to the annoyance of his wife. His knapsack was made of a square of green oilskin, closed by string, and inside

. . . he carried a spare shirt, stockings, cravat, and night-cap (which seems to have been Coleridge’s equivalent of a sleeping bag), together with paper twists of tea and sugar, his Notebook, and half a dozen quills with a portable inkwell.”  – Early Visions by Richard Holmes

Coleridge is said to be the first “outsider” to climb Scafell and his descent is hailed as the first ever recreational rock climb.  It was a memorable piece of improvisation. Threatened by an approaching storm, he chose a way down, without any idea of what lay below.  He found himself descending a series of ledges, a kind of giant’s staircase, known today as Broad Stand. As the ledges grew further apart, he lowered himself over them and let himself drop.  The succession of jolts soon “put my whole Limbs in a Tremble, and  . . . I began to suspect that I ought not to go on . . ” Continue reading Poet climbs Scafell

Record rainfall in the Lake District

The Guardian’s Country Diary has a vivid description of the recent torrential rain in the Lake District, which resulted in the catastrophic flooding of the Cockermouth area. Here’s an extract:

Sheets of precipitation ran off the waterlogged ground and into the becks and rivers, which stampeded downhill causing landslides and destroying bridges and collapsing embankments.  . . . few Lakeland valleys escaped. Waterfalls cascaded down crags, sweeping scree on to roads so that rocks litter the tarmac, some big enough to have smashed through drystone walls and leave gouges in the fellsides in their wake.

About 25 cm of rain fell in 24 hours, making it the wettest day ever recorded in Cumbria. This quantity is the equivalent of the rainfall usually experienced in the Southeast of England over 5-6 months. Newcastle University researchers have found that rainstorms in the UK have doubled in intensity over the last 40 years, due in part to increased water evaporation from warmer seas.

Taking the Corpse Road

One of the pleasures of walking is knowing the history of your path, why it exists and who walked there before.

The need for Corpse Roads disappeared centuries ago, though a few are still known by that name.  When population was low and villages were widely scattered, the nearest consecrated ground could be miles away, across harsh and inhospitable terrain.  Sometimes coffins had to be abandoned in blizzards, miles from anywhere.  When weather improved, they would be picked up and the journey resumed.   Coffin-bearing horses bolted with fright during storms, never to be seen again, but living on in legends and ghost stories. Continue reading Taking the Corpse Road

Eco-cabin in Cumbria

Unique architect-designed woodland hideaway, designed with both eco-consciousness and comfort in mind with views overlooking Windermere. The sleek cabin occupies its own small woodland where you can watch red squirrels from the windows. A short walk to the pubs and shop at Sawrey. From £500 for the week (low season – and only sleeps two). Visit the Love shack (not sure about that name)

Also check out this barn for rent in Cumbra

National Trust campsite in Lake District

The location is hard to beat – a few minutes walk from Wastwater, England’s deepest lake, and at the foot of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain. Wasdale campsite is in a perfect location for walkers or those simply looking to escape crowds and trappings of civilisation (no mobile signal).  Good facilities and friendly staff.  More information at the National Trust.

On the origin of the Lake District

The area we now call the Lakes was once much wilder. Continue reading On the origin of the Lake District