Autumnal Walk #3 (see last year’s October blogs for two more great walks to do in the autumn) borrows sections of the Cumbria Way for a great day out in the Little Langdale Valley. It started when we jumped off the #505 Stagecoach Cumbria bus to Coniston from Kendal at the top of Hawkshead Hill on an early October morning one year ago – heading for Tarn Hows.
With the combination of pine, rock and water and the majestic shakei (borrowed scenery) of the Langdale Pikes, Tarn Hows has an almost Japanese garden aesthetic. Tarns are deep mountain lakes that sit high in the hills rather than down in the valleys, and Tarn Hows’ breath-taking sweep of still lake and restless mountain offers superb views as well as accessible and peaceful walks to the many who come here each year. Not that everyone falls for this beauty spot’s charms: Beatrix Potter, who bought the tarn and surrounding land as part of the Monk Coniston estate in 1930, commented tersely that she didn’t see much in the place. Luckily, that didn’t stop her saving this picturesque landscape for the rest of us to enjoy, forever – bequeathing it to the National Trust on her death in 1943.
Next to the Little Langdale valley, for fabulous autumn colours accented by the black-and-white of a herd of Belted Galloways and a surprise sighting of a deer, darting from heathland for the shade and protection of forest.
Bound for Colwith Force (fors in old Norse, meaning waterfall), we stopped first for refreshment at the perfectly situated High Park Farm, another Beatrix Potter gift to the National Trust. Sitting in a terrace garden enjoying teas, coffees and homemade cakes with glorious views of Langdale, it was far from easy to get going again.
Onwards to Colwith Force, though, where a deep forest cascade pummels rock and water in a dripping fairy grotto of sessile oak and moss.
Next come the gentle grasslands flanking Elterwater, en route for Loughrigg Tarn – the hidden gem of this particular walk. Arriving here in the low light of a late afternoon in autumn, we found the tarn a modest mirror, a humble chalice, even – somehow holding all the vastness of the sky. The quiet theatre of the moment was magical.
Last but not least, a balcony walk along Loughrigg Terrace high above Grasmere, a lake whose beauty needs no introduction beyond William Wordsworth’s – the poet called it “the loveliest spot man hath ever known” – and Rydal Water, also much loved by the poet and sister Dorothy. There’s an opportunity here to stop at Rydal Cave for some mystery and majesty; others may prefer a swift pint or a meal at the Badger Bar at Rydal – in our case, out in perfect time for the last 599 service back to Kendal, bath and bed.
Click here for advice on how to stay safe in the hills before heading out on any adventures in the Lake District. Please note also that as with all public transport at the present time, you are advised to wear a face covering unless exempt when travelling by bus in the Lake District.