Since her arrival as a volunteer in January this year, Katy Moore has been working on a very exciting project for the hostel. With the involvement of the Royal Geographic Society she has devised a really unique walk that has even more than beautiful scenery to interest you. Here, Katy describes what she has entitled 'A Walk of Art'.
'I am sure many of you are familiar with the walking route which passes the Lodore Falls, the Bowder Stone, Watendlath, Surprise View, and our very own waterfall. However, I hope the walk commentary that I have written for the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) Discovering Britain series will reveal some lesser known and thought provoking aspects of the Borrowdale Valley. I have certainly learnt a lot in the process of walking, writing, and recording the walk.
Starting and finishing at the hostel, the 8 mile Walk of Art moves through three centuries of landscape art and explores our changing attitudes to an ancient and varied landscape. Comparing the actual views with sketches and paintings, you can consider how much the area has changed, and reflect on how much our modern view of the landscape has been influenced by artistic styles and theories, such as Romantic notions of the sublime, the beautiful, and the picturesque.
Walking through ice-carved valleys, you can also explore 490 million years of landscape change, bringing to life the volcanic activity, glaciation, and farming practices that have made the Lake District such a fascinating place to live, visit, and paint.'
The Director of The Royal Geographical Society (RGS-IGB), Dr Rita Gardner, said: ‘This unique walk explores the cultural geography of the Lake District, looking at how our view of it has been shaped and filtered through artistic depictions over the centuries.’
The walk is designed to be self-guided, and you can download the route and description (in written or audio version) from Walk of Art webpage. You are also welcome to borrow a booklet describing the walk from our reception.
A couple of staff have already enjoyed the walk - we would love you to do the walk too and let us know what you think of it. You can also leave reviews on the Walk of Art webpage.
Liverpool Harriers certainly brought the good weather with them when they arrived with their junior athletes for the Club’s second visit to the hostel. This year they brought a lot of younger athletes with them – some as young as thirteen and fourteen. This gave the leaders, Adrian, Julie and Pete, quite a challenge in balancing a training schedule so that it would accommodate the different levels and strengths of the athletes.
However, Adrian and Julie are old hands and came up with an itinerary that could suit all the young athletes. On the first morning they all ran up Bleaberry Fell (590m), which is the fell directly behind the hostel and accessed from a path beginning at the scenic Ashness Bridge. But first of all they had to conquer the steep steps up by the side of our waterfall - which was a wake-up for quite a few of them! The younger ones were allowed to come back to the hostel for hot showers and a clean up, but the older ones pressed onwards and upwards towards High Seat, the next fell on the ridge.
Joe Ford, one of the older athletes in the club wrote:
'I have only very recently joined Liverpool Harriers, and I have been made to feel welcome by coaches, athletes and parents. Recently two training groups went on a weekend of running in Keswick,Lake District. Twenty five athletes and three coaches went on the weekend and I'm sure everybody enjoyed the hospitality of the staff at the youth hostel.
The hostel was very close to a long trail up the mountain and the route around the lake. Over the weekend we did three sessions. The first session was a run up Bleaberry Fell. Once we reached the top of the mountain we were supposed to run up to High Seat but because of a little difficulty on navigation we ended up trying out gorge running!'
After a packed lunch eaten in the sunshine at the hostel, they set off once again for another training run. You’d think after all this exercise they would be exhausted and sleepy, but everyone was in high spirits with lots of energy left to have fun in the evening.
The next morning was another warm and sunny day - perfect for another run on the fells after tucking into a very healthy breakfast. Joe says, 'We did a 13 mile run around the bottom of Catbells. With half an hour of the run to go we stopped off in Keswick and Lynn bought everybody a drink of their choice. We then set off again back towards the hostel'. This third run in two days - and for some of the older ones 40 miles in two days – seemed to finally tire some of them out and I think a lot of them slept well in the mini-bus back to Liverpool!
Joe said of the trip, 'The coaching on the weekend was second to none. All the coaches played their parts well and did well to keep up with the older lads. A big thanks to Adrian, Lynn and Pete for being such good coaches on the weekend.'
Our intrepid Senior Assistant, Nicola, has been challenging herself again on her trusty bicycle!
'We never did decide whose idea it was, but there was a lot of cursing of that person in particular on the route. My two friends, Gill and Helen,and I had entered the Mini Massif course of the Cycling Weekly Lakeland Monster Miles course in early October. Although it was fine as dawn broke, Cumbria soon had its way and the rain and wind laid into us. The route was 44 miles, basically a lap of Skiddaw and Bassenthwaite Lake, with a side trip to Cockermouth. Almost half of it was off-road, so we were all riding mountain bikes. The going was easy to start with, starting from Fitz Park and then along the railway line and gated road to Mungrisedale. Then the toughness began, with a bridleway along the side of Carrock Fell, past some abandoned mines. The terrain was loose shingle with sharp uphill gradients. The getting off and pushing started just as the rain began to lash down.
After some freewheeling down the other side (and wading through a ford) we were back on the tarmac, using the quiet roads to get us to the Lake District Wildlife Park, where we wolfed down bourbon biscuits and crisps at the feed station. Getting cold we set off again, this time onto another bridleway which could best be described as quagmire. The mud was at least a foot deep and there were some rather nasty large puddles (or small lakes…). We all rode our bikes as much as we could and tried not to fall off. At least the rain had stopped, but we were all completely covered in mud by this point.
Some more back roads and another bridleway up through a pretty beech forest and we had reached Gill’s husband Mike, who was marshalling, and their collie dog Peggy. We could hear them from quite a distance, with Peggy excitedly barking and Mike ringing his cow bell. It really helped to keep us motivated. Next was a trip through Cockermouth town centre, then onto the back roads to Wythop Mill and onto the last bridleway to Whinlatter Forest and Thornthwaite and Braithwaite. Not being mountain bikers, we sensibly walked our bikes down the steep drop-offs coming off the bridleway onto the forest roads.
We all finished in a time of 7 hours and 40 minutes. This seemed quite a long time, but the route was incredibly tough. We were really pleased to finish, especially after we were told that quite a lot of entrants dropped out, and there weren’t many women in the event anyway. Go the girls!'
We are really proud of Nicola for battling on through such tough conditions and are quite inspired. Maybe we’ll see some of you there next year!
Chester and Wales IVC are a group of graduates, professionals and, most importantly, like-minded individuals who love to get together on a social basis to enjoy a range of activities. The 'IVC' stands for Inter Varsity Club, which was the name given to the first club of its kind in the 1940s. They are a very active group and they really do know how to make the most of their trips. Josie from the club, who organised their recent Derwentwater Youth Hostel visit, sent us this description of their weekend:
'Chester and North Wales IVC have been visiting our favourite hostel at Derwentwater for the past 15 years. Its warm welcome and relaxed, friendly atmosphere suits us well. We love the walk from the hostel, climbing up the waterfall in the grounds then across Ashness Bridge, stopping at Surprise View with its glorious views West over the lake. The walk along the stream is stunning then, just on time, you arrive at the old farm cafe at Watendlath, with its tarn and ducks – and delicious cakes and tea. The climb up over the fells is spectacular and then drops down into beautiful Borrowdale.
We usually grab lunch at the pub in Rosthwaite, and last year saw the end of the fell running race in the field opposite. Along the tumbling river back past Castle Crag to Grange, then it’s the board path over the reed beds to a home cooked meal at the hostel and a beer in one of the cosy lounges after11 miles. Our best turnout was 43 people a couple of years ago. We all love it and try to come back every year. One couple met on the trip, got engaged the following year at the edge of the lake and now are married with a lovely little girl. There are lots of fantastic walks, the boat trip around the lake and of course , Keswick itself.
We would recommend the hostel to everyone who loves a great place to stay, in possibly the most beautiful location in the country.'
We are so glad they all had a wonderful time and are very grateful to Josie for such a lovely, descriptive piece. We’ll see you all next year!
Winter can be an amazing time to visit the Lake District. Some of the driest, clearest weather occurs during the winter months, and you can enjoy its beauty with fewer crowds about.
A fantastic walk on a bright, crisp winter’s day, all wrapped up warm and snug, just can’t be beaten. Whether you stick to a lower level route or approach the peaks armed with ice-axes and crampons you are guaranteed a wonderful day out. Cycling on quieter roads or firmer ground for off-road biking also has its benefits. Or for the speedier amongst you, an exhilarating run can be enjoyed free of crowds on the fells or traffic on the small roads. And when you come back glowing from the crisp, cold air, you can sit and relax in front of our lovely log fire, toasting your toes and sipping a hot chocolate – or maybe something a little stronger from our bar!
For those of you are aspiring photographers, the clarity of light at this time of year is something special. Some of the best photographs of the Lake District are of winter scenes, with the sharp, bright whiteness of the snow contrasting with clear azure skies and the sun making the snow sparkle like diamonds.
There is plenty of wildlife to watch – or photograph – too. We have a lot of migrating birds, such as whooper swans and goldeneye on the Lake, and around the hostel there are waxwings and fieldfares. Our red squirrels are more occasional visitors than at other times of the year, but on a fine day they can still be watched from our dining room. We are more likely to see deer in the late autumn and winter too.
The Lake itself is great on a calm day for canoeing or kayaking – last winter one of our volunteers, Davy, went out on the lake every opportunity he could. Most people aren’t as hardy as our volunteer Katy. who plunges into the lake without a wetsuit (even in January!). For the more realistic among us, there is a lovely heated pool at Keswick!
There is also plenty going on in the area over the winter months to enjoy. Some of the events coming up are described below, but you can always be guaranteed a good evening’s entertainment either at the Theatre by the Lake or the Alhambra Cinema. And we will be holding another night of live music and dancing with a Ceilidh in February.
We can thoroughly recommend a winter stay – although it may be colder, you might find that you get better weather than in August!
We had a very pleasant surprise this month when Tim Roberts, our one-time Catering Senior, returned for a five-day visit. Whilst he was here he did a number of walks, but this is the one he wanted to share with our readers:
'Skiddaw is the peak that dominates the view at the end of the lake and I can thoroughly recommend a hike to the top . The majority of people start from Keswick, but I think the best way is to start from just off the road that leads to Orthwaite (the bus from Keswick will drop you off at the road end). From there, you pick up the Allerdale Ramble, which takes you over the lesser frequented tops of Ullock Pike and Carlside. The views along this section are fantastic and I can’t recommend it enough. Whilst there are hoards of people trekking up the main path from Keswick, I encountered just a couple of folks – until I reached the summit and met up with all those who had made it up the other way! On the way down you have a choice of route. Obviously you can go back the way you came and enjoy the views the other way, or you can rejoin the masses and come down the main path into Keswick for a satisfying circular route. Alternatively, you can make your way over Sale Fell to Skiddaw House and then pick up the Cumbria Way back to Keswick via the beautiful Glenderaterra Valley. The choice is yours!'