Saturday 12 November 2011

Windermere's Western Shore

Distance: 10km (including ferry); with Lynsey, Isabel, John, Steph & Sierra

We were away in the south Lakes for the weekend, with John, Steph & Sierra, taking advantage of a cheap room and dinner offer at Ambleside YHA.  There was a nice sounding walk along the western shore of Windermere in our south Lakes ATP walks book, which we decided to go and do today with Isabel in her rucksack carrier.

We set off walking in the sunshine, from a car park approx 1km south of Bowness town centre, at around 11am and wandered the few hundred metres down to the ferry slipway, stopping en route for John to get his caffeine fix!  The ferry was on the far side of the lake, so we admired the views of the lakes, complete with many boats and a lone swan, whilst we waited.

After what has to be one of the cheapest ferry crossings in the country at only 50p per person, we arrived on the western shore, where there was a helpful sign quoting a phone number to ring in case we get stranded on the wrong side!  We followed the road for a short distance before picking up a path around the edge of a harbour filled with boats.

Looking N along Windermere from near the Ferry House
Harbour on Windermere near the Ferry House
Soon we were back on the road again, although this time it was a quiet, minor road.  We followed the dead-end road heading north alongside the lake, before stopping on the shore for lunch of bread, cheese and fruit at around 12:30ish.  The views were good and the sun even came out towards the end of our lunch break.

Boats by Windermere
Uprooted dead tree on W shore of Windermere
After lunch we soon reached the end of the public road and continued northwards on a good track through the trees.  After a few tens of metres we reached the decision point: the ATP walk turned sharp left here and headed uphill but the track alongside the lake also looked appealing.  We decided to choose both options, starting with the lakeside path first!

Beach on Windermere's western shore
Woodland track along W shore of Windermere
The puddly track climbed slightly as we passed behind a caravan park.  At the high point of the track, Steph turned back whilst the rest of us continued northwards with vague plans to try to reach Wray Castle.  However this proved to be somewhat optimistic given the short daylight hours and the fact that we needed to be back at the hostel for dinner at 5:30pm!  So instead we turned around at the junction near Belle Grange and retraced our steps southwards.

Small stream in Belt Ash Coppice
Upon returning to the bridleway junction near the road-end, we forked right and headed uphill on an old stone track covered in fallen leaves.  The path initially looked to level out after only a very short ascent; however this didn't last for long as we soon continued our upwards climb.

Stone path covered in fallen leaves
After a long haul uphill, the path finally levelled out and we stopped for a quick break.  From here there was a choice of paths and we opted for the left-hand option, which gradually led us back down to the lake shore a short distance from the ferry slipway.

Track back down to the lake
After catching the ferry, we headed back to the hostel for our free dinner of sausage and mash, followed by an evening in the hostel with suitable refreshments purchased from the hostel bar, which unfortunately were in bottled form as they hadn't bothered to put any beers on their 3 hand pumps.

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