The Lake District National Park are said to be the most  beautiful national park in Britain, so we decided to hop there for a couple of days. Traditionally I met my fiancee in London where we were waiting for a night Megabus to Edinburgh, which departs daily at 22:30 from London Victoria Coach Station.

Emperor Hadrian’s legacy

We approached at Newcastle upon Tyne on Saturday 8th July at 4:50. After short walking down the city centre and breakfast we went to the first train towards Carlisle at 6:30, which took us to Halfwhistle. After short walking and hitchiking we reached Hadrian’s Wall, which spreads on south border of Northumberland National Park (Pic.1,2).

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Pic.1 Hadrian’s wall trajectory (plotted with blue) with Hadrian’s Wall Path, which goes alongside. Yellow rectangular refers to Pic.2 below (Google Earth).
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Pic.2 Hadrian’s Wall structure near Halfwhistle: 1 – Gated milecastle fortlet, 2 – The wall, 3 – Steep north hillside outside the Wall, 4 – The Vallum earthwork (Google Earth).

Hadrian’s Wall, also called as a Roman Wall was a defensive fortification in the Roman province of Britannia. It was built after 122 AD. Hadrian’s Wall ran from the banks of the river Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea. Totally length was 80
roman miles (117,5km) (Pic.3).

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Pic. 3 The Hadrian’s Wall trajectory throughout the Britain with the main forts (oddyseyadventure.ca).

The Roman Wall had a stone base and a stone wall and contains a forts about every five roman miles. It contains 80 small gated milecastle fortlets also (Pic.2,3).
Hadrian’s wall was built in general on the range of hills situated on the south edge of Northumberland National Park. Hadrian took advantage from hills assymetricity,
because north hillsides are very steep and hard to reach by enemies.
The main purpose of constructiuon was “separation the Romans from the barbarians”.
Everybody, who saw Hadrian’s Wall, could see the Vallum too (pic.2,4).

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Pic.4 The Vallum earthwork.

The Vallum was a huge earthwork associated with Hadrian’s Wall. The Vallum comprises a ditch 6m wide and 3m deep with a flat bottom, flanked by two mounds about 6m wide
and 2m high. On some parts of the distance Vallum was cut through solid rock. This earthwork run close to the rear of the Wall where topography allowed.
The Vallum nave been constructed some time after the wall was completed. This earthwork was like an additional rampart alongside the wall. There would have been a
crossing point like a causeways or bridges to the south of each wall-fort.

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Pic.5 Gated milecastle fortlet.
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Pic.6 Hadrian’s Wall in a proxinity.
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Pic.7 The Craig Loch Range with the Hadrian’s Wall.
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Pic.8 Steep and somewhere covered by vegetation north hillside.

Once you walk the Hadrian’s Wall Path you can admire beautiful landscape of southern Northumberland National Park (Pic.9).

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Pic.9 Northumberland National Park.

Northumberland National Park is the northernmost national park in England, which covers an area up to the Scottish border. The Craig Loch range with the Hadrian’s wall is the southernmost part of this national park. You can see also north Penninies from
here.

Welcome to Cumbria

Cumbria, known as a former Cumberland from Roman Ages. This is predominantly rural and mountainous area, contains the Lake District country and north-eastern part of Yorkshire Dales National Park. The cumbrian’s mountains contains every peak in England over 3000 feet (910m) above sea level.
The capital of Cumbria is Carlisle. This is the largest settlement in this county with over 71k inhabitants. Actually Carlisle is a town with wealth history. It’s not a problem to visit the city centre, where is a castle, a cathedral, city walls and citadel towers (Pic.10,11).

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Pic.10 Carlisle Citadel.
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Pic.11 Castle in Carlisle.

The first Citadel building was a Tudor fortification replacing the medieval Englishgate. Some of the buildings like Carlisle railway station are designed in the neo-Tudor style.

Towards Mountains

Our time in Cumbria wasn’t so long. We approached there around 11:10 and our the earliest direct bus to Keswick departs usually 12:10 on Saturdays. There is not so many direct buses to Keswick from Carlisle. Alternatively you have to go first to Penrith and then change to another bus. In general whole area is well served by Stagecoach bus.

Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire offers a lot of discounted tickets. Once you are going for a longer time it’s good to buy e.g. a weekrider for 27GBP only (single ticket from Carlisle to Keswick costs nearly 8GBP) and travel as much as you like! We decided to buy a dayrider for 10GBP per person. One dayrider ticket allows you to make as many journeys as you like within Cumbria and North Lancashire Area (Lake District National Park + Carlisle, Penrith, Kendal, Workington and Barrow-in-Furness). For someone who wants to visit surrounding area is a very good deal.
The Stagecoach from Carlisle to Keswick as usual goes slow, it calls at many villages on route. It’s good, because you can see many places either the closest or the most remote. The most inspiring place, which we saw en- route to Keswick was Authorn Radio Station, overlooking the Solway Firth near to Scottish border  (Pic.12,13).

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Pic.12 View towards Anthorn Radio Station from A596 road.
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Pic.13 Anthorn Radio Station from the Universe (Google Earth)

 

Rainy mountainland

Once we came to Keswick the weather was completely down. After 13:00 started to rain and nothing indicated to quick improvement. Only hope was in the satellite images, which
was showing that a cloudless sky is coming from Ireland. Anyway the region was under the huge low-pressure area and every weather forecast warned aboutrain and wind. I personally predicted that after 16:00 weather will be better. It was nearly the time to go to the mountain bothy, where we was planning to stay next 2 nights.

We were visiting mainly south lakes area with Windermere (Pic.14) and Ambleside (Pic.15).

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Pic.14 House buildings in Windermere.
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Pic.15 Ambleside seen throughout rainy glasses of Stagecoach.

Very nice villages – I can say. Especially when you notice that largely every house is built by local slate (Pic.16).

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Pic.16 Slate is using to build a houses.

We were back to Keswick around 16:30, did shopping for our mountain adventure and caught the last bus towards Honister Pass at 17:30. It wasn’t raining already, even sun was trying to look at us throughout obscene nimbostratus.

Two completely wet “idiots”

We approached the Honister Pass around 18:00. The weather was not so good, but it wasn’t raining. The area was almost invisible because of the nimbostratus fog. On top of that was drizzling. The way to the Dubs Hut bothy wasn’t so complicated. We though, well hard-surfaced road leads into Honister Slate Mine on the top of a mountain and some unsurfaced road leads into next valley, where Dubs Hut is situated (around 1,5km trekking) (Pic.17) is not a big problem for us. Once we set, we will approach the bothy after tens minutes. Unfortunately whole plan went down, when an awful downpour was coming (Pic.18). We were exactly in the middle of a hilltop, where started to rain with small hail. On top of that wind became more strong, and it made almost horizontal rain.We had everything wet suddenly (Pic.19).

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Pic.17 Trekking to the Dubs Hut Bothy, P – Honistr Pass Parking, ^ – Dubs Hut Bothy, o – Honister Slate Mine area
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Pic.18 Downpour on Honister Pass area.
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Pic.19 We were completely wet.

We started to be very angry because of the weather. My fiance suspected, that someone may be inside the bothy. I denied it, because in my opinion nobody wanted to go to some
stupid bothy on the top of the valley on that time.When my fiance saw two poor wet sheep next to the road she said: “O tutaj dwa barany” which means “O see two
sheep here”, and next she added “A tu kolejne dwa barany” when indicated for us, which means “And another two idiots here”. In Polish baran means a sheep and an idiot also 🙂 She wanted to say that this part of the trip completely doesn’t make sense.

The situation was getting worse, because my phone and camera started getting wet and I couldn’t open and read my pictures of bothy area captured in the Google Earth software. On the slate mine area we found some abandoned sidecar, which was our sanctuary for a while (Pic.20).

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Pic.20 Our temporary sanctuary in Honister Slate Mine area.

After check the route again we set towards bothy and approach there after next 20 minutes in rain, wind and fog.

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Pic.21 The Dubs Hut Bothy.

Unfortunately the Dubs Hut was fully occupied, and all the more so everything inside was wet. Finally we decided to retreat and go to sleep in the nearest YHA hostel on Honister Pass.
We were surprised, when the YHA service said us that they don’t have places to sleep. It was weird for us, because when you come to any mountain hut you have right to sleep ! This right doesn’t work in UK unfortunately. Guy didn’t care about our situation and he almost left us outside. Hopfully after long consultation he phoned to neighbouring YHA based in Buttermere. Eventually I slept on Honister Pass YHA and my fiance in Buttermere 🙂

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Pic.22 Left – Dubs Hut Bothy, everything was occupied even each hunger, Right – My completely wet clothes and items in the YHA Honister Pass before I got to know about dryer room ;).

The most outstanding area…

It’s time to change this story and provide some pleasant whiles during this trip, so…

Another 3 days of our staying in the Lake District weren’t bad. Our clothes were dry after 2 days, however it stopped raining on Sunday morning, so we could take a look around the mountains.
Trip Advisor says, that the best place in the Lake District National Park is a Derwent Water – a lake spreads south from Keswick. The view is really nice from there (Pic.36), but I have my best places in this area:

1. Warnscale Head bothy – The best located hut, which I have seen. You can enjoy owe-inspiring view on Buttermere Valley. This bothy is situated on the bottom of gully. The hut is much better accessible than Cwm LLuest Bach coz you have around hard-surfaced road and clear path from nearest bus stop on Honister Pass and just 2km by path from public road at Gatesgarth. Warnscale Head is quite small, but amazing (pic.23,24,25). It was built in the 1750s for the slate mine. The bothy is being renovated since 1985. We wish we could sleep here when the weather could be better, because the hut is just on a stone throw from Dubs Hut bothy. This is one of the best home for travellers wishing to undertake day trip into the English highest mountain – Scaffel Peak 976m.

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Pic.23 Warnscale Head bothy and the Buttermere Valley beyond.
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Pic.24 Warnscale Head bothy inside.
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Pic.25 This only window overlookes on owe-inspiring Buttermere Valley with outstanding lakes.
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Pic.26 The Warnscale Head bothy is perched on percipitous crags and can be difficult to find during the twilight and bad weather.

2. Honister Slate Mine – is the last working slate mine in England. Quarrying has been taken place in the area since 1728. Closed in 1981 and reopen in 1997 by a local
businessman. Today apart from the mining, it is also a popular tourist attraction in the Lake District National Park (Pic.27,28,29,30). Honister area with Buttermere is
also a copper mining area. Buttermore copper mines were working nearly 4 centuries since 1560s until 1810s.

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Pic.27 Honister Slate Mine, basic view from the road.

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Pic.28,29,30 Slate exploatation.

3. Scale Force waterfall – it is the highest waterfall in the Lakeland (54m) (Pic.31). “It plungs into a gorge whose luxuriant birch and rowan indicate the natural
cover of this hill ground in places not nibbled by sheep”(Pic.32). During the rainy weather the noise and spate are very impressive. Water-washed rocks around are clean and slippery, so you must pay attention.

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Pic.31 Scale Force waterfall.
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Pic.32 Scale Force waterfall in the deep gorge covered by vegetation.

4. Ambleside – is a small, charm town with unique buildings based on slate. The most interesting of them is the Bridge House, which was built more than 300 years
ago as a summer house and apple store. (Pic.33,34).

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Pic.33 Ambleside – North Road buildings.
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Pic.34 The Bridge House  – former apple store in Ambleside.

5. Grisedale Tarn – is a tarn, legendary resting place of the crown of the kingdom of Cumbria in X w. Grisedale Tarn has a depth of around 35m. (Pic.35) “It holds brown
trout, perch and eels”.This a good vantage point also. You can see the Irish
Sea, Scaffel Peak and Cross Fell – the highest peak in Penninies Mountains.

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Pic.35 Grisedale Tarn and Dollywagon Pike (880m) beyond.

I would like to show another photos below. The lakeland is amazing!

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Pic.36 Derwent Water.
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Pic.37 After sunrise.
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Pic.38 Helwellyn Range.
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Pic.39 Gatesgarth farm.
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Pic.40 Lake Buttermere.

Long evening in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

Common known as simply Newcastle is the most populous city in the north east of England. Newcastle Upon Tyne has wealth history since Roman ages. During the
Hadrian’s Empire this settlement was called Pons Aelius and contained fort and bridge across the river Tyne. On the next time Newcastle upon Tyne became part of powerful
Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, and became known throughout this period as a Monkchester.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Newcastle was England’s northern fortress. A 25-foot (7.6m) high stone wall was built around the town in the 13th century. Today you can see a lot of landmarks from that period e.g. Newcastle Castle, known as the oldest structure in the city, dating back to at least the 11th century. The biggest development of the city was on late 1800s, when Newcastle becamed a powerhouse of the industrial revolution. This revolution resulted in the urbanization of the city. Besides Newcastle was one of the first
cities in the world to be lit up by electrict lightning.

Apart of the Castle and city walls the most interesting area is the Grainger Town, which is the historic heart of Newcastle. It was established on classical streets and buildings. These buildings are predominantly four stories high, with vertical dormers, domes, turrets and spikes (Pic.41).

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Pic.41 Newcastle’s Grainger Town, Grey Street.

On the middle of the Grainger Town is situated the Grainger Market with vast Grey’s Monument (Pic.42). This monument commemorates Prime Minister Earl Grey, who
had many piolitical acheviements. Hence he has come to be associated with Earl Grey tea.

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Pic.42 Earl Grey monument.

Newcastle is connected by several bridges. The most renowned are Tyne Bridge and Gateshead Millenium Bridge (Pic.43).

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Pic.43 Gateshead Millenium Bridge on river Tyne.

Once you going under the bridges watch out for the seagulls! It’s impressive to look up to this beautiful white birds but if you look at the bridge construction with the nearest floor you notice that everything is covered in seagull poo which stinks to high heaven.
(Pic.44). If you’re very unlucky they may divebomb you and give you a bit to take home…:(

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Pic.44 Beaufiful, but Obscene seagulls in Newcastle.

We left Newcastle upon Tyne at 1:30am on Wednesday 13th of July and approached to London Victoria Coach Station at 7:45am.

Mariusz Krukar

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Links:

Warscale Head Bothy

Warscale Head Bothy in the MBA website

Dubs Hut bothy information

Dubs Hut bothy in the MBA website

Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire

References:

  1. 2003, Lorton & Derwent Fells Local History Society, The Journal, No51, p.13-19.
  2. Blair D., 2003, Exploring Lakeland Tams, Lakeland Manor Press.
  3. Breeze D.J., Dobson B., 2000, Hadrian’s Wall (4 ed.), Penguin Books, London.
  4. Gilham J., Turnbull R., 2011, The Lake District – guide to 30 of the best walking routes, Collins, Glasgow.
  5. Graham D., 2015, Origins of (the) New Castle upon Tyne, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
  6. Mackenzie E., 1827, Historical account of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, british-history.ac.uk.
  7. Mollison D., 1985, Oak Pegs and parging, (in) Mountain Bothies Association, Journal 75, p.22-23.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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