The one where I spent a fabulous Easter in the Lake District – Part 3

It seems like ages since I posted the first two posts about my Lake District break, but I needed to take a little pause to thank the amazing reviewers involved in the blog tour for Summer Nights at The Starfish Café and bring you news of my million sales milestone and my new publishing deal. But now it’s time to return to the Lakes for part 3…

Our second week in Keswick started on Good Friday and the weather was absolutely gorgeous – bright blue sky, pleasantly warm in the sun but not hot – which made for the ideal conditions for our plan to walk around Derwent Water.

We’d never tried to walk all the way round before, mainly due to lack of time. It’s a 10 mile (18km) walk so, unless you’re a fast walker and want to do it without stops, you really need to set aside a full day. We set off from our holiday cottage round the east side of the lake.

The path takes you right by the lake or very close most of the time. Even when you’re not right by the lake, there’s plenty to hold your interest with the fells all round you, trees, flowers, and farmland. I love that the walking surface is so varied too – tarmac, woodland paths, boardwalks, pebbly beaches. There are a couple of small inclines but nothing major, which was good when my legs were still recovering from the climb up Blencathra (and the scary descent) at the start of the week.

When we were there last Easter, Derwent Water was fairly low so the Centenary Stone had no water around it. Over New Year, it was submerged and we could only just see the top peeking out between ripples. We were hoping we might catch it this year with some water round it – a state we’ve never caught it in – but the lake was just a little too low for that. Still lovely to see. The Centenary Stone features in my first Escape to the Lakes book, The Start of Something Wonderful, but no spoilers as to what part it plays.

On the stretch towards Ashness Bridge pier (where you can catch a lake cruise with Keswick Launch Co.), you can take a high path, attempt to climb across the rocks, or go along the beach. We took the beach route. This would be an easy walk in the summer when the lake is at its lowest but wouldn’t be an option when the lake is high unless you want to wade. Over Easter, the lake was low enough to get round the rocks with feet in the water on a few occasions – hurrah for decent hiking boots keeping the feet dry!

At Ashness Bridge pier, we took a little detour to visit popular tourist spot, Ashness Bridge. Some of the information I’ve read says it’s a ten-minute walk and the Keswick Launch Co. say fifteen but I’m sure it took us longer than that, probably because my legs were protesting at doing a steep climb again!

Ashness Bridge is one of the most photographed places in the area and it’s no surprise as it’s really pretty and there’s a car park right by it for those interested in a quick visit or picnic. As well as the bridge/river/waterfalls, you have stunning views across Derwent Water and the surrounding fells. We stopped for a while to have a picnic lunch. (Photo credit to the hubby for the first photo below).

Rather than coming back the way we’d come, we took a public footpath towards Derwentwater Independent Hostel. The signs warned of a steep descent which made me a little nervous after my Blencathra trauma, but I decided to brave it. I’m so glad I did. It was steep but mainly via steps and there were handrails. The effort was rewarded by several beautiful waterfalls which we’d never have seen otherwise. The photos don’t do them justice at all but what a beautiful route.

The hostel was a fabulous building in stunning surroundings and the cogs are already whirring as to how I might be able to use this as inspiration in my Escape to the Lakes series.

Back to the lakeside (on the opposite side of the road), we picked up signs to the Mary Mount Hotel welcoming muddy boots and dogs. We had both and also a thirst so we decided to check it out. What a lovely place! There was a large beer garden on a couple of sides of the hotel and we sat ourselves at a picnic bench. As we’d already had our picnic lunch, we just ordered drinks but the food coming out to other tables looked delicious. We were so impressed that we’ve booked to spend a weekend there in early July as my birthday present. It’s my birthday today but there’s nothing I want or need so my treat is a weekend without the teenager and dog. The hotel does have dog friendly rooms but we’ve decided to leave her with the in-laws so that we’re not restricted on where we go across the weekend.

Anyway, back to Easter, we finished our drinks and continued our walk although I’d completely seized up so that was a big effort. Derwent Water ends just beyond the Mary Mount Hotel and another larger hotel called the Lodore Falls Hotel and Spa and the landscape was different yet again with channels of the River Derwent running through grassland, and boardwalks for the walkers. (Photo credit to the hubby for the first two photos below).

As we began the return leg of our journey up the western side of Derwent Water, my energy was low and I worried whether I would make it back. There were still cruises running in both directions and I knew of a couple of pontoons to catch them and, in my mind, that was my backup plan. We had a couple of photo and rest stops and, as we approached the final cruise pontoon, I seriously toyed with whether to catch it but I felt as though I’d come so far, it would be a shame not to finish it so continued onwards. (Photo credit to the hubby for the four photos below).

How adorable is this little cottage in the woods? Again, the cogs were whirring! (Photo credit to the hubby for the first two photos below).

We paused by the Lingholm Estate to look at the alpacas grazing in their field and I could barely put one foot in front of the other when we started moving again. Walking through Portinscale, I was struggling a lot but we’ve done that part of the route several times and I kept telling myself we were nearly there and I could (just about) do it!

We’d more than earned a drink and arranged for our daughter to meet us in the beer garden of the Wetherspoons pub which was only a short walk from the holiday cottage. My legs had pretty much seized up at this point and sitting down was a massive chore. Being a bank holiday, we were surprised at how quiet the beer garden was. Hubby went in to get us drinks and came out saying he knew why it was so quiet – there was a queue about 30 people deep at the bar and they were all ordering food! So I had to be hauled up to my feet and pretty much dragged on the final stretch home.

Including the distance between the lake and the holiday cottage and our detour to Ashness Bridge, it was a 13.5 mile (nearly 22km) walk. When you’re only 5 foot 2, that’s a lot of steps! No wonder my poor little legs were aching.

We had a bit of a relax on the Saturday and didn’t have plans for the Sunday either but I decided it would be fun to go out on a motorboat on Derwent Water. Hubby decided to have a walk with Ella while the daughter and I went out. Oh my goodness, how cold was it? The weather had massively deteriorated with rain in the air and the coldest of winds on the lake. My eyes were streaming so much, I could barely see to steer the boat! The daughter loved the opportunity to have a go behind the wheel although I was really jittery about it at first so I already know I’m going to be a disaster when she starts learning to drive at the start of next year and wants to practice in my car!

We warmed up with a drink and snack in the Lakeside Cafe and, typically, the sun came out at that point. Could have done with a bit of that while on the lake. Brr!

That’s it for this third part. One more part to come when I have a chance to write it. I’m off to grab myself a large slab of birthday cake now.

Best wishes
Jessica xx

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