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Travels with an Eriba

The North West

The Lake District


he Lake District (or Lakeland, as it's commonly known round these parts) is one of the UK's most popular national parks. It covers The 885-square-miles of the counties of Cumbria and Lancashire. Every year, some fifteen million people pitch up to explore the fells and countryside, and it's not hard to see why. Ever since the Romantic poets arrived in the 19th century and then the railway, its postcard panorama of craggy hilltops, mountain tarns and glittering lakes has been stirring the imaginations of visitors. Since 2017 it has also been a Unesco World Heritage Site, in recognition of its unique hill-farming culture.

The Lake District National Park area

The Lake District National Park is England's largest and covers:

  • 2362 square kilometres
  • 912 square miles
  • 583,747 acres or
  • 236,234 hectares

Width (west to east): 58 km or 36 miles

Width (north to south): 64 km or 40 miles

Ten highest mountains

  1. Scafell Pike at 978 metres (3210 feet)
  2. Scafell at 964 metres (3162 feet)
  3. Helvellyn at 950 metres (3114 feet)
  4. Skiddaw at 931 metres(3053 feet)
  5. Great End at 910 metres (2986 feet)
  6. Bowfell at 902 metres (2940 feet)
  7. Great Gable at 899 metres (2960 feet)
  8. Pillar at 892 metres (2926 feet)
  9. Nethermost Pike at 891 metres (2923 feet)
  10. Catstycam (2917 feet)

Sixteen largest lakes

  1. Windermere - 14.8 square kilometres
  2. Ullswater - 8.9 square kilometres
  3. Derwentwater - 5.5 square kilometres
  4. Bassenthwaite Lake - 5.3 square kilometres
  5. Coniston Water - 4.0 square kilometres
  6. Haweswater - 3.9 square kilometres
  7. Thirlmere - 3.3 square kilometres
  8. Ennerdale Water - 3 square kilometres
  9. Wastwater - 2.9 square kilometres
  10. Crummock Water - 2.5 square kilometres
  11. Esthwaite Water - 1 square kilometre
  12. Buttermere - 0.9 square kilometres
  13. Grasmere - 0.6 square kilometres
  14. Loweswater - 0.6 square kilometres
  15. Rydal Water - 0.3 square kilometres
  16. Brotherswater - 0.2 square kilometres


Tarn comes from the Old Norse word for 'pool'. It usually refers to a small mountain lake or pool. However as some tarns are larger than lakes, it's not an exact science! Here are some of the larger ones:

  • Blea Tarn
  • Little Langdale Tarn
  • Overwater Tarn
  • Stickle Tarn
  • Tarn Hows
  • Watendlath Tarn
  • Yew Tree Tarn

Where we went in the Lake District

We had a wonderful time during our two camping trips to the northern are of the Lakes. There is so much to see and do even when you're no longer able to contemplate some of the more strenuous (and clearly very exciting) activities. We were fortunate enough to have good weather (not always the case!) and took full advantage of this fact to explore as much of the beautiful countryside as possible.

Ashness Bridge

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Bassenthwaite Lake

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Honister Mine and Pass

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Kirkstone Pass

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Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

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St Bee's Head and Priory Church

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Where we camped in the Lake District

Riverside Tourer Park

This is a lovely lttle site with a charming quirkiness about it. Unusually it has two sections - the original Camping and Cravanning CS and a parallel small site in the adjacent field. The whole place is beautifully kept. It's in a small village in a lesser visited part of the National Park.

Riverside & surrounding area


our pitch


Ashness Bridge & Watendlath

Ashness Bridge is a traditional stone-built bridge on the single-track road from the Borrowdale road to Watendlath, in the English Lake District. It is famous for being a fine viewpoint across Borrowdale towards Skiddaw. It or its predecessor may have been a packhorse bridge conveying packhorse traffic from Watendlath to Keswick.



The little hamlet of Watendlath, owned by the National Trust, sits high between the Borrowdale and Thirlmere valleys. It is 847 feet above sea level, with an attractive tarn surrounded by fells in a classic ‘hanging valley’. There is an attractive packhorse bridge, and a National Trust tea-room. The hamlet was used by Sir Hugh Walpole as a setting for the fictional home of Judith Paris in his haunting Herries saga. It is reached by a very narrow road with passing places, from the Keswick to Borrowdale road.


Derwentwater and Borrowdale

Surprise View

is the point where the hanging valley of Watendlath was cut off by the main glacier carving out Borrowdale in the last ice age. The result is a sheer drop with expansive views across Derwent Water and north over Keswick and the Skiddaw massif.

Derwentwater on a Beautiful Evening

Derwentwater is one of the principal bodies of water in the Lake District National Park. The lake occupies part of Borrowdale and lies immediately south of the town of Keswick. It is both fed and drained by the River Derwent. It measures approximately 3 miles long by 1 mile wide and is some 72 feet deep. There are several islands within the lake, one of which is inhabited.



Hawkshead is an ancient township that has flourished since Norse times. It belonged to Furness Abbey until the 12th Century and the monks also owned  Hawkshead Hall, just outside the village, of which the National Trust owned Hawkshead Courthouse is all that remains. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1537, Hawkshead grew as a  market town, with many buildings dating from the 17th Century. The tiny village is still the same collection of higgledy-piggledy houses, archways, and squares beloved by William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. We got there from the car ferry at Bowness on the banks of Windermere.

Kirkstone Pass

Kirkstone Pass with an altitude of 1,489 feet is the Lake District’s highest pass that is open to motor traffic. It connects Ambleside in the Rothay Valley to Patterdale in the Ullswater valley – the A592 road. There is another route from Troutbeck, which joins the Ambleside road at the Kirkstone Pass Inn. In places, the gradient is 1 in 4. The Kirkstone Pass Inn stands close to the summit of the pass. Formerly an important coaching inn, it now caters primarily for tourists. It is the third highest public house in England.

Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is a 15 in minimum gauge heritage railway. The 7 mile line runs from Ravenglass to Dalegarth Station near Boot in the valley of Eskdale, in the Lake District. The railway is owned by a private company and supported by a preservation society. The oldest locomotive is River Irt, parts of which date from 1894, while the newest is the diesel-hydraulic Douglas Ferreira, built in 2005. The line is known locally as La'al Ratty and its 3 ft gauge predecessor as Owd Ratty. Nearby attractions include: the Roman Bath House at Ravenglass; the Hardknott Roman Fort, known to the Romans as Mediobogdum, at the foot of Hardknott Pass; the watermills at Boot and Muncaster; and Muncaster Castle, the home of the Pennington family since 1208. Wikipedia

Below is a most attractive video which will be of great interest to steam railway enthusiasts.

St Bees Head

St Bees Head is a headland on the North West coast of Cumbria and is named after the nearby village of St Bees. It is the only stretch of Heritage Coast on the English coastline between the Welsh and Scottish borders, and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The sea off the Head is protected as part of the Cumbria Coast Marine Conservation Zone. It lies on two long-distance footpaths, the Cumbria Coastal Way and Wainwright Coast to Coast. Both long-distance footpaths follow the edge of the cliffs, which rise to 90 metres above sea level and have views of the Cumbrian mountains and coast.

St Bees Priory Church

St. Bees is named after St. Bega, said to be an Irish princess who landed here, about 900 AD after sailing across the Irish Sea to avoid an enforced marriage to a Viking chieftan. On the site of an earlier church now stands the splendid 12th Century Priory Church of St Mary and St. Bega. The church was a Benedictine Priory until its dissolution by Henry VIII in 1539.


Ullswater is the second largest lake in the English Lake District, being about nine miles long and 0.75 miles wide, with a maximum depth a little more than 60 metres. Ullswater's visitor centre website describes it as the most beautiful of England's lakes; it has been compared to Lake Lucerne in Switzerland as a tourist destination. It is a typical Lake District narrow "ribbon lake" formed after the last ice age by a glacier scooping out the valley floor, which filled with meltwater. Ullswater was formed by three separate glaciers. The surrounding mountains give it the shape of an extenuated 'Z' with three segments or reaches winding through surrounding hills.

We had a most enjoyable and scenic trip on a the MV Western Belle from Pooley Bridge to Glenridding.

Honister Pass and Slate Mine

Honister Slate mine is at the top of the Honister Pass in Borrowdale in the Lake District. You can watch slate being riven (or split) using processes that have changed little over the past 300 years. Honister slate is a distinctive green slate, though Lakeland slate comes in a variety of shades and colours. It is a strong and durable material, excellent for roofs, and also for floors and walls. Before the railway the slate was taken by packhorse over the western edge of Great Gable and Wasdale, for loading onto boats at Ravenglass. In the late 17th Century, Honister slate was used by Sir Christopher Wren at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, and at Kensington Palace.

Honister pass starts at the southern end of Buttermere and connects the Buttermere valley with the eastern end of Borrowdale valley. Rising to 1167 feet in height at the summit, it is one of Cumbria’s highest passes, with a gradient of 1 in 4.

Honister pass starts at the southern end of Buttermere and connects the Buttermere valley with the eastern end of Borrowdale valley. Rising to 1167 feet in height at the summit, it is one of Cumbria’s highest passes, with a gradient of 1 in 4.

Bassenthwaite Lake

Bassenthwaite Lake, four miles long and three quarters of a mile wide, is the most northerly of the lakes. It is one of the largest water bodies in the English Lake District. It is long and narrow, approximately 4 miles long and 0.75 miles wide, but is also extremely shallow, with a maximum depth of about 70 ft.

We found it to be a very pleasant and peaceful place to visit.

composite image of bassenthwaite lake

Around Bassenthwaite

Bassentwaite is the only body of water in the Lake District to use the word "lake" in its name, all the others being "waters" (for example, Derwentwater), "meres" (for example, Windermere) It's a very important place for wildlife. Hundreds of birds including the osprey migrate there and fish, such as atlantic salmon, come to spawn.

composite image of bassenthwaite lake