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Belle Isle

One very large part of lake Windermere not covered by the Windermere Way is of course Belle Isle in the centre of the lake. Belle Isle is privately owned but if you fancy including it in your walk now might be a good time. It seems the owners are spending a few weeks at Her Majestys pleasure. Apparently there was some confusion over whether or not their son had received notification of a speeding ticket. It does seem a tad silly when you own the best piece or real estate on the entire lake not to just cough up a few quid and pay the fine.
Before you do set foot on the island however, check whether the dogs are around. I have a feeling they will still be in residence.

Repair or Ruin

I've been up Wansfell many times in recent years but always from the Troutbeck side. It's an easy hour, out on the fells and not so steep that way. I decided to walk most of the Windermere to Ambleside section of the Windermere Way this weekend, starting from the station. The walk was pretty much as it was last time I did it but nice to see the spring flowers brightening the place up. And the recent rain had brought a flush of green to the new leaves sprouting everywhere.
When I originally wrote the Windermere Way I remember descending Wansfell and commenting "This path has also been paved for most of it’s length. Care is needed as some parts have been left rather poorly finished although on the whole it is quite good."
Not so now. The people who look after these things have revisited and paved quite a lot more of the path. Only this time the workmanship is very much inferior and the new path very difficult to walk on. This picture shows where a section of new path adjoins some of the earlier work. The difference can clearly be seen. How they expect people to walk on this mess is anyones guess.
Not only that, the stone used has been helicoptered in from some other part of the Lake District and is totally different from the natural rock of the Wansfell area which if my memory of the local geology serves me correctly is part of the Silurian series. The imported stuff is clearly darker and probably from one of the quarries in the volcanic rock further north. The Fix the Fells website states "Works should be of a high standard of design and implementation using indigenous materials, sympathetic in colour and texture to the immediate surrounding area". I'm don't think they are responsible for this work
Does this matter?
Well I think it does. I've been talking with the planning authority recently about modifications to a house I'm hoping to buy. I want to add a dormer into the roof space and replace a rather poorly constructed kitchen extension. The planners are adamant that local slate be used for the roofing materials and that the dormer be constructed in the rear of the roof. Why? To minimise the visual impact of the changes and to keep the Lake District looking the way it does now. So why do they allow the hills, surely of far more significance than the built environment, to be treated in this way. If Wansfell were a listed building and the owners wanted to repair it, they would have to consult with English Heritage, use only the specified materials and if the work is not up to standard, rip it out and do it all over again. Not only that, the spare stone that was not required was left littered over the hillside. A permanent reminder of the shoddy workmanship employed.
Taking the building analogy a step further, I have also been talking to the building control department about building regs for my proposed alterations. If this path had been subject to building regs., it would have certainly failed.
The upshot of a badly built path is that people will choose not to use it and this can be clearly seen over much of it's length where a new and much easier to walk path is being worn alongside.

Route updates

I've been out and about recently and noticed one or two things that will affect the overall route description. Over the next few weeks, I'll revisit as much of the route as I can and update the site with fresh information.