Flying Boats on Windermere

As you walk around the tranquil shores of Windermere it’s hard to imagine that it once played an important role during the Second World War. Situated well away from the traditional industrial areas, Windermere was home to a factory used to build Short Sunderland Flying Boats.

A remarkable piece of research has pieced together memories of those involved with the project and photographs of the factory and the site. This was on display at the Marchesi Centre this weekend but has also been published online at

The factory was located at Calgarth, just north of Troutbeck Bridge in an area now occupied by a White Cross Bay caravan site.

A small community built up close to the site on land that is now occupied by The Lakes School. At the end of the war the accommodation was used to house child survivors of the concentration camps. Not much remains of the original works today, save for the large concrete slipway, used today by residents of the park.

Autumn colours website

The weather has been a little more mixed this week in the Lakes. This morning we woke to a fine drizzle and the leaves on the Oak tree across the road which have been steadily turning yellow and brown are now starting to slowly fall.

Many other trees are just beginning to turn but the autumn winds have not yet arrived to strip them of their foliage.

The forestry commission has a useful website that monitors the changing colours nationwide. The link for Grizedale Forest is at

A link to the past

The modern guidebook is the one you're reading now … on the internet. But go back a few years and A.Wainwright was the authority on routes in the Lakeland Fells.

One of the earliest writers however was Thomas West and walking with one of his guidebooks was a much more formal affair. West selected what he thought were the best viewpoints and constructed small stone lecterns or 'stations'. The visitor, having reached the designated 'station' placed his or her book, open on the lectern and the view was laid out for them.

West's Station above Skelghyll

There are two of West's stations on the WIndermere Way. The one between Troutbeck and Skelghyll is particularly prominent and attracts many visitors, very few of whom seem aware of it's true purpose. Most of these assume it's another cairn and add rocks to the top making it a more like a short obelisk than a flat topped platform.

The station has suffered in recent years and is danger of collapse. The trouble with old monuments such as these is that they are only of minor significance and the responsibility for it's upkeep could lie with anyone of a number of organisations.

Oner thing is certain. West did appreciate what made a good view.

Golden Autumn in the Lakes

The leaves are starting to turn in the Lake District and if the good weather holds, the next couple of weeks could see some dramatic displays as the colours change to red and cold.

There are many parts of the Windermere Way that pass through woodlands that are putting on their best display at this time of the year. Amongst my favourites are Blake Howe Plantation and the area around High Dam, where the variety of woodland species makes a truly magnificent display.

The relative lack of rainfall and wind means that many leaves are still on the trees and if the weather holds it’s going to be quite spectacular.

Lovely weather for the time of year

We British have an obsessive pre-occupation with the weather. We're always complaining about it in one way or another. But here in Windermere we really can't complain. True we shared with most of the country a surfeit of wet weather during what we nominally call summer but fortunately were spared the flooding that hit other parts of the country. I suppose this is something to do with the hills and the lakes and the fact that this place usually gets plenty of rain anyway, so the drainage system and rivers are designed to cope.

But it's the first week in October, the sun is shining and it's very warm. I've just returned from a jog along the Windermere Way, from Troutbeck to the summit of Wansfell. It was glorious and there were plenty of people, out and about enjoying the weather.

Clear autumn skies from Wansfell

Getting to the point of this ramble. With the superb spring and autumn that we have had, combined with a few good days during the summer, I think it's been a really good year. A summer that starts in April and goes through to October is OK in my book even if there were a few wet days in between. It's certainly been a better summer than many I can remember and makes the winter seem that much shorter.