Skating in the New Year

It's not often these days we have a prolonged period of weather, cold enough to freeze the lakes over. I was up in Langdale a few days ago and Elterwater was partially frozen. Anyway, today I decided to call round and wish my mate Paul a Happy New Year. His wife Anni, informed me that he had headed up to School Knott and taken his Ice Skates with him. Visualising an opportunity to watch a friend perform his own 'You've been framed' moment I hurried to join him.

When I arrive he was already zooming around on the ice which was really thick. We stayed mostly near to the edge where the water was shallow but despite an occasional alarming crack the ice held firm. Just to add to the merriment a couple of women walked by and gave us a right mouthful about how dangerous it was. We wished them a Happy New Year and they left muttering to themselves.

A great start to 2009. Paul is the one who looks like he knows how to skate, I'm the one who doesn't…

Happy New Year!

Winter beauty

Windermere in November to me spells 'inversion'. Short for 'Temperature Inversion' it means foggy mornings where the cloud hangs low over the lake and the surrounding valleys. But get a little higher and you soon rise up above the cloud into a clear autumn morning.

The forecast for this weekend was so good however that for once I rose really early, and was up on the ridge above Elterwater at 6:00 am. It was pitch black at the time and away from the street lights, the stars were magnificent. I didn't have to wait too long for dawn to start peeking over the horizon. The mist ebbed and flowed across the ridge and the clear sky gave way to a layer of mid height cloud. Great for a good sunrise.

It was a cold 2 hours before the sun finally edged out from behind a distant Ingleborough and illuminated the snow covered Coniston and Langdale peaks with a beautiful rosy glow.

It was really a day to spend on the fells but due to work commitments I was back home tucking in to bacon butties by 9:00.

Windermere or Bowness?

Where does Windermere end and Bowness begin? It’s a bit of a moot question as there’s no clear division between the two. However it is a question that vexes some of our readers. In the introduction to this site, I’ve described Windermere as ‘being on the lake’. I probably get taken to task on this issue more often than any other, usually by ‘disgusted of Bowness’.

Most of my respondents take pains to point out that it’s Bowness that is ‘on the lake’. True it is. But so is Windermere. The lake is not as accessible from Windermere as it is from Bowness but Windermere is still on the lake. In any case, since the two parish councils joined forces as Windermere Town Council, de facto, Windermere is on the lake.

But dear reader, this site is being viewed in Bowness and in Beijing and in a global context it makes sense to use the name that everyone knows. Apologies if you don’t agree.

Windermere Way now on Lake District Outdoors site

The Lake District Outdoors website is one of the leading information portals for the Lake District. Whatever your sport, if it takes place in the great outdoors and in Lakeland, you’ll find information here. There are links to walking, climbing, cycling (on and off road), canoeing, sailing and much more.

The site is managed and published by Cumbria Tourism so the information is high quality and useful. There’s also a simple to enter competition this month where you can win £100 worth of Lowe Alpine clothing courtesy of George Fisher in Keswick.

White Cross Bay

In October I mentioned the history of the Short Sunderland flying boats that can be found at

The site is now a popular caravan and chalet park. One of the Chalets for hire is Langdale View Lodge. Click this link for details

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.

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.

Windermere speed limit widely ignored

As a change from walking around it, I got out my old kayak last weekend and paddled up Windermere. I started at Millerground and made my way up the east shore of the lake as far as Brockhole, then carried on across to the other side finishing at Pullwood Bay where I met up with some friends for a barbie.

Being a pleasant afternoon there were many boats out on the lake and although it's been a few years since I last had a paddle, the conditions were better for small craft like mine. The 10mph speed limit however was being ignored by a handful of boats. Their tactics seem to be to put on the power for a short burst then slow down again, see if they have drawn any attention and if not try another burst of speed. Most of this was over by the west shore and didn't really cause any anyone any inconvenience.

I don't think the authorities really want to make waves and punish anyone. I have only read of a couple of prosecutions since the ban came in. Both sides seem to know the rules of the game, if the boaters don't overdo it, the authorities will keep a low profile. This formula seems to work for now but I would hazard a guess that once the powerboat fraternity realise that they are getting away with it they'll keep pushing and we'll see more and more speeding incidents.

WoW Festival

If you fancy taking to the water rather than walking around it, biggest festival to ever happen in the Lake District gets underway this month on and around England’s longest lake. The two-day WOW event - Windermere On Water – features over 50 events over the weekend of June 8-10th. Headline acts from France and Africa; a major fireworks display along with dozens of have-a-go watersports activities for adults and children.
The fun begins from 9am each day and goes on until 9.30pm. For details of the full programme go to Windermere – inspiration for the famous children’s book Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome – will see Pirate-style island treasure hunts for kids through to taster events in sailing, canoeing and kayaking on the 10-mile-long lake.

Windermere Marathon

If you think four days is too long to go around the lake, next sunday sees the re-introduction of the Windermere Marathon. The marathon of course takes a slightly shorter route than the Windermere Way and we would say a less interesting one. Nonetheless it's a good way to get a quick taster of the scenery on offer. The record for the run stands at 2' 23" 16.
I did run the inaugural marathon back in the eighties, my time was 4' 10" and I don't know how many seconds.

Seaplanes may return to Windermere

A Canadian company hopes to start running seaplanes trips to Windermere, if it can get past the tough 10mph byelaw. AirSea lines is in talks with Cumbria Tourism and Cumbria Vision to start a service from London to the Lake District. This does of course present the planners with a bit of a dilemma having established the 10mpm limit a couple of years ago.
There are other lakes the service could use of course, but Windermere has several hotels right on it's shores and the appeal of a direct service from the capital is very appealing.
Friends of the Lake District have their usual concerns about 'disrupting the tranquility of the area'. If they think Windermere is tranquil, perhaps they should get out more.