Book Review by Steve Matthews of Bookends
Pub walks are tricky things. You park in the pub car park, with permission, of course, and then you must decide on a course of action. Do you have a drink and a meal first? You’ve driven a long way to get there and it would be refreshing and set you up nicely for the healthy walk ahead. Or, do you pull on your heavy hiking boots, don your impenetrable waterproofs and venture forth into the drizzle that threatens to get heavier and thicker and completely block out the view.
The answer is fairly obvious. If you call in the pub and have a meal and a glass or two and sit by the warm blazing fire bathing in the genial chat of the locals, you’ll never get up out of your chair and venture forth, which is a pity because Jean Patefield has fifteen very good ideas of where you might go.
None of her walks are too taxing – no twenty mile route marches taking in Helvellyn, Skiddaw and Blencathra all in one go. She recommends a nice comfortable stroll of three to six miles with a little reward at the end. Hills present no problems. As she says, the sensible walker has “three uphill gears: slowly, very slowly and admiring the view”.
The walk from the Old Crown in Hesket Newmarket should be popular. Just four and a half miles and it encompasses the two characterful villages of Hesket and Caldbeck and takes in “the waterfalls of The Howk, where the river surges through a ravine carved in the limestone, guarded by the romantic ruin of a watermill”. A clear little sketch map and numbered directions guides you west along roads and paths through meadows and along farm tracks, through kissing-gates and over a footbridge to the ravine. And then, it’s a pleasant stroll back along the river and a pint of Skiddaw Special or Doris’s 90th Birthday Ale.
Another attractive way to perambulate your way through the afternoon, is to call at the Kirkstile Inn in Loweswater. Four miles will give you a stroll along the shore of Crummock Water with “a pleasing combination of woods and quiet field paths and tracks” and at the end such “tempting savoury suggestions as black pudding and haggis balls with onion whisky marmalade”.
Jean criticises Wainwright for ignoring Swinside Hill in his Guidebooks. This isolated hill “resembles a cork just pulled from the neck of the Newlands Valley”. This hill is a Marilyn rather than a Munro. By definition that means it has a drop of at least 492 feet on all sides. Unfortunately, you can’t climb to the top as they did in the eighteenth century when it was one of the seven “viewing stations” round Derwentwater. The hill is privately owned and your ever-enthusiastic legs will have to content themselves with a pedestrian circumnavigation of the base of the hill. At the end of the walk you will find a warm welcome in The Farmer’s Arms.
Jean’s other walks are all pleasant, familiar strolls in Borrowdale, Grasmere, Coniston and Staveley. You might fancy three miles at Waterhead or five miles in Nether Wasdale or a mere two miles at Lakeside. On the other hand The Eagle’s Head at Grizedale, The Tower Bank Arms at Near Sawrey and the Britannia at Elterwater all pull an attractive pint. However, the more energetic walker might prefer to combine a meal and drink at the Royal Hotel in Pooley Bridge with a five mile dash round Aira Force or she might even venture as far as the King George IV at Eskdale Green and explore “the long tongue of fell that separates the valleys of the river Esk and Mite”.
Walking in the Lakes is thirsty and hungry work. Jean Patefield tells you how to do it.