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" Helen's Visit - Buttermere and the Tunnel "

Date & start time:    Monday 19th August, 2019.    2.30 pm start.

Location of Start :   The National Trust Car Park, Buttermere, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 173 172 )

Places visited :         Dubbs Bridge, 'Sandpiper Bay' and the tunnel.

Walk details :             3 miles, 200 feet of ascent, 2 hours 30 mins including an ice cream stop.

Highest point :          Showing Helen the delights of the valley . . . without getting wet.

Walked with :             Helen, Ann and our dogs, Dylan and Dougal.

Weather :                    Overcast with the occasional blustery shower blowing through.

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.


Helen is staying for a few days and though the August weather wasn't glorious, neither was it raining all the time.

As she lives on a smallholding in SW Australia she is used to seeing all sorts of birds around her home

so when she is here she enjoyed the view out of our lounge window of the busy bird table and the wider garden.

The bird table attracts many small birds, sparrows, blue tits etc., with the goldfinches and woodpeckers being a particular delight.

Occasionally we get larger birds such as crows, pigeon and a marauding sparrow hawk but today's visitor was an unusual one.

It was a female pheasant . . . walking the margins of the garden looking for food.

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Her preference today was for wild food

as opposed to the ready-meals on offer at the table.


We saw her perch on the handrail of our garden steps

in order to peck at the blackberries growing in the hedge.


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That reminds me of a joke . . .


Why were the top blackberries more expensive

than the ones at ground level ?


Because they were on higher perches !

Boom-boom !


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So much for humour . . . on with the walk.

With the clearing weather we decided to head up the valley to Buttermere.

It was also today's objective for a Dutch couple who were touring Britain on their 'his-and-hers' Honda Goldwings.

Helen took the opportunity for a photo of Crummock Water and Red Pike without the bikes . . . and I did likewise.

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Time to park the car and head off towards Buttermere for a walk by the lake.

This is the rather unusual slate house "Trevine" at the top end of the village.

After all . . . when in Buttermere why not build your house out of Buttermere Slate ?

The Bridge Hotel complete with new balcony railings on the second floor and a busy car park in front.

Bounding the valley on the other side are the peaks of Haystacks and High Crag, with Kirk Fell peeping through Scarth Gap.

It looks like the hotel has invested in solar panels on the roof too.

We're heading down passing the Fish Hotel, our way slightly restricted by the arrival of the Honister Rambler bus.

The Croft House cafe is also investing in a new extension, covering over the outdoor seating area

and providing the customers with more comfortable indoor facilities.

" Walking the plank " one of the National Trust "50 Things to do before you're 11 3/4".

Dougal is just over a year and well on the way down the list

The usual view . . . of Sour Milk Gill from the lane.
An unusual view. . . of a random bird feeder bag in the rowan tree.

Ann walks across the grass at the end of the lane to check out the view up the lake.

Meanwhile, I'm diverted by the sight of the bridge repairs in the other corner.

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Dubbs Bridge was damaged by flooding a year or so ago.

A new bridge was planned and expected to be ready by this summer.

Even the revised timescale of mid-August has passed without completion.

In the mean time they ask you use Scales Bridge further down

if you wish to cross the river without swimming.

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There has been progress . . . but presumably the high rainfall of recent weeks has held up proceedings.

The weather up this top end of the valley is not as nice as we left behind in Loweswater.

The view up the lake to Fleetwith Pike is clouded in a fine mist of raindrops.  Perhaps our choice of walk was not in the best location.

The breeze was blowing occasional showers up the valley but fortunately they never really became a problem.

The dot on the water next to Burtness Woods headland (seen in the last photo) turned out to be one of two canoes paddling down the lake.

Alongside them were several open water swimmers who were attempting the full one and a quarter mile Buttermere Swim.

Fine exposed roots on one of the trees on the lake shore,

the roots washed clean by the action of the waves on rougher days.

High water at the Spindle Tree . . . there's new growth low down on the trunk but that second branch from the top looks rather dead.

Presumably the watery environment is not conducive to good growth . . . still, it is an interesting landmark on the lakeside walk.

Ann sits and watches as the swimmers reach the beach . . .
. . . then we headed on up the northern shore of the lake.
Warnscale Beck seen through the trees . . .
. . . High Crag framed by more oak branches.

High Crag again, this time with a more expansive view

including Burtness Combe which hold some classic rock climbing routes amongst the crags.

Out onto flatter ground below Hassness and Dalegarth houses.

The path around the lake used to climb over a rock bluff until a tunnel was cut through at lake level by the Hassness estate owners.

I believed it was also a philanthropic 'job creation' programme, taking advantage of the local skills of out-of-work or part-time Honister Miners.

Whatever its origin, it's a fine little tunnel, if rather damp inside.
Emerging form the other end, greeted by the dogs.

The path continues on alongside the lake, again on a slightly elevated but well-engineered ledge.

It emerges from the woods at the shingle beach below Hassness House.

A wider (merged) panorama of the beach . . . and the wooden bench from which you can admire the view.

Dougal playing sticks, of which there was an ample supply.
This is where the Hassness trans-atlantic phone cable comes ashore !

Well . . . if they did want to phone America

then this local underwater phone cable the length of Buttermere would presumably be the carrier of the message.

No time to walk the whole of the lakeshore path . . .
. . . so we return through the tunnel, back towards the village.

There's now a good path all the way round the lake and on a good day will take two or three hours to walk.

We're heading back for a meal at the Kirkstile tonight so we'll leave the full circuit for another day.

Toppled but not dead . . . the root system washed clean by the waves.
The parting of the ways.

Left will take you back along the sandpiper beach (the way we came) . . . instead we go right, heading directly back towards the village.

Red spotted Herdwick . . . at first and from a distance I thought the worst

but the red is the ruddled paint used to identify the sheep, much confused by splashes, presumably from bumping into other sheep.

A first year Herdwick lamb, with the classic dark coat and "sunglasses" ring of white wool around its eyes.

The farm mark seems to be two red stripes down the left side of the sheep as seen on the sheep behind.

We've left the lake and then say goodbye to the view of the Buttermere Fells . . . we are heading up the track to Wilkinsyke Farm.

An end-on view of Whiteless Pike above the sheep fields.
The Fish Hotel and barns of Croft House Farm.

The telephoto lens seems to bring Mellbreak towering above the wider view of the village.

Back to the main road and to the Church of St James at Buttermere.

The Bridge Hotel once again in view . . . as we make our way back to the car.

. . . but not before introducing Helen to the delights of the locally made Syke Farm Buttermere Ice Cream !

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Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Panasonic Lumix TZ60, or my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

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Previous walk - 18th August  -  Helen's Visit - Loweswater

A previous time up here - 14th November 2014 - Tunnel vision with Gareth

Next walk - 20th August  -  Ennerdale amd Angler's Hotel Walk


18th August  -  Helen's Visit - Loweswater Walk

19th Aug - Buttermere Walk
20th Aug - Ennerdale Walk

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Hi Roger,

I was in Buttermere yesterday (24th Aug) and both banks now look pretty good. I was told a week or so ago that the bridge timbers are expected on site around 28th August and with all the timbers cut, prepared, bolted together off site, it shouldn’t take too long to reassemble the bridge.

No doubt there’s more to do in terms of the approaches to the bridge and tidying but I think everyone is hoping the bridge will be back in use by mid September.

Simon Smith.

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