The Lakes : Circular Walk

CLOG: 16th April 2017

Ambleside Ferry Shore Path Castle High Path Ferry Back Maps Thanks! Read Me

Our Circular Walk to Wray Castle

The weather today gave us another, quite attractive, view of Lakeland scenery. The mist lent an air of mystery and presented us with ample photo opportunities. We experienced scenery, history and even a short journey on Windermere (the lake or mere) itself. We fitted all this into a relaxing ten-mile walk.

In the afternoon we returned from Wray Castle to the ferry by the higher-level "rocky" path. From this path we enjoyed nice views across to the eastern shore of (lake) Windermere.

In the morning we caught the bus from our hostel in Ambleside to Windermere (the town), from whence we took the Windermere Ferry, a type of cable ferry, from Bowness Nab to the start of our walk on the opposite (west side) shore of (lake) Windermere. Our walk was roughly north-south. For weather reasons we first took the shore path to Wray Castle. However, in the afternoon, we returned by an interesting rocky higher-level path at almost 200 metres above (lake) Windermere. On this path, our feet got that that nice "crunchy slate" Lakeland feel, and, in addition, we had some more nice views, this time towards Windermere town on the east side of Windermere lake.

So, here's what this page has in store for you. Enjoy your browse!

We Depart Ambleside

From the hostel it was a short walk, via the Ambleside Pier, to the bus stop for the journey to the Cable Ferry in Windermere (town). Our short walk was not without interest. We absorbed more of the Lakeland scenery and found that the drinking fountain and the red Edwardian pillar box were among greetings from times past.

This traditional-looking drinking fountain fits into the surroundings at Ambleside Pier.
However, the fountain's history seems to be a mystery.

This red pillar box has lost the sign holder at some point since Edwardian times.

However, in time-honoured British fashion, it has accumulated layers and layers of red "Post Office" paint. The monogram "Eduardus Rex VII" dates this pillar box. How many tourists has the pillar box seen in its life, and how many "Wish you were here" postcards have been posted through the letter opening? A book could be written!

We Catch the Cable Ferry

The Windermere Ferry from Ferry Nab in Windermere town takes less than 10 minutes and saves a 15 mile detour around either end of Windermere lake. As mentioned, it is a kind of Cable Ferry. In fact, it is a "powered cable ferry"; it uses an onboard engine to pull itself along by the cable(s) by using one or more onboard drums (or powered cogs). The ferry was built in 1990 and is named "Mallard".

We wend our way from the bus stop to Ferry Nab ...

... and watch the said ferry approaching.

We have enjoyed our short ferry crossing.
We are on the west side of Windermere (lake).

In Ambleside we saw a pillar box with the monogram of Edward VII.
Having left the ferry, we are greeted by this post-box "dedicated" to his mother.

Windermere's Western Shore

O the other side of (lake) Windermere we headed north along the western shore, deciding initially to eschew higher ground in recognition of the misty weather. However, the path was picturesque and offered us photo opportunities made special by the very nature of the weather. We would take to the higher ground in the afternoon.

It's an easy path along the shore.

The mud-free path, even after the car park, is welcome in this weather.

This looks like someone's Lakeland retreat.
The gate sports welcome notices such as:
"Private", "Please Close Gate", "Dog Loose".
This looks like someone's very private Lakeland retreat!

Boat with tourists heading south,
perhaps to the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Heritage Railway.

We head north along the shore of Windermere (lake).

Wray Castle & Grounds

We then came to the northern extremity and aim of our walk, namely Wray Castle. This castle, and its associated church of "Low Wray - St Margaret's", were built in 1840 in the Victorian neo-gothic style for a James Dawson. The views from the castle across the landscape are indeed impressive, which no doubt explains the chosen location of the castle. However, we would have expected the interior rooms to be furnished in the style of the 1840s. Not so. The castle within seemed to be one large childrens' playground and amusement area. There is, of course, nothing against catering for the inventive development of the younger generation, and the National Trust was quite probably wishing to make itself attractive to our citizens at an early stage in their lives. However, the almost total lack of an historical and cultural interior of this Victorian building was unfortunately a major disappointment. Interestingly, one of Dawson's relations, Hardwicke Rawnsley, was a key player in founding the National Trust.

Hidden on the peninsular is Wray Castle.

Initially, some of us visit St Margaret's Church.

And here is the castle.

Above the entrance are two crests, possibly of James Dawson and Spouse.

The north-facing view from the terrace is impressive - even in the mist.

The castle in close-up.

Another look at the view ...

... before we leave.

Here's looking south and to the shore path we shall eventually re-join.

We take the "High Road"

For the return "leg" of our walk, we thought we would take the "High Road" to add some undulations to the day's experience. We gained almost 240 metres and some nice east-facing views across Windermere (lake) to Windermere (town). This "higher" option gave our feet that nice "crunchy slate" Lakeland feel. Ferns, birches and conifers added to that sense that we were indeed in Lakeland!

The "High Road" started after "Red Nab" and "Bell Grange Cottage". Once we had reached "Claife Viewing Station" marking the southern end of our "high path", we knew that the Ferry was not too far away.

We have reached the upper path (the "High Road").
Ferns, crunchy slate and the bright green of Spring.

Windermere is our east-facing view on our left.

More ferns, slate, conifers and spring green.

Another view towards Windermere. Belle Isle right of centre.

Yet another view.

Here we are, enjoying it.

Indeed, it's a grand view!

Now it's time to start our descent.

We pass conifers and dry-stone walls.

The path opens out.

The path opens out still more.

Our path is one with variety.
Here's a slight rise through past more conifers and through more ferns.

Eventually we see our view toward Windermere again.
The Claife Viewing Station can't be too far off.

Return by the Cable Ferry

To get back to the ferry for our return trip, we visited the viewpoint on which the Claife Viewing Station stands. It was actually built in the 1790s as a tourist attraction and for us it provided a scenic marker on our route. On the way to the landing stage we enjoyed some more fine north-facing Lakeland views. On the ferry itself we crossed paths with the former steam yacht "Tern" with its curved bow. For our ferry there is sufficient slack in the ferry cable to ensure the cable stays clear of crossing boats.

When we got to the other side of (lake) Windermere, we found a waiting taxi, which, for four, was a convenient and reasonably priced means of getting back to our accommodation in Ambleside.

Claife Viewing Station

Looking towards Ambleside before we reach the Ferry.

Another north-facing view.

The Ferry is coming.
The control "tower" is on the south side of the vessel.

From the Ferry we can see "Tern" crossing our path.
No worry, we are not speeding and in addition, there's enough slack in our cable!

Here's another view of "Tern".
Built in 1891 as a steam ship, she was converted to diesel in 1957/8.

Thank You All for a Nice CLOG Day Out!

For this particular day, I would like to thank participants on the walk for their company and for putting up patiently with me as not only devising the walk, but actually - for my sins - leading it! But then, actually "leading" a walk, should always be viewed as a joint enterprise as it was today; we are out to enjoy ourselves and to regard navigation merely as means of doing the walk. In a way, the misty weather added a touch of mystery to the proceedings! So, another successful CLOG day out!

We had several days in Ambleside and the present web page describes just one of those days. Whilst I cannot remember the precise details of what we did each evening in Ambleside, we often dined in. The food at the Hostel was good. In addition, it was interesting to talk to the other hostel visitors and exchange experiences we each had had on a particular day.