Lakes of the Lakes : Crummock Water

Lakes of the Lakes : Crummock Water

Rounding off the year’s challenge with this walk around Crummock Water. Include Buttermere for an exciting figure of eight loop!

ROUTE STATS (including map)

Crummock Water

I’ve spent the past year getting mighty familiar with lakes. Small ones, big ones, busy ones, quiet ones, peaceful ones, remote ones, natural ones, man-made ones. And lots of other ones as well. It’s been a wonderful way to experience all four corners of the Lake District.

But before I start getting sentimental about the year, there was just one more trip to make. And I reckon it’s a good one to take me into the winter months.

I’d deliberately left this walk around Crummock Water and Buttermere until last. Partly because it’s an area I know well (eagle-eyed readers will have spotted my header photo on this website). But partly too because they are lovely, lovely places which make a fitting end to a fantastic year of walking.

This familiarity meant planning the trip didn’t take much thought. But I wanted to do it justice and catch a decent weather window. I had in mind a clear and crisp late Autumn scene. No rain. No clag. Just miles of uninterrupted lakeland beauty.

And that’s certainly what I got.

Bloomin’ cold and dry

It was only the night before when I committed to heading up after a chance look at the weather. ‘Bloomin cold and dry’ was the forecast, so I hastily packed my rucksack and settled down for an early night in anticipation of an even earlier start.

I awoke before the alarm went off at some ungodly hour and crept out the house in the dark. It was baltic. Perfect for an early morning drive to the Lakes.

I hit the outskirts of Keswick with only a few overnight lorries on the road for company. The roads were icy, so rather than risk the Honister Pass, I decided on the more pedestrian Whinlatter Pass. In the darkness with full beams lighting the way, the overnight frost on the verges twinkled like thousands of tiny diamonds. Black ice carpeted the road and the forest took on a Narnia-like appearance. My excitement built as I neared the car park on the shores of Crummock Water.

Although it was only 7am, I wasn’t the only one with the bright idea of an early start. A car and camper van were parked up but otherwise there were no signs of life. I cut the engine to silence the roar of the car’s heater before stepping out into the pre-dawn gloom.

The outline of surrounding hills in silhouette from the dim light framed a purple glow across the water. It was bitterly cold and completely silent. I shut my car doors as quietly as I could, laced up my boots, downed a boiled egg and headed towards the water.

I’d chosen an anti-clockwise walk around Crummock Water, as I have done for most of the lakes this year. Not sure if that says something about how my brain is wired but it felt right to tackle it this way round today.

As dawn broke, I enjoyed views across the water to Mellbreak, experiencing a different aspect of the mountain from the previous trip to Loweswater. I caught glimpses of Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike to the South East and the more diminutive Rannerdale Knotts over my shoulder. Grasmoor standing proudly by the road.

The sun came up and bathed parts of the landscape in a warm glow. Where the sun’s rays couldn’t reach, the ground remained remarkably slippy. This was the way for the rest of the day. It required some careful foot placements but nothing technical.

The water spills from the northern shore of the lake on its journey towards the coast and the path takes you to a pebbly beach with cracking views of the rest of the day’s walk. The environment feels distinctly wilder away from the road and the wind whipped around the valley, chilling any exposed skin.

Every step along the lake shore is a delight and it’s over all too soon as you start to leave the water’s edge behind and enter the land between Crummock Water and Buttermere. The farmland pastures are punctuated with idyllic bridges and pretty streams from the hills above. Scale Force, the highest drop waterfall in the Lake District, lies in the hills up ahead but I decided to save that for another day.

The track soon meets the Buttermere path where, right on cue, I saw my first signs of human life of the day. Buttermere is the more popular of the two lakes and the chilly weather had brought others to sample this delightful short walk. I’d designed a figure of eight loop to bag Buttermere while I was there. You can read about it here but let’s fast-forward an hour or so and finish off what we started…

The Home Stretch

Continuing into the hamlet of Buttermere, I resisted the temptation to call for some pub grub at the wonderful Bridge Hotel and joined the road for the final part of the walk.

The icy tarmac made for some Bambi-esque walking but I soon sought refuge on a track which skirts the foot of Rannerdale Knotts. It’s a worthwhile diversion this, rewarding you with lovely views down to Crummock Water below in return for little effort. And, if nothing else, it gets you away from the cars on the road, which still seemed intent on cornering at full speed, oblivious of the black ice. Cue the grumpy old man in me.

And so it was that I arrived back at the car in time for lunch, marking the end of the walk but also the end of an era. I’d completed my 2019 challenge and walked around the 18 major lakes of the Lake District. Some of the finest low level walks in the region.

Yet somehow, what stood out wasn’t the triumph of completing all these walks. It was the establishing of a new routine. Regular trips to the Lake District. A shift in mentality where I see the outdoors as an essential component of my life, much like eating, drinking and sleeping.

I’d fallen out of touch with the Lakes for so long. But this challenge has left a lasting legacy, one that’ll see a new challenge for 2020.

I can’t wait…


Highs and Lowdown (1)

Crummock Water

Rating

Start / Finish: Buttermere itself can get busy, particularly in the summer months. So start early from one of the smaller car parks along the north-eastern shoreline instead. Or, better still, get the bus over the Honister Pass for a real rollercoaster ride in.

Distance: 7.5 miles (12 km)

Navigation: Easy (although it can feel quite remote in bad weather)

Terrain: Average – the paths can get muddy and the streams swell in bad weather

Facilities: Various options in Buttermere – The Bridge, The Fish, YHA Buttermere and nearby campsites

CLICK FOR ROUTE MAP

*These routes and descriptions are only ever intended to be a personal record of my adventures, which may inspire your own. Hillwalking involves a degree of risk, so please make sure you are properly equipped and prepared if you choose to follow them.


Highs and Lowdown (2)

Crummock Water and Buttermere Figure of Eight

Rating

Start / Finish: Car park on lake shore at Cinderdale Common

Distance: 11 miles (17.5 km)

Navigation: Straightforward (although paths around far side of Crummock Water can feel remote in bad weather)

Terrain: Average – the paths can get muddy and the streams swell in bad weather

Facilities: Various options in Buttermere – The Bridge, The Fish, YHA Buttermere and nearby campsites

CLICK FOR ROUTE MAP

*These routes and descriptions are only ever intended to be a personal record of my adventures, which may inspire your own. Hillwalking involves a degree of risk, so please make sure you are properly equipped and prepared if you choose to follow them.

Share this post
Comments are closed.
error: Content is protected !!