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South Lakeland: Leven Valley
Windermere with Ambleside and Bowness, Hawkshead, Sawrey and Esthwaite, Troutbeck, and the Leven Valley


South Lakeland: A Personal View
Through the photographs of Mike Morton

Lakeland Beyond
Follow the links to explore specific regions of Cumbria, and galleries of other images by Mike Morton
Seealso:
South Lakeland: Leven Valley - Gallery 2

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South Lakeland
Made Easy!
South Lakeland has been subdivided following natural and political boundaries, mainly based on valleys radiating from the central massif of the Lake District. The subdivisions have been named according to the chief river into which the waters of that valley drain, for example the River Leven which drains from Windermere, Esthwaite and the Troutbeck Valley, the Kent from Kentmere, and Crake for Coniston which has been grouped with Rusland and Grizedale Forest. The central lakes area incorporating Langdale, Grasmere and Rydal Water has been named after the Brathay. The exception is Bay which covers the Furness and Cartmel Peninsulas, the region south of the National Park which borders Morecambe Bay


S1: Brathay & Rothay The Langdales, Grasmere & Rydal
S2: Crake Coniston, Tarn Hows & Grizedale
S3: Leven Windermere. Troutbeck & Hawkshead
S4: Kent Kendal, Kentmere, Arnside and Kirkby Lonsdale
S5: Morecambe Bay Furness & Cartmel Peninsulas

Click on the links to the left to explore each o these regions through the lens and with additional notes and tips for visitors. These pages contain galleries and may take a moment to load.

To purchase photographs or large format images please contact Mike
Telephone: 01539 531258
Email:
mike@lakelandbeyond.com



+44 (0)1900 824329
+44 (0)7812 210880

info@lakelandbeyond.com

The region around Windermere is one of the best-known and most visited in the Lake District partly due to ease of accessibility by road and rail, but also on account of the beauty of its landscape. Indeed, rich industrialists from Manchester and the Lancashire mill towns were largely responsible for developing the region during Victorian times and built many of the fine villas around the shores of Lake Windermere as weekend retreats. One of them, Colonel Ridehaugh of Fellfoot House even had his own private steamer called the Britannia. An excellent example of one of these retreats is Blackwell, an Arts and Crafts house now open to the public. Blackwell provides an ideal introduction to this area - afternoon tea on the lawn with a magnificent view over Windermere and the Coniston Fells is irresistable! The beauty of the Lake District also attracted plenty of romantics - poets, painters, writers - perhaps the best known in the Windermere area was Beatrix Potter who lived, penned and painted at Hill Top in Far Sawrey. She went on to support the protection of this unique landscape and way of life through her work in helping to establish the National Trust which now owns huge parts of the National Park. The region still inspires many people, attested to by the number of crafts people and artists who have made this region home. Today Windermere is the playground of the Lakes, especially Bowness with its marina, steamers and other boats, and the restaurants, cinema, bars and gift shops which brim over with tourists during the summer months, especially those on the trail of Peter Rabbit. Ambleside at the northern end of the lake, best known for its diminutive Bridge House, is the climbing centre for this region with numerous mountaineering shops and easy access to the Langdales, Loughrigg Fell, Wansfell, Fairfield Horseshoe and Troutbeck Valley.

The photos in this gallery don't really reflect the most popular tourist traps - rather they reveal some of the less visited places around Windermere - places that require getting out of the car and walking, or discovering on a quiet morning in the Spring, Autumn or Winter when the crowds have long gone home! Even in mid summer it is possible to escape the hustle and bustle of Bowness or Ambleside. Note: there are several more smaller images from the region on the main South Lakes page.



UPDATED:12/2013


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Some people put away their cameras as the nights draw in, but some of the best light and atmospheric conditions can be found in autumn and winter, Top left shows the early morning mist lying over the River Leven at Fell Foot, where it drains from Lake Windermere; Right is the view from one of my favoirite viewpoints, Gummers How, It is Christmas day and the snow lies deep and clouds obscure the lake and the Leven Valley. Surprisingly there were a few brave souls making the most of a White Christmas, including a couple who were sharing champagne on the summit, having just got engaged! Bottom left is another winter view, this time the road from Bowland Bridge. The final view is of autumn colours refected in the River Leven where it flows from Windermere.



December 2010 was one of the coldest months on record though the Leven Valley escaped the heavy snowfalls that caused so much disruption over the Pennines and in the South-East of England. It also provided some excellent light, the sight of frosted trees and an opportunity to tramp through frozen marches to record some captivating scenes. This group of photographs shows the River Leven where it curves out from Windermere at Fell Foot. There was once a Roman wharf here where cargoes were transhipped from boats coming down the lake from the fort of Galava to smaller craft which could navigate the Leven rapids to reach the sea at Morecambe bay. The train was a Santa special on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway which stopped beside the river for the children. A flock of Camada Geese flew past just at the right moment. This stretch of the river with its overhanging trees, reedbeds and bulrushes is a paradise for birds ... in addition to the geese you regularly see swans. mallards, tufted duck, goldeneye, herons. little grebes, buzzards and even kingfishers and cormorants. The church in the third picture is St Peter's at Finsthwaite, one of three that make up the Leven Vallay parish. The others are at Staveley in Cartmel, and Haverthwaite.



A perfect summers day overlooking Windermere from Brant Fell, looking northb towards the Troutbeck Valley, Fairfield Horseshoe and Helvellyn group. It is August and we were waiting for the start of the Windermere Airshow - moments later a Spitfire and Hurricane were streaking along the lake, then the Red Arrows. There is never a dull moment here. Right of that is a sunset taken overlooking the hills above Lakeside. I could fill these pages with sunsets. There is something special about the western sky reflecting the distant ocean. All comes to a spectacular close with some amazing shows of light and colour, especially in the winter when the sky seems to be burning with an intense shade of red. This one was unusual due to the m,anner in which the clouds appeared to be lined. Below left is the national Astible collection at the Royal Hotrticultural Society gardens at Holehirdnear Troutbeck. Holehird has been carefully laid out so that no matter when you visit there is always something to see. Right is another view of Windermere, taken in winter from Ghyll Head, another of my favourite viewpoints. The snow covered mountains are blushing in the setting sunlight.



Late autumn of 2009 saw horrendous floods in Cumbria on an unprecedented scale. Those at Cockermouth which was hardest hit were justifiably well documented. However, for 2-3 days the heavens opened and the waters rose throughout the counrty. At times it felt as if it was never going to stop. In this region Windermere overflowed and flooded all properties including many important hotels around the lakeshore. The Swan, Lakeside and Whitewater at the southern end of the lake were all closed until well after Easter for refurbishment. Meanwhile, the old arched bridge at Backbarrow , which spans the kargest waterfall in the Lakes (by volume) was overwhelmed. The parapets were washed away and the high water mark was several feet higher than the highest previously recorded in the nineteenth century. Like the famous bridge at Newby Bridge it withstood the torrent, but only just. Several others across the county fell. The views above show the foot of Windermere with Fellfoot to the left, and Lakeside to the south. The River Leven normally curves right and flows south to Newby Bridge. Top left is the view from Gummers How on a normal autumn morning with mist over the lake and the Leven Valley. To the keft is the same view during the floods. The waters have swelled the lake and the banks have burst. The flood can be seen extending left over the main A592 to the A590 which had become a flooded causeway. Before the last Ice Age the Leven flowed this way and through the Cartmel Peninsula to Morecambe Bay. As the glaciers retreated this route was blocked by a dam of glacial moraine and the river forced its way through the gap at Backbarrow where it flows to this day. However, during the floods it was as if the river had remembered the past! In the lower pictures the extent of the fllood at Fellfoot and Lakeide can be seen. The channel from the lake to the river to the right of the picture is the course of Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway - oops!



South Lakeland is dotted with woods and forests, some of them still coppiced from the times when the region produced wood for cgarcoal, baskets and bobbins. You can still find charcoal burners in the woods above the Winster valley from time to time. However, one of the best forests of all is Chapel House, managed by the Forestry Commission, and stretching from above Fell Foot and Staveley-in-Cartmel, over Cartmel Fell to Sow How and Simpson's Ground. The main accessa is from a carpark and forest track at the east end of Staveley-in-Cartmel near Newby Bridge (not to be confused with the Staveley between Windermere and Kendal). The tracks allow fabtastic views over stands of larch to Windermere. the Leven Valley and Coniston Fells. There are also old deciduous woods carpetted with bluebells and commercial plantations of spruce and fir. However, it is the bogs and wetlanbds within the forest, the areas of mosses and ferns which make it rather special. The upper parts towards Gummers How have been clear-felled and will be gradually regenerated as natural woodland. Here, teh views are to Gunmers How and over the Winster valley, east to the Pennines. Chapel House is also a haven for wildlife with red and roe deer, the occasional red squirrel hanging on, foxes, badgers, buzzards, owls, woodpeckers and bats. The pictures above show verdant woodland rides and the Simpson's Ground Reservoir where you can find swans, geese and ducks.


Views ovrer Simpson's Ground Reservoir to the dam, and beyond the Winster Valley and the line of the Pennines. This is another 'sleepy hollow' like place with the bear 'skeletons' of trees sticking up through the water and bogs and marshes blocking access. There is a farm track leading to the dam from the farms above High Newton.

Chapel House can be captivating in all seasons, from the silence of winter to the bluebells of spring, and the spectacle of autumn when the mix of different tree species create a patchwork of colour. Top left is the viewe from Cartmel Fell, the almost inaccessible summit ringed by trees and bracken. To the right is Gummers How, and to left Windermere. On a clear day like this, the panorama of the Lakeland fells from the Old Man of Coniston through Wetherlam, the Scafell Group, the Langdale Pikes, and Skiddaw, to the Fairfield Horseshoe is captivating. To the right is the view of Windermere from the foiest track above Staveley over the young stands of larch trees. This is a good place for spotting foxes and deer. Below left is another view over Windermere, this time from just above the Gummers How road. The final view is looking down from Cartmel Fell over the deciduous lower reachs of Chapel House to Fell Foot Park, and the Leven as it flows out of Lake Windermere and curves towards Newby Bridge. There was once a Roman wharf here, where boats coming down the lake from the fort at Galava (Ambleside) unloaded or transhipped their cargoes. A train on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite railway can be seen approaching the terminus at Lakeside.


See also: South Lakeland: Leven Valley - Gallery 2 - for further images of the Leven Valley region of South Lakeland




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Winter in the Leven valley - trees between Fell Foot and Newby Bridge.



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All photographs copyright Mike Morton