Lake District – Day 2

Derwentwater – Keswick

The second day’s weather was never going to be as good as the first’s had been. As expected, it was a grey day, with low cloud and mist. 

The target for the day was a more leisurely visit to Keswick, to include Grasmere, and the ancient stone circle at Castlerigg.

I have long described this part of the lakes with its slate-built buildings as like being in the Alps. The villages and towns such as Ambleside, Grasmere, and Keswick remind me very much of the ski villages in the French Alps. It’s a mix of the adjacent wooded mountain scenery, small towns with a large visitor population, a focus on outdoor activities, with many pubs, cafés, and restaurants giving it that definite alpine ‘vibe’.

The Victorian fascination with the Swiss Alps in part explains why these places grew in popularity in the C19th. 

Grasmere is adjacent to Rydal Water where the River Rothay flows out to Ambleside and thence Windermere. It is a village really made up of small hotels and guest houses, cafés, outdoor equipment shops, and a few art galleries. The most famous of these is the Heaton Cooper gallery marking several generations of Heaton Coopers, starting with Alfred in the C19th who was a watercolourist, his son William, and now the grandchildren.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

The drive to Keswick is not a long one and you pass Thirlmere en route. The stone circle at Castlerigg is obviously a scheduled ancient monument and is about 5,000 years old being built around 3,000 BCE. It is unusual for being Neolithic (New Stone Age) rather than Bronze Age.

It is located in a dramatic landscape that looks out towards Derwentwater and has Helvellyn as a backdrop, with Skiddaw and Blencathra nearby. 

The challenge with photographing it is that it’s obviously a tourist magnet and in summer it is hard to get a clear view of the circle unless very early or late in the day. Winter is a little easier. I was annoyed to see a photographer with a model climbing over the stones to get ‘that’ image with the model. It’s a protected ancient monument – you don’t climb over it. 

The low cloud and mist made for very moody skies.

Carrying on to Keswick, it was very grey. Pictures I took by the lake look as though they’re monochrome. Whilst Day 2 didn’t have the dramatic mountain scenery of Day 1, and we didn’t get any clear views of the nearby big mountains, it was still a good day.  


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