23 Dec 2019
For those of us whose list of New Year’s resolutions doesn’t start with “Dry January”, what could be better than a pub walk in the Lake District to stretch the legs and tickle the tonsils in the New Year? Stagecoach have made it easy this year, with a special 599 bus service on New Year’s Day that offers access to fantastic walks and pubs around Windermere, Rydal Water and Grasmere.
Amblers might want to start at Rydal Hall with a gentle stroll in the glorious Thomas Mawson designed formal gardens, or some time for contemplation in the Grot, a 17th century viewing station built by Sir Daniel Fleming as a place to frame and enjoy the cascade of Rydal Falls. Grab a coffee and enjoy a haven from the cold in Rydal Hall’s Old School Room Teashop, before crossing the lane to cut through the churchyard of St Mary’s into Dora’s field – laid out by Wordsworth and wife Mary with hundreds of daffodils on the death of their beloved daughter Dora. Be sure to make a mental note to come back in the spring when the daffodils will form a field of gold.
Next up, the nearby Badger Bar at Rydal, for a pint of real ale or steaming bowl of soup in front of a crackling log fire. If by now you’re ready for a longer walk, first cross the A591, then the River Rothay for a wonderful walk through woods and alongside the pebble beached waterside at Rydal Water, through to Grasmere, famed by William Wordsworth as “the loveliest spot man hath ever found”. Who knows, Rydal Water may be frozen, and if it is, pause a moment to picture the poet Wordsworth hissing through the ice on skates in rapturous contemplation of his own speed and the surrounding fells, first as a boy and later as a man. If not coated in ice, Rydal sometimes attracts hardy wild swimmers. And for bird watchers this is a prime place to spot Goosanders and Goldeneye.
If you’ve eaten too much over Christmas and need to do penance, climb gently from the shore of Rydal Water to Loughrigg Terrace before reaching Grasmere, for wonderful views of Grasmere from high above the lake. Grasmere is renowned for the magnificent reflections of fells and clouds on its still waters, and whether you’re above or beside the lake, you’re sure to linger in the company of much beauty. Whether you take the low or higher path, you’ll come out at last on to Red Bank, a quiet country lane which leads into the village of Grasmere.
Grasmere is rightly thronged by visitors for much of the year, but on 1 January, you’ve a rare opportunity to enjoy it at a slower pace, with some of the pubs and hotels offering opportunities for a cream tea or beer and a hot meal that’ll set you up for the bus-ride home. Personally, I love Tweedies, for its log fires in winter as much as for its great dog-friendly beer garden in the summer, complimented by great food, draft beer and tasty tipples. Well, you were promised a good pub walk. And what could be better than a pub walk with not one but two great pubs in it?
The 599 lends itself to other great point-to-point walks, including a relatively easy ascent with incredible views at Orrest Head, just up from Windermere train station, and the more challenging Wansfell, easily accessed from Ambleside.
Or how about mixing things up a little, sailing from Bowness-on-Windermere or Waterhead, close to Ambleside, to enjoy views of the Langdale Pikes and fells from England’s largest lake? Whatever you choose to do, just getting there will be a big part of your day out, with the views from the top deck of the 599 offering you some of the best photo opportunities the English Lake District World Heritage Site has to offer.
Hidden Lakeland provide individual and small group tours for Japanese visitors travelling to the Lake District, helping them to discover the hidden gems of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. For further details visit the Hidden Lakeland website.