The Buttermere Valley is a picture postcard of two blue ribbon lakes (Buttermere and Crummock Water) ‘knotted’ together by the small village of Buttermere at the centre.
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The Buttermere Valley
Encircling Buttermere and Crummock lakes, are the high peaks of Grasmoor, Whiteless Pike, Robinson, Fleetwith Pike, Haystacks, High Stile and Red Pike. The only vehicular access into this serene valley is from Cockermouth to the north or via the snaking passes over Honister or Newlands Hause.
A Circuit Of Buttermere
Buttermere is one of the smallest of the lakes, so it’s quite easy to walk around the whole of it within half a day. On the 4 km low-level walk, kids will love exploring the tunnel hewn out of rock, skimming stones and spotting fish lurking in the water.
Flavours Of Buttermere
The perfect place to end your walk is at Buttermere Ayrshires Ice Cream parlour, appropriately located in a converted cattle byre. Tantalise your tastebuds with a varied choice of delicious ice creams, all made using milk from the farm’s own breed of Ayrshire cows.
Watching The World Go By
No village is perfect without somewhere to eat and drink and watch the world go by, and tiny Buttermere has more than its fair share with two inns and two cafés − Fish Inn, Bridge Hotel, Croft House Café and Sykes Farm tearoom.
Wainwright’s Favourite Spot
Alfred Wainwright, the famous fell walker and author of the Wainwright guidebooks, regarded Haystacks as his favourite Lake District fell. It was here in January 1991 that his ashes were scattered over Innominate Tarn. The local chapel has a memorial window to Wainwright, which looks directly towards Haystacks.
An impressive rim of mountains encircles both lakes. Haystacks and Red Pike are linked by a high-level ridge path running along the top − just perfect for blowing away the cobwebs from the night before. If this is not enough, more peaks await on the other side – Robinson (737 m), Whiteless Pike (660 m) and Grasmoor (852 m).
The Hidden Valley Of Rannerdale
So hidden in fact that local legend says the valley was one of the last seats of resistance against the Norman conquerors. Nowadays, Rannerdale is better known for the blaze of bluebells that carpet the fellside every May.
High on the pass between Buttermere and Borrowdale is Honister Slate Mine. It is unusual in being an underground slate quarry. Much of the mountain is honeycombed with old workings accessed at different levels and linked by vertical shafts − all dug in pursuit of extracting some of the finest green slate in the world. Regular tours explain how the slate was prised from the mountain and how it was processed into fine building material. And, if that wasn’t enough, an exhilarating Via Ferrata that follows the old miners’ route to work will whet your appetite for even more adventure.
The Beauty Of Buttermere
We’re not talking about the scenic wonders of Buttermere, but about an attractive young lass called Mary Robinson − the daughter of the innkeeper at the Fish Inn. She was so famed for her looks that people came from far and wide to capture her beauty on canvas and in verse. In 1802 she attracted the eye of the ‘Honourable Alexander Augustus Hope’, MP for Linlithgow, and married him a few months later unaware that he was already wedded to someone else. But Hope (aka John Hatfield) met his come-uppance when he was found guilty, not of bigamy, but for impersonating a Member of Parliament. He was hung at Carlisle Gaol in 1803. Mary went on to marry a local farmer, bore four children and lived a happy life.
The shores of Crummock Water are littered with ancient homesteads, earthworks and industrial remains. An old pele tower once looked out over the lake on the western shore (foundations still visible), while Cinderdale on the opposite side is pitted with numerous depressions where iron ore was smelted in medieval bloomeries (primitive furnaces).
Hop On The Bus
The Honister Rambler is the perfect way to get around in the Buttermere and Crummock Water area, and opens up limitless options for one-way walks. Just get on the bus for a few stops − and then walk back to the start.