Things to do nearby Middle Cragg Cottage
While Buttermere is a tiny village, it has two pubs, two cafes and an excellent ice cream shop which all add to its lovely atmosphere. The circular walk around the lake is excellent for whiling away an afternoon with stops to explore the woodland and the 19-century tunnel, and of course to dip your toe in the water. More challenging hikes are also in plentiful supply, and road cyclists will enjoy the gruelling climbs of nearby Newlands Pass and Honister Pass.
Buttermere is on of the most magical valleys of the Lake Disitrct. Entirely surrounded by mountains and accessed via narrow winding lanes, it retains a timeless feel and peaceful atmosphere. The village is made up of two pubs, a café, farm and ice cream parlour, with whitewashed stones cottages dotted around and the occasional sheep trotting past.
High fells surround the small lake, which is just over four miles in circumference. The dramatic ridge of Red Pike, High Stile and High Crag overshadows the far shore of the lake. Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks are an imposing presence at the foot of the Honister Pass.
For an energetic walk you can head up onto Whiteless Pike and then beyond to Grasmoor, Crag Hill and Hopegillhead. Alternatively, on the other side of the valley you can walk round Buttermere and up Haystacks (Wainwright's favourite fell) or take on the challenge of the high ridge of High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike. There is also a bus, the Buttermere Rambler, that runs from Keswick round to Buttermere in the holiday season (a circular route over Whinlatter Pass and Honister Pass). This is great for linear walks as you can get a lift to the start of a route and hike back to the village or get a lift back from any one of the various stops along the bus route.
If you are visiting during May, then don’t forget to stop off at Rannerdale, a hidden valley that becomes a blaze of bluebells during late spring. This valley has a bloody history – it is where the valley folk lay in wait for Norman invaders in the 11th or 12th Century and ambushed them, winning the battle. The slain invaders were left where they fell and it is said that this is why the bluebells grow so profusely in this little corner of the western lakes.
Hardy folk can enjoy a dip in Crummock, Buttermere’s twin lake. There is a wide bay with several islands, popular with open water swimmers thanks to the handy navigational features. The water is very clear and you will see plenty of fish. Canoes, kayaks and rowing boats are allowed on the water but powered craft are banned, ensuring the tranquillity of the location.
Loweswater is just a few miles away from Buttermere and is a much smaller lake that receives even less foot traffic. There is a lovely terrace path along the far shore with an abundance of wildlife including red squirrels. If you find the little pebbled beach, you can swing over the lake on the rope swings, or head into the woods to discover the splashing waterfall. Don’t forget to stop off at The Kirkstile Inn for a tasty meal after your walk around the lake.
Aside from walking, the market town of Cockermouth is a 25-minute drive away. This Georgian Gem town has a lovely main street lined with independent shops and several nice pubs and restaurants. You can take a tour and enjoy tastings at the Jennings Brewery, step back in time at William Wordsworth’s childhood home, or even enjoy the occasional jazz evening at Merienda café. Cockermouth also boasts a Sainsbury’s supermarket, the Kirkgate Centre – a theatre, cinema and music venue all in one – and riverside walks.
Keswick is another popular town and a dream location for walkers, climbers and cyclists. There are plenty of fantastic fells to climb and low level walks by the lake or in the valleys. Mountain biking is a popular pastime with adventurous trails in Whinlatter Forest as well as plenty of flatter, more sedate routes around and about.
As well as outdoor activities, Keswick is a popular destination for shoppers. There are a number of independent shops selling interesting local and regional wares. There is a lovely bookshop that opens late during the summer and a fascinating second hand bookshop. As for outdoor shops, Keswick has a wide range of independent retailers as well as several high street outdoor retailers. There is a popular Victorian Fayre and Christmas Market as well as regular local markets through the year (Thursdays and Saturdays). AS if that’s enough, there are museums, The Puzzling Place, an Art Deco cinema, and an award-winning theatre (guests with Sally’s Cottages can purchase discounted tickets).
Between Keswick and Buttermere, through the Borrowdale Valley, is the Honister Pass, a steep and winding road with spectacular views. At its highest point you will find the Honister Slate Mine. Here you can buy some famous Lakeland Slate products, take a tour of the mine, or walk high above the valley on the Infinity Bridge – the longest of its kind in England. There is also a Via Ferrata – with a classic and an Xtreme version – which follows the original miner’s track up Fleetwick Pike with the aid of a continuous cable.