After a jam-packed first day in the Lake District exploring Ambleside and Kirkby Lonsdale, we slept incredibly well and were up and out early for a second day of exploring the area with the dogs.
We chose Brothers Water, near Pattersdale, as our first destination. The lake was formerly known as Broad Water until it was renamed in the 19th century after the unfortunate drownings of two brothers. The drive into the central, remote parts of the Lake District is impressive. It would be easy to think that you are in Nevada or Colorado, rather than in England, given the enormous mountains surrounding you. Many of these roads are closed in winter, so they are teaming with tourists once the area thaws. Drive carefully through here - the roads are winding, the winds can kick up unpredictably, and in many places there isn't enough room for two cars to pass each other. Also consipicuously absent are guard rails, to keep your car from falling off the edge of the earth.
We reached the Cow Bridge car park by 10am, as recommended in this walk, and it was already nearly full! We backtracked a little way down the road to Brotherswater Inn, which actually worked out better for our planned walking route. The pub offers a day parking pass, so it was easy to leave our car here, warm up with a coffee in the pub, have a last toilet break, and start our walk from here. There are no toilets at the most of the public car parks in this remote part, so you may want to plan to do the same. Simply walk through the campsite and the sheep farm via the marked foothpath behind the pub, and you're on your way. Again, keep your dogs on leads at all times on this walk, as the sheep sometimes escape to wonder up and around the mountains, outside of their fenced areas.
Drive through the mountains of the central Lake District to reach Brothers Water.
Working farm with an ancient right-of-way which allows visitors to enjoy the area.
This is a toll road, boy!
Sheep sometimes go walkabout, so keep your dogs on leads.
Our new friends, Bert & Ernie, are extra woolly to keep them warm up here.
After going as far as little Emma's new titanium shoulder would let us (she was really punching above her weight at nearly 15 years old and only 7lbs), we walked back the way we came for lunch at the pub. The Brotherswater Inn is dog friendly with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the mountains. Their portion sizes suggest that we should have just picked Emma up and walked for another five miles before daring to eat - this is basic, hearty pub grub that really hits the spot after a walk in the cold. Feeling a little smug after our morning walk and early lunch, we loaded up the hounds and made our way further into the Lake District wilds to Buttermere.
There are a number of walks available to visitors around Buttermere, many accessible from the village - take a look at these routes. The Buttermere village car park fills up quickly, but it does have public, paid toilets (remember your 20p). There are also a few coffee shops and pubs here if you need a rest. We drove just past the village to the National Trust car park, which offers free parking to members (no toilets, though). Simply check in with the attendant and he will ask you to place your membership card on your dashboard when you leave your car. Again, there are sheep everywhere! We encountered a few hooligan sheep who had escaped from their fields and were wreaking havoc in the village by blocking the roads, taunting dogs on leads, and helping themselves to a meal of decorative flowers in the village planters. I guess they get their entertainment where they can - must be a long, boring winter up there without the tourists. We chose to do an easy, lakeside walk from the village car park, mainly because the weather had turned cold and drizzly and because some of the mountainside walks would have necessitated carrying Emma.
Buttermere - "mere" means "lake."
Lovely view, but the weather can turn instantly here.
The clouds are rolling in - we're only 100m above sea level, though that mountain is much higher.
On the road again, back to our cottage in Kirkby Lonsdale.
It got colder and wetter as the day wore on, so after our brisk lakeside walk we decided to get back to the warmth of our cottage. We meandered through the beautiful mountains and countryside, stopped at a shop near our cottage for dinner inspiration and ingredients. We spent a relaxing last evening in our home away from home, then formulated a plan for getting on the road to the Fife coast in Scotland the next morning...