: Wythburn to Thirlmere Dam
your rucksac?" asked Margaret as we headed towards
the bus stop at Legburthwaite.
I replied, "I must have left it at the Thirlmere
dam monument when we took the team picture."
months after setting off on half of what the author,
Tim Cappelli, calls a 10 day walk we finally reached
the top of the pipeline and the Thirlmere dam.
solved the problem of the lack of footpath going up
Dunmail Raise by the energetic means of climbing 1,600
feet up Tongue Gill to Grisedale Tarn then descending
the steep path alongside Raise Beck to King
cairn (better known as Dunmail Raise) . Meanwhile the
pipeline water flows deep below the road.
on the other hand, chose the more direct and less punishing
option of driving up the A591 to the dam then catching
the 555 bus back to Wythburn at the south end of the
reservoir to resume our trek northwards and back to
was on that first visit to the dam that I had left the
rucksac. Fortunately there was enough time to
retrieve it and return to catch the 555, watching hang-gliders
whilst we waited..
weather was much sunnier than expected although the
track from Wythburn was surprisingly muddy in parts.
we reached the tiny Wythburn
the drowning of the village when the reservoir was
built, the lovely old church is still in regular use.
is an interesting small book about it called Wythburn
Church and the Valley of Thirlmere.
is a stone recording two walks undertaken by Matthew
Arnold over Armboth Fell in 1833 & 43 which inspired
the poem, if
you want to read it, Resignation.
Perhaps its density, by modern standards, is a
reflection of the fun that is not to be had on those
intensely boggy hills to the west of Thirlmere. The
Wayside Inn to which the inscription refers was the
Nag's (or "Horse's", to give it its original
name) Head, which stood opposite the church.
would leave their horses at the inn before attending
the service then pick them up again after a liquid lunch.
It survived the construction of the reservoir
but it closed as an inn in 1930, then becoming workers' accommodation until 1966, subsequently
quarters of a mile later we could see across the road
some distance below us The Straining Well. It
is strange that Cappelli makes no mention of the Straining
Well as this is really the start point of the pipeline
and is quite a remarkable building.
Seemingly it can be visited by appointment with United
Utilities. Not today.
Ann Bowker has a website Mad About Mountains where
she has several interesting photos of it, inside and
outside. It is a pity we were not able to see
it for ourselves but kindly Ann grants permission for
others to use her photos provided they are attributed.
Here are three:
see them all. Thanks, Ann.
and maybe this explains its omission from the guide
book, there is no path along the busy A591 and the track
along which we were travelling was some height above
the road. We did, however, have a glimpse of the
reached a fence with a United Utilities footpath marker
pointing right. We did as we were told but soon
we came across a gate saying that the path was closed
due to tree felling. What should we do? There
is no other path on this side of the lake. We thought
that as it was Sunday there wouldn't be any tree felling
taking place today so ignored the warning and pressed
on. Initially we were on a narrow path traversing
a slope the steepness of which was obscured by bracken.
Then we met an area where felling had certainly
taken place but not that recently. It was an Armageddon
field, very difficult to cross due to the depth of rotting
tree branches and such debris. Ian and Brora pressed
on to see if there was a realistic way through then
he signalled to me to go back and take the girls a different
only United Utilities had had the common sense to change
the footpath sign to point left rather than right, there
would have been no problem. A new path exists
and has done for some years judging by the memorial
seat we encountered.
path soon became a wide track used by forestry vehicles.
Views of the lake were infrequent. Eventually
we dropped down, crossed the road and saw a very welcome
sight. An ice cream van.
we found the path that led down through the trees that
skirt the lake. Sometimes with lake view, more
often not. Sometimes wide and easy, sometimes
narrow and difficult. Eventually this emerged at the
end of the dam wall. Job done. Another fine
walk to end the book.. Thank you, Mr Cappelli.
We repaired to the
King's Head at Thirlspot. However, there was a
strange smell as we entered, the beer was off and they
had run out of scampi and chips so we thought better
of it and moved on.
It's a pity that the old Nag's Head at Wythburn
is no longer extant as we might have fared better there.
Fortunately The Traveller's Rest at Grasmere didn't
let us down. No nasty smells, beer in fine fettle
and lovely scampi. Just what was needed to celebrate
completion of The Thirlmere Way.
Sunday 6th September 2015
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