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Kendal to Windermere

Monday 20th August 2007

13 miles walking

It was cloudy but dry when we awoke and the weather improved during the day – we even had sunshine! It was still damp underfoot but, for the first time in several days, I managed not to get wet feet.
Over breakfast we chatted to Mandy (the owner of Balcony House) and the other guests, two men who have been walking the Dales Way in short bursts for the past two years, and who may or may not finish it today. We stopped off at Morrison’s (for lunchtime provisions) on the way out of Kendal, then we retraced our steps through the industrial estate and back up to the Dales Way. As we got to the point at which we’d left the trail, another couple of walkers were just emerging from the field we left yesterday, and we overtook/were overtaken by them several times during the day – and we finished the walk just slightly before they did.

We followed the path to the River Sprint and walked alongside the river briefly, to Sprint Mill and Sprint Bridge.
We then followed a path beside the road towards Burneside, where we diverted slightly from the Dales Way in order to find Gable End, our friends Judith and Andrew Stephenson’s former house. We rejoined the Dales Way in Bowston and followed the path alongside the River Kent (the river that flows through Kendal - presumably a contraction of ‘Kent Dale’ - and is reputed to be one of the fastest flowing rivers in England). We passed a mill which has been converted to attractive and upmarket flats, but unfortunately the owners don’t seem to have much understanding of the importance of punctuation – a sign read ‘No parking for residents only’! We’d walked along this very pretty stretch of the river before, on a reunion of all our friends from Durham University. On that occasion we had fish and chips from a shop in Staveley. This time Staveley was where we parted company from the River Kent, before crossing a couple of roads and a railway line and starting on the final six-and-a-half mile section of the Dales Way, as described in the Cicerone guide.

We climbed across fields, with good views back the way we had come. Then, on a very minor gated road, we climbed steeply into Brackenthwaite, with superb views in all directions. We stopped for lunch close to the ‘summit’, eating our sandwiches on a grassy verge.
We turned right onto a slightly more minor road (well, we saw one car!) and then onto a series of tracks and paths through typical Lakeland scenery – rocky outcrops with occasional small groups of trees and whitewashed buildings. We came across the shortest stretch of river of the entire journey – a stream appeared from a subterranean source only to disappear again after about 2 metres.

We joined a minor road briefly, between Outrun Nook and Hag End, then climbed onto higher ground, with superb views to the Langdale Pikes (the other side of Windermere) and the gentler landscape to the south. We could see where Windermere Lake must be, in a wooded hollow in front of us, but it was quite some time before we actually saw the lake. We followed a track downwards and then steeply round to the left (past some cyclists) and continued along a path alongside the B5284 and across fields (just behind two girls who were running, but not very fast). We passed a tarn, which Helen delighted in referring to as ‘Lake Windermere’ then, after a few more wiggles, we really did see Lake Windermere, not far beneath us.

We took the obligatory photographs at the ‘For those who walk the Dales Way seat’,
the official end of this delightful 78 mile walk. Then we continued down into Bowness on Windermere. When we walked the Offa's Dyke Path we had been warned of the culture shock of reaching Prestatyn at the end of the walk, but we hadn’t expected it here. However Bowness was horrendously busy, with lots of B&Bs, hotels and sweet shops, and people milling about down by the lake.

We bought ice-creams to celebrate the end of the walk,
and sat on some grass by a flower-bed to eat them. Then we walked along the road, past more B&Bs and hotels, to the town of Windermere. We had a cup of tea/coffee at the Lazy Daisy tea shop, and ‘helped’ Helen with her chocolate cake. Then we retraced our steps slightly to College Road, where we found Holly Lodge easily. Barry (who is a walker himself) welcomed us, congratulated us, and showed us to our rooms.

We went out to find the station (for tomorrow) and somewhere to eat (for today!); we were delighted to discover that a restaurant called ‘Wicked Windermere’ was now open 7 days a week (a poster in the B&B had said it was closed on Mondays), so we booked a table then went for a walk around Windermere. We bumped into five of the Canadians who had just finished the walk (having missed their way in the hills and so ended up in Windermere not Bowness). We reassured them that the official end of the walk is not that special, took their photograph, and attempted to direct them to the places they were staying (half of them appeared to have been booked into a B&B in Windermere, but it looked as if the rest of them might need to go back to Bowness). Then we returned to Wicked Windermere and had a superb meal, a ‘special’ three course dinner (I had fish terrine, smoked trout, and raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake) for £15.95, with a bottle of Chardonnay Semilion – a fitting celebration at the end of the walk.

After dinner we decided to walk the kilometre down to the lake.
We followed a steeply descending path by a stream to Millerground Landing, and just as we reached the lake there was a beautiful sunset over the Langdale Pikes in front of us. Even better, I had my camera with me – but the photography involved lying on the ground so I left that bit to Helen. This glorious sunset provided a wonderful and memorable conclusion to our walk along the Dales Way.