Patterdale Valley

Patterdale

The village is the start point for a number of popular hill-walks, most notably the Striding Edge path up to Helvellyn. Other fells that can be reached from the Valley include Place Fell, High Street, Glenridding Dodd, most of the peaks in the Helvellyn range, Fairfield and St Sunday Crag, and Red Screes and Stony Cove Pike at the very end of the valley, standing either side of the Kirkstone Pass which is the road to Ambleside.

Footpath to Patterdale

Footpath to Patterdale

Further up the valley to the north is the lake of Ullswater with Gowbarrow Fell and Hallin Fell overlooking it. The only tarn in the valley is Brothers Water, one of the first places in the Lakes to be acquired by the National Trust.

Ullswater Jetty

Ullswater jetty on a cloudy day

The only other village in the valley is Glenridding. Patterdale village has a youth hostel, a church, a primary school and a hotel. In summer it can get quite busy, but not so much as Glenridding. Patterdale is considered to be a walkers’ valley, and in fact Alfred Wainwright stated that it was his favourite valley in the Lake District as it is relatively undisturbed by tourism.

The Lake District

The Lake District, also commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland, is famous not only for its lakes and its mountains (or fells) but also for its associations with the early 19th century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth and the other Lake Poets.

The lake distirct

Glencoynedale

The majority of the area was designated as the Lake District National Park in 1951. It is the largest of the thirteen National Parks in England and Wales, and the second largest in the UK (after the Cairngorms). It lies entirely within the modern county of Cumbria, shared historically by the counties of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire. All the land in England higher than three thousand feet above sea level lies within the National Park, including Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. It also contains the deepest and longest lakes in England.
Early visitors to the Lake District, who travelled for the education and pleasure of the journey, include Celia Fiennes who in 1698 undertook a journey the length of England, including riding through Kendal and over Kirkstone Pass into Patterdale. Her experiences and impressions were published in her book Great Journey to Newcastle and Cornwall:

As I walked down at this place I was walled on both sides by those inaccessible high rocky barren hills which hang over one’s head in some places and appear very terrible; and from them springs many little currents of water from the sides and clefts which trickle down to some lower part where it runs swiftly over the stones and shelves in the way, which makes a pleasant rush and murmuring noise and like a snowball is increased by each spring trickling down on either side of those hills, and so descends into the bottoms which are a Moorish ground in which in many places the waters stand, and so form some of those Lakes as it did here.


In 1724, Daniel Defoe published the first volume of A Tour Thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain. He commented on Westmorland that it was:
the wildest, most barren and frightful of any that I have passed over in England, or even Wales itself; the west side, which borders on Cumberland, is indeed bounded by a chain of almost unpassable mountains which, in the language of the country, are called fells.


Towards the end of the 18th century, the area was becoming more popular with travellers. This was partly a result of wars in Continental Europe, restricting the possibility of travel there. In 1778 Father Thomas West produced A Guide to the Lakes, which began the era of modern tourism.
The growth in tourist numbers continued into the age of the motor car, when railways began to be closed or run down. The formation of the Lake District National Park in 1951 recognised the need to protect the Lake District environment from excessive commercial or industrial exploitation, preserving that which visitors come to see, without any restriction on the movement of people into and around the district. The M6 Motorway helped bring traffic to the Lakes, passing up its eastern flank. The narrow roads present a challenge for traffic flow and, from the 1960s, certain areas have been very congested.

 

Whilst the roads and railways provided easier access to the area, many people were drawn to the Lakes by the publication of the Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells by Alfred Wainwright. First published between 1952 and 1965, these books provided detailed information on 214 peaks across the region, with carefully hand-drawn maps and panoramas, and also stories and asides which add to the colour of the area. They are still used by many visitors to the area as guides for walking excursions, with the ultimate goal of bagging the complete list of Wainwrights. The famous guides are being revised by Chris Jesty to reflect changes, mainly in valley access and paths