Head of the Troutbeck Valley on a March Morning

The head of the Troutbeck valley taken from the Kirkstone road through the light haze of a March morning. This was the route of the Roman Road from the fort at Ambleside to Brougham by the River Eamont near Penrith. Passing the Tongue of Troutbeck Park and with Ill Bell and Froswick to the right it climbed up in the distance to High Street. Many a legionnaire passed this way, and now many a Lake District walking enthusiast.

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The River Eden above Frank’s Bridge, Kirkby Stephen

Westmorland’s major river, the Eden, has many beautiful stretches from its source in Mallerstang all the way to it confluence with the Eamont, where it flows over the board into Cumberland. (In fairness it also has some splendid stretches beyond there, all the way to the Solway Firth, but they’re outside the scope of this website which focuses on historic Westmorland). However, among all the many competitors for the most beautiful spot on the Eden this one just above Frank’s Bridge in Kirkby Stephen takes some beating.

River Eden in Kirkby Stephen - Westmorland

To reach this spot there’s a pleasant walk from Frank’s Bridge alongside the river. This can be continued either to Hartley or to the woods and the Stenkrith Falls.

River Eden in Kirkby Stephen - Westmorland

This next is the view from Frank’s Bridge looking upstream to the spot shown in the first photograph.

River Eden in Kirkby Stephen - Westmorland

And here is the bridge itself, anciently an important crossing on the “corpse road” from Hartley and Winton to the Parish Church in Kirkby.

River Eden in Kirkby Stephen - Westmorland

Finally, a view downstream from the bridge. As with the photo above of the footpath by the river this one was taken at a different time of year. By the footpath the leaves were just coming through; here still leafless trees.

River Eden in Kirkby Stephen - Westmorland

Some day I’ll try to replace these photos with new ones showing nice blue skies, but there haven’t been too many of those for a while, at least not on the days when I’ve been free to go out with a camera.

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Rydal Water

Although one of the smaller of the Westmorland lakes Rydal Water makes up for its diminutive size by its almost excessive beauty. It is the pearl in the heart of Lakeland. Although when walking or driving from Ambleside to Grasmere one seems to be going from south to north, Rydal Water is aligned east-west. The following photograph was taken on an Autumn afternoon looking toward the west as the lake first came into view on the path from Pelter Bridge.

Rydal Water on an Autumn Afternoon - Lake District WestmorlandRydal Water on an Autumn Afternoon

Switching from photography to painting, and going back a century, here is a watercolour by Alfred Heaton Cooper. This view is from the other end of the Lake. I can’t place the viewpoint precisely, but it is from somewhere around White Moss Common. The River Rothay is visible, flowing under the footbridge after leaving Grasmere and meandering briefly into Rydal Water.

Sunset, Rydal Water by A Heaton CooperSunset, Rydal Water by A. Heaton Cooper
(For a note on copyright please click here)

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Kirkstone Pass and Brothers Water

Brothers Water (or Brotherswater as Alfred Heaton Cooper labelled the watercolour below; or Broad Water or Broader Water as it was called prior to the 19th century) is more of a tarn than a fully-fledged lake but it has a kind of prominence due to its being the first stretch of water seen as we come over Kirkstone Pass from Windermere or Ambleside toward Patterdale and Ullswater.

Brothers Water and Kirkstone Pass - Lake District CumbriaLooking across Brothers Water to Kirkstone Pass

I have always found it difficult to obtain a good clear photograph looking down from the pass. Somehow I always seem to be there when the haze is unfriendly, the lighting angle wrong, or it’s simply pouring down.

An artist, though, has the freedom to show the scene as it “ought” to be. William Heaton Cooper included a beautiful watercolour of Kirkstone Beck pouring down towards Patterdale as the frontispiece to his book, “The Lakes”. I can’t reproduce that here for copyright reasons but I love this one by A. Heaton Cooper, his father, from the early years of the 20th century. He grasps the powerful ruggedness of the pass.


Kirkstone Pass and Brotherswater, A. Heaton Cooper
(For a note on copyright please click here)

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Rivers of Westmorland (Pigot, 1840)

An extract from the notes on “Westmoreland” in Pigot’s 1840 Atlas of the Counties of England. (I have split it into paragraphs for clarity; in the original it was a single paragraph).

“This county is plentifully watered with rivers, the principal of which are the EDEN, the EIMOT, the LEN (Lon or Lune), and the KEN (or Kan); beside these, there are several other streams, chiefly tributary to those named.

“The Eden, which is the most considerable river of the county, has its source near the middle of it, not far from the borders of Yorkshire; and, passing Appleby, runs by a north-west course in Cumberland.

“The Eimot flows out of Ulles-water Lake, and forms the boundary of this county and that of Cumberland, until it meets the Eden.

“The Len has its source near to that of the last-named river; and, becoming a boundary to the West Riding of Yorkshire, passes by Kirkby Lonsdale, when it leaves this county and enters Lancashire: the scenery adorning the course of this river is extremely beautiful, and very much admired by tourists.

The Ken runs nearly south , by Kendal, and soon after falls into the estuary near Morecamb Bay.”

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