Binsey near Bassenthwaite Lake round
A lovely short family walk or an easy one for beginners
Cumbria is a large county in North West England and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park. It is bounded to the north by the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the south east by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. Cumbria is very mountainous containing every peak in England over 3,000ft above sea level with Scafell Pike being England’s highest mountain at 978 m (3,209ft). Cumbria is also one of England’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty attracting mountain climbers, hikers and walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists and holds a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. Cumbria consists of six districts Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.
The Lake District is an area with stunning scenery located within in the County of Cumbria. Commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland it was granted National Park status on 9th May 1951 less than a month after the first UK designated National Park, The Peak District. It is the largest of thirteen National Parks in England and Wales and the largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. The Lake District National Park itself covers an area of 885 square miles and stretches 30 miles from Ravenglass in the west to Shap in the east and 35 miles from Caldbeck in the north to Lindale in the south. Crammed with so much natural beauty the Lakes attract visitors, tourists and holiday makers from all over the world. As the name suggests there are many lakes each with their own uniqueness, amenities and activities such as lakeside walks, sailing, waterskiing, boat trips and ferries. All of the lakes except Bassenthwaite Lake are named by water, tarn or mere and are surrounded by stunning scenery and magnificent fells. There are some wonderful towns to explore such as Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, Kendal, Hawkshead, Grasmere and Cockermouth all with a splendid mixture of shops, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. There are also many museums, theatres, historic homes, gardens and many easy walks for the not so energetic visitor wishing not to climb the fells. William Wordsworth the famous British poet was born in Cockermouth and later lived in Grasmere where he wrote some of his best works before moving to Rydal Mount near Ambleside for his last 37 years. Both places are open to visitors and so is Brantwood home to John Ruskin until his death. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Thomas de Quincey all followed Wordsworth to the Lake District. Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, also grew to love the lakes and settled in the Winster Valley near Windermere. The painters Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner and John Constable were early visitors to the lakes but it was John Ruskin who settled here at Brantwood on the shore of Coniston Water. Farming and especially sheep farming has been historically and still is the main industry of the Lake District. The tough Herdwick breed with their stocky build and distinctive grey coat are especially hardy for the Lakeland fells and its weather. Sheep farming has probably been here since Viking times and is an important factor both to the economy of the lakes as well as in preserving the stunning landscape which attracts visitors and hence income to the region. Walking is a big attraction in the Lake District whether strolling around the low lying lakes or climbing up into the mountainous fells whichever is undertaken the scenery is magnificent. Alfred Wainwright’s famous hand written book, The Pictorial Guide to the Lake District, published in 1955 is a collection of seven books each illustrated with his unique style and charm of the 214 fells inspiring many visitors and tourists from all over the world.
Binsey at 447m (1,467ft) is a small hill on the northern edge of the Lake District. It is a wonderful family walk or an easy one for beginners. Being the northernmost of the Wainwrights it is detached from the rest of the Lake District but provides a good place to view the northern and north western fells and the southern fells as far as the Coniston Fells 25 miles away as well as the coastal plain and across the Solway Firth to the hills of Scotland. Binsey being a small hill in comparison to the rest of the Lakeland hills, from the summit on a clear day Snaefell on the Isle of Man can be seen but the furthest point visible is the top of Slieve Donard in Mourne, 115 miles away. Binsey, formed from volcanic rocks, has a mainly grass and heather rounded form and is impressive to the eye more than the similar hills of Great Mell Fell and Little Mell Fell. It has one significant outcrop of rock named West Crag where a plantation sits below it and flanking the eastern slopes is a thin belt of mixed woodland. The stones of the tumulus on the summit have been raided to provide several small circular wind shelters. There is also a modern cairn and a trig point atop the Tumulus.
Bewaldeth is a small village in the borough of Allerdale. The village is situated below Binsey not far from the northern end of Bassenthwaite Lake. In 2001 the village had a population of forty and in 2011 was still less than one hundred. The nearest towns are Keswick and Cockermouth.
Bassenthwaite Lake about 4 miles long and three quarters of a mile wide is one of the largest but very shallow water bodies in the Lake District with a maximum depth of 70 feet. It is the only body of water in the Lake District to be defined as a lake and named as a lake all the others being waters, mere’s or tarns. The lake lies in a glacial valley at the foot of Skiddaw, near the town of Keswick and is fed by and drains into the River Derwent which flows into Derwent Water. The lay-bys on the A66 which roughly runs along the western side of the lake are popular spots for photographers and bird watchers looking for osprey. In 2001 ospreys returned to nest in the Lake District after more than a hundred years. They nested by the lake and have regularly done so since. The osprey can be watched from view points at Dodd Wood and by CTV from Whinlatter Forest Visitors Centre. The lake contains salmon, trout, pike, minnow, perch, dace, ruffe, and eel but mainly roach. Cormorants are known to fish the lake and herons can also be seen.
From the lay-by go through the gate and bear left following the footpath sign heading uphill on the obvious wide grass track to the cairn and trig point on the summit of Binsey. We keep heading forward passing a second cairn and when the path starts to drop downhill and the ground rises on our right we bear right on the wider path. We keep following the path downhill and keep following it as it bears left until we come to a gate in the wall. We pass through the gate and continue on the grass track passing through two gates until we come to the main A591 road then turn left along the road. After a short way take the minor side road on the left and follow the road through the village of Bewaldeth. We continue on the minor road uphill which passes through the centre of Fell End farm and then to our car park.
This is an easy, short family walk or a good one to start with for beginners on grass and gravel tracks and minor tarmac road.
Elevation: approx lowest point 164m (538.06ft) approx highest point 443.20m (1454.07ft) approx ascent 285.80m (937.66ft).
Distance and Start Point
Approx 4 miles allow 2 hours using OS Explorer Map OL4, The English Lakes, North-western area, Keswick, Cockermouth and Wigton. This walk is done anti-clockwise.
Start point: lay-by at the disused quarry just south of Binsey Cottage.
Binsey is north of Bassenthwaite Lake in the North-western area of the Lake District.
Directions and Parking
Travelling on the A66 from Keswick towards Cockermouth, take the A5291 on the right at the northern end of Bassenthwaite Lake. Continue on the A5291, turning right over the bridge. At the t-junction turn right onto the A591 then immediate left. Follow this road and take the first left. The lay-by car parking area is just on the right.
Parking: lay-by at the disused quarry just south of Binsey Cottage.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are no public toilets or refreshments en-route but there are two pubs nearby at Uldale and Bassenthwaite village or there is the Best Weston Hotel and Spa, the Castle Inn, on the A591. The nearest towns are Keswick and Cockermouth where there are ample facilities to choose from.