This was my third spontaneous research trip to the Lake District in July last year.
I’d wanted to explore the Keswick and Derwent Water area for linocut print ideas. A friend tagged me in a post from Littletown Farm, that said they were opening up a field to a few campers. It was just a field with the use of their cafe loo and sink but I decided that this was the sign that I was meant to go. The hamlet of Little Town, in the Newland Valley, was made famous by Beatrix Potter’s book, The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle.
York Open Studios is usually in April but last year was postponed until July. I shut my door after the last Sunday of the event and packed my car with my camping kit and walking boots. Setting off early Monday morning for the Newlands Valley, I left a house of chaos behind me!
By 10.30 am I was pitching my tent at Littletown Farm at the foot of Catbells and out walking shortly after. For the 3 nights I was there I had the field to myself, and sometimes a couple of Herdwicks! Plus a view of Causey Pike out of my front door.
The weather was glorious, so I fitted in 4 days of walking in the area. The lack of a shower meant a dunk in the lakes, tarn or beck!
Day 1. Cat Bells
Monday 19 July 2021 - 11 miles
The classic Cat Bells and Derwent Water walk is one of the most popular walks in the Keswick area.
From Little Town, I walk through fields to Hawes End. The steep footpath climbs up towards the summit of Cat Bells. On the left, there are stunning views across Derwent Water and towards Blencathra. And on the right are views over the Newland Valley.
Past the summit at Hause Gate, I followed the path down to Manstey Woods. Then followed the lakeshore back to the start. With it being so hot I just had to have a paddle along the way.
Day 2. Grange, Ashness Bridge, Watendlath, Borrowdale, Rosthwaite
Tuesday 20 July 2021 - 13 miles
I started my walk from near Grange, following the lakeshore until I reached the lane up to Ashness Bridge, an old packhorse bridge. Further up, Surprise View offers even more amazing views over Borrowdale, Derwent Water, Skiddaw and Keswick. I followed Watendlath Beck through meadow and woodland, to Watendlath Tarn.
A navigation mistake meant I was walking towards Dock Tarn, rather than Rosthwaite. Rather than turning back I decided to carry on and extend my walk to drop down into the valley near Stonethwaite instead. Then follow Stonethwaite Beck for an ice cream at Rosthwaite and a dip on my way back to Grange.
On my way back to my tent, I stopped near Keswick for a walk along Friar's Crag on the shores of Derwent Water. The perfect spot for a picnic tea.
I then stopped at Castlerigg Stone Circles, Keswick as the sun was starting to set.
Day 3. Newlands Valley and Dale Head
Wednesday 21 July 2021 - 10 miles
This was one of those memorable days that will stay with me for a very long time.
The tranquillity of The Newland Valley is certainly a hidden gem. of Newlands Valley in the Lake District. Avoided the crowds on Catbells
I set off from my tent at Littletown Farm, to walk into the valley, along Newland Beck. There's something I love about feeling surrounded by mountains on each side. It also felt like a world away from the crowds around Derwent Water.
On the way I met Tony, a lovely retired gentleman, soaking in the view and having his second breakfast. He’d parked at the farm where I was camping and we were both walking up to the summit of Dale Head. We chatted for a while, sharing stories and I carried on. I walk at a reasonable pace but stop lots to take photos and look at things, so he’d catch up with me. Being somewhere so quiet it was nice to know someone else was around. At Dalehead Tarn we walked up to the summit together.
At this point, Tony and I went our separate ways. I'd planned to walk along the ridge from High Spry, whereas he’d planned to walk back the shorter route via Hindscarth. I said I’d treat us both to a pot of tea and a scone at the Little Town Farm tearoom at the end of the walk.
From the summit, I walked back down to Dalehead Tarn and up to the summit of High Spy. The path stays high along the ridge to Maiden Moor, towards Cat Bells. At Hause Gate, I followed the path to the left, back down to Little Town. I JUST made it back before 4 pm, only to discover the tea room was closed on a Wednesday! So instead I made a cuppa on my stove at the tent.
I’d expected Tony to get there before me but his car was still there. Time ticked on and being a worrier, I started to get worried. A couple of hours after my return he appeared. The route hadn’t been quite so straightforward and there were lots of tales to tell. So I fired up the stove again and made him a cuppa.
Day 4. Buttermere
Thursday 22 July 2021 - 6 miles
I was sad to be leaving. Packing up my tent early I drove over to Buttermere and parked at Gatesgarth at the bottom of the Honister Pass. I walked anti-clockwise around the Buttermere lakeshore path. My favourite views are on the western side of the lake, looking towards Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks, which was Alfred Wainwright's favourite fell.
I could have quite happily stayed all day, soaking up the views and having a dip but the first of my 50th birthday celebrations beckoned. I’d been invited for an afternoon surprise at a friend's garden and was being picked up at 4 pm. I needed to drive back to York, get my first shower in 4 days and get glammed up!
'Cat Bells', Lake District, Original Linocut Print
Inspired by my trip I've created this linocut print.
A 5-colour multi-block print which is hand-printed using oil-based inks.
Available in my online shop, with or without sky.
Read about my previous research and walking trips in the Lake District:
If you have favourite views you would like to see as a linocut print, please get in touch.
About the artist
Michelle Hughes is a North Yorkshire landscape artist. Much of her work depicts the Yorkshire landscape and Yorkshire coast, including the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.
Michelle loves exploring the British countryside by bike or on foot, camera in hand, capturing ideas for her next prints. Back in her garden studio, Michelle creates simple but stylised silhouettes based on her photographs, and hand carves these shapes into lino. She hand prints with an etching press, using oil-based inks to create tonal blocks of colour. Michelle’s original linocut prints are limited editions.