Welcome to Lakeland

This poem is inspired by Paul Holdsworth, one of the newest of the Windermere Lake Cruises skippers. You may have seen him driving the bike boat if you are in the habit of cycling here in summer. Although his roots are in the south of England, his former job as Town Centre Manager for Bowness and Windermere, coupled with a keen interest in Lakeland history and its industrial past, make him a mine of information about the area.

Paul Holdsworth, Skipper, Windermere Lake Cruises

He holds strong views that Windermere should be a dynamic, constantly evolving entity. “I talk a lot on the industry of the lake, as I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about people’s tendency to try and set the National Park in aspic. It needs to be constantly changing. It always has,” he told me as we travelled the length of the lake.

In this poem, I give him an on board commentary that takes in more than just the scenery.

 Welcome to Lakeland

(A poem inspired by Windermere Lake Cruises Skipper Paul Holdsworth)

By Kirstie Pelling


Good morning Ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to your Windermere Cruise.
As we start to pull away from Waterhead pier
you’ll see five hundred million years
of growth and squeeze, of fold and fall,
of fill and fault. Treacle of trickle,
salt and silt, solidifying sediment.
Skiddaw formed. Helvellyn born.
Borrowdale volcanics torn and spent.

Notice now how turreted Wray Castle
frames a century of change and struggle,
woven with cotton and laced with bobbin.
Mill and mineshaft spawning and spinning.
Charcoal on far hill burning and charring.
Poet campaigning against railway scarring.
Farmer scraping out a meagre living,
clearing, shearing, ploughing, calving,
counting sheep during fitful sleep.
Rainwater siphoning under feet
to Manchester street in iron piping.

We are now at Windermere’s widest part.
Look to your left and you’ll notice the start
of the modern tourist industry.
Discouraged from seeing Europe by war,
folks came to the Lakes; an English Grand Tour.
They saw it as wild, and though they felt brave
they were clearly safer observing this world
from viewing stations such as Claife;
framing and taming present and past
with mirror trick and coloured glass.
Claife will one day reopen for tomorrow’s visitor
to view the future through a comfort filter.

Take a brief look behind us and may well see
maritime traditions spanning generations.
The toil of Troutbeck and other feeder rivers
with glacial memories and seaside ambitions.
Take your energy from tack and gybe of yacht
spot old passenger ferry and its ghostly host
before they drift away through White Cross Bay.
Notice the excitement of a coming attraction;
old Steamboat Museum, new place to be.
Home to ancient dugout and steamer fleet.
History underpinned by daring and greed
for power boat record and top water speed.

As we make a stop on Brockhole’s jetty
try on for size the footprint of each family
stirring the air with their tree top dares.
Tune in to the wise words of our ancestors
as they pass on by, and pass on their dreams.
Peer into the lake and see beyond reflection.
Look into yourself and make a connection.
Choose your route. Stretch out. Explore
who you are now, not who you were before.

Our final stop is Waterhead. Why not disembark
and take a deep breath of our National Park?
And while the landscape’s beautiful, bear in mind
it’s not entirely natural, but shaped over time,
by hands like yours and mine. Our duty is to care for it,
value and evolve it, share and problem solve it.
We hope you enjoyed our cruise and commentary
in this brief trip through our Lakeland history
all that’s left is to wish you a safe onward journey.

Welcome to Lakeland poem ©Kirstie Pelling 2014 All Rights Reserved.

No reproduction without authors permission.


Connected to Windermere…

The following poem was inspired by a crew member at Windermere Lake Cruises- a local company that runs pleasure cruises on England’s largest natural lake.
I spent the day with three of their skippers, and it struck me that although they have their job in common, and they all carry out the same daily checks and routines, each has a very different relationship with the water.

Kirstie Pelling #PoetInMotion seeking inspiration at Lakeside by

This poem was inspired by Rob Beale; one of Windermere Lake Cruises youngest skippers. A former Outdoor Instructor, Rob has explored the water from every angle; from years spent paddling it in a kayak to his current role of crewing pleasure steamer The Tern. He has published two books about the Steamers of The Lakes and Windermere’s shipping heritage. His relationship with Windermere is visceral and from my short time spent with him I suspect there is nothing he doesn’t notice about it…

I am connected to Windermere.

(A poem inspired by Windermere Lake Cruises Skipper Rob Beale)

By Kirstie Pelling

Conker husk on Windermere

Some mornings I shatter a mirror of sky.
Others, like a tailor, I cut patterns in silk.
In daylight’s thin ribbon, I’m driving on ice.
In summer, lake’s farmer, I churn up pale milk.
I am connected. In moments and years.

From the wheel I notice the tern fledglings leap;
maple-coptering the air like flurries of confetti,
while herons feather Ramp Holme with bracken and leaf,
young otters hide and seek me from Ambleside jetty.
I am connected. I connect up the piers.

Boathouse was my classroom. Nature my teacher.
I’ve seen flood tide and drought, heavy storm, semi freeze.
Back then in a kayak, now high on a steamer
I’ve delighted in snow’s froth on flat white of trees.
I am connected. In life and career.

Winter pierces my skin like grass paper cut.
I note last rush of sunshine on Fairfield’s high back.
I savour day’s end, and that four o clock blush,
the Pikes on my right as I turn the boat back.
I am connected. Forever here.
I am connected to Windermere.


I am connected to Windermere poem ©Kirstie Pelling 2014 All Rights Reserved.

No reproduction without authors permission.

On the Lake

The following poem was inspired by a crew member at Windermere Lake Cruises- a local company that runs pleasure cruises on England’s largest natural lake.
I spent the day with three of their skippers, and it struck me that although they have their job in common, and they all carry out the same daily checks and routines, each has a very different relationship with the water.

Kirstie Pelling #PoetInMotion seeking inspiration at Lakeside by

Skipper Jon Bennett has two parallel existences. When he has finished a series of shifts on the lake, he takes to the mountains as a Fell Top Assessor, striding up Helvellyn each day to monitor and report on winter conditions.

Crampon on winter mountain, above Dunmail Raise, Lake District

As he prepared the boat for departure on that crisp, calm afternoon, he briefed me about his split life. About how he spends half of his working year on the lake, looking up in wonder at the beauty of the fells, and the other half on a steep slope, looking down onto his beloved lake.

And I wondered if, after a long winter in the harsh mountain environment, the light and warmth of Windermere in spring calls to him to stay…

Conducting Nature’s Song

(A poem inspired by Windermere Lake Cruises Skipper Jon Bennett)

by Kirstie Pelling

Windermere Sunset from Waterhead

High on the fells. Looking down on the lake.
This part of his life is light years away
from the wheel, and Windermere’s siren song.

He powers along. His heel breaks icy glaze,
grazing winter’s thin skin. His gaze goes again
to Striding Edge, to Wainwright’s jagged fangs.

Cloud hangs. Dark stacks play hide and seek in sleet.
Carefully planting his feet, he strides
up steep mountainside. He flexes his fingers,

lingers on the shutter for his Weatherline picture
of cornice and crevasse stretching into the sky.
An angel slide, a heavenly helter skelter.

No shelter here from winter’s final blast.
He checks a route redrawn by snow and boot
while below, the water plays a fresh new chorus

of crocus, and daff, and dewy eyed bluebells.
Of pregnant ewe, and the near invisible hue
of untapped sap. It sings in the spring

swings in the warm air. He winds up his work.
Talcum powder tower returns to black
as track wends down. The water music grows.

The lake is feeling low as he takes the helm.
His hands shift the wheel as an oyster catcher swoops.
His touch begins another loop of ancient tunes.

Songs of the moon, and a spring symphony.
With ease he picks up the beat of nature’s melody
and almost seems to sing his on-board commentary.

A solitary song, at first. Then his passengers hum along.
They harmonise the leaves in alternate shades of green.
They lullaby the trees, add a descant to the day,

to the play of the otters, the spray of swan and geese.
Their music can be heard up at the Langdale Chase.
At the centre of the lake, his cruiser floats on sound.

An infinite round, leaving no time for applause.
For half of his days this Windermere Skipper
conducts the song of nature. Tune in to his score.

Seat Sandal fell top in winter, Cumbria Upper Raise Beck in Winter, Cumbria

Conducting Nature’s Song poem ©Kirstie Pelling 2014 All Rights Reserved.

No reproduction without authors permission.

Bus, boots and beer

The days are getting longer, the Snowdrops are growing, and if you are blindly optimistic you could even think spring is in the air. At this time of year, we usually dust off our walking boots and start trying to get fit in time for those long fell days in the summer.

So here is our guide to three of the best walks you can do, made even better by the fact you can leave your car at home and finish at a great pub afterwards.


Helvellyn and the Kings Head

It is hard to think of anywhere more wonderful to be on a nice day than at the top of Helvellyn. Scafell Pike (978m) might beat Helvellyn (950m) in terms of height, but the few metres Helvellyn lacks are more than made up for by the glorious views it gives across the Lake District and the Pennines.

There are lots of different ways to get up Helvellyn. Those with a good head for heights might want to test their nerve on Striding and Swirral Edge. If you are up for a big day out, then you might want to traverse Helvellyn as part of a trip along glorious ridge taking in Dollywagon and Nethermost Pikes.


However, for those who want to find a route up the mountain that is purely a walk without the excitement of other approaches, a steep but straightforward path heads up from Thirlspot, on the eastern shore of Thirlmere.

This route is also conveniently served by the 555 bus, which travels between Kendal and Keswick. Perhaps more importantly there is also a bus stop conveniently near the Kings Head, where you can slake your thirst after a hard day’s walking.

Stickle Tarn and the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel

Great Langdale is deservedly one of the most famous and photographed locations in The Lake District, mostly due to its majestic ‘Langdale Pikes’ which can be seen from miles around.

Not surprisingly it is one of the most popular places for visitors as well and in the high season it’s best to arrive early before the car parks fill up. However, it is thankfully easy to pick up the 516 Langdale Rambler bus from Windermere or Ambleside and avoid the rush.

The Langdale Rambler stops at various spots down the valley, which is the starting point for some of the most scenic walks in Lakeland.



One of our favourite trips is the walk up to Stickle Tarn.

Stickle Tarn is a high mountain lake overlooked by the impressive Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle. In the winter time this is a scene to rival The Alps and in the summer a place where you can happily spend a few hours picnicking or even taking a dip in the tarn.

The tarn is reached via a well maintained path that begins at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and runs alongside Stickle Ghyll. While more sedate visitors will enjoy relaxing by the tarn, enthusiastic walkers can continue upward and onward to the surrounding fells.

No matter how far you decide to go, the New Dungeon Ghyll pub, with its Walkers’ Bar, is a welcome sight as you return from the fells.

Coniston Old Man and the Black Bull Inn

As well as being famous in its own right as a Lake District beauty spot, Coniston is also synonymous with the peaceful Coniston Water, the majestic fell the ‘Old Man’ which overlooks the village and, finally, an award winning brewery.

The 505 bus travels to Coniston from Windermere and Ambleside and routes up the Old Man begin right from the town centre. You can take your pick as to which route you take to the top, from well trodden paths to lesser visited and exciting scrambles.

Whichever route you take, the reward of the views across the fells and Coniston Water towards the coast are well worth the effort.

For us, as you might have guessed, the secondary reward always comes in the form of a pint of Coniston Brewery’s Bluebird Bitter at the Black Bull.


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So far our car free adventures in the Lake District have been just that. We have walked, biked, bussed and boated our way around to show you just how much fun you can have when you leave your car at home.

However, this month we have gone back on all that by not only using a car to explore, but really enjoying the freedom and ease it brings. But this car is no gas guzzler and it’s so quiet that if we drove up behind you, you might not even know we were there.

If you haven’t already guessed, we are of course talking about one of the Renault Twizy electric cars, which you can use to explore the Lakes. You can hire yourself a Twizy from various locations in the Lake District, but we decided to pick ours up from the Langdale Hotel, in Chapel Stile.

People sometimes have a few doubts about electric cars and whether they are really powerful enough to deal with some of the steep hills here in The Lakes. So, first up we thought we would test out the little two-seater by taking it on a spin up Wrynose Pass – a notoriously steep road that has proved a challenge for far larger and more powerful vehicles than the Twizy.

As the Twizy whirred its way quietly up the lower reaches of the pass, we were both a little apprehensive. Wrynose is a pass that is famous for burning out clutches and brakes and we didn’t really relish the idea of having to reverse back down if the Twizy couldn’t hack it. However, the Twizy not only got up the hill, but shot up it in style, with the added advantage of being small enough to easily duck into the side of the road to let other traffic past.Twizy

Even though the Twizy only has a top speed of around 40mph, the fact you are so low to the ground makes you feel like you are going much faster than that and so Sophie’s inner speed junky was satisfied as she whipped it around the hairpin bends on the hill.

One preconception people can have about electric cars is that they can’t be taken very far before they run out of power. When we picked up our Twizy, we thought a trip to the top of Wrynose from the hotel (a distance of about 12 miles) would probably be our lot.

However, the Twizy actually has a range of over 60 miles before it needs recharging and so we were able to head back down Wrynose and over into Great Langdale and then onto to lovely Britannia Inn at Elterwater. The Twizy charges using a regular plug and extension lead and so we were able to leave it recharging its batteries while we enjoyed a cuppa.

The Twizy is a really fun way to get around the Lakes and, like us, we are sure you’ll be surprised at just how far it can go and the terrain it can deal with. There is even room to pack your picnic under the seat. You can hire a Twizy for £10 an hour from Langdale Hotel and Spa, the Ambleside Salutation Hotel, Grasmere Independent Hostel and Hill of Oaks Caravan and Lodge Park. As always, for more information go to http://www.golakestravel.co.uk

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The adventures of the GoLakes Travel team…John Muir Award

GoLakes Travel John Muir award

So the GoLakes Travel team all had a fab time discovering the many different ways to explore our beautiful county without a car. We all found different ways of ‘driving less and seeing more’ depending on our interests and which members of our respective families accompanied us – a walk up Hallin fell for a three year old can be quite an adventure!

As a group GoLakes Travel aimed to complete a total of 1000 ‘leisure’ miles within Cumbria using sustainable transport. The miles were a mix of people-powered transport (walk, run, cycle, swim and paddle) and public transport (bus, rail, ferry and boat services).

We decided to use the experience to discover the ‘good and bad’ of sustainable transport, inspire others to undertake leisure journeys using sustainable transport and use experiences to inform our work on the GoLakes Travel schemes.

We wanted to discover and show that a journey by sustainable travel can be an integral part of leisure trips and enhance our enjoyment of wild places.

Getting on the Bike Bus

Getting on the bus

We’ve put our journeys on a Pinterest map to share with you our experiences and hopefully inspire you to try out your own car free adventures. We’d love to hear how you get on! uk.pinterest.com/SeeMoreLakes/the-golakes-travel-1000-mile-challenge/

We’ve really enjoyed taking part in the John Muir Award and it has encouraged us to go out and discover more about our beautiful area, and try things that we wouldn’t otherwise have done, whilst saving carbon. If you are interested in completing your own John Muir Award visit http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/learning/johnmuiraward to find out more.


Getting on the Train at Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway

Getting on the Train at Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway

For more ideas and inspiration for sustainable days out visit http://www.golakestravel.co.uk


#PoetinMotion lets the Train take the Strain

The GoLakes Travel Poet in Motion Kirstie Pelling has been out and about this month by train, finding poetic inspiration on some of the classic Lakeland lines. She began with the service from Oxenholme to Windermere…
Train at Oxenholme Station
“A gateway to the Central Lakes, the journey from Oxenholme to Windermere is a short and scenic ride passing through a handful of working Lakeland villages, including Kendal, Burneside and Staveley. From the tall towers of the James Cropper Paper Mill looking like they’re about to go up in a puff of smoke, to the sheep pens and then the building yards that start to multiply as the Kendal approaches, you view authentic Cumbria at work and play. And often you see things you wouldn’t notice in a car, especially when they are pointed out to you by fellow passengers.

Man from Murmansk

by Kirstie Pelling


Day squeezes through the cracks in night.

Raindrops freeze. They will never fall.

Darkness leaves us, wanting more.

We board together. Take our seats.

Far apart. I coddle cold feet,

pretend my down coat is duvet.

He huddles into wool; tucks neat,

folded scarf under trimmed, grey beard.

The weak sun turns rime into dew.

I dream of bed, of sleep, of you.

He gestures to the frosted sheep,

announcing this is just like home,

a place he knew well, long ago.

“Murmansk. Without its winter coat.”

I smile, unsure of what he means.

Deserted? Naked? Cold? Remote?


We sit. We look. We contemplate.

We think a bit about our Norths.

A brief encounter? Yes. Of sorts.

Two random people joined in thought,

brought here by a train. Two remote

places, seemingly now the same.

“The difference is in degrees,”

he says. I never learn his name.

But this fleeting journey changes me.

While in Lakeland he sees Russia,

soft and warm without winter snows,

I no longer see Siberia,

and I could swear that Kentmere glows.


Lake District Train Ride into the Sunrise

Man from Murmansk poem ©Kirstie Pelling 2014 All Rights Reserved.

No reproduction without authors permission.