Some years ago I was staying at a farm house at Eskdale in the Lake District where, coincidentally, another chap was staying whom I’d met there the previous year. I went there frequently, he went there at a particular part of the year, every year. I think it was July. We got to discussing where we’d been and what we’d seen, and neither of us had explored the walking at Kentmere. This was the final reminder I needed. I thought Kentmere wasn’t much to bother with, in which I was mistaken. It’s not in the heart of the Lake District which means the sense of place you get is different and not as satisfying. However, it shouldn’t be overlooked and is particularly convenient from the south because it’s closer and you don’t have to drive through the tourist towns of Windermere and Ambleside. I went there shortly after our conversation, and went back five or six times within a year.
The principal walk is the Kentmere horseshoe which is a ridge path climbing the summits of Yoke, Ill Bell, and Froswick. At the huge Kentmere cairn you enjoy enticing views down to Ullswater and across to Helvellyn. This is also where you recognise – I do anyway – that the heart of the Lake District is further ahead. You’re not quite there, but you can see it. Kentmere is on the southern periphery and doesn’t quite have the drama of, for example, the Helvellyn range in the distance.
At the cairn, the path leads onto High Street from which you can descend to Ullswater or you can walk to Angletarn, which is a fine place for a camp with views to Dovedale and Brotherswater as well as Helvellyn. Or if you are returning to Kentmere, you can veer right away from High Street and follow a track which makes for the second part of the horseshoe walk. You may find, as I do, that after completing the circuit a few times you prefer to return the way you’ve come to enjoy the fine views to Windermere more easily. This section is by far the most scenic, worth experiencing in both directions.
I got my best photographs at Kentmere one Boxing Day many years ago, when I was still on the ridge at about 4.30 and the sun had just set. A beautiful pink light flushed the snow and the rocks where I was waiting and hoping this would happen. I’ve just been there in winter snows again, and obtained more photographs such as these. The second photograph looks towards Windermere: