This is a fabulous guest blog about paddling Buttermere lake in the English Lake District in North West England. It’s from the lovely ‘Amy on a paddleboard’ and you can follow her on instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/amy.sup.lovely/
Driving along the A66 into Cumbria there’s a certain point at which you suddenly realise you’re not where you once were. The scenery is different, it feels different, bigger but at the same time, further away, as if you’d never get to the end of all you could see. I liken this lightbulb moment which snaps me out of autopilot driving mode, to when Dorothy says to Toto… ‘I’ve a feeling were not in Kansas anymore’, and to me, I’m not. Mentally, I’m not where I once was and with each visit, I can feel all the weight of a stressful week lift as I cross this invisible line into my weekend adventure. This will be the weekend I paddle Buttermere, with my friend Richard.
We had planned to meet at 9am so as I live 2.5 hours away, I set off early doors. I was making good time but as you drive through the incredible landscape of the Lake District, it’s difficult to not pull over, take it all in and take a few pictures. Because of this I ended up running a little late and as most will know, any bit of phone signal that hangs on, so loyally through all the mountain passes, will be completely lost as you go more off grid. Not ideal when you’re late meeting someone and you’re both sat in different car parks wondering where the other is! (I of course, am in the wrong place) There are a few car parks which are close to Butteremere, but we decided to meet at the National Trust car park just outside of the village since we have membership so parking would be free. Once I had finally made it though we decided it would be more convenient to leave my car at the car park, both hop in Richards van with the boards and park up in a layby next to the lake, so off we went to find the perfect lake side parking spot.
There was a lot of rain forecast this particular weekend so we were well suited and booted for inclement weather… As the Norwegians say, ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’, and I’m with the Norwegians on that one. As if by miracle though, as we opened the van doors, whipped out the boards and threw on our waterproofs there arrived a calm in the air, the water which was rippled was now a mill pond, mirroring the moody fells and forestry which surrounded it. Perfection was ours. So, with our impressive mountain back drop and clean water playground which in its depth, seemed the deepest shade of black, we wasted no more time.
I was riding my new board, the Fanatic Ray Air Premium, 11’6 so my intention was to have a good play on the water, testing stability, checking out its turning circle and pushing the glide. I had some fun with this while we enjoyed a relaxed, scenic paddle in arguably the most beautiful spot in the valley. There is something calming yet intimidating about being surrounded by these bold, moody and impressively huge peaks, I find myself just staring, hypnotized by the views. We paddled across the lake so we could climb up and explore one of the waterfalls… it looked too inviting not to. As it only need be a short scramble up, I’d say it’s a worthwhile detour, the views are amazing! Nice spot for a coffee too.
Getting back onto the water after our coffee break, we headed across the lake towards Crummock Water, the lake ‘next door’ which can be accessed via Butteremere Dubs, the connecting waterway. I’m told You can paddle between the 2 lakes which we considered, but this plan lost in favour of wandering into Butteremere Village for lunch so we left our boards sat by the lake and off we went. It’s only a short 5-minute walk into the village and upon entering from the lake path you will find Croft House Farm Café, which suited us perfectly for food, so we stayed there. Richard however was very upset that they had run out of baked potatoes. I know this because he brought it up several times during our lunch, such is life I’m afraid Richard, must have just been a popular day for potatoes. In spite of this tragedy, we enjoyed a really delicious lunch and some really good coffee!
Once we got on the water again to head back, to we took our time, taking in the enormity of the landscape surrounding us which felt like it could just swallow us up at any minute. Buttermere really is magnificent. Eventually though, we had to make tracks. As we get back to the van and started to pack away our boards and gear, I see another van had squeezed into the layby next to us which I was glad about because I wasn’t 100% sure parking there was permitted. If someone else has done it though, it seems a bit more ok when you’re not actually sure if it’s really ok?! Anyway, my relief was interrupted by an unwelcome realisation that we had a bit of a problem…
The van was stuck.
More stuck than really stuck actually, and not just stuck in the mud, stuck.
We, (Ahem, Richard) had managed to accidently wedge the van in between a couple of pretty big rocks. That van wasn’t budging but all we could do, was try. As we were about to give up and go in search of a farmer for help, along came the owner of the van next to us and it just so happened that he was a joiner so had a van full of wood. There then began a fashioning of using planks and boards to leverage us out of our pickle. Again, no luck, but as we were about to give up once again, along came the stars of the show. About 10 young men showed up as if by divine intervention. Seriously, the timing could not have been better. I, in my acceptance that I was a bit useless in this situation, was now in charge of their dog while they all teamed up to push the van out. They heaved, pushed and put every bit of strength they had into getting that van out. And as the van excruciatingly slowly finally tipped over the offending rock, both myself and the dog were so impressed, we let out a happy little cheer. We were free! After their day hiking along with this exhausting good Samaritan deed, the lads were on their way to the pub so Richard left some money behind the bar for them as a thank you. Seriously, these guys were angels.
So aside from the van getting stuck and of course the disappointing news about the lack of baked potatoes, we had a beautiful day at the most stunning location. My onward journey would take me to Kendal Mountain Festival which as I drove away from Butteremere though the stunning Borrowdale Valley along Honister Pass, I was even more excited for. Perfect way to end a lovely day paddling. Until Next time, Buttermere.