Updated: Jan 26, 2020
We adore the Wainwright guides. Or the Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, by Alfred Wainwright, to give them their full name. You can find a full set in the Endymion House snug.
Written by a slightly eccentric civil servant, who worked in Kendal, they are the loveliest guides to all the Lake District fells -- fell being the local word for a mountain. Wainwright, along with most experts in Britain, defined a fell as anything over 1,000 feet, or 305 metres (if you’re being metric, but Wainwright was very much an imperial man.) The pictures in the books are hand-drawn, so too the maps, which does mean you can’t completely rely on them if you are tackling an ambitious walk. But as a starting point, they are brilliant: packed full of necessary information, local colour and great tips as to the different routes you can take.
Even though they were written in the 1950s and 1960s, most of the information is pretty up to date, thanks to a subtle edit undertaken only about a decade ago (that’s the version we have in the snug).
But which fell to tackle first? Well, from Endymion your choices are endless. And the mighty Skiddaw is the obvious choice. But if you have children, especially under the age of 7 or so, that might be ambitious.
Here are some of our favourites that even our youngest son, who tackled his first Wainwright (Arthur’s Seat) aged five, has enjoyed:
This is is a mere six or seven minute drive away, the other side of Keswick. And it is properly, properly steep. But it’s also quite easy, if you are fit: straight up the fell in glorious mossy, woodland. You then emerge at the top to get stupendous views of Skiddaw and Bassenthwaite Lake. With a pair of binoculars (or good eyesight!) you can see Endymion House from the top. It's a white blob in the bottom right of this picture, below!
Castle Crag (950ft)
This is the very lowest of all the Wainwrights, just a fraction under 1,000 feet but Wainwright himself insists it’s a proper fell. And I’m going with him. You can start in the charming village of Grange (NB not Grange over Sands; which is miles and miles away), which is just a ten-minute drive away. The first two-thirds of the walk are lovely and gentle. Then you have a fun, rocky scramble to the top, which our children loved. From there, the view of Derwentwater and Keswick is great. There is also a touching war memorial at the summit.
Dodd Wood (1,647ft)
You can do this straight from Endymion House; no need to drive. Though if you drive and park in the National Trust carpark, it will shorten the walk for anyone with small legs! This is a great circular walk, which isn’t too steep at any point and which you can do in under two hours, with really clear National Trust signposting. Also, there is a great café at the bottom: The Old Sawmill Tearoom. Even better, if you are lucky you can spot the incredible ospreys who nest in Dodd Wood.
What are your favourite walks to do with kids in the Lake District?