The Buttermere Valley
It's only a short journey from Borrowdale over the dramatic Honister Pass with its slate quarries, mines and exhibition into the lovely valley containing the lakes of Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater.
The lake of Buttermere, set in its amphitheatre of mountains, is a tranquil scene, made more dramatic by the play of light and shade in the narrow valley. The low level 4 mile walk round the lake is a delight, especially if it begins and ends in the hamlet of Buttermere itself, where there is ample opportunity to eat, rest and stay. Many popular high level walks start from the valley and can often be linked into "The Honister Rambler" bus service which follows a circular route from Keswick through Borrowdale and Buttermere.
The Buttermere Valley is the only valley in Cumbria possessing three lakes. Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater occupy the long glaciated valley leading North and West to Cockermouth and the coast. Buttermere and Crummock Water, originally one large lake, are separated by a spread of material brought down by the mountains treams over thousands of years.
The much larger neighbouring lake, Crummock Water, is closely followed by the road, with many vantage points looking towards the dramatic slopes of Melbreak and easy access to the Rannerdale valley. In early to mid May, the valley of Rannerdale turns blue, covered in beautiful bluebells. There are 2 roadside car parks at Cinderdale Commom on the B5289 between Lorton and Buttermere just at the foot of the valley. Be sure to get there early during this period as it is very popular. Combine your visit to see the bluebells with a stroll along the shores of Crummock Water or for a longer walk there is a circular walk to the summit of Rannerdale Knotts, a small fell with great views over the Buttermere Valley and lakes. About a mile up Scale Beck, which flows into Crummock is Scale Force, the highest waterfall in England, with a drop of 120 feet.
Small and picturesque settlements are scattered across the widening valley where the waters from the third lake pass through the hamlet of Loweswater of the same name. High and Low Lorton combine to make up the first large village in the valley, set at the foot of Whinlatter Pass, leading to the Forest Park and Keswick, where it opens out to the broad Lorton Vale. This very traditional settlement is in a lovely location and justly popular with visitors for its many amenities.
Cockermouth is the market town and local shopping and recreational centre for the Buttermere valley and out onto the plain. Along its wide main street, lined with trees and flower beds, is a wide range of specialist shops. The town is the home of Cumbria's major brewery, Jennings, with another important attraction at Wordsworth House, built in 1745 and birthplace of the poet.