Rebecca Smith - Garden design & consultancy

Lake District, Halfterm Holidays and Levens Hall

My husband has been taking us to the Lake District for years. Twenty-two years ago, I landed at Heathrow on an overnight flight from the bright lights of New York City for a four day break with my then boyfriend. Destination unknown we piled into his car and headed North. The North. This was my first introduction to the charms of the Lakes and we have been coming back sporadically for years.


This year we stayed near Rosthwaite, south of Derwentwater and Keswick, in the Northern Lakes. Our first visit was to the Honister Slate Mine. 

Honister Slate Mine

We have bought several house signs over the years for different houses from Honister Slate Mine, this is our newest for Wyck Farmhouse. The mine has a website for those who may not venture to the Lakes:

House sign

Tourist purchases aside, we headed out for three days of walks armed with the Questa Guide for Walks with Children in the Lake District. Sold as a guide for walks for those with young children, we have had this book for several years and never used it until this trip. I think the book is slightly misleading, the walks in here are not easy strolls; the two walks we did were not terribly long in distance (6 and 4.5 miles respectively) but the height gain was enormous!


Day One took us to Glederaterra on a six mile stroll with a height gain of 1115 feet. The path skirts the edge of Lonscale Fell in the beginning and then Blease Fell on the return. Views were amazing but the rain was incessant and the winds were very strong. All I can say is thank goodness for waterproof clothing!


 Sheep on Glenderaterra


Day Two took us to Barf. Yes, really. I admit I chose this walk purely for the comic value of being able to say we had all been to Barf as a family without reading the description of the walk/climb thoroughly. If I had read it properly, instead of focusing on the fact that the walk was only 4 1/2 miles, I would have seen that the height gain was 1613 feet. Even a good look at the OS map would have revealed lots of contours. Anyway, we set off. 

Barf directions

The map gives a better idea of the climb...

Barf on Map

We made it to the top of Barf, then climbed further to Lord's Seat. The view from Lord's Seat is absolutely amazing. Bassenthwaite Lake lies to the East and Beckstone Gill, which we walked up, runs into the lake itself. Apparently there is an easier way up following the forestry commission roads but if you are going to do this, might as well do it the hard way. A word of warning, the way down is back the way we came up, a scramble which some climbing websites have rated as hard.

The way down from Lord's Seat

It was not all about climbing and walking though, we spent time doing other things including a visit to the Cumberland Pencil Museum and its large gift shop. I stocked up on more coloured pencils in many hues of green ranging from 'Spruce' to 'Moss' to 'Grass', all great for work. The pencil factory itself has moved out of the site in Keswick to a new purpose built factory closer to Cockermouth and the pencils are no longer made with Cumbrian graphite but the factory is worth a visit. 

Levens Topiary

Friday was a very special day though for me, I had an invitation from the Head Gardener to see the gardens at Levens Hall. The garden open to the public on Sunday 6th April 2014 for the season and I cannot wait to go back in the summer to see the borders in their summer glory. 

For more information on the house and gardens, please see the website:




But finally, a visit to the Lake District would not be complete without some dry stone walls:

Dry stone wall along to Barrowdale road

Rounded drystone wall

Close up wall

Comments (2)

  1. Whitney Heavey:
    Feb 24, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    Beautiful photos! I want to visit and paint from those hill tops! Did you feel like the Von Trapp family?

  2. elizabeth:
    Mar 03, 2014 at 05:52 PM

    the Lakes District has admittedly been on my 'list' since Pride & Prejudice but these photos are stunning. I'll gladly hike with you any day!

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