Thirlmere can come over all a dark and menacing as you drive by on the A591, but if you turn off at its southern end and follow the single track road along its western shore, it can present a much kinder face.
We stopped at the second car park and followed a path beside the shore, from the little bay
at Dob Gill, around Hause Point to Launchy Gill. It was a little overgrown in places, but the shady woodland and delicious views across the lake were wonderful and we encountered surprisingly few other walkers and heard very few cars on the road above. The path goes on and on, but we were restricting ourselves to a short section, determined to gain a bit of altitude.
From a distance, the impressive heights
of Bull Crag and Fisher Crag that bracket this tumbling stream might seem a little daunting, but the nature trail that leads up past a series of pretty waterfalls
is fairly forgiving - or at least to begin with. Entranced the views
back towards the lake and the numerous veils
of water, we didn't really notice that our path (a spur off the well-trodden nature trail) was a lot steeper until we reached the top
of one of the falls. At this point the going became a little hairy, but we eventually negotiated the precipitous path and an allegedly walker-proof fence to emerge onto an unexpectedly beautiful plateau.
After tearing myself away from the immediate (and glorious) distractions
, we followed Launchy Gill up towards Bell Crags
, enjoying a leisurely stroll beside the peaceful watercourse
. The weather was completely gorgeous by this stage, so we paused for a long time beside Launchy Tarn
before moving on to higher ground, drinking in views of distant Blencathra
and the surrounding fells on the way.
There was no shortage of wildlife
to slow us down, but we did eventually reach the edge of the forest
above Dob Gill. We clambered up onto Brown Rigg to feast our eyes for a while longer on the spectacular views
, especially those of our favourite hill
and the much closer Helvellyn Screes
, then began our descent towards Thirlmere
. The lake certainly looked dark
, but it was far from menacing and even lower down the views were simply glorious
. An unexpected gem of a walk.