The Liza Round

Back­stage of the Coledale Round lies a qui­eter, less flashy Lake­land horse­shoe. But with gi­ant crags and im­pres­sive ar­chi­tec­ture, there’s plenty of drama to be found…

Trail (UK) - - Contents - WORDS SI­MON IN­GRAM PHO­TO­GRAPHS TOM BAI­LEY

Hid­den in plain sight – this bril­liant horse­shoe

Iknew the day was go­ing to be good be­cause it be­gan with an in­ter­est­ing poo. Perched on the edge of an un­ex­pected precipice, it cer­tainly de­liv­ered in the drama stakes. And this poo was suf­fi­ciently re­mark­able that it was quickly de­cided we would box it up and take it home. “My kids will love this,” said Tom.

Hope­fully that got your at­ten­tion. Be­cause if there’s one thing this place needs, it’s at­ten­tion. The prob­lem is, this lit­tle horse­shoe lies on the wrong side of a very fa­mous Lake­land horse­shoe – the Coledale Round.

Now, the fa­mous Coledale Round is su­per. It takes in the fa­mously dash­ing peaks of Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head and the un­der­rated (but still fa­mous) Causey Pike. You’d know it if you saw it. That com­pli­ca­tion of knuck­led fells you see from Keswick up to the right? That’s the fa­mous Coledale Round. And therein lies its strength: it’s pretty fa­mous and pretty handy. You can get to the start from Keswick in a few min­utes. There’s an inn at its foot that will let you stay the night if you ask nicely and give them £50. But the thing that re­ally nails it is its pres­ence. If you’re in the area, not once does this round of hills es­cape your at­ten­tion – wink­ing at you, toss­ing cloud around it­self in a se­duc­tive man­ner and con­tribut­ing a se­ri­ously flam­boy­ant star to the sky­line.

But, per­son­ally, I pre­fer the Coledale Round to look at than to walk. Is that aw­ful? I’ve done this nine mile sling­shot twice and, en­gag­ing and en­joy­able as it was, like a lot of re­ally good-look­ing things it just didn’t re­ally de­liver what I was hop­ing for. There wasn’t ever a point when I stopped and went “woah, I didn’t expect this.” Ex­cept the sec­ond time, when I found a wan­der­ing el­derly man; but that doesn’t count... Peo­ple go on and on about Grisedale Pike (791m) be­ing the ‘Mat­ter­horn of Lake­land’, which sounds great un­til you dis­cover it is, of course, non­sense. It’s a su­per hill but, aside from it re­sem­bling a sort of ta­pered nub on the top from cer­tain an­gles (ac­tu­ally a long, flat ridge with a fence post mark­ing its top), com­par­ing some­thing as bal­lis­tic as the Mat­ter­horn to any­thing in the North Western Fells and you’re set­ting your­self up for dis­ap­point­ment. You might as well de­scribe Dover as the Cannes of Kent.

So any­way, what about this other horse­shoe? The western coun­ter­part of the Coledale Round from the other, less handy ground-fall in the re­mote But­ter­mere val­ley? Well, there is one. And it’s re­ally, re­ally good.

Mainly, be­cause it feels dif­fer­ent. So un­fa­mil­iar, so brazenly epic. I don’t want to use the world ‘hid­den’ as that does get bandied about a lot, and it is quite hard to ac­tu­ally hide a moun­tain. But this walk has got some se­ri­ous edge to it that makes it well worth the fid­dly trip around the back to But­ter­mere. Which, given it is re­ally the most achingly per­fect of all Lake­land val­leys, is time well spent.

It’s in­aus­pi­cious, lack­ing the im­me­di­ate road­side drama of its eastern coun­ter­part, but that’s be­cause its form is quite dif­fer­ent. The Coledale Beck is straight – you can see all the way up its wide val­ley. But, over on this side, the Liza Beck snakes its way down a tighter, twistier route be­tween burly, steep hill­sides. So from the road, you can’t see what’s up there. Un­less you climb.

There are plenty of un­fa­mil­iar names on this route. In fact, the horse­shoe it­self doesn’t have a name, so we’re call­ing it the Liza Round, be­cause a) it fol­lows the for­mat of its neigh­bour over the val­ley and b) it’s a bit funny when you say it. But don’t as­sume that means it’s an easy

The sat­is­fy­ing sum­mit of White­side look­ing out to­wards Hopegill Head. Head­ing up White­side, with the Liza Beck in its val­ley be­low.

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