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…
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.