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  • Writer's pictureGemma Bailey

Great Place Lakes and Dales: Lake District walks

Walk Four: The Old Man of Coniston and Dow Crag
Walk Five: Millerground, Lake Windermere
Walk Six: Devil’s Bridge, Kirkby Lonsda
As part of my commission funded by Great Place Lakes and Dales to develop my idea of ‘wellbeing walks’ I planned a series of walks around the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. I explored the art collection at Craven Museum in Skipton to find inspiration for my walks.
The most ambitious walk I tackled for this commission was a walk of around 8.5 miles up the Old Man of Coniston and Dow crag. After a deceptively flat and pleasant short walk to begin, there is a sudden steep and winding incline, with a lot of height gained in a short space of time. The old mine shafts provide a wealth of inspiration and I stopped here for some time to sketch the industrial remains, imagining the men who would have made their way up this steep mountain each day. Stone ruins, railway tracks and old steel machinery parts still remain. After catching my breath here for a while, I continued up the path, passing Low Water, which looked enticingly cool at that point! A short scramble and you reach the summit, to be rewarded with stunning views. Although the views of the sweeping valleys are breathtaking, this is a far too windy spot for painting! After taking plenty of reference photographs, I continued on to tackle Dow Crag.

Approaching Dow Crag, with its magnificent craggy steep edges, provides a unique view that becomes more commanding as you curl around the path. I took advantage of this more sheltered spot to sketch the scree slopes passing down to Goats Water below. The panoramic view from here its truly amazing and you can spot plenty of mountains, although it was a little too hazy for me to paint them well that day. The end of this walk loops back to the start, following the river and some great spots to sit and paint the calming waterfall after a challenging walk.
The second Lakes walk was a short but sweet walk at Milllerground, on the shore of Lake Windermere. This is a special spot for wild swimmers who can often be found braving the cool waters and dipping between the many boats that pass by. The views here are wonderful, with the Langdale Pikes among others, visible in the distance. The rocky shores here are perfect to sit and paint. I found this spot especially inspiring and created a series of quick, tiny paintings with watercolour and ink. I also made my first concertina book.

The final walk for my Great Place Lakes and Dales commission was the magnificent Devil's bridge in Kirkby Lonsdale. Another perfect spot for wild swimmers, Devil's Bridge is a three-arched bridge that was built over 800 years ago, spanning the River Lune. Walking along the river for around mile will lead you to the churchyard of St Mary's, a spot well-known as 'Ruskin's View' after the poet John Ruskin visited in 1875 and described the view as one of the most beautiful views in the world. the same view had previously been painted by JMW Turner, so if you're looking for an inspirational spot to paint- you can't go far wrong here. This short loop walk passes through Market Square, back down to the river and along to Devil's bridge once again.


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