September 2017

Welcome to the September Newsletter
Wainwright walks, Lemon Buns, Lemon-scented ferns, and winter offers Read more...

It has been a studious summer in many respects, with several guests staying for long periods to complete projects, placements, and revision. There was the hard-working Geology undergraduate from Durham University, creating a geological map of the Helvellyn area for his dissertation, and then a very independent A Level Drama student, on a placement with Theatre by the Lake. We also had a guest from France, studying intensively for her Maths exams, and a wonderful volunteer, also from France, ticking off Wainwright fells in her spare time.

Amongst the hostel staff, Alex has been studying ferns, attending a course with the Field Studies Council (Blencathra branch), and Katy has been quite focused, preparing for the annual Heritage Open Day. It was lovely to share our history with so many interested, enthusiastic visitors, and we have included one of the recipes from our repertoire of 'heritage bakes' in case you would like to sample some Barrow House history too.

We are also very happy to share news of Our Blue Light, a team of emergency service-people who stayed with us on the North West stage of the UK Mental Health Relay.

All this talk of studying and achievements! Come and relax by the fire, eat cake, walk through the autumn colours and winter scenes, or have a party with our winter offers of 40% off dorm beds and private rooms. See below for the discount code and details.

Heritage Open Day Baking
Here's the recipe for Lemon Buns, from the period when William Henry Fox Talbot rented Barrow House. Read more...

This year, as well as giving tours of the house for the Heritage Open Days, we decided to provide a brief history of the house through baking, from 1787 (Rout Cakes and Ratafies), when the hostel was built for the eccentric wealthy bachelor Joseph Pocklington, to the present day (Gluten free, vegan Chocolate Brownies), where independence, a fantastic catering senior, and a huge choice of ingredients allows us to bake anything we like. The Lemon Buns from the mid-nineteenth century, when the photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot rented Barrow House for several months, seemed very popular, so we have included the recipe here:

Lemon Buns
Rub 4oz butter into 12oz flour, and then add all of the dry ingredients: 2oz caster sugar, 2oz currants, 2oz lemon peel, rind of 1 lemon, pinch of nutmeg, 2tsp baking powder, u00bcoz caraway seeds, and a pinch of salt. Beat up 1 egg and u00bc pint of milk and juice of 1 lemon and mix with dry ingredients to a stiff paste. Divide mixture into 12 buns and brush over with milk and sugar. Bake in a quick oven (approx 200 C) on a greased baking tray for 8-10 minutes.

The recipe, and others from that period, can be found here:

Please let us know if you would like the full 'Brief History of Barrow House through Baking' document and we can email it to you.

Our Blue Light: Walking for Well-being
A team of emergency-service people stayed with us on the northern stage of the UK Mental Health Relay. Read more...

On Sunday 17th September we were delighted to welcome a group of Our Blue Light emergency service-people on their walking relay across the North of England. Here is a description from their website:

'Our Blue Light aims to bring #OurBlueLight services together as an emergency and essential services family, to improve mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding it, whilst also raising awareness of health and wellbeing and how we can improve thisu200b. We plan on organising events around the country to achieve our aspirations, whilst also working closely with all emergency service employers and their champions to ensure a productive and healthy future for all.

Last year we held the Blue Light Walk which brought together all emergency and essential services from around the country. This year the walk has developed into the UK Mental Health Relay, raising awareness of mental health within the emergency and essential services and also amongst the general public. We intend to engage different communities around the country to open up and talk about this important subject.'

We were one of the stopping points on the North West section of the relay, with a team of 18 walking from Carlisle to Blackpool in approximately 20 mile stages. It was a pleasure to feed and water the team, and we enjoyed following their progress on twitter and facebook. You can find out more about Our Blue Light here:

Oreopteris limbosperma - Lemon-scented or Mountain Fern
Can you find the small patch of Oreopteris limbosperma in our grounds? Read more...

Near the top of our waterfall path, just upstream of the weir on the left hand bank (if you are facing upstream), there is a small patch of Oreopteris limbosperma, also known as Lemon-scented or Mountain Fern. These ferns like moist, acidic, shady woods and stream banks.

When the glands on the lower surface are brushed, you get a lovely lemon scent. Not advised for flavouring the lemon buns though!

Here are some more photos of Oreopteris limbosperma in Cumbria and beyond:

Thank you to Roger Golding and Alex for sharing their knowledge of ferns with me.

Nat's Wainwright Walks
Our lovely volunteer from France really made the most of her time with us. Read more...

Nat, from France, volunteered with us for a month, during which time she completed the Northern section of the Wainwright fells. Here is her report:

My first visit to the Lake District, in 2007, wasn't overly planned: I only knew of the place because of it being mentioned in a Jane Austen novel and, having a few days off, I decided to give it a go. This visit was enough for me to fall in love with the area, and, unbeknownst to me, to bag my first Wainwright: the Old Man of Coniston.

The second time I went in 2015 I was more prepared: I researched interesting hikes to do, but got a little lost in the abundance of options. Once again, I bagged a few Wainwrights without knowing it: Castle Crag, Loughrigg Fell, Helvellyn, Pavey Ark, and Harrison Stickle. And it is then that I discovered, by stumbling on a poster in Ambleside Youth Hostel, a map of the Wainwright Fells, complete with the list of their names, heights and order. The thing is, I am a sucker for lists: I love their clarity, the sense of having a goal and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with ticking those boxes. The Lake District wasn't a confusing place with too many hiking choices anymore: it was a challenge to be tackled.

For my third visit, I was ready: I had a list, I had a map, I had a month, and I was on a mission. I was lucky enough to be based at Derwentwater Independent Hostel near Keswick, which gave me easy access to a lot of hiking routes reachable by public transport. My objective at the beginning of August was to find hikes that would allow me to bag as many Wainwright fells as possible in one go, and I was determined not to be deterred by bad weather.  My first big hike brought me to Skiddaw via Ullock Pike, and it allowed me from the start to accept that simple fact: you cannot wait for the perfect weather if you want to hike in the Lake District. Of course, it would be irresponsible not to take the weather into consideration: if there's going to be a lot of clouds, choose a hike with lower summits; if it's going to be windy, avoid the most dangerous ridge routes. But rain shouldn't stop you, because if the Lake District is one thing, it is wet. Wear waterproof everything, and hope for the best!

My longest walk took me from Seat Sandal to the village of Threlkeld, a 25 km trek along the Helvellyn Range, with a detour to Catsycam. It is always interesting to see how popular some summits are and how the crowd fades away once you leave them behind. There is an odd feeling of kinship with the walkers you meet on the more isolated stretches that doesn't always exist on the busier sections.

One of my favourite hikes was the Robinson Horseshoe; its central position allows for the most varied landscapes: Buttermere and the highest hills beyond Honister Pass on one side, and the lovely Newlands valley on the other to begin with, and a great view over Derwent Water in its last leg.

As the days passed, my objective changed: the goal wasn't to bag as many Wainwrights as possible anymore, but to ‘finish’ some sections so as to avoid having to come back later for one or two summits only. I focused my efforts on the Northern section, and got lucky enough to go hiking with Nicola, which allowed me to bag fells that I would have had a hard time to reach by public transport. The northernmost hills have a softer edge to them that I really enjoyed. The last hike I did before leaving the Lake District was also a highlight: it wasn't an overly challenging hike as I only had two summits to reach in order to finish the Northern section (Bakestall and Great Calva), but it was a lovely stroll from Dash Falls to Keswick via the Glenderaterra Valley. Great Calva offers the most complete 360u00b0 degrees view over the whole Northern section. It was really satisfying to identify all the summits I had bagged all around me!

Of course, the downside of fulfilling a list is that you sometimes find yourself obliged to go to summits that aren't overly interesting. I wouldn't have bothered with the giant bog that is Mungrisdale Common, or with Greystones and its boring path and uninteresting view if I could have had avoided it. But then again, it is only with hindsight that I know that the view from Greystones wasn't worth the effort or that there wasn't a dry patch of ground on Mungrisdale Common. In any case, the disappointing summits were far and few between, as most of them offer gorgeous views. One of my favourite ‘surprise’ viewpoints was the summit of Raven Crag: a fairly easy walk brings you to a lovely view of Thirlmere and the Helvellyn Range.

By the end of the month, I had managed to add 74 Wainwrights to the 5 I had climbed in my two previous visits. This represents about one third of the 214 summits. The Wainwrights are an addictive challenge and, though I have barely left the Lake District, I am already looking forward to coming back for a new ‘bagging’ session.

The 74 Wainwrights tackled in the month of August:

  • The 24 fells of the Northern section
  • 21 fells in the North-West section (the 6 summits of the Robinson Horseshoe, the Grasmoor Six, Grisedale Pike, Rannerdale Knotts, Sale Fell, Ling Fell, Barf, Lord's Seat, Broom Fell, Greystones and Whinlatter)
  • 9 fells in the Central section (High Rigg, Raven Crag, Walla Crag, Bleaberry Fell, High Seat, Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott, Helm Crag)
  • 20 fells in the Eastern section (Stone Arthur, the 8 summits of the Fairfield Horseshoe, the 11 summits of the Helvellyn Range from Seat Sandal to Threlkeld)

Winter Offers
Book soon with our discount code!

Book before 31st October 2017 to stay with us during November, December, January and February and receive 40% off dorm beds and private rooms. This reduces dorm beds to u00a312.60 and, for example, a Four-bed Family Room to u00a343.20. Book soon, as we think this offer will be popular!

Bookings must be made online at, using the promo code Winter40.      

This offer is being sent to all of our newsletter subscribers as a ‘Loyalty Reward’, but please feel free to share it with family and friends as we are keen for more people to try us for the first time. The fire will be roaring in the lounge, and our usual Barrow House welcome awaits both new and familiar faces.  

The hostel is open every Friday and Saturday night during the winter, and from 28th December to 6th January for the New Year Holiday.   We’ve also got plenty of availability for February Half Term weeks (9th to 24th February 2018).

We look forward to seeing you all soon.

Derwentwater Independent Hostel
Barrow House
CA12 5UR
Telephone: 017687 77246

Thank you to Geoff Williams, Rebecca Laff, Fiona McCarthy, John and Sam Snyder, and KTA for generously providing inspiring photographs.
Thank you to Lisa Bamford at Stoats and Weasels for designing our website, and to Sam Snyder for building it.
© 2013 Derwentwater Independent Hostel. All rights reserved. Registered charity: 1145368