Rusland Pool and the River Leven


A grey day in November. Loyal readers may recognise this view, as I opened a post with it once before. It’s taken from a footbridge over Rusland Pool. On that occasion the view was obscured by mist, I was heading up onto the hill on the right, and I would later get a proper drubbing in an absolute downpour. The best that can be said for the weather this day is that at least it was better than it had been for that previous visit. In fact, although it looked ready to rain all day, I only had to endure a little drizzle.

By the time I’d taken the photo above, I’d already come up and over the wooded ridge between the Rusland Valley and Newby Bridge, where I was parked.

When does a stream become a river? I followed the Rusland downstream, eventually reaching it’s confluence with the River Leven. Rusland Pool is so small it seems appropriate to call it a stream, but on the other hand it does drain an entire valley.


The confluence of Rusland Pool and the River Leven.

This used to be a favourite spot of mine, it’s so quiet and peaceful. It’s odd that I haven’t visited for many years.


This was a quiet walk, though I did meet other walkers from time to time. I also had to put up with the continual popping of shotguns from the ‘sportsmen’ who were hunting alarmingly close to where I was walking.




River Leven.

This was mid-November, and there was actually quite a bit of autumn colour in the trees still, but in the gloom, it hasn’t come out well in photos. The berries have fared better…


…I think that these are Spindle berries.

I’ve long wanted to have a proper gander at Roudsea Wood. The sign says that you need a permit. There’s a building on the reserve, and I could hear someone inside, so I knocked on the door to ask for a permit, but they didn’t respond. So I took that as tacit permission.






In the background of this photo…


…is the Ellerside Ridge, where I’d walked the autumn before.



This Holly seemed unusually endowed with berries…






I’m always on the lookout for likely looking swimming spots; here on the banks of the Leven someone has constructed their own little diving board …


There’s a small ladder leaning against a likely looking overhanging branch on the far bank too.


This is the bridge at Low Wood. It’s a Grade II listed building:

“Bridge. C18 or early C19. Stone rubble. 3 elliptical arches with 2 round cutwaters to each side, which are roughcast, with caps. Parapet has plain coping. Probably associated with Low Wood ironworks, the site later taken over for gunpowder works, of which the Clock Tower works (q.v.) remain.”

from the Historic England website.

Low Wood is a sleepy little hamlet. I sat on a bench and dug out my stove to make a brew. It had warmed up a little, was rather pleasant in fact.

Then suddenly…


…a host of kayakers appeared, lugging their kayaks back to their cars. I’ve paddled an inflatable canoe down part of the Leven from Windermere, but not the section downstream from Newby Bridge, which I strongly suspect would be a bit too exciting for an inflatable.

I think this…


…must be the Clock Tower Works referred to above.

“Grade II* A mid-C19 saltpetre refinery associated with Lowwood Gunpowder Works and remains of an earlier C18 ironworks.”

from the Historic England website.




Another view of Backbarrow. Coniston Old Man, in the background, has a few patches of snow on it.

Back at Newby Bridge, I took some photos of the bridge…


…hence fulfilling a promise I made here. This is another listed Grade II*:

Bridge over river Leven. Date uncertain, repaired in C17. Stone rubble with limestone coping. Long narrow bridge with 5 segmental arches stepped up to centre, triangular cutwaters between rise to form refuges to both sides.

from the Historic England website.

When I wrote about this bridge before, I said that it had been built in 1651, but Historic England’s ‘repaired in C17’ suggests that it may be even older than that.


Before I drove home, I sat on a bench overlooking a weir on the Leven and made one final brew.


A highly enjoyable stroll, despite the grey skies.

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And that, folks, will be my one and only post about last November. What did I do for the rest of the month? Search me!

Rusland Pool and the River Leven

Yewbarrow Woods and Boretree Tarn


Rusland Pool and Border Moss Wood from Crooks Bridge.

The prospect of this day, and the one to follow, had loomed large in my thoughts ever since B’s rugby fixture list was sent out back in September, because this Sunday showed no match and no training. A day off! In the few days running up to the weekend I kept sorting through weather forecasts and maps and guidebooks; dizzy with the countless possibilities, but also concerned that the weather was expected to be universally dreadful.

As the day approached and the forecasts for persistent rain didn’t improve, I decided that I better find something which didn’t venture too high into the hills and settled on visiting a couple of places between Windermere and the Rusland Valley which I’ve had my eye on for a while.

I drove up to the Lakes in very wet and grey conditions, wondering whether to call it quits, turn tail and head home again. After I’d found a spot to pull off the road in the Rusland Valley, I realised that I’d managed to come out of the house without my OS map. Fortunately, I’d spent a long time during the week staring at this part of the map and had a pretty clear memory, I thought, of the route. When I found an information board featuring this map…


…my mind was made up: I took a photo on my phone, donned my waterproofs, girded my loins and embarked.

This is the map I should have been looking at…

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…although my copy doesn’t have the green dotted line through Yew Barrow Dale and Skinner Pastures which must be a recently created right of way.

My route took me along that path to Border Moss Wood, where I did an out-and-back in order to visit Rusland Pool and Crooks Bridge. Rusland Moss, a little further up the valley, is a good place to see Red Deer and I hoped I might see some on this occasion too. As I stood on the bridge, admiring the misty views, three deer ran down to the river, swam swiftly across and quickly bounded away again.

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The woods on this walk were an absolute delight, even in the rain, and I’m really looking forward to revisiting in the spring and the autumn.


I’m afraid my photo doesn’t convey how impressive this tree was: it must have fallen down a long time ago and now four of its branches have grown strong and tall like individual tree trunks in their own right.


Yewbarrow Woods.


A tiny unnamed tarn in the mist.


Boretree Tarn.

I’ve never been to Boretree Tarn before. It’s not too far from High Dam and I’m wondering whether it might be just as good for swimming when the weather and water temperature are both more clement. On this occasion, I found a comfortable spot by the edge of the tarn and tucked in to some very welcome cabbage and chorizo soup. There were a couple of swans and a few ducks to keep me company, but otherwise it was a quiet and tranquil spot.


The view, such as it was, from Rusland Heights.


Approaching Hall Brow Wood.


Skowbarrow Beck.


In Hall Brow Wood.

It was a relatively short walk, about six and a half miles, and by the time I got back to the car I was drenched, but I’d enjoyed my self none-the-less. I shall think of the trip as reconnaissance for future visits in better weather.

Towards the end of the walk the cloud had been lifting a little and beginning to show signs of breaking up. Just as I started the engine to set-off home, literally as I turned the key in the ignition, the windscreen was suddenly suffused with lovely golden light from the low winter sun, and I wondered if the weather was going to play a dirty trick by improving now that I’d finished walking, but I needn’t have worried: the sunshine was extremely short-lived and it was soon raining again.

I’d managed a good walk, despite the weather, and still had another iron-in-the-fire….

Yewbarrow Woods and Boretree Tarn

Stony Hazel and Rusland Moss


The first Saturday of September and another one of those windows of opportunity which I so often seem to refer to these days. The Dangerous Brothers were still rehearsing their high-wire act in County Durham, later that day I would be chauffeuring the rest of the family and our friend R up to join them, partly so that we could collect the boys and rescue their grandparents, but also because TBH and R would be competing in the Great North Run the following day.

So, I made an early start with the intention of a walk in the Rusland Valley. I didn’t have a plan for parking, but wondered whether the verges by Rusland Church would be accommodating. They were. I don’t suppose you would be very popular parking here on a Sunday morning, and you have to choose your spot carefully…..


I had a quick gander inside the church…


It’s quite a large church, considering how isolated it is. There are no houses roundabout at all, it must serve several small communities.


I took a  tour around the graveyard, looking for one headstone in particular, beneath the Corsican Pine….


The last resting place….


…of Arthur and Evgenia Ransome.

I have to confess that I haven’t read the Swallows and Amazons books, which I suppose might be a little unusual for a Lake District enthusiast. Last year we saw a dramatisation of Swallows and Amazons at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. Very good it was too. I tried reading it with the kids a while back too, but it didn’t seem to fire their imaginations and we didn’t get very far. I think the vocabulary was a bit of a stumbling block for them. In one of those curious coincidences, a couple of days later I was listening to ‘Great Lives’ on the way home from work, and lo and behold, it featured Labi Siffre proposing Arthur Ransome. Fascinating to discover that Ransome’s second wife, also buried here, was Trotsky’s secretary when Ransome met her. Rather marvellously, it appears that the BBC make all thirty odd series of ‘Great Lives’ available on the iplayer. The Arthur Ransome one is here. Have a listen and decide for yourself whether his life was ‘great’. It was certainly interesting: he was sued by Lord Alfred Douglas, Oscar Wilde’s lover, was a journalist and double agent during the Russian revolution, as well as a very successful children’s author.


The Rusland Reading Rooms are opposite the church. I would have liked to have a poke around in there too, just out of curiosities sake, but had to settle for a few photos from outside.

I had a very sketchy plan for my walk, setting out through these woods, marked on the 1:25000 OS map as Stony Hazel, but on the 1:50000 as Thwaite Moss. Whatever their name, they were very atmospheric, but none of my photos seem to capture just how nice they were.


They were full of exuberant fungi.


Once again, you can see here that it was raining a little. It was another day of mixed weather.


I reached the far side of the woods, with a little waterfall on Force Beck.


By the gardens of this rather attractive old mill, a reminder I suppose, of an industrial past for this apparently sleepy rural backwater.


I hadn’t decided at this point, where my walk would take me next, and now made the slightly crazy decision to try to follow the beck. This proved to be quite tricky going, but quite charming when I stopped fighting the vegetation and stopped to look about.


I always enjoy yellowed leaves floating in water, but they’re very difficult to photograph satisfactorily, something to do with the way light reflects off the water I suspect.


I had hoped that I would be able to cross the beck and pick-up the track (not a right-of-way) on the far bank, which heads toward Quaker’s Wood. When I realised that wouldn’t really be feasible, I cut back to the path and thence back to Rusland Church, from where I set off along a minor lane towards the hamlet of Rusland Cross.


The hedgerow provided interest, and breakfast. I was fascinated by this artfully rolled leaf…


….like a small cigar. I saw several more of these through the day. Always hazel leaves, always incredibly neat and compact. I have no idea what creature is inside and whether it is pupating, or nesting or hibernating? (Actually, the latter seems a bit unlikely in a deciduous leaf.)



Handsome Lakeland barn on the outskirts of Rusland Cross.


Coach-house dated 1850, at the Hall at Rusland Cross.

I took the bridleway down to the right of the Hall which led me to Rusland Pool…


..and, once across the bridge, into Rusland Moss.


So that’s twice this year I’ve been here, having not visited for many years. I crossed the Moss to Low Hay Bridge, walked across to Hulleter and back across the Reserve again.


I was having huge problems with my camera at this point, in fact, I thought it might be about to die on me. I did manage to get some photos of more fungi.





And of the expansive views.





But not, sadly, of the woodpeckers and nuthatches, which were flaunting themselves in a fashion so frustrating that it was hard no to suspect that they knew that my camera was playing up.

The camera has subsequently made something of a recovery, although the lid of the battery compartment bulges even more alarmingly then it did before, and it‘s held together with gaffer tape, which looks a tad Heath-Robinson.


One more point of interest from the walk to report – I crept up a driveway to sneak a view of this building, marked on my map as a cross, but, I notice, on the most up to date OS map, now appearing as a red square.


A red square, for non-map addicts, has no connection in this context toRansome’s friends Lenin or Trotsky, but represents a hostel. This is still a Meeting House, but the stables have been converted for use as a basic independent hostel. Details here. Must admit, I’m quite taken with the idea of staying there, partly because of the quiet and lovely location, but also because I’d like to see what the Meeting House is like inside. (Even as I write that however, I’m remembering that I’ve been in the Meeting Houses in both Lancaster and Warton and that, unsurprisingly, there’s nothing very remarkable to see.) Another handsome building though. And now we know why the wood behind it is ‘Quaker’s Wood’.


Stony Hazel and Rusland Moss