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The definitive tourist guide to the Western Lake District
Whether you enjoy birdwatching, invigorating coastal walks or sampling the finest, freshest local seafood, this beautiful, coastal landscape has something to tempt you.
After a breathtaking drive from Keswick and Borrowdale over Honister Pass (one of the Lake District’s most scenic and exciting mountain passes - no speeding!) the serene sight of Buttermere is a welcome sight indeed. Like so many of the Western Lake District’s most special places, Buttermere lake and the little hamlet of the same name are well worth the detour off the beaten track.
Buttermere is the most eastern of my favourite trio of lakes. To its north west lies Crummock Water, and north west still the smaller lake of Loweswater.
At one time, Buttermere and Crummock Water were joined as one large, post-glacial lake. That’s why some people refer to them as ‘twins’. As years passed, debris washed down from the surrounding hills to form a small stretch of land dividing the two and now containing the small hamlet of Buttermere.
After a hairy drive over Honister Pass, we descend and drive along the eastern shores of Buttermere - towards the small hamlet of the same name.
There’s a bit of a question mark over the origin of the name Buttermere. Some believe the name means ‘lake by the dairy pastures’, derived from the Old English ‘Butere Mere’. Others say that a the valley of Buttermere was held by a Norse chieftain ‘Buthar’ - a pioneer of resistance against Norman invadors right up to the 12th century and his final battle at Rannerdale (see related post!).
I don’t know which is true, but when we discovered the Syke Farm Tea Room, with its array of Buttermere Ayrshires Luxury Dairy Ice-Cream (made on the farm), we decided that ‘lake by the dairy pastures’ would do just fine.
Syke Farm Tea Room: Inside the shop, you’ll find a whole ice-cream counter full of creamy, locally made flavours
Giles tried the ice-cream, I went for something that would warm me up! Fresh coffee and a powerful slab of Coffee & Walnut Cake. Yum
After our pit-stop, we wandered through the farm to the shores of Buttermere. And what do you know, Giles even had a chance to stock up on free-range eggs for breakfast the next day (Syke Farm also has a fantastic campsite).
The honesty shop!
Down at the shore of the lake, despite a touch of drizzle, the view across the water was spectacular. We witnessed the kind of reflections you just don’t see on busier lakes like Windermere. It was truly beautiful.
Buttermere is owned by the National Trust; a path is maintained all around the lake.
View from the pebble beach: Can you see the waterfall at the other end of the lake?
Syke Farm Campsite
Just down the road from the tea room, the Syke Farm campsite is a real treat. It’s far from one of those ‘flat football pitch’ campsites. Cars are parked away from the pitches, which nestle close by in varied terrain fields.
Tel: 017687 70222
The Fish Inn
There’s a whole other blog post in this hotel, which offers pleasant rooms and great food in such a fantastic location. If you’ve read Melvin Bragg’s ‘The Maid of Buttermere’, you’ll know about the 19th century landlord’s daughter…
Tel: 017687 70253
The Bridge Hotel
Occupying a 1000-year-old site, The Bridge Hotel is really very special and I’ve heard rave reviews. Cosy bar under old wooden beams, lounge with roaring fire in winter…
Tel: 017687 70252