Having set off from Stretford, Greater Manchester at 8.30 am.we arrived at Elterwater ninety minutes later. The name belongs to a small village at the mouth of Langdale and to a small lake of the same name. As you drive the car into the village you come through a patch of very rough, hummocky ground, which I recognise as a glacial moraine from the glacier which carved out Langdale. The rough ground is in contrast with the well-kept little village of Elterwater with its friendly, well-maintained faciities, where we were later to lunch.
The plan was to go to Elterwater before our accommodation and walk round the lake, enjoying the woods, water and quietness. We had chosen this walk because Langdale was the location of our first holiday together, but we had in the past concentrated our efforts on the more jagged, higher peaks of the western part of the dale. With the mellowing of years comes the realisation that lower levels have their charms, especially flowers; and I have been carrying an injury to my lower back for quite some time, so some care is needed.
Having snacked at a cafe [bacon sandwich for me, toasted teacake for her, with tea of course] we set off on a beautifully maintained path besides the river that flows from Elterwater down to Windermere. With the river to our right and fields of sheep yet to have their fleeces sheared, it was a typical Lake District stroll, done to the gentle trilling of the river.
Soon we reached wood-clad Elterwater, whose name in the Norse-based old Cumbrian dialect means Swan Lake. There must have been swans there for the Norse to give the lake this name, but we saw none. But the woods have their enchantment.The bright yellow of dandelions was supplemented by the yellow of their near relatives hawkweed. But the riverside and lakeside woods were filled with the small white flower heads of wood anemones, which were gloriously abundant among the trees. The daffodils which are prolific in this territory so familiar to the poet Wordsworth, were already past their prime and were fading, but in succession the woodland glades luxuriated in bluebells, the genuine English bluebell rather than the invasive Spanish bluebell and its hybrids.
The woods contained a variety of trees. Silver birch and hazel were richly present, and the white blossom of elderflower blessed the trees with the promise of berries to come. Willows hung over the lake, enjoying the wet environment. Yet the river held in its grip a small tree roots and all, as if to remind us of the winter storms that beset Northern England. The woodland looked like an old wood to me,for I could spot the multiple stems that come from stumps that have been coppiced, an ancient practice only just coming back into fashion.
Peering through the trees we espied a cluster of ducks on the lake,one of which was a female goosander, a red beaked species that I have not seen before.
We walked all the way around Elterwater, the first time that I have paid this small watery gem as much attention as it deserves.