Newby Bridge To Bouth
Newby Bridge sits on the banks of the River Leven which issues from the southern basin of lake Windermere and is overshadowed by the Finsthwaite Height. Leaving the A590 you cross a handsome, five arched, stone bridge spanning the Leven, and are immediately confronted with the Swan Hotel. Smartly refurbished, the Swan has a good bar and dining, with gardens and grounds running down to the river The village is very small, a few house dotted along the lane leading toward Lakeside. The Leven is for the most part private fishing, however there are reasonable areas, both from the Swan’s grounds and a little west of the bridge, where you can get down to the waters edge. Walk around to the western shore and you have Fell Foot Park, a National Trust parkland, with lakes shores where you can swim, fish, hire boats and rent mooring. The Leven is famed for salmon, and about a half a mile beyond the bridge, towards Backbarrow, it becomes fierce and turbulent, with impressive rapids and white waters. These rapids are a draw to canoeists, where throughout the year scores of these fragile little craft, all brightly coloured, can be seen struggling against the river's might. Along the river lane is the Newby Bridge Halt, one of the stops where you can take a short journey on the steam railway line. Volunteers keep the Halt in immaculate order, with flowers and shrubs and lickerty spit paint work, and when the train is standing at the platform huffing and puffing the picture is one of a more genteel age.
Leaving the Newby Bridge on the Lakeside Road, you shortly come to Lakeside. Here there is the excellent Lakeside Hotel, the steamer pier, the Haverthwaite steam railway terminus and the Aquarium - a well presented, award winning, exhibition, following a Lakeland river from its source high in the fells to its final destination in the surrounding coastal seas. There are plenty of interactive bits for the kids and the high point is the glass tunnel where you walk under water with fish and ducks swimming above and by your side. The Aquarium has a nice cafe overlooking the lake and decent gift shop. The Lakeside Hotel has views over Windermere and offers a good bar, a fine restaurant with superb cuisine set in genteel club like surrounds. Booking in season is advisable. From the pier you can board one of the steamers for trip all the way up the ten mile expanse of Windermere, calling at Bowness and Ambleside at the northern head.
Finsthwaite Moving on a half mile from Lakeside and you swing around to Finsthwaite. Again a collection of attractive traditional Lakeland homes and farmsteads dotted along the lane and in the fells. On the the outskirts of Finsthwaite is the Stott Park Bobbin Mill, under the care of English Heritage, is one of the few remaining and best preserved working mills in the country. The guided visit takes about forty five minutes and you get a chance to come away with your own bobbin. In the village is the a church, built by Pailey & Austin. In the churchyard you will find the grave of Clementina Douglas, reputed as the illegitimate daughter of The Young Pretender, and who it is said was conceived and raised at Waterside House. From Finsthwaite, just north of the church, is the start of a easy, delightful walk up to High Dam. Park up in NT car park and simply follow either the track or the old river bed and you will come to two of the prettiest tarns in the lakes. When you reach High Dam the path around the water is well marked and there is plenty to explore; you can hunt for mushrooms in the season or simply walk and picnic with young children.
Travel about five miles west from Newby Bridge and the foot of the lake and you come to the little village of Bouth. Now not a lot happens here. And perhaps that is why we get more and more cottages offered and more and more visitors wishing to stay. Unlike Ambleside and Grasmere, Windermere and Bowness, you have true peace, set among low rolling fell, with the lakes of Windermere and Coniston a short drive east and west, the Grizdale Forest a good destination by cycle, and the Cartmel peninsular to the south with it craggy coastline and attractive villages. Oh - and you do have the White Hart Inn, hosted by Nigel Barton, offering hearty pub grub, real ale, all served under a canopy of blackened beams and a cheery log fire.
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