Cumbria is home to England's Book Town, Sedbergh, where you can search the second hand and collectors book shops for all your favourites, including Hugh Walpole, the subject of this trail.
Hugh Walpole was a master storyteller, sadly neglected these days. Of more than fifty novels, only his Herries Chronicle, the sweeping saga of Lakeland life, remains in print apart from a few of his terrifying psychological tales still available from an obscure American publisher.
Yet in his day he was feted. John Buchan described Rogue Herries, the first of the series, as the finest English novel since Jude the Obscure. The landscapes around you on this walk, particularly the views of Skiddaw back across the lake inspired much of that greatness.
Take the Keswick Launch across Derwent Water to Hawes End and by way of Skelgill Bank walk out onto Cat Bells. You’re already in the heart of Hugh Walpole’s favourite landscape in all the world.
Heading south from Cat Bells towards Maiden Moor take the footpath that runs south east to Manesty and turn north on the road for the 500 yard detour to Brackenburn, the house that Walpole bought in 1923 and which he described as his “little paradise on Cat Bells”. It was here that Walpole did so much of his great work and where he spent so much of his money. For 20 years he filled Brackenburn with rare books and fine pictures and sculpture.
It’s possible to drop back to the lake and catch a ferry from High Brandlehow back to Keswick.
Keswick retains the attractive appearance of a traditional small market town, the weekly stalls still set around the Moot market hall which dominates the town centre. Despite its small size, Keswick contains a variety of shops.
If you choose to get the ferry back to Keswick you will find pleanty of choice for lunch, from the traditional tearoom at Bryson's in the town centre to the cafe at Theatre by the Lake, set on the shores of Derwentwater in Keswick. Or you can take a picnic and continue the trail afterwards.
Bryson's has been welcoming customers through its doors from the same site in Keswick since 1947. We offer a wide range of breads, cakes, hot savouries, fresh creams and biscuits baked fresh each day on site.
Set on the shores of Derwentwater in Keswick, Theatre by the Lake is Cumbria's only year-round professional producing theatre. Hosting a wide range of visiting drama, music, dance, talks, comedy and film.
But if you’ve still got energy in your legs stroll down to Grange in Borrowdale and on your way through the village look out for a house called Copperfield. Walpole bought it for his domestic staff out of the money he received for writing the screenplay of David Copperfield for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1934.
Another escape point. From Grange it’s about a mile and a half along the valley road to the landing stage at Lodore and a launch to Keswick.
But we’re taking the long option, following the route of the Cumbria Way south beside the River Derwent and crossing the footbridge into Rosthwaite. On the east side of the village take the footpath up past Hazel Bank Hotel. Comfortable now, but in Walpole’s imagination the site of the fearsome House of Herries. The house, reflecting the tragedies of the turbulent Herries family falls into disrepair but time and again Walpole brings his characters back to its ruins.
The path continues over Puddingstone Bank and to the hamlet of Watendlath nestling beside its sparkling tarn. One of the farms here was the house of Walpole’s Judith Paris. For a while both farmers at Watendlath claimed the honour and on a visit to Walpole had to point out that the events he’s written about were fiction.
From Watendlath follow the road north by the Watendlath Beck before taking footpaths down through the woods to the landing stage at Lodore for the Keswick ferry.
From above the shores of Derwentwater, Borrowdale presents an impressive picture - high peaks reflected in the lovely lake. The valley is a paradise for all walkers with low and high routes to suit all tastes.
Back in the town be sure to visit the Keswick Museum at Fitz Park, Station Road where many of Walpole’s original manuscripts are on display.
Round off your Walpole day by visiting the simple Celtic cross that marks his grave in St. John’s church yard in Keswick.
Map needed EXPLORER OL4 The English Lakes North Western Area available through the go-lakes e shop.
The distance, if you do the whole route, is approximately 9 miles and depending on your walking speed should take about 5 hours excluding the trips by launch.
The DVD HERRIES LAKELAND, which highlights all Walpole’s associations with the Lake District is also available through the go-lakes e shop.
For summer and winter launch timetables check:
Keswick's suprising past, from Industrial mining centre to peaceful tourist town. Collections cover local and natural history and famous inhabitants.
Keswick retains the attractive appearance of a traditional small market town, the weekly stalls still set around the Moot market hall which dominates the town centre. The tourist information centre, a first port of call for visitors, is conveniently placed in this fine old listed building. Despite its small size, Keswick contains a variety of indoor and outdoor attractions far wider than you might expect. Three very individual museums, a highly successful theatre, the cinema and art and craft exhibitions are balanced, for the very active, by the leisure pool, indoor climbing centre and the sports hall. Keswick is also special in having 2 large recreational parks within a few minutes walk of the town centre, adding to the town's reputation for well kept open spaces and floral displays. Close by is the lakeshore and the launch and boat landings, with a marvellous panorama of Derwentwater and the mountains opening up from here and the nearby Friars Crag.
Shopping, by necessity or for pleasure, has similarly relaxing quality; the individual and friendly attention is much welcomed by customers. After an invigorating day out, the local delicacies of Cumberland sausage, tattie hot pot, Borrowdale tea loaf, rum butter and plum bread are all names to tempt the taste buds into the many eating places, while the full range of accommodation in Keswick and the surrounding picturesque, peaceful villages will satisfy every need.