Newlands Valley and Rowling End

Arcadia - an idyllic place of flowers and trees, of emerald pastures and sequestered farmsteads, all cosily sheltered by rough mountains. Alfred Wainwright

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Lo! Streams that April could not check

Are patient of thy rule;

Gurgling in foamy water-break,

Loitering in glassy pool:

By thee, thee only, could be sent

Such gentle mists as glide,

Curling with unconfirmed intent,

On that green mountain’s side.                             

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How delicate the leafy veil

Through which yon house of God

Gleams, mid the peace of this deep dale

By few but shepherds trod!

And lowly huts, near beaten ways,

No sooner stand attired

In thy fresh wreaths, than they for praise

Peep forth, and are admired.

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William Wordsworth

(taken from ‘To May’ inspired by walking in Newlands Valley)


Hic Habitat Felicitas

Here Dwells Happiness – Newlands has changed little since it inspired Wainwright, Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth


Alfred Wainwright

Newlands Valley was a firm favourite with Alfred Wainwright whose guide books to the Lakeland Fells have become classics. In 1984 he wrote: ‘More than fifty years have gone by since I first set eyes on Newlands and in all that time the valley seems not to have changed in any way. Today it is the same sweet Arcadia I knew so long ago, lovely and secluded, an idyllic place of flowers and trees, of emerald pastures and sequestered farmsteads, all cosily sheltered by rough mountains, and having as its greatest blessing an undisturbed peace and enjoying a way of life that in essence has never altered’.

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Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter also had close links with Newlands. The Potter family holidayed at Lingholm for nine years around the turn of the century. Lingholm is two miles from Rowling End on the banks of Derwentwater. The gardens of Lingholm are where the squirrels in ‘Squirrel Nutkin’ embarked on their expedition to visit Old Brown the owl, who lived on St Herbert’s Island on Derwentwater. Beatrix was also friends with the The Revd Carr, vicar of Newlands Church and it was in Littletown that she placed Lucie, (the little girl based on real-life Lucy Carr, her friend’s daughter) and set the Tale of Mrs.Tiggy Winkle. The washerhedgehog’s house was one of the disused mine drifts that can be seen on both sides of Catbells, and the view from there over to Skiddaw appears in the picture of Mrs.Tiggy Winkle distributing the nice clean clothes.

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William Wordsworth

Newlands has provided inspiration for some of our greatest Lakeland poets and writers. William Wordsworth walked here in 1826 with his daughter Dora. It was following their visit to beautiful Newlands Church that he was inspired to write the poem, ‘To May’. The valley and their first glimpse of the church through half-opened leaves inspired him to write the poem (from which the two verses above are taken).

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Dr. Marjorie Flowers Brierley

Rowling End became the home of Prof. William and Dr. Marjorie Brierley who moved to the Lake District in 1954 after William, (formerly Professor of Agricultural Botany at the University of Reading), retired from academic life. Dr. Marjorie Flowers Brierley was a pioneering psychoanalyst working in London in the 1930s and 1940s. She belonged to a small group of celebrated psychoanalysts which included Melanie Klein and Anna Freud, (daughter of Sigmund Freud); and like her illustrious colleagues, she contributed groundbreaking work in the field of child psychology. The motto above the front door at Rowling End – Hic Habitat Felicitas (Here Dwells Happiness) dates from their time here. The house and surrounding land passed to the Kingdon family after Dr. Brierley’s death at the age of ninety-one in 1984. Work to restore Rowling End began in 2008 and was completed in October 2009. The charm of the original house, including much of furniture which belonged to the Brierleys, has been retained, whilst the interiors and the facilities have been substantially improved to ensure a comfortable stay for families or groups of friends.

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History


The history of Newlands dates back two thousand years to when the Romans passed freely up and down the valley. Troops were stationed at Galava, now Keswick, to guard the strategic passes of the Derwent and Greta. Later the Vikings settled here as evidenced through the present day names of Uzzicar, Ullock, Swinside and How Keld which are Norse in origin.

During the reign of Elizabeth I the Vale of Newlands became the hub of the Lake District mining industry. In 1566 the largest copper smelting works in England was erected in Keswick. The ore from Newlands was carried over to the shores of Lake Derwentwater and then transferred by boat to Keswick. The miners were, in the main, from Germany, bought over for their mining skills. The mining company was in the direct control of Queen Elizabeth I who hoped that the rich mineral deposits would yield gold to rival the riches flooding into Spain from South America. Unfortunately, the only gold found in Newlands was in such small quantities that it was not worth exploiting. Lead was chiefly mined although some copper was mined at Goldscope. Mining in the Valley ceased in the 1650s when most of the mines were destroyed during Cromwell’s campaign. Scars of the mines are still visible today though the valley was cleaned up and returned to farmland.

For many centuries Rowling End was a farm. Originally known as Low Houses the name changed to Rowling End in the 1880s possibly due to the fell above the farm or the families of Rawlings and Rowlings that farmed here. From the late 1800s Rowling End was farmed by the Clark family who continued here until after the Second World War. The Clark’s sons, who would have taken on the farm, were all airmen in the Royal Air Force. Two of the sons, both in their early 20s, died in bombing raids over Germany. There is a memorial to these young men at Littletown Church. Without his sons John Clark had no option but to sell the farm.

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Walks

Walking from Rowling End & The Mouse House


Rowling End and The Mouse House provide the perfect base for walking and mountain biking in the Lakes. It is quite possible to spend a week here walking from the house without repeating your route, which makes it entirely possible to have a holiday from your car too. This area of the Lake District is covered in Wainwright’s book of the North Western Fells, and two of his favourite walks – The Coledale Round and The Newlands Round – are perfect to be walked from Rowling End. There is a map of the area hanging in the boot room at Rowling End to help you plan your walk. Please note that the weather can change very quickly and the fells can become a dangerous place so please do take the necessary care when setting out: walking boots, waterproofs, map, whistle, water etc, and always leave a note of your route and expected time of return with another person.

Warning: Please be aware that wooden footbridge that crosses Newlands Beck and links the lower field at Rowling End to Skelgill, is currently down due to flooding. This means that anyone wishing to walk to the lake or climb Catbells via the usual route will not be able to do so at the moment and an alternative route should be sought. The nearest crossings are the bridge at Stair and Chapel Bridge which is just beyond Littletown. The National Trust are planning a replacement bridge in due course and an announcement about that will be made here when further information is available.

This information was last updated: 12.07.2016

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Big Walks

The Newlands Round

Starting with Hindscarth (or Robinson if you prefer) over Dale Head which gives the most spectacular views, down to Dale Head Tarn and then turn to come across High Spy and down across Maiden Moor looking across Borrowdale and Lake Derwentwater. The walk down across Maiden Moor is sublime.

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Grizedale

The outstanding views across the Solway Firth makes this a must for most walkers. It is definitely worth making the really steep climb up from Braithwaite.

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Over the tops to Buttermere

Up Causey Pike and then a ridge walk over Scar Crag, Sail, Crag Hill, Whiteless Pike and then down into Buttermere. This is approximately 4 hours, enhanced by meeting up with non-walking members of the family for lunch at the Bridge in Buttermere. Keen walkers can then either walk back up the valley from Buttermere and over into Newlands emerging at Rigg Beck, (a few hundred metres along the road from Rowling End), or alternatively, after a good lunch, there is the lovely drive back over Newlands Hause.

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Smaller Walks

Catbells

The views from Catbells are worthy of a much bigger peak. Walk across the fields to Skelgill, through the farm and up onto the fell and follow the paths as you can see them from the house. For those staying at home they can plot your progress from the window.

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Barrow

Go up the drive and along the road past Ellas Crag to Stoneycroft then turn up the old mine road which takes you up past Barrow from where you turn back onto a separate footpath to get to the summit. From here it is easy to drop down to Braithwaite where there are several pubs. It is then a nice walk along Newlands Beck to Stair followed by a short walk back to Rowling End.

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Down to the Lake

Across the fields to Skelgill and then down the lane to Hawes End. From here you can take a ferry to Keswick or other stopping points on the lake. The ferries run regularly around the lake in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions. There is a footpath that runs around the lake and this can link into walks over Catbells or some of the paths that run around its flanks. This is a walk that’s perfect for children, for swimming and picnicing by the lake.

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Around the Valley

There is a path that runs around the base of Catbells from Skellgil to Littletown from where a path runs across the fields from Littletown back to Skelgill from which you can easily drop back down to Rowling End. For a longer walk take the old mine road further up the valley towards Dale Head. After approx ½ mile there is a footbridge across the stream that allows you to return by way of Low Snab Farm to Littletown Church. From here you can walk back to Rowling End along the little lanes via Rigg Beck.

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Further afield

Buttermere

The walk around the lake is wonderful. Buttermere is also the starting point for Wainwright’s all time favourite walk – Haystacks.

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Watendlath

A small hamlet in a valley above Borrowdale. The narrow road to Watendlath gets very busy during the main holiday season, but the walks to Watendlath from Rosthwaite and Seathwaite via Dock Tarn are lovely.

Further reading

For further information about these and other walks in the area, please visit Walks in the Lake District

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Mountain Biking

Mountain bikes can be hired from Whinlatter Forest Park which has some great trails of varying degrees of difficulty.