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Crummock Water

Crummock Water is the middle of three lakes in the one valley, and the largest. Further into the mountains is Buttermere, while further out is Loweswater, each of which will eventually have its page in the present series. On a first glance at a map it might be thought that Loweswater was downstream from Crummock Water. Actually the middle lake is fed by the two outer ones.

Crummock Water looking NNE from Hause Point
Crummock Water looking NNE from Hause Point
Photo by David Murray, 1978

My Rock

To me Crummock Water is one of the most beautiful of the English Lakes, but that may be due to its special significance in my life. Back in the 1970s I'd been seriously overworking (I was still in manufacturing industry in those days) and needed a complete break from everything. My wife generously allowed me to leave her and the children at home while I went for a week to a cottage owned by some friends in a small village north of Bassenthwaite Lake. It was a beautiful week of warm sun. One afternoon I climbed a little way (just a little way) up a slope by Hause Point and sat reading and praying in the sunshine.

Everything was silent, and then across the lake two minute figures appeared, far away. They were talking. Otherwise the quiet of the valley was such that even at that distance I could almost have picked out their words. They passed and everything returned to silence apart from the slightest of breeze. It was just what I needed. I pondered the lichen on a rock and thought that I envied its ability to remain there permanently. But of course, while it glowed with layers of orange and yellow, and sprouting greys, in the present sunshine, it also like human lives had to survive the rigours of mists and storms. Life is not continual sunshine, nor would it be good to have it so.

One advantage of the human over the rock, however, is an ability to move, to realign and to reshape. That week proved to be the tonic I needed. Not long afterwards I left manufacturing industry for a thirty year sequence of advisory roles that not only took me around the world but at one point for almost four years in the early/mid-80s brought me back repeatedly for substantial periods as a consultant to companies and public bodies in Cumbria. I owe much to that afternoon by Crummock Water.

A Heaton Cooper - Crummock Water from Scale Hill
Crummock Water from Scale Hill
by A Heaton Cooper

The Lake and its History

But what of the lake itself? Crummock Water is not quite three miles long and just over half a mile wide at the slightly broader northern end. It is quite deep, at over 140 feet. As the lake heads into the hills Hause Point juts out prominently from the eastern shore, creating two separate areas of the lake, the northern area being much more open to the sky than the southern end as it approaches Buttermere, hidden among the mountains. This is the land of Nicholas Size's book, The Secret Valley, telling of the success of the long-settled Norsemen in fighting off the eleventh century Norman invaders. Whether it's factual history or substantially local legend I'll leave others to judge, but I've loved the story ever since buying a copy in Keswick more than forty years ago.

Close to the south west of the lake is the highest waterfall in the Lake District, Scale Force (125ft.) which is most easily reached by a two mile walk from Buttermere. On the western shore the screes of Mellbreak come down to the water's edge in a manner reminiscent of Wastwater, but here everything feels much more open, less oppressively threatening. At the northern end the River Cocker leaves the lake, eventually to flow into the Derwent at Cockermouth. There are salmon and sea trout to be caught in the Cocker and fishing is good in the lake itself, subject to a permit from the National Trust, which owns most of this area.



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