Glenridding

Glenridding

Glenridding

Glenridding Ullswater

Glenridding is a small village at the southern end of Ullswater Lake, close to the foot of Kirkstone Pass. Today Glenridding is predominantly a tourist destination for outdoor enthusiasts including walking and water sports upon the lake.

The village came to prominence with the discovery of lead ore in the 1650’s at what became the Greenside lead mine, with the first levels being driven by Dutch adventures in the 1690’s. Dressed ore was carried to the Stoneycroft smelter at Keswick. The mine was not extensively worked until 1825 with power originally provided by water-wheels, with water being supplied by the damming of the nearby tarns. One such tarn was Keppel  Cove  , which bust its banks in 1927, bringing disaster to the village of Glenridding below. Much the same happened four years later, when flood waters smashed through the concrete of High Dam. By the 1960’s it had become uneconomical to continue mining lead from the mine, and it closed. Today only a few buildings remain and serve as Lake District Hostels and mountain huts.

With the lead mining industry now gone, the area of Glenridding is mainly farming and for the tourists who come to view one of the most beautiful areas within the Lake District National Park. I would say that the area is possibly one of the most popular with walkers with many walks to suit all levels from easy, such as Ullswater Lake walks which takes you around the shores of the lake from Howtown back to Glenridding. For the more adventurous walkers one reason to visit Glenridding is to do the classic Helvellyn via Striding Edge, although this is not a walk for the faint hearted, more a modern day adventure, with Helvellyn reaching a height of 3,116 ft (950m).

The Ullswater Steamer is a great way to enjoy a different perspective of the lake and the Lakeland scenery as you cruise along the 7.5 miles of Ullswater Lake at a leisurely pace.  You could easily combine a walk and a lake cruise on one of the steamers. You can board the steamers at Glenridding, Howtown or at the northern end of Ullswater at Pooley Bridge.

Glenridding Walks

One of my personal favourites includes Aira Force waterfall walk where you will see a spectacular 60ft waterfall as Aira Beck makes its way down from the fells above to Ullswater. There are bridges top and bottom of the waterfall to view from with a National Trust car park on the lake road.

At Glencoyne Bay, which is about a mile north of Glenridding, you will find the famous daffodils that inspired William Wordsworth to write ‘Daffodils’ “I wandered lonely as a cloud.”

The closest village to Glenridding is the small village of Patterdale, another popular area for walkers to Helvellyn and the surrounding area of fells such as High Street.

The village of Glenridding has good accommodation including two Youth Hostels, good camping sites and hotels. There are several guest houses offering bed and breakfast which make an ideal base for any outdoor activity holiday.

Glenridding Sailing Centre

Probably the easiest way to learn more about sailing and get yourself afloat on Ullswater and enjoy the stunning scenery of the English Lake District is to visit the Glenridding Sailing Centre. The centre provides a wide range of sailing dinghies and traditional canoes and kayaks.

The Glenridding Sailing Centre offers expert sailing tuition by friendly, patient RYA qualified staff in their boats or even your own boat if it’s suitable.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Glenridding please visit Glenridding on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

If you are looking for a great location to stay during your next Lake District outdoor adventure ,then I think Glenridding may have everything you need.There is an abundance of holiday accommodation within Glenridding and the surrounding area of Patterdale, with Campsites, Guest Houses and local pubs. For a pet friendly home search our Lake District Cottages for a local cottage close to Glenridding and Patterdale. Whilst not forgetting the areas close proximity to Helvellyn and some fantastic fell walks. Whatever time of year you visit Glenridding and the Ullswater area you will find a friendly place to stay with some of the best scenery in the world.

Canoeing

Canoeing In The Lake District

Canoeing In The Lake District

Canoeing In The Lake District

Canoeing In The Lake District

Canoeing in the Lake District is a great outdoor activity anywhere, and where better place to enjoy this sport than the Lake District.

With the right instructor and a gentle introduction you will soon be embarking upon a very special lake session learning how to hold your paddle in the correct manner, sit in your canoe the right way round, whilst steering your craft in the right direction you wish to go.

With the hills and mountains of the Lake District rising up from our world famous lakes you will be able to truly take in this stunning scenery from the sometimes tranquil waters or even the white water of one of our Lake District rivers.

Should you also enjoy walking why not take a look at our Guided Walks in the Lake District National Park.

Canoeing in the Lake District can be great fun and enjoyment for the whole family.

Stanley Ghyll Waterfall

Stanley Ghyll Force Waterfall

Stanley Ghyll Force Waterfall

Stanley Ghyll Force Waterfall

Within the Lake District there are walks and there are super special walks. In my opinion Stanley Ghyll Force waterfall belongs in the category of super special. The reasoning behind this is quite simple as I thoroughly enjoy the mode of transport in getting there and back.

It is not a requirement to start my Stanley Ghyll walk at Ravenglass Steam Railways but it does add that great bit of panache in arriving at Dalegarth station, which is the actual starting point. The 7 mile and 40 minute journey on a thumping polished steam engine takes some beating with the smell of burning coal in the air. The train takes the strain as I arrive at Dalegarth in a relaxed state ready to embark with rucksack, map and lunch.

Stanley Ghyll Walk

Stanley Ghyll waterfall is the most popular walk from Dalegarth station and is approximately a one mile walk. Surrounded by a stunning backdrop of trees, it is in my opinion one of Lakeland’s most beautiful waterfalls.

Upon leaving the station, take a right turn along the road and you will pass the local coach yard. Continue forward for a short distance before turning left onto a narrow signposted lane, which will take you across the River Esk. This is a beautiful spot and judging by the rope swing hanging from the tree, this has been enjoyed by many a young person playing in the river on a summer’s day.

Within a 100 yards of the River Esk bridge, there is a car park for use, should you arrive here by car.

Pressing forward, you will come upon a road junction with Dalegarth Hall in view. Taking the left lane, we continue upwards at a gentle easy amble, until we arrive at a gate on our left with a sign post and access to Stanley Ghyll wood. From the gate, the path starts wide and easy to follow as it makes its way to the stream’s water’s edge as it continues upwards through the woodland ravine.

The path here can be wet and slippery in places and good walking boots are recommended.

The path continues to wind its way upwards following the stream with a total of three bridges on route to Stanley Ghyll waterfall, with the ravine narrowing dramatically after the third and final bridge. With a scramble up the left hand bank of the stream, you will arrive at the sumptuous waterfall. Should you have small children keep them close as the water can be deep and cold here.

Jurassic Stanley Ghyll Walk.

From this point a return to car or train is easy by the same route, although for us we had decided to go upwards and around the high ground of Stanley Ghyll waterfall. You do wonder where all the water comes from and the catchment area of such spectacular waterfalls.

Returning from the water fall and crossing the first high level bridge you will notice a path going off to your left with what looks like a steep climb. Taking this path it only rises some 40 feet or so before opening into a small woodland glade with no path to be seen and what looks like a dead end. The path is to your left upon the steep bank and will take you upwards to a spectacular vantage point near the top of Stanley Gyhll waterfall and this will help you to navigate to this spot.

Reaching the summit of the 150 feet ravine and awesome aerial views of Stanley Ghyll waterfall looking downwards from the cliff edge, is very rewarding and a great spot for lunch. It is worth a mention to all here to be careful near the edge as it is a long way down and there is no lift back up !!!!

Leaving our lunch spot at the top of Stanley Ghyll, follow the less well trodden path out onto the fields over the stile and turn left. The footpath here is very poor and hard to follow. We simply followed the dry stone wall by keeping it to our left until we reached the open path leading to the farmhouse. The path continues through the farmyard and you will clearly see another farm located to your left and a track leading there. Following the track and passing through your second farm, the footpath leaves via the left side of the main farmhouse. Remembering to shut all gates and leave things as you found them, following the country code.

With the vantage point now high above Stanley Ghyll and Dalegarth your way back will now be more clearly visible. We found the ground to be very wet under foot.

The footpath here is not the clearest, yet hiking this route I believe is more enjoyable than simply walking to Stanley Ghyll waterfall and back. With the added altitude you are rewarded with some outstanding views of Eskdale valley towards the wild Scarfell mountain range.

It is at this point I will say that walking with my friend we lost our map. I like to photocopy my map and simply bring an A4 paper copy out walking as this saves my map from excessive use. I had my handheld GPS Garmin with me which took us the way home and is a great bit of kit for bad weather or when footpaths are poorly marked. With your Ordnance Survey map you should easily find your way back to the river and basically the Stanley Ghyll waterfall walk contours around the ravine and return back to Dalegarth Hall.

While planning this Stanley Ghyll walk in conjunction with the steam railways it is worth checking on train timetables as we returned to Dalegarth Station with 20 minutes to spare and time for a coffee.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of this Stanley Ghyll Waterfall walk please visit Stanley Ghyll Waterfall Walk on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

Wear study footwear and enjoy Stanley Ghyll Force waterfall walk.

Ravenglass Steam Railways

Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railways

Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railways

Picturesque Ravenglass Steam Railways

The beautiful age of steam railways comes alive as you pull into the car park at Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway main station which is situated alongside the mainline station of Ravenglass, on the Barrow to Whitehaven line. You can literally smell the coal and steam from the engines as you approach the platform.

Steaming from the 1870’s through to the present day along 7 miles of track in the direction of England’s highest mountains, the Scafell range. There is no doubt in my mind that this hidden treasure is the Lakeland’s most dramatically picturesque railway line.

At Ravenglass steam railways the facilities are excellent and well looked after with the station café serving the best latte I have had for a while and if you like your home made cakes early in the morning before a walk, then washed down with caffeine this is heaven.

Sipping my coffee and talking to Trevor the General Manager and today’s signal operator it was astounding to learn that a full maintenance overhaul of just one of the steam railways engines can cost up to £40,000 and I think I will stick to servicing the car !!

Ravenglass Steam Railways History

The Ravenglass and Eskdale steam railways has survived against the odds since the 1870’s with the express purpose of exploiting existing local iron mines, although the line was opened to passenger traffic from 20th November 1876. Sadly the venture did not prosper and in early 1877 the Railway Company was declared bankrupt. Shifting to local traffic and granite haulage as the main income, more trouble lay ahead when in 1908 the railway was deemed unsafe to operate a passenger service.

The formation of a new company, The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway Co with grandiose schemes came to no avail, until the final death knell came in late 1912, when the Nab Gill Mines were flooded out in 1913 the Railway closed.

With a chequered history, stability finally came in the early 1960’s with Colin Gilbert, a Midlands stockbroker, and Sir Wavell Wakefield MP, whose business interests included the tourist attraction, Ullswater Steamers had both been interested in the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway for a long time, and were sufficiently encouraged by the enthusiasm of the Preservation Society to undertake to provide not only the necessary balance to secure the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in auction, but also as much again in working capital to safeguard the steam railways future. Since the railway has been under its present owners, a great deal has been done to ensure it holds a place as one of the top Lake District visitor attractions.

 Wildlife On The Ravenglass And Eskdale Steam Railways

Leaving the coastal estuary of Ravenglass you may easily spot a Blue Heron wading in the low water, or a Kingfisher, whilst not forgetting my favourite, the Oystercatcher. Travelling from the salt water flats of the estuary and Barrow Mash, brings you towards Miteside Halt and the eagle-eyed will be rewarded with Britain’s native Red Squirrel, Roe Deer and Buzzards. Buzzards with a wing span of 20” to 22” make this considerably larger than the Kestrel, although one of the most common birds of prey.

Ravenglass And Eskdale Steam Railways Walks

There are a multitude of great walks surrounding the railway and all the stations located along the 7 miles of track. Deservedly the most popular walk starts and finishes at Dalegarth station and takes you to Stanley Ghyll waterfall walk, one of Lakeland’s loveliest waterfalls.  If you are staying locally for a few days I would suggest buying Wainrights small booklet entitled “Walks From Ratty” which is available from all the station shops currently priced at £3 which includes 10 walks. The 1o walks are simple rambles and can easily be completed between Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railways times.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of this Ravenglass Steam Railways please visit Ravenglass Steam Railways on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

Enjoy your day out at Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railways.

Penrith

Penrith Shopping

Penrith Shopping

Visit Penrith

Just outside the National Park ,yet still in the Lake District, lies Penrith ,a regional centre of the Northern Lakes. In Roman times this historic market town at Junction 40 off the M6 was strategically positioned to and from Scotland and used as a military centre.

The imposing ruins of Penrith Castle, which is situated opposite the centrally located train station, has a very intriguing history. The building of the castle began in 1399.William Strickland, Bishop of Carlisle and later Archbishop of Canterbury, added a stone wall to an earlier peel tower, primarily as a defence against the Scottish raids. Over the next 70 years the castle saw many changes, until 1483, when it was turned into a royal fortress by Richard, Duke of Gloucester before he became King Richard the Third.

St Andrews Church Penrith

The centre of Penrith is dominated by the Clock Tower and St Andrews Church, with a church having stood on this site since 1133 and the present church being built in 1720. It was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, a pupil of Christopher Wren, in an imposing Grecian style, and modelled on St Andrews Holborn. The remains of the 13th Century tower are incorporated in the existing church, and have walls 6 feet thick which may have been used as a peel tower.

A legendary giant and King of all Cumbria, is said to be buried in the Giant’s Grave in St Andrews Churchyard. The four hogback stones surrounding the grave are said to represent wild boar he killed in nearby Inglewood Forest. Whilst also of interest at the not too distant church of Dacre, near Pooley Bridge with their famous stone carved figures of the ‘Dacre Bears’ which are situated within the churchyard at each corner.

William and his sister Dorothy Wordsworth, and later to be his wife Mary Hutchinson attended the Dame Anne Birkett School, which overlooks the churchyard of St Andrew’s Church.

To the south of Penrith are the ancient Neolithic henge sites known as Mayburgh Henge and King Arthur’s Round Table. Mayburgh Henge is much better preserved than neighbouring King Arthur’s Round Table.

Some 14 miles from Penrith just off the main A66 from Penrith to Keswick lies the large and impressive Castlerigg Stone Circle. Of all the Neolithic sites Castlerigg is perhaps the most atmospheric and dramatically sited of all British stone circles and my personal favourite.It’s totally surrounded with panoramic views of the Lakeland fells, with Helvellyn and High Seat as a Backdrop.

Situated a short distance from the town of Penrith is Rheged visitors’ centre, offering a varied array of year round exhibitions, Lake District topics of interest and a play area for children.

Penrith Agricultural Society

The Penrith Agricultural Society was formed in 1833 with the society promoting the first ‘Penrith Show’ the following year. Whilst retaining the tradition of a genuine agricultural and farming emphasis, the show has gathered great momentum in recent years. Worthy of a mention as a great day out, with the rural and urban communities coming together for a special day of competitions in a wide spectrum of classes for farm livestock, arable, horses, rabbits, poultry, show jumping, industrial and horticultural.

Penrith also offers a great leisure centre and Penrith skate park for the kids which is within easy walking distance of the town centre, should you wish to leave the kids to go swimming or use any of the other facilities offered.

Accommodation is plentiful in Penrith and surrounding area from hotels to locally run guest houses all catering for walking and outdoor activities in the Lake District.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Penrith please visit Penrith on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

There is an abundance of holiday accommodation within Penrith and the surrounding area of the Eden Valley, with Campsites, Guest Houses and local pubs. For a pet friendly home search our Lake District Cottages for a local cottage close to Penrith and the Eden Valley. Whatever time of year you visit Penrith you will find a friendly place to stay.

Pooley Bridge

Pooley Bridge

Pooley Bridge

Pooley Bridge Ullswater

Pooley Bridge is situated at the northern end of Ullswater Lake upon the banks of the river Eamont and today it is a busy village catering mainly for the tourist trade.

Pooley Bridge can easily be accessed via junction 40 off the M6 motorway, whilst also offering a great gateway to the north Lake District and the main artery A66 road to Keswick and Derwent Water.

The name Pooley Bridge derives from a large pool in the River Eamont, “The Hill by the Pool”. The ‘Bridge’ part of the name was added in 1800.

The local parish church of St Paul can be found at the centre of the village and dates from around 1868. There are 3 public houses situated within the village community of Pooley Bridge.

The 16th century bridge was built across the River Eamont, which flows from Ullswater Lake to the village of Eamont Bridge, and on to the River Eden, near Langwathby.

Pooley Bridge was once a busy market town, with fish being the mainstay of the markets produce, prior to nearby Penrith taking precedence in the 19th century. The area still has a supply of Trout, Salmon and freshwater Herring called the Schelly to be found.

Pooley Bridge and The Ullswater Steamer

Located just outside of Pooley Bridge is the pier for the Ullswater Steamer which operates a service departing regularly along the 7 mile lake to Howtown and Glenridding at the southern end of the lake with possible walks such as Helvellyn via Striding Edge and Ullswater Lake walks. The timetable for the Steamer does vary depending on the season and is worth checking before planning any trips.

Pooley Bridge Local Walks

From the village, excellent walks can be taken that offer views to match of the lake, whilst a short walk from the pay and display car park situated close to the 16th Century bridge, reveals Dunmallard Hill, an Iron-Age remain. From the vantage point of Dunmallard Hill you are able to look up the lake towards Aira Force.

Located within a short drive of Pooley Bridge , along the lake shore road heading towards the village of Glenridding, is the National Trust property, Aira Force Waterfall , one of the most visited of all the Lakeland waterfalls ,especially after rainfall, where sturdy boots are advisable as it can often be wet under foot and slippery.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Pooley Bridge please visit Pooley Bridge on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

There is an abundance of holiday accommodation within the Pooley Bridge area or a short walk away, with several family campsites, Guest Houses and the 3 welcoming village pubs. For a pet friendly home search our Lake District Cottages for a local cottage close to Pooley Bridge.

Ullswater Lake Walks

Ullswater Lake Walks

Ullswater Lake Walks

Ullswater Lake Walks – Glenridding To Howtown and Back

It is easy to walk up and down dale so to speak here in the Lake District, although should you be looking for a stunningly beautiful low level lake walk, along the shores of arguably one of England’s finest lakes here is the Ullswater lake walk sfor you.

I have named my walk the Ullswater Lake walks, Howtown to Glenridding which will reward you with stunning views of the Ullswater valley and the Helvellyn mountain range.

What makes this particular Lake walks special is the different perspective given with the commencement of the walk at the Glenridding pier of the Ullswater Steamer where we embarked.

Taking the Steamer ride from the Glenridding pier first check out the time table for the Steamer and allow time for your walk of approximately three and a half hours. The walk is just over 10 km and should you desire it is possible, time of year and current timetable permitting, to take the Steamer from Pooley Bridge to Howtown inclusive.

Embarking at Glenridding we travelled Ullswater Lake towards Howtown on a brisk November day with little wind and a mirror like lake. This particular time of year rewards the intrepid walker with a vast array of changing autumnal colours with cold and frosty mornings being particularly good.

Disembarking at Howtown we arranged our equipment and for the first time we used our Lake District walks Handheld  GPS ( follow link for our way points route and map ) which I have to say was excellent.

Upon leaving the pier the path is clearly visible to your right and a good quality path takes you over a small bridge. The small footpath will take your towards a single track road servicing a home. Walking a short distance along the road a sign post for Patterdale Sandwick will be visible taking you a short distance towards the slightly inclined steps with a stone wall to your right and then through a swing gate.

Once through the gate the path splits and taking the right hand path this will keep you on the Lake walk leaving Howtown. This new section of the walk will reward you with clear Lakeland views across Ullswater Lake and towards Pooley Bridge. The footpath at this point is well maintained and generally dry in most weathers.

Lake Walks Vantage Points

From your vantage point at this stage of your Ullswater Lake walk it is possible to make out the stunningly beautiful Aira Force Waterfall set upon the opposite Western shore of Ullswater. Whilst also not forgetting that the daffodils still grow in the spring time at Glencoyne Bay close to Aira Force, when William Wordsworth wrote what later became the most famous poem in the English language.

“I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils;”

Poet I will never be, although with measured motion I struck again and struck again my feet upon the ground continuing onwards with stone wall upon my right and arguably England finest lake upon my right.

With the path now heading southwards you will find several delightful spots with close access to the lake and possible spots for cooling the feet on a hot summer’s day with paddling or a spot for the dog to chase stone thrown into the still waters.

Leaving the water’s edge with a gentle climb upwards you will enter Hallinhagg Wood where the footpath becomes uneven and you may catch a glimpse of a Red Squirrel or two here.

Upon spotting the odd felled tree with some of the off cuts piled in some format of organised chaos this practice is undertaken to help Hedgehogs in creating slow rotting environments for our woodland animals.

With the beck now upon your right which meanders down to Silver Bay continue onwards away from Ullswater towards Beck Side Farm and Sandwick. Follow the path which is situated to the left of Townhead Cottage sign posted Patterdale.

As you now traverse Silver Crag it may be possible to see Lyulph’s Tower which is a 16th Century castellated building situated near to Gowbarrow Fell which will be behind you as you walk forwards. Moving forwards and coming into view will be the Helvellyn mountain range and possibly Helvellyn Via Striding Edge which I have to say is one of my personal favourite high level walks (adventure).

With the path now continuing towards Patterdale it gradually turns into a farm track and from here you can recall the start of your walk from the Glenridding Steamer pier on the now opposite shore.

Upon reaching the farm continue along the track as it heads towards the Goldrill Beck and the main road as it returns you on your Ullswater Lake walks back to the Glenridding pier.

Ullswater Lake Walks On The Ullswater Steamer

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of this Ullswater Lake walks please visit Ullswater Lake Walks on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

I hope you enjoyed my Ullswater Lake walks using the Ullswater Steamer from Glenridding to Howtown and the walk back, please hit the like buttons below.

Penrith Skate Park

Penrith Skate Park

Penrith Skate Park

Penrith Skate Park

When visiting the northern part of the Lake District with the children a great alternative day out may include a visit to Penrith Skate Park. In these tough economic times it’s nice to find a local council facility which is free and offers some fun for the children.

The skate park is located within the Penrith Leisure Centre campus and has outdoor lighting, a small seating area and car parking a long side should you wish to keep an eye on younger children. With teenagers it’s a great drop of point while you walk the short distance into the town centre. This Lake District market town has a good selection of shops, cafes and restaurants for all tastes.

The Penrith Skate Park is a purpose built concrete skate park completed in 2007 and suitable for skateboarding, inline skating, BMX Biking and scooters.  There are a selection of concrete skate ramps, boxes and transitions.

There are Penrith Skate Park Conditions of Use as set by the local council and the Leisure Centre;

  1. All persons use the facility at their own risk
  2. The facility must be used for its intended purpose
  3. Appropriate protective clothing must be worn at all times
  4. In the interests of safety do not bring dogs, glass or alcohol in to the area
  5. It is a no smoking area
  6. The park is open between 8.30am and 9pm daily.

Penrith Skate Park Address

Penrith Leisure Centre, Southend Road, Penrith, Cumbria CA11  8JH

For Further Information on Penrith Skate Park

Telephone 01768 212323 / 212473

Email leisure@eden.gov.uk

Penrith Leisure Centre

For those wet and rainy days in the Lake District remember that Penrith Leisure Centre also offers such activities as Swimming, Solarium, Sauna, 6 Court Indoor Sports Hall, Fitness Suite, Floodlit Artificial Turf Pitch, Climbing Wall, 6 Rink Indoor Bowls Green and a Café Bar.

Penrith Skate Park

I hope that you will enjoy your visit to Penrith Skate Park to enjoy these Lake District local facilities.

Secret Pencil Kits

Derwent Pencil Museum Secret Pencil Kits

Derwent Pencil Museum Secret Pencil Kits

Derwent Secret Pencil Kits

We have all at some point watched the James Bond spy movies with the thrills of the Aston Martin car chases and the intriguing spy gadgets supplied to Bond by Q. In 1942 there was a real ‘Q’ who is widely recognised as the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond quartermaster Q and his name was Charles Fraser Smith who worked for the Ministry of Supply, fabricating equipment for SEO (Special Operations Executives) operating in occupied Europe.

Ian Fleming encountered Charles Fraser Smith in his capacity at the Ministry of Supply when he worked for Naval Intelligence and for more information on this may I recommend David Porter’s book ‘The Man Who Was Q’.

The Cumberland Pencil Company (also known as Derwent) was one such company to assist Charles Fraser Smith in helping the war effort of World War II with Smith coming up with the ingenious idea of concealing a silk map of Germany within a pencil, and not only this but a compass too and thus the secret pencil kits was created.

Humble Pencil or Secret Pencil Kits

For most of us today the humble pencil is just that, something we use every day with little or no thought.  But for Royal Air Force pilots in World War II and SEO operating in occupied Europe, certain secret pencil kits from the Cumberland Pencil Company could mean the difference between life and death.

Secret Pencil Kits where manufactured, in total secret and after normal working hours by the management of the pencil company. These secret pencil kits where supplied to the RAF pilots of WWII, when opened, snapped in half, they contained a miniature compass and silk maps of Germany. When you think about how innocuous a pencil actually is it makes great sense for it to contain secret information.

In 1942, Fred Tee, a manager at the Cumberland Pencil Company  was contacted by British government official Charles Fraser-Smith to make special secret pencil kits for RAF pilots in case the pilots were shot down over enemy territory.

It was so top secret that only the managers were allowed to assemble the secret pencil kits at night after the factory had closed. It is only now with the passing of time and the Official Secrets Act that we now have access to this interesting information.

Each of the secret pencil kits was labelled with a series number to indicate the different area map hidden inside. Pencil 101 was the whole of Germany, and pencils 102 to 104 were for closer areas of occupied territory. The maps were made of silk so that they would not make a noise when opened.

Old Pencil Or Secret Pencil Kits ?

The kits were modelled on an old set of pencils to look as unsuspicious as possible. The four secret pencil sets were painted green and were the only war-time pencil to have paint on them, as paint itself was commandeered for the war effort.

Escape routes and safe houses were marked on the maps inside the secret pencil kits sent to British prisoners of war. These kits were smuggled to the POWs through the Red Cross, a neutral organization, which distributed the kits without ever knowing what they concealed.  Because of the extreme secrecy dictated by the war effort, how many kits were made between 1942 and 1945 remains a mystery and no one knows how valuable these maybe today.

Should you find an old Derwent pencil in green, check before you use it as it could be a very rare wartime piece of memorabilia and very collectable.

No official records exist of the exact number of kits that were made or who made them—or that they were even made at all.

There is still to this day a controversy as to how the original workers at the Derwent factory managed to place the silk map inside the pencils, although it is believed they wrapped the silk map around a piece of wire and pushed this down the hollow centre of the pencil before putting the rubber mount on the atop of the pencil with the miniature compass.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of the Derwent Pencil Museum and the secret pencil kits walk please visit Secret Pencil Kits on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

For more information on the secret pencil kits visit the Derwent Pencil Museum which is detailed on the map below.


View Derwent Pencil Museum in a larger map

Should you wish to find out more about the secret pencil kits there is a fascinating display at the Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick.

Derwent Pencil Museum

Derwent Pencil Museum Keswick

Derwent Pencil Museum Keswick

Derwent Pencil Museum Keswick

Having visited the Derwent Pencil Museum today in Keswick I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by my entire experience in all aspects. On arrival at the Pencil Museum you will find free parking, which to me is always a plus. There is a great coffee shop with free Wi-Fi were you may relax with a coffee and a delicious piece of cake or a sandwich, indoors or alfresco depending on the Lakeland weather, thus making this a great all weather family attraction.

The pencil museum is arguably the best value for money I have seen for a long time with a family ticket costing £10 and you can make as much or as little from this entrance fee as you and your family desire. There is a good and interesting history of the development and evolution of the pencil from the first discovery of graphite in Borrowdale. Which as legend has it in the early 1500’s, following a violent storm a tree was uprooted leading to the discovery of graphite in Borrowdale, through to today’s cutting edge new factory situated in Workington and not too far from St Bees and the start of the famous Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk

For those who like a little intrigue there is the Second World War display featuring the Secret Pencil Kits which is simply fascinating and must be the first insight into the world of James Bond and a real life Q.

The pencil factory offers a world record breaking colour pencil at nearly 26 feet long, which is supported off the ground and you can walk its length should you so desire, and there is a one time record breaking graphite pencil on display at the museum.

Pencil Museum Events

Throughout the year the pencil museum offers an array of fascinating events with a lot of these being free demonstrations run by a professional artists, the sessions being informal, full of laughter and being a great way of enjoying and experimenting with all the different types of Derwent pencils and papers. For those with a little more skill there are the paid workshops which are suitable for beginners and intermediate levels and run from 10.30 through 4.30 and pre booking is essential.

For those visitors with children you will find an abundance of ever changing displays to challenge the imagination of visitors and collages upon the vividly decorated walls of the Pencil Museum submitted by previous visitors. A great feature of the museum in my opinion is the collection of varied pencils upon the tables once you have completed your tour, wherein anyone may try their hand at doodling, sketching or for those a little better a new ‘Master’ which may be submitted to the pencil museum staff and possibly find its way onto the walls of the museum.

There are usually several on-going themed drawing and colouring competitions that the children may enter and it is well worth asking for information on this as you enter into the museum, as it can keep the children quit and especially if you would like to enjoy your tea and cake afterwards. Or alternatively anyone can have a go at the step by step drawing projects and be amazed at how quickly your drawing skills will develop.

Pencil Museum Kids Zone

This is a great themed area wherein the children may hang out after completing their tour of the pencil museum, with the current theme being to find 8 under the sea items or creatures within the museum and draw them onto the quiz sheet provided and colour it all in with the magical Derwent Pencils provided.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Derwent Pencil Museum please visit Derwent Pencil Museum on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

I could now at this point burst into some form of literary genius and write all about the history of the Pencil Museum at Keswick, although firstly this is not me and secondly I believe it would spoil your visit.