The massif of Skiddaw stands proud above Keswick, and can be seen from almost all parts of the town, and like a magnet, attracts walkers to embark on the trek to the summit. In Victorian times ladies used to ascend the mountain on a pony! This is the highest fell in this part of the Lake District at over 3,000ft (914 m), but it has a benign face to it, allowing even families with children in tow to reach the top in good weather. But like all mountains, Skiddaw should not be taken lightly in inclement weather. The snowcap in winter is an indication of the extreme cold and icy conditions that may be met on the fell.
To the east of Skiddaw stands Blencathra (also known as Saddleback). This fell boasts one of North Lakeland's spectacular and popular high level routes, Sharp Edge, giving access to the eastern summit of the fell.
To the south of Blencathra lies the Vale of St John and the Thirlmere valley.
At the southern gateway to the Vale of St John stands a very prominent rocky buttress. This is Castle Rock, immortalised in Sir Walter Scott’s poetic romance, The Bridal Triermain.
Thirlmere, one of Lakeland’s major lakes, is flanked by steep fells on either side which are dressed in impressive forest. There are gentle forest rambles here or for the more active, a number of challenging walking routes to the summit of Helvellyn which dominates the Thirlmere valley and is one of the Lake District’s most popular mountains.
Thirlmere was originally two smaller lakes which were amalgamated into one large reservoir in 1889, thanks to the industrial revolution hitting Manchester and the demand of more water for the cotton mills. The villages of Armboth and Wythburn (except the church) were lost in the process.
The lake is three and a half miles long, just over a mile wide and 158ft deep. It is entirely made up from rainwater which falls down to the reservoir from the streams above. As a glacial lake it has the purest, clearest water; however, the water is so cold that swimming is prohibited. So if you want to take in the views from the water, consider a canoe, or some other type of non-powered craft.