The valleys of the Lake District

in Valley

The valleys of the southeastern fell country are amongst the finest of the Lake District and again glaciation has played its part in moulding their formLake District Honeymoon Hotel
. Perhaps they lack some of the grandeur and splendid ruggedness of Borrowdale or Great Langdale but their unspoiled character more than makes amends. Apart from Troutbeck, immediately north of Windermere, they are all blind and thus saved from the effects of through traffic. Their narrow roads, little more than a track in the case of Bannisdale and not even that in Crookdale , tend to discourage penetration so that to some extent this is a relatively unknown corner of the Lake District. Things might have been different if the main west coast railway line to Scotland had been driven through Long Sleddale.

Long Sleddale is one of the more attractive of these eastern valleys, with the wild ruggedness at its head gradually giving way to softer contours near the southern entrance. The contrasting valley section is largely a reflection of the change in rock type and the way in which it has reacted to various external influences like glaciation. In its upper part above Sad gill, it is the Borrowdale Volcanic series which out¬crop, while downstream the Silurian slates, grits and flags take over. The glacier which once flowed down the valley has left its mark in both sections, though to different effect. Almost immediately above Sadgill hamlet there is a terminal moraine cut through by the River Sprint. The morainic debris is piled against a rock bar projecting into the valley from both sides at this point.

Upstream the river flows across a wide, open flat and to prevent flooding has had to be artifici ally straightened. The valley flat marks the site of a temporary glacial lake, and its richer alluvial soils carry crops. Beyond lies the unreclaimed part of the valley, and it still retains its marshy character. Towards the valley head the floor rises steadily, as a rock step, coinciding with hard lava beds, is reached. Near the old Wren gill slate quarries  the colliding across into the Haweswater valley begins. To the east there is a similar break in the valley wall leading across to the head of Mosedale. Both cols must have been lowered by ice passing through them as diffluent tongues from the main glacier pushed out in various directions.

Below sad gill in the softer country associated with the Silurian strata the valley is more open though still possessing steep sides. In its journey towards the sea the River Sprint passes through a succession of basins and intervening rock barriers. From a point near where the Stockdale branch enters , as far as Wad's Howe Farm, the flat floor suggests a former lake basin. The farm lies on a side moraine which later crosses the valley and restricts the former lake flat. Between here and Ubarrow chapel  there is another basin. The chapel and nearby school lie on a moraine extending across the valley floor. Downstream from here and around Ubarrow Hall the open character of the lower part of Long Sleddale is well displayed. This is rich, well-farmed country.

At Bridge End Farm , however, the valley becomes restricted once again and between here and Nether House (514°°4 the River Sprint flows through a small gorge. The farms in this section lie on a distinct bench, which represents an old valley floor level well above the present river. Glacial erratic's, mainly flags, litter some of the fields, especially behind Nether House Farm, and must have been much more extensive before systematic clearance took place for farming. Yet another former lake basin lies below the farm, but within a quarter of a mile the river has begun to cut deeply into it and enter a steepened section of its course. Below Garnett Bridge a true gorge is developed before the river finally breaks out of its restricted valley to enter the glacial lowland country which extends to Kendal and beyond.

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Adrian vultur writes for Lake District Honeymoon Hotel

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The valleys of the Lake District

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This article was published on 2011/01/11