Drawing 6: The road to Watendlath

Direction of view: N

Notes: The gatepost on the left of the drawing is no longer there; otherwise this scene hasn’t changed much.  Wainwright describes this as “the most enchanting and romantic of all Lakeland’s roads”, and makes a plea for it to be closed to “pleasure motoring”. This scene does not appear in any other published works by Wainwright, but the photograph from which this sketch was drawn is in the County Archives at Kendal, reference WDAW/4/1/1/2/2.  As in the sketch, there is a light covering of snow on the ground.

Comments: I first took this picture (image 1) on slide film in January 1978, and it would certainly have been on a Lakeland foray with Peter Messenger.  Image 2 dates from Autumn 1986.

I have travelled the road to Watendlath many times, but first took this picture for this digital project on 7th April 2013 on a day out with Peter and Ruth Messenger (image 3).  It was a sunny spring-like morning, and the simple scene looked very attractive.

In his concluding notes to “the Central Fells”, AW refers to Vivian Fisher and his gate, and this was the location of the gate.  Vivian Augustus Fisher, to give his full name, used to stand here, opening the gate for vehicles, and expecting a tip in return.  He was photographed here by Joseph Hardman, who noted that he was “well known to scores of holidaymakers.  His happy smile and welcome are a feature”.  Arnold Pennington, writing in 2010, remembered “an elderly gent, with long, grey windswept hair, tweed baggy trousers and a pleasant smile….. Passengers would open a window to thank him and drop a tip in his cloth flat cap. Walkers would stop and chat with him as he fed crumbs to the chaffinches”. See image 4.

I took the picture again (image 5) on 4th November 2018, on another walk with Peter and Ruth, a day of lovely autumn colours.  The wall has vanished underneath exuberant foliage; it is interesting to see how this scene changes through the seasons.