We went to Keswick yesterday via Binsey Fell, spending a pleasant hour going up and down from Binsey Lodge. Keswick was heaving with people but Binsey, probably because we were so early, was quiet, bar one fell-runner and his dog that we passed on the way up.
The ascent of Binsey is dead easy, perhaps a mile up a wide and gently sloping track. But for all its hilly modesty, the fell has not only a lovely cairned summit but a staggeringly grand view across the Solway into Scotland, around Criffel in one direction, and back towards Skiddaw and its subsidiary summits and Bassenthwaite in another. Some of the best walking countryside in England.
Apart from the waters of Bass, you get some glimpses of Over Water. It was once owned by the huntsman Norman de Courcy Parry, the chap who – in his younger days – may or may not have shot dead Percy Toplis, the Monocled Mutineer and sometime bandit, on the old Carlisle road leading out of Penrith.
Whether he shot Percy or not, and he tended to deny it, he did sell Over Water for £500, something he later regretted. Apparently, he was drunk in a Welsh pub one night when he heard someone declare how much they’d like to own a lake in the Lake District. The inebriated de Courcy Parry muttered that he had one to sell – hence Over Water changed hands.
de Courcy Parry very much wanted to change his mind as he sobered up, but considering himself a gentleman couldn’t bring himself to renege on the deal.
We had been meaning to go up Binsey in January, but all the roads were closed for ages. Now they are mostly open, though I notice the road along Bassenthwaite is closed for the day on April 26th.
You can read more about Norman de Courcy Parry and Percy Toplis in The Monocled Mutineer by John Fairley and William Allison.